Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

IWSG, Voyagers and Other News, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

This month's question is:  What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just "know" suddenly you wanted to write?


Happy New Year!
This is a longer post than I intended...

My writing journey began when I was eight years old. My mother was homeschooling me at the time with the Calvert Course, as it was called then. Now it's Calvert Education with over a 100 years of homeschooling experience. It was quite something. They shipped everything that would be needed for each grade in a big box: books, paper, pencils, teacher's manual, etc. EVERYthing.

Anyway, one assignment was that I write something about my family. I doubt my mother expected much, a page perhaps of misspelled words because I was then (not so bad now, though still not great) a most terrible speller due to dyslexia. But apparently I wrote three pages describing my family in great detail. It was in this treatise that I wrote about my sister and me as two grils. From then on we have often been affectionately referred to as "the grils." Even my husband has been known to use it.

My mother, impressed with my effort, became extremely supportive of my writing. Many years later, as an adult, I was going through a slump and somehow she knew. Out of the blue she sent me THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron.

The book worked. It got me writing again. And now I'm going to reveal a little secret. Embedded in each my three self-published books - and in any book I may publish in the future - are those three words from her, "follow the way."


***
Big news for me. My story, "The Blind Ship," will be in the next Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology!
 Journey into the past…


Ten authors explore the past, sending their young protagonists on harrowing adventures. Featuring the talents of Yvonne Ventresca, Katharina Gerlach, Roland Clarke, Sherry Ellis, Rebecca M. Douglass, Bish Denham, Charles Kowalski, Louise M. Barbour, Beth Anderson Schuck, and L.T. Ward.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a voyage of wonder into history. Get ready for an exciting ride!

Release date – May 5, 2020
Juvenile Fiction: Historical (JUV016000) / Action & Adventure (JUV001000) / Fantasy & Magic (JUV037000)Print 9781939844729 / EBook 9781939844736

A Writer’s Digest Best Site for Writers and The Write Life’s Best Site for Writers.
Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database; articles; monthly blog posting; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram groups; #IWSGPit, and a monthly newsletter. www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com


***


I'm also thrilled to announce that I have an article in the prestigious travel magazine, Destination, which publishes magazines geared towards specific locations in the Caribbean and around the world. My article, "Yard Culture and the Fellowship of Food" is in Destination: US Virgin Islands/British Virgin Islands. The magazine is published only once a year, so my article will be in the hands of readers for a whole year.




***
Being Thankful
What's not to be thankful for?
2019 was a bit rocky, but ended on a high note.
I have a loving husband and sister.
I have a roof over my head, running water, electricity, food
and,
I have my health.

What are you thankful for? How did you begin your writing journey? Do you feel good about what you accomplished in 2019? Are you looking forward to 2020?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

IWSG - End of Year Thoughts

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Tonja Drecker, Beverly Stowe McClure, Nicki Elson, Tyrean Martinson!

This month's question is:  Let's play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?


If I were living the dream, the only thing I'd change is having my own special space, a she shed as it were. Other than that, I'm good.

End of Year Thoughts
It's December, already. The year seems to have gone by way too fast. Maybe it's because I'm older? 

Aside from politics, climate change, the destruction of natural habitats and wildlife, the ever increasing problem with plastic, the suffering of millions and millions and millions of people due to war, famine, and disease, I personally have had a pretty good year. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a split-brained society/world, a strange schizophrenic place where one thing means another, where reality is questioned, where on one hand science is denied while on hand it is nonchalantly used every second of every day - the computer/internet, medicine, cell phones, cars, electricity, engineering on all levels... the list of how we use science is so long I'd be typing for who knows how long. And yet, science, or certain branches of it, is denied as somehow not being science or not being scientific or not being factual. 

When you take the temperature of someone who is sick, do you deny the reading of the thermometer? Do you argue that something must be wrong with the thermometer, or the person taking the reading, or the numbers being registered? And while you're arguing and/or denying do you ignore further readings that say the person's fever is getting worse and continue to do nothing to correct the cause of the fever?

Via NASA: “The area covered by older and thicker sea ice
 in the Arctic diminished by almost 50 percent
between 1980 and 2012.”
Asking for a friend. 

No matter what this planet, this tiny spec of dust in a vast unknowable universe, is the only home we have, it's the one that grew us. It's the only place around, for who knows how many light-years, where we can live in relative comfort. We are not built to live in space or on the moon or on Mars. Earth is it folks.

I think I can safely say that if we continue to go in the direction we are going it is not the earth that will be destroyed, it will be OUR habitat and US. The earth has survived for billions of years and in that time has gone through many changes and has evolved many species. We are only the latest incarnation, and a pitifully new one at that. As a new species we have taken this miraculous blue ball and, like an undisciplined puppy, torn it to pieces and we are now wondering what happened to the toy and wondering where the next toy is going to come from and are thinking about going off to find a new one to rip apart.

No matter what, the earth will survive, whether we do is questionable.

As we come to the close of 2019 and move into 2020, think about what your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are going to have to deal with. Are you going to teach them to love this planet and each other, or are you going to buy them more plastic toys for Christmas?

May the holidays bring us meaning and understanding and love. May we all learn to be grateful and thankful for the small, yet oh so important, things in our lives. Things like, air, water, food, and our very lives.
Merry Christmas
and a
Happy New Year

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

IWSG, Chocolate, and Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts: Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!


This month's question is: What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

I don't know that I'd call anything I've researched strange. Interesting yes, but not strange. I haven't researched anything like what kinds to poisons to use, or how long does it take to choke a person to death, or is there a ghost of JFK haunting the White House, but I have done some very interesting and in depth research on, among other things, chocolate. 


Cocoa Pods
Cocoa beans come from this fruit. The seeds are
surrounded by a sweet meat.The trees are native
to Central America and only grow within a small
 latitudinal range.
Did you know that cocoa beans were literally used as money? A 100 beans could get you a jackrabbit or a turkey hen. A tom was worth 200. A turnkey egg, an avocado, or a fish wrapped in corn husks was worth three beans. Among the Maya and Aztec only the wealthy and royals drank hot chocolate - which was laced with chili - because doing so meant they were literally drinking their wealth. It is because of these two facts that we get the term about money not growing on trees, which at one time it really did. 

Supposedly chocolate in candy form didn't make an appearance until the 19th century. However, there's strong indications that soon after the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs and Mayas nuns added sugar to chocolate and were the first to make candies.  In 1544 it was a delegation of Maya nobles to the court of Prince Phillip who first brought chocolate to the Old World, not Cortes as some would have us believe. The Spanish crown became so enthralled with drinking chocolate they wanted to keep it secret and only a few monks, hidden away in Spanish 
monasteries, knew the recipe for preparing the beans. But eventually the secret was leaked and it became the new rage in Europe.
Cups and saucers (3) MET DT3891
Mancera1
Pedro de Toledo
By the way, it's because of drinking hot chocolate that we have saucers. Sometime between 1639 and 1648 the Viceroy of Peru, one Pedro de Toledo the Marques de Mancerea, became concerned when a lady spilled chocolate on her gown. He had the problem corrected by having a silversmith make a plate with a raised ring in the center of it. A small cup could then be set on the plate without fear of it slipping off. The "mancerina," or saucer, was born. This lead to potters making matching cups and saucers.

Here endth the lesson.



Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for, what else, chocolate!


What are you thankful for? Do you have a favorite kind of chocolate? A favorite candy bar? And what's the strangest thing you've ever researched?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

IWSG, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

This month's question is:  It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

I seem to have something to say on this question...

To me, writing without reading is like running without first learning to walk. Reading and writing go together like soil and plants. Inotherwords, I think it's pretty impossible not to have one without the other, they are intertwined. We learn our letters and we learn how to write them. In learning to write our letters, we learn how to read them. In learning to write our letters, we learn how to put them together into words that form sentences which teaches us how to read. In learning to read words, we learn the best way to put those words together. The more we read the better we get at putting words together. Music works much the same way. All musicians are influenced by what has gone before. All writers are influenced by what has gone before.
קלף, נוצה ודיו
If we want to be good writers I think it stands to reason that we must seek out good writers to read. It's true that not all of us will like every good writer. As an example, I'm not a fan of Hemmingway, but I love Steinbeck. And yes, for a while, I wanted very much to write like Steinbeck and made vain attempts to copy his "style." But if we read enough and we write enough eventually we find our own voices, our own styles. 

To not read for fear that your ideas won't be original is, in my mind, a kind of lie. All stories have at their root a few basic themes. Shakespeare did a very good job at showing us how to manipulate those basic themes - comedy, tragedy, revenge, love, fear, longing etc. - and write different stories around those themes. The stories we make up using those themes as our foundation are just as unlimited as the arrangement of 26 letters into words.
CHAUCER Hengwrt
The first page of Chaucer's
Canterbury Tales.

Out of 8 notes, we get everything from Classical music to jazz to rock to country and everything in between. Out of 26 letters we get everything from Shakespeare to comic books and everything in between. 

If one never listens to music how will one learn about all the different ways those 8 notes can be put together? How will one know that repeating the same arrangement of notes over and over and over will be dull and boring to ears with a broader exposure? If one never reads how will one know that writing the same arrangement of words over and over and over will be boring to eyes with a broader exposure? 

Read. Write. Expose yourself to all the possibilities. Those possibilities will open the door to new possibilities and your own original ideas will emerge. Having an idea, you will arrange 26 letters in your own original way and tell a story around one of the ancient themes that is unique to you.

Being Thankful

Today I am thankful for Robyn Campbell, who died suddenly and unexpectedly this past week-end.
Robyn was among that first group of people to follow my blog. 
She read all three of my books and gave me feed-back.
She encouraged and supported my efforts.
I know she will be missed by many. Most particularly her family.
I posted this picture on her Facebook page for her birthday,
 which was just a few days before she died.
She never got to see it.

What are you thankful for? Did you know Robyn? Do you think reading is important for the improvement of your writing?

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Blind Shot, by J.L. Campbell

Helping out our friend, Joy Campbell, on the release of her latest book. Congratulations, Joy!

THE BLIND SHOT BY J.L. CAMPBELL

Stand-Alone: yes
Series: Par for the Course, Book 3
Publisher: The Writers’ Suite
Publication Date: September 20, 2019
Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Multicultural
Heat Level: Sensual

Book Blitz: September 20, 2019

Contact: info@honmagpr.com

THE BLIND SHOT BY J.L. CAMPBELL

When all else fails, love will find a way.
Kofi Danquah has travelled halfway around the globe for fifteen years, satisfying his need for advancement and adventure. In that time, he has never met another woman as intriguing as Regina Chu. She's a chameleon—a wild child with issues she hides behind a playful persona.

In Gina's eyes, Kofi is a mystery—exotic, intense and secretive. His sober nature balances her bubbly personality and unconventional approach to life. Plus, he's appealing enough to make her forget they're from separate worlds.

Time spent together changes Kofi and Gina's platonic relationship into an attraction that burns hot despite their cultural differences and the disapproval of their families. But fairy tales don't always last and true love needs fertile soil in which to bloom.

Excerpt
Kofi left my side and took a spin around the room. He stopped beside a window that gave a view of the yard. Even in a white tee-shirt and knee-length shorts, he was distracting—despite the state I was in. After several minutes, he faced me. "Come here." 

I dragged myself to where he stood and looked up at him. 

He took me by both hands and as he drew me in, his breath wafted across my forehead. Cherished and protected, that's how I felt in his arms. 

"What was that for?" I asked.

"Do I need a reason to hug you?" 

I shook my head and tried to lighten the moment. "You're getting to be as weird as I am." 

He kissed my forehead and then chuckled. "Nope. Since I knew you needed a hug. I supplied it." 

Stepping backward, I met his eyes. "Do you believe what I just told you?"

"Why wouldn't I? Everything you've told me supports what I thought before you said a word about what happened to you." 

"And you still want to be with me?" 

"I ask you again. Why wouldn't I?" He pulled me close, squeezing me to his chest. "Come here, you crazy woman." 

While he hugged me, I mumbled in his shirt. "I just thought that maybe you'd think less of me." 

"Why would I? It wasn't your fault." Kofi tipped my chin up, but I wouldn't look above his lips. "It only makes me love you more." 

My heart stopped for at least a couple of seconds. I was sure of it. Since I wasn't convinced Kofi's words weren't a mistake or him trying to comfort me, I let the moment pass. 

"You know the worst part?" I asked, sniffling.

"I can't know, so I'm asking you to share that with me." 

I ran one finger over the bulging muscles in his arm. "The biggest problem my mother has with you is the color of your skin … as if we aren't black, too." 

Kofi's grin was filled with mischief. "I figured that out the minute she laid eyes on me." 

AVAILABLE ON

AMAZON

 

ENTER TO WIN

a $10 Amazon gift card

CLICK HERE

 

ABOUT J.L. CAMPBELL

J.L. Campbell writes contemporary, paranormal, and sweet romance, romantic suspense, women's fiction, as well as new and young adult novels. Campbell, who features Jamaican culture in her stories, has penned over thirty books. She is a certified editor, who also writes non-fiction. When she’s not writing, Campbell adds to her extensive collection of photos detailing Jamaica’s flora and fauna. Visit her on the web at www.joylcampbell.com

 

CONNECT WITH J.L. CAMPBELL

AUTHOR SITE | FACEBOOKTWITTER | INSTAGRAMNEWSLETTER | PINTEREST | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

IWSG, Destination USVI, Dorian

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts: 
 Gwen Gardner, Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!

This month's question is: If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

Some place indoors with comfortable AC and/or heating, with plenty of food on hand, and a view either of the the ocean or the mountains.
***
The possible article I talked about last month has been written and... accepted!! It's quite the deal. It will be published in Destination USVI, a magazine that is published annually and distributed to visitors as they board their plane on certain airlines at certain stateside airports!!!! You can take a gander at what the magazine(s) look like here.

I'll let you know when it actually gets into print.

***
Hurricane Dorian became a cat 1 right over St. Thomas and St. John. Lucky for my family and friends it did very little damage and everyone is fine. It was the surprise of it turning north and intensifying so quickly - in a matter of hours - that had people scrambling. Not that they weren't prepared, they were. But when you're expecting 50 to 60 mph winds and get 80 to 90 (one gust was officially recorded at 111 mph) it was... well a surprise.

As for the Bahamas and the East Coast. My heart aches. What a horrible storm. The Bahamas will never be the same. And I bet some of their sandy cays have disappeared completely. Give help where/when/how you can to all those suffering. I know a lot of IWSG and blogging friends live along the coast... Difficult times.


Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for the mundane. 
Here's a picture of an Orb spider that's taken up residence in our yard. 
Haven't seen on in several years.

What are you thankful for? Got a dream location to write in? Are you safe from Dorian?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

IWSG, Memories, and Writing

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!


This month's question is: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

It's funny, strange, and serendipitous how this question applies to me. I've been in a writing slump for some time. These slumps have happened before and I don't fret over it, as I know no matter how long they last, I'll eventually find my way out of it.

Recently I've been posting pictures with a few lines about the history of my family on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I've been posting to my Facebook author page , St. John Travel and Life, and to Voices of St. John VI. The multitude of positive and up-lifting responses has been humbling, inspiring, and totally awesome!

These postings led the editor of a magazine - someone I've written for before - to ask me to write a story for her magazine. And not just one story, but perhaps several. And, I'll get paid for it, and handsomely too.

So, to continue in this general vein, I will post here a few of the pictures I've posted on Facebook.






My mother, Erva Claire Boulon, on a donkey at about age 14, 1931 at Trunk Bay, St. John.



My grandmother riding into Cruz Bay, St. John to pick up the mail. 1945. She ran a guest house at Trunk Bay from the late 1930s until World War II then picked up where she left off after the war ended.


My grandmother, Erva Hartwell Boulon on the upper porch of the Main House at Trunk Bay, early 1950s. She ran her guest house without electricity. Doctors, lawyers, and artists stayed there for the quietude and peace she provided.

Among her more well-known guests were the author John Dos Passos, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty, and the artist Otto Freid.





This is a postcard from the 1940s of the kitchen at Trunk Bay.
This is me at Trunk Bay, about 1957. I appear to sand skiing.


Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for the memories and for the opportunity to share them.

What are you thankful for? Has your writing ever surprised you?