Another “Why I Blog” Post (this one’s good, I promise)

Every now and then I share vintage pictures here. Some have been childhood pics, but a handful have been of my grandfather, who was a WWII pilot. He died in Okinawa after his plane crashed. About six weeks ago, I received an email from another writer who’d stumbled across a Veteran’s Day post I had written back in November 2013. (In that post I’d shared a picture of my grandfather and an excerpt from a local Oklahoma newspaper about his death).

The writer who recently contacted me is writing a book on the type of planes that my grandfather flew and he’s been researching, among other things, my grandfather’s squadron. Turns out, he not only knew who my grandfather was, but he had some information to share — one item being a very sobering photograph of my grandfather’s plane after the crash. It was a picture I’d never seen before. Needless to say, opening that email attachment and seeing the wreckage was a mildly profound moment for me. I’ve grown up hearing about the way my grandfather died, but hearing about something and seeing it are two different experiences. I showed my family the photograph and my father-in-law summed up why I think the blogging part of this story is so incredible:

I gotta say that is amazing.  A somber picture.  But what it took to get it here.  The internet had to be invented, the army had to archive pictures, the pilot’s granddaughter had to be an author & another writer had to read a blog she created, recognize the aircraft & contact her over 70 years later.

I’d share the photo here, but it’s not my photo. And it’s not a happy picture. The story of how it made its way to me, however, is inspiring.

In honor of Memorial Day, I spent a few hours yesterday going back through my grandmother’s album so that I could scan some old photos and war dept. letters for this researcher/writer. As I looked through everything, it was impossible not to wish that the crash hadn’t happened. How different my grandmother and my mother’s life would have been. That said, I’m aware that other families have suffered much more recent losses. And their Memorial Day this year was probably more sad than reflective.

That’s why I’m going to end this post by simply saying thank you to all those in the armed forces, past and present, and their family members too. I’m sorry for your losses and I deeply appreciate your loved ones’ sacrifices.

Island Command Cemetery  Southern Okinawa 1945
Island Command Cemetery
Southern Okinawa
1945

General Marshall Sympathy Card

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Blogging Milestone: My 300th Post!

I mentioned earlier that I was nearing my 300th post and THIS IS IT!

I posted my first blog article – a review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – in September of 2011. At the time, I’m fairly certain only my agent saw it. Since 2012, I’ve averaged about a hundred posts a year (many of them written by fabulous guest bloggers), which means I’m once again celebrating a fun blogging milestone.

NEARLY 125 COUNTRIES!

One of the things that continues to amaze and delight me is the international nature of blogging. This year, people from nearly 125 countries visited my blog. Pretty darn cool, huh? 😀

Where are you all from? The Top Twenty

United States
Canada
United Kingdom
Australia
Brazil
France
Germany
India
New Zealand
Spain
Italy
Netherlands
Argentina
Philippines
Singapore
Romania
Belgium
Sweden
Mexico
Poland

WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE? MOST POPULAR TOPICS

No surprises, but it was nice to see what the most popular categories and tags were because they nicely sum up what I want this blog to be:

CREEPY AND/OR FUN” posts about “WRITING” “BOOKS” and/or “FANTASY” stuff.

WHICH POSTS WERE YOUR FAVORITES? THE TOP FIVE

Fun “What’s Your Reaper Name?” Quiz by Boone Brux

7 Tips for Preparing for a Marathon (Oscar Movie Marathon, that is!)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

King’s Quest: Vintage Gaming on an IBM PCjr

Is there a market for #NewAdult Fantasy?

My Oscar Movie Marathon post is a perennial favorite, which always makes me smile because I never would have guessed that it would be one of my most viewed posts when I wrote it. Like last year, a lot of the credit goes to Sir Jog A Lot. I linked to a great post he wrote back in 2009 (5 Tips for Running a 10K Race) and there’s a trackback to my post in the comments section of that post. What did this experience teach me? One, to love the serendipitous nature of blogging. Two, to be grateful for trackbacks! Three, I should do more posts linking to others in fun (even better, meaningful) ways.

As for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty… I should rename that post “The Secret Sauce of Blogging is Discussing Ghost Cat Metaphors.” 😀

WHY DO I STILL BLOG?

Reaching post 300 was a natural point in time to step back and take stock. Why do I blog? Should I still blog? To help me decide, I took a Writer’s Digest webinar with Jane Friedman on “How to Blog Meaningfully and Grow Your Audience.” If you’re new to blogging, trying to decide if you should start blogging, or just a casual blogger like me who’s wondering what it would take to push your blog to the next level, I recommend it. I watched it in the car on Thanksgiving during a two-hour car ride. Here are a few of the things I decided after watching it:

Things I Do Well

  1. My name is in the header. 🙂
  2. I share my posts on Twitter and Facebook.
  3. I USE WORDPRESS! 😀

Things I Don’t Do Well

  1. My brand is a little muddled. My focus is not as tight as it could be. (You’ve heard these confessions before.)
  2. Lack of consistency in the timing of posts. (Although Jane did mention that once a week was probably ok for those of us who aren’t super-serious bloggers).
  3. Vague headlines (perhaps my most egregious sin; I’ve been trying to do better but make no promises about permanent abstention… ahem, just look at these subheadings!).

Things I’m Not Sure About

  1. Adding personal updates to the end of guest posts. I tend to do this when I haven’t posted something in a while and I just feel like updating everyone or saying hello with a little bit of news. But it detracts from the focus of the guest blogger’s content.

Things I Might Do/Should Do

  1. Add author interviews. I’ve done a few, but not many because I feel like there are lots of interview opportunities for authors out there. But it could be fun if I can think of a unique list of questions or an interesting interview angle.
  2. Add metadata to my images. Sometimes I do this, but I don’t always remember and sometimes I’m in a hurry and skip it.
  3. Add a newsletter option for readers who just want to know when my next novel or story is coming out.

 Things I Probably Won’t Do

  1. Monetize my site: This was one of the biggest reasons I took the webinar. To decide this. (You know, it’s the whole “Go big or get out?” question). But, nope, not gonna do either right now. (Good to know, however, that if I change my mind and want to “go big”, it would be relatively easy to switch from wordpress.com to a self-hosted site and start following blogging best practices instead of knowingly and willfully ignoring them. 🙂 )
  2. Nix the guest blogs: Structuring guest blogs as intermittent, themed series really works for me.
  3. Mix up the content: For now, I’m going to continue to blog about writing, movies, books, day trips, and whatever else I think might appeal to fantasy fans. It’s what I’m into. It’s the type of content I can sustain for the long haul (or, ya know, at least the next six months 😉 ).

Which brings us back to…

WHY BLOG?

Every blogger has to decide this for themselves. For me, my reasons haven’t changed too much from when I first started. And they can be summed up in one word: CONNECTIONS. With readers. With other writers. My blog is the hub of everything I do online. Sometimes, this blog is a quiet place. But that’s ok. Because I’m a novelist first and a blogger second.

THANK YOU!

I am ever appreciative of all of my followers. Just as with a story, a blog isn’t complete without readers. Thank you to all of you that take the time to read these posts, leave comments, like them, share them, or tell me in other ways that you value the information and stories you read here.

Click here for my 100th post (includes a silly little 100-themed quiz & a 1975 pic of me with my bro and a snowman) and here for my 200th post.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

P.S. another thing I do well is add images to my posts… although sometimes they have zippo to do with writing, books, or fantasy. 😀

My brother and me, standing by the Mississippi River circa 1979
My brother and me, standing by the Mississippi River circa 1979

BALTIMORE BOOK FEST: My Take (+ pics from my engagement party and rehearsal dinner: remember I said it was my anniversary?)

Two weekends ago, I went to the Baltimore Book Fest. Mostly as an attendee, but also as a panelist. It was a wonderful weekend!

The event was held at the Inner Harbor. In years past, it’s been held in Mount Vernon but the Washington Monument is under construction so the event coordinators thought the harbor would be a better venue.

I think current plans call for the festival’s return to Mount Vernon, a historic neighborhood that is home to the Walters Art Museum, the Peabody Conservatory, and the George Peabody Library (if you haven’t seen pictures, click here! it’s a beautiful library!), but I have to admit that I enjoyed attending the festival at the harbor and wouldn’t mind if future festivals were held there. While the harbor lacks the cultural feel of Mount Vernon, the Inner Harbor offers waterfront views and room to spread out.

There were tons of tents, most of them with books and authors in them. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers and Maryland Romance Writers had a tent. Individual authors had tents. Barnes & Noble, indie bookstores, local museums, small presses, and library groups all had tents. It was fun seeing writers I’ve known for years as well as meeting many new ones.

Craig took this pic from Federal Hill.  I'm standing beside MRW's tent with a friend.  Can't you see me waving? ;-)
Craig took this pic from Federal Hill.
I’m standing beside MRW’s tent with a friend.
Can’t you see me waving? 😉

One of my favorite things was walking around the book festival with my family. My younger daughter was away but my husband and older daughter spent time checking out all the tents and exhibits.

Jack Clemons, a former engineer and team leader of NASA’s Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs, did a “Flags on the Moon” presentation at SFWA’s tent. He talked about each of the missions he was involved with from a perspective neither my husband nor I had heard before, focusing on the U.S. flags that were left behind by the astronauts. It’s hard to overstate how much we enjoyed this talk. Jack mixed in video clips, photographs, and his own personal anecdotes and memories. Watching a History Channel documentary is not at all the same as seeing a live presentation by someone who was actually involved in these missions.

My daughter loved meeting Marissa Meyer. She’s currently reading Cinder for her outside reading assignment. I gave her a stack of YA books to choose from and she read the first few paragraphs of each and choose Meyer’s book about a cyborg Cinderella in part because Meyer establishes immediate sympathy for her protagonist. My daughter had her sign Cinder and Scarlet and even got to play Taboo with her, Charles Gannon, Sarah Pinkster, and Michael Underwood as part of SFWA’s Dangerous Voices Variety Hour.

Marissa Meyer's Cinder

The Dark Fantasy panel was great – a much more intimate setting than NYCC’s genre-benders panel in 2012! We opened by discussing “dark fantasy” and what the heck that term really means. I’m not sure a consensus was reached but it was interesting hearing everyone’s take. I shared my thoughts: basically, that the term dark fantasy can be used as a catchall category for works that otherwise defy categorization. When I hear the term I assume the story will have at least one element that is disturbing, unsettling, provocative, or even violent, and that it may not end happily. Other writers shared their view that dark fantasy, including horror, can be cathartic for both writer and reader. Overall, however, I think the biggest takeaway from the panel was this:

Write for yourself. Yes, genre writers want to be commercial and should pay attention to the market. But chasing trends won’t make you a success. Instead, it will almost always guarantee you fail. Why? Because you’ll never get the timing right for one thing (by the time your work is finished, submitted, bought, and published, the trend will be stale). What’s worse though is that your work won’t be genuine.

Jill Archer, dark fantasy panel, Noon Onyx, Baltimore Book Festival, SFWA
Jill Archer
DARK FANTASY PANEL
Baltimore Book Fest 2014

We didn’t spend a lot of time discussing the market, preferring instead to answer questions about our work or share tips for other writers in the audience, but it’s worth noting here that I’ve been hearing various behind-the-scenes chatter about a decreased interest in urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because if UF and/or PNR is your love, then write it. Read it. Trends come and go. If I’ve learned nothing else from my time as a writer, it’s that the most important thing is to be disciplined and stick to your own goals. For writers, it’s not the early bird who wins, it’s the one who hunts for the worms they think are perfect, from sunup to sundown… and then on through the night and into the next day… and so on and so forth.

It was also nice just getting down to the harbor. I used to work there and now I rarely get down there. So it was great having lunch with friends – and going to dinner! I mentioned before that it was our 17th wedding anniversary. (17 years?! Jeez, how did I get to be so old?! 😀 )

Saturday night after the Author Meet & Greet, Craig and I cabbed it to Jack’s Bistro in Canton, a waterfront neighborhood to the east of the Inner Harbor. It was tiny and packed but absolutely terrific and just what we were in the mood for. Our waitress was super friendly with all sorts of helpful suggestions. We splurged: apps, wine, ridiculously large entrees, and a dessert.

Since I shared a wedding picture of us for our 15th anniversary, I’ll share two other vintage pics with you for this year: one from our engagement party and one from our rehearsal dinner. Enjoy!

Our engagement party circa 1995. I'm rocking the "young lawyer" look, huh? And some seriously curly hair!
Our engagement party circa 1995. I’m rocking the “young lawyer” look, huh? And some seriously curly hair!
Craig and Jill Rehearsal Dinner 1997
Craig and Jill Rehearsal Dinner 1997

Hope everyone’s week is going well! Tomorrow, I have another guest blogger. (She says she doesn’t like to dress up for Halloween! But we’ll forgive her. It’s a great post! 🙂 )

All Sorts of Good Stuff

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone! I know this weekend is both solemn and celebratory. Whatever your plans are, I hope they are exactly what you want to be doing.

Today’s post is a mishmash of all sorts of good stuff: some beautiful pictures from a hike I took with my girls last weekend, a link to my guest post at Christina McKnight’s blog where I discuss how I reinvented the Celtic Goddess of Sleep for White Heart of Justice, a link to Bitten by Books wonderful review of WHOJ, and a happy picture of my grandfather, who was a WWII pilot.

A Walk In The Woods

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Caer Ibormeith, the Celtic Goddess of Sleep and Dreams

Yesterday, I guest blogged at Christina McKnight’s site. I talked about how I used the legend of Caer Ibormeith as loose inspiration for Crae Ibeimorth, the Patron Demon of Sleep, in White Heart of Justice. I tell the story of how Angus, the Celtic God of Love fell in love with Yew Berry (Caer Ibormeith). It’s a great story! I also share some sleep facts and wax poetic about how much coffee means to me. 😀

Stop by for a chance to win my awesome blog tour prizes and to confess whether you’ve ever been inspired by Celtic mythology, anagrams, or are spending your nights reading instead of sleeping. (Shhhh instead of Zzzzzz — I won’t tell. 😉 )

Bitten by Books Review and Release Day Party!

Bitten by Books posted their review of White Heart of Justice today. It’s a wonderful summary of what readers can expect from the book. Here’s a fun quote from the review:

“The prologue…ah, the prologue, like a gritty rum on the tongue, demanding, powerful, full-flavored and utterly destructive… I spent the entire novel compulsively reading, racing to the finish to see what would happen [next].”

😀 How can I *not* smile about this review? I was very flattered to read Terrie’s thoughts on the book. A big thank you to both her and Bitten By Books for their enthusiasm and support!

An interesting aside: the prologue was a late addition to the manuscript. I also wrote a bunch of other scenes for the book similar to the prologue… but took them out during the final round of edits. My editor thought that, since I’d always written the story from Noon’s point of view, including them would be breaking my own rules so her advice was to leave them out. I agreed and deleted. But I still have them and I’m in the process of trying to decide what to do with them. 🙂

DON’T FORGET => I’M HAVING A RELEASE DAY PARTY AT BITTEN BY BOOKS ON TUESDAY, MAY 27TH FOR WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE. EVERYONE IS INVITED!!!

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day is a holiday of mixed emotions. It’s sad, because its purpose is to remember those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. And yet it’s also an acknowledgement of their lives, accomplishments, and sacrifice. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing that it’s also the unofficial kick-off to summer. It’s hard not to have tears for those who aren’t with us anymore, but I like to remember those who’ve passed away with a smile. After all, that’s how I want to be remembered.

So, in honor of the holiday and in memory of my grandfather, who served in WWII as a pilot, here’s a happy picture of him and my grandmother that was taken in 1938 — two years before they got married.

M and M

Want to read more about my grandfather, the WWII pilot, or see more vintage pictures?

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! See you Tuesday for THE BIG RELEASE!!!!! 😀

#Writing: Water Cooler Round Up ~ 13 Great Guest Posts

My latest guest blog series has wrapped. It’s been one of my favorites. A baker’s dozen of writers coming here to spotlight their favorite coffee shop, talk about their day jobs, post interesting pictures from day trips inspired by novels, and/or share their thoughts on writing life, the craft of writing or seasonal topics. Below is the list of writers and topics. THANK YOU to each and every one of them for participating. Everyone else, enjoy and stay tuned for more guest bloggers in 2014!

14 Fantastic Posts

  1. Karolyn James: “How Washing Dishes Put Her on the Bestseller Lists” ~ Bonus: Top 5 Turkey Day Foods!
  2. Michael S. Fedison: “Muses Versus Ghosts” ~ Perserverance
  3. KM Fawcett: “Can You Play Nice With Others” ~ Writing collaboration and working with a partner
  4. Casey Wyatt: “So You’ve Got A Doubt Monster” ~ Author Insecurity
  5. JC Hay: “Without Romance, Science Fiction Can Feel as Empty and Soulless as an Interstellar Void” ~ SFR
  6. Sapphire Phelan: A History of Witchcraft
  7. Debra Elise: Online Workshops
  8. Jami Gray: NaNoWriMo ~ “Opening Skirmish in One of the Toughest Battles You’ll Face”
  9. Kimberly Kincaid: “Give Me Some Space” ~ Why where you write is a big deal
  10. Isabella Norse: Bare Bulb Coffee Spotlight ~ “A shop with heart” in Kathleen, Georgia
  11. Lark Howard: “Pilgrimage to Marfa” ~ Road trip to small Texas town
  12. Cecilia Dominic: “A Writer on the Couch” ~ Psychologist by day, writer by night
  13. Celia Breslin: PNR Review ~ Larissa Ione’s ROGUE RIDER
  14. Jill Archer: Writers and Websites ~ 10 Neat “Extras”

Hope all of you are having a great Friday! I am writing/revising all day today and then tomorrow I’m meeting up with close friends I haven’t seen in far too long. We backpacked through Europe together back in 1995 (yikes! almost 20 years ago!). For fun, here are two pictures of us in Rome (at the Roman Forum and the Colosseum):

Rome I Rome II

#VeteransDay: A Day of Gratitude and Remembrance

The first “Veterans Day” was Armistice Day on November 11, 1919 to celebrate the previous year’s armistice ending WWI. President Wilson declared it as a day “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

After some changes to the date of its observance and a name change, the holiday reverted back to its original date — November 11th — and continued its general purpose: “To honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Throughout the years, I’ve celebrated this holiday by giving thanks and remembering. To all active soldiers and veterans out there — THANK YOU. Your courage and commitment is inspiring and your service and sacrifices are greatly appreciated.

WWII Veterans

According to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, there are 1.2 million WWII veterans remaining of the 16 million who served in WWII. If you know a WWII veteran who wants to share their story, you can help them create a personal page or donate an artifact. I haven’t created a personal page for my grandfather yet, but I love the idea of helping veterans preserve their legacies. In honor of Veterans Day, here are a few pictures and a brief bit about my grandfather.

In a previous post, I had wondered what type of aircraft my grandfather might have piloted. Since then, I’ve dug through our albums again and think I’ve identified the plane — a “grasshopper” L-5 observation plane. Grasshoppers were designed to fly over enemy positions and tell the artillery where to aim. But in Okinawa, where my grandfather was stationed, pilots used them to rescue wounded marines trapped in the jungle.

From The Chickasha Daily Express (a local Oklahoma newspaper, circa 1944):

The only possible place to land in the jungle was a narrow strip of paved road 12 feet wide and the planes were eight feet wide… Certain types of wounded couldn’t be subjected to pressure, so when hauling men with stomach, head and chest wounds, the planes couldn’t go any higher than 100 feet. Most of the time they flew over the water, averaging between four to eight feet from the bottom of the plane to the crest of the waves.

My grandparents and mother 1944
My grandparents and mother
1944
Okinawa 1944
Okinawa
1944
U.S. Soldiers
U.S. Soldiers
Not Coke
Not drinking Coke

My grandfather died on July 11, 1945. He had been engaged in transporting patients and mail, following the end of action on Okinawa, and had been serving as the flight leader of his squadron. The morning he was killed, he had been promoted to the rank of master sergeant.

107 Year Old WWII Vet

In doing my brief research for this post, I ran across this post about Richard Overton, believed to be the oldest (and “coolest”) WWII vet. According to USA Today, he was a member of the Army’s 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, who volunteered for service in 1942 and saw combat while “island hopping” in the Pacific with an all-black unit. Imagine the stories he could tell!

Wishing each of you a wonderful Veteran’s Day.

Dark Tower: More Vintage Gaming

Dark Tower, vintage gaming, entertainment, 80's board games

Are you old enough to have played Dark Tower as a kid? My husband’s birthday was last week and his mom surprised us by giving him a vintage Dark Tower game. Apparently, he and his brother and parents had spent many a night playing it decades ago. (As with King’s Quest, Dark Tower wasn’t a game I played as a kid. Inside, we played Risk, Monopoly, D&D, and various other video games. Outside, Kick the Can and Flashlight Tag). But, of course, I’ve heard of Dark Tower! Who could forget the Orson Welles commercial?

So we were all pretty excited to take a trip down nostalgia lane and play the game.

Dark Tower, vintage gaming, entertainment, 80's board games

Dark Tower, vintage gaming, entertainment, 80's board gamesAfter immediately losing two warriors to plague, I headed straight to the bazaar to buy a healer. I quickly added a scout to avoid getting lost and a beast to carry all my GOLD. Was cursed not once, not twice, but THRICE by my own family members!

Thought the fact that the battles with brigands and the dragon didn’t give me any experience was odd, but overall, I was pretty darn impressed with all the stuff the little computer inside the Dark Tower kept track of. For 1981, this game was ahead of its time.

Pegasus made a very late showing in our first game, after two players had already attacked the tower. (Had to wait for our second game for the elusive Dragonsword to come into play. And then my husband was the one who found it!)

Dark Tower, vintage gaming, entertainment, 80's board games
I couldn’t resist a little “what if…?”

The first time I approached the Dark Tower (not having played before), I didn’t know what to expect. I laughed out loud when I saw that I’d tried to attack with only 6 warriors. (No less than 54 brigands were lying in wait). Other newbie mistakes I made? I starved some of my men out of ignorance. I found the way the game kept track of food confusing. I wasn’t paying attention (duh) to the “Death March” that had sounded at the beginning of my turns when I was running low on food.

Dark Tower, vintage gaming, entertainment, 80's board games

By the end of my first game, I’d tried to storm the tower twice, but I never had enough men for the final battle. The good news? No one else won either. At 12:21 a.m., we threw in the towel. To be continued…

Dark Tower, vintage gaming, entertainment, 80's board games

Dark Tower, vintage gaming, entertainment, 80's board gamesHow about you? Did you ever play Dark Tower as a kid? Do you remember the commercials? What was your favorite game from the 80’s? If you missed my post about King’s Quest (vintage gaming on an IBM PC Jr.) and want to read, click here. Hope you’re all having a great week!

Happy Father’s Day! (Vintage photos of my dad, grandpa, and me :-))

In honor of Father’s Day, here are some vintage photos of my dad, grandfather, and me. I am biased, of course, but I think they are adorable pictures and I feel very lucky to have had such a terrific dad and granddad. These photos were taken in the early 70’s out in Kansas. I also included some photos of my maternal grandfather who was a pilot in WWII. (He died in the war, which is why I don’t have any pictures of him and I together).

Speaking of dads, Father’s Day, and pilots, we had a great day at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s “Become a Pilot” day yesterday. I’ll try to load up some fun pictures from that event later this week. Wishing everyone a wonderful Father’s Day!
Fathers Day 13-8Fathers Day 13-7Fathers Day 13-6Fathers Day 13-5Fathers Day 13-4Fathers Day 13-3Fathers Day 13-2Fathers Day 13-1
Fathers Day 13-9
Fathers Day 13-10

Fathers Day 13-11
My grandfather is on the right.

King’s Quest: Vintage Gaming on an IBM PCjr

King's Quest, IBM PC Jr, vintage video game

Remember King’s Quest?

Truth be told, I don’t. We didn’t have an IBM PCjr. We had Atari. So I played Asteroids and Pitfall. But my husband played King’s Quest. And he still has the floppy disk. And he still has the IBM PCjr to play it on. The other night he loaded it up so that we could wax nostalgic about 80’s gaming and our kids could ogle at the vintage graphics and anxiously await the moment when the next screen would load. It was fun. Because it’s neat to remember the way things were and how far we’ve come.

IBM PC Jr, King's Quest, vintage video gameIBM PC Jr, King's Quest, vintage video gamingIBM PC Jr, King's Quest, vintage video game

What was happening in the U.S. when kids were playing this?

  • Ronald Regan was President
  • Ma Bell was breaking up
  • Johnny Carson hosted the Oscars
  • World’s Fair held in New Orleans (I went)
  • Summer Olympics held in LA
  • MTV Music Awards started

IBM PC Jr, King's Quest, vintage video game

What was happening in the tech world when kids were playing this?

  • Apple put the first Mac PC on sale
  • Sony and Philips introduce first commercial CD players
  • Sony made the first 3 ½” floppy disk

IBM PC Jr, King's Quest, vintage video gamingIBM PC Jr, King's Quest, vintage video gaming

Sources:

  • The People History
  • Wikipedia
  • King’s Quest: written by Roberta Williams, programming by Charles Tingley and Ken MacNeill, artwork by Doug MacNeill and Greg Rowland

King's Quest, IBM PC Jr, vintage video game

What about you? Do you have any vintage video games? Which ones? Did you play games in the 80’s? What were your favorites? Are you a gamer now? Do you have any vintage tech equipment? Hope everyone is doing well!

100th Post! (Small milestones can be fun to reach too)

The only purpose of this post is to celebrate the fact that it is my 100th WordPress post. That’s it. I could load up a picture of the number 100, but I figured it would be more fun to load up a vintage pic. Here’s one of my brother and me that was taken sometime during the winter of 1975 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For fun, I’ve also included a “100” themed poll.

Winter 1975
Winter 1975

I got the whole family involved in making up answers to this poll. My husband’s was a little melancholy (a la Five for Fighting‘s 100 Years) so I omitted it. But my kids got right into the spirit of this post, as you’ll see. 😉

Here’s hoping that each and every one of you has 100 moments of pure, unadulterated bliss today! 😀

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby’s Little Vampire Pacifier!

1997 wedding reception at historic Overhills Mansion in Baltimore County, Maryland
September 27, 1997
My husband and I were married fifteen years ago today! I totally love this pic… although everything in it besides the husband and the dress was rented! 😉
Looney Tunes Halloween Costumes
My husband and Me
Halloween Circa 1997
Little Vampire Pacifier
Hmm… saw this in the Halloween store the other day and had to include.
Not sure if we would have bought this for our kids or not.
Parents, what do you think? Love it? Hate it?

Dog metaphors, double spacing & Dark Light of Day

Angelique Armae is going to be guest blogging here tomorrow so I wanted to let you all know I will be here and at The Qwillery. Sally interviewed me and I discuss a writing quirk of mine I never even knew I had until my editor pointed it out. 😀 I also talk about some of the research I did for Dark Light of Day, who the toughest characters were to write and my favorite scenes. Hope you’ll join us at both places! Have a great night!

eGift Card Winner and Some Musings on My First Twitter Contest

Me Catching My First Fish ~ Kansas Circa 1979

We have a winner!

The winner of the Amazon eGift Card is Casey Wyatt (@CaseyWyatt1)! Casey, I’ll be e-mailing your eGift Card to you later today. I hope you use it to buy books! 😀

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. Thanks also to those of you who requested samplers. I was happy to share them. For anyone who missed the giveaway, I’ll be giving away more samplers during my blog tour for Dark Light of Day, so stay tuned. (I ran the giveaway for only two weeks because I don’t want to constantly bombard people with my promo stuff, although I hope everyone realizes I need to do it from time to time. See below for more thoughts on that).

A few of you who requested samplers had some terrific blog ideas. I’m going to see what I can do about coming up with those posts. In the meantime, if any of you have suggestions about a topic you’d like to see here, feel free to let me know in the comments below or use my Contact page. After this, posts will slow down a bit. I’ll post something next weekend — likely some summery lagniappe “On the Fly” post unrelated to books or promo. I hope to also have another “Interesting People” interview up soon and the final guest blogger in my 2012 Spring Into Summer Romance Book Blast will post in August.

For Writers — A Note About My Twitter Contest

My recent Twitter contest was the first Twitter contest I’ve done and I was curious to see how it would work. For those of you who don’t know, I offered a $10 Amazon eGift Card as thanks to everyone who helped me spread the word about my recent sampler giveaway on Twitter. To be entered to win the eGift Card, all someone had to do was tweet about the sampler giveaway. The tweet had to include my Twitter handle (for tracking the entries) and, to help people out, I included a sample tweet on my giveaway page when I first announced the contest. (I don’t know about you, but that 140 character limit is constantly giving me headaches! Although, I admit, it’s probably good practice for someone who’s as wordy as I am!)

How did the contest work? Would I do it again?

Fairly well and yes. I’ve got a little under 300 Twitter followers. With the contest, I was able to reach almost 7,400 people. Now the question is, were all those followers listening when the tweet was made about the giveaway? Who knows? But what I do know is: (1) far more people were potentially exposed to my giveaway than might have been otherwise; and (2) those people are more likely to want a sampler than the general population because (granted, this is an assumption) the people who are following the people who tweeted about the giveaway are, more likely than not, science fiction and fantasy readers. Which means the reach was more targeted, which is better for both tweeters and receivers. 🙂 Lastly, and most importantly, a bunch of people requested samplers and they nicely answered many of my optional questions too.

My Attitude Toward Promo

Sometimes I think of author promo the way I think of fundraising drives. It’s necessary, but people don’t want to be bombarded with it all the time. I’m a debut author, so I have to work to get my name out there. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable. There’s a huge part of me that just wants to say, “If readers want to read my book, they’ll read it” and be done with it. But, the thing is, readers might not even know about the book if I don’t tell them about it. So, to make myself feel better, I try to think of promo as a somewhat self-serving PSA. It’s an introduction to the product, not a push to buy it. I put my reader hat on and realize how much I like discovering new authors and new books. If those authors didn’t tell me about their latest releases (through whatever promo mechanisms they’ve set up), I would miss out on some great new fiction.

Have a terrific week everyone! Take advantage of these longer days — more reading, more bike riding, more of whatever it is you’re into! 😀