Call of the Goddess – #99cents

On the faraway planet of Bona Dea, in a society forged by ancient settlers after Earth has ceased to sustain life, trouble is brewing. Young, beautiful psychic Axandra is chosen as the matriarch and ruler of the world, and as host to the mysterious, powerful entity known only as the Goddess.

Trying to protect the people she loves but reluctant to host the Goddess, Axandra struggles with her fate. Used as a pawn between factions and suspecting a plot against her, Axandra’s life is almost too much to bear, and she turns to her companion Quinn for support.

But behind the scenes a greater power is at play, and soon the future of the whole colony is at stake. Will Axandra have the strength to protect her people, and will the ministrations of her beloved friend be powerful enough to save Axandra’s fragile soul?

From March 30th to April 5th, Call of the Goddess is #99cents for the Kindle Edition!

Watch the trailer.

How to Properly Use a Thesaurus

Recently, I have seen several examples where the author of a story apparently used a thesaurus or other reference to replace a word in a sentence, but in doing so ruined the meaning and sense of the line. I understand why writers want to use this reference – they’ve been told not to use simple verbs in sentences, particularly the “be” verbs. They also shouldn’t use common descriptors like “nice” or “good.” In our modern society of instant messaging, tweets, and social media posts, a broad and exceptional vocabulary is no longer prized nor taught. Many writers are left with few words at their immediate disposal.

I applaud anyone who puts forth the effort to strengthen their vocabulary and improve the quality of their writing, but I also feel distraught when their attempts fail.

By following the guidelines I’ve laid out below, you can use the thesaurus successfully and make your writing more appealing to discerning readers.

  • Use sparingly. It is not a magical solution to make your writing sound smarter. The only thing capable of such a feat is practice. When you hear or see a new word, practice using it in various sentences until it becomes a natural extension of your writing ability.
  • Trust your vocabulary and your instincts. Your first word is probably your best word. Starting out in writing, it’s normal to feel inadequate and even just plain stupid when comparing yourself to well-known writers. We all want to improve upon ourselves, but it’s important to do so carefully. Choosing the wrong word will diminish your credibility as a writer.
  • Use it as a learning tool. When I was much younger, I increased my vocabulary by committing to using any particular descriptive word only one time per page. This forced me to use references to learn and practice new words, broadening my knowledge of language. I still prefer to avoid using the same descriptive word too many times in the same work.
  • Not all synonyms are equal. Don’t just pick any word from the synonym list to replace your original word. You will end up with a nonsensical statement that readers will look at and instantly frown upon.
  • Confirm the meaning of the word to ensure it is a fit replacement. Read the definition of the new word. Then, test the word by reading the sentence aloud with the replacement word. Also consider the overall style of your work, the age level, and the vocabulary of the characters.

As an example, “have” has many synonyms, most of which do not possess the same meaning as each other, such as “obtain” and “accept.”Thesarus Pic-croppedLet’s try a few sentences with possible replacements from this list.

  1. “I have a bicycle.” – I have it now, in the present.
  2. “I obtain a bicycle.” – I am going to get a bicycle in the future.
  3. “I accept a bicycle.” – Thanks for the gift.
  4. “I carry a bicycle.” – That looks heavy.
  5. “I possess a bicycle.” – I have it now, in the present (just like my original sentence).

In short: 1. Learn a new word. 2. Practice it. 3. Use it wisely.

Good luck on your future writings!

 

 

Twitter Tips

Twitter Button

Twitter is a beast. We all know this, and we probably all wish that in some way it would be less intimidating and overwhelming. If you are, however, one of those people that love this beast, congratulations and… you must be crazy.

While floundering around on this massive forum of promos, thanks, retweets, and partial conversations (we won’t talk about the porn and the #followback competitions), I have discovered a few helpful items that let me know if my efforts are making any impact out in the virtual world.

First of all, it has been pointed out by several other bloggers and tipsters that you need to tweet about yourself frequently, even as you are retweeting and supporting your fellow authors, artists, and business owners. Retweets are a way to say thank you if someone has mentioned or retweeted one of your tweets. A retweeter may come looking to your profile to find a suitable post to pass on and it’s best to have one close to the top for their convenience. I suggest using the “Pin to Profile Page” option. This keeps your favorite tweet front and center and ready for retweeting. However, do remember to change this tweet out every few days to keep it up-to-date and retweetable.

If you want to know the popularity of any tweet, visit “Analytics.” You will be taken to a new tab showing you all of your most recent tweets, along with how many people each reached and if anyone clicked-thru a link, opened your profile, or expanded the details.

When it comes to followers, everyone thinks the more the merrier. To get followers, you must follow others (unless you are a famous celebrity like Steve Martin  or Patrick Stewart). You have undoubtedly seen the profiles that are fake, selling followers in batches of 1000s for the price of a decent steak dinner. Avoid these. Buying followers does nothing to help your cause, whatever it may be.

As you gain followers, you will notice it is impossible to keep up with tweets. No one can keep up with them when they arrive in the amount of a dozen every second. Don’t even try or you’ll spend every waking moment flipping through your feed. Limit your time on Twitter to just a few minutes twice a day, long enough to write a tweet, retweet five people, and catch up on a couple of followers and followees.

Don’t tweet the same thing all the time.¬† If you are using Twitter for marketing purposes, sprinkle your marketing with other interesting stuff, such as articles about your favorite subject or industry related tidbits.

I have found that I have certain people I follow that I simply mute. I’m still following them and can access their profile when I wish to, but I’m not constantly bombarded by tweets.

Hope these are helpful, and good luck taming the beast!

 

 

Rain on the Daffodils-A Poem

daffodilsRain on the Daffodils

Back stooped against the drizzle
The golden flower faces the saturated ground
On a cold March day

Equinox approaches, winter fizzles
The golden flower blooms full and round
Welcome to the day

Mother Goddess reunited
Son from winter’s death alighted

Yearly cycle begins anew
Blooming from the morning dew

6 Songs I’ve Had Stuck In My Head (This Week)

Arianna Grande One Last Time“One last time, I need to be the one who takes you home.” Modern pop hits are so lacking.

Hey, Honey I’m Good“Hey now, Honey I’m good. I could have another but I probably should not. I’ve got somebody at home and if I have another I might not leave alone.” This struck my funny bone for some reason.

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt – Yep, we went down that road this week.

Toto Africa – I have no shame in singing this classic in my head a good many times.

They Might Be Giants I Am a Paleontologist - We need more exciting songs about scientific occupations.

Ingrid Michaelson Home“This is my home, where I go when I don’t know where else to go.” Great song. Great album.

Paula Satijn - Singing

 

 

 

6 Reasons I Love Big Hero 6

After watching Big Hero 6 movie six times in three days, I’ve grown very fond of the story and it’s characters. Here’s a brief rundown of my favorite bits:

  • Fred. Just Fred. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a free-spirited mascot with dreams of being a fire-breathing monster? “But that’s not science.”
  • Robots. I want microbots to clean my house, and a Baymax to take care of the kids’ booboos. I really want microbots.
  • Wind Turbines. The floating wind turbines above the city of San Fransokyo are an awesome solution to the energy crisis. Someone invent these, please! I also love that they are decorated like koi. Nice touch.
  • Conflict. Disney storytellers have become the masters of pulling the heartstrings with personal loss and conflict. If you didn’t scream at the movie about how unfair the world is (TWICE!), you don’t have a heart. Damn them.
  • Fall Out Boy. Immortals is the perfect anthem for the upgrade montage of Hiro building superhero suites. Their songs are always poignant and striking. This is no exception.
  • The Nerds. The whole gang from the robotics lab made a great ensemble. Smart and funny. I love it when my children get to see smart on the screen.BIG HERO 6

 

 

 

My #HaikuFebruary – 2nd Half

My sleep is disturbed
By blaring train horns at night
No sleep for this one

~*~

Wind rattles clear panes
Tightens the cold winter wrap
My blanket is weak

*~*

Sun gnawed by the moon
Shadows throw double gray shades
Welcome crescent Sun

~*~

Snowy day of white
Black feline crosses the yard
Unassumingly

*~*

Tuna casserole
Warm comfort food in my mouth
The kids won’t eat it

~*~

Baymax and Big Heroes
Playing for third time today
Loving this movie

*~*

Editing my book
Back to Front and change of font
Pushing the deadline

~*~

Last day for haiku
Been an interesting month
Poetry month soon

My #HaikuFebruary-1st Half

Red-tailed hawk arcs down
Up again talons outstretched
Watchful from great heights

~*~*~

Cedar waxwings flock
On berry-laden branches
Delightful songs reign

~*~*~

Solid gray blanket
Horizon to horizon
Atmospheric wrap

~*~*~

Naked limbs shiver
Potential of life subdued
Wait for a warm face

~*~*~

Light gobbles night’s stars
Mindless of searching dreamers
Where is the darkness?

~*~*~*

Sky bending towers
Cenotaphs to those buried
Below red-hued sand

~*~*~

Mountains encircle
Brilliant shimmering city
of the desert plain

~*~*~

A fickle mistress
Universe, why do you thwart
Creativity

~*~*~

Apple, why must it
Be so aggravating to
Add my own music

Las Vegas Vacation-Day 3

With just hours to go before the plane ride home, we ordered a hearty breakfast at the Grand Lux Cafe. I’m a huge fan of biscuits and gravy (as long as the biscuits are crunchy on the outside and not Pillsbury-like refrigerator dough) so I went with their vision of this standard dish. This included an egg sunny-side up and a base of fried potatoes at the bottom. The biscuits were just the way like them and the combination made a great start to the day. We passed around a basket of beignets and sauces like dessert.

Not wanting to stray too far from our luggage, we decided just to wander the Grand Canal Shoppes that bridged the Palazzo and the Venetian. Not that we couldvenetian afford anything offered by these purveyors, but we enjoyed looking at the art and products like we were in a museum.

Peter Lik is a photographer known for selling the most expensive photograph of all time: Phantom sold for $6.5 million. A gallery of his works drew our attention and we admired the specially processed and framed prints. While they appeared to be lit from behind, they actually reacted to front lighting in a peculiar way. An image of the setting sun behind a solitary tree grew dark when the lights were lowered, just as though the sun was setting in video. These images of landscape and architecture were simply amazing.

We passed by a hat shop along the way and dove in to try on hats of varying styles. I’m lucky that I look good in hats. Offering everything from wicker to wool, brimmed fedoras to veiled fascinators to felt flappers, I was intrigued to find a line of Steampunk hats center stage, complete with bullets, lace, pistols, and vials in the hatbands. Ignoring the “Please ask for assistance before handling hats in this collection,” I tried on a top hat of black silk and six-inch wide white lace.

Bauman Rare Books gave us a glimpse into history, displaying first edition copies of works throughout the ages, including modern novels only a few years old and going back to Shakespeare’s folios.

We browsed through mammoth ivory and jade netsukes, bronzed mermaid statues, and Lladro ceramic figurines.

Finally we stopped for lunch at I Heart Burger and shelled out an awesome sum for bison burgers and sweet potato fries.

Our final Vegas win came in the form of hitting the Pre-check security line at the airport and having our plane depart on time to head back home to the freezing cold temperatures and snow fall of the Kansas City International Airport.

Las Vegas Vacation-Day 2

Being a group of nerds and not much into shopping, we downloaded Strayboots to take us on a scavenger hunt through the Strip. On our hunt, we sought the answers to questions and received tidbits of history and trivia as a reward before receiving our next clue. Fourteen hundred miles from a chilly February in Kansas, we enjoyed the sunshine and balmy temperatures, though the lack of humidity suck moisture from my skin at a rapid rate.

We headed to the Bellagio. Inside we found one of the more luxurious casinos, the place where the high rollers tend to congregate. Amidst theblownglassbellagio tinkling slot machines and blackjack tables stood flowing pieces of blown glass art. The first one looked like something from the sea, wide blooms intermixed with snaking tendrils – my eye interpreted sea anemones and tube worms in the ocean currents. Our clue led us to the registration desk of the hotel. Above our heads, a sky light beamed the suns rays through another blown glass sculpture entitled Fiori di Como by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly with 2,000 glass blooms.

Leaving the Bellagio, we passed the fountain pool in front of the hotel and made plans to come back after dinner to watch a couple of the displays. From here, we looked at the Arch de Triumph replica, which was originally going to be built to full scale, but was reduced in size due to proximity of the airport. Our next question was which number would we find on an American roulette wheel that is not on a French roulette wheel. The answer is double zero (00).

Crossing the street to the Parisian, we headed in beneath the Eiffel Tower in search of a bronze janitor by way of a craps table. I went hunting a penny smashing machine and found one near the cashier. Our son collects smashed pennies from our trip, and I brought along a stash of quarters and pennies just for this purpose. Returning to the craps table, I watched as our group let bets ride on the Pass Line. I cautiously counted my husband’s chips, pleased that he was up a few bucks, but also knowing he was going to play until he ran out. The older gentlemen manning the table were entertaining, helping the betters and making jokes as play continued. At this point, a man in blue shirt joined out table, throwing down $1500 for chips, and that was just a few bills from the stack he had sitting on the rim of the table.

After the men cashed out, we located our bronze friend in order to answer the question. After this, we headed back toward our hotel. Our dinner reservation was set for 5 pm and we wanted to get back in order to nap and change. We passed through the Venetian, gazing in shop windows and at the red decorations in preparation for Chinese New Year coming up. Enormous paper lanterns hung from bamboo sticks and sheep and rams carved from wood stood in the atrium.

During this break, I sat down facing our window, looking out at the distance mountains occasionally as I read my latest book, a beta read at the moment. One thing you notice when you reach the solitude of your hotel room is the silence. There is so much noise in the casinos and on the street that the silence is profound and refreshing.

At 5:00, we gathered in front of the Delmonico, one of Emeril’s restaurants. We were planning on steak, steak, and more steak, with a few sides of asparagus, grits, and creamed corn. And afterwards, there was chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup. Delicious.

After a quick change, we headed up the street again. Cigars in hand (not mine), we strut toward the Bellagio again and found a place along the stone balustrade to watch the fountain show. Dancing to Hey, Big Spender, the powerful jets of water shot several stories into the sky, collapsing back again. Lights flashed and the water popped with a sound like fireworks. We stayed long enough to see another display choreographed to Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye). From here, we headed further south down the avenue. Our goal was to reach M&M World to pick up gifts for the kids. Along the way we found a cello trio playing on one foot bridge, and an electric violin soloing on another. We passed Marvel superheros, Transformers, Elvis, and Spiderman, and a bearded lady.

After purchasing t-shirts boasting everyone’s favorite colorful candies, and smashing a couple more pennies, we crossed to New York, New York again. After another round of craps, we grabbed a taxi to head back to our home base. Now, we repeated ourselves about five times that we wanted to go to the Palazzo, but our taxi driver insisted on taking us to the Venetian, and doing so in a way where we wondered if we’d survive the trip. His gas gauge was on E, tire pressure light on, check engine light on, and accelerating gunning at every opportunity. We didn’t argue the dropoff, we just wanted off the crazy ride.