Blog – Adventure #3 – Is that a Snake you’re wearing?

19 Oct


When I was still in High School, I volunteered to be the biology lab assistant. Our biology lab was an interactive one and hosted many animals such as a rabbit, cages of white mice, aquariums full of tropical fish, salamanders, mealy worms, and most notably, a cage for a 6 foot long snake.

 
A six foot long Bull Snake to be exact.

 
Bull snakes are members of the constrictor class of snakes and therefore not poisonous. This snake was pretty docile (read: well fed) as far as snakes go, and she would routinely completely ignore me as I lifted the lid of her cage to lift her out and put her in another container while I changed her water source and dumped clean wood chips into one corner of her cage. In reality, I had no idea if she was in fact female, but I nicknamed her Heidi because for the most part she liked to burrow under the wood chips and thus was completely camouflaged and hidden for most of the time.

 
On another biology corollary – stay with me because these two plot lines are going to intersect – one day, I decided to impress a boy who had caught my eye. He was, in my teenaged eyes and opinion, a ruggedly handsome fellow with a bad-boy personality that I found irresistible. I needed something to catch his interest. Something that would make me stand out from the crowd of the much more physically attractive females that flocked around him. And before you judge me, let me point out that this desire to be attractive and noticed is a pre-wired, basic biological reaction in all juveniles of all animal species, humans included, so lacking a pretty plumage or beautiful singing voice, I substituted.

 
My idea: I would “wear” the snake around my waist, and casually walk past the object of my intended affections as he was at his locker which was conveniently situated right outside the door of the biology lab. How cool would that be??
Heidi co-operated and wrapped herself a couple of times around my waist. I think the warmth of my midsection was attractive to her and once in place, she traveled contentedly there without any further movement from her. Thus wrapped and strapped with said fashion accoutrement, I casually strode out into the hallway and past Bad Boy at his locker.

 
Heidi had the intended effect.

 
Bad Boy spun on his heels as I walked past and called out to me. I stopped. I turned. I smiled. He smiled back. We talked. He was visibly impressed. We made plans to meet in the biology lab the next day after classes.

 
Hoo boy! This was gonna be good. As I returned to the lab to continue with my animal caretaker duties, my head was swimming with romantic thoughts. I was daydreaming so hard that lust had made me careless.

 
I was in the mouse room, chopping up cheese and chunks of apples for the mice when a piece of apple shot away across the counter. As I reached out to grab it, there was this blur of movement and color that snaked out (bad pun, I know) across the counter in pursuit of that same piece of apple. It was Heidi!

 
In my mind it happened in slow motion but in reality, it happened in a micro second: I reached toward the piece of apple and she sprang towards it, her mouth unhinging and opening clear back into her body, fangs poised. Although non-poisonous, constrictors of all sorts still come equipped with a set of fangs for capturing and holding their prey while they first constrict and then devour their meal. She and her fangs reached that piece of apple a fraction of a second before my fingers did.

 
It was with shaking hands that I unfurled her from my waist and deposited her back in her own cage.

 
Although I’m pretty sure bull snakes don’t eat apples, I had completely forgotten that I still had her wrapped around my waist there in the mouse room, and as anyone who has ever been close to many mice can attest to, there is a definite STRONG mousey smell around them. The combination of intense mouse odor and the sight of a small object skittering across the counter had activated her hunting reflex. My hand had nearly become her unintended target.

 
The next day, Bad Boy showed up, but I could not bring myself to handle Heidi, and without my snake fashion statement, my attractiveness was lost upon him. Just as well. Snakes smell, too.

 
There have been a few times, while on holiday with my family, that we have come across photo ops to handle exotic animals. When it comes to having a large constrictor in the picture, I prefer to be the photographer.

My stepson and snake; I'm the photographer...

My stepson and snake; I’m the photographer…

 

Oh yeah, and for those of you still reading this far, I used that close-up-and-personal experience of a snake attack in my second novel, DEADLY MISFORTUNE, with the event expanded to be bigger and badder, of course. Curious?

You can get a copy here: http://authl.it/B00KYUAZCY

Deadly Misfortune

Blog – Adventure #2 – Operation Sting! (Jelly Fish Sting, that is…) or Up Close and Personal With Creatures of the Deep

6 Oct

Taking a shortcut and drifting through a Mexican Mangrove-like swamp, the eight of us (yup – same family of mine, that by now you’ve probably come to know reasonably well), were boating over to a neighboring beach, the sun splashing down on our shoulders like warmed suntan oil. It was early December – shoulder season meant no crowds – and it was blissfully perfect.

 

Arriving at our destination, we were delighted to see that, except for a half dozen fishermen who were working their fishnets in the shallow waters, we were the only ones on the beach. There weren’t even any customers lounging on the patio of the tiny traditional Mexican restaurant that sat just back of the soft strip of sand that rimmed this little bay.

My family in Mexico - all 6 kids. (Not a typo - count 'em!)

My family in Mexico – all 6 kids. (Not a typo – count ‘em!)

As we strode into the warm waters, the fisherman yelled and greeted us in Spanish, waving their arms in an enthusiastic fashion. Speaking no Spanish, we grinned, waved back and plunged into the waves.

 

 
Within seconds, the entire underside of my body exploded in pain, feeling akin to what I imagine it would be like to have five thousand elastic bands all snapping against my skin at one time. Staggering from the water, I was nearly stampeded and pummeled into the sand by the rush of all other family members in their efforts to clear the water as well. Our combined screeching, however, was topped by the shrieks of my 14 year old daughter. A raised crimson welt slashed down the length of her thigh. Something had stung us all, but only she had any mark to prove it.

 

 
Somewhere in my panicked brain, my EMT training took over. A thought rose to the forefront. A very logical, extremely scientific thought. Something about either vinegar or concentrated urine salts changing the ph or cellular barrier of the ocean dweller’s venom-filled cells to stop or reverse the expulsion of the venom out of the deposited cellular cysts. So I did what any scientist would do.

 

 
“Boys!” I bellowed in my most motherly commando-sounding voice. “Get over here right now and pee on your sister’s leg!”

 

 
Well, I can tell you that I got no co-operation from either side.

 

 

By now the fishermen had hustled over to us and had already enlisted the assistance of the senora, owner of the beachside restaurant. This angel flew to our rescue with a huge bowl of sliced up limes and began to squish vast amounts of lime juice all over the welt. Plenty of it. And it seemed to work. Within minutes, my daughter’s wails had downgraded to a few shuddering sniffles.

 

 
“Why you no listen, Senora?” the puzzled fisherman asked.

 

 
“Listen to what?” I asked, slightly annoyed to being grilled like this while the lime juice application was continuing. This woman was using copious amounts.

 

 
“Medusas peligro!” he replied.

 

 
Peligro. Danger. That much Spanish I knew. But what kind of danger? My confused look brought only a snort from him, and he grabbed a glass from his satchel, strode into the ocean and scooped it full of water.

 

 
“Medusas!” he exclaimed upon returning, and he held the glass up for me to see.

 

 
I squinted and then I gasped.

 

 
Suspended in the water-filled glass were several tiny almost transparent Jellyfish! The “friendly” hand waving and shouts from the fishermen had been words of warning to the crazy Canadians who were blindly romping into the infested waters. We later heard from another bilingual tourist that there had been some kind of overnight underwater storm that had stirred up and brought into the shallow waters, a bloom of – given the size in the glass sample – baby jellyfish. Oh yeah, and one humongous one, as my daughter would have you believe.

 

 
Later that evening, as the sun set over that expanse of mysterious ocean, I made a journal entry of  our day’s adventure, filing it under “Quintspinner Research”.  It was shortly after that,  that I got around to  treating my still-slightly-burning skin with a lime juice/tequila concoction of my own. Taken internally. And plenty of it.

End of a Day in Paradise

A Peaceful End to a Day in Paradise

Now go and see where in Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest, part of this little true story was adapted to fit into the plot. I’ll give you a hint. It involves the character, Mr. Lancaster. He was fond of liquid medications taken internally. Believed they did more good that way….

 
For those of you needing to acquire your own copy of the Quintspinner adventure to find the answer, you can net one right here: http://amzn.to/1kLuqi9 .

 
And stay tuned for the next adventure installment: Um …  is that a snake you’re wearing?

Work, Work, Work … (or “Getting Research Material For Your Novel – Part One”)

25 Sep

Hiya! Those of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter, here on this blog, or who have read my novels in my Quintspinner series (you’re my – ahem -  favorites by the way) will know that the series is set in the historical setting of the West Indies of the early 1700’s.

Tropical sunset - Romance at its best.

Tropical sunset – Romance at its best.

Tropical islands. Shipwrecks. Pirates.

All of those things that bring to mind to romance and excitement of Pirates of the Caribbean or of the old Errol Flynn movies.

 
When I considered writing the series, that’s about all that I had in mind. I didn’t realize that the historical genre is considered by many in the writing sphere to be one of the hardest genres to write in, as it requires not only a great story and captivating characters, but also an accurate portrayal of life in the time era in which the writer has chosen to set his/her story. And what did a prairie girl like me know about sailing the seven seas? Well mostly that I liked being on the water and that I wasn’t particularly prone to sea sickness. However, it did soon occur to me that I had had more than just a few real-life adventures of my own to draw from, and since I am frequently asked about such events, I’m going to share these stories in a mini-series right here!

 
ADVENTURE #1 – THE ORCA ENCOUNTER (Or “A Whale of An Adventure!”)

 
“Whale Watching off the Sunny Coast of Vancouver Island” the glossy brochure proclaimed. I thought that sounded like the perfect blend of holiday and excitement, and of course, it promised to provide the mandatory (in my mind) educational component. Our family of eight and a friend of my stepson’s were all going to be on Vancouver Island for a week in July, and I was looking for quality ways to spend our time there.

 
“Quality,” in my mind, meant something new and different, usually something that the kids would never have done on their own. Whale watching from a dinghy seemed to fit the bill.

 
Pods of Orcas, commonly known as “Killer whales,” swam around the tip of Vancouver Island, a few miles off shore, every summer, and enterprising sailors turned the opportunity into a summer tourist bonanza. Pictures in the brochure showed a boat tethered at the pier, full of smiling people looking up at the camera — it certainly was no action shot, but it was something that all of us could do together, given that there was a wide range in the children’s age from eight to sixteen.

 

 
My sons groaned and rolled their eyes when I handed out the tickets. “Do we have to do this?” they whined, “Couldn’t we just meet you back here in a couple of hours? What fun is sitting in a smelly boat all afternoon going to be? I betcha’ it’ll stink like rotting fish. You won’t like that, Mom. And look, it doesn’t even look like there’s enough room in it to get up and move around.”

 
“Attendance is not optional,” I replied, “These are not ordinary whales, you know. These are Orcas.”

 
“Yeah, but there’s no guarantee we’ll even see any,” my son pointed out, “It says so in this stupid pamphlet right here.” And he stabbed his finger at it.

 
“I don’t see why we had to get up so early just to come here,” my stepson complained, “when we’re just going to fall back asleep during the boat ride anyway.”

 
“If nothing else, time together in this small, smelly boat will allow all of us to bond, my darlings,” I replied with a tight smile, hoping that the look in my eyes would tell them that the discussion had ended.

 
At the dock, the oversized Zodiac raft looked safe enough. It was no more than a glorified dinghy with a couple of small motors attached to the back and four wooden seats spanning its width. We were fitted with bright orange full-body life preserver suits by the “captain” and his helper.

The family gathered to embark on "Whale Watching. " The body language just screams "excitement " doesn't it?

The family gathered to embark on Whale Watching.
The body language just screams “excitement”, doesn’t it?

“Phew!” my daughter gasped, “These smell worse than the boat, and they are way too hot!” She pulled hers off her shoulders and peeled it down to her waist.

 
“No one goes,” the captain bellowed, “until everyone has their suits on, right up to the last snap and zipper!” My daughter reluctantly pulled hers up again.

 
“Thank God, no one will see us in these things,” my stepdaughter, pouted.

 
This “Whale Watching” expedition was quickly turning into a teenager’s nightmare – being forced to wear really uncool clothes, having a crabby guy in charge who yelled at them, and having absolutely nothing to do but sit still, crammed together shoulder to shoulder while listening to him for the next two hours.

 
The nine of us, as well as three strangers, climbed into the boat, all decked out in the snazzy, tangerine full-body life preserver suits. We joked about being “astronauts” and “Pillsbury Dough boys in Hallowe’en costumes,” and the boys jostled for the outside seats on the benches.

 
Outside the harbour, the captain opened up the motors and we tore into the ocean waves, all of us bouncing wildly about in the boat. This part of the ride was exhilarating enough that even my teenagers, who were usually too “cool” to get excited about much, hung on for dear life.

 
We were about a half an hour into our boat ride, with the shoreline having disappeared from sight, when our captain yelled, “There they are!” He pointed to the ocean horizon where we could just make out several spouting geysers amid tiny points of black dorsal fins.

 
He carefully maneuvered our boat through the four-foot waves, to a spot just ahead of the traveling pod and then killed the motor. He explained that it was provincial law that boats had to maintain a certain distance from all known marine life when their motors were running. Sitting with “dead” motors allowed us to be legally closer to the whales.

 
Even the boys were paying attention now. One Orca surfaced about 20 feet from our boat, spouted and dove. Everyone in the boat cheered with excitement. Even from 20 feet away the Orcas looked enormous.

Whale #2
It dawned on me that Orcas were fierce carnivorous predators, known to hunt in packs, and here we were, sitting a mere two and a half feet above the ocean’s surface in an inflatable boat!

Without warning, our boat shuddered and the starboard side shot out of the water. Grabbing the seats to keep ourselves from sliding sideways, we screamed as a mountainous wall of glistening black dorsal fin rose out of the water, tilting our boat and pushing the starboard side even higher.

One second later, a waterfall of freezing ocean water crashed down upon us, nearly swamping our boat, as the huge Orca spouted and then dove under the boat, bumping it again as it passed beneath.

“BAIL! For God’s sake, BAIL!” the captain roared at us, and we desperately grabbed for the plastic containers tied to the seats. Ocean water sloshed up to our knees. The captain started the motors and we bailed as fast as we could.

He steered the boat back in the direction that we had come from and we roared away from the spot. We were all still shaking from the adrenaline rush when, a few moments later, the motors whined, sputtered, and died.

“Oh no! We’ve sucked in kelp! The motors are plugged!” the captain yelled. He radioed our position to the coast guard while we continued to madly bail out the boat.

Drenched as we were, and in the ocean wind, our hands soon cooled to the point that it was difficult to hold onto the bailing containers. The orange suits that we had earlier joked about were now conserving our body temperatures, as we sat huddled together, awaiting rescue.

As the captain continued to work feverishly on the motors, we were blown towards a rocky crag that rose out of the water. Land! Even though it was covered in sea bird droppings and smelled horrible, it looked good to me, but not so to our captain. “If we hit that, it’ll puncture the boat and likely capsize us,” he warned. “Be ready to jump into the water!”

As we veered towards its edge, a seeming miracle happened: one motor sputtered back to life. Ever so slowly, we made our way around the rocky crag and back towards the shore.

An hour later, we spilled from the Zodiac and onto firm dry land, our eyes stinging and our faces coated white from the ocean salt. Back at their office, as we wearily hung up our orange suits, I noticed their motto printed in large black letters on a wall poster. It said, “Our Adventure Tours – More Than You Could Ever Hope For!” No kidding.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment:

Up Close and Personal With Creatures of the Deep

 
(Ahem, attention please: the above is a true story. You’ll find several similar adventures in my Quintspinner series, most of it fictional, except of course, for the parts that are real. You’ll have to figure out which is which for yourself. And you can get started on that adventure right here! http://amzn.to/1kLuqi9

G’wan. You know you wanna’. It helps me fund my next fishing trip. Thanks for reading.

How to Meet Deadlines and Remain Sane

4 Apr

I meant to post these thoughts some time ago, but am only now getting around to it. Oh and by the way, this post was also posted over on http://fabulosityreads.blogspot.ca/2014/03/how-to-meet-deadlines-remain-sane-by_11.html#.Uz8L1VdnA2s. (A fabulous blog, true to its name!) Somehow I met the deadline for that… :-D

My name is Dianne and I am a procrastinator – a busy one, but nevertheless I am an authentic procrastinator. Image
Yet somehow I manage to work at a fulltime day job, assist Hot Stuff Hubby with a part-time endeavor, direct an annual 2 week stint of dinner theatre, take care of two very large yards year round, sit on three community boards, keep in touch with 6 grown children and dispense motherly wisdom on a daily, sometimes hourly basis (yes, I am, as well, a hovering helicopter parent with 30 plus years of experience), and I write novels. Sandwiched in between all of this big stuff is the little stuff – the “crack filler stuff” that holds my life together. (More on this later.)

 

Know this truism and Rule of The Universe: WORK EXPANDS TO FILL THE AMOUNT OF TIME ALLOTTED TO IT.

It always has and always will.

This is actually an unwritten law from the higher realms of Quantum physics. (C’mon, stick with me as I ramble on here – it will soon make sense, and you will be able to brag to your friends about your literary choices by casually saying something to the effect of, “Yeah, so I was reading this blog post on Quantum physics the other day ….” Now how impressive would THAT be?)

Model, Science, Mike, Symbol, AndrewBut I digress. It’s all about the energy not being able to be created or destroyed. Which means there will always be stuff to get done. Always. You will never get caught up. All the great minds in physics realize this. Just ask them – physicists like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Ok, well maybe it’s too late to chat up ol’ Albert but Steve, if you’re reading this post, feel free to leave a comment at the end.    Science, People, Einstein, Cartoon The point of the Rule of The Universe is that in order to meet deadlines, you must put your tasks on The List (see point #1 below), and assign a start and stop time to each one. Do this and It. Will. Get. Done. The trick is to get through The List without bleeding every last drop of energy out of you.

Here’s how I manage to meet deadlines in view of the aforementioned rule, while remaining calm and a little bit shy of crazy:

1.Make THE LIST. Here’s how. Get a calendar. No, not just the one in your phone, although that’s a dandy way to get audible reminders of how much time you’ve got left. Get a paper one as well, or at least a piece of paper and write down the deadlines in the spaces of the appropriate days. Estimate, realistically, how many minutes/hours/days it will take you to do the task and, working backwards from the deadline date, write the start time down.

Oh, and seriously? Capturing all of the things/events/issues/meetings/promised outcomes on paper makes them much easier to keep track of. This in itself relieves an unbelievable amount of mental stress. You no longer have to attempt to lasso all of those thoughts and mental memos racing and banging around inside the old noggin, which is kind of like trying to herd an armload of cats into your car for a trip to the vet for yearly vaccinations. (Cats instinctively know what you’re planning. Think only kind thoughts towards them.)

Brown, Cat, Kitten, Kitty, Illustration

2.Stay focused and devote the time solely to the task at hand. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you finish something if you have only a set amount of time in which to do it, and you’ll be surprised at how good the wash of relief feels when you can tick a task off your list of things-to-be-done.

Ever get a phone call from friends who want to drop by in 15 minutes? Suddenly you can do the sink full of dishes, or at least hide them in the dishwasher, vacuum the cat hair off the couches, wipe the last meal’s crumbs from your kitchen counters, sweep the floors, toss the smelly bag of garbage into the outside can, and put your feet up, looking like you have nothing else to do for the evening, before the doorbell even rings. Under normal circumstances, those household tasks could have eaten up an entire afternoon.

Home, Education, People, Lady, Woman3.Break up overwhelming tasks into manageable bits and set a goal for yourself with a time limit. One hour. One day. Maybe one week, although that’s almost too big – it leaves lots of squirming room for those of us who have an issue with staying on task. Hoping to write your next novel and get it finished in this decade? (I speak from personal experience in trying to get Book Three in my Quintspinner Series done.) How about writing 100 words at every meal? That’s not asking a lot. How many times have you been asked to fill in an online form for your book and in doing so, must leave a 100 word description? All of a sudden 100 words fly onto the page in a matter of a few sentences, and before you know it, you’re OVER your allotted limit. (Take this #3 point for example. It’s 143 words up to this point, not counting this sentence. How easy was that?)

Pencil, Happy, Jumping, School, Writing4.Learn to say “No.” And practice saying it out loud. There IS a practical limit to how many tasks a non-super-human being can take on and still retain some semblance of sanity. Pass that limit, and unmet deadlines will fall by the wayside like heat-struck guards at the palace gates. 

Old, Sign, Stop, Office, People, Man

5.Set rewards for yourself, to be enjoyed at the end of tasks. Rewards are the crack-filler stuff that stops me from fragmenting. (See? I promised that I would get to this part.) Rewards can be as decadent as a glass of wine, some white chocolate, and a soak in the hot tub, or as practical as watching a favorite TV show, reading for pleasure, or indulging in a hobby.

Woman, Tan, Watering, Garden, Spring

However you choose to time-manage your commitments, make sure that they leave you with a feeling of enjoyment, or at least some level of satisfaction upon completion.  Otherwise it’s just an expenditure of energy on matter that doesn’t matter. But that’s another lecture on a subset of Quantum physics, best saved for another time. I’d love to hear from you on how you effectively meet YOUR deadlines.  Now go get that calendar.

School, Black, Notebook, Icon, Note

IT’S THE MARCH BOOK FRENZY!! YES, INDEEDY!

27 Mar

Image

Well the blog hop has begun and it runs until Sunday, March 30th! Your help sharing the March Book Frenzy would be greatly appreciated. Tell your friends!
This March Book Frenzy is brought to you by http://fabulosityreads.blogspot.ca/Image

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE  FREE AND DISCOUNTED BOOKS YOU SEE ON THE BANNER PLEASE REFER TO THIS BOOK CATALOG.

 

There’s also A WONDERFUL GIVEAWAY:

 

FOR READERS $35, $25 and $20CashPLUS2 eBooks from each author. Refer to the BOOK CATALOG Giveaway Link: March Book Frenzy (Readers)

FOR PARTICIPATING BLOGGERS ONLY

2 X $20 Cash Giveaway Link (Bloggers ONLY): Bloggers Giveaway

Increase your chances to win by visiting as many of the blogs on the book tour as possible. (Find the list of participating blogs by clicking here). Here’s a list of all of the stops: http://new.inlinkz.com//luwpview.php?id=375044.

Why not click around and visit these blog sites? Such a selection! And all of them are full of really great reading suggestions. The hosts have a huge collection of posts from authors, as well as many, many book reviews.

I’ve started things off for the tour with a post about 10 things that I wish I had known before I became an author. It’s been a steep learning curve and I probably could have had a list three times longer….

If you are like me – multitasking, trying to keep my head above water while tending to all of the bazillion things that threaten to pull me under while competing for my time and attention – well, I’m left with the attention span of a fruit fly. Therefore, I have added the post in it’s entirety below. (one less click step for you!)  Here goes:

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Became An Author

 
  1. Some people write just for themselves. (Drawers full of scribbled down short stories and poems for-your-eyes-only anyone?) These people are writers. Not authors. There IS a difference. The author part is where you do the hard work that is required to get the story or poem ready for judgment by the rest of the world, and then succeed in doing so. Writers write for the joy of capturing thoughts down on paper or screen. Authors do this too, but hope to make a living at it. Most writers secretly long to become authors.
  2. Telling the story is the easy part. Then comes the hard part of editing, rewrites, cover design, and marketing your product.
  3. Writing to make money is a business. There are costs involved and hopefully, monies earned. You do not have to spend a fortune to get a good quality book out there (although some have) but you probably DO need to pay for some services such as book cover design (if you don’t have a fantastic, eye-popping cover, it will never be noticed at thumbnail size. I hire Derek Murphy at http://bookcovers.creativindie.com/ to do the book covers for my Quintspinner series. Treat yourself to seeing some amazing book covers over on his site). The Internet provides groups to join professionally (http://allianceindependentauthors.org/ ) and lists places to get answers to questions about “how-to” for most things related to publishing a book and becoming an author. Other jobs, such as proper formatting can be hired out at a reasonable cost, to people who will make sure that it’s done properly. End result? You will have a great product to sell. Do not skimp on the quality.
  4. You MUST embrace technology. You cannot get away from using it and it will be a steep learning curve. If, like me, you are somewhat of a computer troglodyte, learn what you can on your own, and then hunt down a teenager who, for the price of some weekend beer money, will teach you how to upload, download, resize jpg’s, start a blog and a Facebook page, etc. They have grown up with this stuff. They’re really, really good at it. Pretend the money you’re paying them is going toward their university savings.
  5. You should have a plan. Several of them actually. A plan for your book’s plot. A marketing plan for your book’s introduction to the world. A financial plan for your expenditures. Do not do any of these by the seat of your pants.
  6. Word of mouth is still the most effective (and cheapest) way to get your book out there in front of hopefully thousands of pairs of readers’ eyes, and without a doubt, book bloggers are the best way to spread the word about your book. They connect with a built-in audience of readers. Book bloggers are an author’s BEST avenue of book discovery.
  7. Most of your friends and family members will abandon you after the novelty of your first book wears off and you have not immediately been invited to be a guest sitting and chatting on Oprah Winfrey’s couch. See the next point.
  8. Writing is a solitary occupation and it is vitally important to make connections with other writers. Preferably those who are authors. Not only will they have advice about formatting issues, royalty statements, Amazon algorithms, and be able to offer encouragement to you when you are full of self-depreciating thoughts (Why can’t I write the next BIG THING? Why do I continue with this?), but they will completely understand your need for a glass of spiced rum and coke and a bowl of chips and dip to get the creative juices going. (Hey, I am writing a pirate series after all.)
  9. The pathway to authorship will become littered with sacrifices. It’s a demanding career choice and it does not willingly share your time with anything or anyone else in your life. Got time to watch a season’s worth of your favorite TV show? Nope. Spend a few hours on a lazy afternoon reading for pleasure? Not likely. Want a weekend to work on [insert your favorite hobby here]? Not going to happen. You will be hunched and crunched over your keyboard, eyes nervously flickering over your accumulated word count, as the sounds of your family’s laugher floats over your head from the family room elsewhere in your home.
  10. This is the most important point of all and if I had known this, it would have made the journey of writing my first book so much easier: the heart-pounding, intense thrill of seeing your book available for sale online for the very first time, or better yet, holding it as a physical copy in your hands, makes all of the above WORTH IT. Every lonely, frustrating, exciting, wonderful, challenging minute of it. I really wish I’d known this from the start. Wouldn’t have gone through quite so much spiced rum, I expect Cheers!

MULTIPLE AWARD WINNER including B.R.A.G. Medallion Winner, Best
Historical (Reader Views, NIEBA), Best YA (Writer’s Digest, Hollywood
Book Festival), Best Commercial Novel (Eric Hoffer), Book of the Year
(Foreword Reviews)

 
Even in the year 1717, one month, one week, or one day, can make all the difference in the world.
 
One month ago, Tess Willoughby was the daughter of a well-to-do physician in London, and she witnessed the murder of an old seer. Coming into possession of the dead woman’s odd ring – an ancient Spinner ring, known by the locals as the Ring of Prophesy, she was wrongly accused by her father of having stolen the ring.
Three weeks ago, by her father’s arrangement for the family, she became an unwilling passenger on a merchant ship bound for the pirate-infested waters of the Caribbean.
Two weeks ago, at her father’s insistence, she became forcibly betrothed to a man who she recognized as being the seer’s murderer – a man who covets her only for her ring.
One week ago, she met a sailor and experienced the thrill of being in love for the first time.
Two days ago, she realized that such a secret love would endanger them both, and, heart-broken, she was forced to choose her loyalty. 
Yesterday, her fiancé betrayed her during a pirate attack and those she loved were slaughtered.
Today, she is plotting to save her own life and perhaps to take his in retribution. The ring is urging her to decide quickly…
 
Tomorrow will be too late.
 
 
 
Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, Dianne Greenlay is the author of the hilarious story, THE CAMPING GUY, as well as QUINTSPINNER – A PIRATE’S QUEST and DEADLY MISFORTUNE, Books One and Two in a fast-paced award – winning adventure series, set in the 1700′s, in the pirate-infested waters of the West Indies. Greenlay is also a playwright, producer, and Creative Director of the long-running community theater group, Darkhorse Theatre. She is fluent in at least her mother tongue and she thanks her fierce English teachers for that. More of her thoughts on life can be found at www.diannegreenlay.com.

Connect With Dianne Here:

More of Dianne’s books on her AMAZON page.
Follow her on TWITTER.

 

Damn Fine Stuff!

25 Mar

[Image
I once had an old aunt who, in her youth had been quite a fire cracker. Years later, in the twilight of her life, she was still a confident, opinionated, and quite deaf old gal, but a bundle of entertainment to be around.

Most notably, she had a signature expression of everything that was to her liking, as being “Damn fine stuff” – as in music she liked: “Now that’s damn fine music!”, or in a sip of the ol’ medicinal: “Now that’s a damn fine drink!”, or (my favorite) in judgment of a particular lifeguard’s overall build: “Now that’s a damn fine piece of beautiful walking past us right there!”

Like I said, she was deaf, not blind…

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She passed away at the end of March several years ago, and I can’t help but think of her at this time of year, and so, in borrowing her phrase, I’d like to introduce you to some Damn Fine Stuff.

It just so happens that I am a part of the eNovel Author March Book Frenzy.  It’s an 8 author multi-blog (55 stops at last count, yup – NOT a typo. Fifty-five stops) that is running this week, March 27th through to March 30th. There are several amusing and revealing posts by the authors, book give-aways, and contests with cash prizes to be entered into. Here’s the link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/YTQ1NWM3Zjk2MGMzZTg0ZThhYTIzYWJlNDcwMWUxOjI3/

You can find details for all of this incredibly Damn Fine Stuff here: http://fabulosityreadsbookpromotions.blogspot.ca/p/enovel-authors-march-book-frenzy.html

And free and give-away and cash is always good, isn’t it?

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G’wan. Check it out. You know you wanna’… (Did I mention it was FREE stuff??)

Oh, and by the way, here is one of those entertaining author posts by yours truly ( a little bit of personal history in it) http://fabulosityreads.blogspot.com/2014/03/10-things-i-wish-i-had-known-before-i.html

Hope to chat with you somewhere along the blog hop! -Dianne

Blame It On Google (or What Was I Thinking??)

21 Jun

A few years ago, my life of being a sole charge physiotherapist and EMT in a remote rural community was pretty normal. The usual assortment of injuries (bruises, broken bones, sprains, etc.  – my patients’, not mine!) filled my days until a very unusual item came up in a Google search for a medical condition: women pirates.

What the heck? I didn’t even know that there were such things. Curious, I clicked on it and began to read. Well, it turns out that not only were there such characters, but there were many of them, and the lives and adventures of most of them were very well documented. In particular, I read about Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who, stranger than fiction, both disguised themselves as men, and quite by accident, ended up sailing on the very same pirate ship in the 1700’s through the West Indies. I read on, learning that these two ladies were described as being more determined and fearless than most of their male crew members, as they fought and pillaged their way up and down the Caribbean coastlines. Now this was good stuff – treasures, sea battles, brutal medical procedures, hurricanes, and swordfights!

I was hooked.

Being that these two female pirates were already well documented by writers who were much better writers than I, I didn’t dare try to retell their stories, but I thought that I could write my own story filled with characters from that era and lifestyle, and just let my imagination go wild. And, oh yeah, maybe throw in a few historical facts now and then, just to add realism. Boy, was I misguided!

It took only one sarcastic comment from an acquaintance to set me straight: “You are a prairie girl. You don’t sail. You don’t fight. You’re not even a history buff. What on earth makes you think that you could, or even should write about that stuff?”

Sometime during the pity party that I immediately had for myself, my hurt feelings morphed that comment into a challenge. I began to research. Several months later, I had ordered in so much reference material, that I was on a first name basis with every librarian in our library, and had tables ( yes, tables!) full of binders, notebooks, scraps of paper with details that I felt I needed to know. I also visited several marine museums, and did short sails, even attempting once to haul the main sail up on a tall ship, but failing miserably; I talked with sailors, strolled through historical sites, hoisted real cannonballs, and made my own grog out of dark rum. (After all, I wanted to involve all my senses, right?) And I began to write.

A little pirate fun during a research trip to the Caribbean

A little pirate fun during a research trip to the Caribbean

I became immersed in life in the 1700’s. In my mind as I wrote, I saw my characters, felt the tilt of the ship’s planks beneath my feet (ahem, … there may have been a little of that grog involved there), and at one point, while writing a sea battle full of cannon and musket fire,  I thought I could actually smell the smoke. Turns out it was just my neighbor’s barbeque.

Nevertheless, a few months down the literary road, QUINTSPINNER – A PIRATE’S QUEST was published. The story ended up having both a strong female and male protagonist (I am mother to two daughters and four sons and I had to keep peace in the family.) I held a book launch party complete with a pirate theme, sea shanties, author reading and book signing, sea food platters, and a surprise enactment of one of the book’s scenes by a local drama group, all looking and acting very pirate-ey. The launch party lasted several hours and attracted over 150 people.

A "Captive Audience" at the Pirate Book Launch Party

A “Captive Audience” at the Pirate Book Launch Party

I just wanna be a Pirate.

I just wanna be a Pirate.

Proper lookin' Pirates at the Launch Party

Proper lookin’ Pirates at the Launch Party

Then, much to my surprise and delight, my novel went on to win multiple awards, including Best Historical, Best Commercial Novel, Best Beach Read, Best YA, and Book of the Year awards. At one point, I was in contact with Tyler R. Tychylaar, Ph.D, historian, and noted historical author, and we discussed writing in the historical genre. He stated that it was generally agreed that the historical genre is the hardest one to write in because of the amount of time and effort that the research requires, above and beyond producing all of the ingredients that make up a great novel.

I hadn’t given a shred of thought to this when I started out. I wrote only for the sheer joy of storytelling, and the fun of weaving historical fact into a tale of adventure. But when Quintspinner neared  the end of an acceptable length, there was still oh-so-much more story to tell, not to mention the rest of the yet-unused, often juicy, historical details that my research had unearthed, just sitting on those tables, whispering to me. And those whispers most decidedly told me that it was going to be an historical series that I was writing.

“What??” That was the logical side of my brain chiming in. “What are you thinking? More historical? The hardest genre to write in, remember?”

And then I heard my heart and imagination reply simultaneously. “No worries,” the two of them soothed as I was swayed.  “Remember how much fun it was? Why not help yourself to a mug o’ the grog and let the storytelling begin!”

Now a year later, DEADLY MISFORTUNE, Book Two in the Quintspinner series has been published and it too, has won an award in Best Historical division. And fearlessly sailing forward, just like Anne Bonny and Mary Read, I am already writing Book Three and still enjoying every detail along the journey.

(Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest will be free on Amazon June 21st – June 25th, 2013.)

http://www.amazon.com/Quintspinner-Pirates-Quest-Dianne-Greenlay/dp/1460951921/ref=sr_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371351532&sr=1-2&keywords=quintspinner

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