Category Archives: Marginally Personal

You Won!

It’s “big announcement” day, but first of all I have to thank Kris Yankee for gracing my blog with her presence last week.

As promised (ta da…big announcement!), Kris is giving away a copy of her book, Saving Redwind. And the winner is…Janet Johnson.

Janet, Kris will email you to work out the details. You’re going to love her book.  Congratulations on your winning comment!

On a somber note, wildfires are destroying my part of Texas. The nearest fires are about an hour away, but with wildfire that can be much too close. Several lives have been lost.  In the past 48 hours nearly 700 homes have been destroyed. Some of the fires that erupted over the weekend are in populated suburbs of Austin. Despite the best efforts of firefighters from all over the state, many of the fires are still uncontained. Schools in the affected areas have been closed so that they can serve as shelters for people recently made homeless. It is a horrible situation.

If you hear someone from Texas saying that we need a good hurricane, we aren’t joking. If we could just get a hurricane’s torrential rains dumped onto Central Texas, it would be such a relief. If the hurricane winds could just skip over the Gulf Coast, it would be even better.  We have friends with “lakefront” property whose boat docks are now hundreds of feet from the water. Yes, the lakes are that low. There are reservoir lakes west of us that are completely empty. You can walk across the lakebed and never get your feet wet. It is a dire situation, and one that will be continuing for some time to come. There is no rain in the forecast (again) for the next 10 days.

I could go on about the dreadful drought conditions and the devastating fires, but I think you get the picture. If you believe in appealing to a Higher Power, Texas could use some prayer right now.

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Exercise’s Unexpected Benefits

Today’s blog is going to be short.  I can’t waste a moment.  I’m on a roll, and I don’t want to interrupt it for too long.  That being said, here’s what’s happened,  and it’s still early!

It’s just possible that I should get up at 6-ish a.m. and exercise every day.  (Thank you, husband…)  Seems to stimulate the brain and the imagination.

After a brisk (by my definition) walk, I returned to fix coffee and an English muffin (with healthy sugar-free peanut butter).  I sat down to read my email, which is normally a tedious task comprised of culling the horrid from the merely bad.  Imagine my surprise when the first item I opened was a gem!

After five weeks of not-so-patient waiting, I received an answer from someone who had promised to help me with technical details I needed for the WIP. Now, I fully understand that one can find any answer on the all-knowing WWW; however, mine is a particularly esoteric question.  I needed to know, specifically, how Texas Hill Country animals react to and escape a wildfire.  So, this person’s knowledge was particularly valuable to my story.  (Just because my middle grade books are Texas animal tall tales does not mean they can’t be fact-based!)  Honestly, I was beginning to think I might have to find another expert.  Not an easy task when the nearest town’s population is just over 4,000!  Her email arrived just in time.  So glad it finally did. I wasn’t looking forward to hours of googling and binging.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered more answers to questions I had asked of another person…and there they were, just waiting for me in my virtual inbox. Wonders never cease!

While riding this informational ‘high,’ I started working on a chapter of the book that’s been troublesome. Not today! Breezed right through it! The plot came together. The words flowed. The characters knew exactly what to say. Astounding!

So, it just made sense that I take advantage and get the blog done, too.

News Flash!  I am so looking forward to my “blog swapping/tour” (well, that’s what we’re calling it!) with Kris Yankee, author of Saving Redwind: A Wallpaper Adventure. I’ll be interviewed on her blog on Monday, August 29th and Kris will be here on my blog Wednesday, August 31st. Kris is an interesting, talented, multi-dimensional person, and her book is awesome! (If you’d like a quick sneak peek:

One more recent good thing! Seems they just don’t stop today! Although I’ve known for months that I was going to be a grandma again, we just found out on Thursday that the expected baby is a boy! Hooray! Another grandson! Can’t wait!

Good things come to those who…exercise??

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Procrastination is bad! Rationalizing it is worse! I’m guilty of both. It seems as if I can’t…or don’t want to…write. I believe I’ve narrowed the underlying causes down to three:
1. Fear. Over the past two days, I’ve read many good children’s books and I’m being followed/friended by successful authors. This is a good thing, right? Well, tell that to my insecurity. I think maybe I might be believing in myself just a little too much. After all, these books (in a much more immature form) were rejected by some of the best publishers. And now, I’ve only sold two on Amazon. Insecurity just kicked into high gear.
2. No time.   I thought maybe I’d accomplish a lot today and some of tomorrow, but life keeps getting in the way. Today I had errands, tomorrow we’re going wine shopping (it’s  20% discount-stock-up time at our favorite liquor store), then company starts coming in late tomorrow night. So, instead of buckling down and getting at least a few words on paper, I chose to just forget it based on the rest of the week.
3. Unsolicited criticism. A person that I know and trust thought she was being honest with me, when instead she was just being hurtful. I know better than to listen to her. Her spelling and grammar are poor and her idea of reading a book is to look at “People” magazine. Not exactly a qualified critic. But, I listened nonetheless.

I started the blog above two days ago, and never finished it…speaking of procrastination.  Circumstances have improved a bit since last I blogged.  I’m still insecure, but right now I have a little time to write (until my grandson wakes up and wants to play!), AND people who offer their opinions when I’m not asking, can just go away.  Don’t need ’em, don’t want ’em, won’t tolerate ’em.

Rather than spend my precious, limited time on blogging to an unseen audience, which may or may not exist, I shall now devote the next few moments to “the series.”  Tomorrow I’ll blog again, and the subject will be, “Why Do I Have So Many Ideas?  And Which Should I Throw Out?”

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Eight Hours

Four hours’ travel time with my husband last Friday. Check. Four hours’ travel time with my husband today. Check. Eight hours of near-perfect silence. Priceless.

Don’t get me wrong. My husband and I get along wonderfully. After all, we’ve been married for 41 years. But, when he’s driving, that’s all he’s doing. He is the most dedicated driver I’ve ever seen. (He makes me crazy…) So…

I spent eight hours in the passenger’s seat this weekend sampling “stuff” on my Kindle. I can also access my browser on Kindle; however, I really didn’t have time for that.  I sampled authors, editors, teachers, professors, and so-called experts who I seriously doubt have ever met a child!  I’ve read “dummies” and “idiots” and various other experts who contradicted each other.  I sampled children’s books, child authors (one of them 12 years old!), parents, and psychologists.  And what did I come away with?  (Sorry…With what did I come away?)  In no particular order:

1.  Be patient.  If you want to sell a gazillion copies of your book/series/whatever, you have to know that it isn’t going to happen in the first week.  I mean, really….if they’ve never heard of you and your book is in position 106,342 on Kindle, whatcha gonna do?  Be patient.

2.  Talk about yourself.  Libraries, schools, churches, strangers, Author’s Corner, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress.  I’m even thinking about showing my face in some writers’ societies that actually charge you money to be your friend.  Publicize or die.

3.  Write.  I know, seems too elementary.  I mean, really, seamstresses seam, carpenters carp…wait, that’s not right.  At any rate, the books ain’t gonna write themselves.  You may be inspired in the middle of the night, but that won’t put it down on paper…or monitor, as the case may be.

4.  Have faith.  Last week at this time, I was sure that I would have already sold dozens of books by this week at this time.  (But that might have been the champagne talking…)  I was wrong.  I sold two.  One to my wonderful husband (on whose critique I will expound at a later date), and my son – who is reading it to our one-year-old grandson.  I have had several requests for free hard copies, and I am considering those.  One is to a teacher who uses my Moochie Mockingbird stories (which have been in existence for decades) during “Texas Week” with her first-graders.  Actually, the teacher is my daughter-in-law, mother of the aforementioned one year old, and I will get her a copy of the new improved version.  Anyway, back to the subject.  I have faith that I will sell more books.

I am gratified that I have five followers on Twitter already.  I consider that quite an accomplishment, since I’m just learning to “tweet” and have only a vague idea of what I’m doing.  Perhaps this IS the best way to get my name before the public.

So, eight hours and I’m only impressed by four points.  Actually, that is quite a coup for the “points.”  I’m not easily impressed.  I have come away from all my reading with a new committment to “work” as a writer.  And I’m grateful to my husband for the near-eight hours of quiet in which to study.

Tomorrow, I’m going to speak with the local printer (I have a choice of one (1) printer in our little town), and see how much he’ll charge me for some nice soft-cover hard copies.  (Is that an oxymoron?)  More to follow.  For now, it’s goodnight and good writing.



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Discipline and the Newly-Published Writer

In my former life (pre-retirement), when I found the time to work on my Moochie Mockingbird stories, I’d just get behind the keyboard and “write.” I didn’t care much about characters or conflict or continuity, but I was outstanding at description and dialogue! Somehow, I did manage to have events in the proper order, but that may have been pure dumb luck. The stories weren’t very impressive.

Now I’m disciplined, albeit far from perfectly. I worry about antagonist/protagonist/plot. I follow an outline. I…whatever. I don’t flesh out my characters until the plot is finalized. I save my “color commentary” until I feel good about the story. I don’t worry about spelling or punctuation or embellishment until the very last…this is the most difficult!

My brain hurts. It doesn’t want to think this way. But I’m learning.

In order to succeed as a writer (even if marginally), I’m learning I have to work at it. But I’ve also had to learn to “tweet,” to connect on social networks, to promote myself, to format correctly…the list goes on.

Usually around suppertime every day, I drag my tired backside into the kitchen…where, thankfully, my husband is cooking. I look at him and say, “I can’t stuff another thing into my brain,” or some such thing. Then I eat quickly and return to the keyboard.

We’re getting ready to take a short three-day trip to see our kids. I debated whether I should take my laptop. Duh. I can’t stay away. Four hours in the car with nothing to do? Here are the new things I can do! Twitter, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn…and not just contributing. Reading, following, #linking, exploring groups…learning…another list goes on…

One of my children has promised me a crash course in tweeting this weekend. Another is doing a professional photograph of me. The third is my support…my cheerleader. And our one-year-old grandson is just gonna love me.  Now I know why I had children!

At the end of the weekend, I’ll be back in my little office. Doing whatever it is I do that makes my brain hurt. But I’m disciplined. I’m determined. This time I will succeed.

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Personal News; Setting Goals

Writing very nearly got in the way of my personal life today. My husband and I are celebrating our 41st wedding anniversary. And, while I did think far enough ahead to get a gift and a card, I hadn’t wrapped them yet.

He walked into my office a few minutes ago with a beautifully wrapped present and a wonderful card. I, on the other hand, gave him his present in the bag it came in. I feel badly about it, but he assured me that it was alright.  It has been, after all, 41 years!   Several moments later  he said, “Don’t you need to get back to your book?”   Understanding man!  However, the clatter of the keyboard in my office forced him to the guest room to take a nap!

So, now it’s back to the grind. I’m trying to come up with a reasonable number of words as a goal-per-day. Haven’t quite figured out what that is yet, but I will make it an attainable goal. Stayed tuned for updates on that one!

One more word from this one-book author: I can’t say enough good things about Amazon/Kindle’s publishing help desk! They’ve answered every question I’ve had so far, and some of them were just ignorant! Kudos to helpful people who answer their email politely and in a timely fashion! I’m impressed.

Back to the keyboard! More tomorrow.

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June 21st, 2011

Laynie King’s First Blog…ever!

One would think that, given my passion for writing, I would have had a blog long before this.  One would be incorrect.  I am hereby changing my
status!  Okay, that was the Prologue.  Now on to the important things.

I published my first book on Amazon/Kindle yesterday, June 20th, and I’ve already sold two copies.  (Okay, one was to my husband.)  Amazon has given me an
opportunity I’ve been dreaming of for years!   Self-publishing without a huge cash investment.  Hooray!

Here’s a little bit about me.

I’m a Texas mom and grandma, formerly of North Texas, now residing (retired) in an obscure corner of the Texas Hill Country.
I’m not a native Texan, but my husband and three children are!  That makes me Texan by default.  As our children were growing up, we took many
trips around the state, exploring and discovering…and frequently camping.  The kids loved being outdoors!

Several decades ago, I started writing stories about our vacation adventures, but didn’t want them to sound like reports on “What I Did on my Summer Vacation.”  So, I took an experience, or a situation, or an event or location, and fictionalized it with a mockingbird hero named Moochie.  Over the years, the stories evolved.  There are copies in a couple of school libraries, and I wish they’d pull them and throw them out.  They were trash!

I didn’t know how to write, but I believe I’ve learned.  No, I’m not going to tell you how!  Sorry.   I’m proud of this first story!  It has characters that I’ve grown to love, real animals  (and their real
characteristics), real Texas places, all in an adventure that I think will appeal to my target audience:  8 to 11-year old kids, male or female, who possess good reading skills.  A caveat on that last phrase…this book is also a great “read-to-me” book for younger children!  I’ve had first graders tell me it was wonderful.

On my next blog, you will find a sample of the first chapter of “Palo Duro Panic:  Moochie Mockingbird Tales”

Meantime, I’m on Twitter and Facebook as Laynie King.  But, please cut me a little slack!  I’m just learning to use Twitter!

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