Category Archives: Writing

Dogs, Birds and Mysteries. Or What Blogging Can Do to You.

After a few years of sitting at your computer during all kinds of odd hours, you finally become a blogger who doesn’t hesitate for days to press the scary Publish button. And you are comfortable whether or not someone reads your scribbles before they fly out into the cyber space.

Bumble at laptop

Your pile of edits for a post now averages 15 instead of preciously 50. And your images may actually pass for photographs. You enjoy the interactions within the friendly community of fellow bloggers. You make some really good friends. Then what?

mercat

I know it’s different for all of us. The professional bloggers, authors, photographers, etc. probably get better and better at their trade in the niche they have developed, and attract a huge, ever-growing following. But those of us who haven’t really decided what we want to become when we grow up, will probably be inspired to try various new things.  That’s what blogging does to us. We dare to experiment. Some pick up the brush, start painting and get really good at it. Some will become authors and publish several books. Others will become good story-tellers, photographers or graphic artists. A few will dip their toes into various creative pots. The Indecisives. I would be one of those. But then, I predicted that when I started blogging three years ago. I said my blog would be multifaceted. That sounds a whole lot better.

So after writing countless professional articles, reports and a few boring books to bring home the bacon, I tried my hand as a novelist.  Last year I published “Confessions of a Rescue Dog”, a fictional story based on Bumble’s life as a rescue dog. I’m happy to say it got fairly good reviews, even editorial ones, and has brought in a few $$$ to help homeless dogs, cats, birds and rabbits to find forever homes.

One day last summer, my good friend Jackie asked me to design book covers for her new mystery series “DeeDee Watson, PI Series”.  That was another first, but since I’ve been dabbling with digital art occasionally, I bravely said I would try.

Jackie published “The Canine Caper” in August! It is a delightful short story available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book. It introduces the mystery series and its main characters: Dee, a Private Investigator and Tee, her canine sidekick, among others. A quick, fun read!

the canine caper picture

At the end of October Jackie published the second story in the series. “A Case of Deceit” is a full length murder mystery, and is available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book, and as a paperback. This novel takes the reader on a wild ride on Dee’s Harley and by other means, in pursuit of the killer. You’ll love the many twists and turns, and the cast of quirky characters!

a case of deceit picture

And then, inspired by many encouraging comments on the salt marsh series, I wanted to experiment with children’s books. I have just published two small photo books for kids on Blurb. This type of publishing is very expensive, so these books are for sale in softcover at production price. I feel it’s important to spark kids’ interest in the many small miracles in the natural world early on in life.

The first book is written for small kids, up to KG age, and introduces baby birds and juveniles with beautiful photos and a simple narrative. A nice bedtime read.
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The second book is little more elaborate, intended for kids from KG through Elementary School. It presents bird families and their adventures at the salt marsh with a fun and educative narrative and almost 50 full color photographs.

AdventuresoftheSaltMarshBirds cover

I am now working on transforming these photo books to Amazon kids books. The Kindle versions will be interactive photobooks, but due to the paper quality, the paperback editions will need to have cheerful illustrations. Both books/editions will be much more affordable, and hopefully bring joy and learning to more kids.

Please check the Firdemonte Press page for more information on these books and on all the other stuff that’s cooking. Or click on the book covers to buy now 😀

mercat 2

What an ongoing adventure blogging is! I had no idea. I just wish I had more time to dedicate to all these creative facets of life, and to enjoy the great variety of inspirational reads I always find on your blogs. Thank you for being here. Much love.

Happy Christmas to You All!

Here’s a Christmas message from Bumble to all friends!

Firdemonte Press

Hi there! It’s been a while, but it’s nice to see you again. I’m fine, but still recovering from my birthday celebrations on Monday. I’m 14 now – and people still call me a puppy! A cute puppy to be exact. I’ve asked mom not to reveal my real age. Why? Because I might start feeling old. And I can’t risk that.

Anyway, my birthday was great. I got yummy treats! Mango and papaya! I’m a fruit lover now, and that shows. I have much more energy than I used to when I was younger. I run when I take mom out, and I run when we come home. No tired jogging here. I think mom starts looking healthier too.

Bumble Xmas An illustration from my book

But I have a more serious message too. Thanks to my book, mom and I have been able to give quite a bit to the homeless doggies, cats, turtles, birds, hamsters and…

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Just Landed.

I am happy to say the NaNoWriMo ended on my part this afternoon. I have a thick pile of paper sitting on my printer tray.  A raw manuscript of my second book.

The temporary cover that inspired me to write...
The temporary cover that inspired me to write…

It’s all there in a primitive form, the good and the bad: adventures, struggles, emotions and life learnings. It’s a story of a young “green hat” who goes to Africa on a mission to save the world, but ends up saving only herself. The writing journey over these past 28 days was all but easy, and I realize it has just only begun.

It is time to take a break from it. I’ll need to catch my breath after running for my life from charging elephants, and hiding under my bed during a wild shootout. Then, at some point, I’ll need to start editing it…and hopefully it’ll find its way to the public domain sometime late next year. For Christmas would be nice.

Now I’ll be catching up on your blogs and on my visits to see Papa Osprey. And some work that’s been neglected lately.

Namaste.

Do You Know What Day It Is?

It’s Saturday here in Florida. Sunny, windy and cool. And it’s November 1, 2014. This day arrived much too fast, and I’m not prepared. Not even close. But you know what?  I’m a brave soul, so I’m going to do it anyway. Plunge right into the shadows.

I’ll be attempting to write my second novel during this month.  A fairly complete first draft. NaNoWriMo is here, and it starts today. Unlike last year, I won’t get any help from Bumble. Why? Is this sweet dog suddenly becoming uncooperative? No, it’s really simple. He was not there, in Africa. But I’m sure he’ll sympathize, and offer a warm paw on my shoulder on a daily basis. In exchange for a light back massage.

Africa Moon (2)
Digital photo art “Africa”

So I’m all alone with my recollections of that time. And what I might have learned from those adventurous days, months and years when Africa changed my perspectives on life. Here’s a little teaser.

It’s all about perspective. When you lay on your back on the parched ground, you will see bright blue skies through the opening formed by your body in the tall elephant grass. It’s yellowed and crispy. It doesn’t move. You see, there is not a breath of wind. Instead, the air is vibrating in the heat, adding shifting patterns to the sky. And you think of dance. Relaxing, slow dance of the universe. Music in B flat. Your perspective on life is being adjusted by Africa.

african crocodile 3
An African crocodile

This will not be easy. There will be some pain along the way. And doubts about the value of my story. Or how it’s being told. The crocodile is waiting. But I have to try. This story has been bugging me for quite a while now. And know myself. I work best under tight deadlines. Always have.

To reinforce the time aspect, and make it a bit more difficult to quit,  I’ve put a validated word counter on my side bar. I’m hoping for some butt-kicking from my friends here when the bar doesn’t move. Such a kind act would improve the meager odds of reaching my goal of 50,000 words in November. I’m also hoping some friends will join me on this journey. It would be easier to suffer through the upcoming 29 days together.

I’ll probably post short poems and quotes to express my mood of the day along the way. And maybe one or another tiny update on Papa Osprey. I’ll need to exercise too when I sit nailed to my chair most of the time, right? I’ll also try my best to hang around your blogs to fetch inspiration for my journey. But it’ll probably be late in the day and a bit less than usual. I hope you’ll understand.

pelican just taking off 2
A pelican taking off

So here we go… taking off… it’s now or never.

Have a wonderful weekend. Love always, Tiny

The Idling Marathon Writer (#MyWritingProcess Blog Tour)

The little girl waiting for school bus in the 25 below, snowy dawn of Finnish countryside in 1960s wouldn’t have believed that almost 50 years later she’d be blogging about her writing process from a sunny beach in  distant “America”. In a language she had not yet heard of.

Cold winter morning in Finland

Had she been told how she’d land in that situation, she would’ve smiled in disbelief at the woman holding the crystal ball.  But had the woman told her that writing would be an integral part of her life, she would probably have accepted that as a possibility. The bag she was clutching held a treasure, her very first essay. It was in Finnish, of course, and detailed her first  adventure in Helsinki, the capital of the world.

It’s funny how life can turn out.  Lots of twists and turns.  So here I am a million miles later, on the beach, blogging away. I felt honored when Michelle, a gifted writer at The Green Study, invited me to participate in this blog tour. True to my Myers ENFP, I accepted without hesitation.  I value interactions with other writers and have already met a few new ones through this tour.

Roaming in Bahamas
Roaming the world

I’ve been writing all my life. It all started with that first school essay, followed by college papers, newsletter writing/editing and articles in journals and newspapers. And numerous white papers about intricacies in management and organizations. A few poems here and there. This was all in Finnish and/or Swedish, before my life in English began in my early 30s. That’s when I was thrown out into the big wild world. And I’ve been roaming ever since. Writing many more white papers, board papers, research publications and a couple of professional books too. We can call those “non-fiction”, although that might be a bit generous.

Anyway, three years ago I became my own boss. Now I can write papers of whatever color I like or none at all.  Consultants have that flexibility. To make money or not to make money.

My writing companion, Bumble
My writing companion, Bumble

So having that freedom, I allocated some time for bird watching, photography, walking on the beach… and started blogging in the summer of 2012.

After a year of interacting with many writers and reading their books, I caught the bug. Writing is contagious. I signed up for NaNoWriMo and wrote my first novel at the end of last year. In close collaboration with my little poodle, I might add, and cheered on by many blogging friends. Thanks friends for your support, you know who you are!

Each writer participating in this blog tour is invited to answer four specific questions. Here are my answers:

1) What am I working on right now? After my first novel came out earlier this year, I started working on two writing projects simultaneously: a poetry collection and an Africa-themed novel. I have a suspicion that my decision will turn out to be a mistake. None of the books might get finished any time soon. There is always something that needs to get done first to ensure bread on the table. Or something else that feels much more fun to write, such as reporting from the nature reserve. Writing books is hard work, and I know I’ll need to put much greater effort into my second novel than what I did previously. The bar is somehow much higher now.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Elephant Grass blue
Temporary cover for inspiration. Wishful thinking?

This is a difficult question to which I don’t have an answer. My first novel is a light-hearted tale of a rescue dog, told by a dog to dog lovers. And a little bit of advocacy and fund-raising for animal rescue too. It doesn’t fall neatly in any one genre. The second one will be very different. Literary fiction strongly influenced by personal experiences of the writer. But not a memoir. Unless I rewrite it from scratch. That might still happen, of course, I never know with myself. Settling into writing in one specific genre is an unlikely proposition for me.

As to my poetry, it’s only different in the sense that I try to keep it short, simple, inspirational and positive. I just can’t write dark or tragic verse.  And I’m not gifted enough to write complex forms of poetry.

3)     Why do I write what I do? I had four potential ideas when I thought about NaNoWriMo last year.  To be honest, “Confessions of a Rescue Dog” was by far the easiest story to write. I thought I might actually manage to complete that project.  Getting this first book out and interacting with readers has been a great learning experience. It has also given me a little more confidence. So now I’m working on a much more demanding story, but it’s the one I have the most passion for. Wish me luck.

My poetry and my general blog writing are products of my mood and the thoughts occupying my mind any given day. I think it’s obvious. Total lack of focus. I have accepted that I don’t fit neatly in any one pigeon-hole. I post when I have something to say and spend more time reading other blogs than writing on my own.

4)     How does my writing process work?

I am a “marathon writer”. I get my best results when I write in long focused stretches under a tight deadline, even a self-imposed one. I’m able to write almost 24/7 if need be. That goes for any type of writing I’m working on, I’ve always been like that.

Bumble book site
Illustration from “Confessions of a Rescue Dog”

I don’t produce much when I have “all the time in the world” to get it done. You see, I can always do it later, mañana My writing shoes tend to get lost in that kind of environment. My challenge is to get motivated enough to put on my writing shoes, get running and believe there’s a deadline to be met. When all that works, the writing marathon is on.

Editing is something I need to force myself to do. I do some light editing when I write, but always have to do several rounds after the main body of writing is done. I recall one particularly challenging “white paper” that had 26 versions. That’s probably my record. I did five rounds of editing on my book before it went to the editor, and a couple more after it came back to me.

Next Tour Stop. It is my pleasure to pass on the “hashtag” to two writers, one firmly established and published in several countries, and another one whose books we’ll soon be able to enjoy. They have kindly agreed to post for this tour in the week of May 19.

Tish Farrell writes fiction and non-fiction for young adults. In her first life she studied Prehistory, did a Masters degree in Social Anthropology and then worked in museum education, most notably at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire, UK, the place where the world’s industrial revolution began. In her second life, during the 1990s, she lived in Africa, mostly in Kenya but also briefly in Zambia. It was during this time that she began to write story books for the African children’s literature market, spurred on by a small, persistent fury that were too few books that reflected young Africans’ lives in their increasingly urbanised world. In Kenya at that time there was no free schooling. Parents had to pay all primary school expenses including books. Textbooks were deemed essential. Story books were not. Most African publishing houses, then and now, survive by producing textbooks not fiction. In Nairobi during the ‘90s the book shops stocked mainly dated European children’s fiction (Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew stories, Enid Blyton) together with school texts of oral traditions. There were no contemporary young African heroes to be seen here. Tish’s first children’s book, Jessicah the Mountain Slayer, and a picture book Flame Tree Market were first published by Zimbabwe Publishing House in 1995, and later also by Phoenix Publishing in Kenya. Both books won prizes at the 1996 International Zimbabwe Book Fair, and have remained in print ever since.

Tish
Tish

Next came Sea Running and Joe Sabuni P I for Macmillan Pacesetters and Heinemann Junior African Writers respectively. Joe Sabuni, a spoof detective story, has also been translated into 6 Zambian languages as part of a (belatedly realised) project that allows Zambians to learn to read in their mother tongue rather than in their second language English. Now in her third life, Tish lives in the ancient market of Much Wenlock in the English Midlands. Recent works, Mantrap and Stone Robbers for Ransom Publishing, are novelised short stories aimed at encouraging reluctant teens to read. The stories are of adult interest, but are fast-paced and brief. She has also recently self-published a Kindle book Losing Kui. This is a new edition of a novella originally published in Cicada Magazine in the U.S.

You can find Tish at http://tishfarrell.wordpress.com/ and at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Tish+Farrell Here are a few links to blog posts I believe will be useful reading for writers: http://wp.me/pKVAM-u0 Yum Kaax to the rescue? Or how to hook reluctant readers; http://wp.me/pKVAM-gm Elephants, E-Books and reluctant readers; http://wp.me/PKVAM-aW Writing Tips – Knowing your place. Tish has many more on her blog, make sure to visit!

JLPhillips
Jackie

Jackie Phillips lives in Alberta, Canada. She’s originally from the states, Wisconsin to be exact, although she has not lived there for many years. She lived in Texas for more than 20 years – and then moved to Canada’s land of cowboys and cattle! Jackie doesn’t have cattle, but she has a dog named Sam, her buddy, and two crazy cats. Jackie loves animals of all kinds and has been known to rescue some if they need it!

Jackie is a well known coffee addict, she loves it and needs it to function, especially in the mornings. She’s on a health kick right now, walking on her treadmill that she named Trudy, every day, eating healthier and exercising!

Jackie has been writing almost her whole life, first in journals, then short stories, poems, and now novels. Some of her short stories have been published at Etherbooks.com under the name JLPhillips. She has plans for the future (which she hasn’t revealed yet, but I’m sure they are awesome) and is getting ready for that at the moment.

Jackie started blogging 2 years ago and hasn’t looked back. She says she’s met some wonderful people on WordPress. Next week she’ll tell you what she’s working on right now!

Here are a few links to her blog and to some of her favorite posts. http://tobreatheistowrite.com/2014/04/09/weekly-writing-challenge-fifty/ and http://tobreatheistowrite.com/2012/09/25/the-taxi-dancer/ and http://tobreatheistowrite.com/2014/05/12/new-story-cc-and-the-fed/ . This last one is her new serial story! Don’t miss it!

I look forward to the tour stops next week in England and Canada! I hope you do too.

OMG! He Did It!

Finally we are up for air, my writing partner and I. You see, last November right around NaNoWriMo time, Mister Bumble insisted that he wanted to write his story. He would call it “Confessions of a Rescue Dog”. He asked me to type it since I’m a bit faster than him.  When I hesitated, he went to his archives and brought me a quote. That did it.

Bumble borrowing laptop ed

The quote was written on a simple piece of white paper and it read: “Rescue animals aren’t broken. They’ve simply experienced more life than other animals. If they were human, we would call them wise. They would be the ones with tales to tell and stories to write… animals dealt a bad hand, but who responded with courage. Don’t pity a shelter animal. Adopt one! And be proud to have their greatness by your side.” -Anonymous

I thought his story was worth telling. In fact, it’s quite heart-warming and uplifting. So he started narrating and I started typing. And typing. For the whole month of November. Then came December and we both got busy with other things. I re-engaged in some income generating activities and Bumble concentrated on his work, namely protecting our home from shady characters. We made a few efforts towards editing the manuscript late at nights, but achieved little.

the manuscipt ed

The holidays came and went. The manuscript was covered by soft cushions in a corner of the sofa in my office. Until one day, when Bumble was digging there to make a bed for himself, it fell down on the floor. And I knew we had to finish the book.

We got to work. Reviewing, editing, reviewing again. Then one day great illustrations appeared in my inbox. My son had finalized the cover and several other images for the book. Now we just had to get to the finish line.

front cover final

So finally our joint labor is bearing fruit. 175 pages of treats for pet lovers.  Just before midnight yesterday, the book was submitted for publishing. Bumble did it! He wants to help other animals find loving forever homes so he committed us to donate a portion of the sales to the Humane Society’s shelter here at home.  We have been there, seen all the dogs, cats, rabbits and birds waiting for a new home. It’s a large and well run no-kill shelter.

We’ll let you know when and where Bumble’s story will be available. When you read it, please remember not to take all his observations about me literally. While I think that he’s a fairly accurate analyst of human behavior, I have noticed that he tends to exaggerate a bit when I’m concerned.

Have a wonderful weekend ♥ Tiny and Bumble