I Love My Job

Isn’t it great? Ebook formatting and writing fiction seem to be the perfect balance for me. Actually, one of the ebooks I’m formatting helped me realize how left-brained I am, which helped me realize that if I spend a significant portion of my day doing that type of detailed work, it’s much easier to do some right-brain writing later. (I’ll tell you about the book when it’s up for sale.)

I’ve been told my dad wanted me to be a computer programmer, but I never knew that. I did grow up playing with BASIC on a Tandy 64 (ROFL… as in 64K!), but I always thought of computers as a fun thing.

Anyway, I think I already posted this, but I was sitting here and formatting and thinking, “Gosh. I’m so lucky my author friends guided me into this business.”

So I wanted to thank you guys again. Every time you’ve asked me a computer-related question or an ebook formatting question, it wasn’t me doing you a favor, it was you helping me find my niche.

So thanks. Smile

I’m a little behind (if you’re my Facebook friend, you know I’ve managed to get sick three times in a row), but I’ll be back to blogging soon.

I want to finish the Kindle Formatting series, but I’ve discovered that the more I learn, the more there is to explain. There are so many little details. It was easier to write it when I didn’t know as much. I am planning on putting together a book, though.

Also, I’ve been obsessed with book design lately, and I thought I might do a weekly post showcasing the cool stuff out there. It’s one of those things that you don’t notice all that goes into it until you start… noticing it.

What’s up with you guys lately?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Kindle Formatting | Tags:

People Watching

I’ve discovered the best seat in the house—in Borders, that is. There’s a bit of a corner, so you can lean back, put your feet up on a chair (not sure if the store appreciates this or not, but I try to spend money to make my use of the table and chair profitable for them), and watch people.

I find people to be miracles, what with the problems we all go through, the grief and sadness we all have to deal with. It’s hard to be human.

imageTwo thirtysomething granddaughters are doting on their grandmother. Their grandmother seems to be an Arizonan: she’s got pure white skin with lots of melanoma. :-( She’s so loved, though. Can you imagine all that she’s seen and done and loved and made in her lifetime?

Then there’s a thirtysomething woman in the coolest boots ever who’s texting and looks like she’s about to burst into tears. Poor thing.

There’s a fiftysomething woman sitting alone at a table and reading. She looks lonely.

imageSome guy brought his girlfriend a balloon and green roses for St. Patrick’s Day. What a sweet surprise!

And then there’s a young thirtysomething couple with a baby. They’re all so happy. Even the baby can’t stop giggling and waving at everyone. She’s the most social baby I’ve ever seen, and her parents are happy to let her be social with strangers, which is sweet. Sometimes I think it’s a miracle when two people manage to find each other, work through the process of creating intimacy, and get married.

When I went to the bathroom, there was a woman with three kids. Man, she was yelling at her child like you wouldn’t believe. Well, pretend it was Walmart and not Borders, and then maybe you can imagine.


imageMy favorite is the woman in the big purple hat. She must be eightysomething, and she tells dirty jokes, and she comes to Borders every day. Minus the dirty jokes, I could imagine growing up to be her, if only because she comes to Borders every day. And I’ve always wanted to wear hats.

Where do you people watch? Where do you get your inspiration for you characters? Do you make up back stories for strangers? (Do all writers?)

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Beautiful People | Tags:

On Planning, Part II

I think I once read that Japan had a plan for the next two thousand years. Given the horrid tsunami and the fact that I’ve been trying to plan, I realized that even with its terribleness, the effect of this tsunami is probably just a blip of an interruption when it comes to a plan of two thousand years.

Doesn’t that blow your mind? Because things are awful in Japan, and the effects of this tsunami will last a lifetime for those involved, maybe even more. The earth has shifted on its axis. Our days are 1.8 microseconds shorter. Japan moved 4 meters.

Doesn’t it feel somehow wrong to go on about daily life? I mean, we have to. We can help Japan in small ways, but there’s not much to do but keep going forward. (An easy way that you’ve probably heard a million times by now: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Fund.)

Given the fact that I’m trying to plan the rest of my life now (and I worry it’s an impossible thing to do given the unpredictability of life), Japan and its two-thousand-year plan got me thinking.

Maybe the key to a plan that works is to make one that reaches so far into the future, that the obstacles and derailings along the way are mere blips.

What do you think?

Isn’t there a book on how to plan in spite of the unpredictable life? With all the self-help books out there, you’d think one would contain down-to-earth, non-fluffy advice on how to make a proper life plan.

I mean, do you assume everything is going to go as planned? Do you create Plan Bs and Cs? How many backup plans do you make? Or do you only make them when called for?

You know what’s weird? I used to do this for my students. At the beginning of the year, we’d plan the whole year. I guess I’d pad the planning with extra time to deal with issues that came up and weeks where they didn’t practice.

Maybe it’s like cleaning house, where they say it’s so much easier to clean someone else’s house than to clean your own.

I don’t know.

How do you plan? Are you still living a plan you made years ago? Or a revised version? Or are you making a new one for the future?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings |

Change, Choice, and Serendipity

Lately, I’m drowning in choices, so it was perfect timing that I saw The Adjustment Bureau yesterday. Totally rocked. It’s loosely inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story, “Adjustment Team.”

The movie explores the conflict between a person’s free will to choose and the “Chairman’s” (or God’s, or the Universe’s) plan. The Adjustment Bureau’s agents run around and cause tiny little changes—small moments of serendipity (or bad luck) that create a life-altering change in a person’s life. Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it:

While I’ve been swimming through a sea of choices in my life, I realized that I have great faith in serendipity, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Worse, I have little faith in planning—

God likes to laugh.

The biggest choices in my life weren’t choices. I planned on being a vocal accompanist, but I got sick for ten years. I decided I was grateful, because I ended up teaching, and I truly believe I was meant to do that, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world. I loved every minute of it, minus a few parents.

While I was happily teaching, writing started taking over my life. It was never a decision—more like the universe eventually persuaded me to focus on writing.

The whole ebook formatting career was another happy accident. (One I’m grateful for every day. It sorta feels like all of you led me there, by asking me to do this little techie thing or another. Thanks!)

imageSo you can see why I distrust plans. And choices? After the universe made me sick for ten years, I have this fear that if I make the wrong choice, the universe will rain down hell to get me back on the path it prefers. Or I fear wasting a bunch of time planning, only to have God laugh and send me off in a totally different direction.

Life is unpredictable.

On the other hand, I made a plan to move into a camper. I spent years de-cluttering, planning, and whittling down possessions. I researched for years, and then I made it happen. No serendipity there, and God (knock on wood) didn’t laugh. (Phew!)

As I was walking and and looking at the moon and stars tonight, I realized that I was a bit afraid of making plans, given my life’s history. But there are things I want, and I want to make them happen, too.

It comes down to free will, choice, and planning versus serendipity, chance, and God’s/the Universe’s/the Whatever’s plan.

Being a Libra, I generally come down smack in the middle, but I think for the next year, I’m going with free will, choice, and planning.

What about you? How have your big plans worked out in life? Has the Universe ever altered those plans in a big way? And what about serendipity? Or bad luck? Do you ever just want to throw up your hands and stop planning, because the Universe seems to have its own plan for you? Or do your plans mostly work out?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags: , ,

I Died, I Did

I’ve a story in an anthology with some amazing writers, edited by the awesome Mark Terry, and available for $2.99. You can read DEADLY BY THE DOZEN on Kindle, Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac, Kindle for Android, or Kindle for iPad at Amazon, and Nook for all of the above at Barnes & Noble. (Print coming.)

There’s a wonderful variety of crime stories included, and I’m just tickled pink (and a little embarrassed) to be included amongst these authors. Here’s the list:

cover (2)

  • “A Hard Line Drive to Wrong” by Jude Hardin
  • “I Died, I Did” by Natasha Fondren
  • “Identity Theft” by Robert Weibezahl
  • “Living On The Blood of Others” by Betsy Dornbusch
  • “Indian Summer” by Lise McClendon
  • “Flat-Footed” by Mark Terry
  • “Into Stone” by Keith Snyder
  • “Marigold Mourning” by Merry Monteleone
  • “Little Siberia” by Erica Orloff
  • “A Break In The Old Routine” by Simon Wood
  • “Whereby Ignorant People Are Frequently Deluded and Defrauded” by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
  • “Plundered Booty” by Travis Erwin

My story, “I Died, I Did,” takes place in Victorian England, back when the Salvation Army dressed up in uniforms and fought the “Skeleton Army” in the streets to feed, clothe, and convert prostitutes. It was a fascinating time, and I might use that time period in my next book. I love this setting—it has so much in common with today, what with the problems of poverty, the rise of capitalism concurrent with the crush of the middle and lower classes, as well as the scapegoating of social woes on certain sexualities and moralities.

I’m getting all excited again. I think this is one of those ideas that’s not going to rest until I write it. Like… NOW.

So how do you find your angle when you fall in love with a setting? How do you choose a genre for the setting? A character? What’s the most favorite setting you’ve ever written a story in?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Books,Writing Craft |

Evolve Already!

Politics these days has me tired. After hearing what Mike Huckabee said, (as if a wedding ring is a better thing than a MIRACULOUS, HUMAN LIFE) I just didn’t have the energy to be as angry as it would make me if I dwelled on it.

This is one of the reasons I heart Rhonda.

A local theater showed the original West Side Story (1961) on the screen a few weeks back. It was wonderful! I went in, though, expecting to see archaic and outdated racial issues.

Um, no. In the last fifty years, we’ve made like one step of progress, MAYBE. The West Side Story was as applicable to society today as it was fifty years ago. How sad is that?

Anne Rice, on her Facebook page (always a fascinating read and discussion, even if you’re not into her books), refers to the current political climate as the “War on Women.” From Charlie Sheen to all the abortion issues she posted on her Facebook page, it’s sickening.

I’m tired of the hate talk on women, immigrants, religions, sexualities—all of it.

Even though I’m almost always a Democrat, I was ready to respectfully listen to what Mike Huckabee felt he would bring to a presidency. Not anymore. I’m sure he thought a celebrity was an easy target and a quick way to generate some publicity and gain the support of some Tea Partiers, but you know what I’m tired of?

I’m tired of the fact that hate is so effective in uniting people and creating political power.

Could the human race please evolve already?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Politics |

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