"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Excursions

I miss the large gatherings we once enjoyed during the holidays. Family members have moved all across the USA (and a few into other countries) so we usually only have smaller gatherings now.

One bonus of the situation though, is that summer travel is more convenient and less expensive. We just stay with family, and the only expense is our travel there and any extra events we participate in while vacationing.

One drawback - I'm not reading or writing much because I've been having too much fun. I'm sorry I've been absent so much this month, but I'll get back to a schedule in August. I'll share more details in the future. HAPPY SUMMER!

Have you been enjoying any summer travels? What is your favorite summer memory?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

7 Austin, Texas Literary Locations Worth a Visit

In the summer, I usually post a few literary travel articles (see the "For Writers" tab above for more). I recently realized I haven't talked much about the travels in my own state of Texas, so today I thought I'd share 7 places worth visiting in Austin. 

About 15 years ago I visited Austin for a teacher's conference and was pleasantly surprised at a few literary finds. Just a few blocks from the conventions center where I was attending SXSW (literary and film festival) was my first find:

1) O. Henry House and Museum, Austin, TX - The mission of the O. Henry Museum is to collect, preserve and interpret artifacts and archival materials relative to William Sidney Porter, the author otherwise known as O. Henry, for literary, educational, and historical purposes. The O. Henry Museum offers a look into the life of William Sidney Porter in the Austin years leading up to his controversial prison term, after which he assumed the pen name O. Henry and set about transforming himself into the famed short story writer who authored such universal classics as "Gifts of the Magi," "The Ransom of Red Chief" and "The Cop and the Anthem."
2) Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX - The University of Texas archive, library, and museum houses 36 million literary manuscripts, one million rare books, five million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art, including three copies of the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays, The Cardigan manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and manuscript collections of James Joyce, Graham Green, David Foster Wallace, Anne Sexton, Don DeLillo, and many others.
3) Bennu Coffee, which from the outside looks like your standard Austin coffee place, is the perfect cafe for the bookishly minded. Their specialty mochas are each named after different literary works. You can order the Don Quixote, a spiced chocolate mocha with whipped cream and a dusting of Mexican spiced powder; The Raven, a dark chocolate mocha with whipped cream and chocolate shavings; or a Great Gatsby, a white and dark chocolate twist of sauces with chocolate shavings, among others.
4) It wouldn’t be a trip to Austin if you didn’t hit up at least one bar on Sixth Street. Lucky for you, you can hit up The Library for your liquor needs. Be warned that it is a college bar, but if you want to sip your whiskey in a place covered in decorative books, then give it a shot.

5) Book People - Publishers Weekly called Book People “bookstore of the year” in 2005, and it’s been one of Texas’s leading independent bookstores for decades for good reason. Book People is huge, with so many nooks and crannies to explore.
6 and 7) If you plan your tour just right, you might be able to check out the Texas Book Festival, held each fall. And if you love YA lit, you should also check out the annual Austin Teen Book Festival. Both events are free and feature incredible author panels, book talks, and more.
Have you been to any of these locations? Do you have other suggestions for literary visits in Austin?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

IWSG: Best Things Said

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

The July 6 question - What's the best thing(s) someone has ever said about your writing?

For me, personally:

1) One teacher I admire told me a story I was working to complete was worthy of winning a HUGO!
2) One reader left a review of "Broken Angel" on goodreads comparing me to Elmore Leonard!
3) Every time a reader tells me they've enjoyed a story, and can't wait to read the next one!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Independence Day Weekend!

It's July 1st and the official beginning of the United States Independence Day weekend.

It's also a new month which means several of my publications are hitting the stands today. I have a few articles in the regional magazine Thrive (see my "Publications" page for more information on this). A new issue of Southern Writer's magazine is out today as well, and you can read my interview with fantasy author Frank Tuttle inside. You  can visit http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com/  if you'd like to learn more about him or this publication.

I'll be enjoying some time with family this weekend. What are you doing for the holiday?

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

IWSG: Updates and Voting

Update: As I mentioned last week, there have been some changes to how members are now participating in the monthly "Insecure Writers Support Group" posting.

Every month, our hosts will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

The July 6 question - What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

Voting: As many of you know, the IWSG and Dancing Lemur press have decided to publish an annual anthology of short stories. Last years theme was science fiction and I was honored to have my story "WIN" included in the book. 

Voting is now open for selection of this years theme. There are 10 genres to choose from (excluding science fiction since that was last years theme). Each member may vote one time only before July 8th with the winning theme to be announced around July 15th. Check your IWSG newsletter or visit the blog for the link to vote.

What genre would you love to see win?

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Write Support and Vonnegut's 8 Rules

I'm preparing to lead a writer's workshop tomorrow called "The Write Support." The purpose is for writers to come together for a full day of support. We'll have time for lessons, critiques, reviews, editing, selling/buying each others work, marketing, and more.

For some reason, Kurt Vonnegut's "8 Rules for Creative Writing" are rolling around in my mind. Maybe I saw his name recently, or overheard someone else mention them? Either way, I thought I would share them here in case you have never read them before.


Kurt Vonnegut: 8 Basics of Creative Writing
Kurt Vonnegut created some of the most outrageously memorable novels of our time, such as Cat's CradleBreakfast Of Champions, and Slaughterhouse Five. His work is a mesh of contradictions: both science fiction and literary, dark and funny, classic and counter-culture, warm-blooded and very cool. And it's all completely unique.
With his customary wisdom and wit, Vonnegut put forth 8 basics of what he calls Creative Writing 101:
  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.
From the preface to Vonnegut's short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box.
Which one do you feel is the most significant? I'm partial to #5. Do you agree with these? How do you feel they compare to Elmore Leonard's rules?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Changes to IWSG Day

If you're a member of the "Insecure Writers Support Group" then you know we post once a month, but what you may not be aware of are a few changes starting with the July post.

Our hosts are revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive. 

Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

The July 6 question - What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?