Astrology, Life Changes and Author Newsletters

My cousin likes to follow astrology. I believe there’s something to that but to truly understand astrology seems quite overwhelming … much like my life lately. The latest astrology report said the alignment of the planets were bringing a time of change and disruption. On that I would have to agree as I wind down a consulting job I’ve had for twenty years. As a Taurus, I don’t like huge surprises or forced changes in my life. I appreciate a degree of organization and certainty. On the other hand, I have to appreciate the old adage, “when one door closes, another opens.” I’ve had two consulting jobs come through LinkedIn recently and discussions are opening about helping a Caribbean medical school with disaster planning. (I could live with that). I regret having little time for writing, but I’ll get there. Besides work, there’s taking care of dogs, chickens, planting vegetables and pulling weeds. I guess life eventually finds its own balance.

On a separate note, a promised newsletter for this group has keep slipping through my fingers and I feel quite guilty about that. I’ve subscribed to several authors newsletters to get an idea of what the content is, how they’re formatted, what things I like, dislike, etc. It’s been rather interesting. Here’s some things I’ve noticed:

  • I don’t need to see three e-mails a day from the same author with almost identical content.
  • Plain text is boring.
  • Short and sweet is good. One author has huge covers and so much content that if I printed it out it would be about twenty pages. Most people aren’t going to bother to find their way to the bottom for the freebie.
  • I enjoy a newsletter with something new to report. I see a lot of redundancy.
  • A clever subject line is good. That determines if I’m going to open it.
  • Although I enjoy hearing things about the author’s life, several pages of health issues, pet photos and “what kids did today” can become annoying.
  • Speaking of annoying – many seem to call their readers by cutsie little names. I can deal with Sunshine, Gorgeous, Angel, Beautiful, Lovely, and Historical Honeys but I’m not sure about Bees, Sweetie (most of them could be my grandchildren) and Goddess. Sorry, but Vixen, Stoner and Smut Queen is a little over the top.
  • Lastly, I read all kinds of romance and I’m hardly a prude, but a newsletter filled with sexual innuendo may not be appreciated by everyone.

A nice example of a newsletter comes from our own Claire Gem. It has her logo followed by the topic  which is “5 Great Ways to Find Your Next Great Read”. Then there’s a nice photo of books in a field. This is followed by a neatly formatted discussion of the topic. The only thing that’s a surprise is that there’s nothing about her books. Anyway, kudos to Claire.

Chickens

Well, I’d love to chat more but I have chickens to feed and weeds to pull. Oh, BTW, here’s my books. I’d love it if you’d tell me what you think.

Partners, Odyssey of the Phoenix http://amzn.to/2dqqSb9
Partners, Challenge of the Phoenix http://amzn.to/2ewyFUN
Partners, Sacrifice of the Phoenix http://amzn.to/2l1IcXN
Partners, Transformation of the Phoenix – ready for publication
Partners, Heart of the Phoenix – in process

 

 

 

Advertisements

How Much of Yourself is in Your Characters?

 

pexels-photo-260367.jpeg

My first book started as a journal of my experiences as a new EMT working on an ambulance. I wasn’t sure at first what I was going to do with those stories but I felt the need to save them. In a few years I went from EMT to Paramedic and the number of interesting experiences multiplied. I worked closely with a number of fire departments and worked in a firehouse for five years. During that time I became familiar with and close to many different firefighters, ER staff and co-workers who added color to the events. We celebrated our common successes and I was pained when one of them was sick or injured. The worst case, as you may expect, was when we would lose one, and that happened more than it should have. So, on it went through my career as it expanded to Paramedic Supervisor, Clinical Coordinator, ER tech and federal disaster worker. I’m not sure when it happened, but one day it occurred to me that these incidents and these people I cared so much about could be fictionalized in a novel. I realized I had an avid interest in letting readers know who these firefighter-paramedics really were and how the stresses of their work affected them. So, AJ Donovan was born along with his crew of colorful characters at Station 19 in Cedar Grove, California.

Sam Helo

Mitch, the Captain, is kind and patient even with guys like AJ who are trying at times. Mitch’s best friend, Barney, is the engineer. Barney is an old Southern boy who shares his experience and advice with younger firefighters. Kevin is a young Irish-born EMT-firefighter who is short in stature but large in passion. Then there is slovenly Craig, the epitome of laziness. His favorite game is pushing AJ’s buttons. Chris is AJ’s partner and best friend. Divorced and a father of two, Chris only wants peace and love in his life but keeping AJ out of trouble is a challenge. Then there’s AJ, a product of a Native American mother and a Scot/Irish father. His mother died suddenly when we was three then he was led to believe his father had abandoned him. He left the reservation at 18 to find his way to California where he became the best rescue technician the department had ever seen. He’s great at his job, but his personal life is a hot mess. All his relationships fail because he’s so emotionally unavailable. A third firefighter-paramedic joins the team. Quin is young, fit and naturally beautiful but her focus is to be accepted as a woman, a firefighter and a paramedic in a man’s world. Her crew is put on notice that her first rule is “no dating co-workers”. It doesn’t stop AJ or even Chris, from falling for her.

9781427799722_frontcover.jpg

Quin quickly impresses all of them with her confidence, talent and empathetic nature, especially Chris and AJ. Strong friendships are formed. The more she gets to know AJ, the more she discovers his issues: low self-esteem, a case of closet claustrophobia, undiagnosed PTSD and anger issues to name a few. After her first few weeks of employment a life-threatening incident puts AJ in the hospital. Quin not only saves him from a near drowning but stays by his side during a subsequent bout of pneumonia. That opens a door to trust that changes both their lives. Subsequent books follow their careers as AJ goes to medical school to become an ER doc and Quin climbs the ladder in the fire department. Later, AJ is introduced to disaster medicine and their first disaster deployment was, well, a disaster.

mc900438743

So, where do I come in? As the story followed its natural course, I began to realize how much of their lives paralleled mine. That was intentional in terms of their career experiences, but not so much in their personal traits. Quin honestly cares about the guys she works with. She took intensive training in critical incident stress management after her own experience left her with PTSD. Enough said on that. AJ prefers to eat whole foods and doesn’t eat sweets. Quin wears men’s style boxer briefs at work and will stay up at night feeding chicken soup to a sick partner. Chris is the kind of guy who never quits loving even after the relationship is gone. The state of people in a disaster situation tears AJ’s heart out. He’s an empath. Captain Mitch believes the team is what’s most important and discipline should come with respect. Kevin is as loyal as they come and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for those he considers friends. AJ is his role model. Barney is the elder, the wise, and cares deeply about the young ones. Craig is an ass. I guess we all have that side of us. So, how many of these traits are mine? I’m not telling, but all of them to some degree. Oh, I’m Scottish with a bit of Irish and was raised by a Native American.

My writing is contemporary and based on real people. Would these parallels be the same for someone who writes paranormal? What do you have in common with a vampire or dragon? I’ll bet if you dig deep enough you’ll find yourself in there somewhere. Is this a natural habit for all writers? I’d love to hear your take on this. Think about it. You might surprise yourself.

 

still-life-school-retro-ink-159618.jpeg

What Inspires Your Muse?

Yesterday was the first day of summer. We enjoyed the spring as we planted our flowers and appreciated the warmer air. Now we’re thinking about the beach and Fourth of July picnics. How many of our stories incorporate the sights, smells and experiences of the change of the seasons?

What does your writing space look like? Is it conducive to helping you crank out those pages in the morning? I’m enjoying the fact that my writing space is much improved since I moved to Colorado. There is a definite improvement in my productivity.

What inspires your muse? Is it your writing space, having your dog curled up at your feet, having a hot cup of coffee next to your computer, or maybe a photo of what you perceive your new protagonist to look like.

Sound seems to be a big one for a lot of writers. Some like complete silence, others like running water; still others are inspired by smells. Recently I’ve become enamored of aerosolized essential oils. I’ve always loved good smells but now I have blends that inspire specific moods. Even better.

Another thing for me is … wait for it … weather. Yeah, I’m a weather geek. It seems I moved to the right state for that. I heard someone say today, “If you use the heater and the AC in the same week, you live in Colorado.” So true. How about the same day? Today started at 59 degrees, will go up to 95, then back to 59. We will start with sun and end up with thunderstorms.

I feel inspired during a good thunderstorm. Clouds and wind, and even the presence of snow is inspiring. I consider how my characters fare in different weather environments. Did I mention I was a federal disaster worker? The aftermath of tornados, earthquakes and hurricanes are my livelihood. My current WIP has rain, flooding, an earthquake and a whole lot of hot California days.

What inspires your muse? I’d love to hear your favorite thing that gets the creative juices flowing.