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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Location: United States

Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Which Witch is the Witch?

It’s almost Halloween! Today reached only 44 degrees on this little mountain and I couldn’t help but become a bit nostalgic about the season. I sat on the wooden step of my mom’s porch and watched small tornadoes of newly fallen leaves circle and fall only to be snapped back up by the wind to circle and fall again. The crisp air slapped against my face and I smiled when I thought of the scare tactics we used to use on neighborhood children already reluctant to walk the long winding drive to a creepy house decked out in all its Halloween gore.

When my kids were young, they loved how I decorated the yard and house. I took so much pleasure in cutting plywood into ghoulish figures, painting them, and designing a yard full of displays that scared even the adults at times.

One year I’d had so many ghosts, goblins, witches, and gravestones, one didn’t notice a house beyond the display. It was the witch stirring her cauldron that caught the eye of nearly every Halloween visitor. It took me three days to paint her 6’ high body and gnarly green face. When she was finished, I placed my dad’s old chicken boiling kettle beneath her broom handle and it made the perfect cauldron. The spooky-shaped trees casting shadows over her green face added to the adrenaline rush that kids would get when they’d see her at a distance from the long dark drive.

Yes, I remember the days my kids’ friends came trick-or-treating just to see the witch. I can still hear the blood curdling screams they’d made when I’d jump out from behind the witch.

Join the Halloween Story Festival and tell us your favorite Halloween memory.

Use this tag (add <> opening and closing tags at the beginning and end.
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IILAA Under Construction

HA! Didn't take long for the IILAA to take down the site and work on it. I can't imagine why! Maybe they're going to change the dark, dreary background and work on the dreadful writing.

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All Writers Should Research Agents Thoroughly BEFORE Submitting

Don't be fooled by scammers!
All one has to do is Google “Literary Agent Scams” to find more than 10 pages of warnings about the IILAA / International Independent Literary Agents Association who seem to be taking advantage of writers.
One only has to click on the IILAA site to realize a book represented by them would not be professionally represented. Good grief you can’t even read the print that melds into the dark, dreary background.

Let’s click on the first page and read “Why Choose an IILAA agent?” They claim to have individual specialties, strengths, and weaknesses. Hmmm. I’d like to see the specialties and strengths listed. What are they? I know why I wouldn't use this agency. I’ve already found one of their weaknesses. Even after having a stroke, I know this following sentence is not correct! “This makes each of our members better agents, and thus better able to serve our clients as independent agents.” If members are better agents, we certainly know why they won’t be in business very long.

IILAA’s description of an agent’s job isn’t helpful at all to writers. Of course an agent should be available to his clients. I’d like to see the list of publishing companies they submit to on behalf of their clients. I’d like to see sales (none found) this agency has made. That would show me what this agent considers his job.

What?!! They charge retainer fees! Reputable agents DO NOT charge retainer fees. Now isn’t this little piece of information on their website professional? WARNING!!! All you newbie writers out there, please, please DO NOT pay a retainer fee for any agent, let alone be “expected to be a retainer fee.” How does one “be a retainer fee” anyway? Like I would want these people to represent my book! I’m sure we’d all love “to be” money, but we are writers!

They list their pick of the top ten best independent literary agencies, yet they didn’t list ten! Something’s wrong here. Compare their best to the Writer Beware’s 20 Worst Agents list and look what Writer Beware’s has to say about their top nine of ten list.

The IILAA’s take on “How to spot hate sites
who prey on the insecurities of writers” pretty much sums up their reason for forming an independent agency. Sounds like that’s exactly what their agenda is.

Don’t miss the last clickable function on their site! Coming soon: The membership directory and the newest sales by our members. I nearly fell off my BIC when I clicked. THERE ARE NO MEMEBERS OR SALES! Yep. Sure. I want this company to represent my book. Where’s the rolling on the floor laughing smilie when you need it.

Let’s get past the poor excuse for an agent website. They claim that Writer Beware, Preditors and Editors, and various anit-scam groups are part of a conspiracy. Take a look at how they have ruffled the feathers of the writing community.

Agent Kristin has this to say about it in her blog.
Writer Beware Blog certainly lists numerous reasons why writers need to be careful whom they choose as an agent.
Miss Snark adds her literary voice to the subject of “scams, shams and flim-flams.”

Here’s a healthy discussion at Absolute Write about it.
Pay particular attention to the posts by James McDonald and Victoria Strauss. They know what they’re talking about.

If that’s not enough to convince you, then go to “The Lies Scammers Tell About Us” and read how this all started.

Now if you’re looking for a legitimate agent, check out the AAR (The Association of Authors Representatives) site. They list a FAQ page that “really” tells you what an agent does for you.

When unsure of an editor, agent, or publisher, check out Preditors and Editors, Writer Beware and other Beware and Background checks you can find.

If you don’t mind being scammed and spending money (retainers) that should not be spent check out the tags below:


If you want the truth about the publishing industry, see these people who will tell it like it is!
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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Surprise Visit, Lunch and Publishing Nudge.

My daughter, Angel, called to let me know they drove in from central PA to visit this weekend. She wanted to take me out for my birthday (a week early) since they won’t be in again until Thanksgiving. What a great surprise!

I got to see my precious little granddaughter too! She’s getting so big. She’s five and half months old now and sitting.

Angel has been after me to get my final edit done on my novel and submit it. As an added nudge, she bought me a book for my birthday: Getting Your Book Published for Dummies.

Boy does she know her mother well, or what? LOL

Of course we had to get a picture of her helping me open my present. Or should I say trying to eat the present?

Thank you Angel, Tim, and Katelyn for the surprise visit, lunch and the book. I get the hint, honest honey

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Playing Catch-up since July: PowWows and Camping

The past several months I’ve been working on reading a pile of books and writing reviews. Since July, I’ve failed to update the happenings of my life, so now I’m trying to catch up a bit.

My youngest daughter, Stacey, came up in July. While she was here, we all went to see my Uncle Joe at the nursing home. He was thrilled to see his Great niece and nephew. He’s never real thrilled to get his picture taken, though. You can see the devilish look he’s giving me for sneaking in a picture.

During the time she was here we decided to take the weekend and go to a PowWow in Mansfield, Ohio. My granddaughter danced with me in the circle. This is the picture that ended up on the Mansfield newspaper website. She was excited that she’d made the newspaper.

Here’s a picture of Two Feather dancing by the drum.

That PowWow was the first time Two Feather and I had gone anywhere without my mom in nearly two years of taking care of her. We enjoyed going, but I felt uncomfortable not having my mom with me, so in August, we cleaned out the camper, packed it and made our minds up to take Mom on a trip with us. Both of my daughters agreed to drive eight hours to meet us at the Columbus Fairgrounds to help with Mom and enjoy the Labor Day PowWow. My oldest daughter, Angel, her husband, Tim, and three-month-old Katelyn drove down from Mechanicsburg, PA. My youngest daughter, Stacey, drove up from Alabama with her three kids, Deandre, Trinity and Quenton.

Here’s a picture of me and Two Feather dancing.

We had a great time. Here's a picture of the family at the camper.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Bane of My Life: Micro-Flash Fiction entry


I came across Matt Dinniman’s blog the other day and noticed he was running a micro-flash fiction horror contest for Halloween. Figured what the heck, I have time to write 99 words. Here it is. There’s still time to enter if you have the notion. The deadline is Wednesday, October 25 at midnight. Check it out! Thanks, Matt. Great idea. It was fun.

The Bane of My Life

I scanned the gray worn and crumbled cement stones and various other statues in the Bane family plot. Idly doing the math, I realized something odd: all the adults buried here were exactly fifty years old when they died. All of them.

A mirror adorned the stone directly in front of me. The deeply carved dates jumped out at me in double vision. It wasn’t until the sun slid behind a cloud that I saw no reflection and the large letters of my name JODI BANE.

This can’t be! This name always had caused me misery, even in death.

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