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The Fun of Being A Writer by Linda O. Johnston

July 6, 2019 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , , , ,

 

What’s the fun of being a writer?  Everything!

And part of that includes the fact that writing is always there.  It becomes part of you.  At least it has with me.  Everything I do, everywhere I go, my writerness is part of it.  And yes, that’s an unusual word although when I Googled it, other people have apparently used it, too.

I was on a cruise to Alaska last week with family and friends.  It was lots of fun.  We sailed near land going north, then south through the Inside Passage, visited several cities, took a few tours, and enjoyed the onboard food and entertainment.  That entertainment sometimes included dogs, and you can imagine how much I liked that.

I particularly enjoyed the wildlife we saw, including young and adult bald eagles, other birds including those that flew over and sometimes dived into water like marbled murrelets, a few bears on the shoreline in the distance, some spouting whales, including humpbacks, and small breaching dolphins. 

We got to wade in the water in the middle of a river—because, as you might surmise, that river wasn’t full of water.

We visited Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and took a tour that included visiting a formerly private castle.

And, oh yes, I did some writing and editing . . . and came up with an idea for another mystery series.

Will I ever write it?  Who knows?  But plotting and researching it will definitely be enjoyable.  Plotting is who I am, and my subconscious is always at work.

And yes, that’s part of the fun of being a writer.

~Linda

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In Praise of . . .by Jenny Jensen

February 19, 2019 by in category On writing . . . by Jenny Jensen tagged as , , , ,
In Praise of . . . | Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

A simple Internet search can become a journey down the rabbit hole. A phrase or a word catches my eye, I click and find myself wondering down a path light years from the original intent. I was looking for info on clay pot cooking and got entranced by all the entries about things people are in praise of. Not sure how I got there, it’s a Google thing, but I couldn’t look away; all those heart felt testimonials extolling an incredible array of individual passions.

I was delighted by a man’s elegant praise of Velcro (who could argue with that?), an oratory on the simplicity of the ten penny nail (it really is an elegant and useful item), a poetic discourse on the play of sunlight on soap bubbles in the kitchen sink (I’ll take her word for it). The essays in praise of the rubber band, the sound of a child’s heartbeat in a quiet moment, the meditative smell of a crackling fire on a cold night all touched a universal human note—and I asked what I am in praise of.

Answer: writers. I write in praise of writers. I work with authors. I know something of the blood, sweat and tears invested in the books that are my passion to read. Writers are people with such a strong drive to tell stories they dive into unchartered waters and do it—despite the requirements of life. Writing is a full time occupation for a rare few. For most, the act of putting pen to paper is precious time carved out between client conferences, parenting, shift schedules, basic survival—the business of life. Amazing, praiseworthy.

Every book began as a spark in the mind of a writer. Might be an event, or a word overheard or grandmother’s lace collar that ignited the spark. With trial and error that spark becomes a premise to be populated with characters and action and goals. With more trial and error a burgeoning universe grows into a draft. More trial and error—okay, call it what it is—revisions and rewrites. Then more of same. Finally, a deep breath and first cautious preview. Writers group, spouse, beta reader, editor; it doesn’t matter who, the writer bears their soul. Feedback is absorbed (emotionally, technically, inspirationally), and it’s back to revise and rewrite, until the whole tough process results in the best effort of the writer.

That journey from idea to finished book is praiseworthy enough. That it’s just the beginning of a new sweaty effort is a fact. A book isn’t alive without readers. Reaching those readers is the next act. Even with a traditional publisher every writer has to promote their work — a fact even more vital for Indie authors. How else can the reader find your book among the 1100 new postings per day? Nothing makes me sadder than to have a client hang up their keyboard after publishing because sales are few to none. These are wonderful books, I know they are, but the author made no effort to promote. No one found the work. That wonderful book never stood a chance.

The investment of writing a book is a labor of love. Promoting and selling the book is just hard work. The effort begins with well-chosen genre categories and killer key words. An educated approach to pricing techniques, a website, blog and social media are promotional gold. Reviews are essential; consistency is key. Every author must invest the sweat equity needed to allow people to find their book. Fortunately, hundreds of Indie pros share promotional know-how, experiences and techniques on line, a lot of it free.

When I have found that ‘just right’ book I can snug up the Velcro on my slippers, hang my troubles on the ten penny nail, drain the supper dish soap and with the kid sit before the fire and travel wherever those pages take me. I am in praise of writers.


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Celebrating Veterans Day; Honoring the Veterans in my family

November 12, 2018 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Celebrating Veterans Day; Honoring the Veterans in My Family

By: Denise M. Colby

Since my post is set for the day we celebrate Veteran’s Day and I love history, I thought it would be fun to celebrate my family in the military and do a bit of research. I don’t have a long list of family members in the military, nor do I have a lot of stories passed down from generation to generation. What I do have are snippets and a few photos.

James Clyman Trapper, Mountain Man Great, Great, Great Grandfather to Denise M. Colby

My great-great-great-grandfather was a Mounted Ranger and a First Dragoons

1832-34 Mounted Volunteers, Mounted Rangers, First Dragoons

I will start with my great-great-great-grandfather James Clyman, who I wrote about a few months ago. He wrote down information in his journal and it is here that I learned he enlisted as a private in a company of Mounted Volunteers on June 16, 1832. He was in the same company with Abraham Lincoln for a month (and together they fought in the Black Hawk War). He is quoted in James Clyman, Frontiersman (quoting a quote from another book by R.T. Montgomery, “Biographical Sketch of James Clyman”) of saying “We didn’t think much then about his ever being President.”

Military Inventory Sheet by James Clyman 1833 Photo taken by Denise Colby - great, great, great granddaughter

Military Inventory with James Clyman’s name on it. 1833-1834

He was then commissioned as a second lieutenant of Mounted Rangers, and later appointed as assistant commissary of subsistence for the company. It’s here that several of the receipts and inventory papers he signed are in the Huntington Library.  I was able to go through these papers and take photos a couple of years ago, which was an amazing experience. And finally, I get to use them in something I’ve written.

Clyman transferred to the First Dragoons and nine months later sent in his resignation, which was accepted on May 31, 1834. He wanted to get back to his farm and business and, according to the Frontiersman, after he returned home, “he was besieged with accounts from the Commissary General of Subsistence at Washington, requesting the return of vouchers and abstracts of ration issues made during campaigns in the field, some of which were dated back to the time of his predecessor in 1832. Clyman stood charged on the books with over $400.” I’m interpreting this as basically the government sent bills to pay for the vouchers and ration issues made while he was in the field.

Unknown Stories Needing to be Found

I believe that my grandfather, Carroll W. Marsh, Sr. was in the military, but I don’t have any specifics on him. As I’m writing this, I realize I need to ask and find out something. We have lots of details on my grandmothers side of the family, but not my grandfathers.

Denise Colby celebrates the veterans in her family November 2018. Carroll W. Marsh, Jr. National Guard 579th Battalion

My dad, Carroll W. Marsh, Jr.

1950 Army National Guard

Next on my list is my father, Carroll W. Marsh, Jr., who left the National Guard long before I was born, so I didn’t know him in that capacity. Nor, was his service really talked about. He didn’t fight in any wars that I’m aware of, nor did he have any big stories that were shared to me as a child.  My dad passed away over twenty-one years ago and the information I have on my dad and his stint in the Army National Guard is actually very small. But, I decided to find out more.

It’s amazing to be able to research via Google. This large company photo has a title above it that says “Local Boys In Sonoma County’s National Guard Company”. One of the men holds a banner with 579HQ on it. I was able to search up the number. The 579th was an Engineering Battalion, based in Petaluma and still exists today. My dad turned 18 in 1950. I don’t know how many years he served, although I do know he was still in when my parents were married, which would’ve been beyond 1952.

 

Denise M. Colby celebrates the veterans in her family November 2018

My nephew, Jason

Present-day United States Navy

My nephew, Jason Burrows, just retired from the Navy earlier this year after twenty-four years of service. We are close in age, raised more like brother and sister. I’m quite proud of him. He’s been all over. Italy, Japan, Florida. On the Atlantic and the Pacific. The few times our families have gotten together, I have loved hearing his stories. The little things, that as nation we have no visibility to. The inside scoop. I remember staying on the U.S.S. Midway with my family for a scout event and finding how tiny the bunks were for even myself. I couldn’t imagine how they were for him for six months at a time given he’s 6’4”. He said when on ship he’d jog for exercise but would have to duck to clear the doorways. I loved every minute of my twenty hours on board, feeling closer and gaining an understanding of where he was and what he did.

I remember when my dad was sick and close to passing, email was new. Hard to believe now, but given my corporate job at the time, I was the only one in the family that could communicate with Jason and keep him updated so that he could be flown off the ship when the time came to come home.

I have lots more stories, but I had originally planned to keep this short, so I will save them for another time.

Denise Colby celebrates the veterans in her family November 2018. Carroll W. Marsh, Jr. National Guard 579th Battalion

Another picture of my dad

 

 

 

 

As I’ve written this, I realize I have much more information than I thought I did about my family and their military history. I’m very thankful I have the ability write about it and an audience to share it with. Thank you for joining me in learning more about my family and its military roots.

I wish you and yours a Happy Veterans Day.

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Vintage 1950s: The Joan Bennett Scandal by Janet Elizabeth Lynn

August 3, 2018 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , ,

Vintage 1950s: The Joan Bennett Scandal | Janet Lynn and Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange

 

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled mystery series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, Slick Deal, begins News Year’s Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

During our research of the 1950s we come across mysteries and scandals in the newspapers. These give us ideas to include as background in our novels. One scandal stood out and we used in Slick Deal was the Joan Bennett Scandal. We modified the events to fit in our story.

Joan Bennett was a successful screen actress, represented by her long time agent Jennings Lang. On December 13, 1951 she and Lang met to talk over an upcoming TV show.

Bennett parked her Cadillac convertible in the lot across the street from the Beverly Hills Police Department. She and Lang drove off in his car. Her

husband, Walter Wanger, drove by and noticed his wife’s car parked. Half an hour later, he again saw her car there and stopped to wait. Bennett and Lang drove into the parking lot a few hours later. Lang walked her to her car. As she started the engine, turned on the headlights and prepared to drive away. Wanger walked up and shot and the agent in a fit of jealousy

 

Bennett said she saw two vivid flashes, then Lang slumped to the ground. Wanger tossed the pistol into his wife’s car.

The police, who had heard the shots, came to the scene and found the gun in Bennett’s car when they took Wanger into custody. Lang was taken to a hospital, where he recovered.

Wanger said, “I shot him because I thought he was breaking up my home.” He was booked on suspicion of assault with intent to commit murder.

Bennett denied a romance. She blamed the trouble on financial setbacks involving film productions Wanger was involved with. She said he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Wanger served a four-month sentence, then quickly returning to his career to make a series of successful films.

Meanwhile, Bennett went to Chicago to appear on the stage.

Bennett made only five movies in the decade that followed, as the shooting incident put a “stain” on her career and she became virtual

ly blacklisted.

In a 1981 interview, Bennett compared the judgmental 1950s with the sensation-crazed 1970s and 1980s. “It would never happen that way today,” she said, laughing. “If it happened today, I’d be a sensation. I’d be wanted by all studios for all pictures.”

Joan Bennett died of a heart attack on December 7, 1990 (at 80 years old).

The results of our research? SLIVERS OF GLASS, STRANGE MARKINGS, DESERT ICE and SLICK DEAL . . . and yes, we’re still married.

Website: www.janetlynnauthor.com

Blog: www.themarriedauthors.blogspot.com

 

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Autoettes: The tiny cars of Avalon by Will Zeilinger

June 3, 2018 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , , ,

Autoettes | Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange

 

Autoette |Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange |

My wife, Janet Elizabeth Lynn, and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, Slick Deal, begins News Year’s Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

While researching this island for Autoette |Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orangeour story, we discovered it exists a whole world apart from the car culture of Los Angeles which, if truth be known, does not provide a lot of incentive to bring a conventional automobile to the island when the wait is fourteen years.

Why would the wait be so long for an island just twenty-one miles long and eight miles wide?  According to our unscientific research, cars and trucks were posing quite a problem for the residents and visitors to the island. Pollution, soaring fuel prices, traffic, and parking were causing the kind of environment most people came to the island to escape. So a limit of 800 “personal use” vehicles was imposed for the entire island.

Prior to this ordinance, many islanders had already switched from conventional vehicles to smaller modes of transportation, such as motor scooters, and “autoettes” which is the name for vehicles no more than ten feet long and four and a half feet wide. Most of these are electric or gasoline golf carts, and tiny Japanese commercial trucks and vans.  Recently “Smart Cars” have begun to appear.

There are separate waiting lists for residential vehicles and commercial vehicles. Importing an autoette doesn’t provide any loopholes either. The vehicle waiting lists apply to both cars and autoettes.

Autoette | Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange          While ferries travel from Los Angeles to Avalon daily, they accommodate passengers only. If you’re importing a vehicle, you have to arrange for private transportation

As a property owner or a potential property owner looking to import a personal vehicle to Catalina Island, all the restrictions make for a frustrating task, but it’s for the good of the island. Avalon currently (2017) has space to park fewer than 1,000 autoettes in the main downtown area. As there are already over 1,100 autoette permits issued for residents. Adding more would only create stress on the limited space. Even now, Avalon seems overrun by puttering rental golf carts, courtesy vans from hotels and local residents in their four-wheel drive pickups. But Catalina Island retains its laid-back air and restrictions like these keep the island from turning into the polluted perpetual traffic jam and parking nightmare that looms on the mainland.

In Slick Deal, you’ll see how Skylar Drake and Casey Dolan use the technology of the time to solve the mystery.

SLICK DEAL is the fourth in the series and yes…we are still married!

Website:  Janet  Elizabeth Lynn 

Website:  Will Zeilinger 

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