Saturday, February 27, 2016

Selfie Saturday: The Big Apple

John and Mindy in Times Square
One of the best things about where we live is our proximity to New York City. In less than two hours via car or train, my hubby and I can be in the heart of Manhattan. We're both huge fans of NYC–especially Broadway–so it's always a thrill when we can head up for a little getaway.

That's how we spent last weekend, on a trip to the city in honor of our birthdays, which are a month apart. We had a blast, as always, and were able to take in two shows, several lovely meals, a museum, and lots of walking.  


From Peter Pan to Gloria Estefan


The two shows we saw were both fabulous. We started on Friday night with the amazing Finding Neverland, which is the story of author J.M. Barrie and how he came to write Peter Pan. We'd seen this show before and just loved it, but it was even better the second time around.

Considering that the musical is all about being a writer, it's no surprise that it's one of my favorites. I especially like the trio of songs where poor James is grappling with his story–and his deadline. In fact, according to this version of events, the ticking clock inside the alligator in Peter Pan was actually inspired by the ticking clock of his impending deadline. Gotta love it!
John with Laura Michelle Kelly, star of Finding Neverland


Getting Artsy


The Central Park reservoir in Upper Manhattan
On Saturday, we took a cab to Upper Manhattan and visited the Guggenheim Museum, which was a first for me. The building itself was gorgeous and fascinating, though I have to confess the collection wasn't really my cup of tea. (I had a lot of those "Why is this art?" moments as I gaped, clueless, at some of the displays. One of these days, I need to get my artist nephew to explain to me why a shoe made of tar or a typewriter formed from cement is considered "art.")  It was worth it to see the amazing building, but I won't be going back any time soon for the collection inside.  I hate to sound ignorant, but that's how I feel. :)  Most modern art simply baffles me. 




Inside the Guggenheim 


Back to Times Square

From the museum, we strolled through Central Park then headed to the TKTS booth in Times Square, where we nabbed half price tickets for another show, the musical On Your Feet. We'd been wanting to see it for a while, so we were excited to score some really good seats. 

First came dinner at a French restaurant on 44th Street...


A great French restaurant we discovered. Noisy but delicious!

...then finally it was time for our show, which turned out to be even better than expected. It's the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, starting when she's just a talented little girl who sings her heart out in her humble Miami neighborhood and moving all the way through her rise to stardom and then the tragic bus accident that nearly killed her. The star of the show, Anna Villafane, looked and sounded so much like Gloria Estefan it was uncanny, and she just carried the whole thing beautifully. Back at our hotel afterwards, we spent a good hour on YouTube, looking up the "real life" versions of various events depicted in the show, including this one:





And that's it, our fun time in the Big Apple. We came home on Sunday with sore feet and soaring hearts.

Be sure to check back next Saturday, when I'll share some of my favorite "stage door" photos from trips past.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Free Friday: New Contest Announced Today

It's Free Friday, and this week's prize is in honor of my book Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels. The story is set on Maryland's Eastern Shore, so I'm giving away a Chesapeake Bay trivet–complete with a recipe for Cream of Crab Soup right on the front. This fun and handy ceramic trivet will go to the winner of next Friday's drawing.  For your chance to win, click now on the "Enter to Win" button, below, and complete the form.







Up Your Odds of Winning
Get your friends and family to sign up as well! You can earn 1 extra entry for yourself for each new person you get to register, as long as:
a. they have not registered for any of my previous "Free Friday" or "Countdown to Christmas" giveaways, and
b. they provide your info when requested on the form.

The Fine Print

• Winner will be chosen at random using the True Random Number Generator at Random.com.

• Please note that YOU MAY ONLY ENTER ONCE. DUPLICATES WILL BE DELETED.

• Entries must include your name, email address, and full mailing address to be valid. If any of these are left blank on the form, your entry will not be eligible to win.

• This is a NEW CONTEST. Previous entries for any other contests do not carry over to this drawing. Thus if you would like a chance to win the prize described above, you must complete the entry form. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON please.

• If you bring a friend and for some reason they forget to give you the credit, then please email the details to my assistant, Tara @ mindystarnsclark.com, who will work with you to make sure you get any extra entries you have coming.




BYOF

Don't forget, the more friends you bring, the greater your own chances of winning. Good luck! 



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Writing Wednesday: Research Method #1


My mother used to ask me this question all the time, whenever she'd finish reading one of my books. It simply boggled her mind that her daughter's stories involved topics–like murder, the NSA, espionage–that she had no business knowing anything about.

In response, I would always just laugh and tell her, "That's what research is for, Mom. It's what writers do."

And do and do and do. Back in my school days, I hated research, probably because it was always on some topic I had to learn about. But as a writer, it's up to me which topics are covered in my stories. As such, I have come to love research in a way I never would have thought possible.

Starting this week, I'm going to do a series on here about research and writers. In fact, I'll go through 10 different research techniques that writers use, starting now with one of the fastest and simplest, what I call the "quick and easy double-check."

The Quick and easy Double-Check

For me, research is often more about verification, asking advice, or getting opinions and suggestions than it is about actual information-gathering. When that's the case, the writer's handiest tool is a smartphone and some receptive friends and family members. Truly, not a week goes by that I don't text someone I know a quick book question, anything from "What kind of shoes would my character wear with this dress?" to "Which of the following scenarios is more emotionally satisfying?" and everything in between.

Three Cheers for Helpful Daughters–and Smartphones 

Emily, Mindy, and Lauren Clark
To understand one type of quick and easy double-check I'm talking about, consider the following conundrum:

How does a 55-year-old writer tell a story through the eyes of a 27-year-old character?

Answer: By verifying details whenever necessary with her two daughters, both of whom are in their 20s.

Fortunately, this can be done via text. To show this concept in action, here are a few screenshots of some recent exchanges I've had with my girls...


 

Sounds like a no-brainer, but clothing terms can vary widely by age, so it never hurts to make sure.  

Cultural references must also be age-appropriate:




Of course, technology is often a tricky area:
And finally, even insults can be age-related:




These are just a few of the dozens and dozens of age-related exchanges my girls and I have had over the past few years. I'm so glad my daughters are willing to help–and I'm thankful for smartphones and texting, which let us communicate quickly and regularly even though we live far apart.

And there you have it, one of the easiest and fastest types of research and one way writers go about doing our jobs. Be sure to check back next week, when I'll talk about a different type of research, one that's speedy and obvious but that can also be risky and sometimes downright scary. See you then!
















Saturday, February 20, 2016

And the Winner Is...

Winner of today's giveaway, the iPad carry case, is Heather Olsen.  Congrats!



And if you didn't win but would like to check out other cases for yourself, here are a few from Amazon:




Be sure to check in next Friday for a brand new contest.



Friday, February 19, 2016

Free Friday: Who Will Win the iPad Carry Case?

Today's prize is an Amish-made iPad carry case. 




The drawing will be held today around noon, the winner will be notified via email, and the winner's name will be posted here.  Good luck!

And be sure to come back next Friday for a brand new prize and drawing.




Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Writing Wednesday: Getting It Right

Why am I behind bars?  It's all in the name of research, which is a huge part of the writing process.

Mindy at Writer's Police Academy
Next week, I'll be kicking off a series here about the different types of research novelists do, including:

• The quick and easy double-check

• Online - legit and official

• Online - personal and unofficial

• Media sources (books, DVDs, audios, maps, etc.)

• Personal reference libraries

• Apps

• Consulting the Info Posse

• Interviews

• Classes, clubs, and conferences

• Research trips

Along the way, I'll share plenty of fun photos and insider info, so be sure to check back every Writing Wednesday for this new series about Writers and Researching. See you then!








Saturday, February 13, 2016

Selfie Saturday: Whoooo Got Covered in Snow Yet Again?

Poor little owl, he's up under the front porch roof, but the snow drifts got him anyway. :)

Have a great weekend!



Friday, February 12, 2016

Free Friday: New Contest Announced Today

It's time for another contest. This week's prize is a cute iPad carry case and cover that I came across in a small gift shop in Lancaster County: 



Such a bizarre mix of two worlds, that of the low tech Amish with the high tech non-Amish, I think I just liked the irony of it. :)

The dimensions are for a standard size tablet, and its Amish origins make this a perfect giveaway in honor of my various Amish books, including The Amish Groom.

This cute and handy cover will go to the winner of next Friday's drawing.  For your chance to win, click now on the "Enter to Win" button, below, and complete the form.




Up Your Odds of Winning
Get your friends and family to sign up as well! You can earn 1 extra entry for yourself for each new person you get to register, as long as:
a. they have not registered for any of my previous "Free Friday" or "Countdown to Christmas" giveaways, and

b. they provide your info when requested on the form.

The Fine Print

• Winner will be chosen at random using the True Random Number Generator at Random.com.

• Please note that YOU MAY ONLY ENTER ONCE. DUPLICATES WILL BE DELETED.

• Entries must include your name, email address, and full mailing address to be valid. If any of these are left blank on the form, your entry will not be eligible to win.

• This is a NEW CONTEST. Previous entries for any other contests do not carry over to this drawing. Thus if you would like a chance to win the prize described above, you must complete the entry form. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON please.

• If you bring a friend and for some reason they forget to give you the credit, then please email the details to my assistant, Tara @ mindystarnsclark.com, who will work with you to make sure you get any extra entries you have coming.



BYOF

Don't forget, the more friends you bring, the greater your own chances of winning. Good luck! 



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Selfie Saturday: Drip Drip Drip

Thanks to a new macro lens for my camera, I had fun recently snapping pics of these icicles as they were melting...

A

B

C






Friday, February 5, 2016

And the Winner Is...


Winner of today's giveaway, the Irish blessing journal, is Rachel Koppleberger.  Congrats, Rachel!





And if you didn't win but would like to check out other journals for yourself, here are a few you might like, from amazon:






Be sure to check in next Friday for a brand new contest.



Free Friday: Who Will Win the Irish Journal?

Today's prize is is a lovely journal with a traditional Irish blessing on the front cover, which makes it the perfect prize to give away in honor of Adele and Jocelyn, the Irish heroines in Echoes of Titanic.





The drawing will be held today around noon, the winner will be notified via email, and the winner's name will be posted here.  Good luck!

And be sure to come back next Friday for a brand new prize and drawing. 



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tell Me Tuesday: Caribbean Bliss–and a Free T-Shirt

To wrap up the series of answers to this question:

What's the best and/or most fun thing you've ever won?

I decided to share my own.



Mindy in St. Martin, circa 1985



The best thing I ever won was a trip for two to St. Martin, including flight, car, and a week at a resort. This was back in the 80's when I was a travel agent and my business card was pulled from a bowl at a promotional event.

The funniest thing I ever won was a McDonald's T-shirt, for being the 10th caller to a radio station and saying, "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun" in 5 seconds. It was just a lousy T-shirt, but I've never been so excited. I think that was back in the 70's, when I was in high school. Wish I still had that shirt, it's probably a collector's item by now. :)




                           


I hope you've enjoyed hearing the various answers to this question. Be sure to come back next Tuesday for a whole new Q&A.

Is there some question you'd like to see answered here? Let me know and I'll do my best!