REPOSTING: A #Jewish #Buddhist for the #Christmas/ #Chanukah/ #Solstice/#Kwanzaa Season

REPOSTING, from 2016, with some minor changes: A #Jewish #Buddhist for the #Christmas/ #Chanukah/ #Solstice/#Kwanzaa Season

Christmas and I are not friends. We are not even good neighbors. I was raised Jewish in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, school systems, summer camps and other social encounters. This made me an outsider in an insider world every December.

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Despite about 75% Jewish population in our local public schools, the relentless Christian-ness of the USA permeated. Most of our teachers and all of the school administrators were not Jewish. Therefore, we Jewish students were forced to learn and sing Christmas carols alongside our Christian classmates every year in music classes and choirs in our classes and assemblies. I mouthed but would not sing songs with lyrics like “Jesus, our God,” or “Christ, our King.” I refused to “celebrate,” but I would go along as required.

I hated it.

All of my childhood and most of my young adult life, I also hated Christmas. I hated the trees, the lights, the candy canes, and, especially, the incessant carols on muzak almost everywhere we went. I hated the silly fashion and accessory affectations (reindeer hats, Santa sweaters, elves in snow globes on chains, fake snow on windowsills) and the massively wasteful appropriation of space and time every December. This extravaganza has gotten worse over the decades, now beginning prior to Hallowe’en and including some year-round “Santa Villages,” “Christmas” stores and such.

Appalling.

I-Hate-Christmas-272x480

Christian adults still post and say ridiculous, ignorant things to me and other non-Christians, like: “Christmas isn’t religious; it’s American.” And, “It’s not a Christmas tree. It’s a holiday tree.” Or, my personal favorite, “You can celebrate Christmas and still be Jewish. I know lots of people who do!”

I belong to several authors/writers groups online and in person, and without exception, they are filled with eager, interesting people. Except, at Christmas. Then, they devolve into ignorant, unaware bigots who claim things like: “If we call it a ‘Holiday’ sale instead of a ‘Christmas’ sale, we’ll get fewer hits on Google”; and, the most appalling, “We did it your way last year. This year, it’s a ‘Christmas’ sale/program/event.”

The most insulting? “You are included if you feel included. Your choice.”

For every kid who feels oppressed by the pervasive and invasive Christmassification of everything for almost two months every year, it’s difficult to separate hating the holiday-ness from despising the people who rightfully celebrate it. I often did/do not succeed in making that distinction. I breathe a sigh of relief every December 26.

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Yippee!

I celebrated the Solstice for a few years. We were tentatively friends, paganism and I. I even created a Solstice “advent” calendar with thirteen paper strips as “rays” of the sun to be unfolded, one on each of the thirteen days prior to December 21. I liked this because each “ray” jad written on it a quality or positivity we wanted to affirm or invite into our lives. That was fun and interesting, and I liked the symbols and intention, but Solstice and I did not remain friends, either.

Winter Solstice

For about twenty years, after our son was born, we—my son’s Christian (Episcopalian-raised)/Sufi and somewhat Muslim father and sometimes members of his family—celebrated a kind of Christmas, usually when at one of their homes.

For two years in the late 1980s, when I worked as the Director of Religious Education for the local Unitarian Universalist “Church,” I/we “celebrated” several December holidays, including Kwanzaa. i even went to church and sang Christmas carols and enjoyed it a little, holding a lit candle and the whole shebang.

Mostly, I hostessed Chanukah parties for my mostly Christian friends and half-Jewish son (not Jewish at all, except by birth). and and then my Jewish/fake Mormon/Buddhist female partner. I did this primarily because I liked to make and eat Chanukah food and give presents. Also, my mom (bless her) mailed (from Missouri) a huge box every year after our son was born that had eight gifts for him and many for us (some were small, like a pair of socks, but still: very welcomed!). So, we needed a way to spread out the opening of these and other gifts so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed and not appreciate any of them properly. I created and shared an English lyric about visualizing miracles to be sung when lighting the Chanukah candles (since the religious parts of the Jewish holidays and I parted ways when I was about ten years old) for each of the eight nights.

latkes

I tried to make Chanukah mine. It only kind of worked, and only for a while (mostly for the years that our son lived in my house or was visiting for the holiday). But, since it wasn’t an authentic, deep relationship, Chanukah and I gradually drifted apart.

Partly, this drift occurred because I became a Buddhist. That made “the holiday season” even more irrelevant. I not only stopped celebrating Christmas, but don’t do much with Chanukah or Solstice any longer, either.

Each fall, when I can afford it, I buy some gifts for friends and family members (honoring whatever they celebrate), and wish people well for whatever they celebrate. But, I also try to keep to myself on the actual days of these holidays, since they’re not “mine.” I really do not celebrate or believe in them.

I do not miss these holidays. I do not feel left out. I do not feel angry. I do not feel deprived, alone, or otherwise sad or depressed. These just aren’t my holidays. I view them with slight amusement and a keen detachment over the last fifteen years, as if I were visiting from another culture (which I kind of am).

This year it is a little more difficult to escape both major holidays because Chanukah and Christmas are coinciding on the calendar: Christmas Eve is the first night of Chanukah and it ends on New Year’s Eve for the first time, ever, in my life. I don’t have much money, but I do want to buy some gifts for loved ones and this is as good of an excuse as any to do so.

I’ve gone through despising, hating, avoiding, celebrating, enjoying, participating, encouraging, hostessing, attending, bowing out to relinquishing December holidays over my six+ decades. I’m quite happy, now, taking the parts I like (mostly some good food and a few songs, gift-giving and receiving, days off) and ignoring the rest.

Buddhist December

Please don’t take it personally that I don’t participate in or celebrate any holidays in the fall “holiday season” the ways you do.

Enjoy your holiday(s). Really.

Just don’t impose them on me. And, by the way, I hate Capitalism, for real.

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Commemorating an Extraordinary Teacher and Person: Bill Heyde, who passed on 10/26/16

Celebrating an Extraordinary Teacher and Person:
Bill Heyde, R.I.P., 10/26/16, reported by the Ladue Education Foundation in St. Louis, MO, USA

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Mr. Heyde, circa 1973, courtesy of the Ladue Horton Watkins High School yearbooks, as published for his obituary in the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Dear Friends of Mr. Heyde,

I am saddened to share with you the news that our wonderful Mr. Heyde passed away on Wednesday. His health had recently been improving, and he was scheduled to return to his assisted living facility, but his life came to a close on October 26, 2016. As you all know, he had a life-changing impact on many of his students’, colleagues’, and friends’ lives.

Visitation will be on Sunday, October 30, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Road in Kirkwood, MO.

The funeral service will be Monday, October 31 at 10:00 a.m. at Bopp Chapel.

Burial will be immediately following the service in Cape Girardeau.

Condolences may be sent to Bill’s sister: Adelaide Parsons and her husband Robert, 3120 Independence, Cape Girardeau, MO 63703.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to two of Bill’s favorite organizations:
Missouri Scholars Academy Development Fund
c/o Honors College
210 Lowry Hall
University of Missouri-Columbia
Columbia, MO 65211

and

The Ladue Education Foundation
9703 Conway Road
St. Louis, MO 63124

Here is the link to the obituary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/stltoday/obituary.aspx?n=william-albert-heyde-bill&pid=182178423&fhid=6378

For those of you who missed it the first time around, here is the link to the clever rap written and performed by 1972 alumnus Steve Levin to honor Mr. Heyde in 2015: https://youtu.be/tA5F3XdNcwI

As a grateful former student of Mr. Heyde’s, I’m so glad I was in St. Louis for the wonderful event honoring him as an amazing teacher and person in April, 2015!

Mr Heyde and students circa 1970
Mr. Bill Heyde and students, Ladue High School, circa 1970?

We had a BLAST!
Bill H and Bill W - Copy
Bill Heyde and Bill Weiss

Doug Cassel and Tom Newmark - Copy
Doug Cassel and Tom Newmark (sorry it’s blurry)

Jim McKelvy - Copy
Jim McKelvy and ??

Mark Zooie and Mr H mock debate - Copy
Mark Zooie (sp?) in mock debate

Randy Rubin mock debate - Copy
Randy Rubin in mock debate

Scott Anderson and Glenn Caplin - Copy
Scott Anderson and Glenn Caplin (former Debate captain)

Tripp Frolichstein mock debate - Copy
Tripp Frolichstein in mock debate

At the actual event, many people contributed to a large scrapbook and to the event’s festivities, including an amazing speech by former Missouri state debate champ, Neal Osherow, and an incredible original poem/rap, written and performed by former debater, Steve Levin https://youtu.be/tA5F3XdNcwI, and a mock debate (pictures, above) with many former debaters. So much fun! So much respect, admiration, love, re-connecting.

Mr. Heyde gave a prepared speech (but mostly from his memory!!) of the history of the debate team at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis and that was fascinating. There were many former debaters and Speech competitors there (as I was, having won 4th place at the Missouri state level with my acting partner, Karen Raskin, in Duet Acting!), and students of Mr. Heyde’s. Excellent turnout: many had to be turned away due to fire code restrictions!

Thanks, Ladue Education Foundation organizers, for imagining, creating and hosting this excellent festival!

Here is my letter, sent to Mr. Heyde in 2012 and again in 2015 for this event:


Hi, Mr. Heyde,

I just found out how to contact you and wanted to thank you. You may not remember me, since you have had thousands of students, so let me jog your memory: I was then Sally Fleischmann (Jonathan’s next-younger sister) at Ladue High School (we have 2 younger sibs you may also have taught, Wendy [now, Ellen] and Lauri). I took your Advanced Composition class in 1970-71. I was one of the only students to get a “B+” on a first draft, while most received “D”s and “F”s. So, I suppose I can’t give you credit for ALL of my writing skills and abilities, but please, read on.

Another memory jog: One of the essays written for your class (about game-playing imagery in a short story by William James) was published in that year’s LHS creative writing journal. I then went on to torment Ms. Cannon in the Advanced Placement English class my senior year by never getting less than a “B” on any written paper, while acting up in her class a lot (I did win the vote [along with our class President, Andy Eder] for “Class Clown” in our yearbook’s “Senior Superlatives,” after all…).

Although I had been published, starting as a 4th-grader, in school and camp newsletters, for short stories, articles, poetry and songs, and again as a freshman, in Missouri Youth Writes, for a poem, prior to having your class, I felt that this essay’s being published was my first “adult” placement. As an actual adult, I have had short stories, poetry, articles, nonfiction books, songs and plays published and produced by others, and served as an editor/rewriter/proofreader for many publications.

In 2013, I became a blogger (Sally Ember, Ed.D., http://www.sallyember.com), and a self-published science-fiction author with Volume I, This Changes Everything, of The Spanners Series</strong>; in 2014, I added Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, and I hope to add Volume III, This Is/is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in 2015 and seven more after that! In 2014, I began hosting my own talk show, conversations between authors, CHANGES, and I often think of you while talking to others about their writing. I also write reviews for Goodreads and Amazon, and while critiquing others’ books, your phrases about what constitutes “good” or “bad” writing often come to mind.

I credit you and want to thank you for modeling for me (and many others, I’m sure) how to teach and inspiring me to teach composition and writing to adolescents and young adults. I went on, after teaching elementary school and middle school language arts, to teach writing: for five summers at Upward Bound; for several years at three community colleges; for five years at two different universities; and, for six years in community education locales, including Corrections Education, in several states. While acquiring my Master’s and doctorate at UMASS/Amherst, I taught writing in Peter Elbow’s peer review process’ domain. I also have had occasional contract work as a researcher/ writer/ editor/ proofreader. I know that your recognition of my writing as “good” (a characterization you did not give out to many pieces) set me on this path.

I think of you often, as a great teacher and someone who inspired me to write more and to teach writing. Even 43 years later, I can picture you perfectly, gesticulating strongly, your necktie blowing about as you passionately enjoined us to become literary critics, not just essay-writers. “Literary criticism” was a foreign concept to me as a junior in high school, until your class. I had learned about symbolism, metaphor and allusion, even how to cite quotations. But, putting it all together analytically, originally, and interestingly? Never even crossed my mind, until you gave us your assignments.

You opened me to a whole new intellectual world. I remember with intense clarity the exact moment when I first “got” what you were trying to convey, and understood (in a very basic way, but still, understood) how to construct a critique. I was astonished. It was as if you had been decrypting a code, helping us to begin using a secret language within English. I really was thrilled to be part of this new “club.”

Yes, I am a geek. I usually read over 250 books a year. Yes; I do. I have, since elementary school, been an avid reader. I was also an athlete: a runner, a cheerleader in 9th grade, a gymnast and field hockey player; also, I am a musician and singer/actor; and, in high school, I was “popular,” including having been elected/selected to that pinnacle for girls in that era, a cheerleader. This is to say to your students that these “identities” are not mutually exclusive: being inducted into the National Honor Society and having lots of friends happily co-exist in many, and I heartily encourage your students to cultivate both their brains and their hearts.You will help them, I’m sure.

I mainly wanted you to know what a great influence and help you were in my professional life, and what warm memories I have of your class. Never think your import was forgotten or unsung, even if we don’t find you to tell you: THANK YOU!

Best to you and your students, past, current and future. Write on!

Take care,

Sally (Fleischmann) Ember, Ed.D.


Do you have a teacher, coach or other mentor you’d like to thank? Start by commenting here and keep on sharing! #thankateacher

Mr Heyde and one student
Mr. Bill Heyde and student, Ladue High School, circa 1970?

New job report, 2 days in…

New job report, 2 days in…

HiSET FEATHER

FYI: rolling registration for “Doors to Success” High School Equivalency (HSE) “HiSET” (no longer called the G.E.D. in Missouri) exams preparation, academic skills improvement and life/jobs skills program for youth ages 17 – 23, in both Maplewood (mornings) and Hazelwood/Spanish Lake (mornings and afternoons), in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA, throughout the year! 314-415-4940 for more information and to sign up for an Orientation (occurring about twice/month). Also, Parkway area AEL has regular Adult Education and English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) classes year-round, too, in dozens of locations around the County.

1) role-played and coached a student on her first job interview (will find out today how she think the actual interview went);

2) explained to a student studying history what economic and social classes are, what defines them and how they impact politics as well as which groups were denied the vote in the USA and for how long;

3) collaborated with a student to choose her assignment topics for critical reading and vocabulary building and she chose to include a story about Uri Geller (friends, family members and readers of The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Volume I, This Changes Everything, know why that is funny);

4) figured out how to and did “open” the space for the afternoon session (not uncomplicated);

5) went over pre-testing and class assignment results with two students and explained/discussed which questions were actually “wrong” because they didn’t know the answer and which were “I read it too fast or not carefully” issues;

6) explained to three students how test-makers try to trick test-takers and how not to be fooled;

7) when asked “What were things like for you when you were 17?” related the story of my taking several hours off from school to sit in our dad’s car and listen to the radio in the school parking lot, waiting to hear what lottery draft number was going to be assigned randomly to my one-year-older-than-I brother and my then-boyfriend. Told her how I sat there, alone, crying and praying they would get a high number, meaning, they would not be drafted for the war in Vietnam.

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I explained how that was horrifying because others I knew would and did get drafted. Got teary telling her what a scary, terrible time that was for all the boys and people who loved them.

She was very quiet and got teary, too, and then said; “I meant, what music did you listen to?” We laughed.

All in all, a good two days! Thanks, Parkway Area Adult Education and Literacy, for including me in your teaching staff for “Doors to Success”!

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P.S.: #7 reminded me (a little too late…) of an incident that happened to my dear friend and fellow parent, Bill Whyte (Badger Bill), with his daughter, Emily Schwerin-Whyte, when she was about four years old in the early 1980s.
Emily asked her father, a renowned expert on visualization, stress management, relaxation and such: “Daddy? What is ‘stress’?”
Bill, in his best fatherly voice, was about to launch into an explanation of stress fit for a 4-year-old when he has the perspicacity to ask: “What do you mean, Emily?”
She answered: “Oh, you know: like ‘seamstress.'”
He said that he blew out a long breath and was relieved that he hadn’t burdened his pre-schooler with his prepared, long, drawn-out explanation that she hadn’t really requested….

I should have remembered that!

How to Estimate Agenda Times for a Meeting/Workshop in the USA

How to Estimate Agenda Times for a Meeting/Workshop in the USA
OR

Time Management for the Eternally Optimistic and Always Late Facilitators/Leaders

I have worked in nonprofits, educational and other venues for which meetings (workshops, Board meetings, conference convocations, etc.) are a necessity. I cannot count how many times I have sat through a session run by someone else who could not figure out how to manage the time for the stated agenda, nor how to create an agenda that could actually be completed in the time allotted.

Frustrating, insulting and disrespectful to those in attendance, and otherwise a TIME WASTER.

running effective mtgs
image and meme info from http://www.inspiredemployee.com “Running Effective Meetings”

My friend and colleague, Mario Cossa, and I have coined the term “pre-crastinators” endearingly to refer to ourselves. Pre-crastinators are prepared early so that we are able to and do send out agendae AS PROMISED, distribute minutes or preparatory materials in advance and do not make other wait.

Leaders are training people with every move
—I never start late, even if I and only a few others are on time, because if I did, then I would be dishonoring those who made the effort to be punctual and training participants/members to believe that being on time won’t matter in the future.
—Similarly, I always end on time, unless I have asked the group for permission to extend our time and been granted that.

When an item requires more time
I must notice this so that we can take a break from the agenda to discuss this dilemma PRIOR to the ending time and list what our options are. The members can then let me know if adding a specific number of minutes to complete a specific item/task is acceptable or if we have to postpone that item’s completion.

If we run late, then, it is as a group and not based solely on my decision or due to poor planning. These approaches to time management show respect and organizational control. Therefore, I make sure that I/we can conclude the event and its agenda by the end of our agreed-upon time limit, with designated items labeled in advance that must be discussed at more than one meeting.

start and end on time
image from http://http://www.slideshare.net/gretchenrubin/gr-14-tips-for-running-a-good-meeting-2/2-1_Very_obvious_Start_on “Start and End on Time”

Therefore, I offer my pearls of wisdom from decades of managing time extraordinarily well. Take notes.

Let’s use an hour-long session as the prototype for this list of tips.

Opening, Closing and Pacing a Session

  • Allow three minutes extra for “entry” and “ending” than whatever you have planned. TOTAL TIME: 6 minutes
  • Allow one minute between agenda items/activities for transitions. TOTAL TIME: 6 minutes
  • Include announcements, brief introductions, setting meeting format/ground rules (if needed), selecting timekeepers/co-facilitators (if desired), site’s logistics (for longer sessions, the locations of bathrooms, break times, fire exits) thank-you’s and other necessities up front or at the end: allow about two minutes for each. TOTAL TIME: 4 minutes

    opening the mtg
    image from http://vismap.blogspot.com “Opening the Meeting”

  • Allow a “next steps” agenda item preceding the conclusion of any session for at least five minutes to have participants be assigned/volunteer for tasks, set time expectations/deadlines, and confirm/set the next meeting date/place/leadership. TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes
  • Remind people of the last session(s) or read and accept the minutes to get everyone back into this group’s objectives from wherever they each just came to your session from, especially if more than two weeks have elapsed between sessions. Allow 5 minutes for this re-cap. TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes
  • Make sure everyone has a chance to speak during an hour-long session by inviting individuals by name to contribute at least once. During the wrap-up, ask if anyone has anything else to say before ending. Allow 4 minutes for this. TOTAL TIME: 4 minutes

You actually have only 30 minutes for your “hour-long” session’s actual agenda. Truly. And, that is only if you start and end on time. Schedule more sessions if you need more time.

What about introductions?
—NEVER use your precious session’s time for longer introductions of members’ UNLESS that is the sole purpose of your session.
—When your group has more than five people and you have only scheduled one meeting, you can’t use more than about 15-30 seconds to “meet” each other by way of self-introduction for each person.
—Be clear about that up front and then model the proper format for the group by going first.

quick intros
“Quick Introductions”

Generating and Upholding Realistic Time Expectations

  • For a 30-minute agenda, no item should be allocated more than 10 minutes unless it is the main focus of the entire session.
  • Sub-divide any complex item’s components into 3- to 10-minute slots to keep people’s attention and keep you (the leader/time-keeper) on task.
  • For a 30-minute agenda, a maximum of 3 items should actually require group discussion and/or voting/ consensus/ confirmation of learning. If you have more, you need a longer meeting time.
  • Allow up to twelve minutes, total time, for each major agenda item, start to finish, including transitions between sub-items. If any requires more than 12 total minutes, postpone/table some of the decision/learning to the next meeting.
  • Put the designated/expected times for each item right next to it.

Sample-Agenda-copy
image from http://northboundsales.com “Sample Agenda with Times Listed”

People Management
I do not let others hijack my meetings or workshops with unending stories, unfiltered confessions, boring and repetitious contributions (like your own voice much?) or other time-wasters.
I make sure everyone has a chance to speak who wants to contribute.
When I run the meeting or workshop, everyone can relax, listen and participate well.
I facilitate with humor, grace and firmness.
People LOVE my workshops and meetings because I use their time respectfully.

  • If you have groups whose members consistently keep on “running off” verbally, rotate the timekeeping and agenda-maintenance roles (per meeting or per item) and don’t assume these all yourself.
  • Bring a visible/audible timer and use it for each item. Set the timer to go off or have the timekeeper announce when there is one minute left for that item and again when that item’s time has elapsed.

    timer
    “Visible/Audible Timer”

  • When more time is actually needed for an item than was anticipated (new issues or problems arose, a useful activity or discussion is occurring), discuss extending the time and get consensus about that with the group AND announce that you/we are deciding that some other item(s) will now have to wait until the next meeting OR we can agree to postpone finishing this one until our next meeting.
  • Rephrase, reframe or thank each contributor with as few words as possible.
  • When someone starts to be repetitive or repeat someone else’s contribution, interrupt them with something like this: “I appreciate your enthusiasm/interest/knowledge, but we don’t have time to go over the same ground here. Do you have anything new to add?”
  • Remind people to add to/refer to rather than repeat others’ contributions by saying: “I agree/disagree with [THAT PERSON], AND/BUT…” and thank them for their conciseness in advance.
  • Use your hands and face as traffic/time controllers: hold up one finger, a hand in a stop-gesture, use a calming/quelling gesture, a nod, a frown, a smile, a slight shake of your head with clear intention. Point to the agenda (which should be posted where all can see it as well as handed out on paper) and your phone or watch or the wall clock. Count down with your fingers and say: “Two more minutes on this item.”

ending the mtg
image from http://vismap.blogspot.com “Ending the Meeting”

  • Be firm and grateful, both.
  • Briefly summarize what was accomplished, next session’s tasks, and meeting date/time/place before leaving.

success signs of mtg
image from http://www.opensesame.com/ “Signs of a Successful Session”

Good luck!

Why I #write utopian, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse #scifi/rom #novels & why you should #read & share them.

Reposted from 10/30/13 and 2/5/15

Writers are often exhorted to write the books we want to read that seem not to exist, yet. I am following that advice with The Spanners Series, especially Volume I, This Changes Everything, which is now PERMAFREE, and also with subsequent volumes (Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, released 6/9/14; look for Volumes III and IV in 2015).

I am an avid reader and have probably read hundreds of thousands of books in my 56 years of reading independently and quickly, sometimes devouring ten books a week. If I say books like mine—a series like The Spanners—don’t yet exist, I’m probably correct.

logoAuthorsDen
All buy links, reviews, interviews, readings and more: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners Look right; scroll down.

Why am I writing #science-fiction/#romance, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse/#multiple timelines #utopian #novels besides the reason already given? And, why should you read them? Because we live in a deteriorating, or degenerating Age, according to #Tibetan Buddhists (and probably many others I’m not bothering to research right now).

When I first hear this claim, I disbelieve it. Aren’t most things “improving” for humanity? Modern medicine, technology, transportation, knowledge of all types: in the 20th and 21st centuries, we are experiencing incontrovertible advances, mind-blowing progress, right? Plus, that POV is just such a downer!

Why would the Buddha’s followers propose and then Buddhist teachers and scholars maintain such a doom-and-gloom perspective on life? It’s not enough that Buddha focused his teachings on suffering and impermanence? Most Buddhists must be depressed: that’s what I thought.

I could understand why Tibetans, having been living under horrible oppression, genocide and cultural destruction under Chinese rule for decades, would be so pessimistic. But, we’re in the good ole’ USA: things are great here, right?

Not so much. I won’t go into the facts we all know now (even more than ever, thanks to Snodwen and Manning) about how screwed up the USA has been and still is, nor how terrible the economy is here and everywhere. I won’t provide the list. We all know too well the horrors of our modern life. Modern tragedies, however, are actually not even relevant to this discussion.

The “degenerating” part of our Age has little to do with actual external conditions. Our deterioration involves humans’ not being able to learn #dharma, not being able to find qualified and worthy Buddhist teachers, not being able to practice meditation well or at all. The Buddha’s teachings and Buddhists practitioners are what are degenerating, in what is called “The Third Age” or “The Latter Day of the Law.”

You can look this up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism

My point is, dystopian futures abound. Most sci-fi writers, even those that include romance in their stories, write of increasingly worsening conditions on and around this planet and across the Universe. They pile on the violence, showing increasing discord, more political and social unrest, deaths and destructions even worse than we have now. We already have too much awfulness for me to want to read about even worse futures.

Enough, already: I believe we need some hope, ideas of how else things could go, whether or not I always believe they will take these turns. Since I can’t find this optimism in the daily news or libraries’ and bookstores’ fiction, I decide to create it. I need this in my personal life, for the USA, for the continent, the water, air and land: I am imagining routes for improvement for the planet and the entire universe.

When I #meditate, especially during a #retreat phase in which I was #contemplating lives of beings in the “God Realm,” it occured to me repeatedly that we live in opulence amid squalor, all over the planet. Beauty smack dab in the middle of ugliness, every day. #Yin and #yang. We do have to “take the good with the bad,” but do we have to emphasize the “bad”?

I do not.

In my novels, even when things are “bad,” there is more good than bad. Buddha teaches often that we have to discern between “good” and “bad” even as we know these are illusory. Many teachings expound on how there is NO “good” or “bad,” no “birth” and no “death,” no “coming” and no “going.”

While you puzzle over that, I’m going to continue my utopian illusions in The Spanners Series. In my current and future multiverses, beings, including humans, will have love, better conditions and dharma: they/we have it all!

Furthermore, I’m going to HOPE—even though we are instructed to meditate partly in order to relinquish all hope and all fear—that YOU read my books and enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them.

Please let me know! Write your comments here on this and other posts, on excerpts from my novel, and whatever else occurs to you. Let’s converse!

Part II of “A Reluctant Buddhist” by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Appears 11/13/15 on The Buddhist Door

Part II of “A Reluctant Buddhist” by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Appears 11/13/15 on The Buddhist Door

Find out how…:
“…did I end up becoming a devoted, long-term student of Nyingma-lineage Tibetan Buddhism, studying, practicing, and completing my Ngöndro (foundation practices) in two-and-a-half years (“as if my hair were on fire”) while in full-time graduate school, working full time, and raising my son?

“…did I go from being unwilling even to enter the teaching venue or shrine room to being eager and willing to help start and/or expand and also, sometimes, live in and be a cook, coordinator, board member, bookkeeper, umze (chant leader), stupa mantra roller/packer, and more for not one, but three Dharma centers (in Maine, New Mexico, and California)?

“… did I transition from not even talking to Wyn for ten years to having him as Lama Drimed (Padma Drimed Norbu) become my root lama and main, then sole, Dzogchen meditation teacher and practice and retreat guide?

“…did I come to learn Tibetan well enough to be able to read, write, speak, and translate?”

http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/a-reluctant-buddhist-how-it-took-me-eight-years-to-start-practicing-in-this-life-part-ii


Missed Part I? Find it from September 4, 2015, at Buddhist Door
http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/a-reluctant-buddhist-how-it-took-me-eight-years-to-start-practicing-in-this-life

Preorders @50% for #ebook This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III of The Spanners Series

#Preorders @ 50%, $1.99, for 11/1/15—-12-7/15 on #Smashwords, #Kobo, #iBooks and #nook as well as #Amazon is Sally Ember, Ed.D.’s third #scifi/ #romance/ #paranormal #ebook, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III of The Spanners Series, which releases 12/08/15 @$3.99.

Spanners - volume 3 cover final

Getting 4- and 5-Star #reviews in pre-pub: see snippets from reviews, below and links to reviews on http://www.sallyember.com (look right; scroll down).

Volume III, This Is /Is Not The Way I Want Things to Change
Pre-order and Purchase LINKS HERE
SMASHWORDS (all ebook formats): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/588331
AND
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0177Z1KRM

Clara, Moran, Espe, Epifanio and the alien Band of holos are back in This Is/Is Not The Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series. The Psi-Defiers launch increasingly violent protests during this five-year Transition, attempting to block Earth’s membership into the Many Worlds Collective. To join, Earth’s nations and borders must dissolve and the Psi-Warriors must prevail in their battles against the rebels.

Clara, continuing as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, also juggles family conflicts and danger while managing and being one of the instructors of the psi skills training Campuses to help Earth through the Psi Wars. Clara timults alternate versions of their futures as the leaders’ duties and consciences force them each to make difficult choices across multiple timelines while continuing to train and fight.

Will the Psi-Warriors’ and other leaders’ increasing psi skills, interspecies collaborations and budding alien alliances be enough for Earth to make it through The Transition intact? If there is no clear path for Clara’s and Epifanio’s love, does she partner with Steve or go it alone?

What do you do with wanted/unwanted changes?

Volume III Book Trailer

REVIEWS of Volume III:
“Because this reads like documentation of actual events, I came away from it feeling like my own little life is petty and trivial and a waste of ‘time.’ Like, I’m not part of The Movement and I ought to run right out and start a victory garden or a recycling program or find an ESP trainer and get started learning how to TK or….
“The entire series is such an astounding creation it amazes me that it’s the production of just one person.”

—Devorah “Dee” Fox, Dee-Scoveries, fantasy/thriller author, journalist, columnist, 9/25/15

http://devorahfox.com

ALSO: Volumes I, II and III are soon available in both PRINT and ebooks versions by 12/8/15!

logo_1833057_print high rez  transparent

This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, is Permafree in ebook format and $POD

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Volume I, This Changes Everything
PERMAFREE ebook LINKS HERE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos: train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers; communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet; eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries; convene a new group of Global Leaders; and, help Clara deal with her family’s and friends’ reactions. 

In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything spans the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.

Are you ready for the changes?

REVIEWS for Volume I:
“[This Changes Everything] is highly-imaginative, but for so many different reasons, and outside of the normal scope. There are times when I felt that I was reading an actual research report of true to life events. Honestly, I’m sitting at my laptop, questioning if Clara has provided this work to Ember, or if the two are one in the same. The experience is mind-altering, and would challenge readers to think beyond the bubble that we live in. I would surely recommend This Changes Everything to anyone that enjoys a a well-written and researched Sci-Fi series. I will point out that it pushes the envelope, and toys with one’s perception. Well done! 5 Stars.”

–Janice G. Ross, author, 11/11/13

http://jgrwriter.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/review-this-changes-everything-by-sally-ember-3/

This Changes Everything by Sally Ember is a well-written, complex work that is going to add a strong title to a genre that can sometimes become bogged down with the same old, same old. This Changes Everything is a book that I am very happy to have had the chance to read and I would recommend it to any sci-fi/fantasy fan.”

–Zach Tyo, Indie Reviews, 10/4/13

http://indiebookreviewer.blogspot.com/

“You have created your characters very well. I feel for Clara, I imagine her alienating a lot of people because her enthusiasm and drive and ability to push herself makes her someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I would have liked more of the reporter’s life and I didn’t like Epifanio at all. He sounded arrogant and selfish. I loved that the aliens were chosen by lottery. You had so many good touches like that, which made the book a continuing surprise. I…have to say it is one of the most challenging, exciting and original books I’ve read.”

–(Mary) Josephine O’Brien, author, Sharing Skies, 9/14/13

“You have written a wonderfully imaginative and original story with plenty of twists and turns. I really like your multiuniverse setting with different timelines and the concept of the ‘Many Worlds Collective.'”

–Sophekles, author, The Serotonin Transfer, 10/8/13

“I love your sense of humor. I literally laughed out loud when Clara said that she had given him the name ‘Led.’ I also like that this is an alien story where the aliens are helping, rather than trying to take over the world. It’s a refreshing angle.”

–S.M. Koz, author, Pangalax, 9/4/13

[after reading 1st 20 pages only] “…In a lot of ways I’m at a loss to critique this because it’s quite different than what I’m used to encountering. It’s a more immediate version of Stranger in Strange Land by Heinlein. Now, what I say next is strictly speaking off the cuff at 11 PM after a couple of rum and cokes, but as it stands I’d probably rate this either three or four stars, depending on how it develops. Once I got into the ideas behind it all, I found it personally fascinating. I’m not sure how that would translate to a broader readership, but it’s nifty stuff. I like alternate timelines and the like…”

–Alexander Crommich, reviewer @ Crommich Industries

“The writing is complex and done extremely well….There were times when I almost forgot I was reading a work of fiction and not a news account of real events, and I would consider that to be skilled writing indeed….[D]id I enjoy more of it than not? Yes. Four stars. Did I like the overall content? Most of the time. Three stars. Was the writing of good quality? Oh, definitely yes. Five stars. My overall rating: four of five stars.”

–Lynda Dietz, Easy Reader

ilovetoreadyourbooks.blogspot.com, 11/4/13

Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99 for ebooks and $POD.

final cover print

Volume II: This Changes My Family and My Life Forever [released 6/9/14, Smashwords, Amazon and elsewhere]
Ebook LINKS HERE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  

Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, multiverse romances and planetary changes? Clara and the alien Band of holos are back. As Earth’s first Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet and for figuring out how to deal with simultaneous time and multiple timelines in the ever-changing multiverse.

Fighting to support these changes are the Psi-Warriors, led by its reluctant leader, Chief OverSeer Rabbi Moran Ackerman, against the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief. Moran reveals his struggles and successes with his Excellent Skills Program training experiences on the new Campus and at home.

Stories in This Changes My Family and My Life Forever come from younger Spanners as well as Clara via “Snapshots” of her earlier life with anecdotes from Epifanio Dang, her on/off lover, and Esperanza Enlaces, Earth’s Chief Media Contact, and others about the first five years of The Transition.

What would you do with the changes?

REVIEWS for Volume II:
5 Stars for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series
“One thing I like very much about The Spanners Series is the message that we can all live together in peace, learn from each other, be there for each other. All differences (religious, racial, gender, and even between species and inhabitants of other planets) are overcome. I mean, how cool would that be to be able to communicate with animals – and not in a jokey, Eddie Murphy-Dr. Dolittle-kind of way, but accept them and their needs / interests as equal to humans? And those people who resist change (yes, there will always be those, even if it is clear that the change is for the better) will not be eliminated, but gently persuaded to recognise what is best for them.”

–Peggy Farooqi, The Pegster Reads, 5/31/14

http://thepegsterreads.blogspot.co.uk

About the Author
Sally Ember, Ed.D., has been passionate about writing since she was nine years old. She’s won prizes for her poetry, stories, songs and plays. She began meditating (right after The Beatles) in 1972.

Now, Sally delights fans of paranormal and romance by blurring the lines between fact and fiction in a multiverse of multiple timelines, often including exciting elements of utopian, multiverse, science fiction and Buddhism. Her sci-fi /romance/ speculative fiction/ paranormal ebooks for New Adult/adult/YA audiences, The Spanners Series, are unique, exciting, thought-provoking and amusing.

Visit her Youtube Channel for book trailers, author readings, and a live Q & A with Sally plus more: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w

Born Jewish on the cusp of Leo and Virgo, Sally’s life has been infused with change. She is a long-time Buddhist meditator who writes, swims, reads and hosts her Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) CHANGES conversations with authors, LIVE almost every Wednesday (but on hiatus for November & December, 2015), 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA. Join in the fun by commenting and asking questions during the live show on G+ or Youtube, or visit archived CHANGES shows: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

If you are an author or know one, learn more about and get yourself scheduled on or recommend someone as a CHANGES guest: https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d

Sally blogs regularly on wide-ranging topics and includes reviews, interviews, guest blog posts, and excerpts from her ebooks. Visit and comment, follow, “like,” and share! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

In her “other” professional life, Sally has worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to live in St. Louis, MO, in August, 2014. Sally has a BA in Elementary Education, a Master’s (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).

Interacting With and Finding Sally Online

Please write a review and give Volumes I and II and then this one, III, a rating on SMASHWORDS, iBooks, Kobo, nook, Amazon, whatever retailer you use for ebooks, as well as many other sites that bring readers to this book: Library Thing, Wattpad, Indiebooks, Goodreads, Booklikes, Shelfari, and her blog, http://www.sallyember.com/blog. Help bring people to The Spanners Series via any other website that invites readers to post comments and reviews of Sci-Fi novels, especially if you LOVE it!

Thank you for reading and considering the implications of The Spanners Series. Talk it up! Tweet! Post! Write to Sally! Blog your opinions and responses!

Sally wants her readers to know: ‘”I change my books based on readers’ suggestions! Also, I would be delighted to visit your Book Club or class if you are using one or more of the books in The Spanners Series. Ask me to co-develop curricula, projects and activities for your group/class members!”

You will want to visit on Facebook, where she is known as “Sally Sue Fleischmann Ember,” and has a Spanners Series page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber
or her website to find out when the next Volumes will be available.

She is also very active on Google+ as “Sally Sue Ember” and on her Spanners Series page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/115730970500394047116/115730970500394047116/about

Follow Sally on Twitter @sallyemberedd and please Tweet about this book and The Spanners Series!

For photos, images, music, bios and other memes relevant to Sally as an author and directly to The Spanners Series, please visit her boards on Pinterest: “The Spanners Series includes…”; “Inspirations for the Earth locations in The Spanners Series“; “Music of The Spanners Series“; “Space Shots I like”; “Books that changed my life”; “TV shows and movies I actually like”; “Writers I Love”;”Resonating Pins” (from others’ boards); “Blog Posts”; CHANGES Episodes; and, “Flora and Fauna that amaze me.” She also puts up promos for her own and other authors’ books on occasion via “Book Billboards ” and other sites favoring Indie Authors. Please follow her Boards on http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember.

News and Other Information

Sally is experimenting with CROWDCREATING sections or upcoming Volumes VIII (for and seeking youth and New Adults) and IX (for and seeking adults) of The Spanners Series. If you’d like to participate by making story or character suggestions, writing a portion or an entire chapter, or collaborating in other ways, please email sallyember at yahoo or ssfember at gmail and tell her a little about what Volume or portion you’d like to help create! Put “CROWDCREATOR” in the subject line.

Must contact Sally by January 1, 2017, for Volume VIII and July 1, 2017, for Volume IX to be considered for inclusion in the CROWDCREATION.

Sally is also running a CROWDFUNDING campaign to get her ebooks into print, improve the audio quality of her talk show, fund the next books covers and cover other expenses on Patreon. Donate $4 or more and get Rewards: a free ebook, discounts on her editing/proofreading/writing tutoring services and more: http://www.patreon.com/sallyember


The Spanners Series‘ covers and logo #art by WillowRaven: willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com

logoAuthorsDen

All published by logo

#Author #Interview on “Authors Interviews” with Fiona McVie 10-11-15

Check out my interview on Fiona McVie’s site, Authors Interviews, yesterday!

Thanks, Fiona!

https://authorsinterviews.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/here-is-my-interview-with-sally-ember/

Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship – Book Review by Sally Ember, Ed.D., featured on The Buddhist Door website

Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship – Book Review by Sally Ember, Ed.D., featured on The Buddhist Door website

Thanks to Frances McDonald and others at The Buddhist Door for this opportunity to be a reviewer for your site! As a long-time student of #meditation (since 1972) and a #Buddhism student since 1996 in the #Tibetan #Vajrayana tradition, I was pleased to review this book.

Anyone interested in knowing more about how to choose a spiritual teacher or mentor and all the varying types of these there can be, how to be in a better relationship with one or more than one teacher, how and why to end that relationship, and what its pitfalls might be, and so much more, would benefit greatly from reading this book and keeping it around to refer to frequently.

Please read this review and support The Buddhist Door!

Berzin book cover

http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/wise-teacher-wise-student-tibetan-approaches-healthy-relationship-book-review

“Should You #Write What You Know?” Guest Post by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I am excited to welcome back a previous guest blogger for today’s post, someone who was also a guest on Episode 15 of #CHANGES conversations between authors (see below for links), and who is an award-winning #YA and middle grades #novelist, #blogger and nonfiction author, Krysten Lindsay Hager!

Read her insights into what an #author ought to write about, below, and please comment here, http://www.sallyember.com/blog and on her site (see below for all her links).


“Should You #Write What You Know?”

What makes a person go back in time to those #teen years to relive all the awkward, cringe-worthy moments of growing up, crushes and trying to fit in while juggling homework and friendships? Was I crazy even to think about writing about that?

Probably.

Yes; most definitely, yes.

But, then again, sanity is overrated…or so I’ve heard.

Back when I began #writing seriously, I had been taking creative writing classes and even did a one-on-one independent study with my English professor. This is the first time that I finished a young adult novel. I liked my finished book, but I felt there was another story I needed to tell.

I tried different ideas out, outlined, free-formed it, scribbled on napkins and in journals, but nothing felt quite right. I had heard the phrase, “write what you know,” but it didn’t resonate that strongly with me. However, when I heard, “Write the book you would want to read,” well, that one hit home with me.

desk one

I decided that instead of trying to write for the market or what I thought people would want to read, I would write a story that I wanted to read. I told myself this story was just an exercise for me and there was no pressure to submit it or even finish it.

You know what happened? The words began to flow. It wasn’t so much about form and structure as it was about enjoying the process again. I’d soon learn that the writing reflected that.

A few months later, I had heard somewhat late about a writing conference that gave writers the opportunity to sign up for a critique. Since it was first-come, first-served, I had been waitlisted.

However, when I arrived at the conference, I saw that I had a spot in the critique queue. I asked the woman behind the counter how was it that I suddenly had a critique time assigned? I’m not saying she winked or anything, but she told me “they had found a spot” for me.

I didn’t question anything. I just said, “Thank you!” and I went to my appointment.

I went in, anxious and about to throw up. Those of you who have read any of my Landry’s True Colors Series or remember the scene in Next Door to a Star with Hadley getting ready for her first day of 10th grade, are now thinking, “Oh, that’s where Landry/Hadley gets her feel-the-fear-but–do-it-anyway bit from.”

The editor went through the chapter with me and then she came to the part in which my character has been left out by her two best friends and has to get up and walk across the room and ask another group of girls if she can join them. The editor looked at me and said: “My heart was in my throat as I wondered: would these new girls accept her? Would they let her sit with them?”

As she told me how she felt emotionally connected with the character, it hit me–—that moment I had written about was based on my own feelings. Way back in middle school, I had done that incredibly long walk in the cafeteria to another table to see if someone would let me in their group after my own crew had stopped talking to me for a day. (Who knows why, and, at the time, it seemed catastrophic to me.) That awkward, uncomfortable memory that I wasn’t even sure I should write about had brought up something in this woman who was reading it for the first time.

It was then that I realized that writing honestly about my character’s (and my) vulnerabilities was the only way to bring truth and authenticity to my stories. The fact that this person was so interested in this story’s world made me realize that I had something that someone wanted to read.

desk two
Krysten’s Writing Area

I found out that when I focused on the story I needed to tell and had written from a different place inside of me, that all brought my book to life. It made me realize the importance of writing what is in your heart–—the story only you can tell.


Krysten’s new release!

NEXT DOOR TO A STAR
by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Audience: Young Adult
Realistic Fiction

★ SYNOPSIS ★

Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next-door-neighbor is none other than teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be–—pretty, popular, and famous—–and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.

Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet and good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So, when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.

Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnLXsu2c43k

Next Door to a Star
NextDoor Cover

Excerpt from Next Door to a Star:

The school year should end right after spring break, because all anyone can focus on is summer vacation. You can’t learn anything new because all you can think about is all the fun stuff you’re going to do once you don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Summer always seems full of possibilities.

Nothing exciting ever happens during the school year, but maybe, during summer vacation, you could run into a hot celebrity and he’d decide to put you in his next music video. Okay, it wasn’t like I knew anybody that happened to, but my grandparents did live next door to a former TV star, Simone Hendrickson, and Simone was discovered in an ice cream parlor one summer. Of course, she lived in L.A. at the time and was already doing plays and commercials, so the guy who discovered her had already seen her perform. But hey, it was summer, she got discovered, and that was all that mattered.
Amazing stuff didn’t happen to me.

You know what happened to me last summer? I stepped on a bee and had to go to the emergency room. They’re not going to make an E! True Hollywood Story out of my life. I didn’t go on exotic vacations—–like today, I was being dragged along with my parents to my cousin’s graduation party. Most people waited until at least the end of May before having a grad party, but Charisma was having hers early because she was leaving on a trip to Spain.

I was dreading this party because I didn’t want to listen to everybody talk about how smart and talented Charisma was–—making me feel like a blob in comparison—–but my mom RSVP’d even though I said I’d rather die than go. My death threats meant nothing.

But still, for some strange reason, I had a feeling this summer was going to be different.

About Krysten

Krysten Lindsay Hager
(author photo courtesy of Shannon DiGiacomo)

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Connect with Krysten Lindsay Hager

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor
Twitter: @KrystenLindsay
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8298036.Krysten_Lindsay_Hager
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Book trailer for Landry’s True Colors Series provided by Videos by O.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFp2fPFbvTQ&feature=youtu.be

Buy links:
Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/Next-Door-Krysten-Lindsay-Hager-ebook/dp/B0149HTAK0
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Door-Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/dp/1680582690
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/next-door-to-a-star-krysten-lindsay-hager/1122588304?ean=9781680582697
Nook UK: http://www.nook.com/gb/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&%5Bs%5Dkeyword=krysten+lindsay+hager
Books-a-million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Next-Door-Star/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/9781680582697?id=6130980443153
itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/krysten-lindsay-hager/id890673226?mt=11
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/search?query=Krysten%20Lindsay%20Hager&fcsearchfield=Author&fclanguages=all

If you enjoyed this post, please comment/like it here AND go visit Krysten’s sites.


Krysten Lindsay Hager was my guest on Episode 15 of CHANGES conversations between authors. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest:    https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


Want to be a guest blogger on my site? Visit my “Guest Bloggers Hall of Fame” to review other guest posts and read my guidelines. Then, contact me if you’re interested: http://www.sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/

#Buddhism and Intimate #Relationships: What’s the Deal?

#Buddhism and Intimate #Relationships: What’s the Deal?

staying in love
image from http://indulgy.com

I went on an online hunt for the latest in advice, opinions, experiences and perspectives on this topic, intimate relationships and/or #love, from a #Buddhist perspective, restricting myself to postings from the last twelve months.

NOTE: Buddhists use this definition of “love”: the wish for the one you love to be happy. So, if you love someone, you will do everything you are capable of to help that person achieve temporary and long-lasting happiness—regardless of what loving that person requires of you—unselfishly, unstintingly, the way a parent would strive for a child.

Dalai Lama Love is wanting others to be happy
image from http://peacelovepotager.blogspot.com

Here are what I found and some of my comments and questions about how to be a Buddhist in close relationships.

Next? Your comments!


From the Buddhism Stack Exchange (“a question and answer site for people practicing or interested in Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice. It’s built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we’re working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice”), which has a page on Buddhism, marked Beta, with the subtitle from September 2, 2015: “Do buddhists fall in love?”
http://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/11266/do-buddhists-fall-in-love

This site provides a lot of info on the various subdivisions of Buddhism, including Theravada, Mahayana and Zen, and Vajrayana. Since I practice Tibetan Vajrayana Nyingma Buddhism, I focused on the responses that seem to be from the Vajrayana point of view.

Several responses were posted, but my favorites are these two, excerpted below.

One writer, Andrei Volkov (“Non-sectarian practitioner in the tradition of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, heavily influenced by Korean Zazen and studies of Pali Canon. Dedicated to serious practice since 1995, and independent of others with regard to the Buddha’s message since 2012”), posted his response to the question posed (with a lot of explanatory material from the questioner that accompanied this question), “Do buddhists fall in love?”

In Vajrayana schools…emotions, including romantic love, are considered a form of energy that can be put to use… Vajrayana would still appreciate the inherent fakeness of love, the mechanical nature of which comes from a match of partners’ stereotypes and preconceptions.

[E]ven if a Vajrayana practitioner could play with the fire both in context of its ego-melting properties as well as for pleasure, they would not take it one-sidedly as an untrained run-of-the-mill person would do….Vajrayana view includes both sacred and illusory aspects of love. In Vajrayana we are trained to see things from all the sides at the same time. Love is both sacred and a giant trick, as far as Vajrayana is concerned.

The predominant Buddhist sentiment here is that being disappointed/disenchanted (= “sober”) is a …healthier state than the state of intoxication by an object of mind. While Vajrayana is 100% aligned with this most fundamental of Buddhist principles, we do allow ourselves to get drunk, both metaphorically with love, and occasionally even literally—–while staying fully accountable for the consequences—–a trait of the universal adult.

I also appreciated this perspective, posted by “Buddho” (gave no bio info):

Modern neuroscience is catching up with Buddhism in this department it appears. Scientists have found romantic love activates the same addictive parts of the brain as cocaine….

…Buddhism likens romantic love to an addiction, an attachment, and a danger.

…However, love…can also be about selflessness, … sacrifice and … self improvement…. This is the raison d’être for the Vajrayana school of romance as a valid path to enlightenment….


Another point of view comes from Bkikshuni Thupten Chödron, teacher, author and Abbess. Ani [Buddhist honorific for a nun] Chödron is a Western white woman who was one of the first to take Buddhist nun’s vows. http://thubtenchodron.org/biography/

Ani Chödron posted a marriage ceremony prayer that she asks the partners say to each other and to their friends and family, which I excerpt, below:
http://thubtenchodron.org/1995/06/wedding-readings-dharma/

…We aspire to make our spiritual path the core of our life together. We will help each other on the path to enlightenment, watering the seeds of love, compassion, generosity, ethics, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom in each other. As we age and undergo the various ups and downs of cyclic existence, we aspire to transform them into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity.

…We recognize that external conditions in life will not always be smooth, and that internally, our own minds and emotions sometimes get stuck in negative ways of thinking. When this happens, we aspire to see all these circumstances as a challenge to help us grow, to open our hearts, to accept ourselves, others and life itself; and to generate compassion for all others who are also unhappy or suffering at that moment. We aspire to avoid becoming narrow, closed or opinionated, and will help each other see all the various sides of a situation and to bring acceptance, flexibility and equanimity to it.

…We aspire to remember the disadvantages of ignorance, anger and clinging attachment and to apply Dharma antidotes when these arise in our minds and to help each other do so, also.

…Day to day, as we progress along the path, we aspire to be patient with ourselves and others, knowing that change comes slowly and gradually…

I have attended a few Buddhist wedding ceremonies and heard about others. They usually include a portion of the vows that ends with “until impermanence intervenes” instead of the more traditional and secular “until death do we part.”


I’ve also heard and read Buddhist teachings that indicate one great reason to be in intimate relationships, whether platonic or sexual: when we are in relationship, we see our own minds better and face our challenges daily with ourselves.

I can attest to the experiences I have had with this exact situation from times I have been on individual, silent retreats: as long as I do not interact with anyone (no eye contact, no conversations, no communication of any kind) and, better yet, don’t even encounter anyone else in a significant way, I believe that I am doing “great” with my practice. I am so patient, so generous, so kind, so loving, so compassionate, so able to rejoice in others’ successes and happiness, so calm and so earnest about wanting to alleviate suffering for all beings. Oh, yes. Ahhhh.

On retreat, I am practically a saint….until I am thwarted or confronted with someone’s saying or doing something I don’t want or preventing me from getting what I do want.

Could be that someone puts their shoes where I usually put mine. Sometimes, I have to wait longer than usual for a meal. Perhaps someone stands where I want to stand, preventing me from seeing something I want to see. Maybe someone “takes” “my” parking space.

parkingspot
image from http://www.smilesforall.com

Provoked by the smallest of infractions or distractions, my ordinary mind and all its selfishness, attachment, pride, jealousy, anger and ignorance rear all their heads at once. There go my delusions of equanimity and of Bodhisattva grandeur: shattered!

The only “realization” I can honestly claim to have is this: I am so far from liberated, I can’t even read the sign for “enlightenment, this way —>.”

It seems to be true that the main spiritual advantage to being in an intimate relationship is that we get our spiritual comeuppance every day, many times a day, and can harbor no such illusions about our proximity to “enlightenment.” When we are engaged in intense, personal relationships with others and paying attention to our own minds, whether that occurs with colleagues, a lover/partner or with friends, our tasks are to be grateful for the challenges, to be glad of the opportunities to grow and improve.

Buddhist teachings exhort us to continue focusing our criticisms on ourselves and our generosity on our partners. We learn to see every interpersonal encounter as a chance to “look in the mirror” and see ourselves better rather than “look out the window” and point at or blame others for our confusions, hurts and complaints. We consider our sangha, the other members of our spiritual community, to be our “guide,” which means they show us the nature of our minds merely by being in our lives.

Lao Tsu knowing others knowing ourselves

This does not mean we shouldn’t remove ourselves from an abusive relationship or ignore people who harm us or others. That is a misconstruction of these instructions. Buddhism also doesn’t encourage “co-dependency” while inspiring unselfishness: fine lines, always.

We simply try to maintain our focus on our own minds when we are feeling angry, resentful, proud, jealous, or afraid. We are attempting to see clearly the nature of our emotions as empty—having no substance—and to discover the source of our own suffering as ignorance, on the path to becoming more patient and spontaneously compassionate toward others.

CONCLUSIONS

If we aren’t interacting in any serious way with others, if we have no “skin in the game,” if all our relationships are superficial, short-term, and insignificant, we won’t be inspired to improve ourselves because, as I believe about myself when I’m alone on retreat, we’ll mistakenly conclude that we are “just fine the way we are.”

Are you in any relationships in which you are “all in,” allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable, exposed, authentic? Or, do you hold yourself back, keep some in reserve, never fully commit or reveal yourself? Only by immersing ourselves in an intense human relationship of some kind can we fully learn to understand our own minds and emotions honestly.

Why hold back? None of us lives all that long….

I am not in a close relationship with a lover right now, but I wish I were. I am in close contact with family members and a few friends, but none of those relationships brings the challenges right to my heart/mind that a lover does. Maybe some day, again…

Trouble is, I am very picky and I have a lot of experience, so I am not inclined to be in a relationship just to be in one. Not now.

My personal ads (when I ran them) did not get many relevant “hits.” Could be because these are my criteria and descriptions: “Serious meditators, only. People my age (61) or thereabouts, only. Kind, intelligent, humorous, interesting people only. No drinkers or smokers. One or no pets. No kids at home.”

I’m willing to be with either a woman or man, which opens up the field considerably, but my chosen categories otherwise make my acceptable potentials (and those who might find me appealing) very small. Also, I’m a Buddhist who was raised Jewish, a feminist and a radical, politically. Unless the other person is, also, or has experience with people similar to me, they probably won’t understand or respect me properly, nor I, them.

Then, add in these facts and you’ll see the pool shrinks into one that holds almost zero candidates: I don’t like to shop except for food that we’ll eat, and I prefer organic and food farmers’ markets, when possible. I don’t wear make-up or perfume or dress up readily. I don’t shave. I don’t wear bras. I’m honest. I’m somewhat psychic. I’m short, but people tell me I’m intimidating even when I don’t say a word. I’m a writer, a blogger, and a talk show host who likes to spend a lot of time alone to accomplish these things. I swim a lot, but I can’t hike (bad leg and back). I don’t have much money (yet). I eschew most sports, don’t like gambling, am not pleased with or want to go to most movies.

I get up at 3 AM and go to bed at about 8 PM, although, with naps, I can push the bedtime back a bit. I’m extremely intelligent and highly educated (doctorate), and I’m not as patient as I ought to be with potential partners who are not well-educated, don’t read much, and/or don’t know how to express themselves and/or don’t talk much. I’m very funny and I appreciate humor, but not if it’s disrespectful or implies derogatory opinions of groups or individuals.

I don’t like most movies or TV programs and won’t watch them. I fall asleep at classical concerts (although I like some of that music) and detest opera. I don’t want to attend most plays or public performances, but there are some I really would like to see.

I’m also not a “Barbie doll.” Therefore, I don’t want to be with someone whose main criteria for a lover start with or center on appearance and “fitness.” I appreciate certain physical qualities, but those aren’t my “screen” and I am not interested in people who screen that way.

I want friendship and interest first, love to have a chance and time to evolve, and for sex to occur as we get to know each other, not as the way to get to know each other. I haven’t had sex for over five years. I can wait.

You see the problems, yes?

subset almost nil
image from http://www.cs.uni.edu

If there is anyone at all left in my subset, what are the odds that this person is alive and living within 15 – 20 miles of me in St. Louis, Missouri USA, right now, AND that I would meet up with him/her by chance and s/he would recognize me and I, him/her?

Let me know when you find such a person(s).

The truth is, because I have had dozens of relationships in my life, from those lasting one-night to twenty+ years, and I have an adult child I am close to and love dearly, as I do his partner, and I have many friends around the country and connections around the world, and relational experiences from dozens of years of living collectively, working closely with and living with people, I have the grounds for being choosy. I’d rather be “alone” than be in a relationship that isn’t healthy or spiritually nourishing.


Love isn’t easy. Love doesn’t always offer fun and sex. Love doesn’t usually include roses or violins.

Is love worthwhile? How should a practicing Buddhist (or anyone conscious) best engage in close relationships?

You tell me. http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Featured today on Buddhist Door, Part I of my stories of being a “Reluctant Buddhist.”

Featured today on Buddhist Door, Part I of my stories of being a “Reluctant Buddhist.”

http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/a-reluctant-buddhist-how-it-took-me-eight-years-to-start-practicing-in-this-life

Thanks, Frances McDonald and Buddhist Door, for this opportunity.

Look for Part II to go LIVE on 11/13/15, my dear Lama Drimed’s birthday!

May all beings benefit.

My Movie Review of “‘Ricki and the Flash’ – Meryl Streep is Terrific” on Blogcritics.org

My movie review of “‘Ricki and the Flash’ – Meryl Streep is Terrific,” on Blogcritics.org,
went live 8/27/15!

Summary : Excellent rock’n’roll cover band fronted by Meryl Streep and Rick Springfield in a touching family drama. 4 Stars!

Ricki_and_the_Flash_poster

SCROLL DOWN on this site (link below) to leave a comment!
http://blogcritics.org/movie-review-ricki-and-the-flash-meryl-streep-is-terrific/

My History of History: Guest Blog Post from Janet Oakley, Historical Fiction Author/ Educator

I am so pleased to welcome Janet Oakley as my guest blogger today. Janet is an #historical #fiction #author and #educator who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 21.

My History of History is today’s Guest Blog Post. Join the conversation, please!

For more information about how to reach Janet and know more about her writing, to become a guest on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below this post.

Thanks for visiting!


My History of History

I have loved history since I was in grade school.

Maybe it was my mother’s stories about her family’s homesteading across the West, post-Civil War, or maybe it was the journals of my great-grandfather, a Union surgeon at the Battle of Gettysburg, or, Little House on the Prairie books.

In any event, while researching my senior thesis for my BA in American History, I had a wake-up call deep in the collections of the National Archives. I loved the research, the hunt for the unexpected piece of history, but I didn’t want to look like I lived there. My archivist looked like he hadn’t seen sun in 25 years.

history files

That made a very big impression on my twenty-one-year-old self. I preferred presenting what I found in those old records and stories in ways that the public would understand. Thus, my passion for hands-on history was born.

I first discovered this approach to teaching history while a guide at Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu in the early 1970s. The storied history behind these buildings, one brought by sailing ship pre-fab all they way from Connecticut to Honolulu in 1821, was part of the tour. When no one else volunteered to give early morning tours to school kids, I said “Yes.”

Washington students pix

I found making the story of missionaries and the royal Hawaiian children who were present at this site relevant to young 20th-century kids a challenge, but I soon found I loved making history come alive to them. For that, I pursued a teaching certificate.

Out in the Woods

Back on the Mainland a few years later, I scored a job with my local school district. At the time, every third grade went out to forested site to experience life as a 19th-century settler in the Pacific Northwest. By then, I had been participating in a museum program in the schools. From those workshops, I learned how to apply historical research to creating fun, hands-on activities, ranging from churning butter to candle-dipping to 19th-Century schooling. I’ve been doing it ever since.

One of the joys of doing this is seeing students (and many times, their parents) engage in activities from the past. For eleven years, I was Curator of Education at a county museum, where I worked with teachers and their students from eleven different schools.

Making Butter

I researched and created hands-on stations that explored mining ores and their uses, logging, seeds and butter-making, all historic occupations in the county. I also taught at the historic Rosario School.

Recently, I have been presenting workshops about pioneers and their use of 19th-Century technology and media at the SPARK Museum in Bellingham, which has an amazing collection of electrical science and sound that led to the development and improvement of modern radios.

Bongieyoung
Bongie Young

During these years, I created social studies curricula for schools and parks, one of which is the San Juan Island National Historical Park on San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest. For the past nineteen years, I have demonstrating 19th-Century foodways during their annual “English Encampment,” run by Miss Libby’s Academy.

Informing My Historical Fiction

I have an active public speaking life centered around local history topics and the historical fiction I write. Why do I continue to work with kids? Because I love history and I love teaching it experientially.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Understanding how things worked long ago or the customs and traditions of the times by trying on period clothing or cooking with a 150-year-old “receipt” (recipe) is one of the best ways to appreciate history and the ordinary people who lived it.

By the time this is posted, I will have talked to a group of Girl Scouts out at their rural mountain camp. My novel, Timber Rose, has inspired their leaders to invite me talk about the early women mountaineers who climbed mountains in skirts.

Can’t wait. Good times!


about Janet Oakley

Janet 1smaller-crop

(Janet Oakley) (J.L. Oakley) is the author of award-winning fiction. TREE SOLDIER, a novel of the Great Depression set in a Civilian Conservation camp, which won the 2012 EPIC ebook award for historical fiction as well as the 2012 grand prize with Chanticleer Book Reviews. Its prequel, TIMBER ROSE, is 2014 IndieBRAG recipient and a first place winner in the Chaucer Awards. The Jossing Affair, set in World War II Norway, is under consideration at a publishing house.

Janet also writes memoir essays and historical articles. Her work is published in the Cup of Comfort series, Historylink, the online encyclopedia of Washington State history, The Sea Chest, and Clover: A Literary Rag

History is her first love. She writes social studies curricula for schools and historical organizations, demonstrates 19th-Century folkways, and was for many years the Curator of Education at a small county museum in La Conner, Washington, USA.  In 2006, she was the manager of a History Channel grant, researching old court cases in early Washington Territory.

When she is not writing, she enjoys gardening, walking, and the company of the active writing community in her town.

Janet’s Links

Blog: http://historyweaver.wordpress.com
PINTEREST: http://www.pinterest.com/helebore/
Twitter: @jloakley
INTERVIEW: http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2011100047 
TIMBER ROSE
http://www.amazon.com/Timber-Rose-JL-Oakley/dp/149370981X
TREE SOLDIER was an ABNA 2014 Quarter Finalist and Chanticleer Grand Prize winner 2013, and an EPIC ebook Award winner in 2012
http://www.amazon.com/Tree-Soldier-J-L-Oakley/dp/1453896473/ref=tmm_pap_title_0


Janet Oakley was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 21. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS occur frequently! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

How I use Science Research in my Science-Fiction Writing for The Spanners Series

How I use #Science #Research in my #Science-Fiction #Writing for The Spanners Series

First, Some #Tech History

Typewriters to Word Processors
I am old enough to remember learning to type on a manual typewriter whose action was so “hard” or difficult that I had to slam each finger onto the keys to get them to hit the ribbon with enough force to get sufficient ink to mark the typing paper. If I were trying to make carbon copies, I had to hit the keys even harder or the copy wouldn’t be impressed with the keys enough for the carbon paper to work properly.

Luckily, I was already a piano student (from the age of 9) by the time I started typing (age 10) and I took my only formal typing class the summer I turned twelve. By then, my fingers were very strong. I do not know how others learned to type and made it work without being pianists. Even with my hours of piano playing every week, I still found it tiring and challenging to type with enough force on these typewriters to make the keys impress the carbon paper, especially when making more than one copy.

manual typewriter
Keys on a Manual Typewriter

The first revolution was the IBM “Selectric” (invented in 1961, but got to me and my part-time jobs in St. Louis, MO, in the late 1960s and early 1970s), which had a spinning ball rather than key action. This made the typing of the letters cause the ball to spin, putting the typed letter in contact with the ink ribbon without having to use as much force. My days of a typewriter jam were almost over (I became an extremely fast typist, but the machine could not keep up!).

The early 1970s brought further great relief from typewriter drudgery with the electric typewriters (soft-touch, less force-required) and then the amazing automatic carriage return. Remember that lever we had to yank on at the end of every line? Gone!

typewriter_jam
Typewriter Jam
image from http://ecocatlady.blogspot.com

Finally, the best invention for writers and secretaries: the correction key, which worked by back-space-erase-retype action. Before this functional key existed, typists had to use special typewriter erasers (those round ones with the feathery ends so we could brush off the eraser dust from each part of the page) and carbon paper erasers for any mistakes, OR (usually) retype the entire page for one mistake! For larger mistakes or the carbon copies, we newly could use “Liquid Paper” or “Wite-Out”(THANKS, Bette Nesmith Graham, who invented this in her kitchen in 1956!), which also was a revolution in making typed pages appear mistake-free even when they were not.

Liquid_paper_products_Womens_Museum
Liquid Paper display at the Women’s Museum
image from http://en.wikipedia.org

Card Catalogs and Index Cards
Along with these trips down memory lane for typists, which brought us to word-processing/computer-like typewriters and, finally, word-processing software for home computers (the BEST!), we have the trajectory across the last fifty years for researchers. Remember those little pencils that were ubiquitous in libraries for use near the card-catalogs?

I used to spend hours or days or weeks cross-referencing, by hand, with my fingers and tired eyes, to find authors, titles, types of printed works, or microfiche/ microfilm copies of materials. Then, some were not allowed to be “checked out,” only used “in-house.” Or, some had to be requested via Interlibrary Loan, which could take months.

The photocopier was an electrifying (LOL) invention that allowed us to take home pages we wanted to study or read. We could mark them up and use them to take further notes on when items couldn’t be taken out of the library, but they cost a lot per page for my budget. I invented my own shorthand to take copious notes very quickly, a system I learned to use in lecture classes as well. I could quickly crib information from precious materials I couldn’t afford to make copies of in the large numbers of pages I needed for a project.

I am a speed-reader, fast note-taker, and quick thinker. Still, this type of research was slow and laborious since I had to read each page to determine what I wanted to notate, photocopy or ignore. Every resource also had long lists of their own resources which I usually had to follow-up on (and was grateful for the “trail”), but many items were one-of-a-kind and not available when I needed them.

Index cards, notebooks, looseleaf binders, photocopies, smudged ink and so much paper, paper, paper: I was drowning in it. We had to ORGANIZE: color coding, use of tabs, physically taping-moving-retaping the cards or notes on large pieces of paper or a bulletin board, wall or floor. It is at this point I would notice the gaps and have to trudge back (often through snow and ice; not kidding) to the library.

floor outlining
Floor Outlining
image from http://fairfieldwriter.wordpress.com

I was SO excited to use removable tags and “post-it” notes when they came into our lives: 1968, serendipitous discovery by Dr. Spencer Silver at 3-M, of the reusable glue; and Arthur Fry, mid-1970s for the mass-market applications, like “post-it” notes and removable tabs. If I only could keep it all straight and remember my own process. For example, was I using blue for my thoughts or quotations…?

Art Fry oppfant Post-it-lappene og forandret måten vi kommuniserer på. Gul lapp på pannen med lys idé tegnet .
Arthur Fry, inventor of the “Post-It” note
image from http://en.wikipedia.org

Research Access and Writing, First Major Innovations
Fast-forward to the 1990s and (thanks to Al Gore…), the World Wide Web, or as it’s now known, the Internet. At first, not a lot was available to “laypeople.” Research didn’t change for me much during my graduate schools years (1991-96, for my Master’s and doctorate). The scanning interfaces were horrible: grainy and hard to read, with many odd mistakes and quirky formatting problems. Plus, most items weren’t scanned in and scanners were still prohibitively expensive and large, so not widely utilized. Professional journals, esoteric sources and other materials still needed to be found and used at libraries or in person.

The biggest boon and the one I still praise daily is the word processing personal computer. Best parts of that: copy, cut and paste functions. Gone forever are the days of using actual scissors (although I love that the “cut” icon is a pair of scissors). I no longer use sticky tape or post-its to move text around and it’s easy to create outlines that I can change quickly.

First-time, ever: specialized software programs that allowed us to create bibliographies as we write, using sources freely in our properly-positioned footnotes and endnotes, all automatically formatted to the chosen “style” guide, if we were clever enough to input the data correctly. Incredible!

endnote foot note dialogue box
Endnote/Footnote Dialogue Box

Using Science Research in my Science-Fiction Writing

A Researcher’s Paradise!
Now, in the mid-20-teens, the Internet is alive, well, thriving and chock-full of information. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Wikipedia and other -pedias, specialized news sources and wikis along with nonprofit organizations’, professional associations’ and corporate websites populate the web with more facts than anyone could gather. I can capture and bring them to me via my home computer’s browser with the entry of a few simple search terms.

I am now overflowing with science breakthroughs, breaking news and older sources, with accompanying images, data and video/audio files. I am in a researcher’s paradise!

Word-Processing Software’s References and Resources
We have our own dictionary and thesaurus right within our word processing programs, with grammar and spell-checking functions operating within our own preferences and parameters. We can change these, add words and terms, personalize it all at will.

We can also become completely autonomous as bloggers, authors, producers of content of all sorts. We can independently research, write, edit and format an entire book in electronic or print format from our homes or offices: this is the true revolution of “desk-top publishing.”

My Evolving Research and Writing Process
Best part, for this sci-fi writer: science information on any topic, any time, at my fingertips. I have changed the way I write because of what is available and how I can use it in my books. I used to be an avid outliner (remember the notecards and color-coded tabs?), but usually, now, I mentally sketch out what I want to write about and what characters to include.

Then, throughout the year, I gather tidbits of information that I believe I may want to use. I get links to articles from organization’s or group’s pages’ and friends’ posts on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and other social media sites.

When something piques my interest, I don’t have to go anywhere to read it. I don’t have to take notes or pay to copy the entire article. I don’t have to carry backpacks filled with heavy books, research journals and articles home.

Oh, no; I do not!

Instead, with a few “clicks,” I travel online to the site to copy and paste part or all of the article and its URL to a word processing document. It is then stored in my research folder with a specific title and date. I review it in its entirety or portions of it later, usually on the day I plan to consider using it.

Screenshot (28)
Screenshot of my research folder’s contents

When I’m ready to write, I begin to mine my research folder for its gold and other ores. When I find something I may want to use (for its facts, explanations, ideas or announcements), I copy and paste parts or all of each article right into my story or book draft. Sometimes, early on in my writing a book for The Spanners Series, I’m not sure what I’ll use, exactly, so I paste them all “at the end.”

When I’m ready to place items by subject somewhere in the chapters set-up, I move the paragraphs or entire articles to that chapter, by topic. As I write, I read more carefully to learn from the parts I’ve captured.

BUT, I am careful NOT to not use these authors’ exact words or do much paraphrasing. Instead, these snippets become my “notes,” acting like outlines, as guides. The sections I’ve pasted show me where I want to take my characters, my plot, or even my series by providing me with the science and facts to back up the next part of the world I’m building and the story I want to tell.

Once I’ve utilized this chapter’s store of ideas and facts (of course, attributing and giving credit in my Appendices when I use any part more literally than conceptually), I put each accessed article into my “USED” folder in my computer. Then, as I write, I delete the “notes” from the copied-pasted nonfiction/research articles’ sections of the draft.

All that is left in each chapter are my own ideas, in my words, with my characters, my plot. I then move on to another source or chapter section.

Summary of All the Changes: Pros and Cons
This process sometimes wreaks havoc with daily word counts, but I’ve learned how to distinguish consistently the “notes” sections separately from the written portions. What I love about this evolving process is how time- and resource-efficient and budget-friendly it is. There are only a few steps, with nothing to photocopy or borrow, no handwritten notes and bits of paper to misplace, fewer or no pieces of paper.

Plus, when I find out I’m missing something crucial or want to go in a new direction, I can open a browser tab and find a new information source in about one minute on my computer, from where I am already sitting. When inspiration strikes, I can “scratch” my creative “itch” immediately. Right away, I can find out if my new idea is feasible by setting the data up right within my draft, look it over, consider it all, then resume writing.

I can easily and quickly re-arrange entire sections, chapters, and themes, distributing ideas and information among my draft volumes as I write each one of my 10-book Spanners Series. For each of the three Volumes I have completed and the one I’m currently midway through, I have re-organized the chapters multiple times. I have changed sections, moved paragraphs and altered the events in timelines (my series includes multiple timelines) so that the chapter sequence changes almost weekly for a while.

I keep track of all these events, data and movement by using header dates for each chapter. I list them in my series’ spreadsheet by chapter and title. I also include some of the chapter’s content, characters and its current Volume number in the cell.

Screenshot (27)
The Spanners Series’ timeline spreadsheet, screenshot

Given the fluid nature of ebooks and self-publishing, it would not surprise me to find out, years from now, that I want to re-arrange the sequence within or of the Volumes I’ve already published significantly! Doing that wouldn’t even be difficult, since self-publishers can withdraw and resubmit Volumes for distribution whenever we want.

Of course, there is one big problem: too much sitting! I have to remind myself to take breaks, get up, walk around, go swimming 5 – 6 times each week, take naps, go outside and walk around. The temptation to stay inside and keep working is so much greater than in the past because everything I need is “right here”!

I also have to be careful not to have another incident of RPI (Repetitive Stress Injury) to my arms, fingers, hands and wrists, which I had severely in my first semester of graduate school. I learned exercises, ways to sleep, the use of ice and NSAIDs to avoid overusing my home computer as I transitioned from relying on an electric typewriter. When there is no paper to load, no carriage level for returns, no ribbon to change and no carbon paper, we don’t move around physically enough.

We have to remember: raise our eyes to look out a window to change our eyes’ focus from near to far, remove our hands from the keyboard to stretch our arms, shoulders, necks, backs, fingers. We need to get up and actually (HORRORS!) leave the keyboard and screen for frequent breaks, or we will ruin our bodies.

Many (like my son, not pictured, but his set-up is similar) now use standing desks and ergonomically designed keyboards with vertical access to prevent the worst harm and future injuries. However, exercise and frequent “away” periods are the best ways to avoid physical problems from developing due to computer overuse.

ergonomic desk set up
Ergonomic Desk and Keyboard Set-up
image from http://www.instructables.com

However, I would not trade the convenience of this era for all the manual typewriters and liquid paper in the multiverse. Thanks to all the inventors, developers, creators, scientists, researchers and writers who made/make this all possible for the rest of us!


This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Permafree

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Volume I cover

Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are.

Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. 

In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth?

This Changes Everything spans the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.

Are YOU ready for the changes?
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8 </a
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., @$3.99

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Volume II cover

Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien “Band” are back.

Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II.

How would YOU do with the changes?
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., planned pre-orders 11/1/15 – 12/7/15 @$1.99; planned release 12/8/15 @$3.99; Cover Reveal 10/26/15!

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The Spanners Series logo

Clara, Moran, Espe, Epifanio and the alien Band of holos are back. Psi-Defiers launch increasingly violent protests during this five-year Transition, attempting to block Earth’s membership into the Many Worlds Collective. To join, Earth’s nations and borders must dissolve and Psi-Warriors must strengthen in their battle against the rebels.

Clara, continuing as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, also juggles family conflicts and danger while creating psi skills training Campuses to help Earth through the Psi Wars. Clara timults alternate versions of their futures as the leaders’ duties and consciences force them each to make difficult choices across multiple timelines while continuing to train and fight.

Will the Psi-Warriors’ and other leaders’ increasing psi skills, interspecies collaborations and budding alien alliances be enough for Earth to make it through The Transition intact? If there is no clear path for Clara’s and Epifanio’s love, does she partner with Steve or go it alone?

What do you do with wanted/unwanted changes?


LINKS

http://www.sallyember.com  main website
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HEV2UEW  author page
https://www.twitter.com/sallyemberedd Twitter: @sallyemberedd
https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber Spanners Series’ page on FB
https://www.facebook.com/sally.ember
http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember
http://goo.gl/tZKQpv Spanners Series’ page on Google+
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SallySueEmber/about/p/pub Sally Sue Ember on Google+
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w/videos
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember  

More purchase/free links on Kobo, ibooks and nook as well as reviews, book trailers, author interviews and readings, blog posts, research, series updates and more on Sally’s website: look right, scroll down. http://www.sallyember.com

Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven: http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

What is it like to host a live talk show? My guest post on Inger Kenobi’s site!

What is it like to host a live talk show?.

ALSO: watch Inger’s and my Episode 20 on CHANGES: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq and look: OPENINGS 8/26 and beyond! Welcome new authors of any age, genre, publication method!
Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time!

Learn more about and get yourself on or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest for CHANGES conversations between authors:  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/

Why I Started a LIVE Talk Show: *CHANGES* conversations between authors on Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) and YouTube

“Why I Started a LIVE Talk Show: CHANGES conversations between authors on Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) and YouTube”
originally posted on http://www.asidefromwriting.com on July 6, 2015

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In early April, 2014, I had just completed and uploaded Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, of my science-fiction/romance/ multiverse/ utopian/ paranormal (psi) ebooks in The Spanners Series for adults, New and Young Adults, and joined two new writers’ groups in the East Bay (one in Berkeley and one in Hayward, California, where I had been living), when I was in a terrible accident. The resulting broken nose has been healing fine and didn’t require surgery; the concussion has proven to be a lot more problematic.

For several months, it was as if I were in a fog. I wasn’t allowed to do any serious computer work, reading or thinking (I had been about halfway through Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, when I got hurt). Since I couldn’t wear my glasses without causing myself enormous pain (glasses would be sitting on the broken nose, right?), and I was overwhelmingly aphasic, exhausted, confused and injured, unable to process much, the respite from writing, reading and working seemed necessary. The accident had also caused extreme damage to my arms, hands, shoulders and upper back, so keyboarding wasn’t all that feasible, anyway. Plus, when I did type, I made more errors than words, typed very slowly (usually over 100 WPM; then, about 40 WPM, with numerous mistakes).

However, once the enforced hiatus was over, I still couldn’t return to my regular life. My memory was horrible, both short- and long-term. I couldn’t find words, or the right words, to speak or write. I no longer sounded as if I were drunk, but I was still extremely slower and less able, all around, than I had been prior to the brain injury. I usually function in the top 10 percent of intellectuals, with an extremely large vocabulary and many types of intelligence. I had been fortunate, up until the accident, to be a wide reader of many subjects, with both formal and informal education beyond the doctoral level and a larger variety of knowledge, experiences and insights than most people. Post-concussion, I was barely above-average and often, not even that.

Before the injury to my brain, I had been writing my fiction series quite quickly, often exceeding 2,000 words per day. My creativity seemed boundless, my energy matching it. Volume I’s first draft had been completed in under two months, and it was over 130,000 words. I had developed a spreadsheet to record my (very brief) notes on my series’ dozens of human, animal and alien characters, multiple timelines, overlapping realities, historical and future events and people, but most of the series’ details and plans had been in my brain which had been injured to the point of being severely compromised.

In July of last year, I discovered all I could create were short, nonfiction blog and other posts, and it took “forever” to finalize each one, since I typed sentences that were riddled with errors. Each post needed to be proofread multiple times. I could barely read others’ blogs and reblog/share, almost couldn’t read short pieces/stories.

Yes, after a few months I was improving and could do these with increasingly better understanding, but I still couldn’t return to my fiction series. My “executive functions” and “working memory” were still extremely low-performing due to the post-concussion syndrome I had been diagnosed with in June.

I wasn’t well enough to return to my “regular” life of work or writing, but I was well enough to be bored. Luckily, I had discovered Google+ the previous year. During the winter and spring of 2014, I had been attending Hangouts On Air (HOAs) somewhat regularly.

After my accident, watching videos was about the only thing I could do, since reading, writing and other glass-wearing activities were excluded. I attended and participated (when that was allowed) in many HOAs by leaving comments, questions, and interactions with others also viewing or presenting, on topics ranging from books, book marketing, authors, writing, marketing, social media, spirituality/meditation and more. I watched most on Google+, but they were also archived so I could watch those I missed on YouTube, where I found even more entertaining, informative videos. (Find me on Google+ as Sally Sue Ember)

I got into watching one HOA in particular, Lights, Camera, HOA!, run by an excellent trio of women: Meloney Hall, Rayne Dowell and Sheila Strover.

After I attended a few shows, Rayne read Volume I of my series and reached out to invite me onto the show to learn more about being in/on a HOA. The entire reason for this show’s existence is to help newbies (like me) get comfortable with the HOA format and technology, both on- and off-camera. I LOVED it! What a great service this show provides. THANK YOU! https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Bigupticksociallightscamerahoa/about

As a former actor/performer, being “on camera” wasn’t hard for me. As a writer/author, being able to interact with viewers LIVE was so much better than having readers I almost never hear from or meet. I was hooked on HOAs and wanted my own. I learned everything I could in the next several months, wondering if I’d be able to manage my own show.

What could I have a HOA about, exactly? There were an infinite number of choices. By then, I had been interviewed on several radio shows online and submitted many “author interview” posts to others’ websites, so I was familiar with that format and was beginning to feel it was somewhat overused. Frankly, and no offense to the current website(!), I find most author interviews to be awfully repetitive and, well, boring.

I did NOT want to interview authors, but I wanted to meet more authors and talk about writing as well as many other interesting topics. By the end of July, four months post-injury, I still couldn’t write for my series, but I was able to talk better and listen very well. I decided to launch in August and to have a show that I would want to watch.

Since I wanted to be around other writers and hear about their experiences, hoping to be entertained and inspired until my own writing would (hopefully) be accessible to me again, I posted on Twitter, Facebook groups and in general, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ communities to invite authors to be guests on CHANGES conversations between authors. I also ranged around to those sites that posted award winners in science-fiction, particularly, and invited many of those authors on my show as well.

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The response has been more than gratifying. I welcomed Dr. Shay West as my first guest for my August 6, 2014, premier Episode, with several more super authors scheduled to be on subsequent shows. Since then, with a few planned and even fewer unplanned exceptions, I have had an Episode each week. The live show airs three or four times per month (with one week off, to rest) on Wednesdays, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA, and TODAY, August 5, 2015, I air my one-year anniversary show!

Amazing authors have been guests on CHANGES (http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on my website for full schedule of past and upcoming guests). I have had guests who joined me live and/or hail from France, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Israel, Guyana, and many states in the USA. The authors I have talked with enrich me weekly (and my viewers as well, I hope), writing in every fiction genre and including those who also write nonfiction, plays, screenplays and poetry.

Ethnically, my guests have been American mixed-Causasian, African-American, African-Jamaican, Spanish, English, Indian (continent, not tribe), Russian, Jewish, German, Norwegian, Israeli, Guyanan, Irish, and Greek (so far). Editors, publishers (magazine and book), and translators, with an age range, as of today, August 5, 2015, of 15 – 78 years old, are in my CHANGES guests club.

Our conversational topics list is too lengthy to include here, but has been exactly as I had planned: wide variety, high-level subject discussions that are informative, entertaining, insightful, funny and poignant. My guests and I share personal and professional stories, discuss books and writing, publishing and editing, book cover artists and much more.

I am quite happy to say that, as of August 5, 2015, CHANGES Episodes (now up to 37, http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on YouTube) have garnered audiences as large as over 1000 in one day, totalling over 3600 views, so far.

My YouTube channel went from having 2 to almost 50 subscribers. I now have over 3000 followers on Google+ and Facebook, each (although some are the same people, I’m sure), and over 5000 on Twitter. Pinterest followers’ number has quadrupled; so has LinkedIn’s.

I know these are small numbers compared to many, but I’m happy that my network is growing. We receive many compliments, positive comments and excellent questions for each CHANGES Episode from viewers who watch live or later, and more watch weekly.

Since starting CHANGES, I’m delighted to report that downloads of Volume I of my series, which is permafree since I uploaded Volume II (right before my accident), are steady. I do wish for better sales for Volume II, but I’ve heard a series has to have at least three books released “to really take off.”

What’s Next?
CROWDFUNDING to meet my Goals

—I wish to convert the *CHANGES* videocasts into podcasts, for those who prefer to listen-only, but the podcast hosting sites are not free.
—I also wish to pay for my next book covers,
—I need to buy better equipment for my home videocasts, and
—I must keep writing.

However, the concussion has severely limited my ability to work and I am in deep debt. If you’d like to help, http://www.patreon.com/sallyember has a video about my goals and rewards to donors in which I sing (really; not so well, but, hey; I’m not a professional singer!), and more information.

$4 gets you a free ebook; larger donations earn you deep discounts on professional editing, proofreading and writing tutor services, all of which can do well, despite the concussion.

Concussion Recovery News
As of May, 2015, I am back to writing new parts of Volumes III and IV! Slowly, much more laboriously, with an ongoing need for referrals to notes and dictionary, thesaurus and spell-check than remembering going on, but glad to be writing!

I wish I could open up my brain and retrieve the Spanners Series ideas that had been so accessible, so easily before the concussion and look them all over, but…

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The network of authors, book bloggers, book marketers and other writers I have been developing over the last two years has blossomed into a group I can call upon for help, advice, and exchanges. That has proved amazingly gratifying as I trumpet my announcement, below, because many have stepped forward to play a role in this next phase.

Good news: I finished the Beta readers’ draft of Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in late July! Five wonderful writers are reading it right now and will offer their sage wisdom on its improvements by late September. I then hope to be finished with the final proofed version no later than mid-October. I have already begun the cover design process with Aidana Willowraven, The Spanners Series‘ cover artist. The Cover Reveal is planned to occur on Alesha Escobar‘s site in late October. Pre-orders start 11/1/15 and the release of Volume III is scheduled for December 8, 2015!

Wish me luck!

How Else You Can Become Involved
Beta readers for upcoming draft of Volumes IV and reviewers of all Volumes welcomed! Contact me: sallyember@yahoo.com

Also, watch a few Episodes of CHANGES any time: http://goo.gl/6xjSKl Please comment on YouTube or go to the original G+ Event page for that Episode and comment/ask questions, get more info and links. I will respond!

Become/Refer a Guest! #Authors and #bloggers, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction, but not only those: learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest.

OPENINGS 8/12/15 and later this fall! For more info, schedule and past/upcoming guests list, visit here: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV.

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Also, I’ve invited former guests and others I appreciate to Guest Blog on Wednesdays, with excellent posts, so far! Check out the Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame on my site (see below) for previous and upcoming posts.

I strongly suggest you check out others’ HOAs as well: there are some great shows out there in Google+ land! Two good places to find them (and another great G+ community, User2User: LIVE!):
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101944073205735325459 for User2User-Live!
Http://www.hangouteventscalendar.com for the HOA Calendar

For updates about and links to available Volumes of The Spanners Series, me as an author, my own and guest blogger’s posts, Patreon and much more: http://www.sallyember.com has all links and info. Look up or to the right and scroll.


May all who are ill recover and all who are in pain find comfort.

Best to you all!

One-year Anniversary of *CHANGES* *conversations between authors* on 8/5/15!

CHANGES Episode 37, with teen author, Vartika Singh Sikarwar, and host, Sally Ember, Ed.D.

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For my one-year anniversary of the CHANGES conversations between authors show, I am proud to be hosting my first teen author guest, Vartika Singh Sikarwar, who is also a memoir writer, essayist and poet!

Vartika looking forward

We are LIVE on Wednesday, August 5, 10 – 11 AM EDT USA,
Google+ https://plus.google.com/events/cj1b52u2sjs7ul83c11urdicqno  or
Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52tbA0kZ4jI

Vartika’s writing can be found: http://www.wattpad.com/user/VartikaS ,
https://www.facebook.com/MyAdventureToTheSecretDoor
and http://www.teenink.com/users/VartikaSinghSikarwar

Vartika Door

Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

CHANGES Trailer Image_3

Learn more about and get yourself on or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest for CHANGES conversations between authors:  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


HOWEVER: I seem to be “running out of guests” for CHANGES conversations between authors. Coming up next week on its one-year anniversary and only have 2 guests scheduled after that; done by mid-Sept., at this point.

Should I close up shop?

Do you have ideas about whether or not to continue, and, if so, how to attract fascinating author guests?

Thanks, Crew!

Looking for reviewers who like utopian science-fiction, and seeking book bloggers

PLEASE SHARE! Vol III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series, ebook by Sally Ember, Ed.D., releases 12/8/15.

Looking for reviewers who like utopian science-fiction/romance with multiverse and psi elements, and seeking book bloggers to help with Volume III’s release. ARCs and info ready in late Sept. through early December.

Pre-orders: 11/1 – 12/7/15

Release date: 12/8/15

sallyember AT yahoo DOT com if you’re interested and available!

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Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven: http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

This Changes Everything, Vol I, is a perma ‪#‎free‬ ‪#‎scifi‬ ‪#‎romance‬ ebook

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

Vol 2, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

Always love reviews for the first two volumes (free to reviewers), of course! http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2

Observations from a Master of #Timetravel: Guest Post by Devorah Fox

I am so pleased to welcome Devorah (Dee) Fox as my guest blogger today. Dee is a #fantasy/ #thriller #author and #columnist who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 18.

Dee is a contributing writer to a new anthology about time travel releasing this month and has an interesting set of questions posed, below, regarding the distinctions (or not) among #Fantasy, Science-Fiction (#scifi) and general #fiction, with a discussion of #parallel/ #alternate #universes and multiple #timelines as well. Since I deal with many of these topics in my own writing, via The Spanners Series, http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2, we both welcome your comments, questions and experiences! Join the conversation, please!

For more information about how to reach Dee and know more about her writing, to become a guest on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below this post.

Thanks for visiting!


Observations from a Master of #Timetravel

by Guest Blogger, Devorah Fox

A couple of years ago, I ruminated on what categorized a story a Fantasy as opposed to General Fiction. Fiction is about made-up stuff. That’s why it’s fiction and not nonfiction. I asked myself: is a work considered Fantasy simply by virtue of the degree to which the fiction is imaginative?

Although I am now on the fourth book in The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam, labeled by me as an “epic Fantasy series,” I’m still not convinced that these stories belong in the Fantasy genre. It’s true that they are set in an imagined geography and in a period that is more “once upon a time” than an actual historic era. And yes, the hero battles dragons, sea monsters, and other mythical creatures. However, the life challenges that King Bewilliam faces are contemporary: career displacement and divorce in The Lost King; parenting in The King’s Ransom; the nature of leadership and the morality of war in The King’s Redress. So, are those stories Fantasy?

When I embarked on a short story for Masters of Time: A Sci-Fi and Time Travel Anthology, I found myself wondering about the difference between Fantasy and Science-Fiction. I’ve seen the comment that Science-Fiction explores the possible, albeit improbable, while Fantasy explores the impossible, but I wouldn’t agree. I don’t see a clear distinction between imagining a world that includes aliens versus one that includes werewolves.

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Masters of Time: A Sci-Fi and Time Travel Anthology

Ray Bradbury, whose work falls into both genres, suggested that Science-Fiction is a logical projection of the future. Science-Fiction takes as its departure point what we do know about reality, whereas Fantasy is based in invention.

I prefer to think that Fantasy explores what we don’t know about reality. At the risk of sounding metaphysical, there are planes of existence for which we cannot provide evidence using our five senses. Nevertheless, spiritualists and religious leaders encourage belief in the numinous. Fantasy embraces the supernatural and the paranormal, but notice that “natural” and “normal” are at its roots. I’d go even further and say that scientists are very imaginative and fantasize about what we don’t know…yet. What makes them Scientists is that they then seek to prove or disprove that, while Fantasists don’t seek proof.

Many a Fantasist has explored time travel as if it were possible. Even noted scientists take the idea seriously, according to a blog post by theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku. He wrote that a contemporary of Einstein, mathematician, Kurt Goedel, suggested that time is flexible: it speeds up and slows down. Also, time has whirlpools in which it could wrap itself into a circle. This would enable anyone walking along the direction of rotation to find themselves returned to the starting point but backwards in time.

Decades later, mathematician, Roy Kerr, proposed the concept of a rotating black hole. Dr. Michio Kaku explained it this way: “…[T]he black hole would not collapse to a point (as previously thought) but into a spinning ring (of neutrons). The ring would be circulating so rapidly that centrifugal force would keep the ring from collapsing under gravity. The ring, in turn, acts like the Looking Glass of Alice. Anyone walking through the ring would not die, but could pass through the ring into an alternate universe.”

Before we all run off and start building time machines, though, we should address some paradoxes. Take, for instance, this problem: if you go back in time and undo the circumstances that led to your birth, you would never come to be, much less be around to time travel. This is what’s known as the Grandfather Paradox, which results in an inconsistent causal loop. It puts “effect” ahead of “cause” instead of the other way around, as we commonly understand it. This paradox creates an infinite loop: you go back in time and kill your grandfather, thereby preventing your own birth, thereby preventing yourself from going back in time to kill your grandfather, thus your grandfather is never killed, which allows you to be born, so you can go back in time and kill your grandfather….

Let’s say, instead, that time is fixed, that even if occurrences of the past are changed, the future that they led to cannot be. For example, you travel back in time and kill your grandfather (poor Grandad. Whatever did he do to deserve all this antagonism?). To cover your actions, you replace him with someone else, but that man marries and somehow gives birth to your father, who has a child—–you–—so, you are born, after all.

Another possibility is that there are alternative and parallel universes. If this is so, you can travel back in time, kill your grandfather and thwart any offspring, including you. However, all you have done is alter one timeline. Others, including the one in which you do exist, continue unchanged. However, you (the homicidal maniac time-traveler), cannot return to that timeline.

Indeed, the protagonist of my story, “Turning the Tide,” doesn’t so much travel through time herself as she changes it. She reaches into the past to put two men she loves on different paths, effectively moving them into parallel universes, where they enjoy brighter futures.

It’s not hard for me to believe in parallel timelines. At any point in any of our lives, there are different tracks we can follow, deliberately or reactively. The Time Master in “Turning the Tide” knows that the consequence of her manipulation could be that she never meets the men she so loves. However, it’s also entirely possible that, even though their lives took different courses, one or both of them could still meet her. There are so many roads, with so many forks in them. Any one of them could intersect with another parallel timeline, just at a different point.

You’ll find both Fantasy and Science-Fiction at the heart of the stories in the newly-launched Masters of Time: A Sci-Fi and Time Travel Anthology Check it out: http://meet-the-time-masters.blogspot.com.

You can find about more about my epic Fantasy (or not) series, The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam: http://devorahfox.com and http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006L9BJAO.

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The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam


Dee’s Links:

website: http://devorahfox.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com/DevorahFoxAuthor
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006L9BJAO
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/devorahfox/videos

MOT links:

webpage: http://timeanthology.blogspot.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Time-Science-Fiction-Anthology/dp/1514173727
Trailer: http://youtu.be/PovabW4fyjQ
Apple iBooks/iTunes: http://apple.co/1bp77vK
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1K3ggGi
Barnes & Noble/ nook: http://bit.ly/1Kkkr0C

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Devorah (Dee) Fox


Dee Fox was also my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 18. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS occur frequently! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

Grace and Frankie, Season 1, Netflix TV Series: my review is on Blog Critics’ site

Grace and Frankie, Season 1, Netflix TV series Starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda
My review is on Blog Critics‘ site

went live on June 24, 2015

http://blogcritics.org/tv-reivew-netflix-comedy-grace-and-frankie-starring-lily-tomlin-and-jane-fonda/

“Let’s Talk #Anthologies: How To Put One Together And Sell It”: Guest Blog Post by Alesha Escobar

I am so pleased to welcome Alesha Escobar as my guest blogger today. Alesha is a #fantasy/science-fiction and thriller author who does “mash-ups.” Alesha also concocted the idea of and edited an anthology of stories related to time travel, one of my favorite topics!

To honor the release of the anthology, Masters of Time (MOT), this month and because many of the included topics appear in my own writing, via The Spanners Series, http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2, we both welcome your comments, questions and experiences! Join the conversation, please!

Because MOT includes contributions from one of my CHANGES conversations between authors Google+/Youtube Hangout On Air (HOA) guests who is guest blogging here next week (July 15, ) about MOT-related themes, Devorah (Dee) Fox, and a previous guest blogger, Samantha LaFantasie (November 5, 2014, “5 Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block”), I am especially glad to help publicize this new anthology.

For more information about how to reach Alesha and know more about her writing, to become a guest on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below this post.

Thanks for visiting!


Let’s Talk #Anthologies: How To Put One Together And Sell It
by Alesha Escobar

If I could gather some of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors into one room, I’d politely inform them that they couldn’t leave until they’ve handed over a compilation of new, addictive stories for my reading pleasure.

Except George R.R. Martin. I’d only let him participate if he promised to stop killing characters.

One of the best things about settling into a good sci-fi/fantasy book is being taken away to an imaginative world, running alongside characters you care about and feeling their heartache and triumphs. An anthology is a tasty buffet of good stories, whether they’re short tales or full-length ones. They can treat you to the scope of a single author’s creativity or a varied range of authors collaborating with each other.

Last year in an end-of-the-year blog post, I predicted (as much as one could) that we would see an uptick in time-travel stories. I decided to put my money where my mouth was and compile a time-travel anthology, Masters of Time.

mastersoftimecover

Now that I had the concept down (science-fiction and fantasy time travel), I knew I had to reach out to authors I respected and whose work I’ve enjoyed. Once I had that taken care of, then came in the “business aspect.”

If you’re an author thinking about contributing to an anthology or compiling one, I’ll share about this process in the hopes that it gives you an idea of the amount of work it takes, as well as how to avoid some pitfalls.

So, You’ve Got Your Book’s Theme and Your Author Line-up: Now What?

Contracts, Baby!

I’m the co-owner of a micro-press, Creative Alchemy, Inc. Not only was I going to contribute to this anthology as an author, I was also going to publish it through Creative Alchemy. As much as my co-authors love me, they have busy lives, projects, and bills to pay. They weren’t going to contribute a story for free, and as savvy writers, they wanted to know the royalties breakdown, publishing rights, and the length of time they’d have to wait before they could publish their individual stories on their own.

These are all valid concerns, so I drew up contracts in order to have it all settled and agreed upon. Even if the people you’re working with are friends or are trustworthy, still: have a signed contract. It won’t hurt.

Secure an Editor

I highly recommend that your editor is someone who is not a co-author of the project. It will help with objectivity, it will be one fewer thing you have to worry about, and it will guarantee that you’ll come out with a polished book. When compiling Masters of Time, our amazing editor, Charmaine, had no qualms with throwing us into the re-write dungeon when needed. Her insight, constructive criticism and feedback helped shape our work and mold it into something we could be proud of.

Set Deadlines

When is the first draft due? The second? And the last? Try to have a tentative release date scheduled as early as possible so you can work “backwards” toward that goal. Having specific dates written down also motivates writers and keep them accountable for turning in manuscripts.

Get a Professional to Format the Book

When six or more people email you their stories in MS Word format, they’re going to be coming in different fonts and sizes and with different formatting. Y’all know how picky Smashwords is with its vetting system and you don’t want to upload to Kindle Direct Publishing and use the preview feature only to find that your book looks horrible.

Save yourself the headache; once all the stories are compiled into a master document and edited, send it off to the formatter. This is also the perfect time to remind you to get your cover artist and work on the best image you believe will perfectly represent the book.

Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s

Don’t neglect things like spelling the co-authors’ names the way that they want them to be spelled. One of my co-authors always needs his middle initial included, otherwise he is confused with another author by the same name. Does your author want to go by a pen name? Make sure you’ve got that down as well.

Have your co-authors submit their bios, book links and social media profiles, storing them in Evernote or another handy place. It’s a pain to ask them twenty times for this information because you never bothered to copy it down.

Double-check each story title and make sure they’re the final choices. Sometimes authors will start off with one title (or a temporary one) and then change it for the final version. Everything should be up-to-date and consistent.

And, after all has been edited and formatted, do another comb-through!

Don’t Wait Until Release Day to Tell the World about It

I swear I still have friends and relatives shrugging their shoulders and telling me, “Sweetie, why didn’t you say you wrote a book? I didn’t know!” Oh, believe me, I’ve been saying it 😉

Many people, including interested readers, lead busy lives. The internet throws loads of information at us all day, every day, and our social media feeds get more crowded by the second. It’s not a surprise that some people miss the exciting news that your latest project has just been released—so don’t wait until release day to alert people.

Masters of Time will be officially released July 13, but I’ve been advertising the anthology since the beginning of this year. How? As soon as I could, I put the book on pre-order and alerted my email subscribers (if you don’t have an author newsletter, start one). Several book promotion sites will advertise your pre-order, and then there are some seriously cool book bloggers out there who will also be happy to do a cover reveal, an interview, feature or a review of an advanced copy. Bloggers also love giveaways, so if you have a giveaway attached to your book release, it’s a plus!

I’ve announced my anthology at my own blog as well as brought in and featured my co-authors. We’ve exchanged guest posts. I hit the social media pavement and let my Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ friends know. As we got closer to July, the advertising became more urgent, and I did all this while abiding by the principle of not spamming. It’s great to tell people about your book, but remember not to spam.

Also, while the bulk of your efforts may be through the internet, don’t neglect creating awareness in real life: is your local bookstore or library open to your holding an event? Can you share bookmarks, cards or flyers? Perhaps you can host a speaking engagement at your nearest book club or school campus? Get creative with the ways you can reach people and grow visibility for your book.

Now, Here Are Some Things I Already Wish I’d Done Differently

  1. I wish I would’ve added a few more authors to the anthology. While this collection is an amazing read, there are six of us contributing short stories and it’s 100 pages total. Not bad, but some promotion sites are used to presenting 800-page book collections and boxsets to their audience. I should’ve considered book length as one of my goals, though in my gut I do believe I chose the right authors and stories. This won’t necessarily harm us, but it will definitely be part of my planning process next time.
  2. I wish I would’ve done cross-critique among my co-authors. Though my in-house editor oversaw the book, I think there is additional value in authors reading one another’s contributing stories and offering feedback. This was done with the New Myths anthology I contributed to for HDWP Books, and it was an amazing process. It also lets your co-authors know what the other stories are about and it gives them room to mention these stories in interviews and blog posts.
  3. I wish I hadn’t had a “this is my responsibility” mentality. My co-authors were (and are) willing and ready to boost promotion and cross-promote, but sometimes I shied away because I felt that I needed to “prove myself” and show that I knew how to market a book. I also didn’t want to disappoint them. Duh! There is strength in numbers. If you’re the publisher or “leader” of an anthology, there’s nothing wrong with being open to letting your cohorts help you pick up the marketing and promotion slack. In fact, it’s better to have them all on board, helping. We have various skills, gifts, contacts and audience sizes. Working together to promote the book will only benefit the group—you’re in this together.

Hopefully, sharing my anthology process has given you an idea of what it’s like and what you should plan for.

If you’re a reader, perhaps this has been a nice peek into the world of writing and what it takes to get that amazing, finished product out to you.


Thank you, Sally, for inviting me today, and I hope you all continue to be entertained and inspired by great stories!


About the Author

Alesha Escobar writes fantasy to support her chocolate habit. She enjoys everything from Tolkien and Dante to the Dresden Files and Hellblazer comics. She resides in California with her partner-in-crime, Luis Escobar, a 20-year art veteran on The Simpsons television show.

Alesha is the author of The Gray Tower Trilogy, an action-packed, supernatural spy thriller set in an alternate 1940’s. The trilogy books have hit the Amazon bestsellers lists for Historical Fantasy and Mashups.

You can find Alesha at her weekly blog, Fantasy, Mashups, & Mayhem, where she discusses fantasy and science-fiction TV shows, movies and books, and celebrity gossip…She’s just kidding about the celebrity gossip.

But, there IS a giveaway for MOT: http://timeanthology.blogspot.com/p/enter-giveaway.html

The Black Dagger Gods (short story, New Myths Anthology)

 
Find Alesha on:

Alesha Escobar


MOT links:

webpage: http://timeanthology.blogspot.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Time-Science-Fiction-Anthology/dp/1514173727
Trailer: http://youtu.be/PovabW4fyjQ
Apple iBooks/iTunes: http://apple.co/1bp77vK
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1K3ggGi
Barnes & Noble/ nook: http://bit.ly/1Kkkr0C


CHANGES conversations between authors is an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS occur frequently! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

Look who’s featured on 7/6/15 as part of Indie Authors’ Month: Sally Ember, Ed.D.!

Look who’s featured on 7/6/15 as part of Indie Authors’ Month: Sally Ember, Ed.D.!

Visit every day this month and honor Indie Authors! Thanks, Mel Cusick-Jones and Tony Talbot, for organizing and promoting this event and including me!
http://Asidefromwriting.com

iam-2015-topper

Indie Author Month 2015 is finally here! Thirty-one days, thirty-one indie authors for you to meet, sharing the best of what it is to be an indie author from their own experiences…

So, welcome to the first day of our Indie Author Month – now in its fourth year, we’re excited to be hosting more fantastic indie authors during the event, which will run throughout July.

As in previous years, the event aims to bring indie authors into the spotlight, helping them find new readers, as well as letting them share their experiences of writing and publishing as an indie author. There are highs and lows to this creative life and everyone’s experience and approach is slightly different…

This year specifically, we have opened up the event to authors of every genre – variety is the spice of life! The only thing we’ve asked from each of them is to tell us about their experiences as an indie writer…from their personal writing journey, to the things they’ve learned about self-publishing, you’ll find it all here this month.

We hope you’ll keep coming back each day through the event, to meet the authors and chat with them about their writing.

Download and purchase Indie Authors’ books!
Write #comments on our #blogs!
Post #bookreviews and ratings of our books on sale sites, especially Amazon, and on Goodreads, Booklikes, Shelfari, Library Thing, nook, Kobo and iBooks!

All links for FREE downloads and purchase of ebooks in The Spanners Series as well as places to post comments and reviews: http://www.sallyember.com Look right; scroll down.

THANKS!

TV Reviews: Three New Summer TV Series – Proof, Complications, and Dark Matter: my reviews on Blog Critics’ site

Three New Summer TV Series – Proof, Complications, and Dark Matter: my reviews on Blog Critics’ site

went live on June 24, 2015

http://blogcritics.org/tv-review-three-new-summer-tv-series-proof-complications-and-dark-matter/

Giveaway 2day only (7/4/15): Celebrate my topping 5K Tweeps and get #Free #scifi #Ebook!

To celebrate that I just topped 5K Tweeps (no ‘bots! no Twitter sharks!) on Twitter, I’m giving away one of my Spanners Series #ebooks!

Contact me: sallyember@yahoo DOT com for a coupon on ‪#‎Smashwords‬ to get Vol II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, #free today, 7/4/15 only (usually $3.99)

final-cover-print

Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien “Band” are back in Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever of The Spanners Series. Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II. How would YOU do with the changes?

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

Vol I, This Changes Everything, is ‪#‎permafree‬

this-changes-everything-cover

Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of  beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse.  When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything begins the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series. Are YOU ready for the changes?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

‪#‎scifi‬ The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

logoAuthorsDen
http://www.sallyember.com FMI, reviews, more links

Part II: Science Alert, Serious Wonder, Brain Pickings Weekly and Cosmos Up

Part II: Science Alert, Serious Wonder, Brain Pickings Weekly and Cosmos Up

[All three posts in this series have the same introduction, but I choose info from each of the four science compilation sites separately for each post. This post focuses on gleanings from Serious Wonder and Brain Pickings Weekly]

INTRO: I should have been a research scientist. I love science. I’m extremely intelligent, determined, creative, and organized. I coulda been a contenda for a Nobel prize. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Why am I not a scientist? I had a series of misogynistic (one of my teachers hated the four girls in my advanced science class so much he would pith [paralyze] the frogs by holding them in the air directly in front of one of us so that each frog would urinate on our blouses), anti-Semitic (another one wore his “John Birch Society” pin to school every day, displayed prominently on his lapel; there were three girls in my class and he insulted each of us daily), incompetent (in an lab accident at his “real” job, this poor man had lost most of his sight and drive and spent each class time mostly ignoring all of us) and otherwise horrible science teachers in 8th, 9th, and 10th grades.

With better teachers in those critical years, my life could have turned out very differently. Those terrible teachers turned me so far off science I only took one more “hard” science course (because it was required, in undergraduate college), despite many more years of education, through getting a doctorate.

As an adult, I became enthralled with quantum physics, health/anatomy, nutrition, child development/learning and the multiverse/astrophysics, so I read. A lot. I also watch documentaries. I am not even close to understanding some of the physics stuff, but the rest I got quite adept at utilizing. To “keep up,” I subscribe to many science-oriented blogs and curation sites.

My favorites are: Science Alert, Serious Wonder and Cosmos Up. I also subscribe to Brain Pickings Weekly, which I include in the Serious Wonder post. I will excerpt from some of the “best of the best” of what I’ve recently perused. Part II is all from Serious Wonder.

I hope you enjoy! Go subscribe!


SeriousWonder.com

SeriousWonderLogo

Astrophysics and Quantum Physics/Mechanics
1. 9/11/14, Your Cosmic Address, BY STEPHEN P. BIANCHINI of Serious Wonder

When you were younger, didn’t you sometimes write your “return” address in a similar way? Well, now you have a more exact way to locate yourself…In case you send mail to aliens, for example.

“…[T]his is the cosmic address you may want to use: Earth, Solar System, Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, Laniakea,” in case someone not from this planet needs to know.

What/where the heck is “Laniakea,” and why do we not already know about it?

Astronomers informed us recently about “the large-scale structure of the Universe” which has “…four huge areas identified so far: Laniakea, its neighbouring Perseus-Pisces supercluster, and two other superclusters, Shapley and Coma, on the far side of the universe.”

Elmo Temple from Estonia explained: “‘[The name Laniakea]… is taken from the Hawaiian words lani, which means heaven, and akea, which means spacious or immeasurable.'”

So, time to re-do those multiverse business cards, eh?

http://goo.gl/9wPLOJ

  1. 2/1/15, The Absurdity of Infinity: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Explains Whether the Universe Is Infinite or Finite in Letters to Her Mother, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

It is so illuminating for the rest of us when highly intelligent, inquisitive people ruminate on deep questions and share their thoughts with us, isn’t it?

“In 1998, while on the cusp of becoming one of the most significant theoretical cosmologists of our time, mathematician-turned-astrophysicist Janna Levin left her post at Berkeley and moved across the Atlantic for a prestigious position at Cambridge University. During the year and a half there, she had the time and space to contemplate the question that would eventually become the epicenter of her career — whether the universe is infinite or finite. What began as a series of letters to her mother, Sandy, eventually became an unusual diary of Levin’s ‘social exile as a roaming scientist,’ and was finally published as How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space (public library) — a most unusual and absorbing account of the paradoxes of finitude.”

From Levin’s book/letters: “‘We’re all intrinsically of the same substance. The fabric of the universe is just a coherent weave from the same threads that make our bodies. How much more absurd it becomes to believe that the universe, space and time could possibly be infinite when all of us are finite.'”

Levin concluded: “‘I welcome the infinite in mathematics, where … it is not absurd nor demented. But I’d be pretty shaken to find the infinite in nature. I don’t feel robbed living my days in the physical with its tender admission of the finite. I still get to live with the infinite possibilities of mathematics, if only in my head.'”

Where do you stand on the multiverse as infinite-not infinite subject? I tend to veer way from her inescapable logic into the infinite possibilities of the multiverse, but where each of the versions of the universe so conceived is probably finite.

http://goo.gl/p6ucpj

Child Development/Learning
3. 9/11/14, Telepathy is now a Thing, Thanks to Technology , BY B.J. Murphy of Serious Wonder

It warms my telepathic heart-mind when tech geeks prove what the rest of us with E.S.P. already know!

“As experiments like the one above show, telepathy is a very real concept which need be aided by our own innovations – the creation of techno-telepathy.”

“Could you imagine what our world will transform into when our predominant means of communication is via thought? Everything will change fundamentally, from our markets to our governance.”

Then they have to go and ruin it, with scare tactics….

http://goo.gl/IIblvE

  1. 3/8/15, This Idea Must Die: Some of the World’s Greatest Thinkers Each Selects a Major Misconception Holding Us Back, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

I ADORE this book, which “Edge founder, John Brockman, collected by posing his annual question — ‘What scientific idea is ready for retirement?’ — to 175 of the world’s greatest scientists, philosophers, and writers,” and the accompanying article/review. So inspiring!

Here is my favorite excerpt, based on the responses from one of my favorite scientists, biological anthropologist, Helen Fischer, “…who studies the brain on love….[She] points to romantic love and addiction as two concepts in need of serious reformulation and reframing — one best accomplished by understanding the intersection of the two. Fisher argues that we ought to broaden the definition of addiction and do away with science’s staunch notion that all addiction is harmful. Love, she argues, with a wealth of neurobiological evidence in hand, is in fact a state that closely resembles that of addiction in terms of what happens in the brain during it — and yet love, anguishing as it may be at times, is universally recognized as the height of positive experience. In that respect, it presents a case of ‘positive addiction.’…'[B]esotted lovers express all four of the basic traits of addiction: craving, tolerance, withdrawal, and relapse.’”

And, even though this excerpt belongs in my post’s section on quantum physics and the astrophysics, above, I had to put it here, since it comes from this article:

“Science writer, Amanda Gefter, takes issue with one particular manifestation of our propensity for oversimplification — the notion of the universe. She writes: ‘…[T]here’s my universe and there’s your universe — but there’s no such thing as the universe.'”

An expansion of many of my own thoughts on a variety of subjects and more than I could ever have thought of on others await me. Gotta get this book!

http://goo.gl/7Z5Weo

Anatomy/Biology/Zoology and Gender
5. 4/18/15, AIR SHEPHERD: ANTI-POACHING DRONES SEEK CROWDFUNDING, BY B.J. MURPHY of Serious Wonder

I’m not a fan of drones (given most of their current uses, but this is a great idea! To protect elephants, rhinos, and other endangered species: “‘We fly drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have infrared cameras and GPS on them and can send back thermal images of animals . . . and poachers.’ – Air Shepherd.”

Air Shepherd‘s crowdfunding campaign deadline has passed (April, 2015), but the goal was not met and they would appreciate donations at any time: https://goo.gl/hfi9u1 for the IndieGogo page and more info, including http://www.AirShepherd.org for the website itself.

http://goo.gl/uaqlMu

  1. 3/8/15, The Best LGBT Children’s Books: A Sweet and Assuring Celebration of Diversity and Difference, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

As a parent, a bisexual, a feminist and a long-time educator, I am extremely committed to enlarging perspectives, particularly for young children. This list of excellent children’s books on gender, sexual orientation and other related “differences” whose authors embrace diversity in all its guises makes me very happy since it helps many who work with and raise children to find great reads on these important topics.

Plus, who doesn’t love Maurice Sendak’s books, regardless of your age and politics? We lost one of the 20th Century’s greatest writers for children (and adults) when he passed recently.

Books in this list were published in the 1990s and afterwards and range to one about gay penguins, a grandmother who speaks about lesbians to a granddaughter who asks, a prince seeking a spouse (not a bride, as it turns out), a gay human father and more. Each has excellent illustrations, demonstrates acceptance values, and provides the types of dialogue and storylines adults will be glad to read and re-read to the young children until they can read them on their own.

You might think this list of children’s books doesn’t belong in a post about “science,” but science includes advances in social and emotional health, right? Include these books in every library, school, daycare facility, summer camp and home and we’ll see a huge rise in the mental health of LGBT youth and a great increase in the number of LGBT Allies as well.

http://goo.gl/BNr6qJ

Health and Nutrition
7. 2/1/15, How Playing Music Benefits Your Brain More than Any Other Activity, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

I am a musician. I come from a family of musicians. My son and his father are musicians. Many of my lifelong and new friends are musicians. I am currently helping two kids (ages 7 & 11) learn about music and to play the piano. I have been a paid accompanist, musical director and songwriter. To say I believe in the value of music would be a vast understatement, but this article about the health benefits of music encourages and uplifts me enormously, particularly since I am in the unexpectedly long process of recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)/concussion which occurred over a year ago.

According to the latest research: “…[P]laying music benefits the brain more than any other activity…[and] it impacts executive function and memory…” which are two of the areas most affected in me by my recent TBI.

I love the way musician/author, Glenn Kurtz, explains in his book, Practicing, exactly in what ways playing (not just listening to) music improves our brains: “‘Because making music also involves crafting and understanding its emotional content and message, musicians also have higher levels of executive function — a category of interlinked tasks that includes planning, strategizing, and attention to detail, and requires simultaneous analysis of both cognitive and emotional aspects.

“‘This ability also has an impact on how our memory systems work. And, indeed, musicians exhibit enhanced memory functions — creating, storing, and retrieving memories more quickly and efficiently. Studies have found that musicians appear to use their highly connected brains to give each memory multiple tags, such as a conceptual tag, an emotional tag, an audio tag, and a contextual tag — like a good internet search engine.'”

http://goo.gl/aF3y3z

Brain pickings logo
Brain Pickings WeeklyBrain Pickings Weekly


Look for Part I, published on June 1, which focused on info gathered by Alert.

ScienceAlert.com

Science Alert logo

Next, look for Part III in late July, info from Cosmos Up.

CosmosUp.com

Cosmos Up logo

“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”: Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

I am so pleased to welcome Fran Connor as my guest blogger today. Fran is a scriptwriter/screenwriter, novelist and blogger living in France but hailing from the UK who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 25.

Fran has several well-considered opinions, which he calls “rants,” that he’s decided to share with us all today. Comment here and send comments directly to his email , as requested.

For more information about how to reach Fran and know more about his writing, or to become a guest 0on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below his post.

Thanks for visiting!


“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”
Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

changes 1

#Censorship

That’s a title that immediately puts writers on one side of the line or the other, with a few sitting on the fence getting a corrugated derriere.

But we all participate in censorship when we write, don’t we? And if we don’t, should we?

I’m working on a project at present that involves people in the seventeenth century. Rich people. The ones who lived in huge mansions bought with the proceeds of the slave trade.

And I got to thinking about the protagonist. A man of his time. Good to his family. A God-fearing churchgoer. He helps the poor villagers in his English village by providing meat from the deer on his estate during the winter. He provides schooling for the village children so they can learn to read, write and better their chances in the future. He treats his wife as almost equal. ‘Almost’? Yes, almost, because he is a man of his time. And, of course, he’s kind to his dog.

He makes his fortune by shipping slaves across the Atlantic. He’s following his Christian faith; the Bible allows him to deal in slaves.

STOP! You can’t have that. Oh no, no no. How can you have a sympathetic Christian main character who makes his living from slavery? It simply would not be tolerated by many readers of today’s novels usually attracted to this genre. Not unless he “sees the light” on the way to Damascus, and my guy doesn’t see the light. Such characters existed. Perhaps historians could get away with it in an academic tome, but not a novelist aiming at an Historical Romance clientele.

Or, could I get away with it? It may stir up some complaints, and as we know, even bad publicity can be good for sales.

So I will have to make him earn his fortune elsewhere in order not to alienate my readers. I need to censor my writing.

What if I were not to censor my writing and went ahead glorifying a man who chained people in the depths of a sailing ship in horrendous conditions for months? I would probably have rotten tomatoes or worse thrown at me at the book signing!

Sadly, there would be people out there who would love such a character. It would strengthen their racist and bigoted opinions. I wouldn’t want that, so I should censor the piece.

It isn’t a case of being politically correct. It’s a case of trying not to deliberately upset people. I think most of us would do the same: self-censor. Apart from anything else, it would be literary suicide to annoy your readers.

What do you think?

Tell me at: francis@connorscripts.com


#Violence

Then we have the horrific depiction of violence against women in many novels, films and on TV. Why? What’s the point?

The point is that it sells. Sex sells. It always has and always will. And for most of us, there is nothing wrong or evil about sex between consenting adults, either heterosexual or same-sex. But, sex mixed with violence is a heady concoction and unleashes the demons inside some readers and viewers.

There are those who would argue that it does no such thing. After thirty-three years in a UK police force, I would argue to the contrary. But I’m not an intellectual, as I have already said, so I suppose one of those would dispute my claim.

Why are we fixated on murder and violence? Have we not come far from the days of Imperial Rome, where a good afternoon’s entertainment was to see men fight to the death or lions eat unfortunate victims? I think the answer to that is: “No, we haven’t.”

I self-censor my sex scenes to ensure that I do not depict women as victims. Many other writers do the same. Some do not.

Most people will be fortunate not to be murdered or not know anyone who has been murdered. It is, thankfully, still a rare crime in most civilized countries. If someone close to you has been murdered or you have been sexually assaulted, how do you feel about the subject being the source of entertainment?

Should the depiction of women as victims or murder as entertainment be censored by the authorities if writers won’t self-censor?

I don’t know the answer to that. Do you?

Please send your views to: francis@connorscripts.com


#Buying ratings

We all want to see our work hit the number one best-seller target on Amazon, but how far are we willing to go in order to achieve that goal?

Like most authors, I use the various tactics available for increasing my exposure and soliciting reviews. Recently, however, I came across a site that “guaranteed sales of at least one thousand books” if they were priced at $0.99. The cost of this service was $1400.

One thousand sales in a short period will push your ratings quite high. Now I’ve been in this game for a few years, I’m no expert, but I’m no fool either. I can’t think of any way that one can guarantee that one thousand people will buy your book at $0.99. There must be an angle, a catch, something fishy going on. I can’t claim to know what it is, but I would suggest that it could be the use of clever software or simply one person buying one thousand Kindle copies. Would that strike an alarm in Amazon? Again, I don’t know, but I expect that it would.

The supplier of this service spends out $990 but gets paid $1400. Not a bad return.

My point isn’t getting at the supplier. Someone sees a niche in the market and fills it. That’s enterprise. My point is: why would we consider purchasing the service? Because it may lead to more genuine sales and perhaps or possibly or maybe lead to recovering your $1400 outlay?

I suggest that you are unlikely to get any reviews, good or bad, from the alleged purchasers of your $0.99 book. So, is it ethical to use this service? Do ethics have any place in today’s cut-throat publishing scramble?

If you have any views on this, please send them to: francis@connorscripts.com


One more rant! #Compassion

I saw in late May that the state of Texas decided to execute a man who was in his late sixties after he had served thirty-one years in prison awaiting execution and going through all the legal appeals. His last one obviously had failed. He had been convicted of four murders and may well have been guilty, although that is not always a given.

One often hears politicians and others saying “God Bless America.” On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, I heard President Obama say “May God continue to bless America.”

Makes me wonder why God would bless a country that lacks compassion.

This is just the view of a Brit. You can argue with me at: francis@connorscripts.com


The comments above are those of author and screenwriter, Fran Connor, and not necessarily the views of the host of this blog, Sally Ember, Ed.D.


Fran Connor is the author of:

The Devil’s Bridge

devil's bridge final fron
http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Bridge-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00N02YN6C/

Someone to Watch Over Me

someone to watch over me 2
http://www.amazon.com/Someone-Watch-Over-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00XV2MW2I/

Sophia and the Fisherman

sophia final 3
http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Fisherman-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00VQVQAME/

Visit Fran: http://www.connorscripts.com


Fran Connor was also my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 25. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS 7/8 and beyond! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

OPENINGS on *CHANGES* conversations between authors: 7/8 and beyond!

OPENINGS on CHANGES conversations between authors 7/8/15 and beyond!

CHANGES Theme Image_3

CHANGES is a unique Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) simulcast on YouTube most Wednesdays, LIVE, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA, with host Sally Ember, Ed.D., in spontaneous dialogue with an author from any fiction type or genre and also from nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, and blogging.

The show is NOT an “author interview,” although some of those elements do occur during the show (promoting/talking about one’s writing, books, origins, plot, characters, ideas).

CHANGES YouTube Image_3 best

#Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV

Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES 30+ guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

CHANGES Trailer Image_3

My #SocialMedia Ground Rules: I Hope You’ll Adhere to Them; I Will Enforce

My #SocialMedia Ground Rules: I Hope You’ll Adhere to Them; I Will Enforce

Social media icons

Dear Social Media “Friends,” “Followers” and those who “Circle” me:

—Please do not privately message (PM or DM) me to promote ANYTHING or ask me to “LIKE” something or follow you. I will block you from then on.

—If you are an #author and want me to notice your books, write good books and let me find them. I don’t have much time to read much these days and I do not write reviews of most books. I’m trying to write my own!

—Please don’t request #bookreviews from me unless I know you and have reviewed your books already. I do not do swaps.

No Meme
image from http://brightestyoungthings.com

—Please do not become a “friend” or “follower” and then send me private messages in order to “date” me. It’s creepy. That is a horrible way to get connected. I will unfriend/uncircle you immediately.

—Please do not comment on my appearance, my photo, or my life in a private message if we don’t know each other. It’s also creepy. I will block you.

—Please do not “ping” me (put my name in your post) just to promote your…. whatever. See above.

—Please don’t ask me to vote up, promote, or review books I haven’t read. Do not send me “chain” posts or demand that I… Whatever. I won’t do it.

No-no-meme-
image from: http://www.fanpop.com

—If you keep posting (I give you one “free pass”) about Jesus, Mohammed, God, or your non-Buddhist religious books, I will mute and then “unfriend”/”uncircle” you. I’m not interested. I don’t want Bible verses (“Old” or “New” Testament), Q’ran passages, Vendanta quotes or anything else that is not Buddhist appearing on my pages, EVER.

—I will post quotes from Buddhist leaders any time I want. If you don’t like seeing those, mute or unfriend me, but please do not argue or post nasty comments about these posts.

—Please do not post pictures of anyone or anything else that is even a tiny bit NOT PG-13 on MY pages, ever, unless you’re making a salient point about sex-trafficking, abuse of minors or women, or health information.

—If you post “artistic” photos that are almost always pictures of half-naked people, I will mute your posts and probably uncircle/unfriend you; same if those are your usual book covers. My audience rating is to remain PG-13.

no-nudity
image from: http://www.downtownmiaminews.com

—In fact, unless we are actually friends and I know you fairly well, don’t post on my pages at all. PM/DM or email me and ask permission, being specific about what you want to post. Then, I will respond with “Yes, thanks!” or “No, thanks.”

—If I don’t like your politics but you are not offensively promoting them, that’s usually all right, depending on what they are. I’ll let you be. If I really hate your views, I can mute you.

—If you are hate-mongering, misogynistic, racist, classist, mean-spirited, name-calling and otherwise right-wing/ultra-orthodox anything and therefore, in my opinion, obnoxious, I will block you.

no isms allowed

—Please do not post rabid anti-Israel views on my pages, ever. My family is Jewish and some of them live there. Get a clue. I may not support all of its politics or actions, but I definitely support Israel’s right to exist. Intelligent, thoughtful discussions about Israeli politics and actions are welcomed; they are not always what I wish Israel would be doing, either.


Want to know what you are INVITED to do?

Curating Good Content: If you write or repost something you think I’d be interested in and it’s NOT an attempt to sell me your stuff, then by all means, “ping” me. I love learning/seeing new stuff on topics I’m interested in (which are MANY: check my previous posts. I will reblog/repost/share your great posts and give you full credit.

Connecting: If you are a reader of my books or posts, a sympathetic author, a meditator (especially Buddhist), a science-lover (especially quantum physics), a science-fiction fan, in harmony with me politically (feminist, left of liberal), or otherwise resonate positively with my writing, talk show and/or posts, please contact me to ask questions, offer suggestions, get to know me, especially if you live in or are coming through St. Louis, MO, USA!

good-friends-nice-greeting-image
image from: http://youthclubblog.wordpress.com

Chatting: Want to promote yourself and have a great conversation while doing it? Check out my talk show, CHANGES conversations between authors, and offer to come on as a guest. Info is on my website: https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/

Cooperating: Want more exposure? Offer to Guest Blog something that is NOT purely for self-promotion. Use my email address for these inquiries, which is on my website’s
“Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame.” https://sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/

Community-Building: To get to know me, join groups/communities I’m active in (not a lot of those, though: on Facebook are “Clean Indie Reads,” “Fantasy and Sci-Fi Net,” “Gutsy Indie Publishers”; on Google+ are “User2User LIVE!,” “Lights, Camera, HOA!” are a few) and post something besides self-promotional posts and I might become interested in you and your books.

Collaborating: To get my attention, comment on my blog, follow my blog, comment on my posts, participate/view my talk show, CHANGES, buy my books and write reviews (or do that for Volume I, which is free), offer to help “crowdcreate” my two Volumes (VIII and IX), THEN email or PM me. https://sallyember.com/spanners-2/

logoAuthorsDen
art by Aidana Willowraven

Crowdfunding: To support getting my ebooks into print, my videocasts into podcasts, my next two book covers and my ongoing support of other authors, my blog and my writing, AND get at least a free ebook or reduced-price editing/proofreading/writing tutoring services, please visit and donate to my crowdfunding campaign! I even sing a song for your consternation pleasure! : http://www.patreon.com/sallyember


I know many won’t see this, but it’s worth a try.


Where to find me:
http://www.sallyember.com  main website, which has ALL links to books, other sites, reviews, interviews, CHANGES episodes, Guest Blog posts of mine on others’ sites, and more

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HEV2UEW  Amazon Central author page
https://www.twitter.com/sallyemberedd Twitter: @sallyemberedd
https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber Spanners Series’ page on FB
https://www.facebook.com/sally.ember Sally’s FB page
http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember Pinterest Boards
http://goo.gl/tZKQpv Spanners Series’ page on Google+
http://www.google.com/+SallySueEmber Sally Sue Ember on Google+
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w/videos Youtube Channel
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember Goodreads page  

EXCLUSIVE #Cover-reveal and #pre-launch Guest Blog post by Olga Núñez Miret

EXCLUSIVE #Cover-reveal and #pre-launch Guest Blog post by Olga Núñez Miret

Thanks so much, Sally, for having me as a guest in your blog. I remember with some trepidation when you interviewed me for your series, CHANGES (it was my first time being interviewed via Google Hangout On Air [HOA; see below for more info]), and how enjoyable the experience was. Now, I’m very pleased to take part in your CHANGES Guests’ Guest Blogger series.

Author Olga Núñez Miret

Author Olga Núñez Miret

When we discussed the post, although I wanted to talk about my new series, I wasn’t sure when my next book would be published.

I have been working on a Young Adult/New Adult series on-and-off for the last 3 years. It centers on a girl called Pink (well, Petra, but she doesn’t like her name), and two of her friends, and their adventures in high school. It has paranormal elements to it (angels, demons, bizarre prophecies…).

I wrote the first story in the series, Angelic Business 1, Pink Matters, before I started publishing my books. I left it simmering in the back of my mind. Then, about a year ago, I wrote the second book, Shades of Greg (don’t worry, nothing to do with the other Shades; it’s sort of the name of one of the characters.… Let’s say names aren’t his strong point).

After giving it some thought, I decided I would write the third book when I could. I kept in mind publishing them fairly quickly, one after the other, so people wouldn’t have to wait a long time to get the whole story.

When a writer friend, Teagan Geneviene, suggested I could be her writing buddy for NaNoWriMo last year, I thought it was the perfect chance to write the last novel in the trilogy: Pink, Angel or Demon? was born.

As I always publish my books both in Spanish and English, then came the tasks of translating, correcting, editing. Although translating works very well as a way of revising the original (as I have to read in great detail, I tend to spot inconsistencies, errors, names and locations changes and those kinds of things), it also takes a fair amount of time. I ended up with 6 books needing some tender, loving care and a lot of attention. Well, that’s my excuse for not having published them, yet.

But, things are moving along.

After much discussion and different ideas and suggestions from blogger friends, readers, and everybody I met (including making the decision to take pictures of all the angels I saw, anywhere I went), and after hard work from my friend Lourdes Vidal, whose mastery of Photoshop has always astonished me, we have the covers.

And as you’d given me this great opportunity, I thought I’d share the cover of the first novel with you all. This is a world exclusive!

 

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters. By Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Lourdes Vidal

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters. By Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Lourdes Vidal

Although this might change, this is the blurb of the story (so far):

PINK MATTERS is the story of Pink, a 17-year-old girl, good student, articulate and smart. What she has never been is the center of attention; she has also never made it to the top ten of the most popular and attractive girls at school. When two guys, both claiming to be angels, insist that she is, indeed, “special,” both fighting for her attention, helping and telling her that she is the “key to the future of the universe,” she can’t help but ask: “Why me?”

I have shared the beginning of the book in my own blog, but I’ll let YOU ALL come and visit, if you fancy reading more or about a variety of things (including reviews, guest authors, audiobooks, classics).

Thanks very much, Sally, for this opportunity and for bringing me to meet all your readers. Thanks to all of you for reading and good luck to all your guests.

 

Links:

My website is: http://www.OlgaNM.com

My Amazon author page is: http://www.amazon.com/Olga-Núñez-Miret/e/B009UC58G0

I have a Twitter account: @OlgaNM7 https://twitter.com/OlgaNM7

My blog is: www.OlgaNM.wordpress.com

I also have a Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/OlgaNunezMiret

My Goodreads author page is: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6562510.Olga_N_ez_Miret

Google+https://plus.google.com/u/0/118443714277719085351

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/olganm7/

Wattpad: http://wattpad.com/OlgaNM

Tumblr: http://OlgaNMwriter.tumblr.com

Booklikes: http://olganm9.booklikes.com/

Riffle: https://read.rifflebooks.com/profiles/151299


Dr. Olga Nuñez Miret, M.D., Ph.D. was my guest on Episode 13 of CHANGES conversations between authors.

Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest:    https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


Want to be a guest blogger on my site? Visit my “Guest Bloggers Hall of Fame” to review other guest posts, read my guidelines and then contact me if you’re interested: http://www.sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/

*CHANGES*conversations between authors updates

TODAY in a few hours, Raymond Bolton and I will chat on CHANGESconversations between authors.

ALSO: unexpected opening for an #author guest for next Wed., 5/13, but must inquire about it by TOMORROW, Thursday, 5/7.  http://goo.gl/WL9NFp or http://goo.gl/Sgecwl 

CHANGES Trailer Image_3

https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/  for more information.

Look whose QUIRKS are featured today on Keely Brooke Keith’s site?

Look whose QUIRKS are featured today on Keely Brooke Keith’s site? MINE, of course! Go visit, comment, follow, please, and SHARE!

http://www.keelybrookekeith.com/2015/05/author-interview-series-sally-ember.html

“What We Bring to the Table”: Guest Post by Colette Black

I am delighted to welcome dance-, art- and music-lover, author, and previous guest on CHANGES conversations between authors (Episode 16; see below for more info and URL), Colette Black, as a guest blogger today! Please enjoy her post as much as I did, comment, visit her sites, check out her series.

“What We Bring to the Table”
by Colette Black

piano-pinkies
Piano Pinkies: by Deanna Roberts

Art, like most information, is diverse and subject to interpretation. I grew up listening to my oldest brother’s piano skills. He could play almost anything by ear, read and juxtapose most pieces of music, and composed according to his fingers’ whims. My brother never seemed to get rattled, always even keel, but his music told a different story. Sometimes, it told me he was happy, contemplative, angry, annoyed, or a myriad of different emotions. When he was going through a divorce, it spoke of profound loss, confusion, anger, and pain. That is what art does: it speaks to us in a deeper language.

I started to understand art’s language when I saw my first ballet performance, in lower elementary school, on the small stage of our cafeteria/rec center.

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Ballerina: Wikimedia Loadmaster (David R. Tribble)

I was amazed, entranced, dumbfounded. And I began to seek. Dancing was out of the question. My sister had told me I had the coordination of a clown from the time I could walk. As a side note, I now love to dance and my coordination is much improved. Unsure what this inner yearning meant, I attended plays, participated in plays, failed at orchestra, did pretty well in high school choir, developed a love for Shakespeare and poetry, melted in bliss as I walked the halls of the Louvre, and even dabbled in cake decorating. I learned a few things. One, is that I never want a career as a cake decorator; too much stress. The other, that art’s language is broad and powerful.

For example, the Mona Lisa. I’d seen replicas and art prints of the Mona Lisa more than once. Eh; no big deal. What’s all the fuss? Then I saw the real deal in the Louvre. Wow. It touched me on a deep and profound level: the “mystery,” the “humanity”: all of the adjectives I’d heard to describe her finally came together. Other paintings and sculptures within that gorgeous museum had similar effects, but some didn’t. Some expressed an appreciation for the human body while others seemed to only suggest lust and base emotions.

Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouched

Some brought a smile to my face while others brought only darkness and discomfort. Now, I’m not making a judgment on the value of art, but I made a personal decision.

Whatever I bring to the table, I want it to make a positive difference in people’s lives, even if subtly. So, when I started to write with hopes of publication, I tried to come up with nice, Christian stories….and failed.

As a devout Christian, this was difficult for me to accept. Was I not good enough? Was my faith lacking? It took time to realize that my muse just didn’t roll in that direction. I wanted to observe and recreate human nature from the viewpoint of alternate worlds, realities and circumstances. We all live in the real world, but it’s when we put ourselves in another world, with other possibilities, that I feel we are able to look at our biases and our beliefs with the most clarity: there are fewer preconceptions to stand in our way. And so, after seeking for decades, I found my medium and I knew exactly how I wanted to use it.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00038]
Desolation: Cover art by Suzanne Helmigh

Words placed in the strategic organization of sentence structure, as an art, is both limiting and unlimited. Like other media, there are rules, but just as the rules of dimension, line, and color can be dabbled with by an artist, the rules of grammar and vocabulary are the author’s palette. Many have at least painted a room or a piece of furniture, taken pictures with their cell phone, or at least watched one episode of Dancing with the Stars or The Voice? But some people haven’t. Words, whether spoken, signed, or read, are something that resonates with everyone, regardless of race, socioeconomic class, or age. As authors, we arrange that familiar-to-all medium so it evokes the same deep message that comes from other forms of art. Each sentence and each page are asking our reader to look at life from another angle, under different lighting and with a different knowledge set. When readers are done, we hope they can set the book down and see their own world, even themselves, from another perspective, under different lighting and with more knowledge.

That is what I hope to bring to the table. In the end, I hope it makes for a brighter, better world.
#Art #cmbvyawrite #Words


Colette

Colette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona, USA, with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. You can find her at: http://www.coletteblack.net/ or http://www.fictorians.com/

You can find her series, Mankind’s Redemption, in ebook and paperback formats:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Noble-Ark-Mankinds-Redemption-1/dp/1497456207
Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Colette-Black?store=allproducts&keyword=Colette+Black
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=Mankind%27s+Redemption
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Mankind%27s+Redemption
and other major retailers.


Colette Black was my guest on Episode 16 of CHANGES conversations between authors. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest:    https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


Want to be a guest blogger on my site? Visit my “Guest Bloggers Hall of Fame” to review other guest posts, read my guidelines and then contact me if you’re interested: http://www.sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/

D.E.A.R. = “Drop Everything And Read” #Amazon Sale of #Fantasy and #Science-Fiction Books/Ebooks April 10-12, 2015

The Fantasy and Science-Fiction Network (#FSFnet), of which I am a proud member, is having an excellent book/ebook sale April 10 – 12, 2015 only: #DEAR for “Drop Everything And Read” or D.E.A.R., on Amazon.

DEAR sale banner 4-10--12-15 FSFnet

For a list of participating authors, free and discounted books and links to the sale on Amazon, go to FSFnet’s D.E.A.R. Facebook Event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/943589552319241

HOWEVER, since not everyone uses a Kindle ereader, if YOU want to download my ebooks in other formats, please go to Smashwords (see below) for the format of your choice, and a discount coupon good ONLY on Smashwordsfor Volume II (also, see below).

Both published Volumes of the sci-fi/romance/multiverse/utopian/paranormal (psi) ebooks in The Spanners Series for adults/NA/YA are participating in this great sale!

Volume I, This Changes Everything, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of  beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything begins the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series. Are YOU ready for the changes?

TSS v1

Vol I is FREE!  
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien “Band” are back in Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series. Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II. How would YOU do with the changes?

TSS v2

Usually $3.99; “D.E.A.R.” Promotional price: $2.99
Your coupon code is DP34M (not case-sensitive). Good only April 10, 11, & 12. Expires: April 13, 2015
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  
Enter the code prior to completing checkout.

Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven: http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

‪#‎DEAR‬ ‪#‎FSFNet‬

Critical Review of This Changes Everything, Vol. I, The Spanners Series from the Starving Reviews site: Not a Fan!

Critical Review of This Changes Everything, Vol. I, The Spanners Series
from the Starving Reviews site: Not a Fan!

I am grateful to James B. Garner and every other reviewer who takes their time, makes the effort, reads indie authors’ books and writes thoughtful reviews: THANK YOU!

This is the first careful, thorough, critical review TCE has received in a long time, so I am sharing it in its entirety: so no one can say I “cherry-picked” his sentences or phrases. I haven’t changed one word.

I also post the link to the Starving Reviews site, below, so please visit there and comment!

And, for an alternative view of the type of social/utopian/speculative/visionary fiction I write, please also visit and watch/read: “Radical sci-fi by social activists ‘decolonizes the imagination,'”
by Laura Hudson http://boingboing.net/2015/04/02/octavias-brood.html


“Every once in a while, I feel like I have to break the rules set down for me by the Starving Reviews, LLC corporate office. So far, I have restrained myself because, well, I’m starving, darn it! I need this literary sustenance to flow and I dare not cut off my biggest supplier. Today, though, I may wind up breaking that creed, as today’s long-delayed culinary snack can’t be dissected without some SPOILERS!

This Changes Everything is, on the surface, a science fiction novel talking about an alternate future where aliens approach Earth and offer entrance into a galactic collective. This sort of treat, at first glance, looks scrumptious, offering a many-layered look at the interactions between our delightfully bizarre little planet and a vast series of societies and species. In some ways, Changes delivers on some aspects of that promise.

“The writing itself is solid, at least once you get used to the various styles employed. The book is comprised of many nuggets of scenes, each written in a different style and from different view points. It can be a bit jarring at first but is easy to get a grip on once you realize what’s going on.

“The plot … has problems. The majority of the rest of this review will touch on that, but let me get one thing out of the way. If you ever wanted a true definition of a Mary Sue, read Changes. You see, the Mary Sue concept isn’t one of abilities or perfection (though those help), it is the plot black hole they represent. The protagonist in this book is the most important person in the world (literally), receives almost universal praise from most quarters, gets pretty much everything she could desire, lives happily ever after, and nothing really bad, dramatic, or dangerous really happens. There is the hint of tension at several points but, as described below, there are certain story and structure elements that destroy all the drama before it even has a chance to start.

“The problems start to come in when the concepts of the ‘reality’ of how time and history work in this universe. The core concepts of the book (that all time exists simultaneously and that time lines can be altered and culled by anyone with the appropriate psychic training) do provide some interesting promise, but the way they are actualized in the story create a rolling cascade of issues that really break the book down as a fictional slice of cake.

“It boils down to a few major, seemingly paradoxical, concepts. First, the concept of all time being simultaneous doesn’t really hold out in how the events of the book work. The aliens, and later Earthlings, can alter time by changing events (which don’t often require them actually doing the actions, which is strangely dissatisfying) … but how does that work when all time is simultaneous, which suggests there cannot be true causality? Likewise, the book repeatedly talks about the existence of free will, but how can free will truly exist in a world where others can reset and alter their personal time lines, altering entire sequences of events, thereby altering those free will decisions? Finally, there are strange arbitrary limits on how often people can alter their time lines, with no mention on how this is enforced or even known to be. Maybe it’s something touched on later in what is supposed to turn into a ten book series, but arbitrary, unexplained limits on what is essentially a ‘magic’ system in a fictional world is always a bit of a distaste for me.

“The main story issue that this concept of time and time altering brings about is the total destruction of dramatic tension. Very early in Changes, we already know, from the characters that can see the future as well as future documents included, that everything turns out A-OK. The girl gets the boy, Earth turns out fantastic, and the main character gets a healthy, happy ending. We know this by (if I remember correctly) chapter 5 of a 30+ chapter book. Yes, you can argue that the meal can be no less tasty when you sneak in dessert early, but that’s usually not the case. Knowing everything turns out great turns every attempt at adding some drama or tension to any point of the novel fall flat.

“That is a key component of what really leeches the taste out of Changes. I could excuse the very strange time alteration parts (it is a fictional universe, after all) and roll with it, but the lack of dramatic tension, the lack of any real conflict and consequences (something that the writer tries to interject with the idea of ‘Psi-P’, the emotional backlash of choosing to go with time-lines that benefit others but are not the best for you personally, something that never gets written to have the real impact it could), just makes Changes a sludge of a book. It is simply tiring to read, with no real emotional high or pay-off. It’s just not entertaining and that is the biggest sin a work of fiction can have.

“You may be wondering where the spoilers were? Well, I saved that for last because I have to take a moment to chew the fat about something that may very well be opinion. This next bit isn’t a critique of the book, which is why it comes at the end, but a critique of some ideas in the book (a very different thing). Changes has some very insulting and, to me personally, dangerous ideas about what is good about humanity. Humans are depicted in some cases as being so unable to cope with the idea of actual alien contact that they die or go crazy from the news. Like significant swaths of the population, at least before the aliens change history again. Not to mention there is an Appendix, as well as mentions in the main text, where it is shown that many human achievements in many areas, from the Underground Railroad to splitting the atom to most major religious figures (Jesus, the Dahli [sic] Lama, and others) were directly influenced by this alien collective, either through dreams or direct intervention. It frankly made my gut curdle to see so much of humanity’s accomplishments turned into the results of alien meddling. Changes pains humans with a very savage and ignorant brush, laying our salvation and much of our past good points in the hands of our alien saviors. Now, about those aliens …

“The aliens in this world alter time repeatedly to change human history to make the Earth a better fit for their galactic collective. They banish people unable to conform with their way of doing things to a ‘prison’ alternate time line until they reform or die. They alter the biochemistry of the ENTIRE human race in one chapter to make them more receptive and peaceful without the consent of, well, anyone. They are fully telepathic and casually mind-read the main character (and the rest of humanity) for most of the book. In a different book, these aliens would be the worst kind of manipulative overlords. In this book, though, they are perfect, wonderful utopians. I find especially that their methods really don’t jive with that ‘free will’ concept. How can you have free will when aliens are altering your biochemistry, psychically manipulating you, and implanting thoughts, dreams, and knowledge into you?

“Wow, that went on for a while. Okay, so, how does this come together? This Changes Everything is a science fiction yarn that just has no drama or fun in it. Regardless of how you may feel about its philosophical or moral points, Changes breaks the cardinal rule of any fictional work, and that is to entertain. If you’re looking for good, interesting sci-fi, look elsewhere. If you, however, are looking for a very unusual tract on philosophy and morals, you might want to give this a read, just don’t expect to be entertained by it.

“FINAL VERDICT: ** (Heavy on philosophy and moral tracts, without a single tasty bit of fun!)”
Link to full review:
https://jbgarner58.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/starving-review-this-changes-everything-the-spanners-book-1-by-sally-ember/

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TCE is FREE everywhere ebooks are sold: http://www.sallyember.com has links to every TCE download/sale site as well as links and more reviews for it and Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever. Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, is due out some time in 2015.

**** 4 Stars for This Changes Everything from Dee Fox!

**** 4 Stars for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Reviewer: Dee (Devorah) Fox

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Some books are like a train. I hop on and let it take me for a ride, I just go where it goes. Spanners asked me to get in the engine compartment and help the conductor. I felt that I had to sign on to the concepts and by believing, be part of the story. I liked what the author was trying to do by writing in the present tense. It never stopped bringing me up short. However every time I had to reorient myself I found myself thinking about time and how it’s just a construct. I also appreciated the humor in the depiction of how throughout history our society’s thought leaders and innovators were participants in the Many Worlds Collective. Of course they were! The series is ambitious and thought provoking. Not an easy read. I’d even say it takes a little work but well worth it for the experience.

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Thanks, Dee! Dee Fox was a guest on Episode 18 of CHANGES conversations between authors: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq  
#Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: CHANGES G+ HOA  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/  

Read this and more reviews and download Volume I for FREE on Amazon:
http://goo.gl/0yN5GE

For other formats, Volume II purchase links, reviews, interviews and more, visit my website; look right and scroll down on http://www.sallyember.com

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All logo and cover art for The Spanners Series by Aidana Willowraven.

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups
Reposting from one year ago, since it’s all still true and useful and I have new Followers/Readers

Everyone know the biggest drawback to #self-publishing is the isolation. Yes, every #author who doesn’t collaborate in their #writing writes alone. However, prior to the explosion in self-publishing, most books and ebooks that came to readers went through several other sets of eyes and had several editing and revision drafts done by others that helped polish and tighten the writing prior to publication.

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image from vidyasury.com

Today more than ever before, pieces of writing from short stories, blogs and articles to full-length books, both nonfiction and fiction, are getting all the way to a reader with no other editor than the writer. This is not a great situation for most readers or writers.

Because many writers seek professional companionship and critiques as well as audiences for drafts and new ideas, writers’ groups have sprung up for many centuries, both formal and informal. These groups usually meet regularly. Size can vary from a pair to a large group of a dozen or more.

The activities in the group can include public readings and/or sharing of written material with participants’ immediate oral comments, pages returned with mark-ups and discussions of the shared pieces. Locations can vary and many are not available free, so some groups charge a fee or require members to pay dues to cover costs and perhaps invite a speaker/presenter to conduct a workshop or give a talk on occasion.

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image from http://www.audreypress.com

Writers’ groups often appoint or hire a facilitator to guide and contribute to the critique. In better-run groups, this leader also keeps time and makes sure the comments are constructive and fair.

However, some groups are not well-run. The ground rules are not clear. Time is not equally distributed because it isn’t tracked well. Comments are not always fair and constructive. The facilitator dominates the discussion. Discussions veer away from the writing into personal stories and tangents introduced by participants. Suggestions are made that are not conducive to the writer’s intent, restrictions, topic, genre or format.

The diverse types of knowledge and experience among participants and in a leader of a writers’ group can be rich sources of varied perspectives OR generate too many irrelevant and unhelpful comments.

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups

CONS: An unskilled or distracted facilitator
— allows too many destructive comments to occur and this encourages more of the same
— allows the exposed author to experience immediate hurt feelings or bewilderment
— allows the writers to leave the critique session discouraged and confused by conflicting advice and too many off-topic remarks
— offers too many comments and dominates the discussion, shutting down, arguing with or interrupting other participants.

Writers in poorly-run groups can be led astray, which can causes them to depart from writing in their own voices and to lose sight of their personal or professional writing purposes. Many writers get discouraged or even “blocked” by attending poorly run writers’ groups.

BEWARE! Better to be isolated than to attend a group that operates negatively.

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image from thewildwriters.com

PROS: An skilled or focused facilitator
— leads a well-run group peopled by dedicated, experienced writers as well as “newbies” who each feels comfortable sharing and contributing
— trains and supports members to utilize the time effectively for receiving and offering constructive critiques, with newbies learning from old-timers the most effective methods for delivering and receiving criticism
— can foster an atmosphere of professional support that provides many gems of advice and new points of view for each member, even ones who don’t share in every meeting.

These productive sessions are wonderful catalysts for the writers who share drafts and any who attend. Authors in well-run writers’ groups return from each meeting with new vigor for editing, revising and creating new content.

Tips for Writers’ Groups:
1) Productive critique sessions are NOT riddled with “we loved it,” “it’s great,” and “keep going” with little or nothing else.
Critics must provide reasons for their opinions, especially when they’re positive, so that writers learn what we do well and can replicate our successes.
Critics must also defend their opinions that tell a writer to make changes by offering suggestions for revision or reasons for the ways the writing doesn’t “work” for the reader/listener.

2) Without the prompting of a skilled, focused leader, opinions may be offered with insufficient or no reasons given. Offering positive or negative opinions without rationales is not useful to a writer and should not be allowed.

3) Focus, clear ground rules (e.g., the requirement to give reasons for opinions, taking turns, sharing time equally) and giving both emotional and cognitive responses to a piece of writing are all parts of a productive writers’ group.

4) If YOUR writers’ group is not productive and positive enough, make an effort to change it or leave it. Start your own or join a different group.

5) Networking has never been easier. http://www.Meetup.com is a source of in-person writers’ groups. You can also check your local library’s, college’s, county’s/parish’s, state’s/province’s and country’s organizational listings for professional writers’ groups in your geographic area or genre. Check Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and many writers’ associations and genre-centered groups online and around the world for possible writers’ groups, critique opportunities and other networking options. Some groups are now meeting online and virtually via SKYPE, iCHAT, Google Hangouts, etc.

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If you are a writer seeking a group, I hope you find or start a great one!

Best of luck in your writing.

#Writing as Excavation of the Soul

Repost from 12/2/13

For me, #writing fiction and poetry always involves digging up artifacts and dirt. My own and others’ buried treasures, junk, secrets and lies are uncovered, examined, deemed worthy “as is” or refurbished, cleaned up and presented within the text.

Writing #ClaraBranon, as her and about her, is the most autobiographical fiction I’ve ever written. I decided to gift Clara with most of my own “stories” and history, to see what would happen when a version of me is involved in the circumstances and relationships Clara encounters. It’s a roller-coaster for me, delving into my own life to pull up people, events, emotions, reactions, wishes, fears, griefs and successes and foist them onto Clara.

Usually, she does a lot better than I do or I already have with these events and has a much higher “success” rate with her conversations and intimacies than I can claim. In many ways, I feel envious of her. I also do not want her life, especially the public part. But, I do sometimes wish I had her personal strength and courage.

Oh, wait; I do. I must. I also have her creativity, the fire that burns within her, since I gave it to her. Of course I do.

Then, why is it so much easier to see this in Clara than in myself? I believe I make a character in my own image and deliberately make her better than I am only to discover that she can’t be better than I am because I made her. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the whole “God-made-humans-in-‘His’-own’-image” story has similar issues, yes?

As a fiction and poetry creator, as a #Buddhist well aware of the illusory nature of all phenomena, as a fabricator and dreamer, I am well aware of the fantasies I make into a semblance of reality with each paragraph or stanza I put into words. I paint pictures of scenes, drawing upon deep emotional bonds and reactions in order to do it, but we all know none of this is “real.” Right? Except for the parts that are true, that is.

The exhilarating, terrifying ride of writing one’s own stories in whatever forms is that others are going to read them and get to know things about me and my inner world I would never tell them, otherwise. My best defense, then, is to mix these true tales with pure fiction.

Sometimes serving up this admixture seems to be a cop-out move on my part, as I feel a taunting voice within me saying: “Na, na: you can’t know me! You don’t know what parts of this are ‘mine’ and which are completely made up. So there! Try and figure it out. I’ll never tell!”

This is the gauntlet every writer throws down to one’s readers: “Catch me, if you can!”

I do leave breadcrumbs for your journey, especially on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember and here in my blog posts. Happy treasure hunting, readers!

Please let me know what you find and what labels you decide to put on each trinket. We can compare later. Start with Volume I, This Changes Everything (NOW FREE) and ask: “Who is #EpifanioDang?” Move on to “Are there really #aliens coming or already here from the #ManyWorldsCollective?”
http://www.sallyember.com for buy links, reviews, interviews and more. Look right; scroll down.

Continue with a chapter-by-chapter analysis of world history, politics, biology, religions, the arts and meditation and keep going: The Spanners Series has so much to offer you, including Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, which released 6/9/14, and Volumes III and IV coming out in 2015!

Enjoy! Write Reviews! Share!

Never-before-released Autobiographical Info about ME in Today’s Feature

Look who’s featured on today’s “Wednesday Writer’s” slot on Jnana Hodson​’s site? ME!

Never-before-released autobiographical info about ME in today’s feature!

Please visit, comment, follow:

https://frugaljnana.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/1812/

“Imaginative #SciFi Work of Art”: Positive #Reviews for both Vol I and Vol II of The Spanners Series!

"Imaginative #SciFi Work of Art ": Positive #Reviews

for both Vol I and Vol II of The Spanners Series!

Ashley Jacoby reviewed This Changes My Family and My Life Forever (The Spanners Series, Volume 2) and remarked about Vol I, This Changes Everything, as well. http://goo.gl/zRlvXz

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"Imaginative Sci Fi Work of Art," January 21, 2015

"Imaginative and inventive. Let me start with saying I love this book and I received this product free from Sally Ember through the BuView review program in exchange for an honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

"Now that being said, it's a wonderful story place through time and space past present future. I love that it shows there can be peace, understanding and acceptance in the worlds. Clara is a very intriguing character and I love reading her story. The second book is laid out by character and reads as such so some whom don't like this type of lay out may get a bit lost within the story. Although I'd have to say it isn't that hard to follow just isn't the classic story layout.

"My only real complaint is that at times I felt like I was reading an instruction manual or dictionary. Which is understandable as it is complex writing and the readers need to understand whats being said, it just could have been laid out better. Aside from this small drawback, this is a great sci-fi series and I highly recommend it. I downloaded the first one even before reading volume 2 so I wouldn't be lost. I'll be sure to keep up as the author continue writing; can't wait to further follow this story."


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PERMAFREE! Volume I, This Changes Everything, Blurb:
Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of  beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse.  When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family's and friends' reactions. In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything begins the 30-year story of Clara's term as Earth's first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.
Are YOU ready for the changes?
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

final cover print

$3.99 Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, blurb:
Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien "Band" are back in Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever of The Spanners Series. Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II.
How would YOU do with the changes?
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

More LINKS on http://www.sallyember.com  main website: look right and scroll down. Kobo, iBooks, nook, more reviews, interviews, book trailers, more.
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HEV2UEW  author page
https://www.twitter.com/sallyemberedd Twitter: @sallyemberedd
https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber Spanners Series' page on FB
https://www.facebook.com/sally.ember
http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember
http://goo.gl/tZKQpv Spanners Series' page on Google+
http://www.google.com/+SallySueEmber Sally Sue Ember on Google+
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w/videos
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember

Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven:
http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/