For some reason I can add sidebars, but not new posts. Please check back later. I have been working on a variety of things including switching my blog soon from this one, which was set up with my now-defunct West Wisconsin Telcom account. I hope to have my new blog through Gmail up soon. I will provide a link and announcement when I've got everything straight. 7/2/11

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Clearing the decks before NaNoWriMo

View from Lookout Mountain, CO. Photo by Gale O’Connell
Monday, November 1, marks the start of National Novel Writing Month (affectionately referred to as NaNoWriMo). During this period, writers all over the world focus on putting 50,000 words on paper or in their computers. By not worrying about quality or pausing to find the perfect word, writers can bust through creative blocks and get momentum going.

The web site gives this description: “Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly. . . . As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.”

One of the friends I made at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ conference encouraged me to join, and we are designated writing buddies for it. I’m really looking forward to the experience. In the meantime, I’ve been busy cleaning up as many tasks I can after a summer of procrastinating. I’ve almost finished my latest polishing of my novel, The Pine Tap Bar & Bait Shoppe, and will put my agent search on hold until after November 30 (the end of NaNoWriMo).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Recently read: John Dunning’s the Sign of the Book

Yet another one of Dunning’s erudite masterpieces featuring Cliff Janeway and plenty of books. Janeway and his lover, attorney Erin D’Angelo, head west from Denver to the tiny backcountry town of Paradise, Colorado. D’Angelo’s old friend, with whom she hasn’t talked since college, is in jail, accused of murdering her husband—who was once D’Angelo’s fiancĂ©. The dead man was a collector with quite a library, and Erin convinces Janeway to suss the situation out as well as to get a sense of the worth of the books. A hometown lawyer provides invaluable assistance, a vicious deputy turns into a loose cannon, a weird preacher and his two redneck assistants seem to be connected to the victim, and the old friend confesses, but no one believes her because wouldn’t a mother confess to save her emotional disturbed son? Hard to put this one down.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

KK Brees’ latest venture

Karen Brees and I met years ago at the San Francisco Writers Conference. At that time, she was primarily writing nonfiction. Her books include a variety of topics ranging from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Preserving Food to The Everything Guide to Depression. I recently got an update from her and she’s now branched out into historical fiction set in the WWII years—one of my favorite eras. In Headwind, Professor Katrin Niessen becomes an OSS agent to stop the Nazis before they reach Norway. Check out her web site for more information on Brees and her books at

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Recently read: Margaret Maron’s Winter’s Child

I first discovered Maron years ago when she was writing her Sigrid Harald books. This one is part of her series featuring Deborah Knott, set in North Carolina. Knott, now married to Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant, finds herself in some troubled circumstances as Bryant tries to cope with his son, his ex-wife who has disappeared leaving their son alone. As they try to find out what happened, family dynamics become increasingly complex. A pleasant read.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The wild whirl of life in the mountains

Couldn’t resist posting this photo of Carl on our patio! The photo was taken by Gale O'Connell.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Recently read: William Lashner’s Bitter Truth

Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl has a new client. For once, the client, Caroline Shaw, is not a member of the criminal classes. Quite the opposite—Shaw is Main Line Philadelphia with a pristine pedigree. And instead of hiring Carl to prove someone is innocent of a crime, Shaw wants him to prove that her sister did not commit suicide. Carl follows the clues all the way to Belize, discovering along the way that a Main Line family and an organized crime family seem to share some members.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Miami Book Fair International

Image from

One of the bigger book fairs in the country is this 26th annual fair from November 14 through November 21, which calls itself an eight-day literary party. It includes a Street Fair, a Festival of Authors, Comix Galaxy, and Children’s Alley, speakers who range from Margaret Atwood and Barbara Kingsolver to Al Gore and Ralph Nader, 250 publishers and booksellers, not to mention lots of BOOKS. For more information, see

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Recently read: Andrea Camilleri’s The Smell of the Night

Another book in my favorite series set in contemporary Sicily, Inspector Salvo Montalbano quietly does his job in the political and Mafioso world of Sicilian law enforcement. Emanuele Gargano, a wealthy financial pundit, has vanished. With him went a lot of money, mainly from retirees who gave Gargano their entire life savings. As Montalbano uncovers the financial scam and searches for both the man and the money, he is going through a rough patch in his personal life. His lover, Livia, continues to be miffed at him and Montalbano’s boss has shut him out of the case. Camilleri is a beautiful writer with a vivid sense of atmosphere, and his books are splendidly translated by poet Stephen Sartarelli.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Job Series: being a writer. Part 3 Grant Writing

A big field now is grant writing. This would be another good avenue if you want to ultimately enter the technical writing field. Non-profit companies, educational institutions, and most corporations have staff positions. In the 12 years I lived in rural Wisconsin, I saw dozens of job openings for Grant Writers, including for employers such as Chippewa Valley Technical College, West CAP, Mayo Health Systems, Globe University, and UW-Stout. I wasn't looking for jobs, so I suspect if I've noticed that many without reading the ads or actively working my networks, then there are probably quite a few out there, especially in more urban parts of the country. Another thing is that if you apply for a nonprofit in a professional position of any kind, the position will include grant writing whether that is part of your title or not.

Again, if you haven’t held a position as a grant writer, you will need to have experience in the field listed on your resume. One way to do this is to do some volunteer (that means unpaid) grant writing. Think of it as a form of apprenticeship.

Even though I have a long list of credentials on my resume for all types of technical writing, including grant writing, I still do regular volunteer grant writing as a way of helping the communities where I live. Recent examples of grants I’ve write as a volunteer include four applications on behalf of the Menomonie Public Library for grants from the Wisconsin Center for the Book as part of their “Wisconsin Authors & Illustrators Speak” program and a grant for a local non-profit to fund a project related to the area farmers’ market.

If you are associated with a group that needs grant money, such as a food pantry, church, performing arts organization, or just about anything else that serves a community, chances are there are grants out there at the local, county, state, and federal level. If your group serves children or a multicultural population, the number of grants available increases tenfold. The group may already know of grants and you may as well be the one to write them. Other places to look are the government portal web site at which not only provides links to federal grants, but if you do some navigation, you can reach state and local sites through as well as grants based on your specific topic (e.g., grants for education, art, music, etc.). And hey, you may even uncover a grant for writers!