Overcoming the block

A while back I talked about the lack of creativity I have been dealing with. I figured out what it was. I had been to busy with home projects to focus on much else.

It’s a pretty lame reason to not be able to write, but it makes sense. Have you ever been there? You know, the point where anything else on your plate just kinda shuts you down? These are normal times.

Life happens. For me it was a mess of a house that needed a ton of work before we could move in. Then we had a bunch of projects after we moved jn. I would be up until 3 am working some nights.

When you mix in 3 kids and a wife with her hands full at school, and just needing some extra stress relief, it gets busy. Don’t let life make you feel like you’ve lost your edge.

Just a few months ago I was buried in writing work. The last 2 months, not a thing. I am trying to pick up more things here and there. I know it will come. Sometimes, you just need to empty off your plate.

Now for some updates, Morgan Goes Fishing is getting a new series behind it. It will be a sight words based series based on Morgan. I am writing them to be progressive stories. Each one more difficult than the last. Morgan Goes Fishing will be a more difficult book.

Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon, is being shortened. Write for the age, not the reading level if you are writing a story based on someone you love. Ricky is 6 and reads on a 4th grade level. You can’t combine those. Write for the age. They will enjoy it more. It will be out next year.

Bella and Betty Bear’s Big Fight will be out next year. This will complete the stories written for my kids. Illustration on Ricky and Bella will be my hold ups as I secure the funding.

I am moving forward with an eBay based book store. I have mostly history books listed now, but stop in and check it out. It’s at Little Books and Hobbies on ebay.

So, I can get moving again. When you come to these times, don’t force it. They happen. Writing will never stop. The creativity will slow down here and there, or your ideas will be crap. Don’t get discouraged. When the ideas hit, run with them. Even if they take some time to come to you.

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Author Interview with Claressa Swensen

I finally got the opportunity to do another Author Interview. I have worked with Claressa Swensen in the past, and really enjoyed it. She reached out to me a few days ago to see if I did any author interviews. Knowing her work, I couldn’t pass it up. I hope you guys enjoy it. I will be including links and pictures along the way, so you can find her work.

So, let me introduce you to, Miss Claressa Swensen.

Q: How many books have you written?
A: I have published four books, however I have written many more than that. I frequently come up with story ideas that either get started and never finished, or I finish them but never pursue publishing.

Q: We know writing isn’t always the most lucrative business. Are you a full time author, or do you do other work as well?
A: I am a stay at home mommy, my daughter keeps me on my toes so I don’t always find time in the day to write like I should.

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Find it here: http://a.co/d/4wFlBtl

Q: What goals have you set for yourself in your writing career?
A: I think it would be fun to write a series. I hope to build up enough confidence to do a school assembly. And hey, who says I can’t win a literary award?

Q: What are some of your favorite events to sell your books at?
A: I find library and bookstore readings a lot of fun, because I really get to interact 1-on-1 with the kids who read my stories. I also love events where I get to network with other authors. It’s fun to meet other people in the same profession as you.

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Find it here: http://a.co/d/8XWW8B1

Q: Think of your first book, are you happy with the end results? If not, what would you change?
A: Although I definitely see my writing get better with every book, I wouldn’t change a thing about the first. It’s all part of the writing process, I get to watch myself grow as an author.

Q: Is there a part of the process, after writing, that you enjoy most?
A: Yes, I love being able to collaborate with the artist on how we want the illustrations to turn out. Also, there is no better feeling than the one you get holding that very first physical copy of a book you created. I would compare it to the first time you hold your own child, not quite the same, but so close!

image4
http://a.co/d/7LqZzNZ

Q: What award do you think would be the most exciting to win?
A: I don’t know; Caldecott, Newbery, Moonbeam. An award is an award, and it would be amazing to have my work appreciated that much.

Q: What is your favorite book you wrote? Why?
A: With every book, my favorite turns into the latest release I have. I get passionate about new projects and suddenly my focus is all on that book.

image5
http://a.co/d/6h2uAPC

Q: How many books do you hope to release?
A: As many as I possibly can. It’s so much fun, I just don’t see why I would ever stop.

Q: Where can people find you and all of your amazing books?
A: My website is http://www.ClaressaSwensen.com. My books can also be found under my name on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And don’t forget to follow me on Facebook at Facbook.com/ClaressaSwensenOfficial!

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http://www.ClaressaSwensen.com

Claressa is awesome. Her books are adorable and you can tell she is proud. Go show her a little support at any of her links. You can follow any of the links in the pictures above to get right to the one you want. All are available in e-book format as well. Be looking forward to more interviews and book promotions coming soon.

I Broke My Writing

It has been about 3 months since I have really been able to do any writing. Nothing clicks, nothing is interesting and I don’t really want to. This is a major problem.

I spent six years of my life with my health spiralling down, and watching my strength and skills waste away. This is when I started getting more creative. The depression that came with my health issues gave me some creativity.

Now, I have none. I have come to a standstill with my writing. My books are just sitting there unwritten. Just a thought on a paper. I still want to write them, there’s just nothing there.

I have however been more active than I have been in years. See, just a couple years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I spent two years getting worse and weaker.

One day after I read about a magnesium deficiency, I tried a supplement out. Since then, I am off all of my Parkinson’s meds, and I have the energy I did when I was 25. All because of this supplement.

Nature Made High Potency Magnesium Softgels, 60 count https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002RS6PN4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_Gpj-BbWC3A1S1

This is a miracle in my eyes. It’s been an awesome restart to my life. I can play with my kids, work on my cars, and perform home repairs with no issue. It’s the life I had watched fade away, but it has come with the cost of my writing.

I’m not depressed like I was. I am not afraid to go off on my own to do things. It’s been an amazing few months, but I don’t know what I need to do to start writing again.

What are some tips you have for getting back into it. I may need to start hiking again. It always inspired me, and after gaining 60 pounds, it can’t hurt.

After seeing my shakes, weakness, fatigue, irritability, and anxiety drop, I have to say, i wish I had found that article 6 years earlier. If you experience any of the symptoms above, or just can’t figure out what’s wrong, look into magnesium and calcium supplements. Of course, talk to your doctor.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got today. More of a vent session and a bit of a thing to be grateful for.

I Hate Rejecting Reviews

Hello everyone. In one of my last post I mentioned an upcoming book review. I was really looking forward to doing another one. I have missed it over the last couple of months. However, if something falls short, I won’t review it.

Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen. Not for this story. When I read the story I noticed too many editing issues. I’m not an editor, as I have stressed before. I am thinking that nobody else is either, which I know is wrong and I speak strictly in sarcasm.  Seriously though, why isn’t this taken seriously.

I know when I write something I really put thought into it. I am a picky person, but since I don’t do well with my own punctuation, I try not to judge others. If I do find something, I mention it. When it comes to the flow of a story, that is something that kills me to see.

I have every reason to believe that authors aren’t out to just knock out as many titles as possible. I know we want to put out a quality piece. Nobody has ever set out with the idea that they wanted to write garbage and leave it. I know I haven’t anyway.

Now, this story I read was not garbage, and I don’t want anyone to think that is what I felt about it. There were however issues. Let’s look over some of the things to consider when writing something. I  won’t go too deep into this.

First, make your story clear. When introducing a character, please introduce them in a way that makes sense. Don’t just throw it in. Make it feel like it belongs. Try not to throw in a top hat wearing penguin into a story set in the desert. It doesn’t make sense.

Second, if an editor makes a recommendation, use it. They mean well. If you aren’t sure of the flow, by all means, get a serious second opinion. Don’t be upset if someone says, dude, this is bad. It’s criticism, we all get it.

Finally, make it flow. Nobody wants to read a book that makes no sense. When it is a kid’s book, make it so they can follow it. I read every book I review to my kids. At ages 6,4 and 3, I get a great feel for what kids will like. If a story doesn’t interest them, it likely won’t interest most kids. So please, don’t be offended if someone says that it doesn’t make sense.

I have read books that I have removed from our collection. It’s not an easy thing to do. I love books, and so do my children. We are a book family. After reading literally thousands of stories, I have a bit of an idea of what works. I try to use that in my reviews.

I want to give a good review. That is why I am here. It is never my goal to rip someone apart and destroy their dreams. I just know what a quality story is. That being said, I am a little disappointed in Morgan Goes Fishing. I know I formatted it wrong. I will eventually reformat it and get it a new chance at life. I love the story, but I fell short.

I know the disappointment of falling short. That is why I want to make the books I review the best chance I can. If you have a story to review, please feel free to submit it to my email. I am always willing to take on another story. You know I will be honest, and I won’t share any personal details with a story I reject.

I am done with my rant for the day. Just a quick reminder, a critic won’t kill you. Ya’ll have a great day.

Dan

 

A Problem With Editors

Editors are an essential part of the writing world. They give insight we need. I desperately need all the input i can get, especially for punctuation. I welcome the critiques.

So where is the issue? Simple, a lack of professional response.

I had Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon sent to an editor. I know perfectly well it’s not perfect. She was eager, so I gave her a sneak peak. I didn’t expect a great review since it was it wasn’t finished.

What I got back was a less formal response than I have gotten from my chosen at random critique group. Some tips were well warranted. Others, well, I wondered if she even read the story.

As an editor you should have a clear and professional response. I expect a well and properly written response. Capitalize your sentences, punctuate. If I can criticize punctuation there is a problem.

A three paragraph run-on sentence is not the sign of a quality editor. No remarks on your horrible punctuation is also an issue. If you submit to an editor, expect them to respond as an editor.

Our stories are our passion. We want them to be the best they can be. When you reach the point of editing, be prepared to be crushed in many cases. Expect to be nitpicked.

If you get a response that isn’t professional, move on. The work you receive from them should have the same passion and thought as what you put in yourself. If they can’t structure a sentence, for the sake if your story, find someone else.

Just a little tip this week from a recent experience that really frustrated me. Being new to the business is no excuse for settling.

Let’s Promote Children’s Reading

Hello again. On an finally done with my month of insanity. There is still plenty to be done, but I can slow down. At least for now.

This means one really exciting thing, I can promote stuff again. I have some book reviews coming up that always prove to be popular. It’s coming this weekend.

As an author, I also get to push my own books again. Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon is well under way. For this month, and through my page only, Morgan Goes Fishing will be dropped to $5.99. Amazon is $7.99.

Education is important to my family. My wife is a teacher and I write children’s books. It works. So we are running a promo through the month of November.

Illustrations are in the planning stages for Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon. I added to it, and it has taken shape as either a short story or a small chapter book. Updates will be made on progress as we go along.

That’s all I have for today. Keep an eye out for the upcoming book reviews. If you have something you would like reviewed, please email me. It’s free and we can have some fun.

Also, grab your little reader a copy of Morgan Goes Fishing all month. Find it under my Welcome page. We can always use a like and a share, so go ahead, like it, share it. I promise, I don’t mind.

 

Why I disappeared

We all have times in our lives when we just kind of disappear. This last month has been one of those times. I have kind of just shut down and avoided all of social media and sites. Probably not the best business move., but here is why it happened: We bought a house.

We live in a small town. Not the place we will stay, but it works for now. The opportunity to buy this house came along and we couldn’t really pass it up. Then we walked in to the place. I had to question my judgement.

We bought a house from hoarders. I mean, really, really bad hoarders. I am a minimalist and the overwhelming garbage in the house shut me down. It took us nearly two full weeks to clean out just the garbage. We filled a 12 yard dumpster in trash just from 3 rooms.

I then found out they were holding stuff for other people in the house, and didn’t bother mention it. So, we had people digging through the dumpster to get the stuff out that belonged to them. That’s fine I suppose.

When we were finally able to see the floors, I decided the carpet had to go. Luckily we found some pretty decent hard wood floors under it. If not for this scraper we would have never gotten to it. http://a.co/d/cKg0IfG

It is an ugly job, but it made it a lot easier. It helps to break the glue and under layers to remove the carpet. Finding the floors in the condition they were in made my day. Down the road we will rent a sander and refinish them. The house was built in 1920, so they need a little love. We have a lot of work to do, but it will be well worth it.

My next job is tearing out some plaster on a couple walls and hanging drywall over the lath. The shared wall between the living room and kitchen had a leak by the chimney and it messed up the plaster, so it has to go. That will have to wait until summer.

We are finishing up the bedroom paint and then we can finish moving in. It has been a long month, but the end is in sight. I am quick to get overwhelmed and shut down while I remedy a situation.

I have been doing some work on Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon. This is my latest short story that I am writing for my son. It has been a fun one too. I also have books for sale through my Biblio.com page, https://www.biblio.com/bookseller_info.php?d=2916574

I am also on Instagram and Pinterest both @danlittle104. Follow me there and feel free to check out Biblio. Give me a like and a share. If you comment, I will do my best to respond. I am really trying to start a harder push here. Things are leveling out on this end.

 

When You Have To Walk Away

Some decision aren’t easy to make. Sometimes if you are lucky they do the work for you. Today, I got the first one. It has been brewing for a while, but I was hoping things would level out.

After four months and little progress I stepped down as the Author for The Lizzie Andrews Series. There were a lot of factors that helped to make the decision. That didn’t make it any better, really it just made me mad at myself for waiting so long.

This project started in May or June. In had high hopes for it, but creative differences really do throw a lot of weight into a situation. It was set to be completed by October 1st, but it was changed. It was pushed back to the end if January. Then it was cancelled.

What were the problems? 1. My collaborator ignored all of my ideas. Try writing a 25,000 word book with less than a paragraph of information to work with, and creative license removed. It won’t happen. 2. The ideas would change by the day. What was the plan on Monday, would be changed a lot of times by Monday evening. 3. My opinion didn’t count because I was a man. I know, all the sexism stuff, let’s not start on it. If there was an idea, and there were several, that I didn’t think fit into the scope of the book, I would be told my opinion didn’t matter because I’m not a woman or mother. 4. Refusal to pay.

Now, I am a proud supporter of team work. I went well above my call of duty to make this come to life. I recruited a new illustrator when our original quit. Then I kept our new one from quitting, when our collaborator could never be pleased.

Finally, after countless hold ups and withheld information, I got the chance to write the first chapter. When I submitted it to her, I knew there would be edits. It’s part of the business.

The suggestions came, no problem. Then all of the sudden she was going to send my work to her sister to “See if it was any good” as she put it. This was my breaking point. The sister has never been a part of the project, and apparently she is an author as well.

I saw this as another piece I worked hard on that would be turned over and butchered by someone else. It wouldn’t be the first time in the process that I submitted I piece, like for a promo, and got back something I didn’t even recognize. So I had enough.

I listed my issues with the project, much like above, and told my collaborator that I had to take my name off the project. Our creative goals were too far apart, and the dealings were turning shady. I had to think about the goals of my business as a writer, and Lizzie no longer fit in.

When you get to a point that honesty is in question, it’s a red flag. Keep in mind, I have 4 months and 2 cancelled contracts with not so much as a penny received. Then she asked for all of my outlines and layouts for the book.

As an author, i put in my contracts, that a failure to pay means I keep all the work i put in. I think it’s common sense. I just simply denied her request and moved on.

I can’t take it all as a loss though. The $1,000 would have been nice though. This is not an easy business to be in. I love it, I love the stories and I love my fellow authors. I don’t think I am cut out to collaborate.

If you are, by all means, do it. Just watch your back and stick to your guns. When a job is no longer fun, consider it’s worth. Don’t be afraid to walk away and do what is a good move for you personally.

I am done venting now. Thanks for reading. I will be able to get back to my own writings more now. So, keep an eye out for Good Knight Ricky and the Bad Joke Dragon, and check out Morgan Goes Fishing. Y’all have a good day.

Dan

Simple ghost hunt tools

As you all know I am a bit of a spook enthusiast. I have spent years reading, watching and learning about our mysterious friends. Over the years I have seen a lot of tools used. I use two that have always done well and i have one that I am experimenting with, I won’t recommend it until I know more.

I am of the mentality, if a place is haunted, it’s always haunted. Fancy tools aren’t needed to prove it. So I keep it simple.

My personal favorite is a mini maglight like this.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00938T182/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_vHKRBbD5PEJTJ

This is about as simple as it gets. A good twist top to turn on and you are up and running. All you have to do is loosen the top to the point of needing slight contact to turn the light on.

When you start answering simple yes and no questions, you will get a response in the form of a light being turned on. The first time I had this work for myself, I freaked out a little. I asked the question, “If you are here with me, turn on the light.” It listened. I was not prepared for that for some reason.

Next, I prefer a simple digital voice recorder. Preferably something that can be connected to a computer for easier review. One like this is fine

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079FLFBVL/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_ROKRBbPAQ6EGN.

Really, on these, cheap is fine. The more you spend the finer the sound, but if you are just getting started, this is great. I have picked up spurred footsteps, wagon wheel squeaking and knocking on even the cheapest one i could find.

I am experimenting with a laser grid. So far i haven’t had much luck. But you won’t always anyway.

A lot of people use apps or their recorder on their phone. I personally don’t trust them. I don’t know why. If you know a good app to try, let me know and I will for sure check it out. I’m openminded.

If you want to check do a hunt, you really can use the simplest of tools. You will learn what you prefer. Don’t be discouraged if it isn’t high end stuff. It’ll still do the job.

It’s Friday, which means it’s exploration night. Go out and do a lite exploring too. Have some fun, but stay safe.

Stolen Scooby

I haven’t shared a good growing up story in quite some time. I was watching a video on YouTube and remembered this one. Thinking back on it almost 20 years later, and it’s still an odd story.

My cousin Brandon, sister Tonya, one of Brandon’s friends and me decided we were going to a movie in Sturgis Michigan. Not an exciting time, but fun. Brandon had his car, the Scooby mobile full of Scooby Doo stuffed animals.

My personal preference is Rocky and Bullwinkle.

We went into the theaters enjoyed the movie. I can’t remember for the life of me what we saw. When the movie was over, we got to the car to find it had been stripped clean of all his stuffed animals. I believe his CD ‘s were gone too. I can’t remember.

He reported it to the police and we moved on. On the way home, we stopped for gas at a little station in Howe, IN. It was a warm night, the windows were rolled down and we were all talking while he out gas in.

Out of nowhere a car pulled up and the driver shouted, “Hey man, are you missing something?” Then drove away laughing.

After a few minutes of confusion we realized it was the guy who stole the stuff, and the Scooby mobile was easy to spot. It was a 1986 Chevy Nova. Not a sexy car by any means.

We had to take the friend home, about 45 minutes away. Suddenly a car was flying up behind us, then turned on its high beams. It started passing us, slowed down beside us for a second the finished going around. It was weird too.

A little ways up the road a car was coming toward us, just as it got close enough, they turned on it’s high beams and drove by. At this point we were starting to freak out. We didn’t know what was going on.

By the time we reached the friends house we had been passed by what we were convinced was the same car 4 times. Twice from behind, twice from the opposite direction. Each time with the high beams done the same way.

It was one of those nights that makes no sense at all. I don’t remember if he got any of the scooby stuff back, but we did get a fun story to tell.

We were scared. We were confused. We were scoobyless. Really, it was a win for us.