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Just last week, I had to write another author bio. Though I reluctantly did so, I hate writing an author biography for a publication, website, con booklet, etc. Either I feel like I’m “bragging,” under-selling myself, or selecting the wrong things to include.

The simpler is better wisdom doesn’t always apply. Sometimes, if your bio is too simple, you appear unprofessional or inexperienced when compared to other writers included in an anthology, magazine, con directory of panel participants, or writers’ conference.

Then again, you don’t want to include every place you’ve been published, every award you’ve ever won, and every education tidbit. Judicious selection is best–so what’s that?

Depending on the location where your bio is to appear, you select those professional achievements which most closely align with the interests of the readers or attendees. What do I mean?

When I have a story appearing in a science fiction anthology, I don’t typically mention I’ve been published in “Faerie Magazine” and other fantasy publications or Killing It Softly 2 or other horror publications. Instead, I focus on writing which is science fiction in nature, listing Lost Signals of the Terran Republic, Outposts of Beyond,  Defending the Future: Dogs of War, or other places which have published my science fiction stories.

This means, I have a science fiction bio, a fantasy bio, and a horror bio–but wait, there’s more! A writing conference bio needs to reflect your experience and expertise in the subjects of the panels or workshops you’re presenting. Plus, it needs to lure an audience into attending.

For more on writing multiple bios, here’s the link to an informative post from author friend, Steven Southard: Tailoring Your Author Bio.

Thanks for reading, and keep on writing! – Vonnie

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As the school year begins, and most of us are finished taking vacations (or holidays for my British friends) — it’s time to set a few writing goals. I read a recent post from author Raymond Daley in which he challenged writers to submit a story everyday in September. (Poet and non-fiction writers can take this on as well). Here’s the link to his original challenge.

I’ve decide to accept the challenge!

“Why?” you might ask. Well, for me, I need a challenge or a goal to write toward. It’s not enough to have editorial responsibilities or long-term writing projects — I must have an immediate challenge which has an end in sight.

Will I use already written stories? Yes. Will I write new stories? Yes. Will every sent submission result in a published story? Of course not! But I’ve discovered that persistence is the key to being published. If I believe in a story, I’m willing to find markets and send it out as many times as is necessary for it to find a “home.” So the September Challenge will push me to persist.

On October 1st, I’ll report on my September submissions. Will I know the fate of every story? No, but I’ll know that I have at least 30 chances to be published.

I encourage all of my writing friends to design their own September Challenge or accept Raymond Daley’s (at least)* One Submission a Day for 30 Days Challenge. *Yes, I added that “at least” in there, because in the case of 100-word stories known as “drabbles,” one hardly seems a submission at all!

As for readers, why not set a goal to read a specific number of pages per day — or to read three new authors in the month of September. For those who knit, crochet, embroider — set a certain number of hats, scarves, or other item to be completed in September. For my artist friends, set a specific number of paintings to be completed.

This list could go on, but the important thing is to set goals, and to work toward achieving them. Now, I must leave you and get working on today’s story…

 

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denise laughing “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A.A. Milne

I said goodbye to a dear friend less than a week ago. Not a fare-thee-well because she was moving to the midwest — though she’d done that about a year ago. Not a see-you-soon because she was going on a trip to a distant land for several years — though she’d done that decades ago when she taught in Japan. Not a see you next year on vacation at Lost River State Park (if not sooner) — though I’d done that nearly 60 times. Not even a thanks for letting me stay at your place, but I need to get to the writing conference on time so-long — though I had spent a night with her when she lived in Virginia before going to a writing conference. No, I said goodbye until I see you in heaven.

Some of you reading this might not believe in heaven — but I do, and so did my friend. So when I thanked her for being such a good friend for over 50 years, and told her I’d miss her for the rest of my life until we met again — for me, and for her, it was true — we will meet again.

Which brings me back to the opening quote from A.A. Milne — for me, and those of you who have wonderful people in their lives — how lucky and blessed we are to have had friends, partners, and family whom we care about so much that it hurts to say goodbye.

And so, in honor of Denise, I will end, as I began — with a quote from A.A. Milne:

“‘We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. ‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”

 

 

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January 3rd is J. R. R. Tolkien’s birthday. Yes, yes, I know that is tomorrow–but if you are to celebrate properly, you must prepare.

I say, look for a birthday tree and make certain to sit beneath it on January 3rd with The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, or another book by Tolkien. Read a chapter or two, and allow the magic of Middle-earth to brighten this everyday world for a few minutes. Laugh at Bilbo’s reluctance to embrace adventure. Smile at the antics of Pip and Merry. Wish for a friend as faithful as Sam.

I recently read an interesting post at The Writing Cooperative about Tolkien by Hunter Liguore, The Tolkien Toast, which you might enjoy.

So when tomorrow arrives, lift a glass to one of the giants of fantasy literature–for as Tolkien wrote: “It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”

 

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#2 627 “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” — Helen Keller

I love Christmas–for me, it is filled with treasured memories. Memories of family, friends, church services, school Christmas pageants, snow, sharing with others, and giving without expecting anything in return. Yes, the stockings were hung, the tree was decorated, and gifts appeared beneath the tree on Christmas morning–and of course, I was excited about those things as a child. But even then, it was the other things which meant more to me.

I loved the church and school pageants and Christmas programs in which each small part seemed important, made me feel like a star–though I was not. I remember my friends who sang beside me (with far better voices) or acted beside me (with far greater skill), but I was happy being a part of the greater whole.

I loved handmade gifts–knitted, sewn, and crocheted by grandmothers or great aunts or dear friends. Each stitch took time and was made with love–imperfect, but always perfect in my eyes. Those mittens, slippers, scarves, and hats were all the warmer because of who made them.

I love cookies! I still enjoy the smell, the taste, and the decorations of home-baked cookies. I remember the exotic and foreign flavors of my godmother’s baking, the familiar tastes of Granny’s cookies, and the best efforts of my sisters and I piled on a plate in a heap of colorful sweetness.

I loved giving to others. A Girl Scout, my troops from Brownies through Seniors made gifts and treats for shut-ins, nursing homes, and “the poor.” Were there homeless shelters more than 50 years ago? I don’t know. But through Scouts and my church, I know we donated food, clothing, and toys to many. And my Christmas always felt richer because I’d shared.

But most important, I love the people who shared my Christmases. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, special friends–many gone now, but held close in my memory. Now, my husband, children and their spouses, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and newer friends–join with my siblings, my husband’s siblings, and old friends to make the holidays memorable.

I loved the Christmases of the past–and they are part of me. Nowadays, I try to make each new Christmas special for those I love, so it can join those of the past and not be lost. For each of my readers, I wish love, joy, and hope on this Christmas and those yet to come. – Vonnie

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Vonnie 11-17 close (2) Real life has kept me busy–so I took a vacation from blogging. But I’m back and I’ll be catching you up on some publishing-writing news over the next few weeks.

In addition, I’m announcing a new feature: beginning December 4th, Guest Authors will be appearing on Whimsical Words every Tuesday and Thursday. Not only will my guests talk about their latest book, but also about their writing process and publishing journey. There will be something for readers and fellow writers alike to enjoy.

So stay tuned for new posts, writing-publishing news, and lots of authors. Here is a list of the Guest Author Interviews appearing over the next few weeks:

December 4 – Dawn Vogel
December 6 – Kathryn Sullivan
December 11 – Jennifer R. Povey
December 13 – Tanya Lisle
December 18 – L. J. Cohen
December 22 – A. L. Kaplan
December 27 – Dianna Sanchez
January 1 – Carole McDonnell
January 3 – Lana Hechtman Ayers

And as the holiday gift-giving season begins, please think about purchasing one of my books. 🙂 – Vonnie   

Vonnie’s Books

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“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” — Woodrow T. Wilson

Friends are on my mind today. Two of my good friends, Karen and Wendy, have birthdays this week. Just last week, I had the opportunity to spend several hours (including lunch) with Patti, a friend who I haven’t had a chance to visit with in-person for two years. I chatted with dear friend Kelly on the phone just the other day. And I’m looking forward to spending time with more friends this summer.

Besides family, I think friends and their friendship are the most important thing holding my world together–which is why friendship often plays such an important role in my stories and books.

BeyondSheercliffs_Balticon Like the unlikely group pulled together in JRR Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, sometimes the friendships we forge because of a common goal turn out to be the most meaningful. At their core, Star Wars and Star Trek, are also about unlikely friendships. As is JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. For “Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.” [Bill Watterson].

The concept of friendship growing from a common goal (and enemy) led me to cobble together several groups of seemingly dissimilar individuals in my epic fantasy novel, The Enchanted Dagger (Book 1 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). And the idea of friendship is also playing an important role in my current work-in-progress novel, Beyond the Sheercliffs (Book 1.5 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). 

The fight against evil; the quest for an item or person of great value; shared hunger, thirst, and danger; a common goal; and unexpected circumstances that link characters together are all wonderful devices in storytelling that can be the seeds of friendship. And best of all, readers understand friendship. It is something we all have in common.

A great majority of us desire strong friendships. We all have known the pain of a friendship that has ended. Many of us have watched a friend grown apart from us or change in a way that makes them a different person–and one which we no longer want to be friends with. Most of us remember the joyful feelings of realizing someone has moved from friendly acquaintance to friend. And we embrace the truth of Helen Keller’s sentiment: “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

And so, as I shape and polish the various friendships in Beyond the Sheercliffs, I urge you to reach out to your friends. Take the time to phone, message, or better yet, visit with your friends. Or maybe, make the effort to develop a friendly acquaintance into a friend. Because “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” [Walter Winchell], and we could all use more of those sorts of people in our lives.

 

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