How To Write Live Like a Goblin on Sense and Understanding

Would you want to understand the meaning of your life?

***

between the pouring rain, and unforgiving sun, geneva has periods of gray dullness like now, in which the goblin would usually sit in the bistro trying to make sense of his life, before giving up knowing that when it all made sense he would only want he life to be a mystery again, saying “…now that I understand, I don’t want to understand anymore…”

 

How To Write Live Like a Goblin on Going Through the Motions

After a hiatus due to my circumstances the resident Goblin is back. Today he takes us through his motions.

***

the goblin had been admiring the wet weather, like a toad on a toadstool, simply that today too promised to be dull at best, as he readies himself for the same old tour to the mountains under those now all too familiar ominous rainclouds again, the goblin, lifting his spirits to the occasion, starts singing “…I’ll be going through the motions when it rains, I’ll be going through the motions when it rains, I’ll be going though the motions, going though the motions, going though the motions, I’ll am going though the motions when she pours…” to an onlooking day, who is not really impressed, while the goblin’s “song against the weather” continues throughout, somehow leaving the only real question as to who would break first, “…ah, but I have the advantage of the internet here, where you are still stuck in dailylife…” smirked the goblin against the grayness around him

 

Author of the Day – Maureen Bartone

Maureen Bartone2Hi Maureen, thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions.

On your picture I see you like the beach, but given the choice, would you trade in a beach holiday where you lounge about, read a book or two and generally do not much, for a hiking holiday in the mountains?

That’s an easy question for me to answer.  I was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota where sometimes it seems we only have two seasons – winter and not-winter. Obviously, we Minnesotans choose to live here for many reasons, but for me, winter isn’t one of them. This past season was particularly brutal, ranking in a three-way tie for the 7th coldest and the 6th snowiest. Our average temperature was 9 and we had 53 days of below zero temperatures – that’s right – 53!  So, unless I move near an ocean, and that beautiful place is available to me at my whim, I will always choose a beach holiday over a holiday hiking in the mountains.

In addition, my husband burst out laughing when I mentioned that I thought the idea of hiking in the mountains might be a fun experience and would provide loads of inspiration for my work. He reminded me how irrational I become even when a small bee buzzes near me. Imagine, he said, if I encountered a fox or a bear. It would be the only time I could run a sprint!  I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m not a very outdoorsy person and would not fair very well in the mountains. I’m better off going to our neighborhood park to look for inspiration. So much for hiking in the mountains, but I’ll go to the beach anytime!

What was life like before you were an author?

 Before I was an author, I was still a writer. I’ve always loved to write. However, my sister was the first person to inspire me to become a better writer. She’s a lawyer, and for several years she was a legal writing professor. One day, I asked her to look over my college paper and tell me what she thought  When she gave it back to me, it was covered with edits from a red pen. There were scratch-outs, lines with arrows, and suggested changes. It was a mess. That was the day I learned I wasn’t as good as I’d thought, but it was also when I started working hard to improve my skills. Back then, I wrote simple things, like letters and song lyrics, while I stayed busy working, raising our kids and enjoying life with my family and friends.

When my ten year old daughter came home and showed me her one-page creative writing assignment, my writing life changed forever. Her paper about kids going into a gumball machine and meeting gumball friends inspired me. Together, we wrote a 60-page story. She grew up, but I continued working on that project until it was published in 2012.

Would you say you are a thinker or a doer? Do you have a plan or do you take what life throws at you and roll with it?

I’d say I am a thinker and a doer. I believe doing both is better than doing one or the other. I am constantly thinking about my work-in-progress, and while doing so, sometimes the books I plan to write later come to the forefront.  If an idea or inspiration hits me, I try to jot it down right away so it’s not lost forever. I’ve lost many ideas because I thought I’d remember them later. So I can’t just think, I have to act on my thoughts and put them to good use.

I do have a plan for my writing career. I’ll be busy for the next few years with the books I have lined up. I’m still learning how to market my work and I have so many things to do on that front. My plan is to build my brand with a good website and an increased use of social media, while at the same time, continuing to produce good books so my readers will look to me as one of their sources for enjoyable reading material.

I work full-time as a legal administrative assistant at a large Minneapolis law firm, so my writing and marketing has to come after work. This makes for long days, but I love my writing career, so that never seems to matter. It can be overwhelming and discouraging at times, but the reward of writing a good book and introducing it to a world market makes it all worthwhile.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

I have yet to introduce my favorite foods into my books, though that may change with my upcoming novel. I’m married to an Italian-American and my next book will be loosely based on his family (with a little love, revenge and murder added to the mix). We enjoy great Italian meals at our home, and my husband and I enjoy cooking together and coming up with new recipes of our own. I must admit, however, that Italian food comes a distant second to my all-time favorite food, which is Mexican. I don’t cook Mexican food very well, but I will order it at any restaurant that has it on the menu.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

As I mentioned above, Mexican is my favorite food, but my husband and I make a deliciously spicy spaghetti sauce and meatballs which we created based on his father’s original recipes. Sorry Lucy, I can’t give you those recipes – they’re top secret!

But I can give you my recipe for a delicious Taco Dip that’s quick and easy to make:

  1. In a large bowl, mix on medium speed two blocks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese and three-fourths of a jar of Pace Picante Sauce until creamy.
  2. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet or plate.
  3. Sprinkle shredded lettuce across the entire plate of cream cheese.
  4. Sprinkle shredded Mexican cheese over the lettuce.
  5. Top with chopped onion, diced tomatoes and black olives.  Serve with tortilla chips. Delicious!

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

I am very close to finishing the first draft of my third book. It’s another children’s fantasy-and-magic chapter book. I haven’t firmed up the title yet, but I’m leaning toward The Magic Trap Door. I haven’t started working on the cover yet, but I have several ideas in mind, and will be drawing something soon to give to the illustrator.

The story is about a middle school girl who has developed a rotten disposition toward her family, doing chores and doing her schoolwork.  She is shy at school with few friends, and is lazy and cranky all the time. She often crawls under her bed to avoid her parents and their constant demands that she do her chores and complete her homework.

One night, while under her bed daydreaming, she discovers a handle to a trap door which excites her and scares her.  After a few nights, she finally drums up the nerve to open the trap door and climb down a steep ladder. Once there, she discovers a world of cotton candy trees, caramel apple bushes, a soda pop pond, and willow trees with long, red licorice branches that she can swing on and eat.Best of all – there are no adults. She is finally free. She’s free from her miserable life at home and school, and can finally eat whatever she wants, stay up as long as she wants, and just play and have fun.As she travels along, she meets four other kids, and together, they explore their strange and exciting surroundings. Throughout their journey, they can hear, but cannot see, a very powerful and massive waterfall.

After a few days, things start to change. The protagonist suddenly doesn’t feel very well. Her stomach hurts from too much candy, her teeth feel disgusting, she’s tired from sleeping on the hard ground, and her clothes are damp from a fall into the river. She begins to reminisce about her warm bed and a hot meal. Eventually, she realizes she misses her family. It doesn’t take long for the others to feel the same way. They decide it’s time to return home. They learn from a magical frog that the only way to do that is to crawl behind the massive waterfall.  heir journey takes a treacherous turn as they encounter a serpent and a boy who wants to keep them there forever, all while trying to find the waterfall that will help get them home.

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

Since my publishing journey began two years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of selecting the right title to ensure strong visibility in search results. The importance of a unique and visible title is extremely valuable and I find myself second-guessing my choices for fear of overlooking a title that might be better. In selecting my title, my first priority is to find one that captures the heart of the story and is interesting and appealing. Once I have selected something I like, I then do an internet search to make sure it isn’t already in use. Next, I check the Kindle Store to see how it would fair in a search there. After these steps, I keep the title in the back of my mind as I continue my drafting. I want to be absolutely sure I have the right title before I work with my cover illustrator.

Of course I’d also love to mention my two books:  Life in the Gumball Machine and the sequel, Life in the Gumball Machine – Vinnie and Gordy’s Return.  These are fun chapter books for middle school readers.

If anything, what would you change about being an author?

I would have liked to have had more training. I was a music major at the University of Minnesota. I played piano and sang in the U’s 300-voice symphonic chorus.  At the time, it was my plan to have a career in music education.  However, life got in the way of that career, and now, as an author, I wish I would have spent more of my college education on creative writing, and had spent more time working on writing projects, if for no other reason than to improve my craft. These days, I feel that I’m a student of the blogs, and there are a few blogs I follow that have wonderful daily content to help me hone my skills. My favorites are: Wordplay: The Writing Life of K.M. WeilandQuick and Dirty Tips, The Creative Penn, The Kill Zoneand of course, All That’s Written….

I also wish I could have started publishing earlier, but many of us had to wait for the internet explosion of indie publishing, didn’t we?  My first book was written seventeen years ago and sat in a drawer collecting dust because I had no platform, and was unable to get the attention of even one publisher.  However, none of that matters now. Today is what counts, and I’m happy for the opportunity to do something I love and share it with the world.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

There is no doubt that the free promotions offered by KDP Select has generated the most attention and has led to most of my sales  However, I have noticed a steady decline in free downloads. I tried the KDP Select Countdown promotion just once so far, with little results, but I’m hoping as readers become more familiar with it, my downloads will increase. I’m also hoping that with those free or discounted downloads, more people will read my books and recommend them to their friends and families.  Word-of-mouth, in my opinion, is the best promotion an author could ask for.

In addition, I have a Facebook author page and a page on Goodreads. My website should be up and running soon. I also have a Twitter account (@BartoneMaureen), though I must confess I’m having a hard time finding a voice for that outlet. That sounds silly, I know.  I also recently started a Pinterest board which focuses on character features and settings.  I hope this will help authors get ideas on what their characters might look like, and give them ideas for settings.  I must admit, I really enjoy “pinning.”  I will be looking into submitting sample chapters to Wattpad as well.  I’m committed to increasing my social media presence and my brand in the coming months.

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

Well, I guess I have the same excuses that everyone else has: job, family, chores, obligations – and fatigue!  But more importantly, the main reason I don’t write for a whole day is because I work best as a “spurt-writer.”  (I made up that word).  What I mean is, I do most of my writing in small sessions. I write every day, but it might be one small bit in the morning before work, another one on the bus on my way into work, another one on my lunch break, and I always – always take time to write before bed.

My initial draft (which I refer to as my pre-first draft) is always handwritten on a notepad. I carry it with me wherever I go which makes it easy to quickly jot things down – even if it’s just a blurb of inspiration.  For me, the blank page is the hardest part of writing. After I have finished my “pre-first draft,” that is when my fun begins.  I love taking that hot mess, inputting it into the computer, and changing and molding it into something great.  I find taking breaks from writing is necessary for a fresh outlook.  I like to mull over my most recent input, and contemplate what I want to say next. I often do that in bed after finishing my evening writing.  If something inspires me, I pick the notebook back up and jot those ideas down for later.

Once I have my first complete draft typed, that’s when I really start putting in the hours. I work non-stop after work until bedtime and several hours each weekend day.  Seeing the improvements in the story and getting closer to the finish line are huge motivations for me to keep going.  What a rush!

And Finally, can you tell me something no one has ever heard before from you? I’m sure the readers love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. :-)

I’ve always (and secretly) wanted to be either a singer or an actress. I’d be perfectly content singing in a local blues band, but if I were an actress, I’d want to go beyond local theater and do commercials, television or movies. Ahh – dare to dream!

I am also most proud of receiving my black belt in Taekwondo, and competing in both form and sparring events. Putting on the gloves and duking it out was something I really enjoyed!

I also trained and competed in an adult women’s dance group. Getting up on stage and performing jazz and tap routines was the best thing I’ve done to improve my confidence in a public setting.  Dance is one of my top loves!

Here’s a picture of our group dancing to a Michael Jackson medley. I’m in there somewhere!

Thank you for allowing me to share my story with the world.  Happy writing and happy reading everyone!

Thank you for being here and hope to see you return when you have more to tell us.

Destiny Bay Romances Tour – Grand Finale

Today it is the last day we are on tour with Prism Book Tours

It’s the Grand Finale of the REVIEW & EXCERPT TOUR for
Destiny Bay Romances: Sweet Editions
by Helen Conrad


Special Price!
Run Run Runaway (book one in the series) is FREE for Kindle from today through June 4th!!!


Run Run Runaway
Book Intro

Astrid laughed softly. “Don’t worry about it, dear.” She dabbed powder on her nose from a golden compact. “Reid is obviously fascinated with you for the moment.”

A Little Blackmail
Book Intro

“What?” His outrage echoed in her head. “Where are you?” She hesitated. What in the world was she going to tell him? If she told him the truth, he and Howie would be over here in no time, ready to rescue her. She couldn’t have that.

Moving Too Fast
Book Intro

Run Run Runaway
Destiny Bay Romances – Forever Yours
(Sweet Edition #1)
by Helen Conrad
Adult Romance
Paperback & Ebook, 169 pages
March 28th 2014 by Doorknock Publishing

Run Run Runaway is the Sweet Edition of My Little Runaway, the story of Reid Carrington and Jennifer Thornton.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The trouble is, when you run from your problems, you often find out your biggest obstacle is along for the trip–it’s you! Reid Carrington realizes that when he finds Jennifer and recognizes the quiet desperation in her eyes. Can he save someone who doesn’t want to be saved? Or like a lifeguard rescuing a swimmer, will she pull him down into the undertow in the end?

Recipes for Jennifer’s Mango Salsa and Tilly’s Bruschetta included.

Purchase from Amazon.

A Little Blackmail
Destiny Bay Romances – Forever Yours
(Sweet Edition #2)
by Helen Conrad
Adult Romance
Paperback & Ebook, 172 pages
March 28th 2014 by Doorknock Publishing

A Little Blackmail is the Sweet Edition of Wife For A Night, the story of Janet Cardona and Matt Carrington.

Sometimes you have to break the rules to right a wrong.

Janet Cardona is usually a by-the-book good girl–but when Matt Carrington won’t give her cat back, she sees red. Rules mean nothing when there’s an animal to be saved. So when she’s caught in a burglary and blackmailed for it, she finds she can’t refuse. Matt only needs her to pretend to be his wife for a day or two so that he can run a scam he’s involved in. But once the pretense gets going, he begins to yearn for the real thing. Now Janet has to decide if she can let herself fall for a con man.

Recipes for Crab Open-faced Sandwiches and Basic Asian Soup included.

Purchase from Amazon.

Moving Too Fast
Destiny Bay Romances – Forever Yours
(Sweet Edition #3)
by Helen Conrad
Adult Romance
Paperback & Ebook, 165 pages
March 28th 2014 by Doorknock Publishing

Moving Too Fast is the Sweet Edition of Too Scared To Breathe, the story of Grant Carrington and Carrie Harlow.

A sweet old-fashioned girl–

–isn’t what Grant Carrington is looking for. A man who lives for speed and danger, he’s only slowed down because he’s been forced to by an injury. Carrie Harlow isn’t his type, but he needs her in order to heal. She knows she’s playing with fire, but she feels she can help him and she goes for it—even though she knows she’s endangering her own heart as she fixes his.

Recipe for Carrie’s Chicken Picatta included.

Purchase from Amazon.

Helen Conrad is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 90 romances (over 15 million copies sold) published under various pseudonyms with Harlequin, Silhouette, Loveswept, and others. She is currently revamping and rewriting much of her backlist–some available in the US for the first time–to present on Kindle.

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A Little About the Destiny Bay Romances: Sweet Editions
From Author Helen Conrad

“The Destiny Bay Romances take place in the sort of beach town I’ve always loved–and now I live in one! But writing about beach towns came first and this series is centered on the rich, influential Carrington family living along the California Coast, and in Hawaii. These are good-looking, fast-driving, hard-hitting men and women whose impulses lead them into trouble every time–and inevitably to fall in love.

The original series includes language and love scenes that aren’t, for the most part, especially harsh and explicit–but some of my readers from my years writing sweets for Harlequin as Raye Morgan have asked if we couldn’t have sweet and clean versions–and I thought–what a good idea!

These are basically the same stories…but with the conflicts softened a bit, the language cleaned up, and no explicit love scenes. There are still a few adult situations, but they’re muted. Consider these the PG versions.

I hope you enjoy them!”

Tour-Wide Giveaway

- US Grand Prize: $20 Amazon gift card and paperbacks of Run Run Runaway, A Little Blackmail, and Moving Too Fast

- INT Grand Prize: $20 Amazon gift card and ebooks of Run Run Runaway, A Little Blackmail, and Moving Too Fast

- 2 sets of ebooks of Run Run Runaway, A Little Blackmail, and Moving Too Fast (INT)

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