New Year, New You! Again?

Is it that time again? How many times has the thought crossed our minds to make changes for a new year? We poke and prod at our lives to pull out the gunk and pinpoint things to adjust. To be even more successful this year! To change evil ways! To be a better person! To spend more time with the family! To go on that much deserved trip! To do more for ourselves! We try to figure out why our previous year sucked (or not) or ponder why things didn’t go the way we planned.

Ah, resolutions. They can be fun until their not…until the tiniest of resolutions is broken, leaving us to feel the inescapable regret of setting them in the first place. But aren’t resolutions a form of goals? If you find yourself in the resolution rut, just remember whatever resolution you set for yourself is an attainable goal for the new year. Hit restart on your thought process and begin the day anew.

What are some of the ways you work on accomplishing new year goals? What are some of the ways you get through the resolution rut?

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Hoodwinked by Dickens, Charmed by Scrooge

Charles John Huffam Dickens rise to fame came from a serial publication called The Pickwick Papers in March of 1836, skyrocketing him to international literary celeb status a few years later. Seven years after The Pickwick Papers his novella “A Christmas Carol” was born and went on to long-standing and still-standing popularity.

The energy around the holidays coupled with tidings of good cheer, a roaring fire or a lit tree, a comfy blanket on top a sofa nestled with the Christmas classic makes the season complete. But don’t forget the punch or eggnog for some.

At first glance, it appears to be a dark haunting of a bitter man (Ebeneezer Scrooge), who counters with “Bah humbug” whenever someone mentions Christmas or greets him with Merry Christmas. “Who would say such a thing about the most cheeriest holiday?” a small child says.

Upon further review, it becomes more festive with the past, present and future visits from the spirits and realizations, and then in the end–the laughter and joy of having time to change his evil ways. Oh, no! He dashes from his bed and starts the journey of charming his way back into the world where he was once happy. Charming indeed, that Ebeneezer Scrooge has charmed his way into the lives and homes of the masses. Thank you Mr. Dickens!

The first film adaptation was a short British film version in 1901, titled: Scrooge or Marley’s Ghost. And in 1938 Reginald Owen starred in the first “talkie”  silver screen production of A Christmas Carol. I favor the one w/Alastair Sim and of course the stage play production put on by The Goodman Theatre every year. This year marks the 35th Anniversary of A Christmas Carol at The Chicago Goodman Theatre.

What’s your favorite part of A Christmas Carol? Will you and your’s be watching it or going to see it this holiday season?

I Know Where the Muses Play

by A.M. Day

Recently, while on a river walk, I stumbled across something huge—the undeniable urge to write about what I rediscovered…Muses. Like other writers, I sometimes have more than one. They tap and hammer and hone in on my frequency, sometimes all at once—especially, if I’m ignoring them to quiet my mind. And I have been ignoring them lately…my own Muse included. I found a way to silence them when needed. My Muse had been resting comfortably during her forced hiatus as I began to reflect on this year so far. She usually shows up when I’m truly in need of some Muse musings, inspiration.

But the last couple of months…nothing. Not a peep out of her or the other Muses. I searched deep within the walls of my mind, my heart. She wasn’t there. This dragged on, forcing me to do whatever I had to in order to revive her spirit. I walked and ran, hoping she’d pop in with her regular chatter and rattling off as the endorphins opened me up. And still, no Muse or Muses. She was snubbing me, giving me the cold shoulder, like I had been doing to her.

I killed my Muse! I remember thinking. A feeling of loss came pouring in as I sat on one of the nearby benches. The river rippled and something gushed from underneath, pushing bubbles to the surface. As I took off to finish my walk, a song played out against nature’s tapestry, enticing me to take a closer listen. Every step felt as if something were touching me, playing tag with my soul. It danced a circle around me, in front of me and behind.

Something was with me the further I walked through the lushness of the tree-lined path. My ears became hyper-aware as the droopy tree branches on either side of me began to sway synchronously. The soft, colorful fall leaves and the stiffened, brown ones blew underneath my feet, racing me, as I lifted one foot after the other. There was a lively jolt further in that became dormant when I passed the thicket, toward the opening to the end of the path. I turned to go back the way I came, only to find that my Muse had warmed up to me again and invited a few of her Muse friends to play.

“She’s not dead! I didn’t kill her!” I sputtered inside. All the joy came flooding back to me. Gleeful whispers passed my ears, and then I heard it…loudly, distinctly. “You would not like it if someone tried to quiet your voice. Why would you quiet our voices? Never turn your back on us again or we might have to leave you for good…for someone who will appreciate our gifts and who enjoys playing with us.”

“I have learned my lesson well, Muse. And I will never turn my back on you again,” I replied.

If you lose the Muses, remember, they play all around us and within. We just have to be willing to pay attention, respect them or begin-the-begin.

Genre Hopping–Part 1

by A.M. Day

Should writers limit themselves to one genre? There was a time when it was almost taboo to switch genres. ‘Stick to what you know’ is still a frequently used statement. Maybe this works in non-fiction writing, but I can’t see a writer of fiction being restrained by genre limitations. Today’s genres are plentiful. And with the addition of multiple sub-genres, a good writer can write in any one of them. The flavor chosen can suit the writer’s particular personality or it might just represent a place and time the writer is at, in that moment.

I wanted to get the opinions of other writers about the ‘genre hopping’ vs. ‘stick to what you know’ topic, so I enlisted the help of a few fellow tweeters/bloggers. Sticking to what you know is probably meant in the same spirit as Chris Ledbetter @Chris_Ledbetter mentioned, “I think one should consider perfecting their talent in a single genre before trying to move on to others.”  Chris writes YA fiction and Greek mythology.

And like another fellow tweeter, Aaron Cooley @fleming17f said, “If you get lucky with a big hit, you should keep going back to that brand,” but admits, “I’d want to change it up. I couldn’t write longer than a trilogy.” Aaron is a producer exec. with his spy-fi novel Shaken, not Stirred coming this fall.

I found it interesting that the ratio 2:2 females/males opinions were actually split female/female and male/male. My two male tweeters/bloggers, for the most part, seemed okay with writing in different genres, but both heedful about genre hopping, airing on the side of caution to stick with one genre, for a while anyway. Gotta love these guys! If you read between the lines, their comments say a lot about them. They’re the kind of guys Mom and Dad would want their girls to bring home—the cautious, protective, provider type.

Sorry, Mommy and Daddy…still apologizing for the ones I brought home.

My two fellow female tweeters/bloggers were quicker to shed the ‘stick to what you know’ thought. While Samantha LaFantasie @SamLaFantasie might stick with speculative fiction, she said, “I like going through different sub-genres.” She also writes some sci-fi. Her debut novel Heart Song is out this September.

Jennings Wright @JenningsWright doesn’t hold back, confessing that she needs multiple genres. “I think I’m secretly ADD.” That’s me, too, Jennings. Talk about girl-power. I LIKE IT! Jennings released her action/adventure novel Solomon’s Throne earlier this year. Her new romance novel Undaunted Love will be out soon.

I was surprised, not so much, by the difference of opinion, but more so by the two genders opinions. Usually women are known for playing it safer than men. Hmm, I like this shift…we’re all continuing to evolve.

Well, there you have it…A Novel Perspective. Share your perspective! Do you genre hop or stick to what you know? I guess in other words, Do you stick to what works for you?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Genre Hopping—Riding the Wave. We’ll touch on writing safe or taking risks.

 

Special thanks to my fellow tweeters for all their help. You rock!

Write To Fall

A Season To Write Series

by A.M. Day

Writing has always been synonymous with breathing to me. Whether jotting down notes, to-do-lists or grocery lists for Mom–writing is writing. And because I was never one to bite my tongue as a kid, venting on paper worked sometimes after Mom made me write hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of lines for punishment.  I even wrote the occasional ‘You’re On My Sh*! List’ lists for high school bullies and neighborhood evildoers.  

“If you take my computer, I will write with pen. If you take my pen, I will write inside my head. I will write long after I can no longer write, I will write until I’m dead.” ~A.M. Day

With that said, by now, everyone who knows me knows that writing is a part of me, like a kidney or a limb. But is there a particular time in a writer’s life that said writing thrives more than in other times? It has been said that the phases of the moon brings about certain energies in one’s life and I believe that is true for some writers when it comes to seasons.  

Begin the begin–The smell of ‘crumble under your feet’ leaves are upon us (and not the ones left by the drought). I’m talking about fall leaves in the Midwest. And as fall fast approaches, I find myself pillaging the cleaning and home fragrance aisles at the local Walmart to pull together that perfect balance of fall scents. Sweet Vanilla and Pumpkins from Airwick won out over the regular Apples and Cinnamon this year. 

Fall…one of my favorite seasons and I can’t wait! It evokes new life and endless hope in me. The cells in my body get a little perkier and renewed (I am a ‘fall baby’). Smelling the crispness of Wisconsin’s night air…it has a hint of fall, swirling between the subtle notes of smoked-wood and patiently-waiting morning dew. A ghostly whiff of Mom’s peach cobbler with the most delectable crust and Grandma’s fry-pies creep inside my memories of childhood.  And I actually celebrate the season change on the first day of fall every year. Hot cocoa w/marshmallows and hot apple cider pleasantly dance in my mouth at night along with Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee from the local coffee house before bed. 

With fall comes a slew of things for me to get done…write, write and write some more. I write in all seasons, but I write to fall the best! I think it’s because most of my best life-memories happened in the fall season. 

What season does your writing thrive in the most? And, why? Share your season with me. I would love to hear about it!

Book Wars–The PR offices of “My Book Is Better Than Yours”

Upon second thought, I took pause, pondering to write about this touchy subject and clicking the “Publish” button. In the end my initial decision won. Today I would like to address book wars and author etiquette. What exactly is author etiquette you ask? Simply put…good manners and not just to fans, but to fellow authors as well. There seems to be an upsurge of attacks on authors. Well, maybe not exactly on the authors themselves, but on their novels and that’s just as bad, hence, book wars.

Showing poor author etiquette publicly (social media, etc.) is never a good idea and is almost always unsavory. Using social media to stick it to fellow authors is shameful, plain desperate and sad. What’s better is when the other author doesn’t respond, keeping the attack one-sided. For instance, not only did a best-selling author (and for the life of me, I cant understand what would possess a best-selling author to act this way) recently parade tweets and retweets about how her novel is so much better than another author’s novels; there is also a quote in her book, blatantly putting down the other author’s work.

Personally, and these are my feelings, I would not have allowed a quote attacking another author’s work to be printed in my book. On the flip-side, I enjoy both authors’ work, but can you guess which author’s next book I will buy first? You got it! The author, so far, maintaining author etiquette. 

Thankfully, it’s been some time since I’ve seen the negative blah toward this particular author displayed.   

  I try to keep in mind the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Sometimes it can’t be helped, but in this case, come on—indirect/direct jabs; pitting book against book is horrible marketing and promo. Maybe it shouldn’t bother me. I mean, not like it has anything to do with me, right? Only in the sense of how I would like to be as an aspiring author…and attacking a fellow author’s work is not it. I don’t know about anybody else, but I look up to certain authors and if I find that they are stooping to author attacks…respect will be lost.

Side-note: Speaking of author etiquette, minus getting too deep in the Sue Grafton remarks–I will say this. No one author holds the corner market on working hard. Hell, it took me thirty years, three grown children and tragedies later to finally complete and start publishing my debut novel, all while trying to maintain my sanity. I hope that I never wind up in the PR offices of “My Book Is Better Than Yours.” 

Authors, please lead by example, be proud of your work. You work hard plotting, and researching, and everything else in between to breathe life into your novels. Remember, there is always more than enough to go around (i.e. fans, sales, etc.). Take pride in yourself and be proud of your fellow authors. Author etiquette is GOLDEN. That is the truth and I’m sticking to it! This is A Novel Perspective.

How would you rate your Author Etiquette? Share your perspective!