Surprise! It’s a New Blog Game!

And you’re invited to play along, either in the comments or at your own blog. At my critique group meeting over the weekend, we talked about blogging and inspiration. Although it’s good for authors to blog, it’s common for writers to feel “boring” in short-form and to worry that they won’t have anything interesting to say in the blogging context. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if you live in a basement, surrounded by cats and last-month’s Starbucks latte cups, you’ve got something worthwhile to say. Something makes you interesting. (Possibly the fact that you live in a

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Simple Seasonal Surprises

A guest post by Marci Jefferson* When I was a child in the south I looked forward to autumn’s cooler days and the evening smell of burning leaves. Our landscape burst into kaleidoscope golds and reds, and woodsy roadways we traveled every day became colorful tunnels. I’ll never forget the plump round perfection of a giant pumpkin my grandfather brought home one year. Or looking forward to dressing up as something other than yourself every Halloween. Now I live in the midwest and, though much of the land is preparing for rest, the farmers markets are still full of the

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In Praise of Detectives: Old and New

October 7-13 is official “Mystery Series Week,” so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite detectives (and hope you’ll share yours in the comments!): As a child, I read Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, though it always seemed to me that the Hardy Boys had more fun. I also loved Encyclopedia Brown – and definitely recommend that series for anyone looking to share the joy of mystery with a younger family member. I couldn’t make a mystery list without naming Agatha Christie – my dog-eared collection disappeared over the years, but I’m rebuilding it again, and re-reading

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Amazon Needs to Get Out of My Head.

On one of my flights home from Atlanta, I had a conversation about the speed and the convenience of Amazon’s delivery system. At one point I made a joke about “unmarked Amazon vans sitting outside houses, stocked with the items Amazon’s guessed you want to buy, so you’ve no sooner pressed the purchase button than the doorbell rings.” IT WAS A JOKE, PEOPLE. Until this morning, when I discover that Amazon really is experimenting with same-day delivery systems. Amazon’s reading my brain waves again. And frankly, that’s not a good thing. I just hope they’re sharing the signal with Starbucks

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The Weeds. I am in Them.

… and if my incoming traffic logs don’t lie, many of you are too. “In the Weeds” was one of my father’s favorite expressions – even though to my knowledge he never worked in the restaurant industry. I can’t remember a time when he didn’t use the phrase (leading to the probably-accurate conclusion that he spent most of his adult life in the weeds – a trait that apparently breeds true). For those who don’t know, “in the weeds” is used in the restaurant (and service) field(s) to mean being so far behind that you can’t even see your way

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October Observances, 2012

Most of you probably know about the spooky little observance coming up on the 31st, but did you also know that October 2012 is official: Raptor Month (Respect the six-foot chicken…) Christmas Seal Campaign Month (Seals aren’t the brightest bulbs, so we let them celebrate whenever they want to.) Eat Better – Eat Together Month (I’m hoping that’s an either/or proposition) International Starman Month (Apparently no one cares about local Starmen.) National Chili Month (I wish it was.) Positive Attitude Month (It’ll never catch on.) and Sarcastic Awareness Month (Yeah, right.) Got more crazy, spooky holiday fun? Share it in

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Sweet Praise for the Cinnamon Roll – and the Debutante Ball

It’s ironic that today is both kanelbullens dag (Cinnamon Roll Day) and the day I fly to Atlanta to speak at the Moonlight & Magnolias conference. Why? Because I love cinnamon rolls, but not so much the calories that go with them, so I allow myself to indulge in them only rarely. One of those “permitted” times is traveling – and the presence of a Cinnabon at just about every airport in the United States makes that both easy and very tempting. Add in the fact that it’s cinnamon roll day and I think there’s an icing-topped treat in my

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Who Does What for How Many Oreos?

As we continue working our way through writing an author business plan, we arrive at Section 6: Operations and Management. The “Operations and Management” section essentially boils down to “Who does what to whom for how many Oreos?” This is the section where you, the author, prepare lists of who will handle each task involved in writing, producing, distributing, marketing and selling your book – how each of those people will be paid or compensated, and the amount of the compensation. The independent or self-published author will have a different Operations and Management section from the traditionally published author –

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Triage on the Reef

About six months ago I noticed some small purple polyps growing around the crown of a rock I called “The volcano.” The rock formed a centerpiece of my reef. It’s the front rock on the right-hand side of the tank, and I selected it specifically for its resemblance to an underwater volcanic peak. The yellow square shows the top of the “volcano” – and you can just see the fuzzy purple polyps beginning to move down from the peak. As the months passed, the fuzzy purple coral spread. It covered the rock and surrounded the zoanthid colonies there. Eventually I

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How My Mother Discovered the Amazon

The road to publication is filled with “firsts” for authors – so many that we sometimes forget that we”re pulling others through the looking glass with us. Case in point: my mother. I owe my lifelong love of books and writing in no small part to my mother’s influence. She read to me. She taught me to read. She bought me books and paper and crayons and listened to me read my (likely nonsensical) whimsies over the years. She encouraged and supported me – and she financed a trip to an early writers’ conference (over a decade ago) that set

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