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Take the Time to Read a Book

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High Desert, CA bookstores

Hi Desert Book Oasis

Digital or Paperback?

Digital books may be easier for you to read because of convenience. But when is the last time you read an actual paperback or hardback book? Allow yourself the pleasure of spending an hour browsing in a bookstore. Notice the different sections instead of gravitating only to your favorite interest.  READ MORE »

Danger Looms Inside Thick Books

I was looking through a dangerous book, one that, once you begin perusing, can entangle your brain with concepts. On a hot August afternoon with nothing better to do, this book consumed me — A Book of Lists — a compilation of how we organize things, animals, and ideas into tidy lists to control them. It was the 90s edition of how we recall our lives through TV, art, science, special events, compiled by David Wallenchinsky and Amy Wallace. No one wants to get absolutely lost in a book, but then again, writers are known to open a thesaurus and not be heard from for days.

The fascinating flip through hundreds of pages exhumes many ideas that could be construed by most readers as trivial blather. Some might even think these collections are bookshelf-worthy of all authors. Maybe so.
What got me thinking was not so much how we classify and arrange our environment but how we classify ourselves. Just in the early minutes of diving in, I noticed that authors don’t really have a phylum, or class, or whatever. Authors are what they seem in the literary world as, well, just authors. But that didn’t satisfy my curiosity. Sure we have genres, but what if we cross pollinate?

Books Can Lead you Down the Rabbit Hole

Books Can Lead you Down the Rabbit Hole

Digging deeper and finding some delicious diatribe, I came across groups for authors that I hadn’t heard before. Continue reading and see if you fall into one of these categories.

A chatter: meaning that we are consistently able to say much without really giving much thought? A scribe of writers: meaning that we are proffered to the pedestal of influence that so few attain? An alliteration: I rather like this one since you must know what the term alliteration means before you can become convincing contained within it. A clique: rather tacky and low-life use of the word to gather in a group that doesn’t necessarily have any cohesiveness but shares something in common. A context of writers: now this one is clever if used in the right, um, context. Avant garde: this title implies a hierarchy of creative minds tittering over tea sipped from china cups of the Parisian bourgeoisie. A compendium of authors: this doesn’t quite hit the nail with its alluding to writers offering summary, epitome, or abridgment to their writings, when everyone knows we, authors, avoid anything short — unless it’s a “55 Word Flash Fiction” challenge.

And then we have these other attempts to corral our character into mundane word groups  like “a society of writers,” “a concept of writers,” “wordmeisters” and ” wordsmiths.” Then we need to pay attention to the etymology of new words in our industry such as “a blog of authors,” “a bloggery of writers,” and even a “blogosphere.” Then let’s toss in SME — subject matter expert.

Setting aside the Book of Lists, I thought what might a legend of wordsmithery aspire to qualify a group title? Slipping into the tomes of wordsmiths such as Shakespeare, I couldn’t help but look up what he thought of authors. And to my interest, I found adjectives in his own compendium like “creator,” “originator,” “authority,” but to my dismay were “instigator,” “source,” and “informant.” Really?


Eureka! A new word for authors as a group!!

Eureka! A new word for authors as a group!!

I do think it’s high-time we stand together and create the perfect name for our universal group of evolutionary authors … something otherwordly … something singlugantuan … a word comprised of aspiration, creativity, and history brought down through the ages into a slurry of suffrage and angst, from closet writers to nobelists, from traditional to self-published, from dreary nights in a log cabin to micro-bites caught in a subway. Please, let me try.

We are “uniwordopubliangsts.”

Oh, to have a name or classification all our own. We’ve earned as much.

Rusty – a wordophile

Less than a week before we hit the trail through NaNo Land


Plot bunny

With only just six days to go, are you ready to hit the trail through NaNo Land?


As promised I’m back with more NaNoWriMo trivia, helps and hints.


NaNo Challenges are traditions that help the writer reach their 50,000 work count goal. At any point along the trail you may encounter one of the following:


  • The Traveling Shovel of Death – this is a challenge to include at some point a shovel into your story. More often than not the shovel will be used to bury or bludgeon someone – but not necessarily so.
  • NaNoWriMo Anagram – this challenge asks you to name a character using an anagram of letters in NaNoWriMo. For example, I named a character “Orwin Mano”.
  • Word-a-day Challenge – usually a thread on your regional forum where a new word is listed every day and you must work it into your story that day.  Many participants return to the forum thread and post the sentence.
  • Word Sprints – this challenge also known as “Word Wars” can be done at a Write-In (more on that later) or online (Via forums, Facebook, Twitter). A time limit is set, 15 minutes or more, and the challenge is to see who can produce the most words during that time period.
  • Guilt Monkeys – the Guilt Monkey comes to us thanks to the founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty. Guilt Monkeys will nag you to finish your daily word counts. Here’s how it works – your ML gives out numbered envelopes at random that contain the Guilt Monkeys. To track the movement of the Guilt Monkeys there is thread to post on (Which Monkey was passed to who and why.)You can pass the Guilt Monkey off to another WriMo if you:
    • Reach your 50,000 word goal
    • Compete in Cauldron of Doom Challenge  (you do not need to win),
    • Win a Word Sprint,
    • Make a donation to NaNoWrimo.


If you don’t want to burden others with your Guilt Monkeys the MLs have a foster home for them until they can be adopted by someone in need of Guilt Monkey love.


  • The Cauldron of Doom – this is a difficult challenge that comes to us from Lansing MI. In this challenge the participants must complete 1250 words, in 20 minutes (I’ve seen various word counts for this challenge.)
  • Plot Bunnies – as John Steinbeck said, “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” Plot bunnies are really cute and cuddly but you have to be cautious with them. They can lead you to some really wonderful vista of ideas or into a box canyon of despair.

You’ve been working on your novel and now you are stuck – where do you get help? The following are great places to go:

  • Write-Ins – NaNo public gatherings. For a Write-in WriMos gather at public place such as restaurant or coffee house and write. It’s that simple. During the event challenges may be issued, prizes awarded and suggestions make.
  • NaNoWriMo Forums – there are lots of threads with wonderful suggestions
  • Adoption Society – one of my favorite forums.  On this forum you will find abandoned titles, characters and plots looking for a good home.
  • The Dare Machine – If you want add a twist to your story then mosey on over to the Young Writers Program home page ( and try out the Dare Machine. Push the button and do what it says, for example “have one of your characters go missing for a chapter”.
  • Inner Editor Containment Unit – This also come to us from the YWP. Draw a box with a big red button. Now imagine your inner editor – what does she/he/it look like? Sound like? Now push the button, you inner editor has now been removed from your head and into the IECU for the next 30 days and will be kept occupied proof reading the NaNo Website. December first they will be returned to you.


See you at the trail head on November 1st!


National Novel Writing Month Twelve Days and Counting

Twelve days until the adventure begins.

Twelve days until the adventure begins.

With only twelve days left until NaNoWriMo begins things are starting to heat up in NaNo-Land. If you haven’t decided to join us on this year’s word round up it’s not too late.

First some definitions so we are speaking the same language:

WriMo – noun, a person who participates in NaNoWriMo

YWP – NaNoWriMo for K – 12 students, where they set an appropriate word goal for their age and skill level.

Planner – a WriMo who plans out their novel, amount of planning varies with each individual

Pantser – a WriMo who just starts writing on Nov. 1st with no idea of where they are going and just let the story happen.

So what do you do during the remaining days until 12:01 AM Nov. 1, 2014?

  1. Sign up for NaNoWriMo or YWP-NaNoWrimo.
  2. Set up your Novel on the site
  3. Join a region, we’re USA :: California :: San Bernardino
  4. Check out the region’s Google calendar to see if there are any events you want to attend and add do your personal calendar
  5. Attend the NaNoWriMo Kick-off and information event on Oct 25, 2014 the Fieldheim Library in San Bernardino
  6. (Pantsers you may skip this one) Prepare for writing
    1. Character charts
    2. Plot outlines
    3. Research, as necessary.
    4. Get up at 11:45 PM on Oct 31, 2014 and stand by.
    5. At 12:01 AM Nov 1, 2014 head out on the trail and start writing.

Remember High Desert WriMos were are gathering at High Desert Book Oasis on Nov 1 to celebrate and encourage each other as we start down the dusty trail toward 50,000 words by 11:59 Nov 31, 2014.

Next week – defining plot bunnies and other NaNoLand denizens.


NaNoWriMo is coming! Are you ready?

I'm participating are you?

I’m participating are you?

NaNoWriMo is coming! NaNoWriMo is coming!

What is NaNoWriMo?

The creators of NaNoWriMo define it as: “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.”

It is a fun roller-coaster ride. You rise to the top creating your novel and watch your word count soar. Then you plummet in to the dark canon that is thinking written yourself into a corner or you’ve falling behind on your word count only to find you start to rise again.

If you’ve ever thought, “I could do better than this guy.” Then NaNoWriMo is for you.

If you’ve ever thought, “I’d like to write a story, someday.” Then NaNoWriMo is for you.

If you’ve ever thought, “I’m not creative, writing scares me.” Then NaNoWriMo is for you.

As the Municipal Liaison (ML) for the San Bernardino Region of NaNoWriMo I invite you to join me on this adventure toward completing your first novel.

As a member of the NaNoWriMo community I challenge you to join me because:

  1. You never know what you can do until you try.
  2. You’ll make some new friends, online and at community events.
  3. You’ll have fun.

For more information and to sign-up for NaNoWriMo go to

Once you’ve created your account mosey on over to the regional page an introduce yourself.

Comment to score some cool NaNoWriMo sway from yours truly.

Tess DeGroot AKA Victorville-Tess Municipal Liaison for San Bernardino region.







I can also be found at:

Making Time to Read


Families in America typically lead hectic lives in this rat race society. Those who have long-distance commutes to jobs, like a few people I know from So Cal’s high desert that drive “up and down the hill” every day, get their reading in by listening to CD’s. That works. Do whatever you can do to see that reading doesn’t become a lost art in your home.

Parents juggle schedules, jobs, school functions, and soccer practice. By the time they get home in the evening, there’s only enough time for homework, preparing children for bed and making lunches for the next day. If there is any time left, that’s spent watching TV. No time is left for reading unless it’s when they finally make it to bed. Then sleep overcomes them after a page or two.

Kids love to read. Parents can join their children in a program like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library where nearly 700,000 kids are registered. See about launching this program in your area.

Phantom Seven display at Glen Avon Library Festival

A lady in her fifties that grew up in Southern California was telling me yesterday she stays at home and takes care of her young grandchildren. We were reminiscing about how it used to be when women like our mothers stayed home. We read books like Bambi and Goldilocks. My parents purchased a record player for me, and I listened to “books on record”. My favorite? Jack and the Beanstalk. Then we graduated into Nancy Drew mysteries. By middle school (or junior high like we called it), I loved checking out biographies and autobiographies – hence, my love for memoirs like Phantom Seven that I published.

Two Christian radio hosts were talking one day this week about a kitchen staple that our mothers or grandmothers used that is not used as much today. They asked listeners to call in to guess the item. What is your guess? I was surprised that one of the first callers guessed it so quickly. The answer was an apron. This is an example of how home life has changed now that most mothers work outside the home. Little reading. Little good old-fashioned home cooking. But more about that in my kitchen blog if you’re interested in life in the kitchen.

Reading requires time management priorities in the busy lives that we live. This week I decided that I will finish reading Eliyahu Goldratt’s The Goal, a business management book. It has not been on my top-priority list. Birthdays, holidays, anniversary, and other important things have taken precedence. The book is 408 pages long. Reading up to ten pages daily of The Goal’s 408 pages would take over a month to complete – too long. I’ve had the book since before Thanksgiving last year. My solution? “Complete The Goal book” has been placed as a top priority. What changes are you needing to make in your time management priority list? Start reading more books perhaps? I’d love to read your comment about how you make time to read or how you include reading as a family activity.

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