Friday, October 28, 2016

Debra Has Gone Fishing! -- In Her TBR Pile

Debra has Gone Fishin' in her "To Be Read" pile.  She'll be back on November 11 with a report of what she read during her break.  Tune in then!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Clicking Our Heels ---Food We Most Hate!

Clicking Our Heels – Food We Most Hate

During this holiday season, many worry about gaining weight because of the snacks, sweets, and delicious holiday only food we will be eating. Rather than have that be an issue for The Stiletto Gang, we thought we’d let you, our potential hosts and hostesses, know the “Foods We Most Hate.”
Debra H. Goldstein – Lettuce. It’s slimy, green, grassy, and dull
Dru Ann Love – Cooked fruit. Don’t like it not in its natural state. I make an exception with raisins though – not a fan of dried fruit as well.  
Paffi Flood – Can’t think of one. Growing up, it was any vegetable available for lunch in the school cafeteria. Anyone else remember shredded carrots with raisins or the salty, overboiled green beans?
Bethany Maines – Mushrooms. Taste like dirt. Feel like slime.
Jennae M. Phillippe – I have been trying hard to learn to at least tolerate food I normally hate ever
since I did a total reversal on Brussel sprouts and realized I may be missing out on some good stuff I usually write off. But I can’t do food texture, like mushrooms, certain seafood, and types of tofu.

Sparkle Abbey – Sparkle is not into liver. Ever. Yuck!

Kay Kendall – I loathe okra. My lip curls at the mere thought of it. Slimy, dastardly stuff.

Juliana Aragon Fatula – Anchovies. I love seafood, I love fish. You couldn’t pay me enough
to make me eat anchovies. If I was starving I’d eat a bowl of lard with a hair in it before I’d eat anchovies.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Writers vs. Readers

by Bethany Maines

Writer’s Group: to gather with others to read and critique excerpts of written work
Reading Group: to gather with others to read and critique books, drink and snack

When done correctly, a writer’s group can operate as an auxiliary brain or a training ground to push a writer forward in her craft.  They can be fun, inspiring and incredibly helpful. They can also be a sucking hole of negativity and wasted time. 

With that in mind, it was with some trepidation that I recently tested out a new group. The hostess had a dog (bonus points) and they had established a rule of positivity and compliments before critiques (nice).  They had a time keeper and a word count on the segments we read (organized!). Each writer was doing different genres and styles, but that had the benefit of bringing diverse points of view to the table.  In general, it was great. It provided very valuable feedback and I can only hope that I was equally helpful to the other writers.

However, in specific, it was wee bit disappointing as there were no beverages or snacks.  The reasoning – that hosting the group was enough trouble and that we were here to do actual serious work, not carouse – makes total, logical, absolute sense.  But in the sense of “it’s been a long week, and Bethany wants a potato chip and a glass of something” it was less than I had hoped for.  

I think, possibly what I was really hoping for was a Reading Group.  Every Reading Group I’ve ever attended came with crackers, cheese, and wine – the three low effort food groups. Now, in defense of the writer’s group, very few Reading Group’s I’ve ever attended actually stayed entirely on topic.  There was a lot of… uh… digression, shall we say.  And time keeping was absolute disaster.  And learning was sort of ancillary by-product of reading a book I didn’t pick out, but gosh darn it, the artichoke dip was fantastic.

So next month?  I’ll be packing my own snacks to the writers group.  After all, that group comes with a dog.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Wild Waters, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Beta Readers

Have you heard of Beta Readers?

According to Wikpedia, a beta reader is a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption. Beta readers are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context.

I’m one. I’ve done it several times for several authors, but my one and only long-term beta reading is with author Joanna Campbell Slan.

A couple of years ago, she decided she wanted to meet us and arranged a gathering in St. Louis. Why St. Louis? It where her Kiki Lowenstein series takes place. So 15 women known as the Beta Babes and some husbands and children arrived in St. Louis where we visited the places mentioned in the Kiki Lowenstein books. Also scheduled is an author signing event with local authors where they talk about their books and we make purchases. I’ve discovered several new-to-me authors. That was in 2014 and we have formed a bond where the group want to get together every year.

The next year, we traveled to Florida where Joanna’s Cara Mia Delgatto mystery series takes place. This time 12 Beta Babes arrived in Florida and we enjoyed traipsing around Florida even passing the home that was owned by Burt Reynolds. Once again, local authors were invited to talk about their book and purchases were made.

This past weekend, the Beta Babes headed to Washington DC where we enjoyed a tour of the Kennedy Center, a stop by the Capitol, an uber ride to the Washington Monument and a trek to the Lincoln Memorial (my favorite monument in D.C.). As always, local authors were invited to talk about their books and yes, purchases were made.
Photo courtesy of M. Husovsky

A good time was had that included an outburst of songs, especially singing in a parking lot, visits to wineries and a visit to DinosaurLand. This is always my last author-related event of the year and I treasure all these gatherings.

Have you ever Beta Read for an author?

Dru Ann