Sunday, March 31, 2013


Been busy trying to get ready for Easter. I've been wandering, these past few years, and finally decided to return home. Spent a lot of this week at church attending the various services. 

I didn't even send out cards. Honestly, cards and I just don't like each other. I even put reminders on my Google calendar, but then, I slough them off. Shees!

This has got to become part of my quest for discipline. When I start sending out 'Blue,' I've got to keep track of where I've sent it and any (crosses fingers) all responses and then the thank you cards when I get a response. Thank you cards for school visits, for friends writing and saying they've bought a copy. Honestly, besides being rude by not sending cards, it stinks. It's part of the marketing process. 

I'd much prefer focusing on the 'human' process though. My mom never sent out thank you cards and such so I find myself using that as an excuse. Not a good thing to do.

So - I wish you all a very Happy Eastertime. Lots of colored eggs. Lots of chocolate bunnies. And lots of plot bunnies clogging up your brains!

Life is a plot bunny!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Cleaning

I've spent the last couple of days trying to do some more leg work for 'Blue.' I want this story done and edited and out the door. I'm tired of it. I'm not really tired of 'Blue' nor her characters, but I'm tired of it hanging heavy in the background. It's always there, even when I'm working on 'The Other Side' or 'Sorrysorrysorry'. It never lets me sleep.

My editor said I had to give a little more detail for one of my lesser characters. I'm chaffing at this. He's only there like you'd use someone who opens the doors or sets the tables. I didn't want to make him anything more than that. Until -- I remembered, I've got Book Two and Book Three to write. Who's to say this character isn't going to turn into one of those secondary characters who decides the book should be all about him. Now - I know neither book will be, but I think it might be wise to flesh out this guy, just in case. I've added a few bits and pieces here and there in Book One, but I'm working on a back story for 'Padget'. 

Also, I was told that one of the characters I kill off somewhere in the first half of Book One doesn't resonate with her. She wants more. Good grief, now that I think on it, my editor is starting to sound like a kid at her birthday - opening present after present - and still wanting more.

No - she doesn't do that. She's usually spot-on with her thoughts and so, I'll add more of 'Harland' but only a little. I've got a back story for him already, but I will not put a lot in. She said if I flesh out my lesser characters that my main character will blossom. I'll remember that as I put some more touches of 'Harland' into the chapter before he dies.

As for my character study, I didn't have a 'picture' of Harland and found one last night. Perfect. I use a Google search using some criteria for what I think the character looks like, and then I hit 'images' and up pop pictures of kids who fit some of the criteria. None of these pictures will be used in the book; I just need something for myself - something hanging on the wall with the other notes - like timeline and lineage and such.

Phew! And then, I began working on Ch. 18, which is not an easy chapter to make changes. But it's not too difficult either. I must remember that.

I suppose all of this is kind of like spring cleaning. And this is an appropriate time of the year for such. I'l just take one 'room' at a time. *g*

Life is sunshine.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


My writing buddy and I were going over life, its trials and tribulations.

We started giggling, as we always do. Life sucks sometimes. It kicks us in the teeth. We forge on. We roll with the punches. At least, we try to. What separates us from the animals is hope.

I tried to share some kind of a visual with my buddy when I thought of a tapestry. Those huge ones hanging on walls of castles and such. They look beautiful. Until you pick up an edge and look behind.

Oh my goodness. The knots and the hanging threads and the total jumble that is part of the creation of a beautiful piece of art. 

That's what we look like to ourselves if all we concentrate on is the backside. *g* If we look at the front, if we really look at ourselves, we can see the beauty that the All-knowing One created. 

Same for a puzzle or a work of art that's not quite done yet. Unintelligible most times. Brush strokes get in the way of seeing what the artist sees. Puzzle pieces strewn about with hanging ends staring at us, taunting us with their puzzlement. 

My writing is the same way. If I only look at one chapter or one character or one landscape, I can't see the whole thing. In fact, until it's written, I can't see the whole thing. I can get discouraged and want to walk away.

I've discovered that walking away isn't an option. Discouragement shouldn't be a roadblock. So I'll look at my book as a large, beautiful tapestry (making sure the backside is hidden from view) and enjoy this sub-creation that I'm part of.

Life is a tapestry.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I don’t know what’s happened to my brain. It’s been in overdrive for the last couple of days. The roadblocks are gone!

I told myself, two days ago, that I was looking forward to editing the next chapter of ‘Blue.’ I did feel good about it. I sat down and edited Ch. 11 and then went on to Ch. 12 into the early morning. Ch. 13 and 14 demanded I spend time with them. I felt good, tired, but really good about doing the chapters. Not the least nervous or scared or put off by them. I truly don’t know what has happened.

Today, as I sat down to finish Ch. 14, I felt a moment of apprehension. BUT – I said to myself (not out loud – though that has happened on many occasions), I can’t wait to finish Ch. 14. And I did.

I wrote this a few hours ago. I couldn't get away from the story and edited Chapters 15 through 17. 

Chapter 18 is going to be a bear. I'm glad I had this 'growth' spurt. Hopefully, it will tide me through the next chapters.

i've added a new character and now I've got to figure out why. *g* Time to learn more about our core characters, too. Should make for an interesting week. Or more. *g* 

I'm hoping there won't be too many roadblocks. 

Life is exhilarating!

PS - Excited!!! Made a discovery, using the internet, over at the old ‘Online Etymology Dictionary.’ If I type in a word, it will not only give me the specific word, but it will offer a bunch of words that are related. So I typed in armor and got armor, greave, panoply, bracer, and all manner of awesome pieces of armor for my character. You know, I used to have to look up piece by piece, name by name, not realizing the great tool this site is. Whoo hoo!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Use All The Tools Available

Sometimes I think people know what I know and then I discover they don’t. Now, conversely, sometimes people know a lot of what I don’t know. *g*

I was with some friends talking about the hurricane in one of the chapters of ‘Other.’ I told them I watched YouTube vids of Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, and some of the other ‘big’ ones.  They helped me ‘know’ what it would be like for my character to be caught in one. I had forgotten about swinging traffic lights until I saw them in one of the vids.

They were astounded. They'd never thought of using YouTube to ‘understand’ how an event would feel or sound like. Or what effect it would have on their characters.

I am going to be writing a sandstorm scene in the next chapter of ‘Other.’ Of course, I’m going to surf YouTube to ‘experience’ this kind of event for myself. I know it will help in the writing.

In ‘Blue,’ because the colors of the world have been changed, I used a color wheel website to add depth to the color choices. I didn’t want to use only primary colors. It was a great help.

So please, use the internet for all its worth. There are so many things there to help us writers. - to experience anything that has happened in the past whatever years. - I keep this open at all times. It’s the best way to make sure my verbs are active – jumping over each other. *g* - the origin of words (this is most helpful if you’re writing anything that’s not today. For instance, I was going to use the word ‘morphed’ and checked it against this site. Morphed was first used in 1995. If I’m writing about any time before 1995, I’ve blown it. I’ve taken a knowledgeable reader right out of the story! - ‘how to’s to help with anything I don’t know. - mostly excellent resource for things that I don’t know. Like the titles that are used for the monarchy in most lands. Or the hierarchy of the military. Just about anything I don’t know, I can find here. I just have to take it with a grain of salt. In fact, I do more than that. I research the same thing elsewhere using Google search, to make sure the entry in Wiki is correct.

Enough links for today. You get the gist. The internet is an excellent resource for writers. Of course, if you don’t think research is important to your writing, then, never mind.

Life is knowledge.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Talent Vs. Knowledge

I watched Yuna Kim, South Korean figure skater, yesterday. She was incredible. I like figure skating and have been watching for years. I think this woman is about the best I've ever seen. Her talent was unmistakable. What I really liked - her fluidity. It was awesome watching her AFTER each jump. She continued the flow of the jump into the next part. I've never seen anything like it. There was one point where it seemed to me that she did a little jump for joy after the real jump. There it was - a triple something or the other and then, a wee little, "See, I did it!" Hop. That's what it was - a hop of delight. and accomplishment. I'm still humming from the joy of it. Sadly, it's not on YouTube yet, but it will be.

Talent is, I think, the number one ingredient in anything we strive for. We all are gifted, but sometimes not in the thing we WANT to be gifted in. Does that make sense?

My daughter loved gymnastics, but she got tall. There's nothing you can do about tall. A friend loved ballet, but she got 'endowed.' There's not many ballerinas who are 'endowed.'

With my writing, I know I've got talent. But having talent doesn't preclude knowledge. No matter what I write, I've got to back it up with a sound knowledge of my craft.

We all start somewhere. After awhile, we decide, yup, we can do this. Then comes the time for work. For sucking in knowledge. For transforming that knowledge into something useful. For building up the talent with the knowledge. 

I sometimes moan and groan (or whimper and whine) about the things I know I have to do to my story. Things that I've been learning over all these years. Suggestions made by critiquers and teachers and friends. 

I'm grateful for the talent. Now, I will stop whining and start working. Reading is not a luxury for a writer. Research is not a luxury for a writer. Learning is not a luxury for anyone. These are necessities. Like water and air and a roof over my head. 

Talent is awesome. Knowledge is even better. 

Life is work. (but don't forget to play)

PS - I've revamped my front page. I've added two EXCITING pages. Please check them out if you get a moment. The first is 'Heroes.' These are people who have supported me beyond hope. The second is 'Speakers.' I've put links to those who have touched me, either at big conferences or at small library chats. Thank each and every one of you on these lists. I love you to pieces!

PSS - My buddy, Fred & his friends, have an awesome band out of Pittsburgh. Bunch of us are getting together from Philly and Cleveland to see them in April    GunBand - check them out.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Still Here

I've started chapter twelve of 'The Other Side.' Finally. Writing can be complicated. I think I might have to put up some more sticky notes so I don't lose track of where I'm heading with this. I've got two main characters (well - a protagonist and an antagonist) and now the Muse has decided we need two different terrains. Yikes!

*holds up hands to diffuse panic* It's alright. I can do this.

Today is an Easter egg hunt so I'll be away for awhile. Being child-like every now and then (the little one forces me to play) is great for the imagination. Play is important. We as adults don't do it enough. I don't consider Angry Birds as play. *g*

There's a good article at the link below. Writing used to be play, but now it's not. I need to play with my writing more, write just plain old fun stuff as a break from 'Blue' and 'Other.' I think this will be more important the further along in the 'publishing' process I go.

Back to work for the moment. I've got 'Blue' edited through Ch. Ten. I am getting into the nitty-gritty of the changes. From now on, I've got to concentrate on the characters being added as I go further into the book. I've got a dragon or two who are characters themselves. Getting the nuances of each one, why I have introduced them and what part they play in the story has to be fleshed out more. I'm working on it. I'm not feeling as inundated as I did when first my editor slammed me with her comments. No - I love her and the additions she wants are important. They grow more important the more info I put into the story. A paradox. Ah ha!

Life is fun.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

All In The Same Boat And 'Touts'

As I sat at my writing class yesterday and listened to the moans and groans of my fellow writers, I realized that we are all in the same boat.

I read other blogs of writers. Most of them struggle with roadblocks and the world pushing into their writing time and the dog needing to be walked.

I am not alone. You are not alone. The perfect place to write is rare. The perfect time is rare. The perfect idea is rare. The perfect chapter.... Well, you get the gist. Writing's hard. It's fun. It's awesome. But it's hard. There's always something trying to pull me away from it. Or discourage me. Or tempt me to other things.

Voices in the night (during the day, at sunrise, at sunset *g*). Why on earth, I wonder, do I listen to the negative voices that rattle within my brain? Why do I become discouraged if the chapter I share is not bowed down to and received with awe? Why, when the blank page stares at me, do I not stare back, with lip curled, and say, "Ok. Give me your best shot." I know I can write. I know I can write under duress. I know I can write well. But those voices from ages past.... Will not define who I am or keep me from helping my poor heroine who is in the midst of hellfire and damnation!

Another thing that is downright frustrating. (Where's my asparagus?) Touting your work. I find it difficult. I'm not a salesperson and I don't like pushing people. But I can't think like that. The tirade the other day came about because I felt so guilty about touting. Granted, I wish I'd had the wherewithal to tell the man I met that I really liked his stuff, but there was no time. It went beyond that, though. I was embarrassed to be 'accosting' him (though I know he didn't feel accosted).

I don't want to think of what will happen at my first book signing. YES - I will have a book signing. In fact, more than one! But will my heart fall if there are only two people there? Voices - No! That won't happen.

You know my mantra is 'no expectations.' Well, I will carry that through daily. I must. I will not expect to write, but I will write. I will not expect a certain number of people at my first book signing, but I will have people there. I will not expect my book to win any awards, but I will apply for them.

I will live. I will write. I will moan on occasion. But I will live.

Life is a commitment. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Rough and hectic day. I would have mauled a few stalks of asparagus if I'd had any. (see below for explanation.)

I missed my writers' group due to too many errands. I had a story all ready for it, too. It was a fun tale, The Great Chocolate Caper. I'd been hoping it was good enough to enter into the contest for our local Pen & Ink paper. Discouraging, but bearable. (asparagus)

I ran to the post office and realized that the self-addressed envelope I had put in with my MS wouldn't work. I was sending it to New Zealand and I had no NZ stamps. The NZ post office, I was positive, would not send out an envelope with a US stamp. *g*

Ran home and found the last NZ$5 that I had leftover from my last trip. I shoved it into the manilla envelope with a note saying, Please use this $5 for stamps to send my MS back with (hopefully - fingers crossed) comments. Or even - dare I say it - a contract? Ran back to post office and mailed it.

Time for my writing class. I had the time wrong, or else everyone else did. *g* (asparagus) I walked in, but they were eating. I grabbed myself a cup of coffee and some food and sat down - near exhaustion. *g*

The fates are kind after my self-flaggelation from yesterday. The teacher loved my MS. Only grammatical changes and one area for fleshing out a little better. She said the story creeps her out. My classmates said the same thing. They loved it. Fit for nightmares. Whoo hooo! (no asparagus needed).

Also, the moderator of the writers' group that I missed was there. I told her about the story I wanted to submit and she squashed me - real quick. Turns out, the story must be short - around 250 words. Mine was 750. Good words. Good story. Lots of laughs. Such is life. I will save it and, when opportunity knocks, I will use it. I don't throw out anything I've written. 

No one at my class blogs as much as I do. I keep telling them they should. First, it gets my name out into the world. It associates my name with writing. I am building a network of people who 'know' my name and therefore, might be considered as purchasers of my books. I learn things about myself and my writing as I share with you, my readers. As my readership expands, I'll be able to use it on my cover letter stating that I have been writing furiously for the last ten years and have a readership to provie it. Lastly, I'm building friendships. (no asparagus needed).

*asparagus story* - Long time ago, when I was pregnant and quite rotund (huge with child), groceries spilled from broken grocery bags and I grabbed, in my fury, a stalk of celery lying on the garage floor, and beat it to a pulp on the drywall. I felt quite satisfied after that. If you need to, you may use this trick of mine to survive fury attacks. It works well.

Life is passion.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Red Faced

Talk about humble pie. I sit here, shaking my head, and growling at my own temerity and stupidity.

While in New Zealand in November, 2012, for the premiere of The Hobbit, I met Martin Baynton. I didn't know much about Martin except that he was part of the Jane and the Dragon TV series creation. Now, I've watched Jane for many a year, even before my granddaughter was of the age to appreciate the show, and I loved them. Mostly because Jane knows who she is and fights for herself. 

But I flubbed this opportunity. I blew it. When I met him, I touted my own book. Asked him to look at it. Which he agreed to. 

As I've suggested here before, when I returned home, I started to research him in preparation for sending him my MS for 'Sorrysorrysorry.' 

The man is akin to Maurice Sendak. Honestly. He wrote a truckload of Jane books (for his daughter) and a series about a tractor, Fifty, (for his son). He moved from England to New Zealand and cold-called Sir Richard Taylor. The results of that meeting were the production of Jane for NZ TV. The series is awesome. Jane is a feisty girl who insists that she be trained as a knight. No frilly gowns for her. 

Martin went on to create the WotWots, published by Harper Collins, and turned that into a TV series. Great fun for preschoolers. 

Both productions are syndicated worldwide as of today.,%20Martin   (There be kids games on this page - arrrgghhh)

OK - that's enough links!

I will not be cowed by my thoughtlessness. Opportunity comes but once sometimes and I'm very grateful I met Martin. Besides this apology, I plan on giving him a face-to-face apology when I travel to NZ in 2014. I hope.

Again - research is so very important. For every phase of your writing career. Could'a, should'a, would'a. Yes, I could have researched before meeting him. But - better late than never.

Life is complex.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Accepting Compliments

All right. I know I'm ahead of the game, but there is something that I've discovered people don't know how to do.

That is: accept a compliment.

Incredibly important for when you get out onto the 'writers' circuit' with your book. Ah the joy of it all. Until someone comes up, hands you the book for an autograph, and says, "You've really changed my life with this book. I can't thank you enough."

You have to say thank you. That's all. A simple, heartfelt thank you. 

It seems difficult for people to say those two little words. I notice folk deprecate themselves. They say things like, "I really didn't write it. The Muse did." Or, "I'm not the best writer." Or other foolish things that our readers really don't want to hear. 

They are so happy to meet us (oh my gosh will that be fun!) and all they want to do is gush about themselves and to thank us for helping them come to terms with something in their lives, or take them away from the drudgery of their jobs, or encourage them to continue on. 

Our part is to simply say, thank you. I'm so glad you liked it. I'm so glad it touched you. 

Now - go and practice in front of a mirror. Clutch your manuscript to your chest (whether it's finished or not) and say, Thank you. I'm so very glad you stopped by. Would you like a copy for your sister? *g*

Oh! Oh! Don't forget to thank your critiquers, your writing buddies, your family and friends (long-suffering), and your agent/publisher. Start being full of thankfulness now so that, when the time comes, it will flow naturally and gracefully from your lips. 

Blessings and thanks to each and every one of my readers.

Life is thankfulness.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Odds And Ends

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
First – a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all. This is a very nice holiday in that anyone can ‘be’ Irish for the day. How hard is it to find a piece of green? In my city, you can find carnations and hats and ribbons and all kinds of green trappings to help you ‘appear’ Irish. I love it.

Ways to earn some income from what you do. 

A blogger friend is teaching a course on beginning blogging.
Hm. I could do that, too. I’ve been tweaking this thing for a couple years now and have even figured out how to put pictures on the front page. In fact, I’ve figured out how to make pages. Hallelujah! If you need to learn, go to Ginger's page and sign up. If you are good at it (a friend of mine is even a webpage designer), try it for yourself.

Writing ads for greeting card companies. Not a lot of money, but it adds up over the weeks and months.

As noted on another post, you can even write someone else's blog and get paid for it. 

How about reviews? You can write reviews and get paid for it. Some writers will even pay for a 'not-so-good' review.

Teach. As noted above, you can teach blogging, but you can also teach beginning writing (or more if you're more experienced). You can teach dialogue writing (which is what I do). Plot, settings and such are all things that a writer must hone. We can teach those things.

How about entering contests? Writers' Digest has one almost every month. I'm sure you can find one that matches what you like to write. 

There's also the freelancer. Boy, that takes a lot of work, IMHO. I'm sure it's lucrative and once you have your foot in the door, so to speak, you just keep piling up 'successes' for your CV.

I'm sure there's more - lots more for the creatively inclined. 

As for me, I'm editing 'Blue.' I'm writing the next chapter of 'The Other Side.' I'm focusing on what I know I'm good at, for the moment.

Life is full of change and learning and adventures.

Life is creativity.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Loose Ends

Well, they're still having a hot and heavy discussion over at the SCBWI group at LinkedIn. About writers/illustrators being paid for their wares. Not many people that I know are able to 'live off' their writing remunerations. Someday!

As for 'Blue.' I met with my writing buddy on Friday night and she read her synopsis. She's almost done with it. It looks like wedding bells will be in her near future so I tried to goad her on to finish the synopsis before she has to try on dresses, sample wedding cakes, and throw stuff out from where she's living now so she's not taking things with her that are useless.

Oh yeah. Back to 'Blue.' I read her the revised Ch. 4 and she liked it. Phew! It did work. 

When she had suggested it needed revision, my poor brain fell apart. All I could think of was major revision and how on earth I was going to do it. However, once I got up the courage to edit it, I found it was easy. (good grief - I hope I'm not repeating myself.)

Be that as it may, I made the changes she suggested Friday night and the chapter flows well. I'm also pretty happy with Ch. 5.

I noticed on my right side bar that I have not kept up with my 'promise' for writing. 'The Other Side' got put on hold while I was tackling 'Blue.' 

I went to the library on Thursday and spent a few hours looking through picture books, trying to find the rhyming ones, and writing down the name of the book, author, publisher, year, and location. I read the books, too, and most were pretty good. I find some are not to my liking. Also, they's a tremendous amount of counting books published for kids. Amazing.

I'm sending out the giraffe book as soon as possible. 

I really, really am worth being published. Yes, money means a lot, but having a blasted book finally have a contract will be heaven!

Life is striving.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

One Of Those Days

I've been putting something off for awhile. Something 'onerous.' Something I know I had to do, but couldn't work up the courage or the strength to do it.

I read Ch. 4 of 'Blue' to my writing buddy on Thursday night. She is usually effusive with praise. I was not prepared for: "It's good - but a little flat." FLAT? I have my best bear scene in the midst of it. She said she loved the bear scene. Surprises of surprises, for she is also my dialogue student - she said she thought there was too much dialogue. Now - this blasted chapter is full of exposition. I've gotten away with three chapters of explaining with little description, but the stuff has hit the fan and it was high time to add some exposition.

I hemmed and hawed all week-end, trying to figure out what on earth I could do with the chapter. I finally gave in and read it to my daughter, whose opinion I respect. She said she could see where it might seem flat, but it wasn't. She did say she thought there was too much dialogue.

Good grief! My forte. My specialty. My joy.

So I spent the entire day working on the chapter. I added some more dialogue and then re-read it. Sure enough - though I'm happy with the amount of dialogue - I put in more description. The dragon is flying through the air and this is the heroine's first flight. Of course I should put in what she sees, hears, and feels. That was easy. The part about where they landed. Added the turrets that could be seen just over the treetops. Added a few other things besides. Yep. This is working. I think I'm done with it. I think I'm ready to read it to my buddy again (tomorrow night) and see if she thinks the chapter works.

The last thing, before putting this chapter to bed tonight, was reading it out loud. It worked.

Better than that, I was worried about Ch. 5 and read that out loud tonight. It's perfect. I think. *g*

Life is perfect.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Requirement To Live

OR - you did it for free????

I’ve written about authors being paid. I want to delve into this a little deeper because of the post from yesterday and because of a library talk I went to the other night.

Sunday, I went to an author’s book launch. The author paid for the entire event herself. She also gave away her books –free.

Thursday, I went to an author’s workshop at the local library. I understand that sometimes these workshops are gratis – free. I’m not sure if all such ‘visits’ are free, but I’m hoping this author was remunerated.

This author told about a school visit that she did in another country via Skype. She did not get paid for this. She was very happy as she sold five books and supposedly opened a new market.

My own editor/friend doesn’t give away books (except for contests which promote her book – and she only gives away one at a time). She also does not do school visits for free.

To get down to the brass tacks of this ‘problem.’

Authors are required to live, just as everyone else is. Now, if you give away your books, if you give free school visits, if you give free library programs, if you read and edit peoples’ books for free – how do you live? Living takes coin.

Stephen Silver put a post up at the LinkedIn SCBWI group page. He links to his blog and a video on that blog about ‘why you deserve to be paid.’ It’s a simple, but succinct, message. Stephen is an illustrator. He talks about what we do has value. We have to realize it, we have to accept it, and we have to expect others to accept it also. He gives a great example of a lawn-mowing kid who does the job and yet, we don’t pay them? Would we ever not pay the kid for mowing the lawn? Take this further. What about the teacher who teaches our kids? What about the doctor who saves our life? The auto mechanic? Are we the only ones who expect pay for our work?

I never quote the Bible. I am not well versed in it, but I know it. I did find these....
“Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” The author of this article says, “Preaching the Gospel is a legitimate method by which people might live’ (be paid.) The minister preaches using the ‘gift’ that God gave him. We writers write using the ‘gift’ that God gave us. We cannot accept God’s gift without expecting Him to give us the wherewithal to survive, i.e., live.
A couple more: “the worker deserves his wages.” “do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.” “Pay them their wages each day before sunset.” Jesus sends the disciples out without an extra shirt or sandals or a staff because, “the worker is worth his keep.”

Sorry for the long post. It is important that you and I remember our worth. So here’s another reason for making sure that your requirement to live is taken care of by being paid for your services – books, school visits, workshops, whatever. You are required to live. By that, you are required to be reimbursed. You are of worth.What you do is of worth. 

Life is worthwhile.

PS - There are two good articles in the March/April 2013 SCBWI Bulletin.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I wish I had some words of wisdom that I could impart to you, my dear readers, but I will share a couple of recent experiences that kind of boggle my mind.

First, my editor, who is also my teacher and friend, frustrated by school budget cuts, decried the 'drying up' of some school visit markets. She writes good books, fun books, and educational books. I've donated a couple to my granddaughter's school library and they've been most appreciative.

Second, I went to a book launch, only my second (not my own - but soon, dear readers, soon!). It was at a local wine bar (these are pretty popular here - we've got some great vineyards in Ohio.) I hadn't been to this bar/restaurant before so I was glad to have the opportunity to support a writer-friend while going on an adventure. I arrived and found everyone in red, which was fun because red was part of the title of her book. Once I arrived, I discovered that the author/launcher had originally planned on asking everyone for $30 towards the event. She had arranged for appetizers and one glass of wine per visitor/friend/buyer. I hadn't thought that book launches were to be paid for. Naive. I've got to do some research on this, but I've got two more launches to go to in the next couple of weeks, so I'll see what happens and report back to you. In the meantime, I bought a mixed drink and had one small taco. 

The author sat on a bar stool in the crowded inn/restaurant/bar in front of a microphone and thanked us all for coming. The mike wasn't the best and it was difficult to understand what she was saying. (NOTE to self - check out audio equipment before folks come). There was a line that formed for autographs. I was 'given' one of her books (FREE) and stood in line to have it signed. I was more than surprised to discover that she was giving her books for free. 

I learned, a long time ago when I was selling vitamins, you must be judicious in 'giving away' product. You can go broke quite easily!

The evening was enjoyable. I met some old friends and some new and laughed a lot. I know my author/friend appreciated me being there, but I felt uncomfortable at the marketing of her book. There was no publisher mentioned on the book anywhere, so I am assuming it was self-published. Also, I discovered that the book was not only self-published, but copied at a local Office Max or some such and bound with the 'cook book' black plastic thingees. This means that this friend went out and reserved a restaurant, paid for food and drink, and gave away her book - for free. 

I don't think this is the best way to do book sales or marketing. I hope she had fun. I truly do.

I'll tell you about a 'library' talk by a local author tomorrow. 

Now, it's time to write a little. I spent four and a half solid hours yesterday working on 'The Other Side.' It was exhilarating. One of the few times lately that I have been joy-filled while writing. I am thinking there is a clue here, somewhere. And I believe that clue is -- write a lot at a time. You'll be happier

Life is learning.

PS - I got put on some new meds and the horrid exhaustion is leaving me. I can sit for more than fifteen minutes and write. Praise all the high heavens for finding a good doctor! (I hope - that's my Irish heritage coming in to play. Always seeing the dark cloud hiding behind the silver lining. *g*) Thanks for reading. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Writers' Wiles

The family glides into the restaurant. Two children, a boy and a girl, and a teen. Their dad leads the way. They sit at the table next to me and peruse the plastic-covered menus. Silent. Good grief, I’ve never seen such a silent family.

I’m torn. Should I feel sorry for them or should I wonder at the family dynamics? What would cause a family to be so still, so detached from each other?

After a few moments, the little boy, probably ten years old, speaks up. It’s as if a curtain has been torn asunder. Quiet chatter, bits of laughter, and tapping toes tell me they live. They are not specters come to haunt.

Yikes! The teen is a woman. She’s so young. I wonder if she’s the mom or the nanny. Or??? Hidden behind a column is the fifth member of the family. I missed her, the youngest, a girl.

Being a writer is an odd thing. As a youth, I was taught to keep my eyes lowered, my mouth shut, and my ears closed.

Nowadays, I do research. That’s the excuse I use for overlong stares, blatant eavesdropping, and rampant ear-stretching to catch phrases and conversations for my own use.

Folk say my dialogue is fluent and real. Perhaps it’s because I listen and watch and empathize.

I’m just glad Sister Mary Aloysius can’t see me!

Life is research. *g*

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ten Thousand + Thanks

I told you I wasn't going to look at stats anymore - BUT --

I had to acknowledge this one. Today, sometime when I wasn't looking, the hits to this humble blog numbered TEN THOUSAND PLUS.....

I know some folk get 10,000 hits a month and more... BUT --

I am so grateful for those of you who have spent these last two years visiting my site and causing this watershed moment in my life. I thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.

On to business... Hmm. That's odd to say for I had not, until a couple years ago, considered writing as a business. In today's market, a writer must consider her writing a business, if she plans to: 1) make a living doing it, 2) getting her name out, 3) sharing her work and her characters. 

My ultimate goal is to share my characters with as many readers as I can. Because I like them. However, I was reading a book today that my writing buddy got me. It was one of those 'gag' gifts, supposed to be like a Hallmark card, looked at briefly and enjoyed and then donated. 

I've learned not to look a gift horse in the mouth (Oh - Sean Bean was exquisite in Troy, was he not???). Never mind. Be still my heart. The book is called, 'The Joy of Writing Sex.' Now, I've been reading it for quite some time and I have yet to see any 'joy' in the book. I'm on chapter three (Give me a break - they're long and they require thought - much like sex. *giggle giggle snort snort*)

One of the quotes intrigued me. The writer quoted is Dorothy Allison.

"There's no safety in writing well. There is no way to be naked, which is what you have to be to be a good writer, ... and still be safe."

I'm back at that fear thing, dear readers, but I see it in the many writers who have become a part of my life. Fear is rampant in their lives, too. Fear can be the biggest roadblock of all. The most debilitating. The one that keeps me from winning. Honestly. That's what it's about. Winning over fear and all the other things that lie hidden in my life, that keep me tied to things that don't bring joy. And writing, when I give myself over to it freely, is abundant joy. 

In the February, 2013 issue of Writers' Digest (I know - I'm beating this issue to death but it's a great issue!), John Steinbeck is quoted:  "It is not so very hard to judge a story after it is written, but after many years, to start a story still scares me to death. I will go so far as to say that the writer who is not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium."

I'll paraphrase it. I have to be smart to be scared. And I should be scared shitless. 

I don't feel so bad, now, about being afraid as I look at my blank page, or the last line of the last chapter, or the character who looks back at me like I'm an idiot for writing what I just did.

I do so love writing. It's worth it - taking out my sword and smashing fear or using it. Both ways work, I think.

Life is writing.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Honestly, sometimes life doesn't go the way you planned it.

I was so looking forward to last night's writers group (SCBWI), but a part on my car broke. It was indispensable. It had to be fixed. Someone I know promised to fix it, but he stopped, on the way from work, for a haircut. After that, he stopped for dinner. I was at his mercy. He finally fixed it, but by that time, it was too late to go to the meeting. I was thrilled to learn that the speaker, Leah Clifford, author of a trilogy consisting of A Touch Mortal, A Touch Morbid, and A Touch Menacing. This third and final book in the trilogy came out just this month, March. 

From what I understand, the meeting was awesome. Lots of discussion with Leah offering so much. What a fun person and so giving. I immediately sent her contact info off to my Skyline 'conference' chair. Leah sounds like she'd be a good fit as one of the speakers for Skyline's annual conference in September. Here's links. 

My writing buddy and I got together tonight and discussed what is becoming a recurrent theme: character development. There were some awesome quotes in this month's Writer's Digest and I shared them with her. (I promise I'll put them here for you, dear readers.)

After we spent a couple hours sharing thoughts, I read her Chapter Four of 'Nothing But Blue Skies.' She was honest. She felt it was a big dull. I explained that there was a lot of exposition in this chapter. Nonetheless, she insisted that I could put sparkle into the chapter. 

Dear me, that means when we read Chapter Five I'm going to have the same problem. I was long overdue for putting some exposition into the book, and I thought I handled it well - even had a bear attack in the middle of it. She loved the bear attack. 

So - back to the drawing board on Ch. 4 & 5. I trust her. Implicitly. 

I present Ch. 6, 7, & 8 of 'The Other Side' to the Skyline folk tomorrow morning. I've got my fingers crossed. I presented Ch. 4 & 5 to my writing class and they loved them. Phew!

Life is back-peddling.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Don't Dumb Down

I'm in between writers groups and thought I best post while I have a moment.

Get a Voice-Lift - one of the articles in the February Writers' Digest - talked about voice from a teenager's POV. As I was reading it, and relishing it, I noted that the advice could well  be true for adult writing. Since I'm in the midst of a new Adult Sci-fi book, I thought I'd look at the dumb down piece of advice.

The author, Diana Lopez, states that I should NOT run from big words or bad language. Well, I love big words. I used to write a word a day on the 'frig so that my kids would learn new words and expand their universe. I know that I do have a tendency, when I'm writing this book, to 'hold back' on some of the big words. Big words doesn't necessarily mean many-syllabled words, but large in concept. Or words that are not used in the day to day of life. I've been told I should hold back on using big words, but this article permits me. I like that. I'll use them more. Judiciously, of course.

As for bad language. Wow. Now and again, I'm surprised by the number of 'bad' words that our movie stars use in their day to day lives. I'm not offended, but I wish they'd expand their vocabulary a bit. Their are some truly effective bad words. Not the ordinary kind.

But - since 'The Other Side' is an adult book and the men in it are normal men, the language is ribald. I just can't bring myself to have them say the 'F' word, though. Something in my upbringing. (Not that I've not been known to use the bloody thing now and again, but to write it out seems odd.) Perhaps, later in the book, as the shit-hits-the-fan, I'll be forced by my characters to use it. Right now, I'm not letting them bully me.

We'll see what happens.

I am in awe of young adult writers. My stuff is set in 'older' times so I don't have to worry about slang and idioms and such. The author of this article suggests it's best to 'make up' slang. That way, it doesn't become dated.

I have to giggle because I make up slang and swear words in my MG fantasy because this is a different world. So what I have used as a crutch for my writing, I could use for an urban fantasy book. I might consider it. This advice definitely takes away a bit of the fear for me.

Life is always mind-boggling.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Story Arc

I suppose I should know that a story arc is not confined to my writing. A story arc is part of life. I was thinking about a truckload of pieces/parts to the book I'm editing and the one I'm writing. As I thought about the inciting incident, midpoint, climax, and all the other things in between, I realized that I can and should be using this in my life. This is one of the instances where 'should' is a good thing. *g*

It can be a roadmap of where I've been and where I'm going. I need that.

This week is going to be peculiarly busy in the realm of writing. I promised myself that I would send 'Sorrysorrysorry' to a contact in NZ by my birthday. Well, tomorrow's my birthday and I'm writing the cover letter right now. Thankfully, I can email it. So I can still fulfill that promise.

I have a writers meeting tomorrow early afternoon, a writing class late afternoon (where I will present Chs. 4 & 5 of 'The Other Side,' a writers group (new - SCBWI - I'm really looking forward to this), my writing buddy on Friday night, and Saturday is the large writers' group, Skyline, where I'll be presenting Chs. 6, 7, & 8. Phew!

In the midst of all that, my latest Writers' Digest came. I'm trying to get through it. There are a truckload of great articles. I'll write about them perhaps tomorrow. I'm so glad my friend got me this magazine. I usually try to read it at the library, but having it here at home, being able to turn and fold the pages, underline and circle things that are important to me right this minute, and having the magazine open right next to me is really awesome.

I don't know how other authors do it. Trying to fit in reading is quite difficult. With the ice and snow and the grey skies, life's been full of roadblocks. I finally decided to take the magazine to my favorite summertime picnic area and sit there, with the car on (sorry about ruining all my 'green' intentions) and reading. It's great.

Lifeis a challenge.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Deep, Dark Secrets

Drat it all! I'm so naive - sometimes I could kick myself.

Granted, I'm probably not the only blogger out there to just now discover this, but I'm still surprised, daunted, and sad.

There are bloggers who pay others to write their blogs.

Ok - there it is. I've said it.

I know. Horrible isn't it? Well, to those who do it, it's probably a sound business decision. But really! 

I read about this in an article in the February, 2013 issue of Writers' Digest. 

Awhile back, I was saddened to discover that James Patterson pays folks to write the Alex Cross books. I was saddened when I discovered that a LOT of authors pay writers to write 'their' books. I suppose quantity is important. Especially in the number of paychecks one receives. Tom Clancy is another author that supposedly does this. Romance writers are known for this practice, I've heard.

But to find that a blogger can't write her own blog??? How insane is that? 

Good grief - it equates to my surprise that folks pay 'houses' to write reviews of their books.

What has the world of writing come to? Where is the pride in putting forth a piece of finely crafted words?

In this day and age, I will never equate success with the number of hits a blog has. I will never equate success with the number of books an author has sold. I will never equate success with the stellar reviews a book receives.

A piece of my heart has been torn from me. 

Life is disappointment.

BUT - I can't end this on a negative note. I'm writing my own blog. I'm writing my own books. I'm having fun doing it.

Thanks to all my readers. Unpaid. You have my love!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Milestones and Heraldry

Met with my writing buddy on Thursday evening and spent the night rejoicing in the fact that she has finished her synopsis. Granted - it is six pages, single-spaced, but that's not the point. It's done. The first draft. Good grief - can you believe that there are first drafts for everything??? We had already started paring the first few pages a couple weeks ago.Got rid of a lot of inconsequential stuff. She was really happy, as was I for her. A veritable milestone in the gazillion milestones that encompasses writing. 

She called the next day and told me that our evening session galvanized her. She spent hours writing more of the book. 

I was happy to tell her that I spent my Friday working on the signs and shields of Heraldry for my characters. I've got seven that I have to do. I got two done. They're pretty complicated. There are pieces/parts to each shield that would drive a person to drink. 

Things called charges on the shield itself (usuallh animal shapes signifying strength, cunning, speed, bravery), mantlings and helms sitting atop the shield (matched the family's cloak) , supporters that 'frame' the shield (animals or things like harps and such), mottos (speak of courage, strength, virtue). Even the shape of the shield had significance. In 'Blue' it represented the geographic region where the kingdom was. The color of the shield was important, too.  Each ruling family had a Blazon, a written description of the family's Coat of Arms and what each part meant. Of course, many families have them today. Some are ancient and some are just made up as the family decides. 

This is all part of the back story; the character development. It appears, to me, to be a two-headed monster. Necessary but terrifying. 

I showed my buddy and she was amazed at the detail of each Coat of Arms. To create these, I've really got to know the kingdoms and their strengths and what they consider important for them. For instance, Gozon's from Ledder. They are quite proud of their land-locked sea so the shield is mostly blue. I also used a wolf as the charge to symbolize cunning. 

It's an interesting ride and part of the blasted research that must be done. My readers will probably never see the shields of the characters, but I now have them in front of me and I know what they mean, so they help me create with fluidity and consistency.

Life is interesting.