Saturday, September 7, 2013

Non-Monogamous Writing

Scott D. Parker

I celebrated a big accomplishment this past Wednesday: the Consecutive Writing Streak reached 100! I have written every single day since Memorial Day (27 May), amounting to 177,000 words. I think we can all do the mental math to arrive at an average of 1,770 words a day. I don't consider that a bad thing since the bulk of June (24 days) was spent writing less than 1,000 a day, but the bulk of July (28 days) and all of August were spent writing more than 1,000. I'm proud of myself, which is kinda funny. I mean, think about it: a writer is proud that he's written. Big whoop, huh? But I've spent so many years *not* writing that  actual writing seems so joyous.

What had characterized my writing this summer has been the monogamy. When I pick up a project, I write on it until I'm done. It's been a great single-minded approach. It's likely been one of the reasons why the word count was able to flow as easily as it did: I was thinking only of one story.

In the closing days of August, I had to do double duty. I'm firmly in the middle of this second book, but I needed to write and submit a short story for an anthology to be named later. Now, this might have been relatively easy for some folks, but it's a challenge that I've never experienced. Add to that my desire to maintain the novel-writing streak through August and I ended up forcing myself to work on both the novel and the short story on the same days. Novel in the morning, short story in the evening. It worked well enough, and I was able to switch gears with relatively ease. I spent Sunday polishing the short story so much so that I didn't get to the novel. That streak was momentarily broken, but I got back on the wagon the next day.

For you writers out there who work on multiple projects, do y'all have any challenges you must overcome? Or is it merely a job and you just do it? I assume it's the latter, as it was for me, but I'm just asking around. I found that I enjoyed working on more than one thing at a time, tiring as it ended up being.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Doctor A Week: William Hartnell (The Dalek Invasion of Earth)

11 weeks. 11 Doctors. 11 stories. Right up to the fiftieth anniversary, Russel will be reviewing one story a week for each Doctor. He will try and relate each story to a larger picture and how it relates to each period. He will occasionally make fun of them. But he will try and show you what a varied and brilliant history the show has. As well as overcoming his own prejducies about certain periods in the shows history. Each review will have spoilers and will assume a certain level of knowledge about the story in question.

William Hartnell was the man who started it all. On Saturday teatime, viewers were first introduced to the mysterious time traveller known only as The Doctor (although the credits did call him Doctor Who); a man who had accidentally (or perhaps quite deliberately) taken a pair of schoolteachers away from 1960s London and on a terrible voyage through time and space. the show was, of course, meant to be at least a little educational. And Hartnell’s reign had more than its fair share of proper historical adventures including The Aztecs* during which our travellers would get involved with a moment of history. During these stories the only science fiction elements would be the anachronism of our leads. There would be no monsters. No alien explanations for historical events. And while that could sometimes be a bit dull, stories like The Aztecs were actually all the more intense for these limitations.

But what viewers loved were the science fiction stories. The second adventure for the TARDIS saw them encounter a strange alien race called The Daleks. These war-hungry creatures - a mass of hate bound up in an advanced battle machine - captured the public imagination. So much so that a year after they first appeared on their home planet of Skaro, they appeared again on the nation’s television screens. But this time, they were more terrifying. This time they had come to invade earth.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth is an excellent example of early Who at its finest. yes, its a little wobbly round the edges and, yes, there’s a lot of patronising dialogue towards the female characters (The Doctor’s threat to spank his grand-daughter Susan is especially gigglesome) but there’s also a lot of derring do and risk here. In fact, its a very good adventure and a prime example of why Hartnell’s reign was strong enough to lead into the show we all still love.

The adventure starts with the TARDIS crew landing in a mysterious city that looks like London. Except everything’s mysteriously quiet and no one notices the whacking great sign that says, “It is forbidden to dump bodies in the river” - which should have been everyone’s first clue that something odd is going on. But all the same, the Doc and his companions (Grand-daughter Susan and his two reluctant travellers, Ian and Barbara) spend a long time faffing about before they realise that something is wrong. Of course the fact that a bridge falls on to the TARDIS doesn’t help.

Much of the first episode - as was so often the case with early Who is filler. Lots of toing and froing and Susan uselessly twisting her ankle. But its all rather fascinating and the sparse atmosphere of the near future created by Terry Nation is disturbing. There is a real sense of puzzling out the reality of their situation and when the Dalek rises from the water at the end of episode one, there’s a real shock value. And there would have been back in the day, too. Each episode is individually named, so the fact that this is “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” would have been lost on many viewers who would likely have gone apocalyptic when they saw this creature rising out of what was for so many people a familiar and safe landscape.   In the days before twitter and mass media propagated by the internet, it was easier to keep the viewer surprised and spoiler free.

But what’s great about The Dalek Invasion of Earth is that the daleks are a little secondary to the main plot of the apocalyptic future. What really matters here at the rebels that the Doctor and his friends fall in with and the great whacking mining camps set up by the daleks. There are great moments in here. My favourite finds a mother and daughter doing whatever it takes to survive in this new world and taking advantage of the unwary travellers they find in their midst. Theres a fairy tale element to these scenes and a real sense of betrayal as Susan and Barbara are turned over to the Daleks.

Of course, this is the 60s and Doctor Who was still a kids show that had some interesting limitations. The robomen are great in concept - humans brainwashed by the daleks - and terrible in execution (Its hard to tell if they’re bad actors or just told to act badly, and lets not even think about their daft wee helmets.) And the less said about the rubbish monster that the daleks have patrolling their work camps the better; it’s very very very slow and very very very silly. But then that’s the charm of this era of Doctor Who; for everything that looks dated, you see something that would go on to have a lasting impression in pop culture. There are moments when the screen hums with the excitement of a program that would define its era.

Hartnell’s Doctor is rather harsh, still, at this stage. He cares for people but he’s not too concerned about deaths if they serve a greater cause and he has no time for fools. He’s an odd mix of bumbling distraction and paternal harshness, and this mix is fascinating to watch. Off course, he’s also a great line fluffer. In the early days, Who was filmed pretty much in sequence, and with very little room for retakes, so its fun to see how they make Hartnell’s occasional inability to quite remember what he’s saying part of the character.

The end is famous, of course. That clip of the Doctor saying, “Someday, I’ll come back” is used over and over again. He is speaking to his grand-daughter Susan, who he deliberately locks out of the TARDIS so she can have no choice but to stay with the man she’s fallen in love with over the course of this adventure. The speech itself is brilliant, but the context isn’t. Susan’s “love story” basically sees her flirting a bit with a guy who wants her to cook and clean for him. there’s no love story. Just an affirmation of certain sixties attitudes about women. And the Doctor is all for it. Making him definitely a man of his time. But, really, the romance between Susan and David is one of the most ill-conceived excuses for a character leaving. The chemistry is laughable and the suddeness of the flirting is completely unbelievable. It seems like padding at first, and in a way it is; thrown in as an afterthought to explain the character’s departure.

However, for all these dated elements, The Dalek Invasion of Earth is epic, ambitious and mostly great fun. Everyone gets stuff to do (except Susan who just limps a lot before she falls in live). Its a very good story for Hartnell and his early team of explorers in time and space. The Daleks are a little too nasal, but you can understand the effect they’d have had at the time. And the use of a real life location (London) echoes future concerns for the show that would time and again try to frighten viewers by placing the action on their own doorstep, an approach that would be refined in Troughton's The Invasion and later come to define the first half of the Pertwee era, where the Doctor was confined to a modern Earth setting.

- The sacrifice of the wheelchair bound Dortmun is touching. Also there’s something very good in the way that he confronts the daleks - who are tooling about in their own motorised contraptions - and then forces himself to stand in order to reinforce his humanity. Nice stuff.

- The Robomen rebellion is very funny indeed. They way they lift the daleks like they’re made of balsa wood is... well, its amusing. Indeed, at this point in its history, the show’s action sequences are often very awkward. But all the more endearing for it.

- The explosions are very tiny. Full marks to everyone involved for reacting like they’re much, much bigger than they are.

- You can see the padding on occasion. The crocodile in the sewer is one of the most pointless dangers ever seen. Also the doctor’s very nimble for an old man with a cane.

*The Aztecs is, of course, the story that saw The Doctor fall in love, and quite intensely. Something that many fans would later retcon from their brains when they complained abot the doctor's feelings for people he met on his journey in later incarnations.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Getting the most from interviews

By Steve Weddle

Folks have been really nice about sharing the recent Publishers Weekly review of COUNTRY HARDBALL. If you haven't read it, here you go. I was too anxious to read the whole thing closely, but I'm told it says that purchasing the book will make parts of you bigger where you want and smaller where you want and help you live a better life and get to Heaven and stuff like that.

Here's the thing that happens when you combine your need for promotion with the kindness of people -- they help promote you. I have found, at least in my case, that people have been far nicer to me than I deserve.

So let's look at interviewing, shall we?

I've done some interviews. People have asked me questions. I've asked them questions.

Here's a list of some of the times people have asked me questions: Interviews with Weddle.

I've talked via video with people, on the phone, on the email machines. Radio and podcast. Print and dig.

And I've interviewed people, both during my newspaper time and my blogger-ing time.

I've had the pleasure of chatting via telephony with Frank Bill and Hilary Davidson and Lynn Kostoff and others. Those are available at the DSD Podcast.

I've done video interviews with folks, including JT Ellison.

I've been on both ends of the emailing of TEN questions and/or answers. Or one at a time.

All this to say, I have had ample opportunity to see how to screw this up in every single way you could think of.

Maybe you're interviewing people. Maybe you're being interviewed. Lately, though, I've had the experience of being interviewed, so I thought I'd share some thoughts I kinda wish I'd had a while back.

Know The Format

Is this a conversational interview or a straight Q and A? I'm more of a conversational guy, in that I tend to look for connective tissue in everything. An interview can be a string of thoughts flowing into each other, building and collapsing throughout the hour. Or an interview can be more of an informational gathering process. Informal or informational? Shit. Prolly shoulda used that as a header somewhere.

If you're in a conversational interview, keep it loose but on-track. I've heard far too many interviews in which the whole thing jumps the track, plows through the water tower and into the orphanage. Don't do that. The kids. For the love. If it's conversational, you'll want to engage the interviewer and, by extension, the audience. No matter what side you're on, this isn't all about you. If you're a jerk like I am, then you're still convinced it's mostly about you. But you'll want to talk with your chat companion, not at him/her. If you're asked about the best book you're read recently, you probably don't want to put your interviewer on the spot by saying "Chris F. Holm's BIG REAP. Have you read it?" Because, you know, maybe she hasn't. Maybe you say the thing about Holm, but say "It's about a war between Heaven and Hell, kinda. I like book with big themes that seem grounded in the personal" or something along those lines, to which your interviewer can say something about Holm or, on the off-chance that he/she hasn't read, something more general. But you're engaging, at that point.

Let me be clear, here. Do or don't do. Whatevs. I'm not saying that you should say this thing or not. Just, you know, something to think about. That's all. It's your interview. Do whatever you want. Just offering some ideas. K? K. *hugs*

If it's more the "here's a question-give an answer" kind of interview, you'll definitely want to review the types of questions the interviewer asks. Are they big questions? Are they the same for each interview? I used to have this thing where the last question I asked was always about the favorite room in the person's house. When I was doing reporter-y interviews, it was always whether golf was a sport, because ha ha.

With my book (there goes Weddle again. it's all about him.) the bigger questions tend to be about economics in the rural south. That's from people who have read the book. If people haven't read the book, they can ask "Tell us a little about your book."

Either way, figure out which type of interview you're lined up for and give it some thought ahead of time.

Of course, if the person is emailing questions instead of doing so in real time (phone, skype, etc) then forget everything I've said. (Pause. Wait for joke.)

Have a thing

John Locke, who sold a gazillion books and was a darling until some people got the angers about paying for reviews, said you'll need to communicate one thing when you're doing an interview. That's good advice I hadn't considered.

If you're doing an interview with someone, you'll want to wrap up something nice and hand it over as a present. Maybe it's a particular anecdote you want to share this one time with this one audience.

I don't have the maths, but many of the questions you'll get as an author are the same from interview to interview. "What's your process?" "Do you enjoy editing?" "What are some of your influences?" "Do you find toothbrushes as gross as I do?" "What are you working on now?"

Interviewers and readers can get Interview Fatigue. Engaging the interviewer is one way to beat this, but so is dropping in something fresh. Have a story in your pocket that you want to convey to people. A thought. Maybe you want people to know that you wrote the book in just under ten years. Or that proceeds are going to help train-wrecked orphans. That all kinda lead to our next and (checks clock) final point:

Know Your Audience

People read books differently. Some people will read a book and see an aging headmaster trying to hold on to control after one of the students he's failed tries to take over the world. Others will read the same book and see three wizards coming of age. You have to figure out what your interviewer and his/her audience will see. You have to connect before you connect. Hmmm. Something like that.

If you're being interviewed on Wake Up, Metroville, then you're going to want to connect with whoever the hell is up at 5 am. Worker people? Stay-at-homes? Invalids? I dunno. Whoever that is. Maybe watch the show. Do they do consumer tips? Local history? Somehow, you'll want to tie in to the things they talk about. "You know, Annabelle, I saw your segment last week about preventing pick-pockets and it reminded me of this scene in my book." Um, maybe not that obvious.

If you're Joelle Charbonneau and you're writing the Glee Club Mysteries, your responses are going to be much different if you're talking to the Chicago Tribune or the Valleydale High Glee Club Newsletter.

My book has baseball, mills, convenience stores, VCRs, meth, an elephant, a funeral, deviled eggs and so forth. If a cooking mag wants to talk to me about all the food in the book, I'd better know the difference between paprika and nutmeg.

Mostly, I think, it comes down to knowing that each interview is different and preparing accordingly. Don't just show up and figure you don't have to do any work if you're being interviewed. You spent years writing this book, yeah? Don't screw it up now.

And be nice to the interviewers. Their time is valuable and they're hella nice for bothering with you at all.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Interview with Nick Quantrill

Today I'm joined by Nick Quantrill, author of the Hull-based Joe Geraghty novels, Broken Dreams and The Lates Greats.  This month sees the release of the third in the series, The Crooked Beat, with Geraghty doing what he does best, finding trouble and making it his own.

So Nick, can you tell us a bit about The Crooked Beat?

 “The Crooked Beat” is the third Joe Geraghty novel, and although it wasn’t initially conceived as a trilogy, it effectively sees the PI back to square one and ready to start over. With no paying work to take care of, he finds himself trying to dig his brother out of a serious hole when a consignment of smuggled cigarettes goes missing from his lock-up. What Geraghty can’t foresee is that taking his brother off the hook for the debt will extract a high personal price from himself.

One of the things I loved about the book was how it hinges on an unflashy crime, what attracted you this kind of subject matter over something more glamorous?

More than anything, I think it’s an awareness of writing about Hull, an isolated city on the north east coast of England. It’s what feels real to me when I look at the place. I do like the idea of what starts as a relatively low-key crime rippling outwards and exploding across a range of characters. If I had to pinpoint three authors whose work I really admired, I’d go for George Pelecanos, Graham Hurley and Ray Banks. It seems they all have that strand of realism running through their novels. Many years ago, I studied for a degree in Social Policy and Criminology, so maybe I took more from that than I anticipated.

Do you consider yourself a politically motivated writer?

I don’t consider myself to be motivated by politics. Motivated by anger? That sounds more likely. The first Geraghty novel, “Broken Dreams”, essentially used the death of the fishing industry in the city as a backdrop. Although it happened in the mid-1970s, it was a situation which came about after decades of struggle. Both political parties have to share the blame. 

From the moment I started to think about the story, I wanted to examine the trickledown effect on the city in the present day, the idea of loss of work and purpose. I do like to play with themes of urban decay and regeneration simply because it’s a real issue in a city like Hull. You only have to look at how such cities in the north of England have been disproportionately hit by government funding cutbacks to understand the ongoing struggle.

Why a P.I. rather than police?

The truthful answer is that I couldn’t make a police character work. I dabbled with one in an unpublished novel and it didn’t quite gel. It’s such thoroughly explored terrain, you need to find an interesting angle to make the character compelling. I’d hopefully make a better fist of it if I tried again, but a P.I. seemed a nice compromise. I owe Ray Banks a debt of gratitude, as he showed with his Cal Innes series that you can make the P.I. a relevant character. 

I didn’t want Geraghty to be crossing paths with femme fatales and wisecracking his way out of situations. I wanted him to be a man grounded in a northern city in the 21st century. Of course, as a writer you can have a lot of fun with a P.I., too. You’re not tied to procedure and rules like in a police novel.

You've recently been working as writer in residence at Hull Kingston Rovers rugby club, how has the experience been?

I had an amazing year working with the club. I was brought up a KR fan and was taken to games from a young age, so it was a real thrill to be offered the role. One of my jobs was to write flash fiction pieces featuring Joe Geraghty (he’s an ex-player) for the match day programme. It was definitely a challenge. 

The real thrill, though, was going into schools to work on short story writing with pupils. I had an amazing response and the link between sport and literature seemed so obvious. It’s a cliché, but trying to engage boys is the hardest thing, and this was perfect. I’m hoping to do more stuff in the community in the near future and I would recommend it to any author. What’s better than sharing a passion for reading and writing?

What's coming up next for you?

I’m fighting on two fronts. Part of my time will be spent promoting “The Crooked Beat” at events around Europe. I can say ‘Europe’, as I’ve received an invite to talk at Iceland Noir! It’s a really exciting opportunity for me. Hull is twinned with Reykjavik and there’s plenty of shared history, so it feels right. I’ll also be talking about the book at several equally cold places around the north of England over the coming months. The rest of the time will be spent writing. I’m well on with the next novel, which is crime (of course) and set in Hull, but features a different protagonist(s).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Dungeons and Dragons Guide to Book Sales

Let it Ride channels Elmore Leonard at the height of his powers, with dialogue Quentin Tarantino would kill for.” – Ken Bruen

That’s a great quote, isn’t it? Those names in one sentence. Imagne how thrilled I was to see that on the back of my book. I’m still thrilled every time I look at it (which may be more often than is healthy). That book was published by a big-time NY publisher.

You can buy a hardcover of that book for one cent online. There was no paperback. That book flopped, sold almost no copies and was quickly remaindered (the Canadian version is called, Swap, and it also flopped and sold almost no copies).

Well, all my books sell pretty much no copies so I’m not all that surprised, but with quotes like that I was hoping for maybe one tenth of those guys’ sales. One one-hundredth would have been good. Oh, let’s be honest, one one-thousandth would have been fantastic.

But all you can do is roll the dice and hope.

This is what I’ve learned in my now ten years in the publishing business. (I hadn’t realized till I started writing this post that it’s been ten years since my first novel, Below the Line, was published. Time really does fly when you’re having fun...)

Of course, there are things you can do is try to reduce odds and I’ve been thinking about that in Dungeons and Dragons terms lately. Because of the dice. And how there are dice with lots of different number of sides.

One of my sons has been playing a lot of D&D lately and as he tells me about his adventures he says things like, “I rolled the d20.” The one with twenty sides.

So, I figured to get a bestseller you have to roll the dice and get a one. Sometimes I feel like I’m rolling a d6000 and trying to get a one.

But like D&D you can fill out your character sheet and that will change your odds.

You can write a really good book.
You can find the right agent, get the right publisher for the book. (or do a fantastic job self-publishing the book)
You can get terrific blurbs and good reviews.
And then roll the dice.
If all those things come together maybe instead of the d64 (which apparently really exists) you can roll the d32 or even d20.
With each book you write you get better and maybe you get to use a die with fewer sides. Until you’re Stephen King or JK Rowling and you just have a card with a one on it and you play that.
Oh, and watch out for the dragons.

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's not what you say, it's how you say it

Lately, I've had a recurring rant that Brian's had to listen to several times.  It's the topic that comes up in the pool, when we're on the couch or when we're driving to the store.

You can use several terms to refer to the topic.  Atmosphere.  Tone.  Ambiance.

I'll use tone.

The emotional response of the audience says a lot about the tone you've created.  Consider Breaking Bad.  Consider just the simple act of closing a garage door and the "Oh shit" response that's out of your mouth before you can even think.  That's a gut-level response to a show that continuously takes a bad situation and makes it worse.  A show that twists in directions you don't see coming, and don't want to see coming, but like a train wreck in motion, you can't stop watching. 

A lot of people seem to have issues surrounding genre, and figuring out where their book fits.

If you've written a book where the cat is flung out of the window and ends up in a dumpster after using all 9 lives, you haven't written a cat mystery.  I'm thinking a little more hardboiled/noir.

If you've written a book where, at the end of every chapter, the problem's been solved and everything's okay, it's a little more likely that you've written a cozy.  You know, cozy.  Makes you feel warm and good at the end.

If you've written a book where every avenue of investigation leads your cops into more danger, lives are at stake, there's a deadline fast approaching and failing to catch the bad guy in time will result in your protagonist losing what's most important to them (or central to the story) you've probably written a thriller.

If you're the audience, and the female lead is continuously rescued by one guy or another, and all she really thinks about is how she feels about a guy, you aren't generating a sense of dread or building a tension about imminent threat.  You've written a romance.

If you want a good case study, watch The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and then watch LOTR The Two Towers.  One movie has scene after scene resolved with upbeat music and happy smiles from kids who can still be kids.  The other has the overwhelming sense of imminent death hanging over everyone.  Sure, both stories apparently have a central character who comes back from the dead, but in one, he's jumping around and playing with the girls.  In the other, he looks like hell and barely makes it in time to warn the others of the massive army coming to kill them all.

In just a few hours of watching those movies, you can learn more about tone and the effect on the audience than I could effectively share in one post.  People run into problems when they want their book to be one thing, but can't maintain the tone needed for that effect. In LOTR, the banter between Gimli and Legalos is essential for breaking the tension because of how dark and how overwhelming the sense of dread is throughout. Watch that scene above, and note how the quiet is used, how weather is used, how every element works together to put you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what will happen. The fear is palpable.

And people run into problems when 99% of the book has a certain tone, and in the end they shift gears wildly, hoping for a dramatic finish, that doesn't fit with the tone of the rest of the book.

Know what you want your story to be, and don't be ashamed of that. Make it what you intend... don't let the fear of landing the punches keep you from giving your story the edge you're after.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


by: Joelle Charbonneau

Happy Sept. 1st.

Now, if you're like me, you're looking back at the summer and wondering---where did it go?  I mean, didn't June just begin?  How is it September already?  Between the unusually cool July and August here in Chicago and all the deadlines I had to hit, I kind of feel like I missed summer.  Although, the weather this past week has clearly been trying to make up for that cool streak.  Still, while part of me feels like I never really got a chance to frolic and play in the summer sun (which would more than likely burn my VERY pale skin to a crisp anyway), I am excited for the things that the upcoming change of season will bring.

First off, there is school!  The kid started his first official week of kindergarten last week and had a blast.  He can't wait for this week's class to begin.  I'm so happy for him and his anticipation of seeing friends, and learning.  It's awesome.

Then, of course, there are all things FALL!  Fall is my favorite season.  I love the changing of the leaves, Halloween, Thanksgiving and pumpkin spice Lattes at Starbucks.  I admit being a little trepidatious about my first Fall in the new house since we have a LOT of trees and no doubt a lot of raking to do, but something tells me we'll make it work.

And finally, I am terribly excited to say that one month from today (October 1st) SKATING UNDER THE WIRE, the fourth Rebecca Robbins novel, will hit shelves.  Hurray!  Rebecca and the gang are very dear to my heart.  I love Elwood the Camel, Pop and the newest addition to the clan - Homer the raccoon.  (You're going to have to read the book to meet Homer!)

And in case you want to know what Rebecca and Company are up to, here is the jacket copy of SKATING UNDER THE WIRE:

Rebecca Robbins has pulled the rink she inherited off the market. She's decided to stay in Indian Falls for good. Rebecca is certain that if she can get her maid of honor duties fulfilled and Thanksgiving dinner cooked, life will finally settle down to normal. But when Rebecca is hired to look into a string of home invasions and a dead body turns up at the bridal shower, she is forced to put aside her hopes for a quiet holiday season. With the help of her Elvis-loving grandfather and her sexy, commitment-seeking large animal vet boyfriend, Rebecca has to track down thieves that have eluded the cops for years, solve a murder, get her friend safely married, and somehow cook dinner for an ever expanding guest list without getting herself killed.

So to celebrate the start of this new month and the upcoming release of SKATING UNDER THE WIRE, I am giving away an advanced reader copy to one commenter below.  (US and Canada only - sorry to all those in other parts of the globe!)  Please leave a comment containing your e-mail address and something you're looking forward to in the upcoming months between today and Sept. 8th.  On Sept. 9th, I will have the kindergarten kid pull a name out of a hat and announce a winner.  

And before this month gets too crazy, I want to say thank you to everyone who writes for and reads this blog.  Your support of me and my work continues to honor and amaze me.  You are all THE BEST!