Thursday, January 29, 2009

Poor Little Magnolia Tree


My daughters gave this tree to me a couple years ago. Since I have almost every tree possible in this area, I lacked just that one. It is now coated with ice as are all the other trees here in the Midwest. We were hit later than OK, and ours started Monday mid-afternoon....

I'm posting more pictures on my other blogs, tabbed at the top right of this one. We saw this monster coming and Monday morning, though chilly, my whole area was out stocking up. I loaded wood for my fireplace insert at the front door. In single digit weather, the north-facing patio doors were already blocked off with panels of insulation, also some basement windows. I also put blankets over the worst hit windows. So with coffee in the thermoses, stew, etc. ready (I can heat and simmer on my insert if necessary), I settled in to wait. Cell phone charged, water bottles filled, everything I knew to do waited.

First, Monday mid-afternoon: Freezing rain. Now that's the stuff that coats the tree limbs, either breaking them or bending them over power lines, etc.

Freezing rain changed into sleet, back and forth for a while, then a dust of snow arrived Tuesday a.m. Tuesday continued a mix of freezing rain and sleet and by Wednesday a.m. we had 2-3 inches of snow over the ice.

Roads were covered. Lines to the houses wrapped in ice and sagging.

While some of my friends/family didn't have power, they did have phones or cell phones. Most didn't have anything.

I've always been grateful for this old insert, which projects out enough from the fireplace to add heat, even if the electricity for the blower goes out. Nice to warm coffee, too, but I thought of all the people away from my little area, where we did have electricity.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Backstory: Ear Candy

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Yesterday, another writer asked me where I get all my stuff that I do, in addition to writing. So here's part of what I do and the other part, you'll have to visit my other blogs :):

If you haven't visited Quick and Dirty Tips, you should. Tips on everything have different expert hosts and the podcasts are super info-packed. My introduction to QD began with Mignon Fogarty, the creator of Grammar Girl. I enjoy her podcasts while traveling, plugging in my iPod to the car's stereo.

And you wonder what I do when not writing. :) Here's more on QD and on other stuff, valuable to everyone and writers in particular:

NOTE: On QD, be sure to use the See All Episodeslink to get all the podcasts. There are Mommy tips, Money, Green, etc. and the experts podcasting usually have other sites to visit, or books they've written.

Digital Marketing expert Aliza Sherman is also on QD, podcasting in The Digital Marketer. Some of her podcast tips include:
Social Networks for Business
Marketing with E-Newsletters
Fast and Easy Audio Podcasting Tools
Six Ways to Use Twitter for Your Business
Five Digital Networking Tools for Business

The Public Speaker podcast is done by Lisa B. Marshall and is good. They're ALL good. :)

I'm recording some children's stories for family and found that Audacity, a free audio software program, works just fine. I'm combining it with small bits of music. To get to the MP3 stage, Lame is needed, also freeware. I know these work on a PC, but uncertain about Macs.

To get free music bits, Partners in Rhyme. and others provide podcasting services, including the necessary players, but for family, all is needed is the MP3 file saved somewhere in their computers where they can access it.

I have a reader whose eyesight is failing and have thoughts to write a short story and record it, just for her. That day is likely to be a long way down the road, but for now, I'm enjoying playing with voice options. Much of my articles and posts are dictated into Dragon Voice; however my stories seem to need to flow from my fingers. :)

If I can manage, I'd like to try to post sound here at Daily or Not, but don't hold your breath :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ten Writer Tips

In an effort to delay whatever, I'm posting some helpful writer tips. Hopefully, the following will be of interest:

1. For market research, sign up for free Publishers Lunch. The paid version is more intensive, but a tremendous amount of info is available on the freebie. Sign up at

2. offers several freebies, collected info of all sorts. Their paid subscription at $49 is worth it, if you have the money, but the freebies do a nice job. My favorites are Galleycat and Revolving Door. Revolving Door is especially interesting, because if there is a new editor at a magazine, you need to keep up, or at a publisher, i.e. I just read where so many editors had been named at Little Brown in Childrens and Poppy. Research which division they're in and then use for query purposes.

3. offers job lists for those wanting jobs, really good resource and check out the sidebar for additional resources. It takes awhile to wander around their new format, but somewhere on there is regular job listings. is also good and is a paid version. offers extensive help.

4. For Romancers and others sometimes, Cindi Myers newsletter, available through her website, is an excellent offering.

5. For outlining and proposals, I'm really into PageFour Outliner now. Really worth the time on the TEST version, which gives you quite a bit, but I have the whole software pkg and am using it heavily. It saves in .rtf, but be sure to place the data in your Document MyFiles.

6. Which brings me to, where daily deals bring great savings and is where I purchased PageFour Outliner, after I knew it would really be good. One or two software pkgs are listed every day, heavily discounted for advertising purposes. I check on Bits frequently and have not been disappointed. Programs offered are varied, from programming to graphics to writers stuff and games, etc.

7. Site Spinner Pro as webware is terrific. I have to update to it to be able to use the small screen option, i.e. Blackberry, but am using their WebEngine now, which is excellent.

8. has been a really good webhost for years now. Great support when needed, lots of free programs on their back pannel.

9. is excellent. Use for research and their sample query letter is great.

10. for writers podcasts. Excellent interviews on the shows and you do NOT have to have an iPod to listen to them on your computer. I turn up the volume on my laptop so I can do whatever while listening. Paula B. is excellent, but you can catch her on her own website,

That's it for now.

Monday, January 05, 2009

My Favorite Stories

Writers are often asked which of their own stories is their favorite. I have several--no, wait--most are favorites, and Flashback and Silence the Whispers fall into my Fav Bin. With a sister of my own, I loved unwrapping the story.

Set on the Oregon coast, one of the most beautiful scenic areas ever, one sister seeks the reason for another's decline and death. Truly one of the most haunting stories I've written, involving the element of billiards, as in billiards parlor. The cover is seafoam, just a beautiful job. I was thrilled.

I'd written about historical billiards in The Wedding Gamble, a woman owner, and returned to that element in Flashback.

I research heavily, have driven the Oregon Trail for another historical, and yet another for Delilah, up to Barkerville, B.C., another gorgeous setting. I usually take several cameras with me, one really old one that always comes thru with the richest color. When I'm home and writing, the photos serve to remind me.