Thursday, May 29, 2014

Coffee Chat 14.0: When S.K. Met Lynda


ER: Today feels like a day for reminiscing, so I got out an old photo album and figured SK and I could look through it when she gets here. It'll be fun while we have our coffee. [Looks around, under tables, behind doors.] Assuming she's not already here, that is . . . 

SK: [Runs in and plops herself next to Lynda.] I love to reminisce!!! Oh, good morning and all that. Sorry I'm late this time; it was difficult to outrun that cop who wanted to stop me. I had to take the long route here. Can you believe it? Why would any cop want to stop me? Anyway, lemme see those pics. [Pulls album out of Lynda's hands.] Are you getting us coffee? I've already had three cups. Hey, wanna go for a run after we're done with these?


ER: You were chased by a cop? 

SK: Oh, you know . . . I saw some red boots and I thought of Live Bacon—isn't his name adorable?—and I figured he could use them. [Shrugs.]

ER: But what does that—never mind. I'm just glad you're here, safe and sound. And three cups of coffee? Did you run beside the car or actually sit in it? Maybe you should eat a bunch of carbs to slow you down a bit. [Plops down a plate with leftover lasagne.] Here, eat this. That'll have you sitting still for a while.

So, the photo album—

SK: Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh . . . sure, yeah. You know what this makes me think of? When you and I first met.

ER: Exactly why I brought it out. Look at us! Weren't we cute? I think we were completely adorable. And look, even then, we were future coffee buddies.

                       

SK: The art of coffee drinking takes years of practice. Though, if I'd tried to drink the thing back then my parents would have probably rung my ears. We weren't allowed to try it until we were older. Anyway, yes, years later . . . I was approached by you via this magical world called "the Internet." Who knew we'd get along so perfectly? Well, actually, we hit it off immediately so I suppose we both kinda knew it was the start of awesomeness.

ER: When it clicks, it clicks. Really, though, I think our completely dissimilar upbringing, vastly different interests and skills, age gap and locations contributed to our instant connection. Opposites attract, right?

SK: Chemistry 101. So what if you're completely unlike me? We have the same twisted brain and if that's not destiny, I don't know what is.

I remember when you first followed me on Twitter and I read your bio; I immediately showed it to hubby. "Smile: it's the second-best thing you can do with your lips." What's not to like?

ER: Well, it IS. I can't argue with the facts. And you were a make-stuff-up-er. I couldn’t say no.

I knew we'd bonded when you told me I had twenty-four hours to edit your book and I still wanted to do it. Kind of like joining a sorority, only more pleasant, with nicer people.

SK: Well to be fair it was half a week, and I was giving you an out. My editor at the time took two weeks with the MS because of family issues and put a dent into our "proofreading" time. I was on a deadline for ARCs since I'd booked a review tour, AND my formatter was waiting. Boy, was I stressed! I'm glad you didn't take my cancelation talk, 'cause look at us now!

ER: I was determined to keep you. That's all there was to it. This was one time when my stalker tendencies paid off big time.

We're coming up on our anniversary, you know. We really should plan something fun. After all, we've had our fair share of adventures. And now I have a donkey in my yard to keep Live Bacon company! (Thanks, Lee!) You know what that means . . . do you think we can take a tour of a coffee plantation or something? We already have the donkey. That's like a free ticket to get in. Um, and you might need to ride in the burlap sack on the side—but only temporarily.

SK: Oh, umm, I think I'm banned from coffee plantation tours . . . I don't want to talk about it. But I'm pretty sure we can take the donkey with the burlap sack and ride through a wine tour. I'll bring an extra big bag for each of us and we can bring some empty screw-top wine bottles to sneak some wine home. You in or out?

ER: But you grew up in Venezuela. Surely there's a plantation you haven't been banned from—oh, forget it. I live in wine country, so a wine tour would be fabulous! There's nothing that says "quality wine" better than a screw-top bottle. We might even be able to leave the donkey at home that day. I haven’t seen many donkeys in the grape fields around me . . . one, to be exact.

SK: Speaking of me planning some more of my SK shenanigans, do you remember how long our first chat was? We must have come up with at least ten plans for our future adventures and laughed the whole time. I think my favorite yet is creating a blog in which our "old-lady selves," Adelaide McClingy and Mildred Loudermilk, offer horrendous romantic/life advice to our readers. I still think we should try it.

What about you? What's one of our favorite topics we discussed early on?

ER: Mildred and Adelaide are definitely contenders for our top ideas. I even think I have a picture of our future selves somewhere.



SK: I can't believe you shared this! How dare you reminisce into the future? Of course I'm not surprised you chose a picture where you look better than me. Pffft.

ER: I can’t help it. I’ve aged longer than you have, and I’ve gotten really good at it.

We've had so many plans to either get rich quick or to save the world that it's hard to keep track of all of them. I do have a faint memory of trying to convince someone that we needed a shot of a guy in a kilt (that we'd provide, of course) for a future book of yours, just so we could have a kilt-guy photo we took ourselves. And there's always our retirement plan of you writing really awful erotica—which, of course, I won't be able to edit—just to pay the bills.

SK: Yes, if all else fails I shall eroticize some words and sell it as comedy porn. Ha! Funny you should mention the kilt. Wait until you read Static; I did add a tiny kilt usage just for you, Lynda.

ER: Och!



As always:

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is www.skanthony.com, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. 

You can find me here. I'm always here. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Author Interview with Alice Reeds

Today I'm interviewing someone I've had the recent pleasure of working with, author Alice Reeds, whose debut novel, Into the Unknown, is the first book in the Hunting Freedom Trilogy. She's unique in that she's my first international author, and I believe I'm her first international editor. I'd tell you all about her, but I'll let her tell you herself:

ER: Tell us a little bit about yourself. (How's that for a clever start?)

AR: My name is Alice Reeds and I am addicted to reading and writing.

ER: I feel I should say, “Hi, Alice!” as if we’re in a twelve-step group for writing addicts. But please, go on . . .

AR: I recently turned twenty and used to read a lot of vampire fiction at age fifteen, much to the disdain of my religious granny. I love watching good, scary horror movies and, if I like it, I might devour a book in a matter of hours, no matter how thick it may be. I’m a punk rock chick who loves to watch and dance ballet, though I might not look like it. I have been writing little stories or fan fictions since I was eleven. Into the Unknown is my first published novel; though not published the traditional way, it is still a dream come true.

ER: More and more authors have begun to look into self-publishing recently; for some of them, it’s simply a means of retaining full control of the creative process from cover to cover.

Most writers love to read, but your story has a little bit of a twist to that.


AR: In all honesty, as a kid I hated reading. I could never understand why people would just sit down for hours and stare at words; it just didn’t work out in my childish mind. It wasn’t until I was maybe eleven or twelve—I’m not really sure—that I had the crazy idea of picking up one of the books from my granny’s bookshelves.

ER: Well, it’s not about how early you start to read, as long as you keep on doing it. Once you started reading, did you have a favorite book?

AR: One could say my reading journey started when I read twelve books from The Legend of the Ice People series by Margit Sandemo in a matter of two weeks, which were my autumn holidays. Funny enough, I read these twelve books in Polish, which I don’t normally do as I am not really good at it, though I’ve been speaking Polish since I was able to speak. But, overall, I really loved this series and might go back and reread it sometime, just to bring back the good memories.

ER: As a German (and Polish) speaker who writes in English, what is your biggest challenge?

AR: Eloquent words. The problem with leaving the US at age eight and returning to an international school at age sixteen is that you lose out on a lot of great words you would learn during classes or while watching movies, or even talking to friends. Also, another problem that I have, and am sure many trilingual people have, is that sometimes I remember a word in two languages but not in the third, and so on. There are a lot of fancy words I know in German yet don’t know in English, or I just don’t remember them while actually needing them. But hey, that’s why we have dictionaries, right?

ER: I agree! I live with my dictionary close at hand and am forever referencing one online if I’m away from my bookshelf. I’m also feeling like a bit of an underachiever now, being an English speaker only. I know enough Spanish to ask where a bathroom is, so I suppose I’m covered if I end up in dire straits in a Spanish-speaking area.

What gives you your ideas?


AR: Oftentimes when I hear a song, something like little scenes start to build up in my mind; I rarely end up using them for anything, but it’s a nice exercise to get the creative juices flowing. Also, I sometimes have dreams which, if I remember them, I might use to turn them into something later on. For example: A few weeks back I had a dream about a girl sitting in a completely white room in an insane asylum. I wrote that dream down, thinking that it would end there, but over the course of the following weeks I managed to build an entire idea/story around this one snippet. And that’s how my idea for my standalone novel (which I am planning on writing once I am done with the Hunting Freedom Trilogy) came.

ER: Do you prefer any particular atmosphere when writing?

AR: Well, when I write I usually sit in my room and simply write whatever comes to my mind. Often this happen during the evening/night, which makes me end up going to bed around 2 a.m. because I need to finish writing whatever I might have come up with. Basically I just need to be alone, because other people would just distract me. It also depends on the scene: if it’s something light and happy, it might be more fitting to write it during the day. When I write darker scenes, maybe even scary ones, I like to sit in complete darkness with the brightness of my laptop turned down to a minimum to create this particular atmosphere.

ER: Along those same lines, does certain music when writing help you to focus? Does each book have its own playlist? 

AR: Oh yes. While writing the first draft of Into the Unknown I always used to put up a song, album or playlist that would fit the mood. In my old document I wrote down song titles next to the chapter headings, just so I could remember what I listened to while creating that particular scene or chapter. For example, in Chapter 29 we see Bexx crossing the forest at night with a knife in hand. This scene actually came into my mind when I was listening to “I Come With Knives” by IAMX. This song perfectly mirrored the atmosphere I wanted to create while writing that particular moment.

Music plays a big role for me, not only because I grew up always surrounded by music, but also because I think music is something that’s not only here to entertain us but also to inspire us.

ER: Do you write a book from beginning to end, or great scenes that get fit in when the timing is right?

AR: I would love to be someone who can just sit down and write an entire book from beginning to end, but unfortunately that is not how my mind works. Oftentimes I write down bullet points for which bigger things are supposed to happen in which order. After write that, I end up adding other things I came up with.

A good example could be my process of writing We the Hunters. Back in November 2013 I made myself an outline of what is supposed to happen and all that. During NaNoWriMo I wrote it all: 60k words in thirty days. But now, months later, I have a lot of scenes in my head I want to add which I think would spice the story up and make it better/complete.

In short: my writing process is messy and chaotic, no matter how much I try to make it neat and organized.

ER: “Messy and chaotic” seems more the norm for most of the writers I know. There may or may not be a general outline, but they’re always open to adding something unexpected if the inspiration hits. Do you have an author whose style inspires you?

AR: I would say I take a great inspiration from my all-time favorite author: Sebastian Fitzek, one of the most famous authors of psycho thrillers in Germany. I simply love his novels. I've always dreamed that one day I'd write something as amazing as he does. Who knows? Maybe that’ll happen one day. But since I’m writing a story set in the dystopian genre I took some inspiration from writers like Suzanne Collins or Katie Kacvinsky. Yet, it wasn’t the plot of their works but rather the way they created their worlds and characters that fascinated me. My greatest fear is that I will end up writing a novel with ‘flat’ characters in a boring world that no one wants to know, so I always looked back at them and tried to improve my writing with every new idea I had.

ER: Do you have a favorite character in Into the Unknown?

AR: I would say my favorite is Shannon, not because he is this strong, good-looking leader of the rebels, but rather because of who he really is. In Into the Unknown the reader gets a look at him, sees that he’s a good guy, but there is a lot more to him than just that. He has a quite horrendous past which no one really knows of, and despite that he managed to become who he is when we first meet him in the book. But I will not tell you what past he’s had and all that; you’ll have to read We the Hunters and the third and final novel to find out.

But I can tell you, it’ll be worth it.

ER: Do you think it will be difficult to leave the characters when you finish the series?

AR: Of course! All the characters have become very dear to me and I think it’ll be a weird feeling once I finish writing down their story. But I know that that’s just how it goes. Besides that, I’m simply happy to see that people are willing to take the chance and read Into the Unknown, experience the story, and maybe fall in love with the characters as much as I did. It’s not like the characters will disappear once I’m done; they will always live on in the Trilogy. (And yes, I am aware that they are fictional characters who do not really exist.)

ER: I feel the same about my favorite characters, and I’ve got to tell you, Bexx and Shannon quickly made their way right up that list.

You can find Alice Reeds on Amazon.

Alice has provided a chapter excerpt for us to enjoy! We've trimmed it a bit for space considerations, but this is a point in the story where Bexx Kajan, the main character, goes on a military assignment that should be routine, but which changes her life completely.

As I leave the building it is already completely dark outside. I walk along one of the paths that lead to the border of TS-TF or actually DX-9, one of the military sectors in the city. The military building looks like a dark mountain of cement, stone and shadows. It’s five floors high and reaches sixteen floors into the ground. It’s one of the biggest buildings in the city, except for the Rose tower, inside which the government sits. There are hardly any windows so that one cannot look inside—not like anyone could come close enough to peek in, but that’s how they wanted to have the building. As the days pass, living under lamplight becomes so normal that the sunlight seems to be weird.
I have to walk approximately 3.5km to the first transmitter on my map. As long as I’m still in DX-9 I can walk normally and don’t have to worry that somebody might find me. As I’m walking, I look up at the sky. I can see a million stars shining light-years away from us, and the moon with its dented silver surface looking down on our little earth and our city. Somehow the moon always makes me feel calm and I know that even in the darkest night he will be there and shine upon my way.
[ . . . ]
N-NN is one of the abandoned sectors of the city; we suspect that somewhere here there might be a hiding place of the rebels, which is why we have the transmitters all over the sector and all the other abandoned sectors. The transmitters detect movement, and they can check to verify if it is someone from the military, a citizen, or an unauthorized person, a rebel. If they detect a rebel—or a group of them—they immediately send signals to the watch-centers in the military bases, which then send units to catch or eliminate them.
[ . . . ]
My mother always used to say, “Don’t walk in the darkness; you can never know what is waiting there until it finds you,” to scare me off. Well, mom, your plan didn’t quite work out. I wonder if people still live here or if all the houses are empty. I heard that in sector MH-HF people are still living in the old buildings, which look like they could fall apart any minute.
After crossing the park, I walk along the wall of an old building and pull out the device with the map from my backpack. There is a transmitter marked on it that’s not far away from me, maybe ten meters or so. I look around and then run across the street and into a little side street. It is almost completely empty; only two piles of paper are lying in the corner. I look along the left wall and finally see a little round thing lying on the ground, just next to the wall. If I walked along the street, I surely would think that’s just an old marble that’s been forgotten by someone. But I know better. I put the map back and take out the charger. I hold it so that its front touches the marble and push a button. For a moment nothing happens, but then a little light turns on. The transmitter is working. I put the charger away and stand up.
[ . . . ]
It takes me another hour to find and test seven more transmitters, all working. Next to me is a big building, at least five or six stories high; I think its front walls were once all covered in glass but by now they all have been shattered. Little pieces of glass are still lying on the street, sparkling in the moonlight. As I reach an intersection I see the entry to an old underground train station. The sign is long gone and planks are covering the hole in the ground, but some are missing, so one could still enter it. I have never been in one of these. They say that wild animals are living down there, but I always ask myself, Why?
An old tower clock strikes two in the morning and I turn around with a scare. This would be the perfect moment for someone to attack, as I would not be able to hear them. I run as fast as I can to the nearest shadow; I hide to survive. I listen to the silence after the clock fades away. No footsteps. No one’s there. I’m alone. I let myself sink to the ground, leaning against the wall as I take my bottle out of my backpack and drink. It feels good as the cold water runs down my throat. The minutes pass; I need some time to rest but I know I can’t stay too long in one place, because that would only make me an easy target.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Out of Coffee? No Way!


HUGE apologies today to all! We had a small to-do . . . 


and will need to delay our Coffee Chat until next Thursday, May 29.
Believe me,  no one is sadder than we are. Or more tired from the lack of a quality caffeine fix.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Editor's Notes #11: It's Good to be Busy!

I realized this morning that I'd once again not gotten an Editor's Notes post ready. Two weeks in a row! Where is my brain, you ask? Hmm . . . that might be a tough question to answer on most days, but I do have a genuine excuse reason this time.

I'm editing. A lot. This is a really good thing, because, well . . . it's what I like to do. It's what I'm decent at doing, and it's been kind of a goal of mine to have editing work if I'm to call myself an editor. Crazy, huh? 

Being a freelance editor can mean the work waxes and wanes quite a bit, depending on the season. I'm thankful to report I've not had a whole lot of waning over the past few months. Other than a few weeks in March, I've been working steadily since New Year's Day, and it doesn't look like it's letting up anytime soon. And by "steadily," I mean every afternoon or evening I have free, whether weekday or weekend. I don't like to keep people waiting, and we have a busy enough household that I don't see any sense in not taking advantage of any free hours when I have them. This also gives me a wonderful excuse to not clean the house, and I'll take those kinds of excuses and run hard and fast with them.

The whole thing has become a little more complicated since the beginning of May, as I began a new day job . . . my first have-to-leave-the-house-on-time job in twenty years, when I left the traditional work force to have a whole bunch of crazy kids. I love the new job and the people I work with, and some of the work I'm doing will both benefit from and sharpen my editing skills, but it's certainly put a dent in my free hours. Add homeschooling the last two teens to the mix and you may be wondering if I have any grey cells left at all. I've wondered that myself.

So in light of the fact that I used up twenty-six good ideas in April, and have almost missed the mark completely for May, I'm going to apologize in advance and try to get Editor's Notes back to their regular regularity on Mondays, beginning in June. In the meantime, I'm still doing Coffee Chat with S.K. Anthony on Thursdays, and I can't imagine skipping that unless she decides to head off to Jamaica again. Join us there for my favorite day of the week with one of my favorite people in the world—no, not Juan Valdez. 

S.K. Anthony. She's like the prize in the cereal box. You're never quite sure what you're going to get, but you can guarantee you'll have a good time figuring it out.

See you all on Thursday!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Coffee Chat 4.2 with S.K. Anthony: Our Facebook Issues

Hey, everyone! Amazingly enough, I'm waiting for S.K. to arrive instead of finding her in my kitchen already (or my bedroom, or at the door, or any number of places). I thought I'd look through some of our old Coffee Chats to see what we've covered, and realized we never finished our coverage of the Social Media monster. I've been wanting to talk more about it anyway, since I'm having some Facebook issues.

SK: Oh hey, Lynda! Goodness . . . how many bath towels do you own? I've been stuck in your laundry room all morning washing them for you. I got here extra early and didn't want to disturb you, since, umm . . . you didn't seem too happy about me waking you up last Thursday. Hang on; let me get us some coffee while you tell me what's bothering you this week. I know it isn't me. I've been a good girl . . . so far.

ER: Whatwhatwhatwhat . . . do you EVER sleep? [Sees a pile of fluffy towels.] Hmm, this may not be so bad. Thanks for washing the towels, man. I owe you . . . something . . . unless you’ve already come in and taken it.

SK: No, no . . . I took nothing. I even brought you some bacon to make up for eating all your goodies last time. Look out the window!

ER: [Makes the mistake of looking.] Is that—?

SK: You’re welcome.

ER: There is a live pig in my yard. A pig that is walking around. A pig. Walking. I . . . I just . . . uh . . . [Sighs.] Thank you.

SK: [Nodding vigorously.] Yep! You’re welcome.

ER: I’m not really sure I want to know where that pig came from. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t legal. Maybe we should just talk about something else, and deal with my bacon gift later.

Okay, here’s what’s bugging me today. You and I both have Facebook pages, right? I've gotta ask: Do you have much success with using it as a promotional platform? Because I have a moderate amount of "likes" on my Easy Reader Editing FB page, but it doesn't seem like a whole lot of people actually see my posts on there. I have better luck when I share my ERE posts as myself on my personal page.

SK: Define success. If by that you mean I get likes on my FB posts from my editor regularly, then yes. I'm very successful. If not then well . . . sadly no. I've had a range of 30 out of my 1,121 "likes" on my FB page "seeing" my post to over 5,000 . . . it depends on how many shares I get.

Recently Facebook made about thirty-hundred changes on its "page" features. And that's in the past year alone. Do not look up the real number, I'm exaggerating by like two numbers—otherwise I'm pretty sure I'm close. Anyway, since they went public, pages have suffered because the FB peeps are more business-oriented and are in for the money. If you and I want to make sure our "fans" see most of our posts then we have to pay up . . . umm, NO.

ER: I’m not into paying for advertising on a free social media site, especially one such as Facebook. I am one of those people who completely ignores the column with ads while skimming the page for posts of friends or family members, and I’m going to assume most people filter that type of thing without thinking about it consciously.

SK: In past years it used to be free, and I think everyone saw everything, which made it one of the best ways of keeping fans in the loop and helped with promotions. Now we have to pay and keep our fingers crossed it’s not fake "sees" we're getting. This last change (which I'm sure will change by midnight again) says: "A person has to be 'active' on your page a minimum of three times within any calendar month period. This means clicking 'like' on one of our pictures and/or posts, or just leaving a short comment. If a person is not active on your page, as listed above, after a month of no activity, their 'like' will be removed from your page. FB has decided they are not interested in your page!" (This I'm quoting from a message going around FB; I have no idea who the originator was.)

ER: That almost sounds like something I’d find on Snopes. We should have asked Raymond about that, since he’s faster than Google. I just don’t see why a person has to prove he’s active on a liked page to see that page’s posts. Really, if I liked it, doesn’t that imply I wish to see the posts? This is why I don’t do the “I’ll like yours if you like mine” swaps—I only click “like” on the pages I genuinely LIKE. And if people “like” a whole lot of pages, how are they supposed to remember to go looking for posts that aren’t showing up on their feed? It makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

AND . . . AND . . . I need more coffee. I use up all my caffeine intake at a faster rate when I get worked up like this.

SK: Okay let me get you some more coffee while I scream: EXACTLY!

I don't want FB to guess what it thinks I'm interested in. I want it to show me what I told it I'm interested in. Ugh. Anyway, and since I'm not paying nor is hardly anyone else, groups have become popular. Authors, readers, anyone who has some kind of following are creating groups and keeping their fans up to date that way . . . except now the word on the street is that FB has caught on to that. Now, they're also not showing the feed and group members have to go in the group, much like into pages, to see what is going on.

Twitter on the other hand . . . I guess its great. I don't utilize it to my advantage as much as I should. I love that you can add hashtags and anyone looking for something specific can find your tweets that way. If I was more active with readers and friends I might benefit better. Sigh. I'm just going to give up on FB and create my own community and whatnot on Google plus. It seems to be the next big thing . . . unless they start making us pay too. I’m feeling sad now. I feel like I’ll have to break up with FB soon. What do you think you’ll do?

ER: I really like FB for my personal stuff, but it’s not doing me any favors for my editing. As long as they don’t start charging me to have a business page, I’ll just keep it. I ignore the sad statistics they send me each week anyway—the ones that tell me how many people are NOT engaged with my posts.

SK: Mind if I finish off this coffee? [Sees the look on Lynda’s face.] Oh, okay, we’ll share the last of the coffee. Relax! Here eat this in the meantime. [Throws chocolate at Lynda.] By the way, I think your piggy is hungry. [Throws more chocolate at Lynda.] Thank goodness I found some chocolate in one of your socks. Pheww.

Now that we’re both calmed again, I’d like to rant one more time: And it’s not like we can come up with a plan on what to do with FB since they keep changing things. Also, what’s up with the new look? I guess I’m getting used to it but there was nothing wrong with it before. NOTHING. Well, except maybe fewer ads from them. Ugh. Social Media! Love to hate it and hate to love it.

ER: I think the ad column is wider, and the design is ticking me off because I just finished adapting to the other change they made a year ago. I’m slow like that.

I’m pretty happy for now, sticking with Coffee Chat and my Monday blog posts (which I should probably apologize for completely forgetting about this past Monday). I would like to ask our readers, though, which of the social media platforms works for them and why. I don’t have enough time in the day to put effort into something that’s not making me happy.



As always:

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is www.skanthony.com, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. 



You can find me here. I'm always here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Coffee Chat 13.0 with S.K. Anthony: We’re Back!

Hey, everyone, S.K. here. I’m back from my Jamaica trip, woot! I’m trippin’ while troopin’ and sneakin’ around. Yes, I said sneakin’ around. I’m back to my shenanigans because, well, I can’t help myself. No problem, mon! [Opens Lynda’s door.] It’s a good thing I made myself a copy of Lynda’s house keys. Keep it quiet and follow me . . .

ER: [Startles awake.] Holy cannoli! You scared me! [Realizes it's really S.K. beside the bed.] YOU'RE BACK!

SK: Shhh! You're going to wake up your husband! Come on, let’s get started. I took the liberty of warming up the banana nut muffins I found in your kitchen and made a fresh pot of coffee, mon.

ER: [Yawning.] You seem to have taken a lot of liberties, as far as I can tell . . . mon. [Looks over at Tim, miraculously still sleeping.] Um . . . give me a minute and I'll be right down.

. . . Five minutes later . . .

SK: [Sitting in the kitchen, wiping crumbs off face.] There you are, LynLyn, it took you long enough. I can’t wait to catch up! The A to Z challenge left me tired and my vacation left me relaxed. What did you do while I was gone?

ER: I'm pretty sure I just cried. I don't really remember much after you texted me to say goodbye. [Looks around.] Didn't you say there were muffins?

SK: Oh, well there were only three . . . and you took forever to get ready. One thing led to another and I finished it all, but don't worry about it, you can make more if you want.

So did you get a chance to rest after the big A to Z challenge ended?

ER: Well, I did a little thing I like to call “Finally Getting Something Else Done.” On Thursday, I tried to do Coffee Chat without you but I gave up after I couldn't think of any questions that didn't end with "why am I not in Jamaica?" I wrapped up the first rounds of a book edit on Friday, and Saturday and Sunday were busy with things that didn't go in A to Z order, didn't need my Red Pen of Doom, and didn't require a comment.

Did you think of me every day you were gone? I bought some of those little umbrellas for your coffee like one of the Coffee Chat commenters suggested. I thought maybe they would make the transition back to reality a nice one.

SK: “Finally Getting Something Else Done!” This I have yet to achieve. I just got back, unpacked, and now the laundry is sitting there mocking me, but hey, at least I had some yummy muffins to help me feel better, and those little umbrellas will sure help even more. Did I think of you every day I was gone? Definitely. Except not really. A little bit? Ahem, I mean . . . of course! I thought I was suffering from Internet withdrawals, but it must have been you I was missing.

Now I’m back to the grind and I'm slowly catching up with blogs. I missed the last two days of A to Z and it almost seems like everything else piled up right along with the challenge. It's a shame really. There are so many awesome bloggers and I don't want to miss their creative posts. Speaking of the challenge, of all the new blogs you discovered, give me one of your favorite A to Z bloggers. Yes, only one. Otherwise we will never finish this chat.

ER: Ava Quinn at Tongue in Cheek had me laughing every single day.

And I won a book on TheWriteGame, C. Lee McKenzie’s blog! All because I didn't know who anyone in her posts was, but kept trying anyway. Her cat loves me. Loves. Me.

SK: I didn't know anyone either and yet you won it? You bullied that cat! I'm sure of it . . . nicely played, Lynda. Nicely played.

My top favorite was Michelle over at Writer-in-Transit with her interactive posts. I loved the different book illustrations she provided for us to caption.

ER: Me too! That was a great one. Did you have any blogs you "found" that surprised you? I tracked down all my new commenters; I enjoyed a lot of flash fiction, random stuff, and my "surprise like" blog was Sue McPeak's CollectinTexas Gal. Sue took old forgotten photos and created short fiction around them. So creative and intriguing!

SK: Yes! I never really gave quilting much thought until I "met" Fanny Barnes Thornton. I found myself fascinated by her work; they're all a piece of art. One of my favorite lines of hers was: "Some quilts are like novels - they're never finished or have to be re-worked, and you can spend about the same amount of time on them." I can see how this is true, even if I've never done a quilt myself. It's just amazing how all types of artists—as different as we all are—can share the same experiences.

Did you have any favorite post or comments from your own challenge? I really enjoyed all of YOUR replies on “Cliché” day. So hilarious! And your commenters were by far the best and most fun, they were all interacting with each other and it almost seemed like an all day party over here, especially on “X” day. Well, a party that lasted the whole month with nightly breaks, that is.

ER: My cliché comments were the cat’s meow. The bee’s knees. And a pain in the butt, but well worth the effort. “X” day’s comment’s? Ohhh . . . My commenters in general made the challenge great for me.

SK: I’m not sure about mine. I did enjoy reading about my fellow twitchilators a.k.a. OCD peeps. It’s always nice to know you’re not the only weirdo around, ya know?

ER: There’s great comfort in that. Then again, you’re talking to the weirdo who came up with a dumb A to Z haiku every day for Raymond Esposito’s Writing in a Dead World. And you purple prose-d him almost to death with your comments on his blog. It’s nice to have friends we can abuse.

SK: I did and boy, I had fun with that! Since time was the most challenging aspect of the whole A to Z thing, I didn’t get a chance to visit as many bloggers as I’d hoped. I plan on still checking out participants in the future . . . after I catch my breath a little bit. How about you? Wanna do some stalking with me?

ER: I’m with you, stalking buddy! That’s the great thing about the A to Z: those posts will still be around, and better late than never, I say, when it comes to blog visits.

SK: It sure was fun! A to Z Challenge 2015, get ready for us! We might even do a joint series to kick things up a notch. What do you guys think? A Coffee Chat A to Z Theme—yes, no, maybe? Hmm . . . ideas are swirling!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Before you go share with us: Who were some of your favorite A to Z bloggers?



As our blogging challenge did end, a few great bloggers had us in joy, kneeling from the laughter many new and old posters quietly and randomly shared. To us very brave wonderful xantax-free yet zesty A to Z challengers, Cheers!


As always:

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is www.skanthony.com, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. 



You can find me here. I'm always here.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Reflections on the A to Z Challenge



I survived! Not only did I survive, but I thrived. 

Yes, I felt exhausted. It was overwhelming at times. I felt as if the month was experiencing a rip in the time-space continuum, alternately flying by and dragging its way along.

You know what, though? When all was said and done, I really enjoyed myself. I set about the whole thing in the smartest way I knew how, accounting for my time limits and tendency to procrastinate: I wrote and scheduled all twenty-six of my posts ahead of time. In fact, I was almost in a panic because I didn't finish getting them all ready until mid-March.

It turns out I was wise to prepare in that way, because visiting blogs, commenting, and answering comments on my own blog took a LOT more time than I thought it would. I had tried to pre-screen a few dozen blogs prior to the challenge so I could bookmark the ones I wanted to visit, but I soon found out that staying caught up was easier said than done. Still, I tried my best and felt I succeeded on many levels.

I managed to visit the bloggers I was already following, and found at least two dozen more that I liked enough to add. I never made it back to the master list of participants, because I mostly tried to keep up with those visiting me, those I followed, and maybe a few new people here and there if I thought their comments elsewhere were interesting.

I didn't really have goals set; I just wanted to get to know some new people and maybe find some new readers. On that front, the results exceeded any expectations I could have had. My number of blog followers more than doubled (which wasn't difficult, considering the number I started with), and with that, the number of comments increased.

And oh, the comments! I have to hand it to my blog visitors. Not only did they provide some terrific comments, they did something that made me smile: they talked to each other. It was like throwing a party with a variety of friend groups and having them successfully mingle. I really loved the fact that they felt comfortable replying to anyone's comments as well as leaving their own. There were a few days where I just sat back and laughed, and wondered if I had anything to even add by replying. And I'm not going to lie, the comments on my "X" day were my favorite, though I will never look at poor Captain America in the same way.

THANK YOU to all those who took the time to visit, comment, and follow, and to those who worked so hard to organize the whole thing!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Coffee Chat 0.0: S.K. is GONE!

Today is Thursday. 

Thursday is Coffee Chat day.

BUT . . .

My Coffee Chat buddy is not in my kitchen.

No one has snuck in my window.

No one has picked up a guest . . .

. . . or two . . .

No one has shown up stinking drunk at my back door,

or even called me to cancel our weekly date.

Why, you ask?

Somebody whose name I won't mention decided to go on a vacation with her husband. To Jamaica. Since I'm typing this post, I think you can all guess I'm not typing it from a beach chair. So I may as well just say it.

S.K. has deserted me.

Thankfully, this is only temporary, and we'll be back next week with brand-new coffee and a brand-new bunch of rambling conversation—unlike those reruns linked above.

For this week, though? This is S.K.'s happy place:

And this . . . sigh . . . is me:

No worries. I need the recovery time from A to Z anyway. 

Rest up, everyone, and enjoy some down time! See you next week!