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Archive for the ‘Musings & More’ Category

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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“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas A. Edison

I’m not sure if I am astounding myself, but I am working hard on numerous projects:

*Judging a poetry competition–both a fun and challenging job. I love reading what creative minds come up with!

Rocket space ship . Mixed media*Editing 2 anthologies, “Re-Launch” and “Re-Quest” for Pole to Pole Publishing. And I will be reading for 2 more anthologies (“Re-Terrify” and “Re-Enchanted”) shortly.

*Finishing a novel, adding to 2 in-progress short story collections, and working on a nonfiction book.

*Writing several short stories and poems for anthologies or magazines.

*Thinning the book herd. (My bookshelves are sagging dangerously low).

*Putting together a bibliography of my writing and illustrations – then, entering the speculative work into http://isfdb.org  Plus, if the publication qualifies, adding it to my listing on Poets & Writers data base.

*Working on genealogy–and putting together several books based on that information. Yes, I know these publications won’t be “best-sellers,” but it’s a nice way to preserve the information and make it available to family members and other interested people. And I have no “time limit” on these books — as more information trickles in and I want to include as much as possible. (Librarians be warned, I will need help in doing the research to “ground” these historical accounts in history).

*Knitting 30-plus scarf & hat sets by Christmas for daughters (I do call my daughters-in-law, “daughters,” too, because they are dear to me), sisters, nieces, etc. I was given a huge amount of lovely yarn, and I’m aiming to use up much of it in the process. Plus, knitting at least a dozen men’s hats for sons, nephews, brothers-in-law, etc. for Christmas.

*Then, there is family: time spent with husband, kids, grandkids, friends, my mom and other family members. And art – I want to paint at least 2 new pieces of cover art this summer. And visits – I’ve fallen behind on my visits due to a 2017 and 2016 filled with trips to NC and SC to help older relatives who were dying. Wait, I’ve forgotten gardening! My gardens so need work. And the birds – feeders need to be repaired or replaced and birdhouses need to be hung.

I could (and should) go on. But I hope you get the idea.

I encourage you to look at your life. List what you are doing and what goals you can set for yourself. Can’t think of anything to do? Check out the volunteer opportunities in your area. I challenge you to astound yourself!

 

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“Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction.”–Rumi

In the bustle of our hectic lives, writers sometimes loose their sense of direction: A blog and/or website to maintain. An online presence to keep up-to-date (Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook professional page…) Reviewers to locate, query, and send copies of our books to — then, if a review is done, thanking the reviewers. Keeping our Amazon Author’s Page current. Appearances, whether book signings or presentations. Guest blogs. Oh, and writing new fiction (or poetry or nonfiction).

That last item on the list is the most important. Writers should be writing. Your mind and heart both know that is where your passion is and where your time should be spent. When an author is successful enough, she can hire someone to do everything else — but the author must do the writing.

As to what to write — again I refer to the Rumi quote: listen to your heart. Maybe writing book reviews and hosting guests on your blog gives a writer more visibility, but is that your heart’s desire? Would you really rather be working on your next story, book, or poem? If you answer, “Yes, I’d rather be working on my own writing,” then you need to cut back on the distractions and get back to your work.

So I say to writers, run in the direction of the next piece of your writing. Your readers are waiting and your heart knows the way — so run to your keyboard or pad of paper and write!

 

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152 “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” – Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon’s statement is true for all of us (regardless of gender). Opportunity does come knocking occasionally, and sometimes chances for success appear serendipitously in our inboxes, but more likely we must create our opportunities.

As a writer, I can sit back and wait for editors of anthologies to ask for my stories – which is lovely when it happens, but still a rare privilege for me. Or I can research markets, locate opportunities, and either write a new story for an antho or check my files for an appropriately themed piece of fiction to send.

I can check my email and phone messages for bloggers and reporters begging for an interview or a feature, or I can get online and look for blogs which might be a good fit for me and my book/books. Then, I can write a query letter and go through the process to “land” an interview, guest blog slot, or feature.

I can sit on my sofa and wait for a bookstore manager to contact me for a book signing, or I call the bookstore, find when the manager has a moment to chat, stop by, and see if a book signing (whether individual or with a group of other authors) is something we can make happen.

I can slump in an armchair and moan because lots of writing conference organizers aren’t calling me to appear and lead workshops, or I can contact the people in charge of writing conferences and ask about the process for presenting a program at their next conference.

I can sigh loudly and lean my chin on my hand while gazing out the window wondering why more science-fiction/fantasy cons are not inviting me to be a panelist or I can find out who is inviting guest authors/editors to various sf/f/h cons and learn what I have to do to get an invite.

You get the idea. I need to make opportunities, not wait for that lucky break. And though I’ve written this post from a writer’s point of view, it applies to most goals which require someone to open a door for you.

So readers, think about how you can make opportunities to reach your goals. And though I wish you good luck — don’t rely on luck, rely on yourself and hard work!

(And if you are interested in interviewing me, featuring me or my books, or having me post a guest post on your blog – let me know. If you are a conference or con organizer and want me to participate – contact me. Just practicing what I preach, and trying to make my own opportunities!) 🙂

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