Thursday, May 26, 2011

Irresistably Sweet Blog Award

This morning, I woke to find a comment on my blog from Catherine Pawsey, an aspiring paranormal romance writer blogging at The Diary of a Trainee Paranormal Romance Writer.  She awarded my blog the Irresistably Sweet Award!

Thank you Catherine!!

It's wonderful to know that my blog is being read and enjoyed by people outside my immediate circle of friends and family.  Despite my Google Analytics stats (which really aren't very good, but do show that people are visiting the site) I always wonder if anyone cares what I put up here.  I hope so!  But in the end, Ranting, Raving, Writing is a means for me to share my thoughts and experiences.  I want people to read, learn, and participate, but that's the joy of the internet: people can easily ignore the idiot standing on the soapbox if they're not interested!

In any case, the rules of this award are as follows:
  1. Thank and link to the person that nominated you. 
  2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to 15 of your blogging buddies.
  4. Notify the recipients. 
I realize this is a bit like a chain letter, but so what?  Maybe you all will learn a bit more about me, and some of you might actually find that interesting!

My seven facts:
  1. I love to garden, and this year have planted a ton of veggies.  So far, they're all doing really well, but only the cherry tomatoes have started to fruit.
  2. I've cut out my coffee addiction, at most drinking one latte a week (it was a daily or even twice daily habit).
  3. Instead of coffee, I now drink herbal tea most mornings.  I especially like chamomile and lemon teas, with a bit of honey to sweeten them up.
  4. I love wine.  A good sauvignon blanc on a warm evening, or a fantastic cab with a prime steak is divine.  Seriously, drink of the gods.  :-)
  5. I've had laser eye surgery, but my vision still isn't perfect.  At least I don't run into walls anymore when I'm not wearing glasses or contacts.
  6. I have a dog, named Foster, that is currently at "summer camp" in Colorado (spending time with my mom).
  7. I would love to own chickens.  My city allows them, but right now I just don't have the time to care for them properly and Foster might try to eat them (he's an 80 pound husky mix).
So that's it.  I hope you learned a little more about me, and enjoyed reading this post.  Comments and questions are always welcome! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Blog Design

For those of you who visit the site directly, this should be pretty obvious, but for those that read my blog in Google Reader or another application, click on the link to check out the new blog design.  I'll wait.

So what do you think?  I tried to make the theme fit Pack a little bit better, though I'll admit, I still used Blogger's design templates.

Pack takes place in the Colorado mountains, in the summertime, so I wanted a background that was at least reminiscent of the woods and mountains.  This was the best Blogger had to offer in that regard, but the trees aren't quite right, I know.  Someday, when I have more time, I'll put a real Colorado background up there so that it's accurate.

The layout is different too, with the gadgets on the right instead of the left.  I thought that would make it a little cleaner and easier to read.  I'm not sure that it makes much difference, but maybe this is more blog standard?  I like it anyway.

I do have one question though...if I were to break the posts in the middle, so that you have to click a link to go to the specific post page rather than being able to read three entire posts on the main page, would you be irritated?  I'm wishy-washy on the idea:

  1. Negative Reader Irritation: Sometimes people don't like to click the link to keep reading.  This is especially true, I think, of anyone reading my posts in Google Reader or another application, instead of directly on my blog page.  I don't want to do anything that would keep readers away from the content.
  2. Positive Stat Tracking: I'm a nerd, and I like numbers.  I have an application on the blog that lets me track the visits to each page.  Putting in a break would give me better data on the popular posts and the actual number of readers interested in the content.
What do you think?  Would a break detract from the reading experience?  Or, is it worth it if I can get better data about the popular posts?  Am I just a big nerd and the data isn't that important anyway, since I'm a fiction writer?

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Favorite lines from 'Pack'

I'm back at it, working on the revisions to Pack based on my beta reader feedback.  So far, I'm really pleased with what everyone has said, and while there's still a ton of work to do (it seems never-ending) I think I'm at least on the right track.

But today, I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite lines from the story.  Enjoy!

We kept up the pace for a couple hours, finally stopping for a break when my stomach growled so loudly that even Erik heard it.

"Hungry?" he asked.

"No, I think I'll wait to see if my stomach can eat my spine."


Teeth the size of paring knives glinted in a vicious snarl.


"No," I said firmly, trying to imagine the wolves were just misbehaving Labradors.


I watched as the first of the haggard looking buildings passed my window.  Faded and peeling red paint graced its walls, while slightly crooked steps led up to the sagging front porch.  The windows were clean though, and well-dressed mannequins advertised modern clothing inside.  The next building was equally dilapidated, and the sign over the door simply read Bar.


"How's the training going?" Sarah asked, as I gracelessly threw myself into a chair.

"I'm definitely going to be sore tomorrow, probably sore tonight, and maybe even sore before lunch is over," I replied.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So...I finally joined Twitter.

I did it.  I joined Twitter.  I had been resistant because I didn't really see the point.  140 characters?  Who cares?  But as an author, I think I finally see the reason for it.

First off, basically everyone says that you should be on both Facebook and Twitter to effectively connect to an audience.  As an author, especially a potential independent author, I need to make as many connections as possible, so I think it's about time I gave it a try.  Plus, I felt like I was missing out by not meeting new people effectively on Facebook. With a new platform, I hope to reach new people and start really connecting with an audience for my books.  (Which is not to say that I don't value my Facebook friends as an audience, I just want to keep growing that audience.)

I've decided to set up slightly different rules for Twitter versus Facebook.  On Facebook, I tend to make random posts about whatever, from a link to a photojournalist's essay on War Dogs (totally awesome), to my blog posts, to a complaint that I'm tired.  But I want to try to limit my Twitter account to post mostly about books, writing, and publishing.  I'm sure the occasional unrelated War Dog link might find its way over there, but they should be few and far between.  :-)

So if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me as MeganPHaskell.  I hope to see you over there!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Jane Friedman, famed There Are No Rules blogger and media & networking expert, has had several posts recently about talent vs. determination.  She argues that determination is more meaningful than talent, not because talent is unnecessary, but because having talent doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a great success, while determination and focus will propel you forward.

"I suspect that a few of my most talented students aren't putting in the effort required to succeed. They've succumbed to the demons of ambivalence and apathy."

That's the funny thing about talent: if it comes too easily, sometimes you neglect it, and won't pursue that activity.  It's too easy.  But if you want to succeed at that task, if you're truly passionate about the activity, you'll do whatever it takes to get there.  That's not the same as being talented.

In a separate post on her personal blog, Jane talks about the 3 Boring Elements of Success: 1) Extraordinary Focus, 2) Dedication and Consistency, and 3) Industry Awareness.  However, taking that a step further, all three of these elements come with passion for what you're doing, obsession with your chosen vocation.

If you are passionate about your job, it will be easy to find the focus and dedication to perform each and every day.  You might need a break now and again, but the itch will grow and you'll be back to it before you even realize it.  Similarly, if you love your career, you'll want to know what's going on in the industry and what trends are popping up, so that you can find your own best way of navigating that world.  You'll want to know every little detail, not because it's a required part of your work day, but because you're fascinated by the changes, events, or connections around you.

Having great talent isn't really necessary if you're willing to put in the work*.  Having great passion is required.  With that passion, the work will come easier, the 10,000 hours of practice won't be forced.  And eventually, you'll demonstrate the talent that may have appeared to be lacking in the beginning.  As Justine Musk, of Tribal Writer, says:

"Common wisdom has it that we’re passionate about the things we’re naturally good it, but it’s possible that it’s the other way around: we become “naturally” good at the things we’re truly passionate – and obsessive – about."

* Caveat: it's probably good to have some basic aptitude, but you don't need to be an idiot savant.