Tuesday, December 2, 2014

StORytime Oregon - Reynolds School District

I had the honor of attending StORytimeOregon today. There were 240 Kindergartners entertained by 65 middle school readers. I did my part by stuffing goodie bags and handing out T-shirt. Farloft did his part by awarding each of the middle school readers a copy of his coloring book, including the link to his free audio book and a temporary tattoo. Thanks to Andrea Watson for thinking to invite me.

The State of Oregon has recently launched StORytime, a statewide literacy initiative designed to build awareness and shared responsibility for ensuring that every child in Oregon is a proficient reader by the third grade. StORytime shares easy ways that families can get children ready to read through books, stories, songs and play - every day, everywhere. As part of the initiative, the state is coordinating a series of launch events with select communities throughout Oregon who have been deeply involved in helping to shape the campaign, including the Reynolds School District.

In these pictures, the coloring books, a portion of the gathering in the gym during the initial presentation, the middle school readers receiving their instructions and the pairing up of readers and listeners. A wonderful event for all and well organized as well.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Reading Level Assessment Test

Greetings Effortless English Followers...

I have been posting #Dailybk suggestions on Twitter for you all, but I began to think it might be difficult for you to determine which level of reading material to look for, or purchase.

I hope this simple test will help you figure out which level you should be reading.

Preprimer = 2-4 yrs old
Primer = 4-5 yrs old
Grade 1 = 6 yrs old
Grade 2 = 7 yrs old
Grade 3 = 8 yrs old
Grade 4 = 9 yrs old
Grade 5 = 10 yrs old
Grade 6 = 11 yrs old
Grade 7 = 12 yrs old
Grade 8 = 13 yrs old
Grade 9 = 14 yrs old
Grade 10 = 15 yrs old
Grade 11 = 16 yrs old

Read the list of words below.
Take no longer than 5 seconds to read each word before moving on to the next word.
Indicate words you cannot read.
Keep reading until you miss 3 or more word in one list.

The first list you miss one word in is the level you can read independently in.
The first list you miss two words in is the level you can actually read in.
The first level you miss three words in is the level which is too difficult for you.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Dragon Muse - Farloft

Cherrie McKenzie of CoActive Dreams asked me where my dragon, Farloft, came from. 
In this 'spot' I explain my dragon muse.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Podcast with CoActive Dreams - Cherrie McKenzie


That is the header on Cherrie's website. CoActive Dreams a station with podcast interviews of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

I was please when Cherrie asked me to appear on her show. We met on Twitter and hit it off immediately. We were kindred spirits. I have always believed in visualization and the power of the mind. The same things Cherrie teaches.

Cherrie sent me a list of five questions she said we might, or might not, get through in the 20-25 minute interview she would conduct from which to edit the 18 minute podcast. We made it through all the questions and then the real conversation started. We chatted away for another hour and a half. It was like catching up with an old friend.

I should stop being amazed at the wonderful people I meet on Twitter, but I just can't. It is like the universe has opened a channel and technology has allowed us all to reach out and touch those we lost track of from past lives.

I hope you enjoy the show.
Fun, Fantasy and Farloft

Unexpected Visitations

I tweet perhaps 3-4 hours a day. In a little over a year I have acquired over 10,000 followers, many of whom I consider friends. It is amazing to me how attached and involved one can become with other folks on Twitter. 

You meet someone, you share something, you connect. You laugh a lot, you cry a little, soon you are exchanging emails and Skyping someone in a country half-way round the world.

It is a rare and delightful pleasure when you can actually meet one of those fellow internet friends in person. In May, I had the pleasure of meeting Cheri Matthynssens in Astoria for the day. 

This past Labor Day weekend I was delighted when I heard Charlotte Ashlock was going to be in town. I met Charlotte online and have been pleased to share numerous enlightening conversations with her over the past year or so. She is a thoughtful young woman who never ceases to amaze me with the depth of her intellect. 

I asked her to share tea with me in the Moroccan Room and she accepted. We had a delightful visit. When I found out it was her first trip to Oregon I asked her if she would like to take a drive up The Gorge. She said yes and we were off. 

I hope she will consider visiting again sometime for a bit longer, so I can play tour guide and show her some more of the lovely state I live in and call home.

Thoughts of Being Green - Author Unknown

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right - our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same battles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. 

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220-volts - wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers or popcorn to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and replaced the razor blades instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July Update

Well, the month of June just slipped through my fingers. Do you feel the same way? I spent a lot of time in the garden.

I cleaned up and spiffed up the Moroccan Room so I could do a little entertaining in those lazy days of summer when it is too hot to do anything in the garden beyond 10:00 am.

Click on the link below to take the monthly tours of the garden, the Moroccan Room, or if you just want to sit and listen, the audio book of "James & the Dragon" is there too.

Our Quiet Corner - Garden & Moroccan Room Tours

I did a lot of writing, editing and formatting too! I hope to have all The Farloft Chronicles in paperback by the 1st of August. 1-3 are up already. The Farloft Chronicles in Paperback 4 and 5 coming soon. If you haven't read the Chronicles yet, perhaps now is the time. If you have read them, I must tell you I am very excited about the way they look in print.

Yogoloth got his first two and sent me this cute picture with his dragon and gryphon 'softies.'


As soon as The Farloft Chronicles are all in paper, I will have a surprise for all of you. Farloft has been dictating his latest Chronicles #6 to me and it will be out sometime in late August or early September. Sarah is working on another great cover portrait for it. It will be the story of how we met, way-back-when.

Then, I will be back to writing about our friend Cody, the shape-shifter in The Realms. Shifting in The Realms He still has a lot of adventures to tell us about. Not least of which is the realization that Simone might be in love with someone else. Life can reach out and bite a wolf, no matter how strong he is.

The Society of Enlightened Dragonologist site will be up and running August the 1st. Until then, here is the blog site with a few little teasers to whet you appetite. The Society of Enlightened Dragonologists

Lot of fun things going on. I hope you will drop in and visit sometime this summer. Have a glass of iced tea in the Moroccan Room and catch up.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

- Astoria Author's Rendezvous - May 2014

I just spent two days in Astoria at the Rose River Inn B&B. I went there in order to meet with Cheri M. of @balanceguide on Twitter. She is an author of two wonderful adult fantasy adventures and several children's books.

We wanted to get together to talk Dragonology since both of us have resident dragons. It was a delightful chat of over six hours while we sat on the sun porch of my room and had high tea. (I hope we did not set off any seismic trimmers - @DS_Books gave the USGS prior warning of our meeting and also saw that all donkeys in the area were stabled with appropriate ear muffs.)

I took everything to make the tea special (Cheri likes jewel tones) so it was a Moroccan tea with cast iron teapot, gold flatware and pottery plates. Boy, was that suitcase heavy to lung up the stairs to the second floor. Lol

Pictures below are of the tea 'fixing,' the B&B, the sun porch (I moved the table in the corner to the front of the couch for the tea), some of the lovely flowers (look for more on Twitter) and a gift to Cheri from Farloft of a mug from his Hoard .

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Review from a Friend of Shifting in The Realms, my latest paranormal novella.

Marsha tagged you in a post.

Marsha wrote: "Theresa Snyder, Amazon won't let me post a review of this book by my author friend, so I'm posting it here. I am not a fan of the sci-fi/fantasty genre, so. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy her story in this series! I found the writing engaging, the characters enjoyable and believable. The pace was good. Now I want to read stories about Cody! So I wanted to say 'well done', and I'd give this 4 stars, if Amazon would let me. "

Shifting in The Realms - The Twin Cities Series

Monday, May 12, 2014

"My Writing Process" Blog Tour

Greetings Everyone,

I was actually tagged for a blog tour on “My Writing Process” by two of my writing buddies. No one said you couldn’t help out two friends at once. So here goes.

D. Wilder tagged me first. Dragon (as we lovingly refer to him) is an independent fantasy author who writes serialized dragon sagas for adults. His ability to crawl into a dragon’s skin, and unique perspective, makes his writing totally enthralling. I have never met a writer that can handle detail so well without slowing down his story.

I was lucky enough to read Wilds (in progress) dragon tale, “Black Collar” when it was only available to a limited audience. I was so consumed by the story I nagged him until he placed it on a blog for all to see. I am so pleased he is sharing his marvelous work with the public. I know at this point he would *pull close with a wing and huggle* embarrassed by the praise, but you really should read it. You can find his work here: The Black Collar Blog  You can also read his contribution to the “My Writing Process” blog tour here:  thewilderland.blog  

Bill Cameron tagged me second. In fact, I think Bill actually tagged me first, but his email was buried below Dragon’s so I didn’t get to him until later. Bill has been my friend since I joined the writing group he and some friends put together. From the start he was something special. He is traditionally published as well as having eBooks available. He is very active in the mystery writer’s market and he gives really great advice. I know he will smile at that, but he does. He is the one who convinced me to self-publish and even helped me by formatting all twelve of my books. In my opinion he is not only a mentor and writer, he is just a great guy. Check out his blog and the links to all his work here: Bill Cameron

So on with my part of this project…

What am I working on?

What would we indie authors be without our mutual indie author friends? We are all a community and reach out trying to give each other that final ‘leg up’ over the wall into the flowering garden of sales and fame.

This past Christmas I was approached by one of my author friends to work on a project that might last for years, perhaps even our entire writing careers. He had a plan to get five authors together and write crossover novels placed in the same setting with some mutual characters used by all five authors. Based on the popularity of the Star Trek series of books, he thought this might work to help us topple over that wall I spoke of earlier.

Through numerous emails, I cannot tell you how many, we developed the setting known as The Realms. The Realms is a world hidden from most humans where all the things we humans think are paranormal, mythological or fanciful actually live. Humans exist in this world, but only as servants or children born to servants. The area is accessed through portals from our world, only known to those who live there. The Realms is alive and morphs based on the ruler at the time. Currently, the ruler is a ruthless vampire names Raven, so all things within The Realms are gothic in nature, but that will change as the rulers are over thrown along with their influence over The Realms.

I am currently working on the second novella as my contribution to this project. The point of view is from my main character, Cody, a shape shifter who can appear either human or wolf. In the first novel he meets his true love (Simone) only to have her adore him as a wolf, but dismiss him as a human. She has no idea the two are one-in-the-same.

In the current volume I am working on Cody has nuzzled his way into Simone’s affections in his wolf persona only to find she is in love with another. His life is becoming very complicated as he tries at first to keep them apart, but then relents in order to see the love of his life happy even if it is at great cost to him.

The story will be complicated by the Fire Demon Simone keeps locked in the basement at night, the Retrievers who are after Cody for skipping out of the mid-lands between Heaven and Hell, and a trip back to our human world that will send everyone running like a pack of wolves after an injured deer.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I believe what sets my work apart from other paranormal or urban fantasy is I always seem to see the lighter side. There is always humor in my books. I would like to think, though I know this is a bit presumptuous, that my writing style is similar to Josh Whedon’s. Or since I am older, perhaps his writing is similar to mine. *snickers behind hand*  All my books are very character driven and with that the characters are well rounded with humor as well as the driving forces of the plot.

Why do I write what I do?

I currently write in four genres, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal and Memoirs. I write what moves me and interests me. I love the freedom of writing imagined settings and characters. I love my characters, my intelligent and caring dragon, Farloft, my adventurous and dedicated spacemen, Jake and Arr, and my troubled shape shifter, Cody.

I thrill in the development/descriptive process of working out a new setting or characters. I enjoy flexing my ‘imagination’ muscles to see where they take me.

How does your writing process work?

Because I hold down a full-time job and am caregiver to my elderly father who lives with me, my time is limited. I write at any given opportunity. I keep a tablet by my bedside and have been known to scribble ideas or phases on it at odd hours of the night and early morning. (The cat has gotten so she sleeps through the disruption of lights on and off at all hours.)

I do my best writing in the morning, so I often rise early and put in a couple of hours on the keyboard before work. I also write during lunch and breaks at work. This often does not have the finished flow I need, but it gets the ideas down when they are fresh.

My favorite way to write is what I can sometimes find on a lazy Saturday or Sunday. I rise early, get my cup of tea made, put on some light instrumental music, and sit down to a day of writing. I honestly can forget about eating or even think to finish my tea before it is stone cold. It is not until dad ambles over to my side of the house to ask if we are going to have lunch or dinner that I will come up for air.

I am also a multi project writer. I always have a story running on my blog and have for the past fifteen years. That story is posted to every Wednesday and Saturday. Currently, I have the next scifi drafted and waiting for final editing and the next fantasy within probably five to ten chapters of completion in first draft form. There are always projects to fill my time. I live, therefore I write. *grins*

 Who’s UP NEXT?

Drew Avera – The Founder and one of by writing buddies in paranormal, The Twin Cities Series, husband, father, aviation electrician in the navy, and writer of books. I know if I hang around him long enough he will manager to pull us all up by our bootstraps into fame and fortune. He writes scifi, fantasy, urban fantasy, and thrillers. His Blog: Drew Avera His work: Drew Avera-Amazon

Brian Larson – Brian is from my area of the world, the Pacific NW. He was given the title "bookworm" in school because he always had his nose in a book. Brian has not let the fact that he suffers from Dyslexia stop his dreams of becoming a writer. In July 2012, he was accepted by a publisher within three days and is now self-publishing his science fiction books. His work: Brian-K.-Larson His blog: Secret of the Crystal

James Warren McAllister - James is a Registered Respiratory Therapist living in Central New York State. His first novel, THE BEST LAID PLANS, was selected on February 1, 2014 as a Runner-Up in the MARSocial Author of the Year Competition, the largest competition of its type ever held on the internet.
I had the honor of beta reading his novel “The Page,” a wonderfully stylized medieval story. His work and blog on this subject can be found here: Fortiter Publishing

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My First Year as a Published Author

A year ago on May 1, 2013 I started my life as an Indie Published Author. I say my life because it has been an all consuming project for the last twelve months.

My goal last year was to post all twelve of my completed books to the Kindle store on Amazon. I accomplished that plus one more, thirteen in all. But, I also accomplished so much and met so many wonderful folks along the way.

No one gives you a blueprint of how to become a successful indie author. Like child rearing, it does not come with a manual. Everything is trial and error. What works for one author may not work for another.

I’d like to detail my journey thus far. Not necessarily just for you, but also for my records so I do not forget all the delightful folks who have assisted me on my journey thus far. This will just be a ‘mind dump’ and not really in the order things happened or in their importance. But really, each one is important - each step is helping me build my bridge closer to the readers I hope are awaiting my stories.

Twitter connections – Right after I posted the first book, The Helavite War, on Kindle, my students suggested I get on Twitter and work actively to market the books. Sarah and Julia (friends, employees and former students) stepped in and made up a lovely profile that would ‘brand’ me as the author, reader, gardener and dreamer that I am. I found twitter to be my ‘cup of tea.’ I really enjoy chatting and twitter is the place for that. I began to pick up followers quickly and made a slew of friends.

I found there were a folks who enjoyed flower and animal photos. I have a good sized garden and started to tweet photos of flowers. 

There are "Dragon Folks" galore on twitter and one little kitten that is precious. We tweet and hug and I scratch ears on a regular basis. So often in fact that one of the dragons had a picture of me drawn scratching his ear.

There are very supportive women and men that will assist you in achieving your claim to fame. I have been honored and privileged to have been adopted by these folks and propelled up the twitter chain. You all know who you are and I send huggles to you all.

Mentors & Helpers – I have met so many helpful and supportive people on Twitter. Carla, in Italy, gave me my first opportunity to write an author article about character development and from that article I met one of my most devout and supportive fans, Max. We will come to that story a little later, but for now I will tell you one of the biggest thrills of my life was the day Max contacted me on Facebook to say he was laying in bed reading my scifi book. What a rush! A total stranger reading my scifi book in Italy. Luckily, I can say he is a stranger no longer.

Richard gave me my first, behind the scenes, instructions on how to use twitter properly and not be obtuse or overwhelming.

Mike directed me to his book on twitter etiquette and how to build an audience of readers. He gave me pointers on how to look my best on Amazon.

David went out of his way to assist me with marketing pieces and was the one who prompted Farloft’s “Follow Farloft” pin contest. Farloft is my dragon for those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting him either through his books or on Twitter. He loves Twitter almost as much as I do and spends the last Friday of every month tweeting on my account.

There have been many, many more helpful folks, but these were just a few I spoke with personally and who guided me toward the right path. I cannot thank all the wonderful folks who retweet me and promo me on their own, there are just too many, but you know who you are and you know I appreciate each and every one of you more than I can say.

Retweeting and Followers – What can you do to show your appreciation to all your lovely Retweeters? I have tried many things. 

I kept a spreadsheet for a time and made sure that I reciprocated every retweet. But I wondered after a time if that was really getting all of us anywhere. The stats went as follows: first week I received 178 retweets, 2nd week = 363, 3rd week = 580, 4th week =720, yet my sales did not increase or even change. I made a point of thanking each retweeter in person. I sent pictures and cute images, but the whole idea for all of us was to get more readers. At one point I put all my retweeters into an “award certificate” and posted it on my website. I had people think it was an app and wanted it, so I know there are others who want to find a way to reciprocate. I built it myself in Powerpoint. The result of all this retweeting was loss of time writing and no visible results for any of us that I could see. So I have taken to a new strategy and will let you know if it works.

We all need more reading followers, so I am doing shout outs (#SO) for all my retweeters and then thanking them in some general retweets at the end of the day. This is something George and Richard do and they think it works. I can only try and see. I have also started to mix retweeters with new followers, so my followers hopefully meet new folks too.

Beta reads – When I first started on Twitter I was amazed at how many indie authors there were. There is a huge community, a nation of indie authors. I thought, ‘what do they need? How can I find a place among them?’ The indie author can sell more books if they are reviewed than if they are not. I am told that if a reader is surfing for a read they go to the genre first, the cover image second, the description third, and the reviews fourth when choosing a book. Also, there are twitter sites that will help you promote your books for free, provided you have ten to twenty-five, 4-5 Star reviews. They will not help unless you meet this criteria. So I chose to read and review. I did my best to be an honest reviewer. I was an actor at one point in a last life and I think constructive criticism is permissible and in some cases I did do that. The process brought me into contact with numerous folks I would have missed had I not been on Twitter. The idea that an indie book is inferior in any way is insane. I read many that were superior to paperbacks I had read in the past.

Reviews – Reviews are what authors crave. We indie authors do not have a publisher to tell you how great our current book is and most of us do not want to hit you over the head with the “please read me” tweets. It is so wonderful when someone reviews you and you can quote them as saying you are well written, clever, prolific, a multi-genre genius, whatever. We live for reviews and always are thankful to those who give them, which is why in the back of each book there is a call for a few words and a sprinkle of stars on any social, media or platform site.

Interviews – Interviews are the next best thing to reviews in my opinion. I get to show some of my human side and get to talk about my books. Sometimes I even take Farloft along with me and he is a great asset as long as he doesn’t break something or set off the smoke alarms. I have done blog interviews and radio interviews and even a YouTube appearance. They are all good for tweeting and letting folks know more about you as a person and an author. Besides, they are just fun to do.

Bio and Trailers – A couple of months ago a fellow author and follower decided to change direction in his career. He wanted to not only write, but to try doing book trailers, bios and voice-over work. He put his heart and soul into it. The results are on my Author Page on Amazon, my Blog and my YouTube channel. He did a fine job and I am honored to have been one of the ones he chose to be his first. I will list his twitter handle here for your reference. Check him out and his work. @Hamburger_Fry

Radio interview – I work with a non-profit called VoiceCathers. They support women artist and authors in the Portland/Vancouver area. I was lucky enough to be chosen for a radio interview based on my association with them. It is a channel that caters to authors, readers, publishers and librarians. It has not been posted on the internet yet, but it was a fun experience and I got to meet two other local authors in the process. The opportunity to get your name and your books out there to the public eye is greatly appreciated by all indie authors.

Blog following and Newsletter – I have had a blog for years. I love my blog and the folks that support it by reading. 

It is a story blog. I alternate between posting a Scifi story and a fantasy. I am pleased to say that every month or so it picks up one thousand new hits. It is followed by many internationally. I recently put an email capture on it for a newsletter. I have not printed one yet, but when I finish posting my work on Smashwords, I will make a general announcement of their availability on multiple platforms using this tool. As I have heard other authors say, ‘I wish I had put it on sooner.’ I missed the first ten thousand readers.

Profiles and Author sites – I did not know, until a reader told me, that my author page on Amazon Central did not hook up to the Author page on Amazon Central in the UK. These things are the types of things you lose out on if you are a newbie like me. I went a half year thinking I had a profile on Amazon everywhere. Silly me… I have put my profile and book links on other Author promoting sites like iAuthor, Wattpad, and Bubblish in case someone is just surfing the site and bumps into me, but I still focus my push to my own page on the internet, because everything is there.

QR codes and Advertising fliers – Daniel is my techie friend and so on top of new and cutting edge technology. He created a QR code for the first Farloft Chronicle audio book. He is the one who set up my download on the site, my YouTube garden videos and built my server for my twitter program. I couldn’t have made it without his talents.

Out of the blue David flew in. A fellow author and follower he created some lovely marketing pieces for me which I have used and expanded on of this last year. He and I have brainstormed and confided in each other our hopes and dreams as indie authors. We will succeed. I am sure of it.

I made up flyers that are a little larger than a business card. They state where to find my Free Audio Book. Since it in on my website, this also gets the curious reader to my site and exposes them to the other things I write. I like this better than a business card, because (1) I am giving something away, the audio book (2) it does not have my personal info on it (3) I can make it colorful by putting the cover of the book on it and (4) I can literally leave them anywhere. I have been known to place them in movie theatre bathrooms, on retail counters and on tables in food courts.

Cover redesign – The Farloft Chronicles were originally posted with a cover design I did in Publisher. I am not a graphic designer and you could certainly tell it. It was a ‘quick fix at the time,’ just something to get them posted. In October 2013, Sarah, that dear friend I spoke of earlier who helped to fix up my twitter profile, took up the challenge of creating a visual of Farloft, James, Clearair, Thrax and Anna. Now they all have a face. I cannot thank her enough for her hard work. I am sure the covers make the books far more appealing on Amazon’s Kindle shelves.

Revamp of website – Sarah and Julia stepped in again late last summer and revamped my blog. It is where I direct all my followers and tweets for any information, whether social or book links. They gave it a great facelift and a lovely new banner. Sarah tells me I need another rework soon since I am now writing in four genres and have a host of new links. I am anxious to see what she comes up with.

Follow Farloft Fridays – Where did this insanity start? I get up at 2:00 am so Farloft, my dragon, can tweet to the folks who follow him in the UK. Farloft (I) continues to tweet through the morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening as the globe rotates. He manages to get to all his followers around the world. It makes for a very long day, but also very satisfying and it is all due to a blogger in Singapore named Damyanti. Sometime mid-year she posted a review of Farloft’s First Chronicle, James & the Dragon. People responded and she suggested I respond to comments on her blog. Well, it was Farloft’s Chronicle, so I had him respond. Damyanti and her readers loved it. She tweeted and said she was going to miss Farloft when she posted the next review and she thought he should have a twitter account of his own. My, my, my…What she started. I spent two days trying to calm followers down and dissuade them from encouraging Farloft to have a twitter account, Facebook page, blog etc.

When all was said and done, Farloft got his headset and he tweets the last Friday of every month on my account. He has a blog where he writes the occasional story from his vast selection of memories of his life and times. After all, he is a thousand years old. He has a lot he can recall.

He posts his scrapbook pages which I build from the photos he is sent of his Farloft pins/buttons/badges.

The pins were originally meant as a ‘thank you’ to the folks who interacted with Farloft the most on his Follow Farloft Friday’s. He and I were really surprised when they started showing up like ‘The Traveling Gnome’ on twitter. David is the one who started this craziness with ‘Biker Bears who Follow Farloft’ and ‘Water Dragons who Follow Farloft.’ The pins/badges have been to Las Vegas, the UK, Malta and Greece. They have flown high on planes and been in local gardens. They have shown up among gryphon, dragons and sheep. And they are still traveling. In January of this year, Farloft launched a contest wherein he gives away a set of his Chronicles to one of his followers posting the button/pin each month. We have seen some fun photos and the buttons are now available in his Fanwear store ‘Farloft’s Hoard’ on Zazzle.

Music – I adore music and could not live without it. Should our world as we know it come to an end, music is the thing I would miss the most – being able to turn on the radio, phonograph, MP3 player, iPad or smartphone in order to listen to music. Words can still be spoken, but if we lost all the instruments, musicians and technology to produce it I would wither and die. I have found some great musicians on twitter and have purchased music from as many as I could afford. They, like the authors, are all trying to get their music heard and I want to help as much as possible. Richard and Michelle are high on my list of folks I would like to see succeed in my lifetime and since they are much younger, I think I just might.

Gifts Given – If I give a gift of one followers work to another follower, both benefit. My first gift was a photo from a photographer follower to a musician follower that I admired. It hangs above his desk. I gave a certificate for pizza to a follower who was kind enough to edit my tweets. It was a joke and we have been friends since. Of course, I have sent out the pins/buttons I told you about which continue to plague twitter. I have given music from one follower to another, and Farloft has given out books by the score. I have even given ‘Dazzlers’ from Farloft’s personal hoard, sparkly chains of beads to be worn in the hair, to two or three folks. And I have sent B-Day cards and emails. It is one of my favorite things to do – giving.

Gifts Received – My follows have become friends. They are so very kind. I have received tea, marmalade, and candy from the UK and New York, a lovely needlepoint of a pink dragon which hangs in my bedroom from Idaho, marketing material from Britain and a t-shirt from Alaska. I am still marveling at the wonderful people I meet on twitter.

Twin Cities project – Drew approached me around Christmas of this past year. He wanted to get four or five authors together to write a series of books set in the same location with the same set of rules much like the multiple authors write in the Star Trek series. Five of us bought into his idea. It is called the Twin Cities Series and we chose it to be a setting of the imagination. The Realms is the place where creatures live which humans think are paranormal, mythological, or fanciful. It was my first dive into paranormal and I love it. The series is a commitment for all of us. We look at it as something that can evolve and change with us as we grow as writers.

Audio experience – After I posted all my books on Amazon I consulted with other authors as to how to proceed. Should I put some in paperback form? Should I do audio books? Should I just sit tight and continue to market and promote the books as is. I was encouraged by several to put some of the books in audio form. It was a general agreement that they were too short to put in paperback form and still recoup the funds. I was lucky enough to have a connection at that time with a friend who had a relative that did voice over work. He had never done anything as long as my sixty-three page book, but he was willing to try. It came off nicely and as of this writing has had over two hundred downloads. It has not gone viral, but I am happy with the results. I am having another put into audio and will post it in May sometime.

Effortless English experience – Earlier I was talking about my friend Max. He is a reader, friend and has also become one of my biggest promoters. He reads my work to improve his English and because it is middle-school and YA it is ideal for that purpose. He belongs to a group called the Effortless English Club. They are all English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) students who follow A.J. Hoge, the founder of the club. He teaches how to learn English by reading authentic English material (meaning books written originally for English speaking children).

Max got me involved with his group on Facebook and then introduced me to AJ himself. We hit it off well and I started suggesting a #Dailybk for his readers on twitter. Last Sunday AJ invited me to appear virtually on his show broadcast over the internet from San Francisco. I jumped in via Goggle+ Hangout and we had a lovely chat about reading and writing. He and his members are very inspiring and dedicated.

Facebook – one page, two page, one page – Facebook has never been my friend. I don’t like to play games and I get tired of hearing about people’s children. However, I was told by one author who actually lives off his work that you should have a presence on Facebook, that Twitter is like a cocktail party with new aquantances, but Facebook is like asking a friend over for dinner. Your readers want to get to know you. They can do that a lot better without the limitation of 140 characters of twitter.

At first I thought there was an advantage to having an author page on Facebook, but after a while I just realized that it was more work. I don’t get the whole ‘Like’ thing. What I want is someone to come and follow, hang out with me, get to know me and my work and then maybe, just maybe become a reader. So though there was an author page at one time, there is no longer. Now it is just me, myself and I. I post what interests me and I like and share the same.

Farloft’s Hoard – Farloft’s fanwear site started from an idea I had to thank his followers on Follow Farloft Friday. I thought I would send them a shirt or a cap. Sarah, my graphic guru, whipped out a great logo and we printed some test shirts and a mug. Then I found out how much it cost to mail something to the UK or Singapore. A pin/button was all I could afford, so the pins, which I mentioned earlier, went out. The shirts, sweatshirts, caps, mugs, and pins went up for sale in his store for those who are interested. They are print-on-demand so the company that makes them gets the lion’s share of the profit, but Farloft gets the joy of knowing folks are walking around wearing his logo. He gets a delight out of that.

YouTube and the garden – I have a 1,100 square foot garden. It has basically five rooms, Shade Garden under the willow, Mosaic Garden, in front of the Moroccan room, Pond & Daylily Garden, Vegetable Raised Beds and Orchard Garden, and the East Garden. From the first days of twitter, I tweeted pictures from my garden. A month or so ago Charlotte suggested I make a video so they all could see it and get the full picture. From that suggestion I was prompted to record my very first video. Folks have been so kind and it has been received so well, that I intend to upload one a month to YouTube for anyone who chooses to watch how ‘my garden grows.’ A little something that gives you a glimpse into my personal life. I love Our Quiet Corner.

Amazon vs. Smashwords – Originally I was advised to post my books on Amazon by a fellow author  and that is what I did, but I have found in the last year that many of my foreign readers do not have access to Amazon. I have spoken with other authors and they suggested posting with Smashwords, the largest ebook distributor in the world. In March I posted the first book in The Farloft Chronicles there. It makes the book accessible on all platforms from Nook to Kobo, from iApple to ePub. Formatting for Smashwords was beyond my capabilities, but it was not beyond eBook Launch, one of many companies Smashwords suggests for help. They are attentive, quick and reasonably priced.

Writing & Buying – During all this there were two things that went on almost non-stop, writing and buying.
I don’t think an author can sit around and just rake in the cash. You need to continue to produce if you want to keep your readers coming back. Not only did I produce another book, but I edited and published the twelve original books in my collection. There is also all the tweeting, blogging, emailing, texting, interviewing etc, etc, etc.

Buying was the fun part. I started my reading campaign by reading ebooks on my smartphone. I remember tweeting Lee during Memorial Day that it was difficult reading on your phone when you had bar-be-cue all over your fingers from the ribs you were eating. But hey, I couldn’t put his ebook down. I read both of his that weekend.

Daniel was of invaluable assistance in all my purchases and installation of technical equipment. Upgrading to an iPad was a nice change. We chose it because I wanted something I could read and do social media on that was lighter than my six year old laptop.

There was the camera and headphones to buy for the online interviews and appearances. The Tweet Adder program was a handy purchase and the computer to be used as a server so that program could run 24/7.
Payment for the graphics for all twelve books and the logo for Farloft’s Hoard had to be made.

My wallet was always open, my cards at the ready. What is that old saying? It takes money to make money. Well, I was in the hole at the end of this first year. We will see how the next year goes.

Future Goals – What are my plans for this, my second year, as a published author? I intend to post all the books currently one Amazon to Smashwords as well. I want to make my work as widely available as possible. Some of the Effortless English folks do not have access to Amazon in their countries. I want to be able to reach them.

I have a plan to do an interview a month on either a blog, radio, website etc. I need to keep trying to get the word out about the books
I will continue to write. I have the next scifi in the Star Traveler Series in rough draft and the next Farloft Chronicle almost finished. I am always writing a story on the blog. The current one is a Farloft memory from his earlier years. I will move it to his blog and tweet about it when I have completed it. And I want to get back to the Twin Cities project to carry on with Cody’s story and see where that takes us.

I have found there are always more things to write and never enough hours in the day to do it all.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Effortless English Show - April 27, 2014

I was so pleased to be invited to appear on the Effortless English Show. A.J. Hoge is the Founder of the System and the Director of Effortless English LLC. 

We had an opportunity to talk about reading and writing with regard to his members, who are English as a Second Language (ESL) students. I am inspired and impressed with their dedication to learning English by reading authentic English material as their main source of education.

Here is the YouTube recording of the program for your review and enjoyment.

The Effortless English Show - Reading & Writing English

Saturday, April 26, 2014

New Biographical Video

My dear friend, John Hale (also known as Hamburger Fry to his readers) has decided to take on a new venture. He has worked long hard hours to put together a studio so he can offer voice-over work and book trailers to his fellow authors.

I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the first. 
I must say I am very pleased with his work. 
Have a listen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Quiet Corner - Our Garden, April 2014

I have had several folks on twitter ask me to video my garden. I must confess this is my first stab at making a video (interesting what you can do with an iPad) so, please forgive that it is in portrait instead of landscape and I say pretty at least a dozen times.

This one is long because I made it as if you were at my side for a 'first time' garden tour.

I intend to film updates as the garden grows over the spring, summer and fall. Since you will be familiar with the garden by then, they will be shorter videos, made up of highlights of what is blooming at the time.

Next stop the wisteria and the columbine bed in bloom.
Enjoy Spring!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Effortless English - Online Conference #2

I am pleased to say I am getting to know more of the inspirational and dedicated members of the Effortless English Group. We had such fun in our last conference that Max and Noam arranged for another online conference this past Saturday.

There were some very thought provoking questions and I must admit one question that got the better of me, it moved me so. Mariyn, from Columbia, asked me if I had any secrets on how to manage live as a business woman, mother, writer etc.

If you are interested in getting to know these amazing folks better, please have a listen to out most recent recording.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Twin Cities Series

During Christmas vacation this past year Drew Avera contracted me and asked if I would like to work on a writing project with him. It sounded intriguing. He wanted to create a series much like the Star Trek books with one setting in which several authors would write. There would be some crossover characters.

He picked up three more authors Thomas Manning, JB Cameron and Simone Beaudelaire by the end of December. We all put our heads together and created The Twin Cities Series where our characters will reside in The Realms.

The people of Minnesota believe the twin cities to be Minneapolis and St. Paul, but what they don’t realize is the name actually refers to a parallel dimension known as The Realms, where creatures of myth roam freely.

Humans stand only a dimensional barrier away from the most terrifying and horrible monsters imaginable, but there are a select few who answer the cries for help, who guard the world of mankind and keep it safe from harm.

The Realms can be a place of great danger, as well as great beauty, where love and loss can be sudden and significant, but make no mistake…in this world, humanity is just another word for powerless.

Why not check out the series? There are currently four novellas available with the promise of many more to come.

Shifting in The Realms by Theresa Snyder http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I5AST5U    
Mr. Grimm by Drew Avera http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HWI0990
The Raven by Drew Avera http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I214OAQ
His Cross to Bear by Simone Beaudelaire http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I6I74W0

Follow the series developments and meet the authors on The Twin Cities Series Blog:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Effortless English - The Mother Tongue

The Mother Tongue

It amazes me that you can travel almost anywhere today and find English spoken to a greater or lesser degree. 

English has become the Mother Tongue. I use that term because it was recently used by a young Italian gentleman I spoke with on Skype. He said it was wonderful to chat with someone who spoke the Mother Tongue, meaning a native English speaking person.

I met Max on Facebook. He is a fan of my books on Kindle. I remember him messaging me when I posted my first book in May last year. He said he was in bed, reading my book. It thrilled me to imagine him laying in bed, in Italy – half way round the world, reading my science fiction. It amazed me even more when I found out much later, that he was using my books to teach himself English.

Max belongs to a group on Facebook called Effortless English. They follow the teachings of a man named AJ Hoge, on YouTube, who instructs them to throw away their textbooks (no one talks like that) and read ‘authentic’ English material. By authentic, he means what an English speaking child would read. He believes you must learn English as a child would and you must have something that interests you instead of routine memorization.

Max has been reading English for 5-6 years. So, he is up to the reading level of about a middle-school child. He plowed through my science fiction books which I wrote with YA in mind. They are character driven and don’t contain any techno babble. When he finished those six, he asked me about my fantasy books. I told him they were for 9-13 year old. He loved them. It improved his English and the stories were about dragons which he enjoyed. I have English speaking adult followers on Twitter who enjoy them too.

After he finished the fantasy series, I sent him my latest paranormal which is a YA book with a more adult theme. He loved it.

It was at this point he told me about the Effortless English group he belonged to and how he would like me to meet them in a conference call. He thought it would be beneficial for both me and the group. I might receive more sales. They would learn of an author who wrote books an adult learning English could enjoy. They would also get a chance to converse with someone who spoke the Mother Tongue.

I recently put the first of the fantasy books in an audio form and was giving that away free. I suggested he have a listen and perhaps his group’s members could listen to the free audio while reading along with the eBook, available on Kindle for 99 cents. (An inexpensive enough textbook.) That way they could hear the correct way to pronounce the words as well as see them in written form.

Max put me in touch with Noam, on of the group leaders. He sent me the link to their group. He has an audio introduction on it. When I spoke with him via Skype, I complimented him on his current English. I told him it was better than the recording he sent me. He informed me the recording was done a year ago. It is phenomenal the progress he has made in a year just by reading.

Sunday after a month of talking and publicizing the conference call, we all got on for what we thought would be an hour conference. We talked for two and a half hours. Their questions were exciting and thoughtful. Some of them dream of becoming writers.

Prior to being published I had no idea how foreigners learned our language. I think if someone would have asked me to speculate, I would have said, ‘school, television or the internet.’ I had no idea the adults were learning this way and making a success of it!

These folks inspire me. They excite me. Italian, Israeli, Chinese, Maltese, Japanese, they all want to learn our language. I admire these dedicated people. If my books and I can help them learn to read and speak English then I can say I have accomplished a lot with my life. What could be a greater legacy to leave behind than assisting people of different nationalities to communicate in the same language.

Here is the link to the recording of our online conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDZzDPxH6do

Here is the main website for AJ Hoge's Effortless English Program: http://effortlessenglishclub.com/

Here is their group on Facebook if you would like to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EffortlessEnglishGroup/