Time To Pause

I don’t know if it’s the summer or the Olympics, or what, but I am having a problem producing good writing. I am taking a couple of weeks off in hopes that it remedies the problem. I am having the same problem with my artwork, so it’s a creative issue. I appreciate you following me,  and I hope you understand. Sometimes you just  need to live a little in order to create. I will see you soon.

Monique

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Dreams of Gold and Possibilities

The Summer Olympic Games 2012 have hijacked my life completely. No longer is my TV background noise providing a soundtrack of sorts for my various activities like writing, drawing and cooking. No, I am riveted to the television screen and cannot seem to get anything else accomplished while these games are on. I have mixed feelings about them ending in a week.

I have memories of previous games, going back to my childhood. But I have to say, I have never been as captivated by them as I am this year. Is it because the U S is so strong, and is garnering so many medals? Is it because my country is in trouble and needs a positive event to renew its sense of optimism and it needs an event to be patriotic in the face of adversity?  I am intensely proud of our accomplishments in London. It makes me feel good to be able to say we come from the same country, this Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas, and this Ryan Lochte. We are countrymen with pride and patriotism unbounded.

A recurring thought I have as I watch the games is what is it like to be that good at something?  What must it be like to stand in the world’s eye and have your moment after years of preparation?

I am involved in several activities that are preparatory for the future. I am writing, and paying my dues on the road to publication. I am learning the art of drawing with colored pencil aspiring to be an artist. I am losing 150 pounds which will take years at 1 and 2 pounds of loss a week. So I am laying the ground work for accomplishments that while not as grand as Olympic competition are as important to me as that medal is to the athlete.  Someday in the future I will stand on my self-created podium and claim my prize, my own byline, a contest won, a new wardrobe, the sale of a drawing.

We all need to be pursuing goals and dreams. We need to work towards something greater than our present reality. It is what gives us a reason for waking in the morning. It provides us with goals to mark the passing of time and the rise in our accomplishments. We have a sense of purpose. We feel good when we hit a benchmark and we learn when we fall short; all of it to aspire to a better place in our life. Just like the athletes we are riveted to this summer.

These two weeks are like an intensive motivational retreat. We tune in, learn the athletes stories, watch them win, or not. We can extract life lessons from the experience, or we can choose to take it as an exercise in reality TV and not give it much thought. For those of us inspired, we are surrounded by challenges realized and the culmination of preparation with some luck thrown in, and we have something to aspire to. If we doubt ourselves following a dream, all we have to do is tune in and see that dreams can come true with work and perseverance.

For me, this love affair with dreams and goals came late in life. This year they are fueling a mid- life transformation. In four years, when the next summer games are played in Brazil, I will be enjoying a new body and a new life.

What about you, are the games making an impact on you? What do they mean to you? What fuels your goals and aspirations?

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They Want How Much?

Amazon sent out a listing of new books to read this summer. It’s something Amazon does well, promotion and customer service in the same email. What I read made me incensed. $19.99 for a book? The new JK Rowling book for adults, one I wanted to check out is $19.99! Excuse me?

Traditional publishing is facing many challenges and you would think they would try to learn from the success of the E books and incorporate some changes into their marketing models. That is not the case at all. They are not just adhering to their old ways, they are increasing the asking price of new books.

Since getting my Kindle and discovering the myriad of offerings available to me, a voracious reader, the person authors want in their corner, I have learned that the price of a book does not determine whether it is good or not. It does not indicate whether the book is worth your time and money.

I have a few series that I follow and will pay publishers prices for. Except this year, when AI purchased the books and read them, I was angered at having wasted the money. The books were not good, not like the earlier offerings of the series. Where was the editor in all of this? If I can see the writing is weak, the storyline is weak, the characters aren’t behaving in the manner that hooked you in to begin with, can’t a professional see this and tell the author they are off course and re-writes are necessary?

I have discovered indie authors that have priced their books well under what the trad. publishers charge and the books are outstanding. Why should I pay $16.00 for a book when I can get a great read at $2.99 or $5.99? This is a terrible economic climate, hasn’t anyone informed trad. publishing of this fact?

I know JK Rowlings is a great writer. I’m not a fan of Potter, but the millions of people who are feel the books were worth the money. But where does she get off charging or allowing her publisher to charge twenty dollars for a book. There no guarantee it’s going to be good. She hasn’t written for adults yet. If she had come in at 12.99 to 14.99 I might have taken the plunge and tried her book. But not at her price.

It is mentioned over and over again that many e books and indie works have editing problems like typos. I have no problem with a typo or two (Many would be a problem worth complaining about) if the storyline is solid, the work flows and is strong writing. The traditional books I purchased during the past year, with the exception of two, were horrendous and needed rewrites of the whole story. They, the publisher and author have lost me as a reader. Never to be courted again.

It is the reviews of a book that cause me to make a purchase or not. Also, the authors who offer their books for free on a select day have made money off  me because I end up buying the rest of their catalogue. And I’m their reader from now on, till something happens that would sever the trust I have in them to deliver good work.

What do you think? Do you pay publishers prices for your books or are you reading more Indie and e books now?

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A Change Worth Noting

In order to keep my writing blog a writers blog, I am not reviewing books except for those on writing on this site anymore. I am reviewing books on the site Moniques Bookshelf. Please hop on over and follow me there for the book reviews that discover treasures for your reading enjoyment. If you have books to be reviewed, contact me there. Tweet about me if you feel you can.

Thanks for checking me out.

Monique

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Book Review: Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore by Barbara Connelli

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...I live vicariously through the travels, research and words of the authors setting their stories and essays in foreign countries. Countries I would like to go to, but I lack the means to go in real life. So authors like Barbara Connelli take me on their journeys and I am sated with the smells, tastes, sights and sounds of an exotic city like Milan. Her writing style in Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore brings you to the city and you want to linger and savor the mood and the imagery she creates:

“…To me, love means something completely different and much simpler. The smell of morning cappuccino and fresh pannetone at Pasticceria Marchesi. A brisk stroll through the awakening city and sensual curves of gold shadows on the wet paving of Via della Spiga. Joyful shouts of bohemian artists and their graceful muses at Fornace Curti. A crispy panzerotto savored in the company of cantankerous pigeons on the piazzetta of San Fedele. Old furniture stores in narrow streets and adorable trinkets I can never resist. The tinkling of a tram from 1929 with uncomfortable wooden seats and a hundred-year-old conductor. Sublime flamingos and peevish peacocks in an emerald-green garden that has never been owned by anyone. Remote nooks and crannies whose secrets have been revealed only to me and the few ghosts with aristocratic hearts who appear in them from time to time. Visionary dreams, inextinguishable hopes, the desire to live, the courage to create, the strength to grow. To me, love means all this and much more. This and much more is what I receive from the city that makes me fall in love a hundred times a day, breaking my heart over and over again, only to make it beat faster five minutes later. Milan. My city of love.”

There are a myriad of magical places to explore in Milan, like the hidden Flamingo Garden that no one owns yet it belongs to everyone. For a memorable sweet treat there is the venerable Pasticceria Marchesi’s , where you can also get freshly baked Panettone  which has three different legends as to its inception. A recipe for the famed bread is included.

A city tour will show you the architectural wonders that the city contains. The Rinascente store has a phoenix rising from the fire story that resonates with renaissance and rebirth. I love the story of Chandelier –where you can get the finest dinner and a sofa if you need one as they change their furniture out and sell it every year to stay fresh and evolving.

There are so many Milanese treasures described, too many to list here. Plus I think some of these locales should be a surprise to you as they were for me, making the book all the more magical.

The book is romantic and makes you want to book a flight as soon as possible to enjoy what is so elegantly written about. I can’t go right away so I will linger over the stories contained in Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore. I feel like I should root out the local beauty and stories of where I live now that I’ve read this love letter to Milan. Everyone should love where they live the way Barbara Connelli loves her city.

I say read this book and dream, or act on the dream and go. I was given a copy of the book to review and I would say it is worth more than its price and is certainly worth your time.

About the author:

Barbara Conelli is an internationally published bestselling author, seasoned travel writer specializing in Italy, and Chiquenist on the mission to bring Fantastic Fearless Feminine Fun into women’s lives. In her charming, delightful and humorous Chique Books filled with Italian passion, Barb invites women to explore Italy from the comfort of their home with elegance, grace and style, encouraging them to live their own Dolce Vita no matter where they are in the world. http://www.barbaraconelli.com

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My First…(What Are You Thinking? It’s Not What You Think…)

 

Smudge

I had always considered myself a dog person. My co-worker Angie was hell-bent on my adopting a cat. We debated for the afternoon, with no consensus. I was on the fence. Another heartbeat in my apartment would be nice, but a cat? You don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t know cats.

I arrived at my apartment complex after the sun had set. I made my way to the mailbox station and I heard the distinct sound of a cat’s meow. It sounded sad. It sounded nearby. I looked out into the shadows and I saw two pencil thin white lines moving. They were the front paws of the thinnest cat I had ever seen. She meowed again and stopped. We looked at each other. I instinctively reached out to her. She came to me and meowed again. She wasn’t sad as much as hungry. She was beautiful, white with black spots and a spot on her nose.

I ran up to my apartment and brought down a can of tuna. I put it in the bushes for this poor, pathetic animal. I went home. The next day, I told Angie about my encounter with the stray. “THAT’S YOUR CAT!” screamed Angie. I stopped mid-sentence. “You’ve got to be kidding. She’s a wild cat who’s starving. She’s not My Cat” I said, defensively. “No, you don’t understand, cats don’t come to people easily when they are feral. They shy away from people. This cat has picked you out as her person. We have to get her tonight.” Now Angie is a force of nature and what she says will happen, happens. So I found myself looking for this elusive cat that night with Angie who was experienced at catching strays.

There she was. Unlike the night before, she ran away, Angie and I frantically trying to keep up with her. We split apart, each going a separate way around the apartment building. Angie yelled at me, “I’ve got her!” She turned the corner with the little white cat squirming in her arms and her fur was flying in clumps. “Why is her fur flying off her?” I asked. “It’s what cats do when they are really scared” she replied, struggling to hold her.

We took her up to my apartment, I felt unsure about a wild cat running loose in the small space, who knows what diseases she could have. We put her in the bathroom and closed the door. I made plans with Angie to take her to the vet the next day and get her checked out. Angie said “It’s wonderful to be owned by a cat, you’ll see!” I sat in the living room, amazed at what we had accomplished and feeling anxious about the entire unknown wild cat in my house situation.

About an hour later, the bathroom door opened and out came the scrawny white cat who then ran onto my lap and she lay down. I was so surprised, I didn’t move. Was this the same cat I had chased downstairs? She was purring loudly as she lay quietly on my lap. How had she opened the door? The mystery would always remain. Transformed into the picture of domestic bliss; we stayed on the couch for hours. I forgot my caution regarding potential disease, she was purring, she was sleeping, she was on my lap. I knew then Angie was right, I had been chosen to be owned by this particular cat. I named her Smudge and realized at that moment that I was a cat person after all.

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Five Writing Blogs Worth Reading Part Three

After this post, I will update you as I come across blogs of note. (I’m always looking for new ones). Here are five more that have provided me with usable information and insights into the writing life.

C. Hope Clark Hope is a talented writer who writes about writing and is currently promoting her excellent book Low Country Bribe (which I will be reviewing this week). She also writes the next blog:

Funds For Writers Voted one of the ten best blogs for writers since 2001, this blog will provide you solid information and leads  that will result in a freelance job, a contest, a job, a grant, you name it. There are two versions of the blog. One is free (the one I get) and one is a subscription. I am thinking about getting the subscription in the future.

Men With Pens James Chartrand is a pen name for the owner of this blog.Shes (Yes, she) a copywriter author, business expert from Montreal. Again, an insightful and informative blog about wrining and blogging. It’s a Top Ten Blog For Writers for the past four years and a Top 15 Copywriting and Content Marketing Blog That Makes You Money.

The Well Fed Writer Peter Bowerman’s blog and website. He published the book The Well Fed Writer and has maintained the franchise for years. He specializes in copywriting and blogging. A top blog in 2010, he is well established.

Nick Thacker Writes about writing and blogging. He wrote Building a Blog For Readers (Which I will be reviewing soon). He is informative and provides a new spin on what others are talking about. He will answer your emails if you contact him. I’ve gotten a lot out of his book and blog.

I hope you get as much out of these sites as I have. Are there sites you would recommend?

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