Monday, July 28, 2014

Be Open to Opportunities

It's never too late to learn. We so often hear that, but more than likely we grunt then say "right".  Well, I've always been curious. Learning, trying new things and doing stuff I haven't tried before have always been important in my life. Well, since I retired (for the second time) some wonderful opportunities have found me. I actually didn't go looking for them. My dental hygienist referred me for a dog sitting job. Never before had I mentioned that I liked dogs, but for whatever reason she thought of me when her neighbors needed a live-in sitter for a week. I accepted. After all, it was at their beach house! So, I luxuriated for a week while I kept company with two delightful (well-trained) pooches. Did I mention the pay wasn't bad?

The next surprising opportunity happened when a fellow writer in my group wanted to get another computer. She saw that I always schlepped around with my tiny one, so she wanted something similar. After group one day, she approached me and asked if I would help her when she bought one. I told her I would be glad to. It was going to be my pleasure to show her all that I knew. I promised nothing more, since I have never professed to be a geek or IT wizard. She would not let me share my knowledge without compensation.  I told her definitely I was not comfortable with her paying me. She said she would not do it otherwise. Well, she has a delightful restaurant in my hometown, so I told her I would gladly work for food. So, lucky me, I get coupons to the restaurant. She still insists on currency, too. Believe it not, even with my non geek status, we have made a lot of progress in getting her comfortable with her little computer. As for me, I am gaining weight and enjoying every minute of it.

A third unexpected gift came about just this past week. I've been researching at a local museum my next project. Whenever I find articles and documents I need, the docent makes copies for me. So far, I've been economically prepared for the expense. However, when I went in on Tuesday, she needed a volunteer. I hadn't plan to stay four hours, but since she needed me for that block of time, I agreed. Once I went to digging through all the articles, time took wings. Before I knew it, she was waving  me out the door so that she could close for the day. Before I left however, we came up with a scheduled time for me to volunteer. Guess what I get for compensation?  A really cool place to sit in for four hours and all my documents copied gratis!

I must add, with each of these, I've had the time of my life with those whose company I've been in, and that's the best compensation of all!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Contest Fever

The malady, Contest Fever, finally wore down my resistance! In the last few weeks, I have entered three separate writing competitions. Earlier in the summer I signed up for an event, in which contestants would receive the prompt 24-hours in advance, with the mandate that the finished product  must be submitted within that time frame. In other words, the story had to be finished and done in 24-hours! Well, I was busy fluttering from one activity to another on Saturday, and missed out on  four of the allotted hours. Lost time had to be made up.

Sitting at the computer, it appeared  my Muse had gone on vacation. I put down a few words then more came. Toward the end of my composition, I could not think of a good conclusion, so I started to trash what I had and start over. Before I took that drastic step, my Muse told me to take a nap. I had barely put my head on the pillow when the conclusion came to me. Of course, I sprang up and typed the end with a fury before it escaped me.

Trying to follow some of the rules of writing I've run across lately, I put the story to bed overnight and I did the same. When I awoke this morning, a nifty thought came to me on how the ending could be better; so that was included.  After reviewing the story and looking over the contest rules again, I sent it!

In six weeks or a bit more, the results will be announced. I would keep my fingers crossed, but I just read that sustained periods of doing that causes "trigger finger". Since I already have a thumb claiming that ailment, I will pass! Instead, I will wish the best for all the entrants, but please let me win!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

There is Wisdom in Following Sound Advice

Earlier I wrote about persistence. Well, I followed my own advice and did just that. I persisted, and OMG (Oh, I know I am too old for that, but it's so appropriate). I had just about given up on a very vital source I needed for my creative nonfiction project. I thought to circumvent it, I'd use the Internet and thrash around for bits of information on various sites. Well, I decided I'd try one time to contact the source before I dug in too deeply with that tact. I went online, looking for  the director of the organization, and  Lo and Behold, it was the person I had communicated with face to face about a month ago. I sent her an email explaining I had not received the packet we had discussed and nicely asked for assistance. It was about 8:30 P.M. when I hit send, thinking it would be a few days before I got a response, so I planned to go information hunting at the Courthouse in the County Seat. When I got up the next morning (early), I had a response from her, apologizing. She thought the person to whom she had forwarded my request had taken care of it. She immediately got someone on it. While I was sitting at the library in the County Seat, trying to get my vision back from using a microfiche machine, I got an email. The info was ready. I jumped up and hurried to my car to make the hour drive to get  it. I thought, Oh please don't let this be two or three fuzzy sheets of lines that can't be deciphered because they have been copied to death. Well, it wasn't! I had a trove of documents on great quality paper, including magazine articles and pictures! I have been handling them with kid-glove care. For regular use, I made a fuzzy copy of each on my own poor quality printer. The originals I have in a coveted box in which I am saving my good stuff. So, don't give up. Keep trying. Now, I am on a roll.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Narcissistic, Manipulative, Antisocial--Keys to Success? Really?

The second Friday of each month, I participate in a marketing group led by Peggy Holloway and hosted by Bonita Sierra at the lovely clubhouse in her community. Today there were four of us brainstorming ways to be as successful as booksellers as we are book writers(smiles). That's quite a task, but, again, to be fruitful  we have to keep at it. I must admit this has been a weak area for me. Before, I've been reluctant to talk about my product. I figured if it were any good, people would find it.  Well, that's a bit of magical thinking with hundreds of thousands of books on the Internet. But it's still hard to toot, toot, toot my horn.

Well, on this past Thursday as I was preparing to go to my writing group in Holly Hill, a segment on CBS, the show with Gayle, Charlie and Nora, caught my attention. During this segment, a young man talked about "jerks" (his word, not mine) who become extremely successful. He pointed out three common characteristics: Narcissistic, Manipulative, Antisocial (not meaning a lack of desire to be around people, but not caring about others in a quest to get something). As I listened, I cringed. I didn't want to be any of those if that's what it took to get ahead in the game. However, as I rode along, I realized we must have some small portion of each of those characteristics to survive in a competitive arena, sadly. So, forgive my narcissistic, manipulative, antisocial ploy, but please go to amazon kindle and purchase one or both of my books. They are very affordable. My Mother's Southern Jewels and Julian Carlton--I am not just another George are both there. I would be most appreciative if you would write me a review afterwards. To repay you, I invite you to a lovely Sunday afternoon event in downtown Daytona Beach, Florida on August 17, 2:00 P.M. at 242 S. Beach Street at the Cinematique. It's FREE.  I'd love to see you there. Take care, Ethel

Sunday, July 6, 2014


What is pre-writing someone might ask? It's a myriad of things; however, simply put, the process involves any experience which feeds ideas that can be put into words. Presently, I am in the pre-writing phase of my next project. I'm doing a lot of grunt work to get information. As I talk about the project, I share the information so that I can become very familiar with it. Once, the writing process begins, I want to be so familiar with the facts that they will flow freely onto the page.

In the pre-writing stage, I always do a lot of thinking about writing. As I ride along, I formulate ideas for an opening or introduction; I think of chapters headings. Since this project is creative non-fiction, I am trying to get the elements of that genre clearly delineated. I can't interject or fabricate events as  can be done in historical fiction. The big draw back to this phase, one might ask. Well, when in a writing group, members expect each writer to produce work to be critiqued and discussed. For several weeks, I haven't. There's nothing on paper yet. But once things start flowing, I hope what issues forth is worthy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

I just left my Wednesday writing group at the HUB in NSB. Several members were absent today, but the intimacy of two members and the group facilitator lent itself to some flexibility. After we critiqued last week's submissions, we lapsed into other writing-focused conversations.  I shared my foray into audio book production. The two who were listening started to lavish me with praises. I immediately told them about my friend who gave me the courage to try this avenue ( Yes, I gave her name, Peggy Holloway). It's important to give credit to others. None of us has arrived at this juncture in life without the help of others. And just as Peggy has been so willing to share information about marketing, others of us should be willing to share that which we have a knowledge of.  What we put into the universe comes back. Let it be something good! Happy Writing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


I've done a couple of posts about the new project I'm undertaking. It's my hope to do a creative non-ficiton, which entails lots of research. Since I dove into it about two weeks ago, I have been digging like a prairie dog(they do dig, don't they?). One of the main archives I need to access has been a bit difficult, however. But, I refuse to give up. I will persist! In all due fairness, just as difficult as it has been to get into that place, it has been equally as easy to get into others. I have met  wonderful, helpful resource people in my area. They have shared articles, contacts and leads. Of course, the Internet has been an invaluable tool, but I want as much primary source information as possible. To that end, I have done the web page, hoping to get some anecdotes. A few people who got the message about the site, called, texted or emailed. After talking to one of these folks, he shared how badly he wanted to get to the beach sometimes that he started walking, hoping someone would come along and give him a ride( it is ten miles south of NSB). I said, "You must write that up. I want to include it."  I also want pictures, letter, souvenirs. I believe this is going to be good. Ethel