Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Writing Prompts

Want to get... spooked? Experience writing like you may have never experienced it before?

My grandson, Christian, as a ninja
Today I want to direct you to an article I did for Michael Haynes--A Writing Blog, on five Writing Prompts to Die For. On a spooky day like today, what could be more appropriate than visiting a cemetery, writing a creepy story, taking a walk?

If your writing ideas are as dead as a doornail, or you just need a little shot in the neck, you may just want to check out the link below!

Have a howling Halloween!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Come and Stay Awhile: The Importance of Setting

I don't know about you, but setting is harder for me to tackle in a novel, especially if I haven't been to the place I'm writing about. And even if I have, there's still that stuff I need to check out.

I have been on a cruise, but I didn't know what happened behind the scenes. I didn't know what the captain's quarters looked like or where the food was stored. I had questions about crew cabins, jobs on a cruise ship, and what happens when someone dies on board.

Yes, this means I did some research for my book, Sunny Side-Up, though I could draw on my experience as a passenger to complete the setting.

Setting is a valuable asset to your book or short story, because with setting you get a feeling for where the characters are standing and participating. You aren't in some void, rather, the setting contributes to the characters in the book and vice versa.

Photo by: CJ Isherwood, courtesy of Flickr
San Francisco
Photo by: Dougtone, courtesy of Flicker
New Jersey
In my first mystery, Scrambled, the people living in the Hotel Camaro reflected the condition of the hotel itself, which was badly in need of renovation. And since I'd never stepped foot in an old east coast hotel, I had to do some studying to make the setting right. I couldn't just use what I remembered about San Francisco to make it right, for example.

Setting isn't just about tree placement, or having a garden or making the sky blue, the setting reflects the story in a very real way and contributes to your character's success.

You want your reader to put of their feet and stay awhile. But you don't want them to get too comfortable. That's why there's tension and conflict to balance out the beautiful trees and meandering stream. That's why the old hotel with loosening bathroom fixtures, still has room to show it's beautiful wooden cornices.

Though a huge dose of setting at any given time is usually skipped over by the reader, a sprinkling of it in between dialogue lends depth and interest to your story. Are people talking all of the time? Even in real life there is time for reflection and quietness. And that's what you want in your story.

You want your reader to see the world that the character lives in. You want your reader to know why they live where they do, and how the world in which they live contributes to their happiness or lack of it.

If you can do this, your readers will want to prop up their feet and stay awhile.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Get Paid for Your Writing

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, "How do you get paid for your writing?" It's almost as if being a paid writer is a trade secret; one not easily shared for fear of losing your portion of the pie.

Photo by: Tax Credits, courtesy of Flickr
Another question that often comes to me is, "Can I make writing a career?" Usually the day job is less than something to write home about and writing for a living sounds pretty glamorous.

While I'm the first to admit that many writers get paid for their writing, even fewer have made writing a career, and that's not because there isn't money to be made. More than likely, a writer quits because so much time and attention must be given to it.

I get paid for all of the services that Ideas Creations Press provides to authors, from book idea all the way to a finished product. As a side-line I do some copy writing, but I don't make a regular weekly or bi-weekly paycheck. You could call the work I do a sort of a hit and miss proposition.

My husband has the nine to six job, and I'm primarily the fill-in master. And that works for us.
  • While I wouldn't suggest quitting your day job to become a full-time writer, I would recommend writing part-time. My first sales were in newspaper writing, but because newspaper writing is almost extinct, many writers once in the newspaper business are doing blogs or writing for an online paper. Money is slim, but some blogs and newspapers will pay for good work.
  • Think about your talents as a writer. If you're an intermediate writer, consider tutoring beginning writers. If you're a published writer, consider tutoring beginning and intermediate writers. Tutoring, or mentoring is needed for students as well as authors interested in perfecting their craft.
  • Consider speaking engagements as a way to get paid for your writing. Especially if you've published at least one book, do some research about upcoming writers conferences and see if you can get on board.
  • Copy writing can bring in some cash. Believe it or or not, some blogs are not written by anyone within the company, but the assignment is farmed out to freelance writers who write the posts. Copy writer positions are great because you can do the work on your own time, and you can work for someone living in a different state or country. But be careful. There are scams out there. Do your research before signing on.
Getting paid for your writing comes easier if you work for an advertising agency or magazine that offers you daily opportunities to write with a steady paycheck. But because these jobs are few and far between, many readers have opted for working freelance.

A tough search? You bet, but well worth the effort once you get going.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Finding the Best Writing Time for You

Finding the best writing time for you is really as unique as you are.

I find that when I don't schedule my writing time, that my writing time often escapes me. I am rarely able to give the morning hours from 9 -12 the focus needed because I am getting up to re-fill a sippy cup, change the television channel, or put together a puzzle with my 3 year old granddaughter.

Photo by: Trinity, courtesy of Flickr

I wonder how much of my writing time is actually counting for something. I get in the realm of writing and then I'm stopped and have to start again. But it's just not the starting, it's getting back into that realm that's the real trick.

Reflecting on this, I know that my time might be better spent if I got up earlier in the morning or stayed up later at night to work on writing, but the truth of it is, I just don't want to get up that early or stay up that late.

I love my sleep and I'm not really a morning riser.

Finding the best writing time for you may take some work. You may find that you can write with children in the background but that certain creative phases need complete silence. My most in depth creative phase is the first draft after I've done a little outlining. I'm getting the words down and sometimes they come faster than I can type them. An interruption at this time might be deadly.

Have you every thought, "Well, I'll just go do this one thing, and get back to it in a moment?" Only when you come back you've forgotten what you were going to write? For this reason, my deepest thinking moments are usually spent when I can be as alone as possible. And that means someone else is watching the children and I'm not answering the phone or door. I've heard of some writers letting others know when their writing time is so that they're not disturbed. That means, others outside their home know when not to call and when not to drop by.

I have yet to incorporate this wise wisdom, but if we, as writers, don't take our writing seriously, who will?

Finding the best writing time for you may include learning how to write with noise in the background, interruptions, and children hanging on your legs, knowing that the day will come when your children will be grown up and you'll have other things to worry about. You may decide to write late at night or early in the morning or at nap time.

But if your goal is to be published or to get your first novel completed before Christmas, you'll find the time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


First snow storm of the year. I can't help it. Christmas is suddenly funneling through my veins.

Photo by HerryLawford, courtesy of Flickr
This morning my husband and I brought in the his and hers swing, some plants, a small children's table, and outside toys--all of them a mucky mess. My patio looks suddenly empty and larger than I remember it. And I am hoping to keep my spirits up as the days darken and cold enters through the cracks of my home.

But I do have a fireplace, lots of warm mittens and blankets stored up for just such an occasion.

And I have books.

I read more during the winter, don't you? The fall and winter seasons lend themselves to cuddling up with a favorite book and blanket. I often reread some of my favorites:

The Tao of Pooh
Gift from the Sea
The Power of Intention

Along with my favorites I like to pick up new books from the library and wander through bookstores like Barnes & Noble to their discount tables.

It's easy for the day to simply go by when it's snowing like today.

Perhaps I will begin anew an old read.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blog Hop!


From Twilight to 50 Shades of Grey, the past few years have been full of high profile reads. Love um or hate um, you have to admit you have at least heard of them.
As Independent Authors we all dare to dream we will be next, and well let’s face it you never know ... right?
With that thought I jumped on this Hop, what is a blog hop? Well I didn’t know until I asked.
Basically, it’s an Independent Authors game of tag.

One Author posts, and then tags five other Authors, who each link back to them. Exponentially it is a marketing gold mine, and you my fair reader have hopefully just increased your to read list. Finding New and Exciting Authors you may never have found otherwise. Some of us are still writing, others are just being released. Either way, for you Fiction Lovers, a treasure trove awaits and I’d like to thank fellow S.I. Hayes for tagging me to participate.
Click the links to find out about S.I Hayes’ books.
Twitter @shannonihayes
Blog: A Writer’s Mind, More or Less
In this particular hop I and my fellow Authors each in their perspective Blogs have answered 10 questions where you get to learn about our current WIP (Works in Progress) as well as some goodies as to our process, from characters and inspirations to photographic/ Cinematic eye candy! I hope you enjoy it!!

If this or any other items pique your interest, please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions.


1: What is the working title of your book? Sunny Side-Up
2: Where did the idea come from for the book? My first book in the Susan Sleuth Mystery series is entitled, Scrambled, and was released September 2012. This is the second book in the cozy mystery series and takes place on a cruise ship. A few years ago I went on an eventful cruise, and since Susan has always wanted to go to Paris or Hawaii I decided that a cruise would work.

3: What genre does your book fall under? Cozy Mystery, however, you'll find that my mysteries take on a more suspenseful feel. No cozy towns here, but loads of mishaps and bungles.
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I would choose the main character, Susan. I like to be in the middle of things, whether it's a movie or a book. I like to figure things out before everyone else. I'm one of those 'talkers' when it comes to watching movies. "I think I know who the killer is," "I know why she said that," etc.
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence?
6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-published through my business, Idea Creations Press and CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? About four months. During the next few I'm going to have some readers and writers give me feedback and do plenty of re-writes. You should see Sunny Side-Up by the middle of next year--2013.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? If you've ever seen "Murder She Wrote," you'll get a bit of an idea. Since my book doesn't fall smack-dab into the cozy mystery genre, the book is a bit harder to peg. Just expect an amateur sleuth, eggs to die for, and plenty of twists and turns.
9: Who or What inspired you to write this book? I realized that the first book Scrambled, didn't finish everything in the life of Susan Cramer. There was more of her to discover. In the third book, Hard Boiled, Susan returns home from her cruise only to discover some disturbing news. I have only ideas at this point, but be prepared for some scary fun!
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? A middle-aged woman who wants a better life. And what woman doesn't want that?

Below you will find Authors who will be joining me by blog, Next Wednesday. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!!

Michelle Renea Anderson: Click the links to find out about Michelle Renea Anderson's book

Shelby’s Plan.

Twitter: @MichelleRAnders

Lin Floyd's Websites:

Kelley Lindberg's Work:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Can't Wait! Simple Treasures Holiday Boutique

Need some inexpensive Christmas decorations and gifts?

Today is the LAST DAY of The Simple Treasures Holiday Boutique. Come on by!

I am giving away a free package of personally labeled stones with your purchase of Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones; free postcard bookmarks will be given to everyone who stops by the table to take a look!

It's been an incredible few days! Still selling primarily Conquering Your Goliaths and Scrambled. Met many readers and even a few writers.
Come and get a book or two autographed!

Watch this video:
Entry fee is only $1

Monday, October 22, 2012

Taking Writing Breaks

A Writer on a mission is a bit like a man who has a hard time slowing down for his wife at the supermarket, or a wife who has a difficult time not picking up after everyone. You may personally find that when you're on your greatest and most focused missions, you're unaware of walking too fast or cleaning up too quickly.

I often have family tell me that it's time to slow down a bit. I need to make time for the most important things, which includes writing, but it's frankly not at the top of my list although I'm often making it so.

At times when my legs get ahead of me or when I find that I'm working on my latest writing project when I might be spending some time with my grandchildren, I'm happy when I'm made aware enough to stop.

Photo by: Dreamymo, courtesy of Flickr
I write the best when I've given myself some time for reflection, when I've spent some time playing or reading or taking a walk.

A writer on the best mission is one who thrives in balance, but since we're all working on that one, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to keep on trying.

If your friend tells you that she wants to get together for lunch but you're to busy to stop and take a couple of hours, perhaps you need to rethink your mission.

If your husband suggests a 'date night' but you say you're too busy finishing your novel...

If you find that you're stuck, or angry or frustrated, you just might want to take a break before going back to your writing.

It works.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Halloween Party to Die For

Every year my family gets together for a Halloween Party. We dress up, go out to eat in costume, then return home for a movie. This year the choice was "Men in Black."

I can't tell you the FUN to be had doing this adventurous activity.
Since our family uses another day other than Halloween to dress up in costume and go out to eat we get some pretty strange looks.

This year we went to Salt Lake City Burger Co.

And even though we were dressed as various goblins, we were treated with kindness, though with a bit of initial surprise.

It isn't every day that you see this:

At Salt City Burger Co.
At any rate, we enjoyed a great meal as onlookers stared and raised their eyebrows. It was a bit like being a celebrity, though I have never been a celebrity so I'm just guessing at the attention. We were also seated in a corner booth. I'm not sure if this was because of our number or because of (you know) our attire.

It occurred to me last night just like it does now, that experiences such as this can give us a clue into the heads of others. The experience can help us with our next book, or merely give us cause for reflection.

Like any off-the-wall FUN thing will do.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Networking With Readers & Writers

I think it's interesting that most of our networking these days is done online. We get on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter and think we're doing a wonderful thing with networking.

And maybe we are.

Just yesterday my mother and I were talking about letters. You know those things written on paper and mailed through the post office?

Photo by Muffet, courtesy of Flickr
We talked about letter writing being a lost art. And I believe it is. Instead of writing a letter, a thank you note, or even sending some actual pictures through the mail with an "I Love You," attached, we find it satisfactory to do an attachment.

And maybe what we're doing is just that. Satisfactory.

It made me think of ways to connect with my readers that fall off the typical cyber track. Things like:
  • Sending a paper note to reviewers who have reviewed our book.
  • Writing a paper letter to fans who have complimented us on our work.
  • Being available at book signings to speak with fans as well as those who are interested in writing and making yourself available for future help if they need it. It's far too easy to sit there just hoping for a sale; far harder to focus on the person and their needs.
  • Being just as concerned about another author--and their success--as you are about your own success. Inviting authors to join you at book signings and other events that you have put together is a great way to make new friends and to let others know that writers need to stick together.  
  • Giving away your book for free when you feel prompted to do so. I always carry a book with me. Recently, I was at a business meeting and heard a story that touched me. I knew that the person would be open to receiving my book, "Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones," but I had forgotten to take a book with me that day. She had to be satisfied with my thoughts on the book and the postcard about it that I gave her.
  • Go out to lunch. Spend some time with another writer.
  • Get involved in networking groups but not with the intent to make a sale. A change of heart will bring you the people that will need your book.
When it comes to networking with readers and writers, it might be easier to send something via email or even by Facebook, but the most rewarding things in my life come when I have met directly with an individual and shared with them.

How about you?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Writing a Screenplay?

I absolutely LOVE the book, "Writing Screenplays that Sell," by Michael Hauge!

Writing Screenplays That Sell, New Twentieth Anniversary Edition: The Complete Guide to Turning Story Concepts into Movie and Television Deals

How often are you writing a book and you can see the characters in living color inside your head? How often do you wonder if your dialogue is where it should be, or if the story is strong enough to carry the main character to the end? Have you ever considered the importance of theme? Structure? Writing individual scenes?

I have never written a screenplay, but I can tell you when I've seen a good one and when I haven't. Perhaps the end isn't realistic and unbelievable--probably a problem with character development. The scenes jump, and don't flow. Probably a problem with structure.

The cool thing about Hauge is that he analyses the movie we all know and love, The Karate Kid. What made the movie such a success? What elements were important? Did the movie also have weaknesses?

Hauge also discusses the weaknesses of the movie; things such as predictability and a slow beginning.

Can either of these issues relate to a book you are writing?

You bet.

When it comes to writing books I tend to shy away from the punctuation type, unless I have a question that needs to be answered. But often, the best writing books are those that teach you not only how to write with flavor, but how to get an audience interested for life.

Have a favorite book on writing? I would love it if you shared it here.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Creating Realistic Characters

When writers ask me what it takes to create realistic characters, my first thought is always,"you probably already know the answer."

Photo by: Northridge Alumni Bear Facts, courtesy of Flickr
If you've spent your life out of doors and not inside a cardboard box, if you know a little bit about communication and the quirks that everyone has, if you know how to relate to children or teens or adults, then you already know how to create realistic characters.

For some reason, in writing a book, authors think they have to know something special about keeping their characters from the cut-out variety. But all a writer really needs to create a believable character is just a reminder of what folks are all about in the first place:

  • Physical characteristics
  • Emotional ways of being
  • Spiritual attributes
  • Talents and gifts
  • Flaws
What is it about your best friend that keeps her your best friend?

What is it about you enemy that keeps her standing far away?

Why do some people prefer jeans to dressing up?

Why do others hate to be bothered, while yet others like that one-on-one visit?

Creating realistic characters is a bit like life. You meet new people, you're surrounded by loved ones, and your enemies continue to stress you out, because that's what they do.

What you learn in your life associations will keep your characters realistic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Balancing Writing With Kids

It's about time this post was written. But I have thought a lot about it recently, especially since I now have grand kids at my feet when I'm trying to write.

Yes, one of my daughters lives with me and she has two children. A girl, 3, and a boy, 7. I am tending for my daughter so that she can get her degree, graduate and support her children, but the road is often long and difficult; especially when you consider all the work that goes into book writing and promotion.

But I want you to know something. Even though I sometimes feel as if I'm re-doing my young mother years, I am learning even more from my grandchildren and myself than I ever did the first round.

If you're also struggling to get in some writing time along with raising your children or taking the second-mommy watch, these ideas might help you like they've helped me in still maintaining my rights and sanity as an author.
Photo by: ContentAction, courtesy of Flickr
1. Time. There are better times to write than others. Early in the morning, during nap time (unfortunately, I can't always use that one here, but it worked with my own children) and late at night. Also, keep in mind that when the children are occupied with some great craft or toy, you can squeeze in some time there, as well. In addition, getting a playmate helps if you have only one child, or sending your children off to play once or twice a week, and trading off with a neighbor.

2. Quality. Quality writing becomes thwarted when you're trying to write amongst the yells and other catastrophes of children. Again, my best quality of writing comes when the sounds and 'needs' are not there. Still, I find that if the children are playing in the same room I can still get some work done even with the background noise. I have learned to multitask and this has helped me to get more work done. If I focus on technical projects like outlining or organizing my day, this helps too. When I plan on being involved in the creative process, I try to get the children occupied before I begin.

3. Quantity. I have learned in writing, that it isn't the quantity of work that you put out, but the balance you achieve. For example, I get into marketing my new books and forget that I also need to write. My time can't be heavy on one side over the other. And place children in the mix, and you have some real balancing to do. Writing and marketing also entail those well-needed breaks. And I mean it. I always feel when I have overdone it. I either get sick, depressed or both.

4. Priority. While I love to write and market, I love my grandchildren more. Having raised my own children I know how quickly they grow up (yes, I was told this all of the time by well-meaning people, but never really believed it until I looked back) and how easy it became to get involved in other things. I still have to watch myself. I am not always the best at stopping my work and reading a story or going outside to play in the sandbox. But when I take a few minutes it's amazing the connections and fun that I have!

Balancing writing with kids is more than a juggling act. It takes some wisdom to know when to play and when to write, and when to get your children or grandchildren occupied with something without you. But that's what life is all about.



Monday, October 15, 2012

Guess What?


Just updated!


Is Image Everything?

I read a title to a post today: Image is Everything. You know, I couldn't even get beyond the title. I could only think, Is image everything?

I hope not.

I hope when you pick up that creatively designed book you also find that the read inside is worth the cover.

Photo by: Cassandra204, courtesy of Flickr
I hope when you meet an attractive someone, that you look beyond their obvious good looks and see if there's anything 'good' within them.

I hope that if someone doesn't attract your eye initially that you'll have the courage to take a second look.

I hope you don't judge a person on how they keep their house, speak to others, or if they go to church or not.

I hope you don't think a particular person is of higher class because they've got a nice house, a nice car, a new boat.

I hope you don't see the poor as a nuisance. I hope you don't see them as less than you.

Image has it's purposes. It allows us to wake up and see something or someone we might have missed. It may even keep our attention--get us writing. But if it's the only thing we look for, the only thing we want, it's like believing a billboard or a television commercial, or even an expertly crafted resume will tell us everything we need to know.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gathering Supplies for a Christmas Booth

If you read my blog yesterday, you'll know that I'm gearing up for the Simple Treasures show next month.
Simple Treasures Boutique - Farmington, Utah
Along with getting all of the books in, I am working on making my booth beautiful. That means a trip to the hardware store, the Dollar Store, the print store, etc.

Suffice it to say that you should see a beautiful display of books come November 7-10.

If you want to learn more about the Simple Treasures Show in Farmington, go this link.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Selling Your Book at Christmas

Yes, I realize it isn't even Halloween yet, but you may want to start stocking the shelves for Christmas!

Marketing starts about now--and it comes by a whirlwind just right after Halloween.

What does this mean to the self-published or traditionally published author?
  • You may want to purchase extra books to have on-hand in case someone in your area needs a last minute gift.
  • You may want to consider setting up speaking engagements at schools if your book is for a younger audience.
  • You may want to set up some author signings at retail establishments. A book store or two is fine, but a toy store (for a children's book) or a health food store (for a cook book) is better. Keep in mind that your book doesn't have to relate to the store you choose; what is most important is that you choose a store that is well traveled during the holidays.
  • Do some extra advertising online by putting out more guest blogs, interviews, book giveaways and videos. My goal up until Halloween is one promotion online per week. After that I want to at least double that.
  • Get involved in Christmas boutiques and other Christmas ventures. You may find that some of these ventures are already filled up--such is probably the case with Simple Treasures Holiday Boutique that I will be November 7-10 in Farmington, but it can never hurt to check. Booths are reasonable as compared to the Dicken's Festival.
  • Get together with some author friends and travel the libraries for speaking engagements and signings. Make it a two-day or longer event in which you focus on promoting your books and helping your writer friends to do the same.
  • Have a Christmas book signing at your home. Gather all the books you have published for an all-in-one book signing and Christmas feast! Sample food, play Christmas music, make crafts; whatever you want to make the event great.
  • Make sure your book is online for purchase especially the day after Thanksgiving. You may even want to offer a special deal on your books. I'm considering offering mine (your choice) for 50% off.
  • If you don't have your book postcards yet, now is the time to order! I get mine from Vista Print online, but a local printer can also help you. These cards are great to pass out at any time and offer information on your book(s).
When it comes to selling your books at Christmas, don't stand in a box, get out and try some new things. Talk your book up and be open to ideas that come to you.

Do you have any ideas that you'd like to share here? Please do. Let's help each other out as writers.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Feeling a Bit....Under the Weather?

It isn't easy to stay motivated, especially when you have to do your life.

Photo by: camerakarrie, courtesy of Flickr
You know. Clean the house. Take care of sick kids. Work a full or part-time job. Go grocery shopping. Deal with all the unexpected variables that life has to offer. Health issues. Choice issues. Last minute issues.

But I'm here to tell you that staying in tune with writing can't do anything but help you. Yes, even when the clouds are the darkest and it appears that rain is going to continue through the weekend. Yes, even then.

I find that my journal comes in handy during the dark times and I'm glad for the free therapy as well as the opportunity to write and improve my skills. 
  • Will a new character spring forth from a morning write?
  • Will I discover something new about myself that will help me in the future?
  • Will my writing merely be a 'crying jag'?
Photo by: courtesy of Flickr
No matter.

I'm feeling a bit under the weather this morning. But already, the clouds are parting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Balancing Dialogue with Setting and Reflection

I received a phone call from a writer this morning. She wanted to know if writing a page and a half of material without dialogue was okay. I assured her that it was.

Photo by: veni  markovski, courtesy of Flickr
There is a place for setting. A place for back story. A place to sum up without spelling out every nuance in a conversation. Because, as usual, your story must move forward.

So when do you know when to write dialogue and when to leave it out?

Only you can answer that question. And your readers, of course. And we're talking here about the readers you get before you put your book out there to the world. They may tell you that:
  • Your story drags too much. You need more dialogue. 
  • There is confusion. The story jumps too much from setting to setting and the reader is having a difficult time understanding where they are.
  • You write too much dialogue and not enough setting.
  • Reflection time takes over the story and is always swimming in a circle but never taking the character anywhere.  
Photo by: LaurenFinkelPhotography, courtesy of Flickr
Writing dialogue is a bit like real life situations. In fact, the best dialogue takes a back seat to the dialogue you use in real life and the power it gives you personally to move on. Dialogue peppered with some reflection time and the use of setting intertwined makes for a great balance in your book. As in book reading, balance is also wanted in life (even if we don't get it).

Because dialogue moves the reader along faster in your story than any other writing medium, you want to make sure you use it; but you also want to give the reader pause for reflection, time to take in their immediate surroundings. There's nothing worse than having your characters standing within an empty void. Your readers want to see where they are; breathe in the air if you will. They want to be a part of the story.

We all have writing areas we are stronger at. Mine happens to be dialogue. I struggle with setting and find that when I return to a book I often have to add a bit more. You may do the same with dialogue.

The good news is that in book writing, a writer can go back and re-do what was said or felt or seen--something not usually possible in real life.

And maybe that's the best news.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

If at First You Don't Succeed, Try Tenacity

I have been dealing with some technical issues this morning, and now know the problem. Suffice it to say my new video will be coming to you shortly but not today.

Instead, today I'd like to share a bit with you about Tenacity. If you've read my book, "Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones," then you'll have an inkling of where I'm going.

Tenacity is one of those things that you incorporate in your life when you don't want to do something, but you know that this something matters. If you've just lost your job and you're having a difficult time finding another, then tenacity is one of the keys to your success.

You may have tried 'everything' when it comes to finding a job, only to be disappointed again and again.

When I looked for work after graduating from college at the age of 48, I thought I'd find something in the advertising or journalism arena. But if you remember 2009, you'll know that journalism jobs at the time were a dime a dozen (and things aren't looking up). I was also 48 years old, and although the interviews I went to (very few I might add) seemed positive and a job imminent, I wasn't called back, and I wondered if this was because of my age.

I am now grateful that I didn't give up. Sure, I stopped looking for work, but I didn't stop looking for a dream career.

And maybe that's what it's all about anyway. Opening your eyes; seeing what options are out there, outside of the box. Dreaming a little.

I want you to know that I've found my dream job but that success is a daily project. I try to Listen to God, and Trust in his word for me. With trust comes Optimism that everything will work out for my best good and that God cares about every (and I mean every) aspect of my life. Tenacity keeps me going even when the going gets difficult, and Constancy helps me to focus on what's most important knowing that God will always walk with me.

Will he walk with you?

I know he will.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Sometimes I get carried away with my writing.

I get writing and marketing and publishing and I forget why all this is happening in the first place.

Photo by: paparutzi, courtesy of Flickr

And I want to thank him today for his many blessings. Because he does care about my writing, and he does care about your writing.

How do I know this?

God believes in using our talents. You know the stories...

The light on a candlestick. Is it placed to give light to everyone in the house or under a basket?
The talents that God has given you. Does God want you to multiple them or bury them in the ground?

Who are you?

If you believe that you are a child of God then you also know that all things are possible, because he makes all things possible.

And so today I thank God for all of the possibilities within me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Photo Writing Contest

One of the things I use to drum up ideas is to look through my photo binder. In the binder I have pictures cut from magazines. I use ads primarily, because in ads, you also have a few words to describe what you're seeing.

But it occurred to me today that I could also find great photos to get my mind thinking and the ideas flowing. And so I'm offering a contest. Send me your best description using one of the photos below as your inspiration when you respond to this post.

I want you to think beyond the surface. That means using more than 'sight' in your description. Hmmm what are the other four senses? Only one entry per writer. The paragraph must be 5 sentences or less.
In two weeks, that's October 17, I will choose a winner. What does the winner get? One of my published books--signed, sealed and delivered to their home address. The winner's choice.

Photo 1
Photo by: Dominic's Pic, courtesy of Flickr
Photo 2 
Photo by: pellaea, courtesy of Flickr

Happy writing!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Are You Shopping for a New Story?

Are you shopping for a new story? 

Hopefully, in preparation for the trip, you make a list.

You look through your cupboards and refrigerator to see what you have so you don't duplicate.

You plan a time when the shopping trip will work the best in your hectic schedule--preferably without the children.

Photo by Lars Plougmann, courtesy of Flickr
You may even look over your finances. At least in your minds eye you have a pretty good idea of what you can afford. You may even clip coupons and look for sales--a great thing if you have the time.

So what does this have to do with shopping for a story? Well, let me just tell you.
    Photo by xJason.Rogersx, courtesy of Flickr
  • Making a list is a bit like organizing your thoughts before you write, kind of like those dreaded outlines. Especially if you're writing a novel, some outlining is in order. But choose the outlining method that is best for you.
  • Ideas don't often come as easily as Mary Poppins flying down  with her umbrella. You must search for them; often, in the most unlikely places like a bank or a department store--maybe even a cupboard.
  • Time for writing must be planned, it's not usually going to come to you. For this reason, and because my mind works better in the morning to early afternoon, I try to do most of my writing then. When I had small children I worked between naps and during the evening when they were in bed. Yes, I also wrote during the day when they were awake, but it was difficult I assure you.
  • Are you looking for a publisher? An agent? Do you want to do the book on your own? These questions are better answered early on. Are you willing to spend more money on your manuscript, over paper, stamps, mailing envelopes or boxes by going the route of self-publishing? Actually, self publishing or POD publishing doesn't have to be the big expense it used to be, but you need to know early on what you're going to do with your novel once it's finished. 
    Photo by: Philip Taylor PT, courtesy of Flickr
  • Marketing is a BIG deal. In fact, it's said that the marketing of your book will take more of your time than the writing of it. I like to put aside at least 15 minutes a day for marketing my newest book--and balance the marketing with the writing I am constantly doing. Some days the entire day is spend on marketing.
Yes, shopping for a new story is kind of like planning and then going on a shopping trip. It's made easier when you have a great idea, can organize this idea and make time for writing and never forget that the shopping experience is not complete even after you've published writing your book.

When it comes to marketing, whether you choose mainstream publishing or POD publishing, be assured that there will be a lot of work ahead of you in getting the word out.

I wish you success.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Creative Genius

Creating the best novel, short story or poem may just be on your agenda today, but are you ready for second best?

I don't know about you, but whatever I write, I want it to be the best work that I can put out. Does that mean it will be the best thing out there, walking hand in hand with the likes of C.S. Lewis?

Photo by:, courtesy of Flickr
Not exactly. But it might.

Creative genius is a little like looking inside yourself for the good stuff and getting it out on paper just the way you see it. Is this always possible?

I remember writing "A River of Stones" 10 years ago and wanting to skim over the hard parts. It was far easier to merely mention that dad had left the family, far harder to talk about how the separation hurt. It was like I'd lost a part of myself. I wondered how I could keep going when I felt as if my love meant nothing. I wondered how a father could leave a family of children. Did he love us?

Now that I've stepped back from the situation I can see that it was the best thing. I grew up. I could see that my mother wasn't happy in her marriage, and I could see that she deserved a happy life. 

Was her life perfect after the divorce? No. But she met a new man and this man has stuck around, loved her, and cared for my brother and I like we were his own.

Photo by: gnuckx, courtesy of Flickr
And we are.

Creative genius is a little like hope I think. It's about reaching out and giving our writing everything and then waiting for the results that come from within. It's about sharing with others what we create, and no matter what the response (both positive and negative) we know we have been honest in our creation. Creative genius may not take a lot of time but it does take some work traveling through the hard stuff.

Will you make a visit?