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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

C. Lee McKenzie



C. Lee McKenzie --

She is one of my oldest friends here in the blogverse.


When I read her posts or her books, 
I always see her smiling.


Lee is not smiling now.  

She has just lost her husband.  

Sigh.  

There are no words for such times.

C. S. Lewis, at the dying of his wife, wrote: 

the death of a loved one is an amputation.


When Kathryn, my fiancée, died, 

for long months, I would look long up into the night sky and whisper, 

"Come back ... even as a shadow, 
even as a dream." 

But this is about Lee ... 

and a tangible thing you can do to say "I care" during this time. 


Lee's newest book has just been published.

Lee is devastated by the death of her husband.  

And promoting the book which took so long to write is the very last thing on her mind.

But we can buy it.  

We can review it.  

We can promote it.

It is not much, 

but perhaps Lee will look back at the support she received from her friends in the blogverse and feel not quite so alone.


Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/some-very-messy-medieval-magic-c-lee-mckenzie/1127622061?ean=2940154648575
 

Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/some-very-messy-medieval-magic
 

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/some-very-messy-medieval-magic/id1324257652?mt=11
 
Kindle - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079V72G8R
 

Foyles - http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/childrens/some-very-messy-medieval-magic,c-lee-mckenzie-9781939844460
 

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37537343-some-very-messy-medieval-magic

What is SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC about?

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. 


But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. 

His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. 


Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? 


Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones 

and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...
Release date – May 15, 2018
 
Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men
$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477



DID YOU KNOW?

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication?

But these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. 

When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga 

or asking a lot of questions about things she still doesn’t understand. 

At least she's still attempting to grow, right?  

Her blog is
http://cleemckenziebooks.com

But as you can understand, Lee will be taking time off to mourn and to heal. 

LET US DO WHAT WE CAN 
TO TELL LEE THAT WE CARE.

Monday, May 21, 2018

WHAT STORY ARE YOU IN?



Carl Jung once wrote:

"Whether you know it or not, you are in a story.  

If it is not YOUR story, you can be sure you will have a bit part.

If it is your story, do you know what kind?  

If not, you may be sure that its ending will be bad.

Or if it is a thoroughly bad story, its ending will be worse."


Jung also said that you did not want to be a person who could not be cruel.  

Instead, you must be someone who could be cruel but chose not to be.

A man who cannot be cruel will be a perpetual victim.  

Rather be a person who can be dangerous if need be.

"Who looks outside, dreams.  Who looks within, awakes."


My students often said that they hated me assigning them books that took thought to understand and enjoy.

I choose to write my own stories in that vein.  

I guess I have chosen to live out my story in a similar fashion. 

WHAT STORY ARE YOU IN?

Did you pick it?

or

Did it pick you?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

PORTRAIT of an ARTISTIC SURVIVOR





She was born Maria Górska on 16 May 1898 in Warsaw, then part of the Russian Empire.


When she was ten, her mother commissioned a pastel portrait of her by a prominent local artist.

 She detested posing and was dissatisfied with the finished work.

 She took the pastels, had her younger sister pose, and made her first portrait.




How many artists and authors started like that,
saying
"I could do better than that!"





In 1915, she met and fell in love with a prominent Polish lawyer, Tadeusz Łempicki
(1888–1951).

Her family offered him a large dowry, and they were married in 1916 in the chapel of the Knights of Malta in St. Petersburg.



The Russian Revolution in 1917 shattered their lives.


In December 1917, Tadeusz Łempicki was arrested in the middle of the night by the secret police.

Tamara searched the prisons for him, and with the help of the Swedish consul, to whom she offered her "favors," she secured his release.


The couple struggled their way to Paris  where Tamara's family had also found refuge.

Tadeusz proved unwilling or unable to find suitable work.

To support their daughters, Tamara turned to selling her paintings.

In 1928 she was divorced from Tadeusz Łempicki.

That same year, she met Raoul Kuffner, a baron of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and an art collector.



He commissioned her to paint his mistress, the Spanish dancer Nana de Herrera.

Lempicka finished the portrait (which was not very flattering to de Herrera)

and took the place of de Herrera as the mistress of the baron.

In 1929, Lempicka painted one of her best-known works, Autoportrait --
(Tamara in a green Bugatti)


The wife of Baron Kuffner died in 1933. De Lempicka married him on 3 February 1934 in Zurich.

She was alarmed by the rise of the Nazis and persuaded her husband to sell most of his properties in Hungary and to move his fortune and his belongings to Switzerland.

Her Art Deco style fell out of fashion.

Art Deco was "rediscovered" in the late 1960's.

Her "rediscovery" amused Tamara. 
She needed no one's approval to feel whole.


The best description of Lempicka's work was her own:

"I was the first woman to make clear paintings
and that was the origin of my success.
 Among a hundred canvases,
mine were always recognizable"


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Is TECHNOLOGY Clouding Your Mind?



The 1930's character, The Shadow, possessed the power to cloud men's minds so they couldn't see him.


Any stage magician will tell you that there are 

blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, 

so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. 

Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano.



1.) CLOUDING METHOD ONE

IF YOU CONTROL THE MENU, YOU CONTROL THE CHOICES

 Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. 

Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, 

while we ignore how those choices are manipulated upstream by menus we didn’t choose in the first place.



This is exactly what magicians do. 

They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. 

I can’t stress enough the importance of this insight.

When people see a menu, they do not ask:

WHAT'S NOT ON THE MENU?

WHY AM I GIVEN THESE OPTIONS AND NOT OTHERS?

WHAT ARE THE PROVIDER'S GOALS?

Say you're out with friends having a meal and a good conversation.

You want to keep it going so you ask Yelp for nearby recommendations and get a list of bars.

Yelp substituted the group’s original question (“where can we go to keep talking?”) 

with a different question (“what’s a bar with good photos of cocktails?”) all by shaping the menu.






 While looking down at your phones, 

you and they don’t see the park across the street with a band playing live music. 

They miss the pop-up gallery on the other side of the street serving crepes and coffee. 

 Neither of those show up on Yelp’s menu.



2.) CLOUDING METHOD TWO

 Put a slot machine in a billion pockets.

How do you keep people hooked on an app?

COVERT IT INTO A SLOT MACHINE.

The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. 

Why do we do this? 

Are we making 150 conscious choices?

 The #1 psychological ingredient in slot machines:

Intermittent Variable Rewards

Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable.

 Slot machines make more money in the United States than baseball, movies, and theme parks
combined!

 If you want to maximize addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user’s action with a variable reward.



 Oh, but you don't play slot machines you say.

Wrong

Several billion people have slots machines in their pockets.


When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.

 When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.

 When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next.

 When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.

 When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath.



3.) CLOUDING METHOD THREE

 Another way apps and websites hijack people’s minds is by inducing a “1% chance you could be missing something important.”

 If I convince you that I’m a channel for important information, messages, friendships, or potential sexual opportunities —

 it will be hard for you to turn me off, unsubscribe, or remove your account — 

because (aha, I win) you might miss something important.

 * This keeps us subscribed to newsletters even after they haven’t delivered recent benefits 

(“what if I miss a future announcement?”)

*  This keeps us “friended” to people with whom we haven’t spoke in ages 

(“what if I miss something important from them?”)

*  This keeps us using social media 

(“what if I miss that important news story or
 fall behind what my friends are talking about?”)

NEWSFLASH!

 We’ll always miss something important at any point when we stop using something.

Remember:

We don’t miss what we don’t see.

HAVE YOU HAD YOUR MIND CLOUDED 
BY THE INTERNET LATELY?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

MOTHER Is Not a 4 Letter Word




Though you might think it a term of profanity 
from our modern movies.


Sadly, the full term is used more and more lately.

In fact, it is the duct tape that binds Samuel L. Jackson's dialogue together!


Yet, MOTHER is a name that is so complex depending upon the situation in which you hear it 

that it is a many-faceted gem of many colors and nuances. 


The young woman hearing that she is soon to be a mother 

may hear the term with hope, despair, or fear of being like her own hated mother.


The teenager yelling "Mother!" may feel unloved, controlled, or ignored.


The man sitting by the death-bed of his mother 

may whisper the name out of a wellspring of loving memories 

or from a dark pit of having never been understood.


Mothers are only human:

 some saintly, some devilish, most somewhere in between.


We train our children in schools on how to do everything senseless but not how to live well.

Shouldn't we have classes on how to parent?  

How to deal with stress?  

How to manage a budget?


Mothers make it up as they go along.


Sandra, my best friend, had a son, Drew, 

who was forever fiddling with the electric wall sockets close to the floor boards.

She finally put covers on all of them.

Sometime later as she did her business' books on her computer, she heard a Fittzz and saw the lights go dim.

She turned to the sound of faltering steps.

There stumbled poor little Drew, his hair looking like Einstein's, holding his trembling right hand high.

"Mama right.  Mama right!"


From that time forward, Sandra would counsel Drew when he felt compelled to do an unwise thing. "Mama right."

Usually, Drew would later sadly confide to her with a wry, hurt smile.  

"Mama right.  Mama right."


May we all have had mothers wise enough for us to follow their counsel.








Happy Mother's Day 
to All My Friends 
For Whom This Day Applies!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

HOW TO CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE SLUSH PILE



 to which you have risen,
but the depths
from which you have climbed."
- Frederick Douglass


And the 19th century abolitionist should know.

He began life as a slave to become the "Lion of Anacostia."

And how did he begin that climb?

Reading.

The wife of his owner taught him the alphabet, then the beginnings of how to read.

His owner put a stop to that, saying that if he learned how to read, he would become dissatisfied with his lot.

"The first anti-slave lecture I ever heard,"
wryly said Frederick later in his life.

Later he would learn how to better read from the white children in the neighborhood
and from the writings
of the men with whom he worked.

Reading opened a whole new world of thought to the young boy.

He read newspapers, political essays, books of every kind, and the New Testament --

which he taught other slaves to read at a weekly Sunday school.

It lasted six months before other slave owners, armed with clubs and stones, broke it up.

Why?

They feared their slaves being able to read.





To read.

It is an awesome ability we often take for granted.

And writing?

We who take up that task must understand its power. The power of the word to touch one human soul, beginning a rippling effect whose end none but The Father knows.

But before we can do that we must climb out of the dreaded slush pile.

And Scaling Mt. Everest was a cinch compared to climbing out of the slush pile.

Just ask any unpublished writer. Ask me. Ask the marines.

So how do you climb out of the slush pile?

You tackle the task like a professional. Agents are business men and women. You must approach them as such.

In essence, approaching an agent for representation is like approaching a bank for a loan.

Mark Twain said that banks were like those folks who were willing to lend you an umbrella when it was sunny.

When you don't need the money, banks will loan it to you. Why? Because they know you can pay it back.

Often it feels as if agents are silently saying with their rejections, "If I don't want your autograph, then I don't want your manuscript."

If you're Stephen King, agents will kill to represent you. Well, maybe not. But then again, one never knows.

But you're not Stephen King. So what do you do? No. Identity theft is out of the question.

Think bank loan. What do banks want from you? A good credit rating for one thing.

And what does an agent want from you? Credentials. Like what you ask?

Awards or achievements. Professional associations. Education. Related work experience.

How do you get those?

Attend local writers' workshops, taught by professional writers.

Politely get to know as many professionals there as you can. Very, very diplomatically ask them if you may use their names when inquiring of an agent.

Hey, all of them were where you are now. Most of them are quite kind. I will help you bury the rest.



{Just checking to see if you were paying attention.}




Have your novel FULLY completed. I saw a friend lose her shot at a great agent because she submitted it only half done.

He wanted to see the full. She had to tell him the truth. End of a wonderful window of opportunity.

Have the first 30 pages so polished and suspenseful you would bet your life on them. You are certainly betting the life of your career and of your novel on them.

Write a killer query letter.



How?


Show her something that she very seldom sees.

Brevity.

Be Hemingway in your query.

Give yourself three sentences to convey the plot, characters, themes, and emotional impact of your 400 page novel.

IMdB is a good source to see how summaries of classic movies are written in three sentences.

Be an adverb stalker.

Stalk them and send them packing. No adverbs allowed. Or darn few.



No first names for your target agent. No self-depreciating comments allowed either. People tend to take you at the value at which you place yourself.

We are drawn to confident people because we unconsciously accept that they have something about which to be confident.

If they are sure, it sets us at ease. They are competent. And who doesn't want a competent person at their side?






You're applying for a loan here. Be professional.

Be aware of the requirements of the specific agent that you're approaching. See you from her side of the desk. What is she looking for?

For one thing:

a novel that is unique but born of what is selling for the publishers.



And what sells? Primal. Primal appeals to the unconscious mind of the reader, including the agent.

Primal hungers. Primal dangers. Primal drives.

Sex. Money. Safety. And threats to all three.

Give the agent the first three lines of your novel. Make sure they are great hooks. Sentences that reach out and grab the reader.

They will more than likely be the only sentences any agent will ever read of your submitted manuscript before coming to a conclusion of the attractiveness and saleability {is that a word?} of your work.

Submit to the agent EXACTLY as she requests.

This indicates that ...



1.) You are literate and can follow simple instructions.


2.) You are a professional and are in this for the long haul.

If the agent asks you to change the ending or get rid of a character, remain calm.

This may simply be a test. Use some imagination, some deep-breathing exercises, and do what the agents requests.

She wants to see how you handle criticism. She doesn't want a temperamental prima donna on her hands.



The one she sees in the mirror is quite enough, thank you.

{Just checking if you're paying attention again.}



How you handle these requests will show her your degree of professionalism. These requests are a good sign.

She's interested. She's been around a lot longer than you in the business. Try it her way.

Write it her way.



Then, if the ending or character is pivotal in your thinking, present a reasoned, item by item defense.


But be flexible. It is better to bounce than to break.

I know. I have the bruises to prove it.



Good luck to all my fellow climbers out there.
***********