AFB: Writing Whims

Trails in the Sand P.C. ZickWelcome to April’s Featured Blog, something I’ll be posting here on Lit and Scribbles most of the month to introduce all of you to perhaps some new future friends and get to know a little more about your blogging community.

Today we talk with P.C. (Patricia) Zick, writer of the blogs Writing Whims and Living Lightly, and published author of several books, the most recent being Trails in the Sand. P.C. and I trade comments back and forth and I’ve really appreciated getting to know her better. It’s always good to get advice from those who’ve already trod down the writing and publishing paths. Tell us about yourself, P.C.:

PC: My career as a writer began in 1998 with the publication of her first column in a local paper. By day, I was a high school English teacher, but at night and on vacations, I began writing novels and working as a freelance journalist. In 2001, I left teaching and began pursuing a full-time gig as a writer. I describe myself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre.

Currently, I write two blogs. Trails in the Sand is my fifth novel and the second one I self-published. I published Live from the Road in May 2012.

My blog and novels contain the elements most dear to my heart, ranging from love to the environment. I believe in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion. My husband Robert and I live in Pennsylvania.

J: When did you first start blogging and what is your blog about?

PC: I began Living Lightly in March 2012. The blog covers topics from gardening and recipes to the environment and climate change. I starting Writing Whims on April 20, 2012, which I just realized is the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one of the threads running through my new novel, Trails in the Sand. I really didn’t know that until right now.

J: Which of your posts was the most fun to write and why?

PC: I wrote a post recently for Living Lightly about my husband smuggling tomato seeds into my luggage for a trip to Florida. I love writing humor that also imparts knowledge.

J: What type of stories do you write?

PC: I write contemporary novels with environmental themes used to parallel messed up families.

J: Protagonist excluded, which of your characters is your favorite?

PC: In Trails in the Sand my favorite character is the mother, Gladys or Gladdy. She’s a true southern belle who was abused as a child. She’s almost a caricature until the veneer of her persona is cracked.

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AFB: Gloria Weber

Welcome to April’s Featured Blog, something I’ll be posting here on Lit and Scribbles most of the month to introduce all of you to perhaps some new future friends and get to know a little more about your blogging community.

Let’s get to chatting with Gloria Weber, author of GASLIGHT DEMONS and contributor to THE GHOST IS THE MACHINE as well as several other stories (check out the list here). She also writes on the blog Gloria Weber and is a big participant in Row80. Tell us who you are Gloria!

GW: I live in Ohio with my husband, son, and daughter.  My family has three dogs, all of which were adopted as adults.  I’ve been writing for publication since March 2006.  Morbidgames Publishing released my novel GASLIGHT DEMONS in 2009.

J: When did you first start blogging and what is your blog about?

GW: Originally? No clue. I think when I first tried my hand at blogging and covering my writing life it was through MySpace… You know, back in the square wheel days when it was popular.  However, while I can’t figure out the original, I know when my current blog found roots: August 2011.

As for what my blog is about, I can’t rightly say there’s a solid concept.  About 80% is things I can (after a one hour presentation, three flow charts, use of a laser pointer, and a demonstration involving a toaster oven) vaguely link to writing and the writer life. The other 20% is- OH! SHINY! Me likey.  Let me show you the pretty.

J: Which of your posts was the most fun to write and why?

GW: After my publishers release my work, I like to do a post on what inspired the story.  These, obviously, don’t happen that often.  But, I like letting people peek into my brain.  The most recent one was written last year, about my story ETERNAL SERVICE.

Gloria WeberJ: What type of stories do you write?

GW: My last two published works have been Steampunk.  However, that’s not the genre I feel most at home in.  I’m definitely a Fantasy kind of gal. As for target audience age, I don’t have a preferred one.

J: Protagonist excluded, which of your characters is your favorite?

GW: Let’s cover this, first: I suck at favorites. I was a junior in high school when I finally picked my favorite color. So, ask me this on any other day and it might change. 

Today’s answer?  The dog in my flash fiction piece ONE WINTER DAY.  The piece is based on the painting THE HUNTERS IN THE SNOW and it was the dogs in that picture that drew my attention first.  He was the reason I wrote it, even though he wasn’t the main character.

J: Who are your favorite authors?

GW: There’s that word again… Let’s just say, if I see any of the following author’s names, I always pick up the book and check the blurb:  J. K. Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks, Amanda Quick (or her other pen name: Jayne Castle), and Ray Bradbury. 

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AFB: Legends of Windemere

legends of windemere charles yallowitzWelcome to April’s Featured Blog, something I’ll be posting here on Lit and Scribbles most of the month to introduce all of you to perhaps some new future friends and get to know a little more about your blogging community.

Today we talk with Charles Yallowitz, writer of the blog Legends of Windemere with a book available on Amazon of the same name (Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero). Charles and I have recently become blogger buddies. Tell the people who you are, Charles:

CY: I was born in Long Island, NY and stayed there until I went to college in Oswego, NY.  After getting married, I moved to Florida and came crawling back to Long Island with my tail between my legs after 4.5 years of trying to survive.  I’ve wanted to be an author since high school and played the game of submitting manuscripts and waiting for the rejection letter.  I thought this was the way to go until my son was born and I realized that I wanted to be able to tell him to go for his dreams after having done the same for myself.  That brought me to self-publishing and blogging where I’m now working hard to forge a career as an epic fantasy author.

J: When did you first start blogging and what is your blog about?

CY: I started blogging in December 2012 after finishing the revision of my third book.  I started the blog to use as a platform for my writing and help gain an audience.  It started to grow from there as I began posting poetry, progress posts, and my thoughts on various writing-related questions.  I’ve started using my blog to help other self-published authors with the challenge of advertising by listing sites and my experiences with the sites that I use.

J: Which of your posts was the most fun to write and why?

CY: This is a tough one because I day a whimsical opinion post every Wednesday and those have always been fun to write.  I think it’s a tie between the one on writing great villains “Crushers of Souls and Puppies” and the one on killing characters in a story “Boromir, We Hardly Knew Ye.”  The villain one was just all around fun because I went off the wall with some of what I said.  The killing characters one let me take a few playful swipes at Joss Whedon who I haven’t forgiven for killing one of my favorite characters of his.

J: What type of stories do you write?

CY: I typically write high-action epic fantasy, which some people say is YA, but others say there’s too much sexual innuendo and violence for it.  I’ve been experimenting with other genres, such as horror and drama, by writing novellas.

J: Protagonist excluded, which of your characters is your favorite?

CY: Geez.  That’s a tough one because I like all of my characters.  Going only my first book, I would go with Kira Grasdon.  She started as a third-string throwaway character and became more and more development with every editing session.  I had very little control over what she wanted to be and I eventually gave up to see where she was going with it.  She became an incredibly strong and cunning character that really did steal the show and redirect a few plotlines.  I’m very happy with how she came out and she helped teach me that I should listen to the characters instead of forcing them to do things.

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My Writing Space

I’ve done a post about what my ideal writing space would be like. Well, it’s only fair that I do a post about what the actual writing space looks like currently. I’ve been promising it to a few peeps and was also inspired by them. Gloria, Alexandrina, Kate, this goes out to you.

Because I recently switched desks from the Wal-Mart space-age special to the Wal-Mart looks nice special, it took me awhile to move stuff the way I wanted it. Now that it is, may I present to you…


jae writing spaceThere is a space in the bottom right corner for computers, but Big Bertha only scoffed at me as I tried to heft her inside. So she remains contentedly outside of the desk on the side. What occupies the computer spot now is the PS3. Yes folks, this is where I also play Tomb Raider and Uncharted. And I watch movies. I could spend thousands on a monitor, but why not less than $200 for a refurb’d Vizio. They’re stellar TVs too.

The gray machine on the left side is my super old stereo of whose speakers reign on top. It’s nice to have some music on while cleaning. But usually if I’m listening to music while writing it comes from the little speakers tucked in on the desk behind the ceramic hamburger (more on that in a minute). The pink thing is my Kindle (which holds my only copy of The Emotion Thesaurus).

The desk was supposed to be a dark brown, and it is, but often it looks black. Oh well. I prefers a dark brown to a black for my furniture.

Now for the details. writingspace04On top we have the Yellow Submarine lunch box my parents bought me last year just because. (Love my parents). The Sailor Moon clock of whose batteries I immediately took out. She ticks sooooo loudly. The three books are loaners, so that’s where they temporarily reside. And to be honest, the Pat Rothfuss one I’ve borrowed on my Kindle. You may also notice (you can click on the pic to make it bigger), the little figurines in front of an old nameplate. Aw yeah, SW micro action figures! Lastly a lightsaber, Kerberos which I purchased in Japan, and Grumpy because you can never find Grumpy Bear, so my sis did and there he is. Oh, and the painting on the other speaker is a James Christiansen, which my brother’s ex-girlfriend bought for my parents who promptly handed it off to me once they were no longer dating. Awkward. I still like it though.

writingspace05On the shelf we have all the good writing books, including: Story, Writing the Breakout Novel, Fire in Fiction, On Writing, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and Hero of a Thousand Faces. I’ve also included the Survival Handbook and Plants of the Rockies just because.

On the left are all the PS3 games I own/am borrowing. Tomb Raider and some racing game. Batman isn’t mine, but I love it. The Chinese takeout box is a lamp, and the red thing on the left is a Japanese post box. Yeah, you could say I love all things Asian.


To the right of my monitor is my speakers, a couple origami lotus flowers, my monkey coin purse (I store SD cards in there), a jade dragon/phoenix ball, and the ceramic hamburger. Oh please! Like if you didn’t see that in Japan you wouldn’t have bought it. It holds candy, like Hi-Chews and currently Cadbury mini-eggs.

The jade ball is something I picked up in Hong Kong. Jade is one stone that looks better the more you touch it. So I grab it sometimes for inspiration. I think there are 4 or 5 smaller balls inside. They carve them within the outer jade ball. Kind of crazy huh? In Hong Kong, jade is way cheaper than anywhere else. It still cost me a bit, but way less than I could have gotten this for in America. You can see the dragons breathing fire on this part of the ball.

jade ballThis is where I get things done. I used to take my mostly broken old Mac laptop downstairs to work on, but since I got a better desk and Big Bertha, I’ve been hanging mostly here. Plus I can turn on my Cloud Player and have at it.

So there you have it. I really like the idea of this narrow hutch desk, because it takes up the same amount of space as the previous desk (except for height) and it gives me a little more shelf space than the poor big black beast holding most of the books I own.

But that black chair is also the $20 Wal-Mart special and I really need something more comfortable. Ugh. Maybe I’ll just prop an old pillow on it for now. I’m worried about finding something that fits and is comfortable at the same time. Space is a little bit of an issue, and that crap chair tucks in nicely under the desk.

What do you think? Decent writing space? Any zen recommendations? Have you done a post on your current writing space? What would you absolutely have to have in your writing space? Let us know below.

Amazon Traps

I’ve mentioned plenty of times how Amazon seems to eat up a substantial amount of my paycheck. I love that store a little too much. I mean let’s not talk about how I stayed up WAY too late on Tuesday night playing Tomb Raider that Amazon shipped to me for game day release. *awkward eye shifting* Don’t ever make me hate you Amazon. Promise? Please!

Anyways, I don’t know if I mentioned, but recently I picked up a Kindle. A friend of mine had just picked up a Kindle Fire not so long ago and was looking to dump her older one, a 2nd gen (of the original series). She hooked me up with a sweet deal and here I am Kindle, here I am!

And speaking of Amazon, that brings me to…amazon trap jae


But first let me explain Amazon traps. Amazon offers you something you want at a price you can’t refuse. Feels eerily like the Godfather, although I guess Amazon doesn’t send anyone to break your thumbs. At least…I hope not… *glances over shoulder* Ha! Who am I kidding? I haven’t refused any deals! So back to the deal.

The Emotion Thesaurus. Something wise I think every person who ever puts an e-book on Amazon should do is offer samples. It’s potentially an Amazon trap because just as you’re getting into the book, “Oh, that’s the end of your sample. But all you have to do is click this button and for $CHEAP$ you can have the rest.” What? Sign me up!

That’s what happened with the Emotion Thesaurus. It’s a writer’s resource. Not sure whose blog I read it on first (I follow over 200 of you, you know). But I’m sure glad I did. The book lists basic emotions, then has a list of suggestions for the body language of that emotion, other related emotions, and different ways of looking at expressing the emotion so you have something better than: Johnny was angry. You don’t copy one of the suggestions, the idea is that it will help inspire you for your own. You think about your character and decide what they would do, or dig deep into yourself and think about what you would do.

I’ve already found it to be a helpful resource. And guess what folks? It’s available as a sample! (And available for $5 on the Kindle if you get trapped. You can also buy a physical book if that’s how you roll).


$2.99 MP3 Albums. I’ve mentioned cheap music before, but this time Amazon sweetened the pot. First up is Best of Van Halen. Now not all of the songs on the album are some I 100% love, but you’ve got to approach this realizing it’s usually $1/song. If you can get 17, most you like, that’s a smokin’ deal. Among my favs: Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Runnin’ With The Devil, Jump, Panama, Why Can’t This Be Love, Dreams, When It’s Love, Right Now, and Can’t Stop Lovin’ You. Woot!

Next they got me with Complete Greatest Hits by The Cars. 20 songs for $3. Among my favs included: Just What I Needed, Good Times Roll, You’re All I’ve Got Tonight, It’s All I Can Do, Shake It Up, You Might Think, Drive, Magic, and Hello Again. Score!

Did I mention I also picked up Footloose? Oh yes, Footloose, Let’s Hear it For the Boy, Almost Paradise, Holding Out For A Hero, I’m Free, Hurts So Good, Waiting For A Girl Like You. Ahem. Amazon, I need a commission for all this recommending I’m doing. Or at least some Amazon credit. 😉 (Unfortunately Footloose is back up to $7. Still a decent deal. That’s why you watch the $2.99 bin and grab them when you see them.)

Oooh! Just found a Barenaked Ladies Hits album in the bin as I was typing this. Cha-ching!

I also picked up two Mat Kearney albums (also back up to $8 now). Yep, my taste in music is super eclectic. It goes all over the board on rock and pop. Old and recent, foreign and American.

Postscript, there are also $5 albums and $7 albums. Go have fun!


Occasionally Amazon offers movies for $7.99 or so. These I can access via my Roku and I love that Amazon keeps it on their server for me. But these are so few and far between. The threshold on digital movies for me is exactly $10. $9 is pushing it, but I might be persuaded, if it’s really, really good, but $10!?! Ludicrous!

I’m serious. We don’t get bonus features, or behind the scenes, or any of that DVD stuff, so why would I pay $10 for just the movie? I’m hoping this will change in the near future. I hate how they charge you extra for HD too. Cuz it’s so different to render it as HD vs. SD? (I render stuff almost every day. It’s not.)

Either way, Amazon will still be claiming a large part of my income. *sigh* It’s a love/hate relationship.

I know some of you are addicted to Amazon? Anything that’s been trapping you lately? Or are you one of those rare creatures that never buys anything from Amazon? How do you resist the temptation? Let us know on all this below!