Friday, March 30, 2012

The Surreal Chronicle of the Revelers

I had to share - 
after reading Anthony Rando's guest post
I bought his book,
The Surreal Chronicle of the Revelers.
Now I'm a women's fiction,
some science fiction, thrillers girl.
Sooooo this was not my usual genre.
Having said that,
Anthony has a voice that made reading
The Revelers
a lot of fun.
 His characters, 
a group of misfit superheroes,
are in trouble when their 
former superhero teammate
returns to create havok.
Quirky characters, a panda theft, romantic angst
and  an evil nemisis, 
what more could 
anyone want?
And Anthony has all the details down,
probably because he's a ninja-in-training.

If you didn't get a chance to read his post
yesterday on balance,
check it out now.
And if you're a superhero kinda
person . . .

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Math of a Working Writer

Happy Thursday All!
I've got an amazing author 
with a great sense of humor
share with you.
Welcome Anthony J. Rando!
I couldn't stop laughing when I read his post.
I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
 * * *

Shortly after I self-published my first book, someone asked me, “What do you do?”

On a (mildly egotistical) whim, I answered, “I’m a writer.”

“Oh,” they replied. “So you’re unemployed?”

I would love to say that I was taken aback by this statement, but I can’t. It was almost as if to say that if you claim you’re a writer, you must have copious amounts of free time—or else you must be famous, and they saw what kind of car you drove here in.

Frankly, I’m neither unemployed nor a bestseller, so in order to continue working as a writer, I have to keep my regular day job. When I tried to schedule writing time into my life, it seemed impossible. But I’ve always been good at math.

There are 168 hours in a seven-day week. Forty of those hours, I work my regular desk-jockey day job. I commute 20 minutes each way to work, five days a week, which totals 3.3333 (repeating) hours of driving just for that. Sometimes there’s traffic. Let’s call it four.

I’m relatively young and can get away with six hours of sleep most nights, but no less because despite my best efforts, which include a lot of eye-squinting and grunting, I’m not getting any younger. I estimate that I sleep about 48 hours a week.

For those keeping track, we’re down to 76 hours. And yes, I’m going somewhere with this.

Unfortunately, I have to allot time every day for those annoying little habits, things like eating, drinking, and using the facilities. Include prep-time (that’s meal prep, not bathroom prep) and I would say that’s a solid two hours a day. That’s 14 hours a week, and just like that, there’s only 62 hours left.

I do some freelance journalism work for a couple of news websites, on which I probably spend 10 to 15 hours a week. I’m also an assistant teacher in a martial arts class that meets twice a week for two hours, which brings us down to around 43.

I don’t have children yet (thanks to the smiling fortune of the gods of Premium Contraceptives), but I do live with my girlfriend, and while she is not particularly high-maintenance, I do have to pay attention to her sometimes, and you know, do stuff with her. So let’s call that a few hours a day, maybe four or five on weekends, and faster than you can say “lousy boyfriend” I’m down to somewhere around 18.

Now if we add in a “miscellany” column that includes the likes of grocery shopping, bar hopping, seeing friends, the occasional barbecue, visiting my parents, driving to all these places, watching TV, reading, fielding phone calls, and banging my head against the wall in the hopes of dislodging a muse…. Good gravy, where did the time go?! Suddenly it seems impossible to balance such a life.

But… as I claimed earlier, I’m a writer.

And a writer writes. That’s probably the most simple form of the definition: a writer is one who writes. Even as I write this sentence, I am one who writes. I love to write. It makes me happy. I like to stop writing and read back what I’ve written. Point is, as a writer, I have an obligation to myself, and I believe that I have some sort of obligation to others (even if they keep reassuring me that I don’t).

Anyone who calls themselves a writer has a purpose, whether it be to entertain, to educate, to captivate, to excite… They write because they have something to say. We write because we want people to read what we say.

I manage to balance the rest of my life with writing because I treat writing like it’s part of my job. I have to work, and I have to write. Whether it’s in the morning somewhere between walking the dog and showering, or in the evenings before I go to bed, I write.

Despite everything else, and as impossible as the math seems to be, I somehow find the time. Kindred spirits in my writing groups have asked, “How do you find the time?” I honestly don’t know. The math is baffling.

But I know that I have to find the time. Because I’d like to continue being able to tell people that I’m a writer, even if that means they’ll assume I’m unemployed.
Anthony J. Rando lives in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. He is a freelance writer, an amateur filmmaker, and a novelist. His latest book, The Surreal Chronicle of the Revelers is the first in a series. He invites readers to email him at or visit his blog at

You can also find him at his Amazon author page at

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm Heading Out

I know you probably
thought I was already gone,
I've been so remiss in writing.
But no . . .
I've been working.
Revising a non-fiction book
which will be published in May.
And even more exciting,
Flight from the Water Planet
Book 1, of the Exodus Series, 
the Young Adult Novel 
I've been writing for the last year +
is scheduled to publish
April 18th.
But a woman has to get out and relax a bit too!
So I'm heading out to Little Rock, Arkansas.
It is my first trip to see that part of the world.
I will be visiting my daughter and her family.
I'm so very excited.
Can't wait to see . . .
Well I'm not sure,
but you can let me know what I shouldn't miss,

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Daze

We are planting,
and planting,
and planting.
Fruit trees.
I'm so very excited.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Juggling Life At the Farm

And here's one of our own bloggers.
I'm so very pleased she's here today
sharing with all of us.
Gail Williams from At the Farm!

Balance is a word I'm not really familiar with...juggling is more the word that would fit my lifestyle. 
When I can't find my center, for the lack of a better word, I commune with nature.  I walk, sit, and feel the rhythm...that's where I find my balance, I suppose.  I know, when I am barefoot, connected with the earth, there is almost a renewal, a re-charging, a centering and a peace that envelopes me.  Dad always said he was closer to God in the woods than he ever was in a church...maybe, that's it, communing with The Creator.
My priorities are a pay check. It's as simple as that. On weekends and evenings, My husband and I help operate the family farm, while raising a grandchild. On Saturdays I operate the family shop. Laundry, cooking, washing dishes and caring for the livestock and pets keeps me busy. It's a constant juggling act of what must be done.  I do what I can, when I can...always busy.  Like now, laundry waits for the dryer. I will run to change that, gather another load, fold some clothes, run through and pick-up. Animals get fed, work is done as needed.
I really only spend about a couple of hours a day on the computer, and that time is  important to me because I love to write. Maybe, writing is my therapy.  I keep a notebook by my bed because, sometimes, the best things come in the middle of the night.  Writing in bits and pieces or with words flooding out, the joy is in the writing.  Much of what I write comes from life at the farm, from personal history and daily experiences, hopefully, written well enough that my world can be seen through my words. 
My imagination is what has always allowed me to escape, and writing is the vessel of that escape. I will keep writing, but it is only now that I'm trying to figure out what to do with it all. 
Currently, I'm selecting some of my favorite fictional posts, poetry and a few of my stories. Together, I hope, they will become a collection.  A book wasn't planned but the name came to me in a dream,  "Sweet Tea and 'Tater Cakes...A Collection". I work on it when I can, hoping one day, someone will want to read it.   
Life is tough, but I'm pretty tough I'll continue to write as I always have, dealing with each minute, each day, each event with tenancity and humor. 
Born in 1954, baby girl of three girls, I grew up on a farm.  Raised by Depression Era parents, I know how to work hard and make do.  I was married in '72 to a wonderful man and this year we will celebrate our 40th...where does the time go?  We have two daughters and three grandsons, ages three to fifteen.  My thirty-seven year career with the postal service has been interlaced with a few odd jobs here and there.
When Mom died and Dad was affected by Alzheimer's we moved to the farm to help with Dad's care.  We ended up staying.  There is no life, I think, more rewarding than farming...nor more challenging and certainly never boring.
We raise cattle and until recently, I had the horses of my dreams.  Always have dogs, and have fostered for the local ICARE organization, training and preparing dogs for their forever homes. We have chickens and farm cats, too.  We also raise and preserve our own food.
My pleasures are reading, painting, sewing, photography, repurposing items, and writing.
* * *
To read more about Gail
Visit her here!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Writing and Balance in Everyday Life

It's balance Thursday.
And today we have
Jeanette Fratto!
Read on . . . 

I’ve always loved to write and have done so all my life – short stories, essays, and articles. I’ve even won awards for some of them. It wasn’t until I retired from a 26-year career in law enforcement that I decided to write my first novel. That’s when the desire for balance really set in.

All of my previous writings were efforts that only required a few pages. I could write most of it in my head while cleaning the kitchen or driving to work. When it was time to put it on paper it didn’t take me long to have a finished product. Balance with my day to day activities was never really an issue, as I was able to fit my writing in “here and there” when I had some time.

Writing a novel seemed to be a natural progression of my writing experience. After much thought, I decided to make it a mystery that unfolded through the inner workings of the probation department, where I had worked. My reasons were two-fold. When I worked I realized that most people outside the field did not know what probation officers did, and as a mystery reader, I noted that writers rarely mentioned probation in their books, and it is an important part of the criminal justice system.

For something as complex as a novel, I knew I needed a writing plan more specific than when I could find the time. So I began the search for the “holy grail” of when, and how often, I should write. My husband and I had many activities we enjoyed together, including extensive traveling, and I didn’t want to give those up. A book requires dedication, so I looked for ways to write with optimal results, while still living an active life.

I attended book festivals and endless workshops of published writers. When questions were taken from the audience I would always ask, “how often do you write, and when do you do it?” The answers I received were as varied as the authors. Some wrote between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. every day. Others started writing at midnight after their children were in bed and the house was quiet. None of these plans appealed to me. Most wrote every day, which agrees with what most writing tutorials say to do – WRITE EVERY DAY.

I started out writing every day, usually after breakfast. But then my exercise class interfered. So I moved to the afternoon, but someone would drop in. Each day writing would nag at me until I sat down and wrote a page or two. If I missed a day I felt like a failure. This was obviously not working for me. Then one day I read an article in Writer’s Digest by an author with young children. She said she knew she couldn’t write every day so she didn’t obsess about it. Instead she wrote a few sentences when she could. She had certain designated times which were devoted to writing, but they were short periods. Eventually her book was finished. Her advice – there is no one best way to write. It all gets finished in the end. The best way is the one that works for you.

I felt like a weight had been taken from me. What if I made one day a week my writing day? Only in rare circumstances would I let anything interfere with it. The rest of the week I would think about my plot, maybe jot down notes, but there would be no more daily nagging because I hadn’t yet written anything. My mind would be free to think about my story without feeling the obligation to put something on paper. I chose my day and announced to my husband that he needed to find something interesting to do on his own, because I'd be unavailable from 9 to 5. He was fully supportive.

My first novel was published two years ago, and I just finished my second one. I still follow the one-day-a-week schedule. It may not work for everyone, but since it works for me, I’m sticking to it.
 I live in southern California and am a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, with a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Social Science. I planned to be a clinical psychologist when a flyer on being a probation officer caught my eye. I applied, and after a rigorous four-month process, I was hired and began training. I had a wonderful 26-year career and retired as a Division Director. I'm now concentrating on being a novelist and have begun a series about a female probation officer and her adventures. I have two adult children and three grandchildren. My husband and I travel, take pilates classes together, and enjoy life. He supports my writing efforts and is my best publicist, promoting my work everywhere he can.
  My Books
                NO STONE UNTURNED was my first novel. It is available in paperback, on Kindle, and as an E-Book via my website, which is:   It follows the experiences of probation officer Linda Davenport, who comes to California for new beginnings and gets more than she bargained for.
                NO GOOD DEED will be out by May or June. It is a sequel to my first book and continues with Linda Davenport's experiences.  Both books are in the mystery/romance genre.
                Readers can connect with me in a variety of ways, as follows:
I'm also on Goodreads and Linked-In and I promise to respond to any contacts I receive!
* * * 
Thanks Jeanette!
I hope you all enjoyed reading.
If you would like to be considered for a post
let me know.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I don't know about all of you,
but I'm loving learning about balance.
Everyone has been so incredible
to offer their words of wisdom
and here is another amazing woman author,
 Kathryn J. Bain

I never realized how busy I was until someone pointed it out to me. I’m a part-time paralegal for an elder law attorney. I am the Membership Director and Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors. I blog, I network, on and on it goes. Put on top of that I have two novels and a novella coming out this year. When do I sleep?

Everyone’s busy these days, and as a writer it does seem hard to find the time to write. The most important thing to do is make time. You can’t get published if you don’t write.

I get up at 5:00 in the morning and start my day. I leave for work at 7:30 so after exercising, showering, and breakfast, that gives me over an hour to write. Being a fast typist helps. I can type more than seventy words per minute depending on my focus and if I’m in the “zone”.

If you set a goal of five hundred words a day, that’s fifteen thousand a month. Within five to six months you have a completed draft. Make it one thousand per day, and that’s twice as fast. At fifty words a minute, that’s between twenty to forty minutes a day.

My goal is to do at least one chapter a day when I start something new. If I stay focused, I can have it done in less than an hour. I also spend my evenings marketing, blogging, networking, and catching up on e-mails. Writing is my main objective in the morning.

Setting goals and turning the television off is one of the ways I reach my target. I can honestly tell you I don’t know who won American Idol last year, and I have no idea who got voted off the island. Those things aren’t important to me. Getting published is, so I stay focused.

I may only have a dog to worry about, but my best time for work is still early in the day. While I get up at five, I’m usually in bed by nine at night. It doesn’t leave much time for a social life, but alas an artist must suffer for their work.

Getting up early is how I get my writing in. Some people are night people and write better in the evening. Basically, when would you have the least annoyance from your family?

Then stop making excuses, and just write.
I was born in Spokane, Washington, then immediately shipped to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where I lived until the ripe age of 19 when I graduated from North Idaho Jr. College. I then packed my bags and moved to Boise where I lived for two years until I could no longer tolerate the winter weather.

Once my toes hit the sand in Florida, there was no turning back. I have lived in Jacksonville for over 26 years where I am a Florida Certified Registered Paralegal. I have worked in the legal field for over twenty years specializing in guardianship, probate and estate planning. I am also the mother of two grown daughters.

My first book Breathless was released January 13, 2012. My second, a humorous novella titled Game of Hearts will be released in March 2012.
Some of my groups and leadership roles include:
President of Florida Sisters in Crime for 2010-2011.
The Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors, 2010-current.
Membership Director for Ancient City Romance Authors, 2012-current
Co-author of the First Coast Romance Writer quarterly newsletter.
Other membership groups: American Christian Fiction Writers, Florida Writers Association, Southeast Writers Association, Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of American.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Maintaining a Balance: A Challenge During Retirement

Once again its time to learn how to balance

our crazy lives.

Today I'm honored to host

John J. Hohn,

author of  Deadly Portfolio

“Life is a little like crossing a big body of water in a boat. You really don’t notice that you’re going anywhere when you’re out in the middle of it. The only time you can see that you’re moving is . . . as you begin your journey and as you see it drawing to an end.”  --Matthew Wirth, Deadly Portfolio.

Wirth speaks to a common perception among people at the end of their working careers. Few writers earn a living wage from their craft. Most need to balance their scribe’s passion with the demands of job, family and community. Writing often loses out. The consequences for ignoring the muse are neither as immediate nor as dramatic as postponing the tasks of attending to marriage, parenthood, and the role of provider. For those who have sustained their scribe’s passion through to the later decades, retirement looms as an oasis of unstructured time. Therein lies the challenge.

Obligations follow the writer into retirement, harnessed or not, and the first task is to set priorities for allocating the hours. The amount of time left is palpable. An inventory of resources is key to making certain time is used wisely.

A writer’s resources include energy, personal support, professional support, physical comfort, good health, play, and passion for the art (scribe’s passion). In retirement, the scribe within gets first claim to the better hours of the day. Some rise early and work several hours. I rise to a twenty-minute walk with my dog Jessie and it gives me time to ponder any challenges in my work. Upon returning, I answer emails for up to an hour and a half and write posts for facebook, twitter and linkedin. Then I am off to the gym for an hour—a daily habit for 35 years, one that carried over into retirement. My body expects it. When I postpone it until later in the day, everything feels oddly out of sync. My physical fitness regimen has enabled me to maintain a cardio-vascular profile of man 20 years younger than my actual age.

Returning from the gym, I have breakfast, attend to the housekeeping chores that are mine to complete, and I then write. By noon, I have protected five of my major resources—energy level, health, scribe’s passion, professional support on the Internet, and my play (My gym friends include some Harley bikers who think it’s cool that an older dude works out and writes mysteries.) At noon, my wife and I lunch, after which I nap before returning to my desk for another hour or more to write. By mid-afternoon, my muse is spent. The rest of the day belongs to my marriage and my family.

My wife and I spend an hour watching something together on TV. I take another walk with Jessie so she can attend to certain biological imperatives, and I stay physically active with projects around the house and the yard. The structure may seem rigid, but I don’t apply a stern management hand. Twice a week, I chuck everything for a round of golf with my friends. Personal support also includes being attentive to my five children, stepson and grandchildren.  They are priority in my affections but do not take much time because of the logistics involved. They are as comfortable with our relationship as I am.
The senior writer is aware of what the years have taken away and what they have gifted in exchange. Physical stamina may have diminished but a deeper view of human nature compensates. The sense of being in the thick of things fades. Contacts retire. Connections are difficult to sustain. As the need to pursue every new trend wilts, a sense of detachment fills the void. Passion can be addressed dispassionately and a much more human and universal statements find their way onto the page.

I harbor no illusions about having the next great American novel within me. I stay committed my calling and nurture the modest hope that my books will one day be widely read and appreciated as good literature. Believing that may happen even years hence sustains me. The joy is in the journey.
I am a Midwesterner by birth. Yankton, South Dakota, is my hometown. I graduated from high school there in 1957. After four years earning degree in English at St. John’s University (MN), I became a teacher. My first wife, Elaine Finfrock, also of Yankton, and I had five children; four sons and a daughter. We divorced in 1977.

In 1964, I joined The Travelers in Minneapolis, MN and began what turned out to be a 40-year career in the financial services industry. During the that time, in addition to The Travelers, I held positions with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota, Wilson Learning Corporation, and Wachovia Bank and Trust. While at Wachovia, I marketed I retired at the end of 2007 after 17 years as a Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch serving over 300 clients in the Winston-Salem, NC area.

 In 1986, Melinda Folger McLeod and I were married and I gained a stepson, Matthew. Currently, we divide our time each year between our cabin New West Jefferson, NC and our cottage in Southport, NC on the Cape Fear River. I enjoy golf, music, and reading history. I retired in 2007 and focused on completing my novel, Deadly Portfolio: A Killing Hedge Funds. I have been very gratified by the acceptance and reviews the book has received and spend my idle minutes thinking though the plot for my next effort.
* * *
Please  let me know if you would like to be considered for a guest post spot, writing about balance.
And as always,
thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.