Vintage Romance-Romantic Suspense-Cozy Mystery





Staying Healthy (and Sane) as a Writer

First of all, I DON’T

  • pull any all-nighters, even on a deadline

  • write past the point of real writing just for the sake of an arbitrary word count

  • hold myself to a rigid schedule—e.g. so many words per day or even writing every day

  • obsess over becoming the BEST writer in the world (Ain’t gonna happen, folks)

  • run to this conference or that group or constantly talk about writing—being seen isn’t important to me

  • socialize with egos instead of real people/fellow writers

  • look at everyone I see as a potential buyer for my books


Next, I DO

  • meet deadlines for edits/proofs when I have them—saves time stressing

  • have a pat answer for what I “do” when someone asks (“I write.)

  • carry a notebook so I don’t spend a sleepless night trying to remember the brilliant idea I came up with in the middle of the grocery store (et al)

  • make use of waiting time at an appointment to re-think/rewrite a scene in my head

  • write for the sheer love of writing—not to make my “next” million (still looking for the first!)   

Ten things 

you probably don't know...

and may not want to know...

about me!

Believe it or not, I…


  1. sucked my thumb until half-way through elementary school.

  1. locked myself in my room and played with my dolls probably through seventh grade.

  1. like to eat mayonnaise on cornbread.

  1. wanted to be the next Ethel Merman when I grew up.

  1. haven’t worn a pair of pantyhose in at least 20 years.Give me a pair of socks any day.

  1. listen to classical music when I write.

  1. once flew on a restored B-24 bomber built the same year I was born (1944).

  1. can drive successfully through places like Montgomery AL and Atlanta GA but always get lost in small towns.

  1. once (but only once) mistook horseradish sauce for honey mustard at a Chinese restaurant.

  1. still have most of the old 78 rpm records that belonged to my parents.






Toss it? 

You've got to be kidding!

Throw it out!

   If it’s not working, that is. So says one writer whose first novel is making a splash.


The bane of rewriting…

   I throw stuff out all the time, and it’s like self-mutilation. It hurts! (I mean, I don’t know that from experience, but a

 paper cut sends me running for a band-aid!)

   These brilliant words! My wonderful characters! How can I toss them? But sometimes…oh, all right, quite often it’s

 very necessary.


My WIP is languishing…

   ...because I keep tossing things out. Well, they’re not working, all right? And after an almost two-month hiatus

 away from writing due to a family situation, I don’t even want to look at the ms again. What else might I have to

 trash? Will it hurt? (I know the answer to that.) Can I sneak all this brilliance back in at some point?


Camp NaNoWriMo is coming

   Unfortunately, I worked on The Legacy of Diamond Springs during last July’s session—finished it even—and then

 started slashing. I’m not sure I can get away with working on the same project two years in a row.


Sometimes I wonder

   why I bother, but I know the answer to that, too. I enjoy spinning my little tales.

 I just don’t enjoy writing them!!





Ten things 

I've learned about being a writer...

from being one

There are other writers who are better than I am.

Saying “my publisher”, “my editor”, “my anything-writing-related” can sound pretty snobby. Don’t overuse the phrase!

It’s nice to earn some money from writing, but if that becomes the focus of your writing, it isn’t fun anymore.

Never go over budget for anything—especially marketing your writing.

Don’t make hard and fast rules for yourself about writing: I MUST write every day or If I don’t write 2500 words a day, I’m a failure.

You don’t have to join a writing group if it’s not a comfortable fit. (But I wish I could find one that fit.)

Don’t go to a writing conference just to be seen or to say you went. They’re expensive, and if you don’t really get anything out of it, why spend the money? I’ve been to some good ones and some not so good. I can say, “been there-done that.

You don’t sell many books at “local author days”. Decide why you want to participate, and don’t go with false expectations.

At “local author days”, it’s important to get out from behind your table and meet other authors. Sitting behind your own table and trying to look important is...well...not cool.

Have fun—or quit



Nothing New Under the Sun


   Violence, unfortunately has become a way of life in the 21st century. But is it really anything new, or are we just more aware of what’s going on because of television and social media?

   Look back at history

   Armed uprisings were common in the early years of this country, and Prohibition and organized crime replaced the

 cruder forms of killing those with whom one disagreed. So why are we so surprised at what’s going on these days?


   Maybe because we expect more of people in a so-called “civilized society”. We expect more from our elected leaders

 than incitement and political spins on today’s tragedies.


   Maybe because more people used to keep their mouths shut—not a bad idea. Think what you will, but keep quiet 

about it in the public forum.

   The Carroll County (MS) Courthouse Massacre

   It started with a private feud which escalated when someone else got involved. Accusations and reported name-

calling led to gunfire.


   When the matter ended up in court, a self-righteous mob took it upon themselves to invade the courtroom—armed,

 of course—and exact vigilante justice.


   Those who knew who was responsible—even prominent public figures—refused to speak up other than to say the 

violent attack was “provoked”.


 (Where have we heard that before?)


   All this happened in 1886.

   It remains today a “cold case”.


   Read the facts here.







Statistics tell the tale...

   AMAC

      As a member of AMAC (Association of Mature American Citizens, the conservative alternative to AARP), I receive

 a very informative monthly magazine. The May/June 2019 issue contains an article “The Goodness, Greatness, and

 Grace in American Capitalism”. A couple of pages in, a chart shows the global ranking of countries by gross 

domestic product per capita in 2018.

   Free Market Countries

      As a free market country, the United States ranks 8th with a per capita annual earning of $62,606. Other free 

market countries in order of ranking are: 

Ireland (4th), Australia, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, and Israel.

   The other end of the spectrum

      Socialist/communist countries are way down the ladder, including Congo at 183rd with a per capital annual 

earning of $440. Having lived there myself and seen the poverty of a third world country first hand, I can assure 

people they don’t want to live in that type of environment!

    Other countries listed are Venezuela (122nd), Laos (129th), Vietnam (131st), East Timor (135th), Nicaragua (138th),

 Cambodia (150th), and Yemen (166th).

   Which brings me to…

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If it is…get busy.

If it can be improved, be involved.

If you can’t be involved, at least don’t be an impediment.





Real Journalism and

Political Opinion

Don't Mix

Journalism 101

      When I took journalism in high school from a master professional, he stressed who, what, when, where, why, and how over and over and over      again. None of us got out of there without knowing the difference between a news story and an editorial.

      Today’s so-called journalists either weren’t taught or choose to make up their own rules. (I suspect the latter.) I keep up with the “news” because I feel strongly that every citizen needs to know what’s going on in his own country and around the world. But I have to be selective, and at least—thanks to my journalism teacher—I can separate fact from opinion pretty quickly.

Exercising my choice

      Recently I chose not to renew my subscription to a writing magazine because, in my opinion, the editorial staff seemed to be selecting articles which pushed various agendas under the guise of sharing writing facts. Certainly, that’s their right, but that’s not why I subscribe to a publication.

      In the last two issues of the magazine I did renew, I found blantant “digs” at the current administration in Washington DC. Now—one can agree or disagree with the President—but how is making a negative remark relevant to any article which is supposed to be directed toward increasing writing knowledge/skills?

      Just like I can turn off a news commentator who has strayed from the subject of the story into trashing and bashing, I can be a non-renewing subscriber.

      I’m going to let this magazine ride for a while. Both publications are good ones, and I always learned something from reading. But it’s sort of like walking through a room and running into a cabinet door someone forgot to close: BAM! Right in the face. Who wants that? Not me anyway.

My readers have choices, too

      I write fiction, not non-fiction (except for these blogs), but readers can choose not to buy, not to read, or leave a poor review. Similar themes run through my stories, though I refrain from being preachy (I hope)—which is why I don’t identify with Christian fiction. That’s not a dig at Christian fiction either—it has its audience, and sometimes I’m there. However, I choose to court an audience which just might have an aha moment while reading one of my books.

Good journalism is just good manners

      But when I pick up a periodical to read for information, that’s what I want: information. Keep your opinion to yourself. Not only is it good journalism, it’s common courtesy toward your readers.  




All their tomorrows 

for our todays...




   Most people (I hope) are aware that yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

   Some people weren’t.

   Some people never heard of it.

   Some people think the term sounds familiar but couldn’t tell you what happened on June 6, 1944.

   Some people just don’t care.

   But I care.

   I was a few months away from opening my eyes on a war-torn world, but my father—and thousands of other         fathers, sons, brothers, and husbands—was in uniform.

   They knew about D-Day.

   They heard President Roosevelt’s prayer broadcast which began Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this   day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and   to set free a suffering humanity and continued Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them,   Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

   Many are unaware that President Donald Trump read excerpts from the prayer aloud at yesterday’s memorial. Some   chose to post hateful politically-charged remarks on the video.  They, of course, are among those who don’t care   about the sacrifices made at Normandy.

   On June 6, Allied casualties mounted to at least 10,000—perhaps half of that number dead, many of them just kids   of 17, 18, 19.

   I have two sons who, thankfully, never went to war. But I tell you honestly—I’d have gladly seen them go to war   rather than act like many of the kids (and adults) you see today—foul-mouthed, violent, intolerant, ignorant.

   They scream “Nazi!” but never had to face the SS. They denounce someone as “Hitler” and don’t even know the evil   he perpetuated. They predict dire consequences for anyone with a different point of view, but they don’t know what   it means to be shoved into a cattle car for days, delivered to a concentration camp, and sent to the gas chambers.

    Is this the America those heroic boys fought and died for?

   All of us—of whatever political persuasion—must begin to remember and to care—or we have lost everything those   men won for us seventy-five years ago.

 




Epistolary Novels

      One of the writing magazines I read published a good article on “epistolary novels” recently. (I had so many    issues to catch up on that I failed to note which magazine/ issue.)

In these novels the story is told through

  • Letters

  • Texts

  • Emails

  • Journals

  • Blog posts

  • Conversation transcripts

  • And more…perhaps social media (FB posts, Twitter, etc.) could be added to the list…

How different from years past when the list would have been narrowed to

  • Letters

  • Postcards

  • Journals—diaries in those days

  • Phone calls (party line parley?)

  • Telegrams

  • Conversations repeated to a third party

Use of dialogue

      The article noted that dialogue could be/should be incorporated into the mix. Dialogue is what I write best, if I do say so. (Descriptive passages not so much.)

      I’m still plugging along on my WIP The Legacy of Diamond Springs and came up with the idea of working in some tantalizing hints about the back story which is very much alive in the present through conversation (no action) before Chapter 1. Not sure how that’s going to work, but it’s worth a try.





You can't write if...






   Do magazines vet their ideas before publishing?

      I’m referring to an article touting the value of starting the school day later to allow students to acquire enough sleep the night before. What the author said certainly made sense—but he didn’t take it far enough.


   Who’s in charge of setting the rules?

      I set bedtimes for my sons when they were children. When they became adolescents, I understood saying “lights out” at say, nine o’clock, was a losing battle. But they still had to roll out and be on time to school the next morning. That, too, was their own responsibility. Set the alarm and get up—or be late and take the consequences.


   What about after school?

      Employers aren’t going to start their business days later to allow employees extra sleep time to be at peak efficiency. If these employees want to keep their jobs—which entails efficiency—they’re going to have to do whatever it takes to get to that point.

      My question is—isn’t this policy, along with so many others these days, setting students up for failure in the adult world?


   Looking back

      I remember having a set bedtime through high school. After supper, I went to my room, did my homework, and maybe—with luck—emerged in time to watch a snatch or two of a favorite television program. (And then only never without hearing from my father, “Do you have your lessons for tomorrow?” Please. Would I have dared come out of my room if I didn’t?)

      I know, I know, a different time—but maybe we need to go back to those days—ya think? Because by the time I arrived at college, I already had the discipline to set my alarm and make those eight o’clock classes…

      My freshman roommate spent every evening between dinner and room check at 11 PM writing long letters to her boyfriend while I studied. She only began studying about the time I headed down the hall to the shower. I learned to sleep with the light on, because I don’t think it ever went off before two or three in the morning. Being sleep-deprived, she wasn’t the easiest person to live with—and I never did again.

      But I digress…


   Good habits are taught for life

      I did my share of grumbling at the rules and regulations I grew up with, but they’ve stood me in good stead through the years. All the arguments in the world—all the studies “proving” how students perform better with later school starting time—all of that may very well be true. But we don’t live in the moment forever.


   What does all this have to do with writing?

      Just this: any task undertaken has its parameters, and it requires discipline to stay within them. I’d rather have learned my lessons earlier than later.







So what do redecorating 

and rewriting 

have in common?


   The lure of browsing

      Having discovered magazines for ten cents in the local Friends of the Library sale room at our wonderful Garland County 

Library, I’m a regular customer. But the other day I got an offer of a subscription to a couple of magazines delivered straight to

 my mail box and couldn’t pass it up. I won’t renew, but they’re a fun diversion for now.


   A decorator’s dream

      One of them, Better Homes and Gardens, makes for some fascinating browsing. I love all the decorating ideas which are 

touted as really easy—yeah, with a lot of talent and money! But the thing is, as much as I enjoy looking at the great room 

layouts, paint colors, furniture choices and arrangements—I’m satisfied with what I have and the way I have it!


      Is there something wrong with me?

   Doesn’t everyone want a change?

      Maybe so…but not me. After having raised two rambunctious boys, I finally have my house to myself. Well, the Bear Cub 

and the Small Person hang out regularly with Mimi, but they have boundaries. Their rooms at home are regularly redecorated 

befitting their ages and new interests. I remember wishing I could do something with my own room when I was growing up. (It 

never happened. Same furniture, same wallpaper, same old same old everything.)


   There comes a time in life…

      when one doesn’t embrace change. Old things and the memories they hold become sweeter. One’s tastes settle down to a few

 peaceful hues. Re purposing becomes an enjoyable challenge. Change for the sake of change just doesn’t hold the same interest

 anymore.

   But when it comes to writing…

      I’m never satisfied. I redecorate (edit, rewrite) constantly! Change is the byword. Change is necessary. Change is good.

     Change is debatable.

      Let’s face it, change just for the sake of change is about as useless as redecorating a room one is already satisfied with.

      But tell that to any writer, and you’ll get an argument.


This writer says as she thinks of the WIP waiting to be finished.




  

Why I Ditched Twitter

 Sage Advice

      Writing conferences (which I’ve also ditched for the present) always invite at least one presenter who’ll tell

 you how to sell your books—guaranteed! For indie authors such as I am, the sage advice centers around social

media--every darned site you can think of and then some!


   Careful though...

      Social media is a time-sucker. I found that out when I took that advice and plunged in. Most sites fell by the 

that was a waste of time.


   Twitter

      Reading everything I could about Twitter, and embracing all the common hashtags for writers, I set up shop. I 

scheduled tweets daily, got followers, and hoped for some meaningful connections—which didn’t appear. Pretty

 soon, all I was doing was reading other people’s tweets, usually pretty mindlessly.

      Now Twitter seems to be a political battleground. Lines have been drawn. People get panned and banned. 

There’s no way I want any part of that. So, before things got worse, I bailed and never looked back. Never missed

 it as a matter of fact! 


   Cleaning house

      I ditched a few other sites, too, sticking with Facebook on which I have a personal page to keep up with old

 friends and an author page to connect with other writers. Then I rediscovered Pinterest which can be somewhat 

time-consuming, but it’s fun. Twitter wasn’t. I’m thinking of breathing new life into my Instagram account, too.

      It all boils down to time, and I want my time to write.


Oh, but if you write, you have to use social media to sell…”

Yes, I’ve heard that before. I do what I can.”

You won’t be successful unless…”

My definition of success at my age is enjoying life. I can’t do that if I’m racing frantically from one social media

 site to another promoting the books I no longer have time to write!”

Oh, but…”

One size doesn’t fit all. Buzz off.”

 

   The status quo prevails

      I’ve been thinking lately about going back to Twitter with a new and different approach—but I’m not sure just 

what that is. Until then, I’m feeding my Author Page on Facebook and “pinning” up a storm.

      Come enjoy life with me.


      (And the moral of this blog is: You can’t do it all. 

Priorities must be considered.)

 

BACK TO BLOGGING...    


      It's been two months since any new content appeared on The Word Place. An unexpected family emergency took me out of state for almost two months. I'm beginning my third week back home and gradually getting back on schedule. A new blog is at the top of the list of priorities. 

Everyone likes a list…

     Let’s face it: lists require minimal time to skim, and time is what we’re all short of these days. That’s easily the subject of another blog, but today let’s just stick to the list.

 My least favorite experiences OR 10 things I really don’t like to do

1.    Empty the dishwasher

I keep it loaded because I can’t abide dirty dishes in the sink (or an unmade bed), but taking everything out and putting it away…

2.    Empty the dryer

Doing the laundry is no problem. Stuff it in, turn it on, transfer to dryer when done…but then folding sheets, towels, unmentionables and hanging clothes is just maddening…

3.    Packing for a trip

     I love to travel, and it’s easy to sit at the computer and make a list of “Things to Take”, but actually gathering all those things and putting them into a suitcase is another story…especially when I fly and obsess about the weight…

4.    Stewing with regret over a bakery splurge

Need I say more?

5.    Driving at a snail’s pace on winding roads

And there are a lot of them between where I live and some of my favorite places…The Pig Trail to Eureka Springs comes to mind…

6.    Finding long-forgotten and unrecognizable food in the back of the refrigerator

This rarely happens these days since there’s just me, and the refrigerator doesn’t stay stuffed with leftovers…but once upon a time…ewwwww!

7.    Fishing cat toys from under the stove

…which requires pulling out the stove. Yes, it guarantees the floor under/behind the stove stays clean, because I always mop when I have to go on a search expedition, but it’s still irritating…and I can’t figure out how their fat catnip mice even get under there anyway…

8.    Putting away seasonal clothes

Twice a year…out with the warm weather/cold weather clothes…at least if I haven’t worn something during the season, it goes to the donate pile…but I put off this chore as long as possible…

9.    Finding organizational projects (writing) well begun but not continued

…and tossing them because I know I will never go back to those brilliant strategies…if they were so darned brilliant, why didn’t I keep doing them?

10. Confrontations

But hey…you gotta make those telephone calls occasionally…and I really do try to be nice, but sometimes…As for personal confrontations, well, they just don’t happen…I’m a peaceable soul…

 

I’d love to hear about your least favorite things…

(Please tell me I’m not alone!)

 

PS:  Please do not use the judy@judynickles.com email until further notice. Yahoo in all its corporate wisdom decided to lock me out despite the fact that I pay for the website addy and corresponding email address...and they are in no hurry to let me back in!!!

 

 


Just Say NO

   Growing up, saying no was a no-no! If a request was made, compliance was required. Now, I’m not talking about the obedience a child owes her parents. In most cases, obedience is for the child’s own good. Beyond that, the element of choice kicks in—or guilt.

   In my case, guilt was the motivating factor in my life. Later on my mother even observed, “Maybe I did too good a job with you.” Ya think, Mom?

   Thinking I had to say “yes” got me into at least one sticky family-related situation that affected my physical health and mental well-being. Maybe it took that experience to wake me up.

   I was at least sixty before I realized the world did not revolve around my blind compliance with every (family) desire.  A trap—that’s what it was.

   Now, almost fifteen years later, I still find myself struggling to say NO, but this time it’s to myself. No, I don’t have to have the house in pristine condition before I can sit down to write. No, the laundry doesn’t have to come out of the dryer the second it buzzes if I’m hot on the trail of a new plot event in my WIP. No, I don’t have to limit myself to one afternoon a week at Sonic’s Happy Hour if I want to have an uninterrupted hour or two to read a stack of writing-related articles, make notes, or think about where my WIP is going next.

   Yes, I can turn down an invitation to lunch if I’d rather be writing. I can decline to keep the grandchildren if it doesn’t fit my schedule and isn’t an emergency. It’s okay. I’ve paid my dues in this life. It’s my turn now.  

   Saying NO can be a good thing. We all need to remember that—and ignore the guilt trips placed on us by other people and especially by ourselves!

 

To be (a sloth) or not to be...

   I recently read an excellent blog by Pauline Wiles: 50 Self-Care Ideas for Writers and recommend regular visits to her blog.

   This month I thought I’d give my take on a few of her suggestions—all of them workable for every writer with tweaking to fit individual circumstances. Some of them I’ve already been doing on my own, and reading her ideas validated mine in a nice way.

   The bottom line is, we all need to take care of ourselves first. That’s not selfish—it’s common sense like the flight attendants’ instructions to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping someone else like a child.

   It took me a lifetime to learn that killing myself for the benefit/convenience of other people not only didn’t do any of us any good—but it wasn’t what God wanted for the life He created in me.

   So here goes—and I’m paraphrasing, you understand.

   If a writer participates in NaNoWriMo, she needs a minimal daily word count to end up with 50K words at the end of thirty days. Of course, one can catch up if one falls behind. But sometimes I get bent out of shape with myself if I end up with what I consider too few words on a normal writing day—like zero words some days! I need to give myself a break!

   There are just some days I’m not productive, either because real life has interfered with my writing life—or I’ve just been a sloth!

   So one of the ways I take care of myself is to review the day and mentally list what I have accomplished.

   If I didn’t write what I wanted to write today, did I

·         write a little bit? Ten minutes? Twenty?

·         let  my characters talk to each other in my head?

·         look over my writing plan and think where it needs to go?

·         write a blog—even get one blog ahead?

·         encourage another writer by commenting on her blog?

·         determine to write a review, remembering that reviews are a writer’s life blood?

 

Give yourself a break today.

Today will be yesterday soon enough.

Tomorrow will get here

Be ready for it. 


You can get in touch with me at: judynickles@gmail.com

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