Friday, March 27, 2009

Writers and Readers

If you're a writer, a wanna-be writer, or a reader you should also be a supporter of writers. I know, if you buy books you support writers, true. But it's a crazy industry, and a note of encouragement or a show of support goes a lo-o-o-n-g way. Trust me. My heart is touched by readers who take time out of their busy lives to drop me a note to say they enjoyed my books. 

Even before I came out of the closet and admitted I wanted to be a novelist I loved to meet authors and find out how they think, where they get their inspiration, and what their life is like. Book signings are a great opportunity to find out about writers, and most writers love to connect with their readers. 

To illustrated my point I'm going to drive to Loveland, Colorado tomorrow morning to hear author Tina Forkner speak and support her while she signs books at Barnes & Noble in Centerra tomorrow. 

I met Tina while traveling to an ACFW conference about three years ago, and we've been friends since. I'm looking forward to learning something about the craft of writing from her.

She speaks at 10:00 a.m., with the book signing to follow at noon.

Tina's the author of Ruby Among Us, a delightful tale of a girl uncovering the truths about her family and her deceased mother. The Rose House, the sequel to RAU, releases in May.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm an Examiner!

Have you ever heard of is one of the top 200 sites on the Internet today, it's a destination for news and information of all types.

I'm one of the newest Denver Examiners, and I'd be thrilled to have you check out my Examiner page. My title is Denver Writing Examiner, and I write articles on, duh, writing. :) I'll write articles 3 - 5 times a week.

If you want to stay updated on my articles, you can subscribe to my email notification. The link is to the right of my photo. I've been an Examiner for less than a week, and I'm having a blast.

Examiner has editions in many different cities in the US. To find your city's page, go to the drop-down menu under the Examiner logo.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Take a breath

I'm busy. We're all busy, right?

I had a moment last week when an appointment that should have been recorded somehow missed being input into my iCal (Mac's online calendar). In my frenzy, I shrieked, "Well, it's not on my iCal!"

Fortunately only about three seconds passed before I realized I sounded like an idiot. In my mind, if it wasn't on my iCal, then it couldn't possibly exist. Ha! The mad cat photo captures my emotions at the time.

For just a moment, I became unglued. Ever had that happen to you? Come on, be honest.

Anyway, I'm glad my tizzy mode was brief. It was a great reality check. I took a moment, sat in the sun flooding into my living room, closed my eyes and gave myself permission to have failed. What? You didn't know I wasn't perfect? (I just said that with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.)

Sometimes it good to screw up. (Did I just say that?) It makes you reevaluate your priorities. That day I had too much on my plate, a mistake to begin with, and it was inevitable that my day would not run smoothly.

As a spiritual woman, my thoughts turned to God. Let me share a great verse that helps me to put my day into perspective. (The Message) Ps. 90:17 "And let the love of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!"

'Nuff said. Have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Christian Fiction Survey

Do you read Christian novels? Do you buy Christian novels?

Glass Road Public Relations is conducting a research study and wants to know more about you! If you would like to participate, go to Christian Fiction Buying Research to take an anonymous survey about buying Christian fiction.

At the end of the survey, you can enter to win a library of TEN Christian novels.

I took the survey, it wasn't long. I hope GRPR shares the results.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Breast Friend's Day

Yes, you read that correctly. It's not a typo. Today was Breast Friend's Day.

On a day (St. Patrick's Day) when nearly 50% of the population was wearing green, my girlfriends and I wore pink.

First we met for our Words For The Journey meeting. Danica Favorite-MacDonald spoke about tax issues for writers. I learned so much, and I'm r-e-a-l-l-y thankful that we have an accountant who figures all that out for us. See Michele in the center of the photo? Don't tell anyone, but I think she was probably twittering.

After WFTJ I went to lunch with Jan and Karen. We ate outside. In March. In Colorado. :)

Then we went to the Invision/Sally Jobe imaging center. Wow. They moved their suite since last year, and it looks like a spa, resort-like.

Here's a photo of Jan and Karen at the Keureg machine, they were about to brew their coffee.

And then our turns came. And, no. We didn't go in for the mammogram together.

After I completed the necessary paperwork (in a semi-private cubicle), I was instructed to go through the double doors.

I went through the doors and was greeted by a delightful, happy woman who smiled and said, "Hello, darling!" She was like a female Wal-Mart greeter on both estrogen and steroids. What a delight! She gave me a quick tour of the exam suite and then gave me a heated robe. Ahhh.

The, ahem, procedure lasted only a few minutes. Their digital machines are fast and painless.

Now, of course you can make an appointment and get a mammogram by yourself, but why should you when you can make an event of it with friends? Jan always brings chocolate to share with everyone. One of the staff referred to her as the "Chocolate Lady." Isn't that cute?

We shared smiles and laughter with some of the other ladies there today. We called it a celebration of health.

Having a mammogram usually isn't at the top of most women's list of things they want to do, but it's something that we should do for our loved ones.

It's our responsibility to guard our health, and it can even be a pleasure. Like on days like today.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Writer's Block, Anyone?

Consider yourself the luckiest writer in the universe if you’ve never experienced a moment of writer’s block. If you've never experienced a moment of where do I go now? If you've never thought, how can I tie up this loose end? Aaargh!

The most important thing to consider when faced with the dreaded writer’s block is to realize that that this is probably not the last time you’ll be stuck. Personally, I think it’s part of the writing life. Everyone gets writer’s block, even if it’s an episode that lasts only 15 minutes.

The cure? Push through.

I’m sorry if you were expecting a more brilliant answer. There are several strategies that you can use to get your creative abilities firing again.

1. Pray.
  • Keep yourself spiritually charged. Remember Who your writing partner is. He who has called you . . .
2. Keep a writer’s journal.
  • A journal may include memories, jokes, story ideas, writing tricks, dreams, and descriptions of people, places or situations.
  • A writer’s journal may be as simple as a little notebook you carry in your purse or it could be a word document on your computer.
  • Don’t get stressed about when or if you should use a writer’s journal. The idea is for the journal to help you, not make you more stressed.
  • If you use an item/idea from your journal in your work, be sure to either delete it or make a note as to when/where it was used.
  • Train yourself to be alert for fresh ideas when they occur, and write them down.
3. Visit a bookstore.
  • Is there a writer alive who doesn’t get jazzed walking through the aisles of a bookstore?
  • Pull out the books that catch your attention. Read the back cover copy. Read the first few lines.
  • Think to yourself, “I can do this!”
  • Go home and write.
4. Sit down and write 250 crummy words.
  • Sometimes just getting started gets you in the groove.
  • Don’t worry if the words aren’t pretty. You can always go back and pretty them up.
5. Invest in your health.
  • Go for a walk, hop on a treadmill—just get moving. Your imagination won’t work a maximum capacity if your brain is sluggish.
6. Work on another project for a while.
  • If you can, switch gears to another project you have in the works or make notes on a subsequent project you’ve been thinking about. You may return to your “blocked” project with fresh eyes after a little time away from it.
7. Read a great book.
  • Sometimes reading great writing gives you the itch to write yourself.
8. Try to write out of your genre
  • Write non-fiction if you’re a fiction writer. It could be just a simple letter to a friend or a short article on craft that you can share with writing buddies. • Write a poem.
  • If you write non-fiction, practice fiction techniques to use in your n-f writing.
9. Try freewriting.
  • Give yourself a time limit of 10-15 minutes and let your fingers fly over the keyboard. Even if you’re writing crazy nonsense, you may spark a thought or idea that will springboard you back to work.
10. Take a creative field trip.
  • Visit a museum, listen to soul-stirring music, go to the movies.
  • Sometimes spending time in other creative environments, spurs the desire to be creative in your own work.
11. Take some photographs.
  • Grab your camera and take a field trip to a local park, busy shopping area, town square. Let yourself focus on whatever catches your fancy. You may look back at your images and see a spark of an idea in a situation, location or face of people being alone or interacting with each other. *Just don’t appear to be a stalker. This is what zoom lenses are for.
12. Take care of business.
  • There are other tasks you can do that are writing related.
  • Revise a manuscript
  • Send out queries
  • Research the market
13. Relax and smile. This is not the end of the world.
  • Remember, “This, too, shall pass.”
  • The more you worry, the harder it is to think clearly.
14. Vent your frustrations to someone you trust.

15. Take a break from writing.
  • If the thought of having to write makes you feel ill or anxious, take a break. This is not the same as quitting. There’s nothing wrong will allowing yourself a brief sabbatical. Give your sabbatical a definite time frame. (Unfortunately this is not really an option if you're on deadline--keep working!)
16. Talk to other writers.
  • An understanding friend can soothe your troubled mind.
17. Try to write in a different place
  • Sometimes a small change of scenery can help you overcome a block
  • Leave your laptop at home and write with a pen and notebook
  • Grease Monkey--yes, I've had a very productive writing session while waiting for my car to be serviced.
18. Do some cluster writing
  • Choose key words and ideas, then write associated ideas and words in clusters around them. This process may help you form new ideas.
19. Follow a routine to get into the writing mood.
  • Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee
  • Listen to CDs (or try out!)
  • Light a scented candle
20. Write out of sequence.
  • If you’re having trouble with a transition paragraph, put a marker where you are and write the next section.
  • If you have a scene or section idea, write it now, and insert it at a later date when your project “catches up” to the scene. I love to do this. When it comes time to insert it into the story it's like being given a bonus scene.
Eliminate "writer's block" from your vocabulary. Best-selling author Angie Hunt once told me, "You never heard of a plumber having plumber's block, did you?" Uh, no. So maybe the best thing to do is to press on and not even accept the term writer's blog.

* For more articles on writer's topics, visit my Denver Writing Examiner page.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Book Report

Occasionally I'll do a book report at my Tuesday morning Words For The Journey meeting. I love telling my writer friends about books I've enjoyed.

This past Tuesday I did a book report on Stealing Home by Allison Pittman. The book doesn't release until May, but I had the good fortune to read it for endorsement.

Stealing Home is a lovely tale set in a small town in Missouri in 1905. The story focuses on Ellie Jane, a clerk for the railroad, Duke Dennison, a Chicago Cubs player who is visiting Picksville to sober up in anonymity, Ned Clovis, a deaf shopkeeper who's had a long-time crush on Ellie Jane, and Morris, a 12 year old African American boy who dreams of escaping the confines of his small town.

Allison created a lovely story depicting small town life at its very worst and also at its shining best.

As a writer/reader I was intrigued by the device Allison used to bring Morris to life. The book is written in 3rd person, past tense EXCEPT for the parts narrated by Morris in 1st person, present tense. I really enjoyed this technique. You observed life in Picksville, and then Morris would interpret the goings on through the filter of his experience.

I wish Allison the best and hope she sells lots of books.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Are you listening? Do you see?

This morning when I opened my back door to let my dog out I was greeted with happy, carefree birdsong. It was beautiful.

As a writer, I try to be as observant as possible about the ordinary things in life because that’s what bonds us most as people. We all can experience the joy of listening to beautiful birdsong, we all can appreciate the nodding wildflowers alongside the road, we can all inhale the sweet fragrance of freshly cut grass (and if you’re not allergic, enjoy the aroma).

I was thrilled a few weeks ago when another writer said I was the Queen of show don’t tell. BTW, show don’t tell is big in writing. It draws the readers into your world through their senses.

So? Are you listening? Do you see? Can you get a whiff of that fragrant grass?

I love to scrutinize what I see, hear, smell. In January I stayed at a luxury hotel for a weekend. In the foyer was a large table with a huge floral arrangement, all done in different types of white flowers. It was lovely, and actually looked so perfect it appeared to be silk flowers. But it wasn’t. I walked over and touched the velvet soft petals and inhaled the mix of floral fragrances. It was a wonderful sensory moment.

Who knows, perhaps some day in my writing I’ll be able to use that moment when I paused to appreciate the work someone put into arranging those lovely flowers.

And that, my friend, is one way to connect with your readers: reference common experiences in your writing. Use the ordinary in life as your word palette.

In other news, I apparently didn’t dry Bayle well enough after her bath on Saturday.