The two winners of my Goodreads Giveaway of an advanced reading copy of Stone Cold Dead are Patricia and Mae. I recently learned about this popular program on Goodreads. Imagine - writers giving books away to avid readers! It doesn't get much better than that.
Inspirational author Pamela Thibodeux features Stone Cold Dead on her Saturday Spotlight. Check out her blog December 21.
On my next Blog Tour stop for Stone Cold Dead - A Rock Shop Mystery, award-winning author Beth Groundwater interviews me. Learn something about me that you won't hear anywhere else. http://bethgroundwater.blogspot.com/
I appear today on author Patricia Stoltey's blog with a post titled "The Velveteen Rabbit and Me" - my journey to becoming a "real" writer. Drop by Patricia's blog and leave a comment for a chance to win an advance reading copy (ARC) of my debut amateur sleuth murder mystery Stone Cold Dead - A Rock Shop Mystery.http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com/
Stone Cold Dead is available for Kindle this Wednesday, December 18, and in hardcover January 8.
Please join me as I take my amateur sleuth murder mystery Stone Cold Dead – A Rock Shop Mystery on tour! You don't have to brave the icy winter streets to go on this book tour. Stay warm and dry as you check out blog stops at your convenience. Feel free to make comments on the host blogs.
My Blog Tour officially began on November 18 with a review by Mark Baker at his website Carstairs Considers. My “tour” kicks into high gear Monday, December 16. I will be making appearances with guest posts, reviews, and interviews. Some may offer give-aways of my novel. Below is a schedule including the addresses and dates of my tour stops.
November 18 - First Stop at Carstairs Considers
Mark Baker reviews everything from cozy murder mysteries to candy, movies, TV programs, and kids’ books and movies. His website is just plain fun. I sent Mark an ARC with a request for an honest review. He did that, and also mentioned my book two more times in his blogs.
My Blog Tour continues with the following appearances:
Monday, December 16: http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com/
I appear on author Patricia Stoltey's blog with a post titled "The Velveteen Rabbit and Me" - my journey to becoming a "real" writer.
Wednesday, December 18: http://bethgroundwater.blogspot.com/
Award-winning author Beth Groundwater interviews me. Learn something about me that you won't hear anywhere else.
Saturday, December 21: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com/
Inspirational author Pamela Thibodeux features Stone Cold Dead on her Saturday Spotlight.
December 23: Ariel Heart - http://mysterysuspence.blogspot.com/
December 27: Lisa Haselton - http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/
January 14: Ann Parker - http://www.theladykillers.typepad.com/
January 17: Jacqueline Seewald - http://authorexpressions.blogspot.com/
January 21: Dalene Higgins - http://datesbooks.blogspot.com/
January 25: Jim Jackson - http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/
I am offering two Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) of Stone Cold Dead – A Rock Shop Mystery from now through midnight on Sunday, December 22, in a Goodreads Giveaway. The drawing is open to readers with USA and Canadian addresses.
Goodreads will determine the winners of the two ARCs.
If you don’t know about Goodreads, it is a free website devoted to readers and books. Check it out here: http://www.goodreads.com/
Jason is the author of Perk At Work – a humorous cartoon series that pokes gentle fun at the quirky characters inhabiting a coffee shop. Join me while I get the inside scoop on cartooning, and Jason's advice for the aspiring cartoonist.
Cathy: Do you consider yourself a cartoonist? Artist? Writer?
Jason: I consider myself a humorist. That title extends to writings, cartoonist/comics, music, and speaking. Mark Twain was a humorist and I intend to ride his white coat tails.
Cathy: Cartoons range from the sophisticated New Yorker magazine, to biting political humor, from the newspaper comic strip, to the Archie comics I read as a kid. Your books are related by characters and theme, but a person can read a single strip as a stand-alone. Is this different from graphic novels?
Jason: Yes. Graphic novels are “long form”. This means that they cover an arc or several arcs to tell a larger story. My particular form of comics is called “gag-a-day”. This means that a reader can read each comic and get the gag without having to know the context of a larger story. It’s odd how this all sounds “textbook-ish” for an interview on goofy drawings, eh?
Cathy: Can you explain the difference between a comic strip, a comic book, and a graphic novel?
Jason: Here we go with my nerdy definitions again. Comics are “sequential art” which means (as it sounds) that the art is in sequence to form a bigger piece of art. Magazines usually print single-panel gags. Newspapers have gags that are one to four, maybe five panels. A comic book will have one continuous sequence of panels over 24 - 36 pages (with advertising). A graphic novel is like any other novel except it has graphics (i.e., drawings) integrated to tell the story, and no advertising.
Cathy: When did you start drawing cartoons?
Jason: Like all kids, I drew before I wrote. Yet I always liked having a humorous tone to the drawings. Maybe those could have been cartoons, not sure.
Cathy: What inspired you to create stories?
Jason: Stories are the best way to communicate. I love communicating and it is natural to want to breath life into a world from the third person point of view. Some call it “playing God”. I won’t argue with that. I believe that everything created wants to emulate that which created it. I am unapologetically Christian (though not as mainstream as most folks). Creation is within our make up.
Cathy: Do you have formal training in fine art? Graphic arts? Writing?
Jason: With drawing, I’m mostly self-taught though I don’t quite agree with that term. I learned how to draw in a humorous style from copying MAD Magazine artists as a kid. Though those artists were not a teacher standing in front of me in a class, I still learned from them. As for writing, I never did well with that in school. Teachers always wanted a specific format. I thought the story should dictate the narrative and the structure. That didn’t go over too well.
Cathy: What is more important to your books – the story or the drawing?
Jason: Story is always more important in every book. All my comics start off with writing and end up as a comic strip. In short, I love writing humor pieces. Even picture books have to have a story or they are just random drawings. Writing trumps all.
Cathy: Do you base your characters on people you have encountered in your life? Has anyone ever accused you of using him/her in your cartoons?
Jason: This is the second-most popular question I get asked. (First is “Where do you get your ideas?”) I do not use specific people as characters in my comic. That would be limiting as I would not know that person inside and out as I do my characters. I used one person in one comic strip that was a real person and I let her know I did such. But that was not a core character, just one character in one strip, an "extra".
Cathy: What advice do you have for a young person aspiring to become a cartoonist?
Jason: Three things:
○ Experience life then draw it. Too often people want to draw life without going outside the door and taking chances. Risk yields fantastic creativity. Our minds open up when we get out into the world and begin doing things that scare us.
○ Become accustomed to being uncomfortable. This craft takes hundreds, if not thousands of hours to master -- I’m still in the process.
○ Learn to take criticism. Not everything you do is golden. Learn what people like about your work and play to those strengths.
Cathy: Please tell us how to find you on the web, and where to find your books. My website is http://perkatworkcomic.com. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/perkatwork. My books are for sale on my website.
Jeff Hart, the drilling expert whose skill was instrumental in the rescue of 33 Chilean miners in 2010, gave a talk Novemver 7th that was full of surprises.
Surprise One – Continuing Interest: Three years after the event that consumed international news for 69 days, Mr. Hart packed the library at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry with a capacity crowd. The audience included museum members, prospectors, rock hounds, students from elementary school to the School of Mines, and anyone with a passion for mining history.
Surprise Two – Drilling for Water: Mr. Hart and his crew from Layne Christensen, a South Dakota based water, minerals, and energy extraction company, were drilling water wells in Afghanistan when the Chilean mine disaster occurred. Hearing the story on the news, Hart did not believe anyone could survive the cave-in.
Surprise Three – Arrival at the Rescue: Eighteen days into the rescue effort, Chilean President Pinera announced that they had established communication with the 33 miners, and all were alive. In a moving PowerPoint at the beginning of his talk, Hart showed the note that came up the first pilot hole: Estamos bien en el refugio los 33 - We are well in the shelter, the 33. Another seventeen days would pass before Hart received a 4 am call from the president of Layne. At first, he thought something bad had happened to one of his drilling crew’s families. Instead, he was ordered to assemble a crew and get to Chile ASAP. Hart, another employee, and two US Spanish-speaking helpers began the long trip to the Atacama Desert, arriving 35 days after the cave-in, and what would become the mid-point of the rescue effort.
Surprise Four – Conditions for Los 33: The miners could survive indefinitely underground. After the first hole was drilled (before Hart’s team arrived), air, food, and water could reach the trapped miners. They had survived on tuna and stale tortillas the first eighteen days. The clock they were working against, according to Hart, was disease. The temperature in the mine was over 90 degrees F, and the humidity was over 90%. Hart joked about the gourmet meals being sent to the miners 2,300 feet below ground while the rescuers ate ham and cheese sandwiches.
Surprise Five – No Surprise: The unsafe copper and gold mine was immediately closed after the cave-in, and remains closed to this day. The miners knew the dangers of working in the earthquake prone region, and were paid more than if they had chosen to work in mines with better safety records.
Surprise Six – Fenix: The capsule (photo below) sent down the shaft drilled by Hart’s crew was designed by NASA and built by the Chilean Navy. A replica capsule on display in the Western Museum of Mining and Industry is the only other “official” capsule in existence. The first person to use the capsule went down to the miners to assist them and assess their medical status. Rescue expert Manuel Gonzalez did not know with certainty that he would make it back to the surface. He could have been trapped with the miners. Hart called him “the bravest man in the world.”
Surprise Seven – New Careers: Four of the rescued miners went to work for Layne Christensen and their Latin American affiliate Geotec after their rescue.
Surprise Eight – Lessons learned from the Chilean mine cave-in are being implemented by the US mining industry. The equipment and teams for mine rescue are being assembled at strategic areas in the US, ready to deploy when needed.
Jeff Hart said, “The most important thing you could ever get out of a mine is a miner.” The talk was fascinating. I am certain I have missed several critical points of interest, such as the details about the drills and drilling techniques, but don’t worry! A movie is being filmed, and a book on the rescue will be released soon. Until then, you can see the authentic replica capsule at the WMMI in Colorado Springs.
To learn more about Jeff Hart and Layne Christensen’s role in the Chilean mine rescue, see: http://www.layne.com/en/about/plan-b.aspx
To learn more about the Western Museum of Mining and Industry in Colorado Springs, Colorado, see: http://www.wmmi.org/
If you are participating in National Novel Writing Month, chances are you’ve just hit the “what was I thinking” mode. Here are five survival tips to keep you going:
1) The mnemonic reminds us that “Thirty days has November.” At this point, only eighteen. Surely your family (or your single self) can survive a few more days on frozen dinners, fast food drive-thru fare, and canned soup. Don’t waste your precious writing time on the mundane.
2) Claim your space and your time. To quote Gandolf, “None shall pass!” If you were running marathons or inventing something noxious smelling in your basement, those annoying people in your life wouldn’t be bothering you right now. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. There will be plenty of time for socializing and family life in December.
3) Sometimes the words flow, and you’re in the zone. Other times each word must be yanked out of your brain with a rusty pair of pliers. This is normal. Keep writing, and the words will eventually flow again. Remember that that this is the roughest draft imaginable. Resist the urge to polish. Send your internal editor on vacation for the month. Your NaNo idea will seem stupid at some point, and a dozen better ideas will present themselves. Jot those ideas on a Post-It note, but finish this story.
4) Don’t set your expectations too high. It is more likely that a chimpanzee with recreate the works of Shakespeare on a typewriter (to borrow from the Infinite Monkey theory) than it is that this month will reward you with a publishable novel. More likely you will just be getting closer to the million words, or ten thousand hours, depending on the philosophy you follow, that are required before you become a good writer.
5) There is no failure. If you don’t hit the 50,000 words, you still did more writing than typical. Don’t beat yourself up.
And if you survive NaNoWriMo? According to David Eddings, “A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin. That takes a while.” How long does it take? If you only write during NaNoWriMo, and assuming you hit the goal of 50,000 words every year, it will take you twenty years to reach the million word goal. And assuming you could write 24 hours a day for the entire 30 days, you would only be 720 hours toward Malcolm Gladwell’s “magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.” Obviously, National Novel Writing Month is just a jumping off point. You have some momentum going now. Keep writing!
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