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J. M. Butler Posts

Sauntering Through the To Do List

I have concluded that at this point in my life, there is no such thing as being ahead or all caught up. Certain areas may be successfully managed and perhaps kept to a certain standard, but in general, there will always be something nibbling and whispering or shrieking and begging for attention.

As it stands, I have less than half a week now to finish off Why Yes, Bluebeard, I’d Love To, and despite having set aside time for writing, the law firm among other things has become quite demanding. It’s as if the other tasks can sense that this one must be done, and so they now all clamor for attention.

It doesn’t matter though because in the end, the story will be finished. I’m becoming quite adept at shuffling tasks around and squeezing out usable moments wherever possible. I wonder if perhaps this is part of what it means to turn 30. It’s not that one has life figured out but that one better knows how to manage what it is.

So I am not panicking. I’m just sauntering through the to do list, keeping focused and on point, taking one task at a time except in the cases when I can efficiently multitask (there are a few instances where that’s possible without decreasing effectiveness). If there’s one thing to give up when I reach my thirties, I’d like it to be stressing over what must be done rather than doing what can be done and making do with the rest.

#WriteWeMay May 02 Favorite Dedication

So the second challenge requires that we share our favorite dedications. There’s so many good ones out there. Rick Riordan’s false apology for the cliffhanger and J.K. Rowling’s beautiful commemoration to her readers and C.S. Lewis’s sweet letter to the real Lucy are among the ones I find most inspiring.

But when it comes to favorite dedications, I must confess…I love this one. Funny DedicationIt makes me laugh every time. A dear friend sent it to me, and it is just the perfect dedication, don’t you think?

 

As for whether I will use such a dedication one day, I’m not sure. Somehow I can hear my mother saying, “Oh, honey…I’m sure you don’t have any enemies.” (She sincerely believes that enemies are just people to learn to love. If I brought my theoretical enemies over,  it would go something like this, “Oh, it’s so nice to meet you. Would you like a cup of tea and maybe a cookie? Some banana bread? Maybe a sandwich?”

“Momma…you’re supposed to be giving them the silent treatment.”

“They’re probably hungry, honey. We can give them the silent treatment later. But don’t you think that might hurt their feelings?”

“Momma…”

“Do you know if they have any food allergies? What do they like?”

“They take their tea with tacks and arsenic.”

“No, they don’t. Now,” slipping away from me to stand in front of my enemy. “Do you want anything to eat or drink? If you’re staying for awhile, I’d be glad to make something else if nothing sounds good. What’s your favorite food? And remember if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.” 

“Oh,” enemy says, “I wouldn’t –”

“It’s no trouble. Now have a seat, and let me put the kettle on. It’ll just be a minute.” Then off she goes to the kitchen while enemy looks at me with confusion. I follow my mother to the kitchen and she says, “could you find out whether they’re staying for dinner?”

“Momma, I’m trying to be intimidating. These are my enemies.”

“I think you’re very intimidating, sweetheart.” Of course she says this with the most motherly tender smile and then frowns slightly. “I hope I didn’t embarrass you. Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you. Do you want me to ask them to leave?”

“No, Momma. Just…don’t hug them when they leave.” )

 

Anyway, point being, I’m sure that if I were to dedicate a book to my enemies and threaten destruction, my dear mother would probably want to do something to make sure that everything was all right. (Seriously, she’s pretty incredible. She doesn’t have a vindictive bone in her body, so I don’t know how she wound up with me for a daughter, lol. Aside from the biological explanation, of course.)

What about you then? What’s your favorite dedication? What’s a dedication that you’d like to write in one of your future books?

#WriteWeMay May 01 First Works

2016-04-29 18.58.39#writewemay If you’re a writer, you should consider doing this. I’d love to see what you are all up to, so feel free to share in the comments and even include links to your work if you like. The first question is “your first work.”

Well, on the subject of first works, it all depends. Below is the notebook where I wrote my first stories. My mother made the notebook for me and filled it again and again with reams of lined paper. As you can see, I had a deep affection for cats.
 
When I finished my first draft of the Portal (now Identity Revealed in the Tue-Rah series), I put it in this notebook. So I printed off that front sheet of the story and included it with the rough draft. I may share that first page in full text later.
2016-04-29 18.58.54For the record, this draft was never submitted for publication. As much as my parents loved me, they knew that my writing was nowhere near the quality needed to actually write a good story though they were encouraging in other ways.
2016-04-29 19.01.44My first published in a physical book story was “For Your Eyes Only,” an exceptionally sentimental story involving a wealthy young man, a poor young woman, the unfortunate societal influences trying to keep them apart, and a vindictive dragon who wasn’t as bad as he seemed. Oh and some curse that turns people blind when they get near dragon gold. I wrote the story when I was 13 or 14, I believe. But the story was published when I was a little older.
 2016-04-29 19.02.06
I have debated whether to include this one, but perhaps it does count. My theoretically first published book was actually Darys: A Vampire’s Trial. A limited number were printed as part of my honors thesis project (yes, I actually managed to get my advisors to let me write a historical fiction) and it is part of the university’s collection. I think my sister may have my copy of it (I’m having her work up illustrations for a republication). So I have no picture of that one, but it is a hard cover in a rather odd shade of beige with white lettering.
There were a number of other publications in online magazines as well as ezines and a couple newspapers. But I didn’t print any of them out, and the newspapers are stashed in a box in the attic. I think…I can sometimes get a little careless with my proofs unfortunately.
So anyway, those are my first publications. What about yours? And if you haven’t yet reached that, what would be your dream publication and for which story? And what would the cover look like?
All the best to you, my friends! Let’s write wondrous stories in May! (Please excuse the funky formatting. I can’t figure out what’s wrong with it.)

Talk Story to Me: Episode 010: I Saw the Light

Saturday was a great day out with James, and we had the pleasure of watching two movies. I Saw the Light was one of them. Here are my thoughts.

 

Now unlike most of my reviews, this one wasn’t a single take. I had to go back and redo it because of my cats and some technical difficulties. Thor and Loki are usually mischievous, but they were particularly ornery for this review. Perhaps because we have been gone so much. Perhaps just because.

Talk Story to Me Episode 008: Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

If there was ever a movie I wanted to like, it would be Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The movie did have some good points, but overall, there was a lot of wasted potential. Which makes me quite sad. Not that I’m willing to give up on the DC cinematic universe just yet. But they do need to get things together.

The Things I Love Most About Serial Fiction

The Things I Love Most About Serialized Fiction

Serialized fiction has been around for quite awhile. It was exceptionally popular during the Victorian era, and it is becoming increasingly popular now. People don’t have as much time for leisure reading as they once did, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have time for stories. While books like the Mysteries of Udolpho reveled in long drawn out descriptions, modern readers want their storytellers to get to the point. Even those who enjoy

immersive worlds such as Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Shannara Chronicles, and so on still need stories that can fit into their day. And the time spent on reading is no longer a long leisurely afternoon (though honestly I still look forward to those), but rather 10 – 15 minute intervals scattered throughout the day.

Alexandre Dumas is one of my favorite serial writers. He sometimes wrote several at once, crafting intricate storylines and complex characters simultaneously.
Alexandre Dumas is one of my favorite serial writers. He sometimes wrote several at once, crafting intricate storylines and complex characters simultaneously.

Serial fiction allegedly began in the west during the 1600s in response to the Stamp Act. To save on the tax and cost, writers and publishers started selling smaller sections of stories. And serials became even more popular during the Victorian era with renowned authors such as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Alexandre Dumas, Gustave Flaubert, Leo Tolstoy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. For Dickens and Dumas, most of their livelihood was based on these serials.

When I read many of these stories, I had no idea that they were serials to begin with. After all, I had the final copies. One thing that they share though are flowing narratives and often large casts as well as multiple story lines. But there are a few other things that stand out from serialized fiction that I love just as much.

Serials Offer Opportunities for More Surprises

In this case, I’m starting with the biggest reason I love serials: they are more surprising. The traditional novel is often structured with three acts and set to fulfill certain expectations and beats, similar to the traditional movie. That can, unfortunately, lead to a certain level of predictability. Stories that follow this must hit certain beats, and once you have read more than a few, you know what’s coming unless the author leaps off the beaten path. For instance, in most chick flicks, you know that there will be a misunderstanding, and if the misunderstanding happens around the 2/3 mark, it’s fairly likely that the couple will be back together. Similarly, if a villain is unmasked too early in a movie or book and other factors are present, you can bet that it’s a red herring and the real baddie has yet to be revealed.

But with serials, it’s harder to do because you don’t know how long the series is going to go or what all it will cover. The covering of the beats may or may not happen. A serial is placed in the main genre that fits it, but the narrative itself will continue to grow and adapt along with the characters, and that may change. As such, you can always guess what you think will happen, but it isn’t quite so easy.

Serials Change the Reading Experience

Confession time. I’m a speed reader, and I retain what I read. I read Game of Thrones in a day. On the one hand, this is great because it means I get to read more books. But on the other, it is quite saddening because I get through the book so quickly I can’t savor the experience. (And please don’t

A hot cup of tea, a good book, a cool place to read...and I am a happy woman.
A hot cup of tea, a good book, a cool place to read…and I am a happy woman.

suggest that I slow down. I’m afraid I’ve tried that, and that doesn’t work.) It’s just a part of me that I have accepted.

But serials do change that up a bit. See, with a serial, I do not have the whole book in front of me. Instead, I have to wait as it is released chapter by chapter. It whets my excitement for the story, and it forces me to continue to come back, wondering what is going to happen and concocting exciting new theories. It only takes me a couple minutes to read most of the modern serial chapters, so I can fit it in at various points throughout the day whether I’m waiting for a representative to take me off hold or a client to show up for his legal consultation. And though it takes only minutes to read, a good serial segment keeps my mind engaged for quite some time.

Serials Are Great Rewards

Maybe it’s just my because I’m a bit cantankerous, but I do need rewards to keep at my highest productivity levels. Having something to look forward to makes it so much easier to deal with a trying client or push through a rough day. And let me tell you, when you have found a great serial, opening up that new chapter is the perfect reward.

Books take us on wonderful new journeys and introduce us to incredible people. It's my favorite way to travel.
Books take us on wonderful new journeys and introduce us to incredible people. It’s my favorite way to travel.

My favorite way to enjoy this reward is curled up in the corner of the couch or in the back corner of a room. (It’s very important to have walls to your

back and sides so that people can’t sneak up on you while you’re engrossed in that fictional world.) Sometimes I brew myself a cup of peppermint tea and other times I just kick off my shoes and start reading.

And while it’s true that you can do this with a traditional book that requires a bit of will power that I don’t have. If I have the whole book in front of me, I will probably binge on as many chapters as I can cram in.  And it’s also quite likely that dinner will be whatever I can whip up or is left in the fridge.

 

A New Player Has Arrived in Serial Storytelling

There are already some great platforms out there for serial storytelling. One of my favorites is Wattpad, which has been the home to some of my best writing friendships. And now there’s a new one called Radish.

Radish is similar to Wattpad in that it offers serialized stories through an app, but it also allows readers to purchase stories through the app and read chapters early. In some cases, the stories are even exclusive to Radish. And I am writing some of those stories! (I’ll tell you about the serials I’m doing and what you can expect in another post, and you can sign up for updates about my work on Radish here: radishfiction.com/?a=JMButler.)

This must be turned into a plushie! It is adorable.
How can you refuse the Radish? He’s got so many great stories to share with you! You should stop by and see if you find a new favorite!

The app is brand new, and it just rolled out into the iOS market first. Now if you can’t find it, you may have to look under the iPhone only option in the app store. You can use it on an iPad and so forth, but it seems to only be showing up under that category. You can go here to check it out.

I’m so excited to see this project take off, and I know that the folks at Radish have been working hard. You can view their landing page as well to see some of what they are offering. While most of the stories on there are romance, I promise that it’s not only romance. There are great non romantic stories on there as well ranging from fantasies to mysteries to horror stories.

As time passes, I look forward to seeing the Radish Team further develop this, including additional rollouts to the Android platform and web app as well as commenting and interaction features. And I am even more excited because I get to read some wonderful new serials. Just in time too because it’s tax season, and lawyer life gets a lot more stressful right about now.

Talk Story to Me Episode 007 and Radish Blurb 01

Talk Story to Me is now back up and running. I’ll get into reviews once more. But today I’m going to talk about an exciting new serialization app and a little bit about the surprise I’ve been promising you. I’m now practicing embedding videos into WordPress. The guide makes it look easy, but I’m not holding my breath until I see the final product after I click “publish.”

 

The first blurb promo is up now as well. This one is for Carole McDonnell’s new serialized novel, Daughters of Men

 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Keep stopping by for more surprises. It’s going to be a fun ride.

P.S. It worked the first time! Oh my goodness! This is wonderful! Do you know how often that happens for me? Hardly ever! This month is closing out beautifully.

A Quiet Weekend And Thoughts on What is Shared

For once, it looks as if this will be a quiet weekend. It has been so long since I have been able to say that. James and I are going to try to slip down to the civic theater and watch Our Town. It should be great.

Of course, there will be the usual events. Grocery shopping. Church. Small group with the youth on Sunday nights. I really miss having them over for dinner beforehand, but I am trying to be relatively obedient. We never did get around to the Hobbit movie party. Perhaps we can do that later on. The students are such dears, even though some of them would claim to be otherwise. Oh well, I am grateful God has given me the time with them that He has.

I’ll also be working on stories of course. There is not a day yet when I haven’t written almost as far back as I can remember. Ray Bradbury’s advice, I think it was him, was particularly compelling in this. Some days the words do not come out as easily. Lately I have been going through a relative dry spell. I’ve only been writing between 5000 and 7000 words. And those have been hard words to reach.

I suspect it is just because I am healing. And that seems to do a number on the inspiration. Some have suggested that I should just take a break from writing. But I don’t want to. I am at a point now where to go without writing for more than a few hours is quite stressful. I don’t want to do anything to add to that, so instead I am just making sure that I don’t stress about how far I get. It is very enjoyable to write without the pleasure of deadlines.

One other thing that has occurred to me is the need to potentially put up a disclaimer on my blog. It shouldn’t be necessary, but you know, lawyer and the need for disclaimers. But there does seem to be done sort of miscommunication and even misunderstandings.

It is not my intention to deceive, but just so that my readers are on notice, I do not write about everything happening in my life. In general, I tend to focus on the positive and the interesting. Certain aspects of my life are not discussed and others are glossed over.

This isn’t because I am ashamed, but rather because I don’t want to talk about them. It is not deceitful to not mention that one of in relatively little pain for what one is usually in. Sometimes I just want to say that I am doing well without a lot of disclaimers.

Everything that is put out there is part of the story that we tell about our lives. Very few people decide to share everything. What is shared should be up to the individual except in a few situations. For some, that is fine. But for me, that just doesn’t work. Some parts of my story are such I only share it with those who are closest to me. Not because I am trying to pretend I have a perfect life, but because I just don’t want to talk about it or know that it’s for the best if I remain silent.

That’s also why I don’t talk about the law firm except in general terms.

Anyway, given some emails I have received (sorry that commenting isn’t working; I’m still working that out), it seemed that this clarification is necessary.

Returning to the weekend, I am so grateful for this relative calm. It doesn’t look like we’ll get much of the big snowfall, if any. Which is rather sad. I do love a good snow.  But even so, there will be hot cups of tea, good books, and time with family. So all in all, there’s much to be grateful for. 

A Brief Update

So the doctor has insisted that I start taking more rest. Adrenal glands among other things. Insomnia and pain management makes this difficult, but I am hoping that there will be an improvement after a few more days.

This does mean that I might have to reduce my writing goals for the year. Particularly before my birthday. It’s bothersome. But I’d rather get back to full health than destroy my health in an attempt to reach my goals.

So I haven’t given up the 30 stories by 30 published through Amazon. But I think I might allow myself to the end of the year or so to get it done. And I’ll do a special release for my birthday.

On the positive side, I’ve been learning about the formatting of print books and more of the in-depth details of ebook formatting.

I’ve also been learning a lot about Photoshop. Currently, my computer can only handle three actions before I have to shut it down and start it again. At some point, I’m going to have to get another computer. For now, this works as both an opportunity for patience and precision.

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