Do you know if your data has been compromised?

Learn immediately if your data has been compromised

This is a good site to bookmark and occasionally visit to see if your account information has been made vulnerable due to a security breach. It checks major sites as well as social media. It offers specific next steps, and it’s quick and easy to use.

When I checked, it reminded me about the LinkedIn breach, so I changed my password. Everything else was clear.

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Indie Author Fringe June 2017

Save the date, June 3, for Indie Author Fringe June 2017! It’s presented by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and appropriate for writers of all levels, novice to established.

I always enjoy virtually attending the free Indie Author Fringe live events, and I learn new things every time. The fun starts next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. New York City time and continues for 24 hours. Sessions will be recorded so you can view any live presentations you miss at at later time. Some presenters off free giveaways.

Most of the sessions this time around will be on marketing your work and your brand.

Where did Piggly Wiggly come from?

Growing up in New Jersey, I never heard of the Piggly Wiggly ® until I sailed into Beaufort North Carolina. Even then, I thought the dockmaster was kidding when he told me about it. He said they had pig parts you never thought of eating.

He was right. Corned pig tails? Really? Not in my kitchen!

Where did the Piggly Wiggly ®, a.k.a. “The Pig”, come from? I assumed it was a southern thing. Well, yes, and no. The company started in the south, but its stores are now found out west in Texas and Oklahoma and up north in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Clarence Saunders, founder of the store chain, hailed from Tennessee, but he got the idea for a self-service store while working for a wholesale grocery firm in Omaha Nebraska. He returned to Tennessee and opened the first self-serve grocery store in the country there in 1916.

Credited with many innovative ideas, Saunders became a pioneer in the supermarket business. The chain eventually grew to over 2,000 stores. At one time, they sold stock and were traded on the NY Stock Exchange. Not bad for a wiggly pig.

Thinking a cute name enticed customers, Hinky Dinky supermarkets (I’m not kidding!) tried unsuccessfully to compete with The Pig in Omaha in the 1920s. The Pig marches on, but The last Hinky Dinky in Omaha closed in 2,000. Major renovations are planned for that building in 2017.

These things are just an example of the things a writer learns when she falls down the research rabbit hole. I hope you enjoy them.

Have you ever been in a Piggly Wiggly ® or Hinky Dinky?

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How to be a Writer

Today, I reviewed again this list of 10 tips on how to be a writer. The two that strike home for me are #6 and #7.

#6 is time. I don’t make enough time for writing. I get too easily distracted. Sometimes I have a legitimate excuse, like this weekend when my 14-year-old dog had a stroke. I am doing better at cutting back on doing things “about writing” instead of writing.

After reading a certain number of articles and books on plotting and characterization, you won’t find magic in the next one. It’s time to just write.

library stacks#7 is facts. The list emphasizes getting the facts right. Now it’s true that if our book takes place in a real city, you don’t want to get the street names wrong or put a building in the wrong place.

However, I had to admit to myself that I went overboard researching my first novel. Did I really need to know if that street in Omaha was uphill or downhill?

What item(s) in the list hit home for you?

 

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Litbait Technique Captures Readers

The National Endowment for the Arts said the percentage of American woman reading on computeradults who read fiction is declining. One theory as to why is that people are reading online instead.

A Dallas bookstore decided to use the online technique of Clickbait to entice people to read classic books. For example, Dracula became “Romanian man discovers shocking fact about garlic that will give you nightmares.”

The store tested their “Litbait” on Facebook. The results showed increased engagement.

Some of my friends consider fiction mere entertainment, but fiction is more than that. Studies have shown that readers envision themselves in the situations they read about. Doing this helps reader develop empathy, something the world needs to combat what seems to be rampant xenophobia.

Check out this article for more Litbait examples.

 

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The Company We Keep

Just as people we meet or socialize with judge us, in part, by the company we keep, the same also applies online. What company do you keep?

Be careful where you post/reply to things. Do you want to risk being associated with a shoddy business?

LinkedIn advises us to connect only with people we know on some level. Maybe we know them personally or work(ed) with them. Maybe we have done business with them remotely.

Today we have so many options for social media, we cannot keep up with them all. At least I can’t. Choose the ones you’ll use and have the best chance for being worthwhile. I look for places to network with other writers or find markets for my writing.

If you’re a writer, do you submit to the low hanging fruit that accepts almost anything and may not even offer payment? How much would you achieve by being published there? At least try for better paying markets that readers and other publishers my recognize.

The company we keep matters. Aim to be proud of your associates.

Enlightenment for Writers and Their Partners

woman hunched over typewriterCreative people are not always the easiest to live with. I can say that because I am a writer.

I am so grateful my partner understands that sometimes I need my creative cave just as much as he need his man cave or, it seems, his Facebook. He knows when to leave me alone because he knows I’ll be back.

When writing “in the zone”, we artist types are often oblivious to what happens around us. You may see us, but sometimes we’re not really there.

Please be patient during the times we can’t bear to take our thoughts away from our work.

If you live with a creative, here are some insights into his/her psyche. If you are a creative, the link will remind you what our partners have to face.

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Achieving Your Dreams

My parents built a summer house on a tidal river at the New Jersey shore when I was one year old. Salt water is in my blood.

Dreams fly at the ocean’s edge.

When I was in my thirties, my goal changed from having my own house on the water to actually living on the water in a sailboat.

I found this quote from Henry David Thoreau in a sailing magazine: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a  success unexpected in common hours.” It was printed with a background of a person standing on the shore with one knee raised on a piling and his hand under his chin. He’s gazing out over the ocean at  a sailboat floating by.

For inspiration, I cut out that 3″x5″ image and stuck it on my refrigerator door with a magnet. Not too many years later, I sold my house and lived aboard for six years. The inspirational image went with me in my recipe box, protected by a plastic sleeve designed for recipe cards.

The achievement of that dream led me to another dream: being a published writer. My salt water stories have since been published in four boating magazines and over six anthologies.

The cutout image and quote now reside on my desk, inspiring me to work on my novel and the occasional short piece.

What is your dream? What inspires you?

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Lesson from a Mourning Dove

Last spring, a mourning dove built a nest in the palm tree outside my office window. I looked forward to watching the babies hatch.

But that never happened. One day, only part of the nest remained in the tree. Broken eggs and the rest of the nest were on the ground. I don’t know if the wind or a cat knocked the nest down.

Mourning Dove chicksThis spring, a smaller mourning dove built a nest on the other side of the same palm tree. The brave little mother sat there through freezing nights, some frigid days, one night of strong winds, and a couple of downpours.

One day, she carried off an eggshell, but I saw no sign of a little one. Did the hatchling survive?

Now that we’ve had some days with temps back in the 70s, Mama has been able to leave the nest for longer periods. A week ago, I saw two little heads sticking up! Saw them again this morning–they’re growing fast. Mother and offspring barely fit in/on the nest now.

I think there’s a life lesson here. We may struggle to achieve what we attempt, and we may not be successful the first time. If we keep trying, moving forward a little at a time, we can be successful. I hope this applies to me and my first novel.

Several ideas for novels floated around in my mind several ten years ago, but I knew I wasn’t ready to tackle that large a project yet. I spent a few years honing my craft by writing short fiction and nonfiction. Even so, the writing plus the extensive research required to write a historical novel that takes place in 1911 and on two continents has sometimes been so frustrating that I twice set the project aside. Health issues were also a factor.

Past the halfway point now, I’m confident I’ll reach the end this year, hopefully by summer. I wonder if Mama Mourning Dove feels the same. She’s raising her babies all on her own–I never saw a mate bring her food.

Writing is solitary, too, but at least I have a mate to whine to now and then. If you don’t have a mate handy, I’m told wine helps, too.

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