About Lori Robinett

Lori is a creative soul trapped in a paralegal’s body. As a child, she wrote pages and pages in longhand. As a teenager, she pounded away on a typewriter. As a college student, she learned about criticism (death to English Comp!). As an adult, she found her hours filled with work and parenting. Then, she rediscovered the joy of escaping into a world of her own creation. After all, it’s not illegal to write all those twisted things that pop into your head!

Eclipse 2017: Visiting with Astronaut Linda Godwin

Please join me in offering a warm welcome to Dr. Linda Godwin, who served as an astronaut and currently teaches at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by space, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to chat with her. If you want to hear more about Linda, check out the Ted Talk at the bottom of the interview.

I understand you majored in math and physics in college. What influenced you to follow the STEM path?

I always like Math and Science in high school and I give a lot of credit for that to my teachers.  My parents were also encouraging.

When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a lab technician, because I wanted to do research in a lab. Obviously, I didn’t follow that path. I know you grew up in a small town in Missouri, likely not surrounded by astronauts. What did you dream of being when you grew up?

I never did have a big plan.  I was very  interested in NASA when I was growing up as we followed the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo flights.  NASA seemed a very long way from where I lived however.

Who encouraged you to follow your dreams?

Somehow I just went through life selecting the next thing to do, which had me getting my BS in Physics and Math at Southeast Missouri State and then on to Mizzou for my PhD in physics – I guess I didn’t feel like I was done.  During that time I had no thought of being an astronaut until near the end of my graduate school time at MU.

You joined NASA in 1980. What made you decide to join the program? How did you end up on that path?

While I was in grad school at Mizzou, NASA announced they were going to hire astronauts for the space shuttle program and for the first time they intended to include women in this astronaut class.   The educational background requirement specified some field of science, engineering, or medicine, so I was eligible.  I did apply then but was not interviewed that year.  It turned out I needed another two years to finish my PhD anyway, and during that time I managed to scrape together some money by doing tutoring to take flying lessons.  When there was another change two years later, I applied again and made it to an interview week with NASA.  I did not get the astronaut job, but was offered a job with Flight Operations supporting missions in Mission Control which I accepted.  That work was good experience and I was accepted into a later astronaut class.

What was the culture in NASA like in 1980 for women? Did you have mentors? Have you served as a mentor to younger women coming into the program?

I cannot identify a mentor.   The culture was ok, probably better than many other places.  Women were also just started to work in mission control, but I had many female colleagues.

I’ve visited Johnson Space Center a couple of times, and am always awed by the campus and, in particular, Mission Control. Can you give us an idea of what it feels like to be in Mission Control during an active mission? (i.e., do you live on caffeine? what are the hours like? do you experience depression when it’s over?)

I began to develop my coffee habit in grad school and I would say that it carried over to the shifts in mission control.  Mission Control has many positions, but I only worked in the area that supported the payloads on the missions – the unique part that changed every time.  We would be assigned to work specific shuttle missions, and that include getting familiar with the payloads/experiments, arranging and scheduling operation working groups, plus other meetings -so lots of meetings, and were the interface to work on the crew procedures and get them published prior to missions.  We participated in the many hours of simulations from either a front room position in mission control or from a back room support room.  The actual mission support was always very busy and it was great to be a a part of the team.  I enjoyed the fact that there was a conclusion to these individual missions and there was always another one coming up.

Where were you and what were you doing when you found out you were going to be an astronaut on the Space Shuttle? How did your family take the news? Did you ever have any doubts or second thoughts?

I was in a meeting at NASA when I got a call I was selected to be in an astronaut class.   I’m sure my parents were a little worried about it but they supported me.  I did not ever have any second thoughts.

I’ve seen video of you on the Space Shuttle and I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. Can you give us mere mortals a glimpse into that life? Is there a particular memory that stands out?

A shuttle flight was very busy.  Each day was carefully planned.  Obviously the primary difference in working in a free-fall orbit around the Earth, where the space shuttles went and where space station is, is that everything seems weightless and floats which means tasks are a little more challenging and its as easy to lose items as they floated away.  Floating was awesome and there was a learning curve to moving around gracefully.  Looking at the Earth is one of the best memories.  Orbits were about 90 minutes so in that time, if there was a chance to look out a window, one would see a lot of water along with land masses and a sunrise and sunset every time around.  Often we were too busy to look out, but it was the best thing if there was time.

Some people are savers (me, included). I have souvenirs from every vacation I’ve ever been on, I think. Do you have any souvenirs from your astronaut days that are particularly meaningful?

There are many photos and video from all the missions – that is the best way to recapture those moments.

Ahem, that brings me to my next question – I understand your husband is also an astronaut? Were your dual demanding careers ever an issue? Any competitiveness between you?

It was very special that Steve and I both shared these NASA experiences together.  by the time we married he was finished flying on the shuttle and finished his NASA career continuing to fly as a research pilot in the Aircraft Operations Division in T-38’s and Gulfstreams.  I had two more missions on the shuttle after we married.  We each had 4 flights.   I lost him 3 years ago to cancer.

You participated in many experiments during your missions. Are there any that stand out in particular, perhaps that you think might have the biggest impact on the scientific community (or humanity, for that matter)?

I can’t pick just one.  Each was different and special.  STS-37 had Gamma Ray Observatory which we deployed on orbit and remained in orbit around the Earth for 9 years collecting gamma ray data, the more energetic wavelengths of light, providing information about intense astrophysical phenomenon in the universe.  STS-59 was a mission to learn about our own planet, STS76 went to the Russian Space Station which was extremely interesting and my last flight STS-108 docked with the International Space Station which I’m very glad I got to experience.

Now that you’ve retired from NASA, I understand you are a professor of physics. What do you think we can do, at the college level and beyond, to encourage women who want to work, research and teach in STEM fields?

I hope to encourage everyone to see that science is very interesting, even if it is not going to be their career, and we all need to understand the physics of our world.  I want young women to know they are equally capable to compete in these fields.  I use many of my NASA experiences to make this as interesting as possible.

There is talk about us returning to the moon, or preparing for a trip to Mars. What do you think the future holds, in terms of the space program?

This is very difficult to predict.  We can solve the technical problems, but budget and political issues are much more challenging.  I hope we go to Mars some day.  It will be very expensive and the Moon is much more achievable.

The eclipse is just around the corner and is being talked about everywhere. I’ve heard that NASA will be in Jeff City for the event. Do you keep in touch with folks at NASA, or ever go back for a visit?

I keep in touch with some and there are periodic reunions which I try to attend.

Last, but not least – Was it difficult returning to Earth, both literally and figuratively, after being an astronaut?

Literally, with missions of about a week, readapting is not too bad upon return.  It is, I am sure, more difficult for the astronauts returning from a 6-month stay on the space station.  I miss some of the experience of participating in the astronaut program, but life moves on and I like what I am doing now.

A lot of my readers are women, many who are struggling, clawing and digging to make their dreams come true (whatever those might be). Do you have any advice for a reader who may be gazing into the distance at that dream that calls to them?

Just keep going and take a step at a time.  As you can see from my story I had to apply several times before I became an astronaut.

Inspiration: Widows, Mobsters and the Secret Service

Writing is an integral part of who I am. Very few days pass that I do nothing writing-related. As some of you know, I started a new project recently – intended to be the third in the Widow’s Web series, about widows who overcome challenges when they are facing the most difficult time of their lives. I’m about 10,000 words into the story, about a woman who finds out her husband is cheating on her.

But my muse seems to have other ideas. For those of you who are unfamiliar, my muse is a fairy named Jennie. She sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear. While I’ve been trying to write Morgan’s story about her cheating husband, my muse is obsessing about the Secret Service. At the library recently, she directed me to choose In the President’s Secret Service as the audiobook to listen to during my daily commute. Last weekend, I decided to flip on the TV and see if anything good was on. What was on? The Clint Eastwood film, In the Line of Fire. This morning I turned on Netflix, thinking I’d play something in the background while I was writing. Netflix suggested Vantage Point.

My muse hasn’t stopped there. She’s given me a character. A woman named Mackenzie (“Kenzie”) Egan. Her great grandfather was an Irish mobster in Kansas City (moved over from the St. Louis crime family). I cannot stop thinking about this woman, and the Secret Service . . . those agents who dress sharply, with white shirts and dark suits and dark sunglasses, with the ever-present curled wire disappearing under their collars.

So, tell me . . . what would you rather read about? A woman with a cheating husband, or a mob princess who joins the Secret Service?

Why do you write?

That’s a question I get asked all the time. Of course, there’s the simple answer – I write because I must. It’s who I am.

But there’s more to it than that. I write because I want to create a lifestyle. My day job is awesome. I love what I do, love the people I work with, and am fortunate to work in a supportive, energetic environment where I am challenged every day. My salary is enough to almost make ends meet (note the “almost” – right now our dryer and dishwasher are limping along, threatening to quit). The benefits are decent.

Rich Mountain RoadBut I am never going to have freedom with my day job. I will always work Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. I will always schedule vacation time around others’ schedules. My paycheck goes into the bank and bill payments come out. Frankly, I want more than that out of life. I want to be able to make enough to pay our debt down. I want to be able to travel every now and then (yeah, we travel some, but rarely and are always budget conscious – like our trip to Gatlinburg last year – on the right). I want to be able to pay for the vet bills for a stray Beagle hit by a car. I want to be able to donate money to a friend who is rescuing horses from a kill yard.

All of those things take money. And in order to make more money, I need to do something beyond the day job. It seems natural to honor the talent I have been blessed with, and write. Hopefully, I can make enough money off of that talent by entertaining people, letting them escape into another world for a bit, so that I can do some of those things that I want to do.

If you want to help me do some of those things, and you like to be entertained by a well-written book with twists and turns, consider buying one of my books.

Thanks for listening. And comment below about what YOU want out of life.

Guest: Joanne Guidoccio (and a giveaway!)

Too Many Women in the roomI’m happy to have Joanne Guidoccio with me today (psst . . . take a peek at her new book cover and you’ll know exactly why I was drawn to her!). I asked her to tell me a little about her writer’s journey and her new book. Make sure you read to the end for info about her giveaway!

All About Freedom 53

In 1984, London Life Insurance came up with a uniquely Canadian slogan – Freedom 55.

Each time I saw the commercial of the middle-aged couple walking along the beach, enjoying a sunset, or engaging in water sports, I imagined my own retirement: extended holidays as a snowbird, launching a non-profit, starting a counseling practice. A little different but compelling enough to keep me dreaming of my own freedom years. Why not leave the workforce at age 55 and devote the remaining 25 to 30 years of my life to my passions.

Five months before my fiftieth birthday, a diagnosis of inflammatory cancer brought everything to a standstill. I survived, scarred but happy to be alive and appreciative of the many gifts cancer had brought.

I returned to my teaching position, with new determination. I would not wait until age 55 to retire. Instead, I aimed for Freedom 53, a very early retirement, possible because of a generous teacher pension program.

As 2008 neared, I felt flutters of trepidation but remained committed to Freedom 53. For the most part, family and friends were supportive, but I could see flickers of doubt in their eyes. A few ventured to ask: “What on earth will you do?”

While some of my earlier dreams no longer fit, I did have a vague idea of what life on golden pond would look like. Sleeping in each morning. Leisurely breakfasts. New hobbies. Volunteering. Traveling.

These were my pat answers whenever anyone asked about my future plans. And at some point in the conversation I would work in one of my favorite quotations from Eckhart Tolle: “When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.”

I kept my writing dream, concocted at age eighteen, tucked away, fearing to even speak the words: “I want to write.” It sounded a bit pretentious and a definite stretch from my 31-year career as a mathematics and co-operative education teacher.

All that changed when I returned from a trip to Newfoundland. I put pen to paper and wrote an article about my adventures. To my surprise, it was picked up by the Waterloo Record and published two months after my retirement. I took that early publication as a sign from the universe and announced my intention to write.

I started journaling and filled large blocks of unscheduled time with workshops and online courses. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. At first, I focused on the nonfiction market and wrote book reviews and articles about careers, money management, wellness, personal growth and development. While I was delighted with the response from newspapers, magazines, and online publications, I wanted more.

“More” translated into a novel, and in my case, three novels—Between Land and Sea, A Season for Killing Blondes, The Coming of Arabella—released over a two-year period (2013 – 2015) by Soul Mate Publishing and The Wild Rose Press.

On May 19 of this year, The Wild Rose Press released Too Many Women in the Room (Book 2 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series).

Right now, I’m polishing the final draft of A Different Kind of Reunion (Book 3 of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series).

So what’s Too Many Women in the Room about?

When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

Excerpt

“I’m a nobody here,” David said, glancing down at his plate. “And with my credit rating, none of the banks would endorse a loan. I’m screwed.”

“What if I backed you?” I couldn’t believe I was speaking so casually, all the while my heart beat at an alarming rate.

David rubbed a hand over his chin and flashed a grin at me. “Gilda, darling, you’re sweet to offer, but I don’t think you know what’s involved here.”

Susan nodded in agreement.

Were they playing me, I wondered. Since winning nineteen million dollars in Lotto649, I had encountered many sharks who hoped to prey on my easy-going nature. A quick Google search would have revealed my three-year-old lottery win. Old news, but still there on the second and third pages.

“Would one hundred thousand dollars be enough?” I asked. “In case you don’t know, I won a major lottery several years ago.” Since winning, I had received many proposals from across the province and had backed three local ventures. In each case, I had chosen to remain a silent partner.

David’s right hand trembled as he poured himself another glass of wine. Susan’s mouth dropped open, and she gave a little gasp.

“I take it that’s a yes,” I said.

More mild protests followed, and another bottle of wine disappeared. We were all a bit tipsy when we shook on the agreement. And so Xenia was born.

Book Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CORaCadAnbA

Buy Links

Amazon (US): https://is.gd/NRjAXT

Amazon (Canada): https://is.gd/1pX3Bn

Kobo: https://is.gd/5VwbTf

Indigo: https://is.gd/o3ZKRW

The Wild Rose Press: https://is.gd/1mns8Q

Barnes & Noble: https://is.gd/NFHdlS

Bio

In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne…

Website: http://joanneguidoccio.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joanneguidoccio

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjoanneguidoccio

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanneguidoccio

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jguidoccio/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7277706.Joanne_Guidoccio

Giveaway:

Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/628069205/

WriteScouts: Promotion – Building Your Email List 2 (MailChimp)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last time, we talked about the overview of an email list. Getting started was a challenge for me – for some reason, it scared the bejesus out of me. So, I thought I’d share what I learned when I started with MailChimp.

Getting started:

  • Login to MailChimp
  • Click on the Lists tab
  • Click on the Create List button
  • Follow the instructions to create your List

Okay. You have a list. It’s an empty list, but you have a list! And now it’s time to fill that list. To do that, you need email addresses.

Click on the Lists tab > Click on the little down arrow on the right.

 

 

 

 

Click on “Signup Forms” > Choose Embedded Forms by clicking the “Select” button.

You can choose between several embedded forms, such as Classic, SuperSlim, etc. To begin with, let’s just go with Classic. You can see what it will look like in the Preview window. The default collects your subscriber’s email address, first name and last name. These are the basics – that’s enough to communicate with subscribers.

Just below the Preview window is a section of code (conveniently labeled as “Copy/Paste Onto Your Site”). Click in the box and press Crl-A to highlight all of the text. This is what you will insert in the code of your website (for instance, at the end of a blog post, or on the front page of your website, or perhaps in the sidebar).

Other options that’ll be covered more in-depth later are pop-ups on your website, and Facebook integration.

Something to think about for next time – lead magnets. What can you offer your readers to entice them to give up their email address?

As a reader, what do you want from authors?

WriteScouts: Promotion – Building Your Email List

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the “badges” that will be offered in a future WriteScouts class is Promotion and one of the topics I’ll cover is building your email list. One of the things I learned as I studied promoting was that building an email list – a list that you yourself own – is key. You don’t want to depend on followers on a platform you don’t own or don’t control. Why? I have one word for you. Myspace.

Okay, so, we’ve addressed the fact that you need an email list. How do you build a list? What is it? What do you need?

Software. First, you need email software. Two that you’ll hear about often are MailChimp and Aweber. Which you choose is up to you. I won’t go into the versus issues, because, frankly, all I have used is MailChimp, so that’s all I can speak to. There are great resources out there, though, like THIS ONE or THIS ONE. I chose MailChimp because it was cheap to start out with, particularly given the fact that I had such a small <cough> non-existent <cough> list.

Plugin. You need a way to capture email addresses. Do a little research on your website so you can create a pop-up. You know what these are – those little boxes that show up and say, hey, just type your email list in here and I’ll send you X! I have a website (psst . . . get your name as a domain as soon as you can), which is currently hosted on Fatcow, and I use WordPress to actually create the content of my website (including my blog — which you know I have because you’re reading it right now). To capture the emails of the people who visit your website, you need to use a Plugin (I use WP Popup). Check out this post for some background info.

Funnel. Every single thing you do should point people to your website. Your social media profiles should all contain a link to your website. Your email signature should have a link to your website. Your business card should include your website address. Think of a funnel that leads people to your website (and ultimately, your plugin to capture their email addresses).

Lead Magnet. People generally need a reason to give you their email address. You’re a writer – give them something they want. I use a free ebook, which is a collection of short stories. There are lots of ideas out there for lead magnets. Like THIS. Take your time with this. Create something that people will actually want.

Cross Promote. Get out there. Talk to people. Be social on social media. Guest post on other blogs. Invite other authors to post on your blog. (psst . . . I’ll include a special section on this in the WriteScouts course.)

Newsletters / Mailings. Email your subscribers on a regular basis, with content that is interesting. I sometimes include snippets from my books or deleted scenes. I’ve also included news, such as when one of my books is nominated for an award, or cover reveals. From the moment you start sending emails out, act as if you are writing to your Perfect Reader. Be personal. Have a conversation with that Perfect Reader. Invite him/her to respond to you. Include content that he/she wants to read. Build a relationship with him/her.

Have you built an email list? What have you found that works? What have you used as a lead magnet?

(Oh – and before I forget – Fatal Obsession has hit the shelves! If your local bookstore or library doesn’t have it, ask them to order it! And if you want the ebook, you can get any format HERE.)

Techno Thrillers: My suggestions

I once described myself as a book slut – I read a bit of everything from horror (Stephen King is the master) to romantic comedy (love Tawna Fenske’s books). I’ve been reading a lot about technothrillers here lately, so I thought I’d share my own suggestions for the genre, in no particular order:

As you can tell by my list, once I find an author I like, I tend to keep reading them. But this list also shows that I need to find new authors! Give me some ideas. What are some of your favorite technothrillers?

Three Creeks Press: 2016-17 Catalog

I grew up around printing. One of my earliest memories is going up to the Centralia Fireside Guard to see my dad, where I breathed the sweet smell of ink while shouting to be heard over the clanging of the presses. When I stayed with my grandparents, I loved going down to the basement and running my hands over the long, narrow drawers of type that lined one whole wall.

In fact, one of my short stories that was inspired by a story my grandpa told about what happened when he was working late one night to put the Washington Journal to bed (hint: it involves Bonnie and Clyde, and is featured in my short story collection, Train of Thought).

So, it seemed natural for me to evolve from writer to authorpreneur to publisher. In 2016, I started Three Creeks Press. Thanks to the advances of technology, I was able to do so from my home, without the expense of purchasing an offset press (though I would dearly love to own an actual press). It is still a lot of work, and requires constant learning of new processes and new technologies, but I have been able to publish a few books and am now confident enough in the processes and distribution channels to be able to open Three Creeks Press to submissions. My goal is to help new writers achieve their dream of publication, focusing specifically on writers from the Midwest.

Please take a moment to check out the new website. I’d love to know your thoughts.

And if you’re interested in our offerings, here’s our first catalog:

Three Creeks 2016-17 Catalog

Technothrillers: What are they?

As I was perusing Amazon, looking at the various best seller lists, I came across a category called “technothriller” – and a lightbulb went off. That’s the kind of book I gravitate to! Think Jurassic Park, the Hunt for Red October, the Judas Strain, Relic . . . these are books that I absolutely love. So, what is a technothriller? Simple. It’s a book that draws from different genres, usually mystery, thriller and sci fi.

Fatal ObsessionSo, if you like these books, too, check out this list from Goodreads of the best technothrillers. And share some of yours in the comments – I need new authors to read! Oh, and if you like that sort of thing, too, check out my latest release, Fatal Obsession. It delves into the cutting edge world of nanotechnology, and dips into the ethical questions medical research raises.