Scribbles and thoughts ...

These are ramblings from J L Wilson, published author of romantic suspense, mystery, and paranormal -time travel fiction....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yes, we're still on hold here

I'm working on getting pieces of my web site uploaded here as "Pages" on Blogger. I'm not sure if I'll use Blogger permanently or switch over to Wordpress. Blogger is SO much easier to use but WordPress may be a bit better looking.

Sigh. Go for looks? Go for comfort? Sort of like choosing high heels over sneakers.

I ordered a Blogger for Dummies book (I hate those titles but it was the only thing I could find). I already have WordPress books. I'm hoping the BfD book comes soon so I can delve into this, make a decision, and (ta da!) have a web site again.

Until then...stay tuned. This site will be tweaked and touched now and then as I get time. I'm trying to finish my latest book (about 4 chapters to go!), dealing with holidays, and still sorting through Mom's estate, trying to help get that settled.

Here's hoping 2011 is a bit more even-keeled.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Web site woes

My web site is down (host issues. don't get me started).

This will have to serve as my web site for now. I hope for not long, but who knows?

Ah, technology.

Send me an email at if you're trying to find me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Printed word or just word?

I have a very close relationship to the printed word.

I wrote my first novel when I was 10 (17 chapters, almost 40 pages of text. About a racehorse. I grew up in Iowa and the closest I came to a racehorse was the ponies ridden by friends, but I had a good imagination).

I learned Braille long ago (long story), but have since forgotten all but the feeling of "ahah" when I was able to close my eyes and discern a letter by ITS SHAPE. Not its appearance, but its shape. That was truly unique.

In college I earned 'fun money' by doing calligraphy. I taught myself pen techniques, took some classes, and developed my own fonts and styles, some of which were quite inventive. Along the way I earned four college degrees (in English Literature and Informatino Theory), which combined my love of the word with a study of the scientific way we process words. Again: an "a ha" moment, a fascination with words and how we perceive them all given new light.

My first professional job was as a typesetter for a printing company. I also did layout and proofreading. I developed a love for letters -- the physical shape of letters, how they are presented on the page, how they appear. I learned about leading, kerning, layout design.

My next professional job was as a writer -- a technical writer. Part of what a technical writer does is write about the product or task, but the other part is deciding how to present the material. I learned about graphics, visual presentation of technical information (have you read Edward Tufte? If not, you should:

One of my tech writing jobs is to document software that manages content -- all kinds of content, whether it be documents, or graphics, or physical items. Again: content management. A way to present, use, handle content.

Then I started to be published in fiction. I have quite  few books out now, all with different publishers. And you know what? Some of them are in digital form only, some are printed. And I love 'em all just the same. I think they're all just as good. The digital ones aren't less well written than the printed ones. I love seeing the 'printed word' on my Kindle, on a paper page, and on my computer screen.

If ANYBODY should have a beef with digital publishing, it should be me -- one of the keystones of my life has been to study letters (and words). But I have no beef. I don't think digital demeans a book. I won't deny myself a book just because I can't "hold it in my hand." I don't care about the smell of books, I don't care about the touch of a book, I don't care about its appearance except only in how it affects my reading of content.

Why are some people so passionate about the 'printed word'? I just don't get it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This is the first month I haven't gone to Iowa to visit my Mom in years. I'm keeping busy doing other things, but the lack of that visit is haunting me. I loved those visits. I loved the trip itself and the town and my walks there and connecting with my Mom. It was very relaxing.

I'm adapting to this sense of strangeness, but it's not a happy thing. I don't know if it ever will be. All I know is I'm restless. I need a change. I need something to break up the monotony of what I'm doing. My visits there did that, and now I don't have it. So I need to find a change that I can use.

Still searching.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A world full of awesome

I'm having one of those days where I feel lousy: my clothes don't fit right, I feel fat, I don't want to work out tonight, I should go to Yoga class but I dislike the teacher, I have to write a bunch of acknowledgment cards for donations to Mom's memorial fund and that always makes me cry...

Yeah. A crappy day.

And yet it is a day of awesome. The air is crisp. The snow is white and fresh. The streets are well plowed and not slippery. My job is interesting. My back pain is manageable.

In short. Life is good. Let's face it. Most of the time, Life Is Good. It's just a matter of looking past the crappy to see the awesome.

What a Pollyanna attitude. Yep. It's mine, and I'm sticking to it!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Philosophy on a Thursday

As I look back on 2010, I realize that this was a watershed year for me in all ways. What ways? Let me count them:
  • Life: this was the year my mother died (just a month ago). She was 91 and led a relatively active life up until a week before she died. I’m grieving for myself, not her. Her health had failed and she was ready to ‘move on to the next thing,’ as she put it. I was a primary caregiver for her in the last years of her life, and it made me realize how much I enjoyed that role. I miss it more than I thought I would, just as I miss her. 
  • “Real” career: This year marks my 25th year in my chosen career (professional technical writer). I stumbled into this career by accident. I have four college degrees, two in computer science and two in English. It seemed like a natural progression to merge them all into one career and it’s sustained me all these years. I really enjoy my job, my co-workers, and my boss. I am so fortunate to have this job and when Mom was sick, I realized that even more as I was able to travel to be with her and still telecommute, with the blessing of my company and my boss. I make good money, I’m challenged, and I’m valued. What more can a person ask?
  • My writing career: This year marks the end of my fourth year of my publication journeys. My first book released in June of 2007 and since then 18 of my books have released. I have contracts for 5 more books next year and I have 4 books written, waiting to submit. I’ve enjoyed my publishing experiences, but I’m restless to move on to a new challenge. I’m sure I’ll still write for publication, but I may try a new publisher, or I may try self-publishing, or I may try … who knows what?
  • Health: I had some challenging health issues this year that have stumped all the doctors I visited. It made me realize that medicine is really an art, not a science, as we would like to think. These are the sort of health problems that aren’t life-threatening, but are life changing in that I have to adjust how I do my daily life in order to accommodate pain and discomfort. So I haven’t been aggressive about pursuing ‘a cure,’ because I’m not convinced there is one (and I don’t want to spend more hours in an MRI machine, thank-you-very-much).
So what does this all add up to?
It has reinforced my firm belief that life is a teeter-totter and for every high, there’s a low, and vice versa. My mother died, but…I suddenly have much more free time, time to pursue new interests and challenges. My day job is great…and I need to remember that when I’m on deadline and working bunches of overtime. My writing career is just that—a career. I’m in charge of it, and I need to determine what I want to do with it. And my health, while shaky at times, is still okay. I need to re-intensify my physical therapy and take charge of my aches and pains and not let them slow me down…much.
The more I consider it, the more I think that publishing is like a microcosm of life. Trends come and go, publishing houses rise and fall, sales ebb and flow. And through it all, we continue to write stories people want to read about characters we love. It may seem like our success if out of our control and at the whim of editors and agents, but it all depends on how you define success. Today’s triumph will be balanced by tomorrow’s rejection letter. That odd story you’re writing may be tomorrow’s trend. That agent who rejected you may contact you a year from now and ask for more submissions.
Life is a big roller coaster. It’s up to you to hang on and try to enjoy the ride. It won’t always be happy and there will be some stomach-churning dips. But just wait…a peak is coming and a spectacular view is waiting to be seen. It’s all just a matter of time.