Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Five years ago, I was invited to give the address to graduates from our local high school. I was honoured to do so, particularly since my daughter was graduating, and so I knew many students in the class. Since it’s that time of year again, I thought I’d share my thoughts from that time with everyone. The advice in it is really not only for young people. :)

Good evening, everyone, and good evening especially to you, the graduates of 2012. (And if I’ve been to your English class lately, yes, it’s me again. And I thought talking to twenty of you at once was intimidating!)

Actually, I’m very pleased to have been invited to speak to you tonight. I’ve known many of you since you started school, and I’ve watched you grow into wonderful young men and women. I’ve met more of you through school visits, and I know that this class of 2012 is full of kindness, intelligence, spirit, talent, and potential.

When I was invited to do this, at first I wasn’t quite sure what I should say. My guidelines were to give you some “sage advice.” Now, for one thing, I’m much too young to be giving “sage” advice! But I guess I have learned a few things worth sharing. I think they’re some of the ingredients for a happy life. (Don’t worry, it’s not a long or complicated recipe.)

Learn to say “yes.”
I don’t mean, “be a doormat.” I mean, “open yourself to opportunities.” It’s almost always easier to say “no,” especially if we’re presented with an opportunity that seems intimidating, or outside our comfort zone, or more than we’re qualified for. Say yes anyway. It’s only by taking on things that challenge us that we learn our true capabilities and allow ourselves to grow. So make “yes” your default answer when opportunity presents itself.

Learn to say “no.”
When “yes” is your default, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So learn to say “no” sometimes, too. I know your life seems quite full right now, but once you add in careers and spouses and children and houses and bills and volunteering and grocery shopping and housework and yardwork and travel and deadlines—it’s going to get busier. And in order to give all those things the attention they need—you need a little time to stop and think once in a while. To refocus on the important things and let go of the not-so-important ones. So learn to balance “yes” and “no” wisely.

Remember that who and what you are today is not necessarily who and what you will be tomorrow.
Life is about change and possibility. There’s a lot of pressure on you right now to decide what you are going to be. Don’t let that overwhelm you. All you are really deciding is what you are going to do—at least for the next little while. If you change your mind later, it’s all right. It doesn’t mean you made a mistake. When I left Memorial, I headed for journalism school. Then I changed my mind and became a lawyer for a time. Then I changed my mind again when I realized that I wasn’t happy—and I went back to writing, because that’s where my heart is. But if I hadn’t gone to law school and worked as a lawyer, I probably wouldn’t have met the person who would become one of my best friends and one of my partners in publishing. So even if your path is a winding one, that doesn’t mean you’ve strayed off course. Very few lives are a straight road—and straight roads are generally not nearly as interesting as winding ones.

Create something.
Without a doubt, we live in a consumer society. We consume material things like clothes and cell phones, we consume entertainment like TV shows and movies, we consume far too much of far too many things that are “bad” for us. So to balance all this consumption, I encourage you to also take time to create something. It’s strange how many people deny their creativity—they say, “Oh, I’m not creative”—when what I think they really feel is that they’re not creative enough to do something that someone else would consider “good.” But I think that making things is good for us. You might be a writer or a filmmaker or an artist or a songwriter. You might build bridges or design buildings or craft a new scientific theory. Or you could be a scrapbooker or a woodworker or a gardener. Or you could take pictures or sew things or make music or restore old cars or make a funny video that goes viral. If you don’t create for anyone else, create for yourself. I like this quote from the American journalist William F. Buckley, Jr. He said: “I get satisfaction of three kinds. One is creating something, one is being paid for it, and one is the feeling that I haven’t just been sitting on my butt all afternoon.”

So even if you’re not being paid for it, don’t just sit on your butt all afternoon. Create things.

Think for yourself.
Every generation probably hears this, but I think it is especially important in the world right now. We are facing a lot of BIG issues—political, religious, scientific, global—and the rate of societal change is possibly the fastest it has ever been. You will have to make decisions on many of these issues, so I urge you to be informed, consider the facts, and decide for yourself. Just because your parents or your friends or a politician or your favorite celebrity or some guy on YouTube tells you something, does not necessarily make it true. You can respect their opinions, but think for yourself, and be true to your own decisions.

Don’t strive for normal.
Since the time you started school, you’ve probably been preoccupied with being “normal” or “fitting in.” But what does “normal” mean? It means “standard” or “common” or “average.” I want you all to do something. Put your thumbs and fingertips together, and look through the opening that forms. That’s “normal.” Now look around you, everywhere else. That’s the rest of your possibilities. Do you really want to fit into that little space called “normal?” Don’t be afraid to live outside the boundaries, even just a little. I think you’ll be happier for it.

You are never too old.
You’ve been told many times in the past eighteen or nineteen years that you’re “too young” to do this or that. And while that is sometimes true—you really are too young to drive a car at age twelve, or get married in Grade Three—before long you’ll start thinking (or society will tell you) that you’re “too old” to do things. Don’t believe it. You are never too old to do things you think you’ll enjoy, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Want to play on a playground? Do it. Change your job? Do it. Learn a new sport, or hobby, or language? Do it. If you truly believe that you are not too old to do something, then you won’t be. But you have to start believing it now, so that doubts and that tiny space called “normal” don’t hold you back later.

Finally, I want to mention the Ethic of Reciprocity. You may think you don’t know what that is, but I’m betting that you do. You might know it as the Golden Rule, which commonly goes something like: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” But it’s a concept that goes far beyond that. The idea that the best way to get along in life is to treat others the way we would like to be treated stretches back as far as the ancient civilizations of Babylon, China, Egypt, and Greece, and it stretches across almost every world culture, religion, and ethical code. In Islam, it’s “wish for others what you wish for yourself”; in Buddhism, it’s “treat not others in ways that you would find hurtful”; in Judaism, it’s “what is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” And so on, and so on.

It’s easy to say it, but when you take a step back and look at it, it’s quite elegant in its simplicity. You can hang almost every other moral and ethical principle on this one directive. Take a minute and really think about what kind of world we would live in if we always considered the other in all of our social interactions. In business, in relationships, in our everyday life. If we always took a brief second to judge our actions by that one, simple test—if someone did or said this to me, would it harm or upset me? If you forget everything else I’ve said here tonight as soon as you leave, I hope this one, at least, will stick. I really think it has the power to change the world.

And that’s it—say yes, say no, expect and accept change, make things, think for yourself, forget about normal, never think you’re “too old,” and always consider the other. My recipe for a happy life! You have already made all of us—your parents, your teachers, your families—incredibly proud, and I hope that as you start down your own winding paths, you’ll find some of these ingredients useful.

There’s a quote that goes: “When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.”

Go and be the ones who make it happen!

Thank you.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Well, yes, on the East Coast of Canada, we certainly get more than two weeks of winter. Winter meanders in sometime mid-November, hunkers down, and usually has to be forcibly evicted sometime in May. Occasionally it will pack its bags in April, if we’re really lucky.

But the past two weeks have been…worse than usual. Last week my high-school-aged son had three snow days…this week he’s had four. He’s not complaining, and I’ll admit it–I’ve enjoyed being able to sleep later than usual. But–wow. I’m not sure what the two-week accumulation has been, but in one day we had 70+ cm (that’s around 28 inches for my non-metric friends), so you can imagine that the two-week total is considerable. My office window sits at ground level, and it’s a good thing I have an OTT Light on my desk, because sunshine’s been in short supply.

My office window on Valentine’s Day. Not much light creeping through that snow drift!

We had more last night, although a mere few centimetres. And the forecast for the next few days…only flurries!

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Cerevare crop

This is Cerevare, but you knew that, right?

If you’ve read Dark Beneath the Moon, you might have noticed references to solanto cookies made by the Lobor historian, Cerevare Brindlepaw, when she’s on the Tane Ikai. They’re described as “…crunchy…brown-sugar-sweet…filled with roga-nut spice from Renata and drizzled with a sweet glaze.”

Sound delectable? Yes, I thought so, too, when I dreamed them up.

(Funny story as an aside: I was invited to attend a book club meeting one time, when they discussed the first Nearspace book, One’s Aspect to the Sun. The only real complaint they had with the book was that there wasn’t enough food in it, because their custom is to make food from whatever book they’re discussing and bring it to that meeting. Ever since, I make sure there’s food in my books. You have to listen to your readers.)

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So back to the cookies. The idea of figuring out the recipe has been simmering (pun intended) in the back of my mind for a while, but recently I felt ready to try it out. Now, unfortunately, I don’t have access to roga-nut spice from the planet Renata, and I suspect you don’t, either. However, the recipe below uses a reasonable facsimile, and these are just about how I imagined Cerevare’s cookies.

(They also appear in the draft of the newest Nearspace book, still under construction. Apparently Cerevare taught Rei how to make them, when I wasn’t looking.)

If you’re feeling like a literary treat today, give them a try! The recipe makes about 18 cookies and should double up just fine if you want a bigger batch.

Cerevare’s Solanto Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 c. margarine (I like an olive oil type, but any will do.)
1 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/4 c. chopped pecans (you could also use walnuts, or leave out the nuts altogether)
Optional glaze: A few tbsp. icing sugar and a bit of milk

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Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream margarine and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla–don’t over-beat, just combine it all. In a smaller bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to sugar mixture all at once and mix just until everything is incorporated. Dough will be on the soft, wet side. Stir in the nuts.

Shape into balls and place on a cookie sheet. I used a 1-1/2 tbsp. ejecting scoop for this and it made them the perfect size. The cookies will spread out and flatten as they bake so leave lots of room between them on the cookie sheet.

These actually turned out to be a little close. If you don't want them to spread together, space them more than this!

These actually turned out to be a little close. If you don’t want them to spread together, space them more than this!

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges have started to look a bit crisp and wrinkly, but center is still soft. They should be a nice golden brown with darker edges. Take them out of the oven and leave them on the cookie sheet for a minute or so, then remove carefully (they’ll still be somewhat soft) to a cooling rack.

They’re delicious with or without the glaze, but Cerevare does glaze them in the book. So if you’re inclined, mix up your icing sugar and milk (a slightly thicker glaze stays on the cookies better) and drizzle it on once the cookies have cooled a bit. (See above picture).

Serve them up with your favorite caff, chai, tea, or other hot drink, whether it be earthly or interstellar.

IMG_5022Let me know if you try them, and how they turn out!

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

NaNoMusingsSometimes it doesn’t matter how much time you spend thinking about a story or a story problem, the answers only come when you sit in your writing space, put your fingers on the keyboard and start to write. So “I need to think this through” can become an excuse instead of a productive exercise.

Of course it helps to mainline coffee and chocolate, too.

*Relient K, “Over Thinking”

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

old deskWhat? How can it be Friday again already?

Well, let’s see what I have for the desk report this week. I cooked and ate a lot of food over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and hung out with my family.

I did quite a bit more work on my Nearspace bible in preparation to begin the new novel, and I wrote almost two thousand words of new story notes. While doing some research reading I had a HUGE epiphany about how a lot of things fall into place in this novel, and honestly, when that happens, that’s enough of an accomplishment to make you feel good about the whole week! My brain is now telling me I’m ready to start writing, but I know that’s not true yet. It’s just that my brain gets overexcited about these things sometimes. Calm down. Not long now.

I got a short story rejection and sent out a new submission for that story the same day. Which reminded me of one of my favorite essays from back in the day when Speculations was still a print publication. It was “How Many Times Do You Have To Be Told No?” by James Van Pelt and it made a big impression on me as a new-ish writer (I still have a copy of that issue, so I went and re-read it for fun. It’s just as relevant today as it ever was). The tagline for the article was The sun sets on no rejected manuscript in my house and I have tried hard over the years to make that my creed for submitting stories.

I tweaked my NaNoWriMo guest blog post for Liana Brooks and saw it go live here on Thursday. And I read the page proofs for my story in the upcoming 2016 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide from Dreaming Robot Press. I’m really excited to read all of the stories in this anthology.

And I discovered two new very nice reviews for One’s Aspect to the Sun over on amazon.

Today I’m talking to some elementary school kids about “being a writer” for a career day project, so I did some prep work for that as well. I’m hoping they’ll have some questions to ask me, too!

Some things I looked up on the Internet this week (not necessarily to do with writing):

I’d call that a good week.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

my-tools-1239864-639x426So I had this idea to write a sort of weekly roundup/review post, and call it the Friday Desk Report. I envision it as sort of a brief review of the week’s projects, word metrics, links, and anything else notable that happened during the week. As much for myself as for anyone else, I suppose, but it could turn out to be interesting.

Will I be able to keep it up? Only the future will tell. Traditionally, I’m not so good with consistency, but it’s possible I’m improving with age. Come on, it’s possible.

So, what do I have to report? This week I did the most sustained new writing I’ve done since my mom passed away at the end of August. Still not a lot of new words, but it felt good to work like that again. I worked on a short story I’m writing about giant monsters who have laid waste to much of the continent and now threaten my protagonist’s small Nova Scotia farm.

I also worked on a book trailer for The Seventh Crow, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m waiting on a couple of images I need to replace some placeholders, and then I’ll be uploading it to share. Should be available sometime next week.

I wrote a book review I’d promised, and drafted a guest blog post I have to turn in by the 15th, so I’m well ahead on that. I also put together a new outline template for Scrivener and began using it to work on The Chaos Assassin, and this morning I sent out a short story submission.

I read far too much on Facebook about the upcoming federal election and decided I need to stop worrying about it and being disappointed in people. It’s far too negative. All I can do now is cast my own vote and encourage others to do so, and hope, hope, hope for better things to come.

NearspaceBibleToday I’m working on my Nearspace series bible, in preparation for NaNoWriMo and the novel I’m planning to work on in November. I already had such a thing but it was NOT well-organized or complete. I found this video from Kami Garcia to be quite inspiring in this regard and look how well it’s coming along!

In other Nearspace news, I also put up another free Nearspace story on this site today, which you can find here. It’s a peek into Nearspace and the first contact story between humans and Lobors, before wormhole travel was possible.

Some cool things from the internet this week:

Okay, I’m impressed. That’s a pretty good report! So back to today’s project…

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

I love maps. As a writer and a gamer, I’ve created maps of worlds, dungeons, cities, space stations, villages, wormholes in space…anywhere a story might happen. I’ve also used real-world maps for stories set in–you guessed it–the “real world.” I find that maps help ground the story and help me visualize what’s happening.

Here’s my map of the fantasy world in The Seventh Crow (which is coming out soon! Like, this month soon!):

Ysterad map 2015 print

Okay, yes, I’m pretty happy with this one. It’s done in Photoshop, and I took a lot of time to get it just the way I wanted it. But it didn’t start out this way. It began as a pencil outline on graph paper, and it was pretty rough. It’s been through several incarnations on the way to this, including a hand-colored one I used in a D&D campaign for a while. But the act of creating the world–no matter how rudimentary it is, is the important part. By creating the environment, you are also thinking about everything and everyone in that environment.

This video by Peter Deligdisch explains this much better than I can:

As the artist explains, one thought about the world can lead to the next, to the next, to the next, when creating your map (and you do not need to be as talented as he is–it can work for anyone). Graph paper or hex paper is your friend (and you can download and print of either of these here).

If you really think you can’t tackle creating a map on your own, you can use a map generator (yes, just Google “map generator”) to do some of the work for you. You don’t have completely free creative rein with this method, but if you feel drawing-impaired it can be the next best thing.

If you’re just looking for inspiration, and not material to completely call your own, there are so many maps and plans already in existence online for role-playing games, that you need never lack for a visual representation of your story environs. This sort of resource is invaluable if you really need something visual to work out story logistics in your head, but you don’t need any sort of publishable plan or blueprint. I mean, look what searching for spaceship blueprints generator gets you.

Or again, you can make your own, as I did for the main character’s ship in One’s Aspect to the Sun (these, too, started out as sketches on graph paper. I transferred them to tracing paper at one point so I could line up the inter-deck hatchways):

DeckPlans-T-I

Maps can also make a lovely background for a book or ebook cover. Here’s one I created for a friend’s story:

20130914102723-Eyes-JulieThe map we started with was a barely-there representation, but with a little work it blossomed into a lovely backdrop for this cover.

Do you draw maps, plans, or blueprints for your stories? Do you spend a lot of time on them, or are you happy with a quick sketch? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

So, at the same time the Kickstarter for my book with a bird in the title (The Seventh Crow) is running, I had the opportunity to help out a little bird in trouble.

littlebirdAround 8 o’clock this morning, my daughter and I heard a thump on the front of the house. It took only a moment to spot a couple of downy feathers stuck to the glass and I knew what had happened–a bird had flown against the window over our front door. This is a fairly rare occurrence as the door and window are inset from the front of the house.

I checked the front step right away and saw the little creature in pile of leaves. My first impression was bad–its head seemed twisted and it was breathing heavily. I fetched some garden gloves and went out to have a closer look. When I gently picked it up, it looked left and right and although it was content to sit in my hands, it seemed overall okay, probably just stunned from the impact.

Well, I didn’t want to leave the little guy prey to the occasional cat who strolls through the neighborhood, so we quickly improvised a little shelter in an empty clementine box and set it in an elevated spot near the back door. I figured if it recovered quickly, it would slip out from underneath the mesh easily.IMG_3880 IMG_3879

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forty-five minutes later it hadn’t moved much, although it still opened its eyes if I gently drew the mesh back. At this point I wasn’t too confident of its recovery, since that seemed a long time to still be stunned. However, I decided that whether it could recover or not, it was safe and comfortable and not being attacked by any predators. I continued to check on it periodically through the morning and would find it sleeping, but alert if I pulled back the mesh.

IMG_3881It would be in just this position, but open its eyes when I moved the mesh covering. It wasn’t at all visibly distressed by my presence. Maybe it knew I was trying to help!

 

 

 

 

 

And then when I checked at noon, I found this. Looking much perkier!
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And then this…
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…and then a minute later he hopped out of the box, took a couple of hops, and flew away, across the yard to land in a tree. I guess he just needed a good nap in a safe spot!

Now, my question is, what kind of bird was he? My mother’s bird guide offered a couple of suggestions but none of them looked quite right. If you know or think you know, leave me a comment!

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Spring has finally sprung here in Cape Breton, and my garden has been roused to life. Some days I like to take a quick stroll around and take some phone pics of whatever’s in bloom. (Although it’s warm here today, it’s also windy, so some blurriness may be detected!)

Is there anything as cheery as forget-me-nots?

IMG_3847Forget-me-nots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, no spring garden is complete without some daffodils. I adore these ones with the peach-coloured centers.
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I have quite a lot of tulips, but they’re not all at their best today. I love the creamy white Triumphators with their distinctive shape. The yellow/white/hint of pink are new this year, “Peach Melba.”

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Candystripe phlox starting to come on board, and a pink rhododendron that always surprises me by bursting into colour seemingly overnight. A nice fat bee was visiting it today.

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And finally, some Candytuft and a shot of colour from blue muscari.IMG_3850IMG_3861

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

160px-Noalleynight

Pssst! Hey, buddy, you want some NaNoWriMo tips?

Disclaimer: These are not tips for good writing. However, it’s the middle of November, and if your word count needs a boost, you may find these ideas helpful. Just don’t forget to fix it all in revision. ;)

Names: give all your character double or even triple names — Betty Lou or Nanny Lola or Master Sergeant Bob. Every time you type a name, it’s at least a two-fer.

Chapter Titles: Name every chapter descriptively, like so:  Chapter Seven: In which Nancy tells Sue Ellen a Secret, Heather Loses a Toenail, and Officer Joe discovers something Terrible in the Bathtub.

In-line Annotations: Don’t waste perfectly good plot and character notes by placing them in the margins, comments, or a separate document. Stick those things right into your text. You typed them, didn’t you? They count! And when you go to rewrite, BAM!, there they are, exactly where you need to be reminded of them.

Description: If your characters don’t want to talk to each other and nothing much seems to be happening, describe the surroundings while you wait for the muse to come back from her coffee break. It’s not a full description until you’ve included at least one sensory detail for sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Throw in the weather for good measure. Soon your characters will be chatting and moving just to break the monotony. Bonus: You don’t need to remove all of these in revision. Having at least some of them is actually good for your story!

As-you-know-Bob: Although instances of this info-dumping-disguised-as-dialogue must be excised in your later drafts, having characters tell each other things they should already know is a great way to bump up a sagging word count. Bonus: Sometimes having your characters discuss these things will actually make the resolution to a plot problem come clear for you, the writer. And then you can get on with more exciting words for your next writing session.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and write…

Photo Credit: Dand8282

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

MP-cover-FINAL-webIt’s a date! The Murder Prophet will release in ebook formats on September 15th, and the print version shouldn’t be too far behind. The ebook is already available for pre-order at Amazon and Amazon.ca. I’m excited!

In the meantime, you can get a head start by reading the first chapter for free right here.

As if that’s not enough news, I’m also participating in the Masquerade Crew’s September Cover Wars (Part 2 post). If you have 30 seconds to spare, please click over and cast your vote (you can do it daily, and it really helps me spread the word about the book).

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

wbd-web-467x300-enApril 23rd each year marks UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright day. As it’s described on their website, “This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance…our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.” So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d run a little contest here on the blog.

What you can win: One ebook copy each of One’s Aspect to the Sun and To Unimagined Shores.

How to enter: There are several ways to enter the contest, and you can have multiple entries in my Lucky Basket. Here it is:

luckybasket

Doesn’t it look lucky?

Here’s how to get your entries added:

> Leave a comment below. Just say hi! = 1 entry

> Leave a comment below; say hi and tell me your favorite speculative fiction book or author = 2 entries

> Tweet or retweet about the contest = 1 entry. I’ll even write the tweet for you. Just copy and paste:

Enter @sdramsey ‘s #BookDay contest  by April 23rd for a chance to win free SF/F ebooks (http://tinyurl.com/qgp9hfm) #books #reading #scifi

> Share the contest in any other way; post it to your blog, mention it on Facebook, +1 it on Google, write it on your forearm with magic marker. The comments and tweets I’ll see, but you’ll have to email or message me to tell me about anything else you do. Each share = 1 entry

Rules: You may enter from anywhere in the world. Entries will be hand-written by me on actual pieces of paper and dropped in the Lucky Basket. One winner will be drawn from the entries received by midnight AST on April 23, 2014. Ebooks will be available in the following formats: .epub, .mobi (for Kindle), and .pdf. Winner will have to provide me with a working email address for delivery of their ebooks. Winner agrees to let me post their name or screen/online name so everyone knows that someone actually did win. The decision of the contest administrator (me) is final. I will do my best to record all eligible entries, but will not be responsible for missed, missing, or misplaced entries.

Ready to enter? Go!
 

OATTS cover-sm TUS-front-cover-sm

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

wbd-web-467x300-enApril 23rd each year marks UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright day. As it’s described on their website, “This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance…our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.” So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d run a little contest here on the blog.

What you can win: One ebook copy each of One’s Aspect to the Sun and To Unimagined Shores.

How to enter: There are several ways to enter the contest, and you can have multiple entries in my Lucky Basket. Here it is:

luckybasket

Doesn’t it look lucky?

Here’s how to get your entries added:

> Leave a comment below. Just say hi! = 1 entry

> Leave a comment below; say hi and tell me your favorite speculative fiction book or author = 2 entries

> Tweet or retweet about the contest = 1 entry. I’ll even write the tweet for you. Just copy and paste:

Enter @sdramsey ‘s #BookDay contest  by April 23rd for a chance to win free SF/F ebooks (http://tinyurl.com/qgp9hfm) #books #reading #scifi

> Share the contest in any other way; post it to your blog, mention it on Facebook, write it on your forearm with magic marker. The comments and tweets I’ll see, but you’ll have to email or message me to tell me about anything else you do. Each share = 1 entry

Rules: You may enter from anywhere in the world. Entries will be hand-written by me on actual pieces of paper and dropped in the Lucky Basket. One winner will be drawn from the entries received by midnight AST on April 23, 2014. Ebooks will be available in the following formats: .epub, .mobi (for Kindle), and .pdf. Winner will have to provide me with a working email address for delivery of their ebooks. Winner agrees to let me post their name or screen/online name so everyone knows that someone actually did win. The decision of the contest administrator (me) is final. I will do my best to record all eligible entries, but will not be responsible for missed, missing, or misplaced entries.

Ready to enter? Go!

 

OATTS cover-sm TUS-front-cover-sm

 

 

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

wbd-web-467x300-enApril 23rd each year marks UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright day. As it’s described on their website, “This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance…our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.”

So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d run a little contest here on the blog.

What you can win: One ebook copy each of One’s Aspect to the Sun and To Unimagined Shores.

How to enter: There are several ways to enter the contest, and you can have multiple entries in my Lucky Basket. Here it is:

luckybasket

Doesn’t it look lucky?

Here’s how to get your entries added:

> Leave a comment below. Just say hi! = 1 entry

> Leave a comment below; say hi and tell me your favorite speculative fiction book or author = 2 entries

> Tweet or retweet about the contest = 1 entry. I’ll even write the tweet for you. Just copy and paste:

Enter @sdramsey ‘s #BookDay contest  by April 23rd for a chance to win free SF/F ebooks (http://tinyurl.com/qgp9hfm) #books #reading #scifi

> Share the contest in any other way; post it to your blog, mention it on Facebook, write it on your forearm with magic marker. The comments and tweets I’ll see, but you’ll have to email or message me to tell me about anything else you do. Each share = 1 entry

Rules: You may enter from anywhere in the world. Entries will be hand-written by me on actual pieces of paper and dropped in the Lucky Basket. One winner will be drawn from the entries received by midnight AST on April 23, 2014. Ebooks will be available in the following formats: .epub, .mobi (for Kindle), and .pdf. Winner will have to provide me with a working email address for delivery of their ebooks. Winner agrees to let me post their name or screen/online name so everyone knows that someone actually did win. The decision of the contest administrator (me) is final. I will do my best to record all eligible entries, but will not be responsible for missed, missing, or misplaced entries.

Ready to enter? Go!

OATTS cover-sm

TUS-front-cover-sm

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Okay, okay, I’ll give you an easy one this week.

Huttser-and-Reilly

We have two dogs, named Huttser and Reilly. One of them is named after a literary character. Tell me which one, and the name’s literary provenance. Answer on Monday!

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

flying-books-1-1408766-mThis week’s Friday Challenge involves the book series I have re-read the most times. No, of course I’m not going to tell you what it is! Duh. Although some of you who have been reading this blog for a while, or know me personally, may be able to guess what it is.

Anyway, I’m going to post a snippet from one of the books here. All you have to do is identify the book it comes from:

There was a sad and terrible pause at this point in the conversation during which a hundred thousand people seemed unexpectedly to say ‘wop’ and a team of white robots descended from the sky like dandelion seeds drifting on the wind in tight military formation.

Also, there’s a hint in this actual post about the main character’s last name. I’ll post the answer on Monday!

Photo credit: josterix

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

We had another power outage last night. This one didn’t last terribly long (about 5 hours for us), but the timing was bad for two reasons: I was in the shower when it went out (so, hello, wet, chilly hair), and I had no hot coffee in the pot. Did you read that correctly? NO HOT COFFEE! There wasn’t much I could do for the hair except put it up, but I came up with (I thought) an ingenious way to heat up a cup of coffee.

Note: I had some still in the coffeepot, so I was not starting from scratch. But for any beverage you just want to reheat, or water to make something else, this should work.

IMG_2548I started with my 4-cup glass measuring bowl and a candle that was almost as tall as the bowl. I set the glass bowl on the stove for safety, put the candle inside, and lit it. Then I set a round metal cooling rack over the top. What I like about this plan is that even if the structure got bumped, the candle is protected.

Then I took a clean tin can from the recycling, removed the paper label from the outside, put my coffee in it, and set it over the candle. The flame was burning about an inch below the can. To retain the heat as the liquid warmed, I set a saucer over the top of the can. WARNING: the can is going to get hot as well as the liquid inside it. From this point on, handle only with oven mitts.

Now, this is NOT a feat to be attempted anywhere within reach of small children, pets, or clumsy adults who might knock the whole thing over. But after about 15 minutes, I had a nice, hot cup of coffee to see me through until the power came back.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

I’ve decided that on Fridays this year, I’ll issue a little challenge on the blog. The idea is still formulating in my mind, so it’s subject to change. I think they might have bookish themes for the most part; they might even all revolve around books I’ve read. Some might involve the possibility of a PRIZE! And others will not. It’s January, remember, and the whole year lies fresh and untrammeled before us. Anything is possible.

For the first Friday challenge, I’ll share a photo.

IMG_2539
This is my treadmill desk, which, as you can see, is flanked by the two Dragons of Compliance, Gog and Magog. Gog is on the right, and Magog is on the left. They are there to keep me walking and writing as the year progresses. All those motivators and tools I talked about on the blog earlier have nothing on Gog and Magog. They just watch me with eyes that sometimes glow red and, well, I just keep tying and walking. Because DRAGONS.

The challenge is for you to tell me where you think I first came across their names. This could be a tricky one, so I think there will be a prize involved if you are the first to guess correctly.

HINT: It was NOT a Bible/religious source-that’s not the answer I’m looking for. Leave your guess in the comments and I’ll reveal the answer on Monday.

P1040283So, some of you know that I set up a treadmill desk near the end of last year. I bought a secondhand treadmill in good condition, and my husband and I rigged up a prototype desk attachment with wood and duct tape so I could see if I was going to like it. I did. It took me a very short time to get used to typing while walking, and I used the desk a fair bit during NaNoWriMo in November. Not much in December, what with holidays and catching up after November. :)

Now we've ditched the prototype and made the "good" desktop from a piece of project pine. It's bolted into place and there to stay  (although it could be removed quite easily and the treadmill converted back to non-desk status in the future). I still need to put a few coats of finish oil on the wood, but it's done for all intents and purposes. (If you are interested in more details on the DIY, please let me know!)

I planned that starting in January, I would try to track my usage of the desk (and the various outcomes). January turned out not to be what I consider a "normal" month, since some serious illness in our family affected both the time I had to walk and the things I did while walking. Still, I kept my records, so I can share them now. Aren't you excited?

I track the time and distance I spend walking, average speed, the calories the treadmill tells me I burn (fwiw), and how I spent the time each session. Also, if I'm writing "new" words in a first draft, the number of words written. The breakdown for January is:

Time: 902 minutes (just over 15 hours)

Distance:
26.93 miles (Yes, I'm in Canada, I should be tracking kilometers; however, I haven't figured out how to change that setting on the treadmill yet. However, being of a certain age, both miles and kms make perfect sense to me, so it's all good.)

Calories burned: 5077 (Wow, that sounds like a LOT. It translates to having lost 3.6 pounds, so it IS a lot!)

Avg. speed: 1.78 mph (I try to keep up around 1.8-2.0, but depending on what I'm doing while walking, sometimes a bit slower is better.)graph-treadmill-january

Activities: For this, I made a chart! As you can see, I spent half my time on the treadmill in January--playing Torchlight II. I make no excuses for this. It was good stress relief at a very stressful time for our family. The editing was for the deadline I was working toward on the 15th of the month; I think all of it took place at the beginning of the month, and then I moved on to Torchlight in the second part of the month. I am hoping the breakdown for February will be different, because that will mean things have improved. :)

I have to say, I love my desk. Although it takes up a fair amount of space in my relatively tiny office, it's well worth it. Writing is by nature a sedentary pursuit, but it doesn't really have to be! (And yes, I wrote this while walking on the treadmill!)

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

file0002054526820Clock on the wall ticks

Fingers dart, flash over keys

Write faster, writer


Photo credit: giggs

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