Archive for September 2016

Open Book Blog Hop – 26th September   Leave a comment

Stevie Turner

This week we’re focusing on common obstacles. What are the challenges we face as writers? What was it like to be rejected? What kept us going when we wanted to quit? How do we deal with “writer’s block” or getting a negative review?

Challenges:

One of the biggest challenges of course, is trying to sell our books without spamming every single social media site known to man.  However, without a little bit of promotion, nobody is going to know that our books are out there, and so we writers have to choose the best ways of reaching out to readers without boring them witless.  I’m trying the theory that if I publish a non-spamming blog for 4 days out of 5 which is not focusing on any of my books, then readers could be more likely to take note of any book promotions I might do. I’m cutting down on tweets too.  Who knows?  I’ll give it…

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Posted September 26, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Stumbling   2 comments

This week on the Open Book Blog Hop we’re discussing common writing and author obstacles. Suffice it to say, I have faced challenges as a writer. I’ve been rejected and I’ve had to decide what I was going to survive those challenges. So have my fellow writers. Check what they have to say and then come back for my thoughts on this topic.

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Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE writing! A day writing is better than a day doing almost anything else. Writing is a great relationship with my inner self and I plan to have a long, stimulating relationship with writing. Like any other relationship, this one involves a lot of challenges, a lot of hard work, and also  a lot of rewarding experiences.

Writing comes with challenges and in order to achieve the awards, you must overcome the obstacles and make the most of the journey.

The first challenge of magnitude for me has always been time. I’ve never been independently wealthy. I could never just sit down and write without worrying about the time it was taking. There’s always been school or a job to go to or a kid with a wet diaper thinking her needs ranked above the story I was formulating. I’m sure most indie authors can relate. There may be a few out there who don’t have to go to work, but there are always time drains in our lives. We have to wash the dishes and shower sometimes.

Every minute I spend writing takes time away from something else. I think I’ve found a balance, but I have to acknowledge that my husband might sometimes wish that I would spend evenings hanging out with him without a laptop out and my tapping on keys. Time is a thief and it steals our lives one second at a time.

But sometimes I steal that time from myself. I love to procrastinate. I’m like a raven in a stainless steel factory, chasing the shiny research topic that leads to another research topic that leads to another research topic that …. What was I doing? I can burn daylight as well as any author can.

Image result for image of stumbling blocks in writingSince writer’s block was in the OP, I thought I would address it. I don’t really believe in writer’s block. The idea of staring at a screen or piece of paper for longer than about 15 minutes unable to start writing is giggle-inducing for me. Why? Because that’s not how I was trained.

I started out wanting to be a reporter. I trained as a journalist and I worked in the field for a while. One of the lessons in newswriting was that there’s no such thing as writer’s block. If you can’t think of how to start, type out the facts according to the five W’s (who, what, when, where, why … and sometimes how much) and that whole process will get the article rolling. You’re under deadline. You have to produce an article every week or every day. You can’t afford writer’s block. And, so … you write. I had a highly rated article that “went viral” (in 1980s fashion) that was actually the hardest article to start. If anything ever ranked as “writers block” it was that article. Under that 15-minute rule, I stared at the blank page (this was still typewriter and physical paper day), just not sure how I could start this thing. It was a controversial topic and it had a lot of moving pieces. My personal feelings were conflicted with the editorial policy of the newspaper I worked for. At the 15-minute mark, I wrote the 5Ws and the article flowed from there. Then I went back and wrote a catchy lead. It got picked up by other newspapers and Alaska Magazine. Writers block is a myth. And that has been my philosophy ever since and it works. I’ve published four books in two years.

I didn’t publish a book until I was in my 50s. I’ve been writing since I was 12. In those 40 years, I wrote a lot of stories. Under my real name, I published by-line news and magazine features and I had some short stories published in anthologies that are no longer in print. I submitted novel proposals to a couple of publishers and got no bites from Lower 48 publishers, though Ptarmigan Press (an Alaskan company) told me they’d be interested if I wrote something Alaskana. Yeah, I still have yet to write Alaska fiction. I really wasn’t hurt by being turned down by those publishers. I’m really eternally grateful for the extra time to become a better writer. Some of those stories are under redevelopment now and they will be so much better than they would have been had I published them decades ago.

About four years ago, I felt like The Willow Branch was nearing readiness, so I contacted some agents. Most just said they weren’t taking clients. One of them liked it, but said she would need me to remove the Christian elements in order to sell it. If I was seeking a Christian agent, she would forward the book to a colleague who represents Christian authors. That agent said I needed to remove the referential sexual conduct in order for him to sell it.

I considered rewriting the book, but that didn’t feel right. I could have kept submitting to agents in hoping I’d find one who thought like I did. I could have just given up. This happened to occur just as self-publishing was becoming a topic of discussion in the online writers community. I took a deep breath and wrote a pro and cons list and decided to be modern and independent (I am, after all, a libertarian). I made the decision to self-publish.

I submitted to a couple of more agents while I collected beta reader evaluations. I re-wrote the book based on their guidance. I ruthlessly edited the book. I retaught myself formatting. I talked our daughter (an artist) into designing a cover for me. And I found an author’s cooperative to provide the support I needed to be an independent author.

There was a little voice in the back corner of my mind that kept whispering “You can’t do this. You don’t know if what you’re writing is any good. You need a gatekeeper.” Then there was another voice that remembered that article that went “viral”. Okay, that was non-fiction, but I really knew that I’m a better fiction writer than I ever was a journalist. Finding confidence in the path I had decided to travel was a challenge. I held a 30-year dream of being a traditionally published author, but I had to reconcile that dream with reality. What I really wanted was for my novels to be read. Trying to get past the gatekeepers meant those stories were likely to remain on my hard drive. If I wanted to be happy in my life’s journey, I now had new options that would go around the gatekeepers. All I needed was the confidence to take the big step.

October 20, 2014, I became an independant published author. My fourth novel publishes next week. I’m featured in the Echoes of Liberty anthology, which publishes tomorrow. I’ve overcome a lot of my stumbling blocks. Now if I can just overcome the marketing and promotion obstacles ….

Who knows? If I overcome a few more stumbling blocks … maybe a bestseller is in my future.

 

Lela Markham is an Alaska novelist whose books of speculative fiction are available on Amazon and through Createspace.

Stay Tuned for the Blog Hop   Leave a comment

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This week’s topic in the Open Book Blog Hop is Common Obstacles. What are the challenges we face as a writer? What was it like to be rejected (as you undoubtedly were)? What kept you going when you wanted to quit? How do you deal with “writer’s block” or getting a negative review? Being honest and transparent humanizes you and strengthens the bond with your readers.

Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

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Posted September 25, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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When Women Are Sexists   Leave a comment

This is apparently my week for feeling irritated at entitled twits who cross my path. I’m not sure if it’s something going on with me or the world in general, but there you have it.

Brad and I enjoy watching PBS on Friday nights because it has a lot of news, often from overseas, and it’s fun to mock the Democratic news. No, seriously. PBS might as well be Soviet-era Pravda. But we haven’t got cable and I want my news fix, so we watch it and mock them. It’s a good opportunity to research their claims and find out that they’re propagandists.

Image result for image of woman chopping woodMy least favorite show in this lineup is “To the Contrary”. It probably has something to do with Bonnie Erbe’s whiny voice or the fact that she apparently doesn’t know the definition of “diverse perspectives”, but I have trouble sitting through the program. If you’re unfamiliar, the premise of the show is that a college-aged, employed woman with a brain and a blog like myself should be using my access to the marketplace of ideas to post angry tirades against the always-oppressive male and demanding my rights as a woman. Equality to these women (some of whom are regulars and others who are “conservatives” to qualify for the “diverse perspectives” title, I guess), each week make it clear that “equal rights” for them means at the expense of men’s rights. If I don’t espouse these opinions, I am a sexist.

Similar to how I feel that minorities can be as racist as white people and ought to be called on it, I also believe that women can be as sexist as men. I just view sexism in a different way than Bonnie and her fem-bots.

Image result for image of woman changing tireI’m going to start out by making a really sexist statement. I like my husband and men in general. I think most of them are fine human beings. I don’t require them to act like women in order to come into my circle. In fact, I often prefer the company of men over that of women, because men are more honest and way less emotional.

Second thing to know here is — I am the granddaughter of a suffragette, the daughter of two feminists, and my daughter doesn’t take crap from any man or woman.

When Mary Alyse — what we all called “Grandma” — was a feminist, feminism was a movement for equality. Today, it is a movement for supremacy. The original feminist movement advanced the radical notion that women are people, individuals just as deserving of life, liberty, and property as men. I’m down with that. I live that!

Alaska is often portrayed as a very male oriented society — a state filled with manly men and that is true. Pampered metrosexuals generally need not apply because we’re a rough and tumble place where such folks might break a nail or develop a callus. But Alaska is also where women win the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. Susan Butcher won the Big-I three times and Aly Zirkle has won the Quest twice. To look at her, you would believe Aly could do it. Susan looked much more delicate. But my point is that men and women are equal here in Alaska.We’re free to choose to do the same things. And generally, we make the same money if we’re doing the same job, although women still often select jobs that don’t pay as well because they are less physically challenging or allow more time with family. That’s the proceeds of the original feminist movement, what my grandmother fought for and my mother proved could be done, with help from my father who was the first Business Agent for the Alaska Culinary Union who would dispatch women as cooks.

Today, though, feminism has become a movement that advocates the radical notion that men are lesser than women as people; that men are less deserving of life, liberty, and property than women; that women are entitled to things just for being women; that one sex is better than the other, just ‘cause. It has gone from being a movement for equality, to a movement for supremacy.

It’s stupid. I’m not sure how I, a woman, would benefit from this inequality. I can’t see how anyone benefits. It complicates my life and I find the whole notion insulting.

According to third-wave feminism, I should want to be paid more simply for being a woman, apparently to make up for the many years that women were paid less than men as a matter of course. The whole idea of being given a raise or promotion based on gender insults my abilities as a person. I do not need their help. I can earn that promotion on my own, thank you very much. My brain is more than capable. My DNA should not privilege me.

Ironically, third-wave feminists intimidate me. I haven’t met a lot of them. They tend to not find a niche here in Alaska, but the few I’ve met put me on edge, ready to defend myself when accused of being an enemy of my sex and a horrible example of womanhood. I’m a “classical feminist” – I am all for voting rights and equal pay for actual equal work. I change my own tires and chop my own wood and I don’t really need a man to do those things for me, although if they want to volunteer ….

I think society ought to have the same expectations of men in the sexual arena as we do of women and I think women who cat around like men cheapen themselves and all the rest of us.

Interestingly, third-wave feminists intimidate men, too. That’s the point. They want men to feel less than. But what follows is destructive. Men like my husband, who is married to me so an active participant in classical feminism, back off and  stop trying. They become weak because shows of strength are deemed wrong. Suddenly humanity’s “other half” becomes less productive, less interesting, and more pathetic. Women, feminists included, then have to contribute much more heavily to the economy and society to support the weaker, less productive half they created. We’ve already seen it underway and I hate it. Men descending to a lower level does not raise women to a higher one. And, then third-wave feminists point to these men who have done what was demanded of them by feminists as a perfect example of why men are less.

Third-wave feminism says I should hate men … those big, stupid oafs. I don’t. I think men are wonderful. I have a lot of close male friends who I would trust with my life if I had to. I admit that I don’t understand them all the time, but truthfully, I am perplexed by women often too. Animosity stemming from lack of understanding — Would that be bigotry?

Yeah, I think third-wave feminists might be sexists.

 

Left-Wing Cruelty to Black Students   Leave a comment

Image result for image of walter e williamsLast year’s college news was about demands for safe spaces, trigger warnings, and bans on insensitivity. This year’s college news is about black student demands for segregated campus housing and other racially segregated campus spaces and programs. I totally disagree with these calls by black students. It’s a gross dereliction of duty for college administrators to cave to these demands, but I truly sympathize with the problems that many black college students face. For college administrators and leftist faculty, the actual fate of black students is not nearly so important as the good feelings they receive from a black presence on campus. Let’s examine some of the problems. A very large percentage of all incoming freshmen have no business being admitted to college. According to College Board’s 2015 report, the average combined SAT score for white students was 1576 out of a possible 2400. Black student SAT scores, at 1277, were the lowest of the seven reported racial groups (http://tinyurl.com/ozpkpdk). The College Board considers a SAT score of 1550 as the benchmark that indicates a readiness for college-level work.

Source: Left-Wing Cruelty to Black Students

Posted September 24, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in racism

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Taste Treat #4 of Objects in View   Leave a comment

I got busy yesterday and neglected to post this. Here you go.

 

Objects in View Front CoverMike headed out of the trailer, pausing in the short corridor to listen to an open radio that was broadcasting the sounds of a firefight. The E6 from earlier spotted him and directed him toward the exit.

“What’s going on there?” Mike asked while retrieving his sidearm and AR.

“Can’t tell you.” The E-6 smelled of fear as he slammed the door in Mike’s face. Mike hesitated in the warm fall evening. Should he go tell Crispin that Eric Faraday was near and going under the name of Shane Delaney or should he keep that information to himself? A true friend would keep it to himself … or tell you that he was a secret agent. Mike needed to work out that dilemma first.

He passed a squad of Army soldiers walking with such a purpose that one of them had the temerity to brush shoulders with Mike. He glanced over his shoulder as they leveled their rifles at the National Guardsmen before the trailer. The young weekend warriors relented quickly. Mike kept walking, hardly flinching when he heard gunfire from within the trailer a moment later. He counted three shots. One for each MP he’d seen and probably one for the E6. That should be enough to bring the rest to heel. Most of the soldiers had surrendered their weapons upon entry.

In a world gone mad, it made a great deal of sense that professional soldiers would take the place of weekend warriors. Shooting them seemed counterproductive, but he could understand needing to gain control over the situation. He hoped K. Lawson had not fought and so survived, but Mike already couldn’t remember his first name, so he knew it wouldn’t matter to his life in the least. What would matter more was the lesson he’d just learned. He’d never relinquish his weapons again. This may not be Miristan, but the same rules apply now. The military is not on our side here.

Objects in View by Lela Markham will publish October 4 on Amazon. It is currently available for preorder and anyone wanting an Advanced Reader Copy to post a review can contact the author at lelamarkham@gmail.com. Objects in View is Book 2 of Transformation Project. Life As We Knew It is also available on Amazon.

Very Victorian Problems   Leave a comment

Imagine Classic Literary Characters living in the Modern World. Read Jane Eyre Gets Real, a Novel by Annabelle Troy, available on Amazon!

Brought to you by Jane Eyre. She’s a character in Annabelle Troy’s novel available on Amazon, Jane Eyre Gets Real. Oh, and Charlotte Bronte wrote about her too.

Image result for women with victorian ringletsYou spill milk but have used all the rags curling your hair.

Image result for women with victorian ringletsYour doll’s wardrobe costs more than yours.

Image result for victorian women in crinolinesYou need three people to help you get dressed in the morning–and you don’t like two of them.

Image result for women in victorian mourning dressesYou can only wear all black when someone dies.

Image result for victorian women in crinolines

Your crinoline doubles as a birdcage.

Image result for victorian women in crinolinesYour skirt WILL catch on fire. But you can use your cloak to put it out.

Image result for victorian women in crinolinesYour friends are as beautiful as you are.

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Posted September 21, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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