Happy Leap Day/ List Day

time management threeBy Ellen Leventhal

The writer’s life and time management. Unfortunately, these two don’t always go together well. At least not for me. I’m sure I’m not alone in my wish for more hours in the day. Does anyone else end their days staring at the ceiling, ticking off all the tasks you did NOT get done that day? Please tell me it’s not just me!

So how happy am I that there is a full extra day this month? VERY happy. Surely, I will use this day to check things off my list. There aren’t that many things, right? I can do this! Here we go:

  1. Send poetry to that magazine.
  2. Dig out the email that tells me the name of the magazine.
  3. Type out texts of picture books to work on pacing.
  4. Go to the library and check-out said picture books.
  5. Begin work on that new website I’ve been talking about for years.
  6. Find someone to help me do that.
  7. Walk around the block. Sitting all day is bad for you.
  8. Finish three critiques.
  9. Call Comcast so I can get online to pull up the stories to critique.
  10. Re-write that short story in picture book format.
  11. Re-write that picture book manuscript into short story format.
  12. Have lunch!
  13. Stop at the Galleria after lunch to pick up those cute clothes for grandkids.
  14. Text daughters-in-law and double check sizes.
  15. Reply to store’s request for more books. Yes, the reissue of that book will be out by summer.
  16. Nag anyone who is responsible for getting the new book out.
  17. Have dinner.
  18. Climb into bed and tick off every item I did not accomplish. Sigh….

Sometimes it’s time management issues. Sometimes it’s computer issues. And sometimes life interferes with the best laid plans. But I will take this extra day for something. Even if it means counting my blessings because, although the book deals aren’t rolling in, a lot of other great things are.

Happy Leap Day, everyone! Use it to do what makes your happy.

 

 

Veterans’ Day 2015

memorial day

By Ellen Leventhal

A little history lesson and food for thought today.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918,  an armistice was signed, and the fighting between the Allied forces and Germany ceased. Although The Treaty of Versailles wasn’t signed until June, 1919, most people consider November 11, 1918 the end of World War I.

A year later, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first Armistice Day. This day was to honor those who served as well as to commemorate the armistice.

Of course, although some called WWI “The war to end all wars,” this was not to be. And it was certainly not the end of US Veterans coming back to a different home from which they left.

In 1945, a WWII vet named Raymond Weeks came up with the idea to honor all veterans, not just those who served in WWI. Thus Armistice Day was changed to Veterans’ Day.

We still celebrate Veterans’ Day, but what does that mean in 2015? I asked a group of third graders for their definition of a veteran. One said, “Someone who retired from a war.”

Another said, “An alumni of a war.”

Still another said, “A man or woman who fought for our country, but they just need to be in the military. They don’t need to fight in a war.”

All good answers but my eye was on one girl deep in thought. She stood up and said this. “A veteran is someone who fought for our country, but isn’t respected when he or she gets home. It’s very hard to come back home and go back to your normal life. People need to be nicer to them.”

Hmm….out of the mouths of babes.

This is not a political post. I’m a teacher and a writer, not a politician. But I am a human. And as a human, I find it difficult to understand why some of our veterans have to stand on street corners and beg because they cannot find jobs. It pains me to see some having to wait months or sometimes years to be seen in a Veterans’ Hospital. And my heart breaks when I see veterans turning to drugs just to stop the pain…both physical and emotional.

So what does that say about our celebration of Veterans’ Day 2015? I’m not sure. But I would like to think we can do better. Please join the conversation.

Indie Blow-Out at the Indiepalooza Conference

by Monica Shaughnessy

chairs-1442847If you’re an indie author (or thinking about becoming one) and live in the Greater Houston Area, then you should definitely go to Houston Writers Guild’s Indiepalooza on September 26th at the Crown Plaza (Galleria area). I will be speaking during the first break-out session on “Adding Art to Your Words.” I’ll talk about spicing up your indie works with illustration and building digital picture books and bonus books (for adults) using the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator.

Here’s a summary of my talk:

Images, whether photos or sketches, take your project to a professional level. During this workshop, learn how to jazz up your novel’s interior with illustrations and graphics. You’ll also discover how to work with programs like Kindle Kids’ Book Creator to take your picture book from idea to digital reality. Then we’ll dive into graphic “bonus books” that push creative limits and package extra content for your fans. Lastly, you’ll get an overview of the tools you’ll need to make it happen. Find out why indie publishing doesn’t have to be black and white anymore.

If art isn’t your thing, there are lots of other break-out sessions to choose from. Take a look:

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For those wanting an extra networking opportunity, there’s also a kick-off cocktail party the night before with the Pulpwood Queen’s founder, Kathy L. Murphy. She’ll offer insight on the relationship between book clubs and authors.

If you’re on the fence about coming, don’t be. I went to a HWG conference last year, and it was a great opportunity to meet fellow Houston writers. And I learned a few things to boot! What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

ComicPalooza 2015

by Artemis Greenleaf

WP_20150523_001_smallI am no longer a virgin. Well, a ComicPalooza virgin – those of you who know I have two kids might have been confused by that announcement. Since I have both Sthenno and Euryale (the two immortal gorgons) appearing in Exit Point, I decided to dress as a gorgon. I also wore my holographic reptile eye sunglasses that I got at Ripley’s Believe it or Not NYC. If you want to see how I created my headpiece, you can read the details at my blog. I sat with some of the wonderful people of the Houston Writer’s Guild and Skipjack Publishing. It was a huge event, with 40,000 people turning up, many in costume, some of which were amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend any of the panels, but it looked like they had some great content. There was a dizzying array of vendors – books, comics, jewelry, art, dragon pets and much, much more. Next year, it’s scheduled for mid-June instead of late May, which works out so much better for me. It seems like half the people I know attended and had a blast. The people-watching alone was worth the price of admission. It was wonderful to see so many creative folks in one place.

Skipjack Publishing has recently released two anthologies of Houston Writer’s Guild writers. One is Tides of Possibility (Space City Scribes’ own Mandy Broughton is in this one), and the other is Tides of Impossibility (both Mandy and I have stories in this collection). After sitting around chatting with my fellow authors and seeing all of the costumed conference attendees walking by, I was inspired to make a trailer for my story in Tides of Impossibility. Those who have read Cheval Bayard or The Hanged Man’s Wife might recognize one of the characters in The Thirteenth Summer.

I’m already thinking about what I’m going to wear to the con next year. Hope to see you there!