Friday, December 23, 2016

December 2016 Book Review: Maeve's Times

Warning to all writers who scribe thoughts on bits and scraps of paper and throw them in a box to rewrite later.  Those bits and scraps may be published posthumously.  Maeve Binchy's husband, Gordon Snell, found her "to do later" box. He built a biography of her life with her thoughts, articles, and ramblings.

Maeve's Times is dated and referenced making it easy to follow. Thank you Mr. Snell for sharing insights into her professional and personal life. Her spirit lives on with her words.

 This author captured my attention with Copper Beeches. Maeve Binchy wrote about what she saw, lived, and felt. Her stories reflected both Irish country and city life. Each book made me feel better about people. She wrote about hard times and working through them. She wrote about love and love lost. Her book Minding Frankie demonstrates a community pulling together to help a neighbor. Any of her titles are a "goodread."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Be Strategic: Write A Holiday Memory

The momentum of the holidays propels us into a frenzy of cooking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, entertaining, cleaning, and overindulging. Writing becomes an after thought in the midst of multiple "to do" lists.

BREATH. Schedule a break, whittle some time for your writing. Utilize these small chunks of time to "Write A Memory."  Exercise your creativity with the keyboard or a paper and a writing instrument to describe a "who, what, where, or how" about the Holiday Season. Find a quiet place and expound on the following events of the season or better still, scribe about something you experienced that day or during the season "to be jolly."

  • Cookie Exchange: Do you participate in this activity? Why or Why not? If you did, what was your choice of cookie? Who participates your exchange? 
  • Decorating the Outside of Your House: Who does it? How do you prepare for it? Describe the feelings and emotions of the participants of this outdoor activity.
  • Gift wrapping: Do you wrap or bag gifts? Do you use ready-made bows or use ribbon and make your own?and why?
  • Indoor decorating: Do or don't you? With what? 
  • Music: Do you play holiday music at home? Write about your feelings and past memories while listening to the music. What are your thoughts about the music played in the retail shops?
  • Shopping: Do you participate in Black Friday sales? Cyber Monday sales? Do you venture out to the malls? Describe what you see, feel, and hear.
  • Traditions: Do you observe religious, ethnic, family traditions? How do you feel about maintaining the traditions? Why? Why not?
  • Christmas Cards: Do you send them? Why or why not? Do you have memories of receiving Christmas cards? Do you write an annual family letter?
  • Santa Claus: First of all, do you believe and why? Why not? What preparations are made for his arrival? Any special stories? 

Even if you aren't a writer by profession, you can start to a diary of memories for your family about Christmas. The therapeutic value of writing your feelings is invaluable. If you write with your favorite beverage, hot, cold, or on ice, serenity is guaranteed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sunday Book Review - November 2016

A friend handed me Sidney Sheldon's The Best Laid Plans. She said, "This should take your mind off the election." She went on to say the writing is "so-so" and the story is "loose." She described it as a quick read thriller.

I read many of Sheldon's books in my late teens on the bus, to and from college. This book demonstrated the author's talent for weaving a masterful tale through a maze of sharp twists and turns, only to to slap you in the face with an unexpected ending.

This is a fast read. The format is good for reading on trains, buses, in the airport, or on a plane. It didn't take my mind off the election, but it was interesting to read his book many decades later and evaluate his technique. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Book Review - October 2016

You Being Beautiful: The Owners Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty  is my October Sunday Book Review.  You may wonder why I selected this book. Well, after 18 months of outrageous comments on beauty and body image, I thought it was time to resurrect a book that really address healthy beauty. 

 Michael F. Rozien, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. dedicated this book- 

"To all who radiate outer beauty because
 they treasure inner beauty."

These  doctors prescribe measures for a healthier life which in turns makes for a happier you. If you are  healthy you radiate beauty. You don't need plastic surgery, expensive gym memberships, or costly creams and potions. You need to take care of yourself.

I recommend this book for everyone. It is a great read for busy parents and stressed out career couples. Placed this book in the bathroom or on your kindle. I promise, it inspires.

Below is the "Inner Beauty Quiz" link. It is  lure to entice you to read this book: Beauty Quiz

Click on the following links to check prices for copies of this book:  Ebay or Amazon

Fill your tub with bubble bath and read.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Be Strategic: Mind Map

Another tool for managing  a story, scene, chapter, blog, character, or planning a novel is "Mind Mapping." It is not outlining in the traditional sense. It doesn't require a writer to use Roman numerals, the alphabet, or Arabic numerals. The following link takes you to a site that demonstrates various types and uses of mind mapping.

 Mind mapping maintains status among management skills. It cuts through clutter for several Quality Process Improvement systems. It keeps a group of highly charged and motivated individuals on task.

Mind mapping tools are simple. A large white board, an erasable marker, and eraser works fine. My preference includes large "stickie" pads. Write you ideas down.  Paste them on a wall. You can move the parts around anytime in the writing process.

Mind Map Applications exist.

Google Play's mind maps on located on

Apple offers a wide selection of apps for mind maps at various prices for iphones, ipads, and iwatches.  Search in Apple Store for "Mind map apps."

Microsoft has several apps check out

Have a terrific idea,  can't wait to meet the rest of your characters, mind mapping helps with you get it down on paper.  Write a description about each of your characters at the moment of concept using a mind map. You can place the character in a character file for your current book or a future one.

Wake up in the middle of the night with a story idea. Map it.

Writers need tools to store and organize ideas. Mind Maps help authors write it down.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Be Strategic: Checkout NaNoWriMo

The children returned to school. The garden produced the last fall fruits and vegetables. Mother Nature paints the foliage. All writers and inspiring authors' thoughts turn to November-National Novel Writing Month  (NaNoWriMo) when hundreds of thousands creative individuals worldwide take on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.

If you have a book you want to write, but need motivation to launch the endeavor, check out this link. This event is made for you. Got a list of book ideas you want to write? No excuse, NaNoWriMo is the ignition switch for hesitation. It powers individuals to write 1667 words a day.

Yes, write 1667 words daily to get to 50,000 by midnight November 30. This mean you write, write, write. No proof reading, editing, or fooling around with the dialogue and write a 50,000 word rough draft.  The story running around in your head and tugging at your heart can't get on the paper unless you write it.  Remember a "rough draft" is the first step in the journey to a finish product.

The challenge is free. You compete against yourself, unless you want to form a group and compete with your writing friends. The Office of Letters and Lights (the nonprofit that conducts this event) provides participants groups to join to commiserate, rejoice, and share with other WriMos (participants). Daily tips, encouragement from successful authors help experienced and fledging WriMos get through the prep (October) and the writing (November).

This challenge makes you want to write. It helps you become the writer your soul know exists. Take a few minutes and peruse the NaNoWriMo site. Who knows, it may be the start of the next best seller.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sunday Book Review -September 2016

This story grabs  you with the discovery of an old trunk. The trunk takes the narrator back to France at the time of the Nazi occupation and introduces you to two sisters. The story immerse  you into the lives of these two woman as they survive the Nazi occupation in France. It describes the hardships of the citizens of an occupied country. It gives you an idea of what is happening to women and children in occupied countries today.  It is an eye-opening story.

This books draws you in and keeps you up till early can't put it down.

It is a great read for a book club or even for an women's study group. Thanks Kristin Hannah, I loved it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Sunday Book Review: "Alive, Alive Oh!"

Today I'm launching "The Sunday Book Review."
Writers must read to immerse themselves in the writing of others. Reading helps writers to see how other writers conquered the blank page. We need to investigate what type of events inspired an author to scribe. Reading other authors' products opens the window to understanding what lures a reader to a book.

My first choice is Alive, Alive Oh! (And Other Things That Matter). It is a rare book. The author, Diana Athill Hill was born in England,
in 1917.  She spent most her life as a literary editor. She scribed her reflections on life. In her nineties, she asked an agent friend to read these "bits" of writing to see if they were worth publishing. Those "bits" became this book. This small publication shares her life as a woman passing through the twentieth century. She reveals her impressions of the tumultuous times experienced by world events. She opens the door to a world never discussed by women of her time. The reader glimpses into her private life as she discloses her reasons for not marrying, for loving a married man, and for deciding not to terminate a pregnancy at age 43. It is a perspective from the "silent generation" and never discussed with such candor.

It is a gem of a book, a great book club selection. This book solidified my premise that everyone over 80 years of age has a story to tell us. It made me feel that I need to communicate more with my elders. 

The book is available
in hard copy and on electronically.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Be Strategic: Hire A Professional Editor

Paul Genesse, Writer
A couple of months ago, Paul, a published writer friend of mine and I were talking about self-publishing. After he went through all my concerns, he asked, "Who is your editor?" My heart sank. I felt foolish. I had done my do diligence on so many levels for my book. I hoped to publish, but I didn't follow through on the editor.

He said, "Pat, Pat, you can't publish that book before you have a "professional" editor review it.

With a humility I asked, "Paul, who is your editor?"

He spoke her name.

I asked him. "Does she take new clients?"

He said, "I'll see her in a couple of days. I'll tell her you'll be getting in touch with her."

His concern about my editing was pivotal in helping me become a better writer.  I am indebted to Paul Genesse.

The process of working with an editor can be daunting, educating, and sometimes awe inspiring. I educated as a business communicator. My focus was research, newsletters, emails, presentations, speeches, letters, instructional materials, to name a few products.

Novel writing is a new product. Yes I can sit down write 50,000 word in 30 days. I read books on plot, structure, point of view, characterization, but it was my editor who placed me on the novel writing path.

Yes, successful writers have written books without an editor, but they are like a 'walk on' to a professional baseball or football team - rare.

If you want to send the best of your writing to an agent, attached to a query, or  publish on the multiple self-publishing platforms, get an editor who edits for a  living. Your relative or friend with an English major helps you when your developing your book, but when you say "I'm done." Contact someone who is a professional editor.

How do you find one? Ask your author friends who they contract with to review and edit their work. Editing is not proofreading. Editing is making sure your story is professional.

Be Strategic: Find a professional editor to take you to another level of writing.

The sites below are sources for making a decision about an editor:

Monday, July 4, 2016

Celebrate Being An American

 Roll out the flag and bunting!         
Strike up the band! 
Light up the barbecue grills 
 Start celebrating!   
Despite all the tough times, hardships, the bickering, and the mean-spiritedness we experience, this country is still worth celebrating.
  • We grow and expand. 
  • We make noise and rabble rouse.  
  • We make it through hard times. 
  • We are an Americans first, not Liberals or Conservatives, not Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, or Green Partiers.  
  • If we are born here or we landed here to become American, we all are Americans. 
     Recently, my husband said to me, "I am grateful for being born in the United States." Think about that for a minute. Would you be able to say the same thing?
      As a woman,  I am thrilled I was born a American. Where, during my life time women have had the opportunity:
  • to vote
  • to seek political office
  • to seek a higher levels of  education
  • to work with men as equals
  • to compete in sports
  • to break the "glass ceiling" 
  • to bring social issues to the fore front
  • to let our daughters know there are more careers for women besides teaching and nursing. 
My husband's and my grandparents were immigrants. They came to this country and couldn't speak the language, took the worst and hardest jobs, but wanted more for their families. My maternal grandmother who only had a third grade education became a successful business woman and so did my husbands maternal nana.
We thank our grandparents for coming here. 
So, next time you think politics is messy, just think of the representatives from the 13 original colonies locked up in a non-air-conditioned building in Philadelphia arguing about the wording of the Declaration of Independence. It was hot, muggy, and very time consuming with a pen and quill, no electricity, and far from their farms and businesses. 
          The same group of colonies who declared themselves the United States stated further their expectations for the newly established country's citizens in the United States Constitution  written a few years later. It states:

We, the People of the United States, in Order 
  • to form a more perfect Union,  
  • establish Justice
  • insure Domestic Tranquility, 
  • to provide for the Common Defense
  • promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, 
do ordain and establish this Constitution for 
the United States of America. 

       This is our heritage. The legacy we should preserve. This is what  it means to be an American. So celebrate, tell the story of the innovation called a "democratic republic." It is a day to be proud to be an American.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Be Strategic: Cue Ideas as Drafts

Writers groan about blogging. "It's a horrendous undertaking. You have to get an URL. You have to create a blog site. You have to come up with ideas on a regular basis." This last lament is perhaps the easiest of all issues to tackle.

Selecting topics to blog about can be annual even or quarterly event. Some writers use a blog as a journal, while others advertise. Both avenues are correct, but if you want to gain an audience, you need to offer something.  Readers come back if there is something in it for them.

Your offerings need to evolve from an overarching theme. "Be Strategic" is my choice this year. I started out with two ideas in January. Every time a strategic idea burst forth, a new blog draft is made. Sometimes the first draft consists of only a title. Other times the blog begins with sketchy notes or links from researching the subject.

These little "blog seeds" germinate while I write, live, and think. When a blog is due, I read through my blog kernels.  I have a bed of ideas to develop. These seedlings also give me more ideas.

Writers think about writing.  Place your blog ideas as drafts. Cue them up when you are parched for a a fresh idea.

The link lead to  blogging ideas:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Be Strategic: Commune, Critique,Discuss with Other Writers

I don't know how many times I've heard "Writing is a solitary action." Whoever made that statement mis-spoke. The act of putting the ideas down on paper or keying them into a computer or phone is a physical act a writer does alone.  It is the only time a writer takes his or her collective ideas, experiences, and sensory inputs create sentences, ideas, and sometimes characters.  Writing is a culmination of multiple external and internal inputs.

One of the most important inputs is discussion with other writers. Now don't start giving me an examples of writers who never left their homes. If you can't leave the house, you have this wonderful tool you are using at this moment to read my blog. There a legitimate Writers' Communities on Gmail, FaceBook, Goodreads,,  Use your search engine to work for you and be discriminating.

Writers need other writers to talk the talk. If you can't attend your local writers' organization meetings, join it anyway. Their newsletter, group on Facebook, and conferences opens opportunities to meet, eat, and speak with other writers.

One of the best forums to use on your road to becoming a better writer is to join a writers group.  Find or form a group that meets to read aloud unpublished work. A group that doesn't nit pick about grammatical rules. The purpose of a writers' critique group is to strengthen the bones, characters, and the plot. Think of your writers group as your first beta group. You talk about the story.

Writers need writers to talk about "writers block," social platforms, submission experiences, literary magazines that work, marketing. In other words, successful authors need to share with up coming authors to stay humble and novice authors need experience writers to walk beside them as guides.

The best thing that happened to my writing was forming a writing group. I have gained more knowledge about audience expectations, visual imagery, character development, and creating a world with these diverse, direct, diligent  individuals . The Salt Lake Writers Group has been my salvation in the world of the lonely writer. It has taken me beyond just producing stories. This group, some who weren't even born in the era I write about,  have made my novel richer with stronger verb suggestions, encourage nouns and descriptions that place the reader in the scene, and helped me transcend my mid-twentieth century story to a relatable for a twenty-first reader.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Be Strategic: Know Blogging Basics

Once you have established your blog's goals and objectives, make a plan for your blog's installments. Unless you are going to journal your life as it happens, your blog needs to be planned to garner an audience.

Attracting an Audience
 What attracts an audience? Who are the readers you want to reach and maintain? This assessment is the first step in establishing a successful blog.  Knowing your "people" and getting them excited about what you write establishes your base.  These readers help share your information. When considering your audience, check out Google's Communities. This resource not only gives you ideas for your blog community, but one or two of the Google communities can become part of your distribution list.

Plan a Blog Campaign 
Blogging is marketing. It is marketing your brand as a writer. Plan an introduction blog that state's
your blog's goals, objectives, and enlists readers to become contributors. Your subject matter needs a schedule,  you plan the subject matter you want to talk about monthly or weekly.

The key to having a return audience is consistency. Your readers can count on you to have a new topic every two weeks. Yes, you may want to blog weekly, but I caution novice bloggers to not stretch themselves. Remember, in the planning stages you are thinking and writing about what your blog's message. Brainstorm twelve relevant topics.

After you have your topics, plan your research time, writing time, searching for photo's or clip art that are not copyright protected unless, of course, you are going to buy them. You also have consider editing time, layout time, seasoning time, (you know the time you let your product sit before you hit the publish button).

Blogging Is a Writing Form
Writing on a screen or phone is different than pen and paper. It demands crisp clean sentences. Concise information and an easy to read type. A blogger writes interesting and captivating subject matter that brings the reader back for more.

Blogging for business is information you give to readers so they want to read more. A blog needs a personality, but be careful. If the purpose of your blog is to build a large social audience, the blog's personality must attract all readers.
Keep Learning
  • Read other blogs
  • Use analytics to discover information about your readers 
  • Understand the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and what it can do for your blog
  • Read your blog aloud to yourself, then have someone else read it before you press PUBLISH.
  • Put a link or resource in every blog to keep your readers coming back.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Be Strategic:Review Blogger Platforms 2016

Blogging creates an identity, brand, and culture for a writer, business, product, instructional institution, or service. The creator of the blog needs to identify the goal and objectives of the blog before looking for the right platform (program).

A blogger platform is a program used to create a blog. These programs are either free or charge a monthly fee. How do you decide which platform works for you?

Well, it depends on the what you goals you want you blog to achieve:

  • Are you creating a word heavy blog?
  •  Do you need the versatility of templates?
  • Are analytics critical to your blog success? 
  • Is your blog personal and only for you to read?
  • Do you want to grow a social platform?
  • Will your blog be rich with photos or video?
  • How critical is the analysis of feedback?
  • Do you want to make money with your blog?

I use Blogger because it was part of my Gmail offerings and several of my writer colleagues suggested it. Wordpress also was suggested to me, but I personally did not find it as easy to set up as Blogger.  Again, your blogger platform depends on your needs (visual, statistical, technical) and your ability to manage those needs.

Platform is important. You want it flexible enough to work for you while your developing your social network while it gives you enough room to experiment with your site. You don't want to have to change your platform in a year or even three years.

The platform is like finding a business location. You want a place that handles your traffic and encourages new readers

These links can assist you in finding the right platform for you.   (comparison)  (pros and cons) (comparison)  (comparison)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Be Strategic: Consider Your URL Carefully

Selecting your URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or reference (address) on the Internet. Is among the most important decision you make about your blog. An URL is permanent. 
  • If you are blogging about one particular subject, e.g., parenting, podcasts, sports, teams, you may want to use a pithy web address (URL) for your blog.
  • A cautionary word about being pithy: my blog was originally a just a rant on political observations, then I started writing books and my blog morphed into my writer's platform. I did some fancy research to make my author's name and my pithy name  interchangeable. 
  • The domain needs reflect your product or business.
  • Your domain needs to be easy to read not only on a computer, but on a phone, ipad, and a business card.
  • Make sure it ends with the correct suffix (.com,, edu)
  • Keep your domain professional. It reflects you and your product.
Is My Selection Available?
You need to register your domain aka web address.  Web address are registered so choose more than one web address. You need alternate choices if your first choice is already registered. Click on  to check your domain choices has been taken. 

How do I pick a vendor?
Multiple vendors offer various registration opportunities. You need to be cautious.  
  • Ask other writers which vendor did they choose to register their web address. 
  • Read reviews from business and technology magazines for critiques and ratings on these vendor services. The links below are samples of what you can find by "googling - Reviews on Domain Registration Companies:

Other Resources
The following link What is an url? is a resource explaining an Uniform Resource Locator.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Vigilant Silver Fox: Be Strategic: Blog

Vigilant Silver Fox: Be Strategic: Blog: Before we even place our fingers on the keyboard, let's explore the origin of the word 'blog.' The word 'blog' is deri...

Be Strategic: Blog

Before we even place our fingers on the keyboard, let's explore the origin of the word 'blog.' The word 'blog' is derived from the term weblog.  The act of journaling on the web became know as "blogging." The person who journals on the web is label a "blogger."

A blog consists of short concise valuable prose use by information seekers. This audience receives something of value. Your blog readership helps to build  and expand a platform for your books, speaking engagements, articles, and classes you create.

The key components of successful blogs:
  1. Choose a name or URL (It is your brand)
  2. Make sure the software platform works for you and readers
  3. Consistency is key for building an audience 
  4. Define the purpose for your blog 
  5. Create a flexible annual blog plan
  6. Make it easy for your readers to find your blog
  7. Learn to use 'Post Settings'
  8. Analyze your blog's data
  9. Make sure your audience responds to your blog
  10. Have fun with your blog
Your blog is a reflection of you as a writer. Once you commit to taking the mantle of blogger, you are wedded to your audience.

These links are resources to help you start a blog:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

January 2015-Strategic Planning: Refresh Your Profile

Take a few hours this week to find out how the world sees you as a writer. Visit your profile on your social platforms. I'm not just talking about your site. Right now make a list of all the sites you maintain and don't maintain. Allow me to help you brain storm:
How many email sites do you own?
  • How many Facebook sites.
  • How many blogs?
  • How many Twitter accounts?
  • What about your Instagram? Goodreads? Pinterest? Stumbleupon? Reddit? Digg? Tumblr? Just to begin the litany of possibilities.
Step 1: Decommission any site you are not updating or hasn't proven to bring in a sufficient audience. If you have sites dedicated to books published several years ago, consider if they reflect who you are today. If you wish to maintain them, update them or link them to your current site. In other words, it is time to "declutter" you social footprint. You are not the same person, let alone the same writer you were five years ago.

Step 2: Update your profiles. Potential employers, literary agents, publishers, and above all readers, check profile sites. In this "info at our fingertips" world, you need to be consistent on all profiles and above all - current.

Step 3: Ah! the dreaded head shot, let's be frank, no one likes to take one, pick one, or post one. Your professional social platform needs to reflect you, the professional, successful, writer. Hey! I love my family and yours too, but the craft of writing is half of the story. The business part makes us all nervous and putting ourselves out there in a photo is business. Find a way to keep your profile photo fresh and professional.

Step 4: List your writing achievements and development (conferences, workshops, contributions, etc.).

Step 5: Keep list of social platform profiles. Set a reminder to help you refresh profiles every quarter, okay if you can't manage quarterly, try biannually, but get a social platform profile schedule reminder on all your calendars A.S.A.P.

 A profile is just that: a profile. It is an economy of words describing who you are today.

There are multiple sites and choices on writing an author's profile.
Here are a few links that may be helpful:;postID=9072314130422264897;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=0;src=postname