08 November 2017

NaNoWriMo & The Office of Light and Letters

NaNoWriMo  HQ

The National Writing Month is in full swing, so what better time to visit their corporate headquarters? 
Although I personally have never entered into the NaNoWriMo fray of writing a novel in one month, I know several people who have participated. Friends from Canada, the UK, and Australia, have sung its praises for years. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of yearly participants.
Like many people, I assumed that the whole deal was run out of someone’s breakfast nook. Or at least that’s the impression I got when looking at their website. And I do believe that it did start out of Chris Baty’s apartment back in 1999. Then last year, while looking into NaNoWriMo, I stumbled upon the fact that they had a physical presence a short drive from my present home. I knew I had to go.


The Office of Letters and Light, (NaNoWriMo HQ), is located on that last little smidgen of South Berkeley, CA, before it turns into Oakland. One hundred years ago, their office had been a small store – a tailor’s…. a grocery store…hardware & horse tackle? The glass windowed store front now showcases an old school desk on one side, and a typewriter on the other. The front door opens into a long, narrow shop, bright and gleaming, and quite a contrast to the grey day outdoors.  

I was greeted by Chris Angotti, their Chief Operating Officer, who welcomed me to look around and take pictures. Even though everyone was in the middle of all-out-craziness – this being November, all were pleasant and smiling and happy to answer my questions.
The poster on the wall for The Night of Writing Dangerously, caught my eye. It’s a fabulous night of dining and drinking and writing at the beautiful Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco. When I mentioned that it sounded like a blast, but that I would not get one word written at a party, another staffer said I should just come to enjoy the atmosphere. It does sound rather enticing.
A block from HQ in 1946 (Bay Area News Group.)
For those who participate, I have nothing but admiration. For those who actually achieve 50,000 words in one month…I am astounded. On their website it states that  "Our experiences since 1999 show that 50,000 words is a challenging but achievable goal, even for people with full-times jobs and children." 
Oh dear....where have I gone wrong? In the past year I have written at least 50,000 words, but that is a combination of three different books that I started. Nonetheless, the efforts of the tens of thousands who are currently banging away at their typewriters, is quite inspirational. Maybe I'll hammer out another few chapters over the weekend.


.

06 November 2017

The Many Wonders of Costa Contente - GIVEAWAY

Goodreads Giveaway for The Many Wonders of Costa Contente
10 Nov - 20 Nov
Latin American Fiction - Magical Realism



 
 


    Goodreads Book Giveaway
 

   

        The Many Wonders of Costa Contente by Kate McVaugh
   
   

     


          The Many Wonders of Costa Contente
     


     


          by Kate McVaugh
     

     

         
            Giveaway ends November 20, 2017.
         

         
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.
         

     

   

   

From the back cover:
"There’s a small town on the South American coast where the sweet sea air mixes with fragrant tropical blossoms. It’s a place where the neighbors are kind, the parrots are helpful, and wonders abound in everyday life.

It’s in this town of Costa Contente that you’ll find Dona Gloria and her husband Berto, proprietors of the Casa de Everything & Anything. It’s in their home that you’ll meet Solange, the young traveler they’ve welcomed into their lives. Just across the way is the Taverna Amore and its owner Gilberto. And Dona Immaculada is not far away, ready with a potion or bit of insight to soothe a broken heart or ease a sore back.

When the drought lasts longer than anyone expected, the citizens of Costa Contente rally together to save their parched town. When the ghost of Don Mateo becomes restless after outsiders attempt to decimate his family’s land, a meeting is called at the tavern. Working together, the townspeople always come up with a plan to overcome any obstacle, large or small. Careful thought, hard work, and just that little bit of the magical assure that Costa Contente will continue to thrive for its people and the land on which it rests
"

01 October 2017

Bad Accounts Giveaway : 4 Oct - 21 Oct

I am running a Giveaway of Goodreads for Bad Accounts.

Top-notch accountant Pia might have suspected her bosses of cooking the books, but when you’re fifty-two and jobs are scarce it’s easy to look the other way. That is until she finds out her employers might be involved in the drug trade, and jumps in put a stop to it all.
From Monterey, California all the way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, aging gangsters, bungling rent-a-cops, and an out-of-his-element hitman, get in on the action.

I had so many entrants for my last giveaway for Broadsided in Bali, that I am offering 2 free copies of that book to anyone who would like to read it in exchange for a review. I can be contacted through the form on this page, or through Goodreads messaging.




 
 


    Goodreads Book Giveaway
 

   

        Bad Accounts by Kate McVaugh
   
   

     


          Bad Accounts
     


     


          by Kate McVaugh
     

     

         
            Giveaway ends October 21, 2017.
         

         
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.
         

     

   

   



14 September 2017

Quiet Before the Storm



Tonight, at 7pm, Ben Shapiro will speak at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. I would have liked to have been in Sproul Plaza to document the Antifa thugs that I am sure will be there. However, I don’t want to be out there at night so I went down to see what was happening this afternoon.
Where Free Speech Started: Sproul Hall

They have already blocked traffic to Bancroft Avenue, which runs by Zellerbach Hall, and the crowd barriers are already up. At 3:30, they will start to restrict entrance into the heart of the Free Speech Area, Sproul Hall Plaza.

For now, there are a few people out with the requisite tables and flyers protesting the right of anyone with a conservative viewpoint to speak, and referring to them with vile labels. I had no intention of getting into a discussion with any of these folks, but my inner flower-child took over.

Crowd Blockers
One non-student, surrounded by Cal students, was getting quite worked up about an Yiannopolous poster announcing his coming speech. He had ripped it off a wall, insisting that it was offensive. The students he was addressing were adamant that Yiannopolous had the right to speak. Granted, “Yiannololous is cumming” is rather crude, but not compared to what was scrawled in chalk on lower Sproul Plaza in front of Zellerbach. At this point, I could no longer keep my mouth shut. I said to him, “Sir, what is offensive to me is the Fuck the Police that is written on the ground.”  And then I walked away.

Next, I stopped by the big table and big posters set up on the Northside entrance to Sproul Plaza. I certainly did not want to get in any sort of conversation with them. But then I walked around the other side and started to listen in to a conversation that an older man and woman, most likely UC profs, were having with the Resistance table-minders.

They kept asking the resistance folks to clarify what exactly was a fascist and why they thought all conservatives were fascists. One young man started to spout something nonsensical that was so convoluted I can’t recall anything other than it was not a definition of the word. They only thing that did come across is that the likes of Ben Shapiro, Steve Bannon, and Anne Coulter did not have the right to speak at CAL.

Bancroft Ave 

Once more, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I said that I had grown up in Berkeley, that I had protested in the 60’s, and that back then we respected the right to have differing views. I said I was sad seeing what had happened to my city, that tolerance for differing views was no longer acceptable.
The woman explained that she followed Shapiro, and that he was not all the ugly names the resistance people called him. To which she got the response, “You’re wrong so I’m not even going to talk to you.”  To which I added, “She is not wrong, she just has a different opinion.”  The guy walked away.
Zellerbach Hall 



I turned to the man and woman – both had accents so I assume they had grown up in another country. I said, “These kids have no idea what it is to live in a country where you do not have rights. They do not realize how lucky they are and do not understand the freedom of speech.”


I said a few other things to the resistence-ers regarding the error in labeling people with different opinions as white supremacists, and left after one of them was getting into why Antifa had a right to bash heads. …They all really have drunk the Kool-Aid.

While walking through the area, I made sure to thank every police officer I saw for protecting the people and the city. They were truly appreciative of my words, especially when there were anti-police sentiments chalked into the ground where they stood.

There will be trouble tonight. I only hope it is nothing too serious.


02 September 2017

Broadsided in Bali Giveaway


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Broadsided in Bali by Kate McVaugh

Broadsided in Bali

by Kate McVaugh

Giveaway ends October 08, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

25 August 2017

BROADSIDED in BALI has a New Cover

I plan to write a more lengthy                                                                   post about how I produced a 
a new book cover using Word. For now, I will just attach said cover.

Look for my upcoming book giveaway on Goodreads.

21 August 2017

Total Eclipse 2017....Cancelled by the Fog


It is Total Eclipse Day all across the USA. I’m about 12 hours south of the Path of Totality, but 75% blockage seemed reasonable enough for me. Except there was always the threat of fog. And the fog ruined the day.

No matter what the weather folks had been saying for the past week, I knew their predictions for a clear day would be wrong. Here in the San Francisco area, right along the bay, we haven’t seen the sun for most of August. Or if there is any sunlight, it’s after 2:00PM. And the past several days have been socked in and cold with no hint of our solar friend. When the fog went out last night, I thought there might be a slight chance of fair skies. But by 6:00AM this morning, it was nothing but grey.
Lunar Eclipse 2011

Maybe there would be a chance for odd shadows, as I had accidently caught during the last eclipse in May of 2012. It was much less coverage than today’s, but I sat out on the deck hoping to catch something odd and taking pictures of the sun. (Yes, without looking at it.) At one point, I noticed these strange shadows on the wall inside the house. I took a few shots and forgot about it. Only later did I realize that I had caught the reflection of the eclipse off the bird’s water dish. Had I realized it at the time, that is where I would have aimed my lens.
Shadows, Solar Eclipse 2012

And then there was the lunar eclipse in December of 2011. It was colder than ever when I went outside to try and capture images. I quickly realized I had no idea what settings to use on my camera, so sat down at the laptop to search. I then realized one really did need a tripod. But I was able to set the camera on a ledge and get a few decent shots before I got frostbite.

Honestly, this is not the area in which to live if you are interested in things celestial. I wasn’t terribly upset that I could not experience today’s eclipse. Or at least nothing like the Disaster that was Halley’s Comet in 1986. Intrigued about Mr. Halley’s namesake since I first heard of it in elementary school, I counted the years until it would appear. At the time, it was so far in the future it was hard to believe I would ever get the chance to witness its race across the sky. And when that day finally came, I happened to be back in the Bay Area. I jumped in the car and headed up the hill along with a whole lot of other enthusiasts, only to participate in our collective groan when we realized the fog would not be lifting.
Mama Squirrel at the height of the eclipse


If I ever want to really experience a total solar eclipse, there are others to be had around the world. Not so with my mythical comet which is set to reappear in 2061. I don’t plan to wait around for that one.

Meanwhile, I will continue to stay bundled in sweaters and gloves in the middle of the summer the foggy San Francisco Bay Area, waiting for the sun, sans eclipse, to appear. 

10 June 2017

Success at the Fair

One day I really will get a decent picture of Kate the Author
My first outing at a book fair went quite well. I got there in one piece, was able to set up all by myself, and sold a few books. The weather was great, I enjoyed myself, but I did miss walking around and seeing all that was on offer.

The Avenue of Author's was home to a whole block of independent authors; all really great people. I was able to make a quick run done the lane and introduce myself to my fellow clansmen. I only really got to know the people right around me.

Next to me was Kristine Balog , author of Caravaggio; of Oil and Blood. I had looked briefly at her website before the event but didn't read any details about her book. I could probably pick out a Caravaggio painting from a lineup, but that is about the extent of my knowledge of the artist. It wasn't until I started listening in on Kristine's conversations with fair-goers that I became completely enthralled with her story. Connections to the Pope, The Knights of Malta, intrigue and history. It turns out the author is not only an artist herself, but a professor of art history who has been round the world researching the topic. I can't wait to sit down and start on her book!

I also met Sherri Leigh James , author of Girl with a Past -- quite apropos for our setting since her mystery takes place in Berkeley, CA. (Set in the present with ties to Berkeley's hippie heydays of the 60's.) Another book I need to read.

And although I did not run into that elusive Hollywood agent that was going to buy the rights to one of my books, I still have not lost hope. I may just hit the streets again with my own mini-book festival. I had to register for a 90 temporary sellers permit with the state, so why not use it to my advantage?


It always feels great to meet fellow authors who spend their free time pounding out stories for the love of it and in the hopes that they might also be discovered.
I just know that someone on the Avenue of Author's will make the big time!

01 June 2017

Bay Area Book Fest



It's almost here! The Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, CA kicks off Saturday, June 3rd and runs through Sunday, June 4th.
   They say the weather will be good, but as of now I have my doubts. The fog has been in every morning and it is cold! So if you like that type of weather it will be perfect. If not, wait until around noon or 2pm and the sun should be in evidence. Then again, the weather in Berkeley is always a crap shoot so don't rely on my forecast or that of the pros.
Whatever the clime, it should be loads of fun!

Please drop by and say hello. I'll be stationed across from Provo Park, (aka: MLK-Civic Center Park), on Center St, above MLK Jr.Way.

14 May 2017

Bay Area Book Festival


Book Festival 2015
The Bay Area Book Festival will be held on June 3 & 4 in downtown Berkeley, CA.

And this year, I will have my very own table and umbrella. (But only on Sunday, June 4th.)

I hope to run into the writer friends I met over the past two years, as well as all sorts of new people.

It really is a fun weekend. If for no other reason, it is a true delight to walk the streets of downtown Berkeley that are closed to traffic.

Please drop by and say hello!

18 March 2017

In Appreciation of March Madness - free ebook

It's that time of the year again; the NCAA Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness. 

Anyone who watches the Madness has no time for pursuits such as picking up a book to read. But it will all be over in a few short weeks and then where will you be? Going through withdrawal for several more weeks.  

Although Jaz, Tall Men, & Mayhem has nothing to do with college basketball, it does involve the game. It may not replace the Sweet Sixteen, The Elite Eight, The Final Four, and certainly not The Dance, but it is quite entertaining.

Jaz, Tall Men, & Mayhem     (click on title to go to Amazon)
is available for free ebook download March 19 - 22.

Now, I have to get back to the 3 games I am flipping between.