Speaking of Time

I’m sure it means I come from an overly technical background when I regularly have discussions and debates with my husband about how pregnant I am in months. It isn’t about whether or not the time is relative – 24 weeks is 24 weeks no matter what scale you use. [No, I’m not opening debate about how pregnant I am; I can be perfectly fine with the one the doctors use.]

But here’s where the debate lies: is 24 weeks equal to 6 months? My husband’s overly technical answer is no. He insists there are 4.3 weeks per month and that must be taken into account. I suppose he’s got a point, since there are 52 weeks in a year and 6 months is half a year, so 26 weeks, right? The issue there is that there are supposed to be 4 weeks in 1 month. Isn’t that what we learned when we were young? And 6 times 4 is 24. Feels like there ought to be wiggle room.

Then you add in the pregnancy thing being 40 weeks, give or take, and you get a messy tangle. Do you count that as ten months? Do you start the count from a different week to make things more confusing, but less difficult to say “I’m five months pregnant.” Do you ever wonder why we allow such discrepancies? Can’t it be fixed to say one month is so many days and so many weeks?

It’s probably just as easy as switching to the metric system. Something that is resisted in this country yet would make things easier once completed.

It also makes me think of time in books. Often I read science fiction and fantasy. Rarely is another time system used that isn’t based on Gregorian calendar. Many fantasy books turn months into moons, and it changes the pace and tone, but it’s a similar system. Science fiction often uses something along the same lines. Star Trek uses a stardate, but it’s simply a different way to state it.

One series I read by Gayle Greeno, The Ghatti’s Tale, had a system with eight days per week. At the time it made me wonder why more authors didn’t try something like that. Time and its passage isn’t a main focus in these novels or it might have become a problem. Like creating a new language and having to understand all the rules involved, time has its own issues. We think in terms of calendars we know. Once a reader has to convert all of the references into something that has no common point to the popular system of time measurement, it might give the reader a chance to check out and put the book down.

What do you think? Have you ever tried to create a time system for a book that didn’t have large similarities to the Gregorian calendar? Did it become a gargantuan task to keep everything straight in your head and your readers? How many books have you encountered that significantly altered the way time was measured for the story and did it change your opinion of the book?

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Closing and Changing

The Borders bookstore near me is closing. It’s across the street from Half Price Books and a block down from Barnes & Noble. The HPB moved down the street last year (maybe half a mile), but otherwise all of them had occupied close quarters for years.

It’s sad to have it close. I love the coupons from Borders Rewards that kept me going in and out of the store more often than I would have. So what is it that’s changed for the rest of the store that means it has to close? Is it just more of the “future” of the publishing industry where we’re moving toward e-books and away from printed paper books? I know Borders isn’t closing everywhere, but it’s more than just here.

And what does this mean for those of us who still want to get those traditional publishing contracts – to be in the brick and mortar stores?

What about the libraries? Do you still go check out enough books for them to keep buying? Are we going to get to a place where you need to read everything online? How will we share that with the kids too small to care for the electronic devices? How will we keep the rich detail from the picture books on such small screens?

Do we expect the toddlers to not dismantle the devices? Just yesterday I found the keys my daughter ripped from my laptop at 6 months of age. Who needs home and control, right? I must admit the iPad is nice for her to play around with, except for the excess of fingerprints and other marks she leaves over the surface.

I suppose one thing to look forward to is the child-centered devices may begin reading the stories to kids. Then there will be studies upon studies about how it isn’t the best way for them to absorb the language (without a native speaker to show how the words are formed with the mouth and to keep the child’s attention focused) until at least the age of 3. We’ll begin the debate of whether it’s better to have the child with books rather than yet another animated movie and point fingers at each other for the digital babysitters. (Really, how else do you manage to shower when you’re alone with a small, mobile, curious child?)

The change also hits the authors in their marketing. Marketing is a struggle no matter how you look. Word of mouth about your words, whether in the bookstore or online or any other manner, doesn’t work the way you intend. Somehow a few of us have recognizable names and the rest of us languish in obscurity.

Do future writers still dream old ideas for success? I’m sure some of us do – just as I’m certain some of us are floundering among the changing landscape, searching for the best path to take. Self-publishing has never been easier, but it’s difficult to stand out from the masses and their largely disappointing reputation.

P.S. I apologize for the extended absence. One of my part-time jobs takes more time than I like to admit. I’m enjoying my break and working on getting organized – which includes more time writing and blogging.

Reading to Baby

I try to do this every day. Sometimes it’s difficult to choose the right books to read.

Writing and reading are related activities. I think about everyone agrees that reading to your children is a great activity to involve the family, but what do you read to your kids?

I vaguely remember the scene from Three Men and a Baby where Tom Selleck is reading to the baby from a sports magazine and telling one of the other guys, “It doesn’t matter what you read, what matters is the tone you use.”

Finding books on the subject isn’t too difficult. I’ve been reading Baby Read-Aloud Basics and I have another book on the subject that I haven’t perused yet. (love the library- they feed my brain!) They had it partly right. The tone does matter.

But it also matters what you read. Reading is giving your child a solid foundation of language. It’s also why you’re supposed to talk to the baby all the time. (even though it’s really hard when you never get coherent answers.) This is how the baby learns to speak, and the more you can do it, the better off the baby will be.

I know, that’s speaking. Reading is just as important though. Those books that you cart around have words you don’t always hear in regular conversations. It’s a wonderful way to boost the vocabulary. Yes, I mean baby books. No, I don’t mean Dr. Seuss.

Don’t think I’m knocking Dr. Seuss, though. He wrote wonderful books, but they’re for the beginning reader. (Proudly marked on their covers that way.) The beginning reader isn’t looking for tough things to say or read, just to gain familiarity. If we only read beginning reader books to our children, we aren’t giving them as many different, complex, learning tools for their vocabulary as we could be.

So one question is, when looking for a book for your baby: Will you be reading it, or will the child? Don’t shy away from books with larger words in them. What’s wrong with fuchsia for a color or exhilarating for a description when the adult is reading it to the baby? Absolutely nothing! If you never introduce your little one to those words, they’ll never know them.

It almost makes me want to read my dictionary to her, but not quite. Now if it had some pretty pictures…

Meeting the Readers

Okay, not all of them. But I went to a local mother-daughter book club and I had a wonderful time tonight. They read my book!

I think I had as good of a time as they did. They had so many questions about the writing and rewriting and publishing and even the naming of the characters. I loved listening to their discussion of the book and I could even ask my own questions of them. (And did, once or twice.)

I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of their discussion. They were great girls and their moms seemed awesome. The girls yelled ‘Thank you!’ as I left. And I smiled. Very big!

Thank you to Amber, Dahlia, Izzy, Gracie, Kylie, McKenna, and Sophie and to their mothers for letting me join them at their meeting.

The Green Bronze Mirror

Notes from the Author:
I wrote this book when I was 14, when I was a dreamy, bookish
adolescent who could listen to the teacher with half an ear and
write the book at the back of the class. My main reading at the
time was novels set in Roman, Greek or medieval times. A
weekend trip to Anglesey with my Mum gave the backdrop for
the starting point, and traveling back in time was always a
favorite fantasy. I believed my main character, Karen, was fictional, but with hindsight I realize she was me. Once started, the ideas flowed thick and fast and before the end of one chapter, the next would suggest itself. I did some additional research but even so slipped up on a couple of things that the editor later spotted, for instance the Romans had no tomatoes: they were brought to Europe from America centuries later.
I was thrilled when a publisher accepted it, and of course a huge fuss was made about such a young author. However, I spent the rest of my teen years trying to live it down. Boys didn’t go for clever girls and if anyone mentioned it at a party I knew my chances were snookered. The book has been gathering dust in my memory for decades, so I was frankly
astonished to be contacted by a private publisher last year, wanting to re-issue it. However, when I look at it again, I’m surprised how good it is, and friends of mine are now begging for copies and reading it themselves.
These days I’m a Speech and Language Therapist, but I’ve had a variety of jobs, including teaching English to foreigners, working in a bookshop, leading pony treks in the Welsh Mountains and running riding holidays in the Scottish Borders. I’m an outdoor person at heart, love animals, wild places and wine. I have two sons who are the best thing in my life, even though when I was younger I thought I didn’t want children.
If you want to write, just sit down and get on with it. Then go over what you’ve written, reduce and condense by at least a third, delete the word “I” wherever possible, and don’t stick to a strictly chronological order of events.
Review of the Book:
By Geraldine Ahearn,
Inspired by historical novels, which was Lynne Ellison’s favorite reading material for many years, she created a Masterpiece of historical adventure. This novel fills the pages with fantasy as it takes the reader on an amazing journey, after Karen looks into an ancient mirror that she found buried on the beach, and is transported back in time to the Roman Empire. What trials and tribulations must Karen face, during her struggles to return to her own time? I highly recommend this book to all fantasy lovers, children, and young adults. The adventure is breathtaking, the story is spectacular, and the unique characters come to life. The last thing Karen remembered was glancing into the mirror, while daydreaming, what happened to the island, and where did she wind up? How many years did the mirror take her back in time? Who asked Karen if she was a runaway slave, and where did he take her? What was Darvus ordered to do for Karen? Who was Cordella, and what did she give Karen? Where did Karen meet Kleon? Who bought Karen, and where was she going, after the auction? Where did Karen meet Locusta, and how did Locusta hide from the soldiers? Did Locusta’s magic help Karen find her way through the dark passages? Does Karen find her way back to where it all began, and is there a happy ending? Find out the answers in this breathtaking adventure as we follow Karen to see if there will be light at the end of the tunnel. “THE GREEN BRONZE MIRROR” is as mysterious as LEFT BEHIND and as captivating as Steven Spielberg’s, THE GOONIES.

Mozart in the Future

Reviews for the Book:

By: Lady D in San Diego
The book begins in a small village in Vorarlberg where we meet
Max one of the main characters who loves to play the piano,
along with his mom and dad, a sister, too. This family has a
similar lifestyle as mine, the love of gardening, cooking and
preserving food. Right away Tania reveals to us the family
dynamics of a laid-back father, a strict mother who strongly
desires for her two children to be successful in music and a four
year old sister who adores her brother.
The main characters, Max and Mozart meet one another and
develop a beautiful exchange of friendship. Young readers will
stay captivated as the plot flows along in today’s world with TV,
cell phones, elevators and escalators. The boys seem to need
each other and the spirit of music inspires them both. This
wonderful book written by Tania is a powerful love story of
music and a fun adventure filled with imagination and
inspiration for all young musicians and music teachers to read.
I was so impressed with Tania’s detailed descriptions with her
writing skills! Page 44 reads: “Max takes him to a room where the piano is. Mozart runs to it like a person who has not had a drink for days and suddenly sees a jug of water.”
If you are a creative person in need of inspiration to continue
with your composing and practicing of your instrument or if you
find yourself performing in front of crowds of family and friends
with joy and strength from your heart and just need a reminder
of refreshment to keep dreaming, creating and shining brightly
for all to see, then I highly recommend this great book to you. It
is definitely one that I will want my piano students to have in
their library. You will want to find out if Mozart can return to
the past when the future is in his mind! I love music and I love
this book! 5+ *****
There’s a Torte recipe at the end of the book that you will enjoy,
too!

By Glenda A. Bixler

What a wonderfully fun story–Mozart in the Future is not just for children who are interested in music! Written by Tania Maria Rodrigues-Peters, with beautiful illustrations by Pedro Caraca, the story can help children and parents realize and finda balance of activities in their lives. I love children’s books that take special care to provide appropriate and complementary covers, artwork and format. Indeed Mozart in the Future does that extremely well. For instance, instead of boring quotation marks for dialog, every line that shows somebody talking begins with a musical note – Isn’tthat Cool? And the young Mozart is simply precious, in my opinion.Then you will meet The Spirit of Music, who comes first to Max, as a beautiful woman dressed in yellow, whose violet eyes and hair match! Max is a young boy who loves learning how to play the piano, but also wants to play with other children. However, his mother believes he is the next Mozart and must constantly practice! Until Max becomes ill and the doctor orders complete rest. It was during this time that The Spirit visited! Because she actually knew Mozart when he was a young boy–and guess what? Mozart had a very strict father who demanded the same thing from him–constant practice! And Mozart had never had an opportunity to have a friend or play, just for the fun of it! Until The Spirit of Music brought Mozart into the future! Can you imagine what two small boys might get into when they meet for the first time, having had no time to play, or have a close friend? Can you imagine what Mozart, especially, must have been thinking when he saw all the magical inventions that were now available? Well, you really don’t have to imagine–Tania Maria Rodrigues-Peters, in Mozart in the Future tells us about Mozart watching TV for the first time, about his seeing an escalator, etc. But Mozart has a whole life of creating beautiful, wonderful music! How is he going to get back home, into his own time?You know what? I was having just as much fun reading this book, as you and your children will have! Yes, this is a perfect stocking stuffer for Christmas for any child, from say, 6 to 96! Bring a little music into the lives of your children… You’re going to love this one, just as much as I did! Don’t let this one go without checking it out!
About the Author:

Tânia Maria Rodrigues-Peters was born on a beautiful hot night in the summer time in 1964. She holds a professional teaching qualification in Artistic Education for pre-school children and completed a Media course in Publicity andAdvertising. She worked as a teacher in several schools teaching children from primary to high school level.

She won the first prize in a nation-wide travel diary competition of the Turismo Brasil Service Magazine and got 7th place in a short story competition in Spain.

After spending several years in Brazil, Germany, and Spain, she now lives in Vorarlberg, Austria with her husband and her three children.

Check out more about the book here.

Preditors and Editors Reader Poll 2009

The results are in! The Art of Science placed 4th in the reader poll.

I’m really happy my book did so well. Thank you for all the votes! It really makes my day when someone loves my stories, and this even more so since it’s my first novel published.

I’m still working on the next project, and I’m hoping good things come of it.

… not self-published

Really, I’m not. Which is why I was so surprised to read this: http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=262529

Most of the information is no surprise. I do reside in Des Moines, I am going to be reading from my novel on Saturday, but my publisher would be shocked to hear she doesn’t exist! (Right, Vivian?)

I sent a note to the paper, and I think I’ll also contact the bookstore. Just so my readers know: I won a contest at a small press publisher. I entered my manuscript in January 2008, and I found out in March that it won.

Since then, my small-press publishing company has editors who helped me improve the novel, and it was published in March of 2009.

It’s available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and through my publisher’s website. And if you don’t want to order online, I believe you can walk into any Barnes and Noble and ask them to order it for you.

Meanwhile, I’m contacting the paper and the bookstore. I’m even thinking about writing a letter to the editor about self-published vs small press authors.

I’m also gearing up for a reading at River Lights 2nd Edition. I’m really excited to make an appearance at another bookstore!

A “Real” Author

I’ve seen some of those thoughts going around – am I a real writer? I had a moment today where I felt like a real author. Part of it is being published, I’m sure. But today the moment came where I read part of my book to people in a bookstore. It’s amazing!

Yes, I write. That makes me a writer more than anything else. I know that. I have respect for a lot of writers that may or may not be published, simply because of what they write. I know I have a lot of weaknesses that I’m working on, one at a time.

But I love to share my stories with people. And having people take time out of their days to listen to part of mine makes me feel like a real author. I love it!

I’m also amazed at what people can find when they research the ‘real’ author.

Thank you to everyone who could make it to Prairie Lights today. For those who couldn’t – there are some signed copies out there for sale.

Prairie Lights

It’s so hard to believe it’s already tomorrow! I think I’m ready. How do you prepare for something you’ve never done before? I haven’t seen many authors do readings.

It’s on the website for the bookstore. I’ve informed as many people as I could get to listen to me (which is always fun). It’s great to be able to say that I’ve done what I could to pull this together.

And tonight, I’ll practice. I know what I want to read, but I don’t want to stumble in front of family, friends, and strangers!

Hope to see you there, if you’re in Iowa City.

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