Monday, January 31, 2011

Cooking the Books

Every April, sees a new edition of the Seattle Edible Books Festival. It's a festival celebrating books and food and the people who love them.

Produced by the Seattle Center for Book Arts and supported by a grant from the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, it's choc-a-bloc with punderful cakes and other food dishes made with a sense of humor and flair for drama. It's meant to combine the creative and culinary talents of northwest bibliophiles, foodies, book artists, chefs, bakers, librarians, kids, and punsters.

The festival begins at noon and the entries are eaten at 2pm. So if you want to take a look at every entry, do be prompt.

Here are some of the luminaries of 2010...

Little Hows on the Pear E by

Life of Pi(e) by Michele Yanow

Quiche of the Spider Woman by Robin Kessler

Raisin in the Sun by Linda Collins

Friday, January 28, 2011

Picture Day Friday

Image copyrighted by

Cottage on the beach in Hawaii: Another of the items on my Life List.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Scheduling Your Life

Image copyrighted by JustJudyJudyJudy.comI like my life scheduled. There, I admitted that up front, so that when we get into the nitty-gritty of this post, you're not blindsided by this epiphany: Gosh, she's so Type-A.

Planner Image Copyrighted by FotoSearch.comI use this weekly paper scheduler and a print-out of my Excel file schedule to keep me on track with my goals and where I need to be. The book schedule has the outdoor commitments and the paper schedule is the day-to-day stuff that I must do in order to fulfill my career, family, health, volunteer, etc. goals. I use this planning journal to record what I've planned on a day-to-day basis and what I accomplished. Also noted are exceptions to the schedule and why.

Mother Daughter Studying a Calendar Image Copyrighted by FotoSearch.comMap a typical day in an Excel spreadsheet or on tabulated paper from the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep. See how current actions naturally work on some of the goals you've set up for the year. Then plan the remaining goals in the time left to ensure that your goals are being met on a regular basis.

 Image Copyrighted by FotoSearch.comIf you don't label your time to dedicated actions, then that piece of time is either attached to another task or frittered away. "It'll take you longer to use your time" (i.e., less efficient use of time) "if you have to decide what to do with it first," says aspiring writer Lacey Kaye.

Save-the-Date Image Copyrighted by Once you've done the thinking and the planning, then at the appointment time all you have to do is "just do it," as Nike would say. However, when doing the assigned task, focus only on that task; don't even think about anything else. "If you've come up with an efficient best process, then anything you do that's not that process is a waste of time," advises Lacey.

To-Do List Image Copyrighted by FotoSearch.comShe further says, "Working to a schedule helps so much with identifying the opportunity cost of missing a meeting." What that means is that if you miss a scheduled appointment, move on. In other words, don't rob Peter to pay Paul. Move the assigned task in the missed slot to next day's slot for the same task.

Author Erica Ridley says, "The most basic rule of thumb when keeping to a schedule is: There is no making up lost time."

My daily mantra is: Respect my schedule. Follow the plan.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Picture Day Friday

Image copyrighted by

"Hey, who you be calling booby?" Blue-footed Boobies of Galápagos Islands, South America: The site of one of the travel spots on my Life List.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Workman Launching Shorts Program

Click on the picture to sign up for the Twitter party.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Goal Making and Keeping

alt=The month of January is when people make decisions about their new year's resolutions. As the Dalai Lama says, "The purpose of our life is positive; we weren't born to failure and disappointments." So despite non-compliance of previous year's resolutions, every year, people make new ones for the shiny, bright, new year. We have hope that this will be the year we will....

These days, resolutions has become a word oft shunned in public forums (fora?) and the word goals is much touted. However, a resolution is merely a committment to a goal. Whereas, a goal is something you aspire to, when you resolve to take steps to accomplish a goal, you're in the docket for it; you're committed to doing it. So, this year, my resolutions document is called Keira's Commitments.

Image copyrighted by Muscle-Build.comHowever, for the sake of this post and the common knowledge associated with the word, I'll use goals in place of commitments.

Goals give you something concrete to work towards and to measure progress against. Goals also give you a sense of accomplisment once you've reached them, because if someone doesn't really know what he wants, he does nothing and remains unsatisfied and unhappy with his life.

Author Erica Ridley says, "If a goal isn't realistically possible, then you set yourself up for disappointment." Even if it is possible, the question to ask is: Is it plausible for you? Is it advisable for you? Erica also notes that "If a goal is not attainable based wholly on your skills, talent, ability, and willpower," then it must not be a goal. Do not give yourself impossible tasks.

Image copyrighted by So, what is the basic format of a goal? There's a title or logline; an execution plan that's realistic, specific, and measurable; and there are accountabilities each of which are timed, specific, and action-oriented.

Part of being accountable, goals must be achieved within a reasonable set time period. The deadline must include a reasonable buffer to accomodate delays out of your control. Note that having set up goals gives a sense of accomplishment. However, this does not mean you're partway towards accomplishing them. In order to achieve a goal, you must work towards it. "Goals do not achieve themselves." Also as editor and publisher Moira Allen puts it, "Goals are not your destiny. They are simply highly effective tools that you can use to reach that destiny."

So how do you go about achieving your goals. First, come up with concrete goals that follow the basic format mentioned above. "Vague goals are just New Year's resolutions that remain on the list year after year," says Sheri McGregor of

Image copyrighted by FotoSearch.comThen, break down each goal into bite-sized mini goals. Assign a dealine to each bit. "To maintain and intensify your desire," says romance writer Jessica Davidson, "write out a list of all the benefits and advantages to achieving your goals." Now list obstacles to achieving every mini goal and solutions to the problems. I use a planning journal by At-A-Glance. In the planning journal, set out your main goals and mini goals with deadlines for both. Journal progress (or lack thereof) made on each goal.

Finally, visualize periodically to strengthen resolve to do it. Turn the "I can't do this" thought process into a "How can I do this?" thought process. And try, try, try!

Image Copyright What is the difference between short-term (ST) goals and long-term (LT) goals? While long LT goals help you determine where you're going, ST goals help you decide how to get there. For example, ST writing goals can be measuring monthly page output or estimating when the novel will be finished, whereas LT writing measured by big results: getting an agent or selling to a publisher. You control the ST goals; you do not control the LT goals. This is a key point. ST goals under your sphere of influence. LT goals outside your sphere of influence. You can do all the ST goals perfectly but there's an additional outside factor to achieving LT goals that can be best described as happenstance. That is not to say that you shouldn't work hard on your LT goals. There's a saying that goes: "Chance favors the prepared mind." So, too, with achieving LT goals.

Image copyrighted by Short-term goals and long-term goals are not to be confused with main goals and mini goals. Both ST and LT goals are main ones that have baby-step goals. So for example, if your ST is to write a novel is X months, then some of the mini goals would be: research for A days, write B words every weekday, edit every Satuday, Sunday is catch-up day, and so on. Similarly, if your LT goals is to get an agent, your mini goals might be: attend a conference, read the Guide to Literary Agents, read books agented by your top few favorites, etc. etc. Another example of a long term goals might be one from your Life List.

alt=And finally, a reminder from Voltaire: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Don't allow the desire for everything to be done perfectly stump your motivation and lead you into procrastinating the very thing you want to achieve.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

RWA 2011 Conference

The 31st annual conference of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) is now open for registration. The conference is at the Marriott Marquis in New York City from June 28 through July 1.

For those of you who don't know about RWA, it's an organization for the serious romance novelist. The annual conference has nearly 2,500 published and aspiring romance writers, editors, agents, and other industry professionals in attendance every summer. There are more than 100 workshops for conference attendees, in addition to editor and agent panels, one-on-one pitch meetings with acquiring editors and agents, a charity booksigning event with 600 authors in one room, publisher parties, and networking events.

This year, the Librarians' Day will be on Tuesday, the Opening Session on Wednesday, the Keynote Luncheon on Wednesday, the Awards Luncheon on Thursday, and the Awards Ceremony on Friday. Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, and Tess Gerritsen present the Opening Session. Madeline Hunter is the Keynote Luncheon speaker, Sherrilyn Kenyon is the Awards Luncheon speaker, and Julia Quinn is the Librarians' Day Luncheon speaker. Meg Cabot will emcee the Awards Ceremony.

Registration fee for members is $525 and for non-members is $600. Register early, because the organization caps the event at a certain number. And given that this conference is in NYC where all the editors and most of the agents are, expect people to sign up early and in large numbers.

The room rate for the New York Marriott Marquis hotel is $211 per night for a standard single/double room plus 14.75 percent tax per room and $3.50 occupancy tax per night, all of which comes up to $250 a night. Use the RWA Roommate Forum for roommates.

For travel information, hotel stay, eats and sights of Manhattan, and oh, any NYC questions at all, follow SB Sarah's blog. She's going to periodically blog about this from now through June.

The conference runs mainly on volunteer strength. So please do volunteer your time, even if it's only for an hour.

The Goody Room is a great place to pick author promotional items and free books. Publisher book signings is another place to pick up free books. A third place to pick up free books is at the Librarian's Goody Room is you're a published author.

The organization celebrates the achievements of its published and aspiring members with the RITA and Golden Heart Awards, respectively. The honors are awarded in an Oscars-style glamorous event on the last night of the conference. The winners are posted on the RWA website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The 10-10 Reading Challenge

Copyright by Melissa KlugIn January 2010, I was challenged by Melissa Klug, director of marketing for Glatfelter book paper manufacturers, to take up the original 1010 challenge for Reading in 2010. The challenge calls for reading 10 books in 10 categories by October 10. We were to report in to the challenge by following the Twitter hashtag #101010reading and also on the 101010Reading blog. Used and Discarded Books a series of painting copyrighted by Ephraim Rubenstein

I modified the challenge as follows: Read any number of books in 10 categories, other than the categories I normally read, by December 10 to finish the challenge. Also the overarching aim was to reduce the to-be-read TBR mountain. Here's what I read in 2010...

Detective, Mystery, Crime, Thriller
—"Talking about Detective Fiction" by P.D. James
—"This Body of Death" by Elizabeth George
—"Crocodile on the Sandbank" by Elizabeth Peters
—"The Curse of the Pharoahs" by Elizabeth Peters
—"The Mummy Case" by Elizabeth Peters
—"Lion in the Valley" by Elizabeth Peters
—"Royal Flush" by Rhys Bowen
—"The Last Camel Died at Noon" by Elizabeth Peters

Food/Travel/Animals as Central Theme
—"All Things Bright and Beautiful" by James Herriot
—"Tropical Classical" by Pico Iyer

Elevating Snobby Fiction
—"Burning Bright" by Tracy Chevalier
—"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Women's Fiction
—"The Secret to Everything" by Barbara O'Neal
—"She's Gone Country" by Jane Porter

—"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
—"The Royal Diaries: Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles" by Kathryn Lasky

Young Adult
—"The Candidates" by Inara Scott
—"Token" by Alisa Kwitney
—"The Royal Diaries: Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles" by Kathryn Lasky
—"Beware the King" by Stewart Ross

Plays & Poetry
—"Special Orders" by Edward Hirsch
—"Arms and the Man" by George Bernard Shaw

—"Token" by Alisa Kwitney

Writing Craft
—"Writing the Breakout Novel" by Donald Maas

Contest Entries
—Five contemporary categories for RWA's Golden Heart

Categories for 2011
—Detective, Mystery, Crime, Thriller
—Young Adult
—Mythological Tales
—Biographies & Memoirs
—Nonfiction: Spiritual Guidance & Organizational Advice
—Writing Craft
—Writing Research

Off The Shelf!In conjunction with the 10-10 Challenge, I'm going to participate in the Off The Shelf! reading challenge by Bookish Ardour to control The TBR mountain. I'll be in the Trying category.

Here's how to participate: Decide which challenge level you'll be doing before the start of the challenge. Include only books from the TBR pile. Do not include books purchased after the challenge has begun.

Challenge Levels:
Tempted — Choose 5 books to read
Trying — Choose 15 books to read
Making A Dint — Choose 30 books to read
On A Roll — Choose 50 books to read
Flying Off — Choose 75 books to read
Hoarder — Choose 76-125 books to read
Buried — Choose 126-200 books to read

Also in conjunction with the above two challenges, I'm taking up SuperWendy's TBR 2011 challenge. The challenge is where readers pick up a long neglected book from their TBR pile, read it, comment on that read on the third Wednesday of every month, and post links to the comments on social media sites. I will be modifying the challenge slightly to allow posting of the comments at any time during the month.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Booking the Books

I read a fair bit in 2010. By signing my name to the 10-10-10 Challenge, I also read in categories I would not normally have. Of course, I read a lot of romance. I found the source for this blog from Fizzy Thoughts and modified it a bit. Without further ado, here are the stats...

How many books did you read in total?

173: an average of one book every two days

How many works of fiction and how many non-fiction?

Nonfiction: 3, Fiction: 170 (wince)

Which percent of male versus female authors did you read?

Male: 2.9% (double wince)

How much romance versus all other genres?

More than 85%

Which was your top favorite book?

Barely a Lady by Eileen Dryer

Which were your surprise favorite books and why?

The Candidates by Inara Scott, my first young adult (YA) book, and Token by Alisa Kwitney, my first manga comic book.

Which were the oldest and newest books, by pub date?

Flowers from the Storm (Oct 1992) by Laura Kinsale and Somewhere Along the Way by Jodi Thomas (Nov 2010)

Which were the longest and shortest book titles?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Token by Alisa Kwitney

Which were the longest and shortest books?

Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale and Special Orders: Poems by Edward Hirsch

Who were the most read authors of the year, and how many books by each author?

I bought and re-read the entire backlists for Jo Beverley (36) and Laura Kinsale (12). I was in thrall the whole year of the sheer talent the authors had in unfolding every nuance of every character in every situation.

Which author was new to you in 2010 that you now want to read the entire works of?

Michael Jecks who writes murder mysteries set Devon and Cornwall in the Late Middle Ages.

Any translated books?


Any re-reads?

Books by Jo Beverley, Laura Kinsale, Jennifer Cruise, Joanna Bourne, Jo Goodman, Meredith Duran, Mary Balogh, Connie Brockway, Julia Quinn, Anne Gracie, Monica McCarty, Loretta Chase, and Julie Garwood

Which books you wouldn’t have read without someone’s specific recommendation?

The Amelia Peabody Victorian mystery series by Elizabeth Peters without the specific urging of Robin L of and Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner on recommendation by Janga of Janga is my favorite go-to person for book recommendations

Which books are you annoyed you didn't read?

Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read?

Special Orders: Poems by Edward Hirsch, Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Sub-Sub-Genre

On Twitter, Tessa Dare enquired: What type of show would Torchwood Regency-style be called?

Referring to Georgette Heyer's Regency cant, I came up with: barquestepper.

Since barquestepper would be to Regency what steampunk is to Victorian, I decided to employ two similar terms from the cant and smush them together.

Thus, steam has the equivalent in stepper as in high stepper for a horse of excellent bloodlines. And punk finds it's companion in barque as in a person who wants to be outside the social norm.

So here you go, a new sub-sub-genre of romance novels: barquestepper.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Personal Mission Statement

Image copyright by HosalukConsulting.comA Personal Mission Statement is a set of mottoes for your life that define the boundaries of who you are, what your deepest held beliefs are, how you interact with others, and what you think of yourself.

The Personal Mission Statement (with the unfortunate acronym of PMS) will support you in achieving your Life List. It is not a list of goals, whether short term or long term, but rather, an overarching definition of your personality, of the qualities that make you a unique human. So it who you are, not who you want to be.

So "exercise thrice weekly" is a goal, but "I exercise every day no matter what's happening around me" is a motto.

The mission statement empowers you in the midst of life's stresses by being the core of who you are, what you're about, and what you value. It's an affirmation document to return to re-read when you feel overwhelmed or discouraged or disappointed that maybe perhaps you aren't who you thought you were.

Take a large piece of blank paper or a stack of them. This activity is best done longhand on a dead tree product, because of the tactile working feeling in addition to the visual payoff. Now pick up a bunch of colored markers. Find a room free of all distractions for 30&8211;45 minutes. Set a timer for 30 minutes, and grab a marker. Write down anything about you that first pops up in your mind. Next, grab a different colored marker to write down your next motto or trait.

Image copyright by JoePollhein.comWrite slantwise, backwards, upside down, but be sure to lock your inner censor firmly away. There's no wrong answer. Be fearless, even if a few undesirables crop up. It's who you are, and that's OK. If you feel that you don't like them, you can change them via your annual goals. Thus, your mission statement now becomes a laundry list of what is in present time and day.

Once you have spent 30 minutes brainstorming, spend the next 15 minutes grouping it into categories, such as morning & bedtime rituals, journaling, living in the moment, purpose of my life, self-reliance, etc. Check to be sure that items are "I am" type statements, not "I will" or "I want."

Image copyright by The first time I did this was in September 2006. Everything I wrote in there's still valid today. This can be a good thing (haven't worsened) or a bad thing (haven't improved). Heh. But it is who I am today. This is my personal mission statement. What's yours?

Friday, January 7, 2011

End of Year Meme

Meme was conceived in 2010 by the students and lecturers of the Visual Communication studio at the Tasmanian School of Art.

The rules of this end-of-year meme is to post the first sentence from the first post of each month.

Date: January 1
Title: Picture Day Friday
Line: Happy 2010! Kick up your heels and celebrate the start of the new year and new decade!

Date: February 1
Title: Giveaways: Lessons in French
Line: As promised on Friday, here's more information about the LESSONS IN FRENCH by Laura Kinsale giveaways.

Date: March 1
Title: Children in Stories
Line: We visited a working farm this past weekend, on one of those rare spring days when they open it up to visitors, particularly the little ones, who enjoy seeing baby animals.

Date: April 2
Title: Picture Day Friday
Line: You know how some things cause your heart to thrum in excitement? Here're what does it to me...

Date: May 3
Title: Going Historical...1
Line: In a departure from my usual blog style, here are bits and pieces of the Middle Ages in the news currently...

Date: June 1
Title: Our London Itinerary
Line: My husband proclaimed that if we all forgo inessentials, such as eating, sleeping, and bathing, and all three of us do things in parallel (the old English war tactic of divide and conquer) and then compare notes, we might, possibly, be able to cover the main items on my list (per advice from all of you).

Date: July 2
Title: Picture Day Friday
Line: Robin Hood's Bay, England

Date: August 2
Title: I am Home...And in a Video
Line: Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell took a music video of folks at the RWA Literacy Autographing last Wednesday evening. She had various people lip-synching to a soundtrack.

Date: September 10
Title: Picture Day Friday
Line: (image)

Date: October & November
Title: No posts

Date: December 5
Title: Health!
Line: Open Letter to the Readers of Cogitations and Meditations: I apologize for the long unexplained silence my end.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Top Twenty Books

In 2010, I read books published in 2010 as well as books from my TBR and those pubbed before 2010. As a result, I have a Top Twenty list for all the books I read in 2010 (some of them re-reads) and a Top Twenty list for all the books pubbed in 2010 that I read in 2010. The items in the lists are in no particular order.

Read in 2010

Special Orders: Poems by Edward Hirsch
These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Tropical Classical: Essays from Several Directions by Pico Iyer
Somewhere Along the Way by Jodi Thomas
Scoundrel's Kiss by Carrie Lofty
The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne
Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale
Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
Barely a Lady by Eileen Dryer
All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick
Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Devilish by Jo Beverley
An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley
His at Night by Sherry Thomas
Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase
Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James
The Secret of Everything by Barbara O'Neal

Pubbed & Read in 2010

Somewhere Along the Way by Jodi Thomas
The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne
Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase
The Dangerous Viscount by Miranda Neville
His at Night by Sherry Thomas
Barely a Lady by Eileen Dryer
Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick
The Secret of Everything by Barbara O'Neal
She's Gone Country by Jane Porter
Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee
The Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy
My Reckless Surrender by Anna Campbell
Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress by Diane Gaston
A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale
The Secret Duke by Jo Beverley
Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner
The Golden Season by Connie Brockway
Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James
Emily and the Dark Angel by Jo Beverley