Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back Up There Buddy: How Not to Lose Your Work

If you connect with me on Facebook, or if you read my "Shorties" posts (at mayeralston.nett), you followed my recent drama over "losing" my novel. Basically, I spent hours in revisions, stupidly didn't back up my work, then synced my novel with another app to make it accessible on all of my devices and easy to make changes on one device and have it show up on the other.

Of course I lost everything.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Secrets Revealed: An Interview with Maggie Elizabeth Harrington Author DJ Swykert

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington is the story of a young woman in a remote 1890's northern Michigan mining town trying to save a pack of young wolves from a bounty hunter. A terse historical love story of a young woman's struggle with environmental and moral issues, concerning the slaughter of wolves, and the church's condemnation of her love for a young man, are as real in today's global world as they were for young Maggie over a century ago.

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington is suitable for young adult and adult readers.

I interviewed heartland author, DJ Swykert about writing Maggie Elizabeth Harrington:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Navigating Regional Differences

In the Heartland people are polite. We smile and nod when passing each other, politely wait our turn in queues, quietly whisper judgmental comments to each other so the person we are discussing won't hear us and feel offended. 

When eating together, we leave the last serving for each other--which usually means for the host or hostess, once everyone has gone home, as no one cares to break this unwritten law of polite society.

These are some of the ways Heartland people behave differently from, say, 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Remembering 9/11: The Things We Carry

I was at work. Tired. Not quite awake after spending a goodly amount of my sleep allotment writing a song the night before. 

I drifted down to the break room, sluggishly snaked around the few men filling the space, put two quarters in the coffee machine, and bent to straighten the cup. At fifty-cents a shot, I didn't want to waste a drop. As I straightened, lifting the black gold to my lips, I became aware of silence. 

No one was talking. 

Everyone stood like marble staring at the small TV hung from the ceiling, and from which no sound came because the volume was always set to mute.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What Marathon-Viewing Taught Me About Writing Story

In my last post I promised I would tell you what I learned about writing story from marathon viewing television and film series on Netflix during my recent convalescence. 

Before this I was a marathon viewing virgin. 
Creative Commons Photo by Flickr Member Espensorvik
To be candid, I've been known to read a book through to the end even if I had to stay up all night to do it. Trust me, there are books and book series engaging enough to make me do that.  Book series have kept me engrossed for days and weeks at a time, depending on how many books there are in the series

While convalescing I was zonked on pain meds and found it difficult to concentrate well enough to write anything intelligible. My eyes wouldn't focus well enough to read. So I thought, why not?

I was surprised by what the experience taught me about writing.

Friday, June 14, 2013

How to Get Back to a Daily Writing Habit After a Break: Writing PT

I didn't break my ankle while exercising or while executing a karate kick. 
No, that would be too cool a thing to be able to share with others. (Yeah, you should see the face my foot connected with. Sure I broke my ankle, but I bet he won't try to mug anyone else!)

I fell off a step, like a little old lady, as I was walking out to my driveway where a fellow book club member was waiting to drive us to our monthly meeting. Yes, she saw me fall. To add to my embarrassment, two younger neighbors saw me hit the ground, and came running to pick me up.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How Historically Accurate Should Historical Fiction Be?

Historical novels are an interesting and enjoyable way to learn about historical events, characters, or time periods. While fictionalized, many authors rely on historical, geographical, and other research to create an ambiance within their novel that is believable and translates historical reality--well, at least as much as anyone can who isn't able to go back in time and experience events for themselves. But even if we could time travel, how true would our description of history be?

Since all history is interpretation, and all interpretation is by nature subjective (or biased), even historians don't always agree with each other on the causes, meanings, or realities of historical events. All one can say for certain is that at some point in history, this or that human wrote that this or that thing happened. Possibly there are records to prove an event happened. What events mean, or the realities surrounding events are interpretations. Even contemporary perspectives of characters and events are often colored by biased interpretation, and altered by things added or left out, or by the filters through which events and characters are viewed. Historians or historical writers can sometimes create the illusion of clarity while actually providing a very fuzzy picture, and the older the historical era or event the more this is true. 

Into this fuzziness good historical fiction writers dive!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Is Technology Causing Us to Lose the Personal Touch?

Photo from
Some question whether technology is really good for humans. Just look at any college campus where most of the people you see are shuffling down the halls, and sidewalks too, eyes glued to a tiny handheld screen, thumbs tapping at a furious pace. No one appears to be talking to anyone around them. It would seem that technology has replaced personal communication, and many complain that it has, and that it's unhealthy for us. Even worse, they claim, we're addicted to it.

Recent changes in grammar school education might also appear to support this conclusion, as more schools are no longer teaching cursive writing. In this digital age, many feel cursive writing is no longer needed. Others wonder how these children will ever be able to take notes or send hand written letters. They complain the personal touch is disappearing from our written communications, and that it's one more indication we have an unhealthy dependence on technology.

On the other hand,