Silver Linings

John Milton Image

The concept that “every cloud has a silver lining” has roots that go back to 1634 when the poet Milton wrote (Comus: A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634):

Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?

His allegorical use of clouds and silver linings sparked the use of that imagery in literature forevermore. Writers from that point forward used the phrase or a derivative of that phrase.

However, it was in 1840 – Victorian-era England – that the phrase was coined that we still hear today: ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. It was the result of a misprint in The Dublin Magazine that was doing a review of the novel, MARION, by Mrs. S. Hall. In the novel, Hall quoted the Milton piece, but in the review, the quoted material was misstated.

Per the site Phrases.org.uk, this proverb “appeared frequently in newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic”, from 1853 onward. Sarah Payton Parton (pen-name Fanny Fern), an American writer hired by the Home Journal magazine to write a motivational column, used it often. It was her theme. She became the highest-paid writer in the USA at that time due to her essays.

From her essay entitled, “Nil desperandum!”, the first lines rally readers’ spirits with:

NO, NEVER! Every cloud has a silver lining; and He who wove it knows when to turn it out. So, after every night, however long or dark, there shall yet come a golden morning.

I don’t know each reader’s situation as I write this. But I urge you to not give up, not give in to fear and frustration, but to look about for things to be thankful for. Only those with thankful eyes can spy that silver lining. There’s rescue to be had in reading, whether you find your escape in the Bible, a biography, a how-to, a graphic novel or a bestseller, seek words that will let you rest mentally and physically from the war raging with COVID-19. Many of us find peace and our silver linings in prayer and meditation.

I’ve learned from many writers about the difficulty they’re experiencing in focusing to create. I get it. I share it. And, I’ve found that working in shorter periods of time to accomplish just one task, one page, one chapter, is working better for me. And, I am able to put it all aside for an hour or two when I commit to an online workshop or summit. Learning makes me feel like I accomplished something, so I’m doing some of that every day. I take a few more breaks, but the mental fatigue has lessened. Might be worth a try.

So, in that vein, here is a dynamite offer from Writers Digest’s SCRIPT – a free workshop that’s usually $120. Check it out – the stronger our characters are, in fiction or creative non-fiction, the more readers will love our work. Something to focus on, a goal to have, an exercise to keep your wonderful mind engaged.

https://scriptmag.com/page/strengthen-your-plot-through-character-creation

And, here is the link to an older WD article, that’s still applicable today! 10 Questions You Should Ask Your Characters

Keep reading and writing. Be kind to yourself and everyone you meet. And keep looking for that silver lining. I’ll keep you close in my prayers for peace and safekeeping.

See you next week. NQ

 

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Coping with COVID-19 and Authors Boosting Authors

TouringYou may not be writing right now and I hope you are not beating yourself up about it. I don’t know your specific situation, but I’ve got a list as tall as Paul Bunyon of things I put on the back burner over the YEARS so I could work the day jobs, write, volunteer, travel, whatever. Now, I’m home. A lot.

So, what’s an author to do? Some of those things I put aside for a really long time I’m now ready to do and some of that is writing. Some isn’t. I find that focusing for long periods of time on the creative side is hard to do right now. My spouse and I share 900 square feet now and he likes his music. My offsite office space has been closed for over two weeks. I can’t write well with music blaring, preferring to create in relative silence. But, when he’s napping I get that quiet time, so that’s when I write.

Despite our recent downsized move, the remaining file drawers need to be cleaned out and reorganized – couldn’t get in them with a shoehorn! So, that doesn’t require quiet to do and when the music is blaring, I sit on the floor in my office with some file folders, label maker, shredder close at hand, and tackle it. I scan and save what I’m moved to keep for my own research or later reference, then shred the paper copy. Why do I need 20-year old resumes? Got me! I scanned a copy and the rest is gone.

Two years ago, my husband tore his brand new shoulder holster. He bought it and the first time he hooked it to his belt with the strap designed to anchor it, the strap promptly tore loose of the snap. I tucked the whole thing on the shelf with the sewing kit and never touched it again. Moved it a lot of times, but never repaired it. So, now it’s repaired and in the gun safe. Probably never to be worn again, but at least it isn’t still on my TO BE DONE list. LOL. I’m actually having some fun despite all this chaos – I feel like I’m accomplishing something and I don’t feel that I’m wasting precious time – the gift of time is so very valuable, right?

And while we’ve rescheduled the authors at WC Publishing who were launching first books this Spring, many authors are launching despite this pandemic and all of its fallout. How do you get the word out about your book amidst the busy, chaotic insanity that is our global reality right now?

We help each other. A wonderful side-effect of helping others is that our own anxiety and chaos get toned way down. Another one is that when we help others, we also reap a benefit – that’s the way the Lord designed the universe.

This article by BookBub is a wonderful example of ways we can help other authors. I hope that you’ll find a way to help someone during this chaotic time because I know how much peace you’ll gain from doing that. Be a light: be good to yourself and others, too.  8 Ways Authors are Helping Authors

I wish you good health and blessings galore.

Nancy Q.

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#StayHomeWriMo

adorable animal animal world cat

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A lifesaver was thrown to us by some tried and true writing friends from NANOWRIMO, the gang that brings us National Novel Writing Month every November. The list of stressors in our daily lives right now rivals the national debt but the best way to get that under control is to be in action. And, writers certainly need to write to keep our balance.

And while this time “off” from the rest of our lives should also include reading those books on that very tall TO BE READ pile, or tackling that almost endless collection of free eBooks, why not use a hunk of it to feed those creative juices – and get that brain working on positive stuff! Creativity and accomplishments grow endorphins. So does exercise. Endorphins are natural antidepressants generated in our brains. So – take a look! Commit to doing these daily suggestions along with a hot shower, healthy food, prayer time, and enjoying the family and see if that stress isn’t drastically reduced.

#StayHomeWriMo has just been launched, so visit the website and get plugged in, today! https://bit.ly/2UE7Cui is the key to taking part in this positive adventure!

Take good care of yourselves. I pray that all my readers are well and that if there is an illness in your life, that the Lord gives you strength and peace and healing.

Hugs and love to all.

Nancy Q.

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FALLING FOR ZOE – 99 cents till Jan 15

Falling for Zoe - 600x900x300

Celebrating the first month in the first year of a new decade, Belle Bridge Books has put the first in all their series on sale from the 1st to the 15th. A great opportunity to enjoy this romantic gem by Skye Taylor.

Falling for Zoe – 99¢   Jan 1-15, 2020

Jake wanted friendship . . . Zoe wanted the fairy tale.

Pregnant, alone and determined to make a good life for herself and her baby, Zoe Callahan didn’t plan on falling in love with her best friend, but Jake Cameron is everything her baby’s father wasn’t.

Jake has been burned once, and he’s not about to ruin a great friendship by giving in to his desire to be so much more than just friends. Zoe wants the fairy tale he’s not sure he’s ready for.

Chapter 1 Excerpt:

Something about Ms. Zoe Callahan grabbed Jake’s attention the moment she slid from the battered green truck. She wasn’t knock-out beautiful, nor did she appear to be a siren who would be all over his return to bachelorhood. Maybe it was the way her lips turned up as if she found life amusing and dared everyone else to join her. Or perhaps it was the challenge in her peaked brows.  Jake had the sudden, uneasy conviction that Zoe Callahan’s arrival in his life was going to turn out to be even more unsettling than the arrival of the divorce decree.

What others are saying:

“Falling for Zoe is a romantic gem.”

Cheryl Reavis, Best selling author, and 4 time RWA RITA award winner.

“With a deft hand and engaging style, Skye Taylor creates a realistic story with heart that captivates. Ms. Taylor proves that while real families are messy if you keep your heart open, love heals the deepest wounds. Don’t miss this book.”

Vicki Hinze, USA Today bestselling author.

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1ODahfY

B&N: http://bit.ly/1SD2PRd

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/falling-for-zoe

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Skye_Taylor_Falling_for_Zoe?id=caxiBAAAQBAJ&hl=en

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/falling-for-zoe/id913907323?mt=11

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‘Tis the Season – to get off track!

Birth of ChristOkay, maybe you’re like me and you’ve gotten bogged down in life. Happens to all of us, so take a deep breath and relax a bit. The more panicked you get, the less you’ll get accomplished. My last six weeks have included a 4-day writer’s conference, three program presentations, almost three weeks with a sinus infection and our homestead has sold, so add in finding an apartment, homes for 2/3 of our belongings, packing, etc. Some days I wrote my 1000 words, but mostly – not.

Here are some fun things you might want to do to get back on that track to publication, royalty payments, celebrity – whatever it might be! But don’t waste a lot of time deciding. These deadlines are right around the corner!

SHORT STORIES: The energy builders of writers everywhere! 

(Courtesy of Hope C. Clark FUNDSFORWRITERS.com newsletter)

HAMLIN GARLAND AWARD FOR SHORT STORY
https://www.beloit.edu/fiction-journal/hamlin-garland-award/
$20 ENTRY FEE. Deadline December 10, 2019. Limit 7,000 words. Winners receive $2,000 and publication. Any theme. All entrants considered for publication.

THE SUNDAY TIMES SHORT STORY AWARD
https://www.shortstoryaward.co.uk/awards/2020/
NO ENTRY FEE. Deadline December 13, 2019. The prize is for stories up to 6,000 words in length and there is no entry fee. Stories can be either unpublished or published. If published, the work must not have appeared before January 1, 2019.

SHERWOOD ANDERSON FICTION PRIZE
https://casit.bgsu.edu/midamericanreview/fallcontests/
$10 ENTRY FEE. Deadline December 15, 2019. First prize $1,000 and publication. Limit 6,000 words.

This one includes publication and author copies – 

GEORGE GARRETT FICTION PRIZE
https://texasreview.submittable.com/submit/1487/the-george-garrett-fiction-prize
$28 ENTRY FEE. Deadline December 31, 2019. Winner receives a $1,000 advance, a standard royalty contract, and 20 copies of the published book. Open to anyone writing in English. Manuscripts may be novels or short story collections with a total word count of between 40,000 and 120,000 words.

How about a publisher that doesn’t require an agent for that full-length work?

Schaffner Press: Open to Manuscript Queries (AuthorsPublish.com)

Written by Emily Harstone 

Schaffner is an established press with distribution through IPG. They publish literary fiction, short fiction collections, and crime fiction. They also publish a wide variety of non-fiction including memoir, autobiography, biography, journalistic expose or narrative, true crime, art, culture, pop culture, world history, current events,
science, and music.

Their website is easy to navigate and the book covers are generally excellent. The focus is on selling books. It’s easy to get a feel for what they are interested in publishing by browsing their catalog.

They consider manuscripts between 60,000 – 100,000 words.

If you are submitting you must query first via email. If they are interested they will contact you and ask you to submit the full manuscript via the post. They try to respond to submissions quickly if they are interested.

Their full submission guidelines are here.

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MEET LOREN COLDEN: ONE BLACK SHOE

One Black Shoe Book coverIn Alexandria, Virginia ghostly woods (rumored to be haunted) open the story. A winding road leads into a soon-to-be known world of darkness and deceit. The reader is hooked from the first chapter and into the second, the third. At the onset, we meet a prominent character involved in law enforcement and follow his life through marriage, the building of a family, and watch his career advance as his life takes twists and turns, some for the better, some for the worse. Across the states, in California, a couple in love are about to exchange wedding vows. It seems the storyline will progress into a tale of real-life adventures, and it does. Toss in a crazy English mother-in-law who loves to stir the pot and murders popping up elsewhere, the reader travels down roads of twists and turns as well. A mysterious black shoe enters the picture and somehow ties several of the plot’s threads together. The author creatively weaves an engaging style of writing, descriptively elegant and beautiful, even when engaging the reader into graphic crime scenes, acts of abduction, disturbing and dark seduction.

When I read the book I was stunned by the chilling details and horror built into this tale and even though I don’t read this genre, I was unable to put it aside and leave it there. I’ve known this author for some time and knew her latest novel would probably curl my hair but I had no idea. If you enjoy dark psychological thrillers that keep most people up at night, do not miss reading ONE BLACK SHOE. Riveting, fast-paced, and haunting enough to be a Criminal Minds episode! Bravo to Colden and I’m sure there will be more where this came from!

Here’s a sample excerpt from ONE BLACK SHOE:

The crunching of underbrush told the girl the two passed her and separated. Bugs crawled over her. She swatted at them. Something slimy shifted under her hand. Complete silence became her companion for what felt like an eternity. When she couldn’t stand it anymore, she crawled from her hiding place. The moon had traversed across the sky. A drop in temperature came with the early morning. Damp soil and rotting leaves stuck to her torn jeans. Coldness seeped into her skin. The smell of moss was strong. She wiped her hands along her thighs, felt the stickiness of oozing blood, and made her way in the direction she hoped was toward safety.

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Brand New: The Last Chapter by Michelle Alstead

Emma Barton is drowning. A single mother of a son with a genius-level IQ and Autism, she’s given up on love to focus on the child who needs her. Her writing aspirations—the only dream she hasn’t abandoned—withers as her latest novel bombs, and she’s dropped by her publisher.

Ethan Wise, an A-list actor, wants an Oscar, but he’d settle for being something other than a romantic comedy lead or a beefcake superhero. Discovering Emma’s novel happens by chance, but it could also be his opportunity to finally become a serious actor.

When Ethan seeks Emma out to buy the movie rights to her novel, they fall so passionately in love their lives are turned upside down.

Emma wants to be with Ethan, but there’s her son to consider and the secrets she’s kept to protect him. She’ll do anything to keep her little boy’s world safe and happy.

She’d even give up the love of her life.

Buy on Amazon or read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited

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