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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Clearing the Decks instead of Decking the Halls

Every year I take a photo of the tree before I take it down.This is 2010's photo.

This is going to be a short post as I am in my annual "clearing the decks" before New Years. I clean, sort, put stuff away, update my files and eat leftovers. I find clearing out a year's accumulation of all sorts of stuff leaves space for the creative ideas to flood in! Plus, it's a good way to review the year to set the intentions of next year. Now, if I could just find the two missing "stocking stuffer" gifts to give New Year's...

Do you "clear the decks" before New Year's? Or do you wait until New Year's itself?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Puck the Puppy!

A Video Christmas Card, my first!
Here's hoping that all my friends out there in the net world have a fabulous and fantastic holiday! Everyone relax and enjoy and take a well-deserved break. I'll be baking a virtual pie for everyone.
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A recipe request

Every Christmas season, I try new recipes. I find it keeps me in the creative mode. This one has been a hit.

Gingerbread Spiced cookies:
2 cups white flour
2 generous tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger
1/2 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg or egg substitute
1/4 cup molasses
sugar in a bowl to roll cookies

Sift together dry ingredients. Beat butter and sugar until combined and add egg and molasses and beat until mixed well. Beat in dry ingredients. Roll dough into 1" balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheets and press slightly. Bake at 350 degrees 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown around edges.

Like many of my recipes, you can play a little with this one. Try adding chopped nuts. Or a couple of different spices, allspice or cardamom perhaps? This is also good filled with whipped cream and frozen or vanilla ice cream. Or come up with your own version! Create!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tis the Season...


He's stalking me.

 ...to be overwhelmed. Isn't it? This year has been particularly frantic and frenetic. First, at the start of the month, we traveled to Texas for my niece's college graduation, which was fantastic, but took the first week of December away, so I started out behind. Second, two short stories of mine were published end of November/beginning of December from two different publishers, one in the anthology Dreamspell Nightmares and my story Changing Woman Ways. I've got another story coming out in another anthology soon, plus an article.This means I need to be promoting my new and soon-to-be releases and self promotion is so hard for me! Hmm...perhaps it is for every writer--and a subject for a separate post.

Is there anyone out there in blog land not struggling with the season?Of course, the entire world doesn't have the overkill (and I do mean "kill") of Christmas that we do here in the States... but many people do celebrate the season. How do you still write, create, survive? And perhaps even enjoy?

On a completely different note: I've had a few requests about how to add the "Share" buttons at the bottoms of my posts--I haven't answered these requests because I can't remember! I was ditzing around and fell upon the way to do this by accident and the buttons showed up! Can anybody out there help?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

HAPPY TURKEY DAY EVERYONE!

A few flowers for your holiday table!

Three things I'm thankful for:

Freedom
Family
My love of writing

There are many more, but I have the Thanksgiving meal to cook.
Readers, what are you thankful for (and my other blog friends all over the world, chime in, gratitude increases creativity, it's a proven!).

And everyone...
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Three Seconds of Fame via Social Networking

Bruce on Manzanita Beach

Bruce mentioned the idea for this post, hence the picture of him above. Social networking is all the buzz right now. Or at least it's the buzz I'm hearing because I have one short story out in an anthology, L&L Dreamspell Nightmares, and two more coming out in other anthologies in the next couple of weeks, plus a couple of articles in e-format. I'm also shopping two novels and working on a third during NaNoWriMo.

I've been reading up on platforming, branding and social media and I've come to the conclusion that six billion of us know each other now and we all get three seconds of fame. Okay, maybe because my mind is spinning with all this stuff, I'm exaggerating. I find all this a bit overwhelming...and a bit frustrating, not to mention time consuming. I could use some opinions about all this brand new world.

So, I'm asking my readers--what do you think about social networking? What do you do with social networking? What works for you? What doesn't? Any advice on how to focus efforts/time/whatever in this vast world? Help!

It's also been suggested that now is the time to set up my writer's web page. Once upon a time, I had a web page for my exercise classes. This was not a great experience as I never had the time/knowledge/ability to change/update the page. I'm not a techie, I struggle with doing new things and updating the old on my blog! I've heard good things about wordpress, the best being it's easy to update, change, publish more--more like a blog than a webpage? Dear readers, what do you think? What do you know about webpages? Again, any help is truly appreciated!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kill the editor

This year, I'm doing NaNoWriMo again. Yesterday, I had a great meeting with my writing friend Kathy of Well Placed Words.

My main struggle in the first three days of NaNo--I know too much. By that I mean I know too much about writing. I was editing every word, sentence, paragraph. Which made writing terribly difficult.

So, here's a few suggestions to kill the editor:

1. Repeat often: it's a first draft, rewrites are for the second draft.
2. I can always remove it later.
3. If I don't write it down, I won't know what it says.
4. Sometimes I have to write the bad stuff before the good stuff.
5. Often I don't know what's good when I'm writing it.
6. I can't edit a blank page.
7. NaNo is to get me writing, not stop me writing.

Okay, readers, how do you kill the editor?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween--NaNo coming up! EEEK!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
This post is going to be quick--I'm alive, I'm alive. And I'm doing NaNoWriMo! Why? Because this year has been crazy and my new book is aching to burst forth ala Alien.

On one of the NaNo threads, someone asked me about healthy edibles during long hours of engorging pages with words. My favorites: plain yogurt with cinnamon, yum, and peanut butter (only a tablespoon or two, max!) with cinnamon--the cinnamon lowers blood pressure (easier to think) and the peanut butter and yogurt are packed with healthy stuff to keep you healthy--add half an apple and you've got great fiber as well to keep you going. Add a couple of cups of green tea with a bit of lemon and you'll live forever--or at least be undead enough to finish NaNo!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Good reading, a new publisher market and a short story of mine

Thanks to Carol and Ann.

Carol Kilgore of Under the Tiki Hut tagged me, ahem, a bit ago. So did Ann of Long Journey Home. Thanks to both of you--although life got away from me and I never did my bit.

Speaking of Carol, she has a great, fun story in the anthology Map of Murder called "Buñuelos for the Beach." Good work, Carol (and the rest of the anthology is good too).

This is a market call from my friend Jane Freund (her last name means friend!) http://www.janefreund.com/freundship-press.html:

I am looking to get as many high caliber writers and authors to publish e-articles and e-books (non-fiction and fiction) as a part of my November 1 kickoff of the newly redesigned Freundship Press website and mission. If you are interested, contact me at jane@freundshippress.com.

The writer gets a percentage of each sale--and Jane is looking for all sorts of things, give it a try!

And last, I've had a couple of requests for a short story of mine to read, here's a link:
http://www.untiedshoelacesofthemind.com/Issue3/sweet.php

Next post may be from my vacation in Manzanita!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Flowing into glorious lives


My Friend Kathy of Well Placed Words dog Mattie, the catahoula hound and my rat terrier puppy Puck, BFF!

The illustration illustrates what I believe we, as writers, should do. Embrace the joy of being what we are. Or, as Kathy said with her own well placed words, "It's supposed to be fun."

Yeah, it is. For most people, writing is not an 8 to 5 job. Not a requirement. So if it's not fun, why do it? I think we all get caught up in writing for the markets, rewriting, editing, selling, re-editing, promoting, blah, blah, blah. Of course, that's part of the creative process too--BUT it's so easy to forget the simple joy of simply creating. And, of course, when I fell so far behind in my entire life, the guilt was great and a glorious excuse and energy suck to not do any thing--even write on my blog! Am I the only one who struggles with these problems?

I suspect not, as was also brought home to me at the Pixie Chicks meeting on Saturday. It's a group of writers of all ages and stages of writing headed by Jane Freund of Freundship Press. All ages and stages, and yet we all struggle with the same blocks to our creativity. (Note: you can join the Pixie Chicks Writers Group on Facebook and participate, even if you don't live in Idaho--although it might be hard to get to the meetings.)

The best is to get into the joyful flow of creating--so how do we do that more often? Readers?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"I'm not dead yet. I'm feeling much better and..."

...I think I could blog a bit.

Yes, I mangled Monty Python--I doubt they mind. In fact, I think they like being mangled. Or at least twisted.

This is a post to mention I'm crawling back into what passes for my normal creative life, with an addition of film, which is no longer film but now digital. What did I learn most these last few weeks? EVERYTHING TAKES LONGER TO DO THAN I THINK IT WILL.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Time is supposed to be malleable (ala Einstein) so how come I can't stretch every minute, every hour, every day enough? Because everything takes longer than I think!

Do you have this problem?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Honoring the Dead by Living

My mom and me, Christmas 1966.

(First, a technical note: my internet provider is having major problems. There have been times this past week when I was unable to get on the internet. Add to that my film editing project and I'm behind on...too much!)

This month has been a strong sober reminder to me to live my life every day. First, a 24-year-old co-worker of my boyfriend's, a Type A diabetic, died of complications of his disease. Then, a long term (almost 40 years) friend died from a brain tumor at 81. Then a friend I'd lost touch with died at 57 in a car accident--mutual friends let me know via Facebook.

Finally, yesterday would have been my mom's 90th birthday. She's been gone for almost 20 years. To me, they all died too soon.

What have I been reminded? That we'll never have enough time for life. Life can end at any moment. Yes, it's a cliche to carpe diem, because it's true, if we don't seize the day, we come to the end of our lives with nothing.

I'm going to try to celebrate every moment I can, even the most painful ones, for without the grief, where's the contrasting joy?


Friday, August 13, 2010

Change is all we ever have

Puck, getting grown.

The only constant is change. Sayings are a cliche for a reason. This saying has certainly been ball peen hammered into my head these past few weeks (ow, ow, ow). First, Puck the puppy being a puppy is changing every day, sometimes every hour. It's like meeting a different dog each day! He's three times the size he was when we first got him! Quite a bit more dog, although almost potty trained and that helps. A lot.

Second, I'm currently shopping a novel, plus a few short stories, so I'm following...um...embroiled in the whole e-book revolution. Revolution?! Before people start screaming, oh wait, too late. It has surprised me no end at the hysteria and vitriol flowing through the Internet about e-books, e-publishers and e-magazines. Yes, it is the end of publishing life as we now know it, but it's not the end of printed books. Remember, horses still exist, radio does, movie houses are bigger and better and still show movies. All it is, is different. Changing. And what will be the change? Too soon to tell--which is crazy making for all us authors.

Third, my film life exploded unexpectedly a couple of months ago and now is taking up much more time and energy. That may change after this project...but maybe not. I'll know when it happens. Meanwhile, I'm playing catch up with my writing.

And trying to stay in creative flow--not easy when I'm so busy that I'm afraid the lights will go out because I forgot to pay the bill! Everyone's comments helped a lot last time...this time I'm asking how you, dear reader, flow with changing current while still being focused and creative and effective?

All suggestions gratefully accepted--or your own struggles.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Take Time to Eat the Flowers

Baxter enjoying the lilies--by eating them!

Have you ever had a time in your life when you're so busy there's no space to breathe? If not, why not?! How do you live? I'm asking because I need to know--this whole summer has been swamped--I'm mired in projects and behind on all of them. Next week is even busier as I'm camera person and editor for a film project.

How to find time to eat the lilies?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Big bits

This post is about a little of this and a tweak of that.

First up, a couple of good blog sites to visit today. Simon over at Constant Revision is having a great, fun and quirky contest. Elizabeth at Mystery Writing is Murder has some great links. And Michelle at Author Michelle McLean has a fun interview and contest with Shaun David Hutchinson.

Just three big bits that show how much there is on this great blogosphere of ours.

And a note about my infrequent posting recently and a thanks to all my readers who check back. Puck is growing every day, so I have less puppy-take-care-of time involved...and as soon as that happened, I became involved in a lovely little film project. I'm going to be camera and editing! Fun...but taking that precious time.

Meanwhile, there's a deadline looming for my w.i.p. and I need to decide if I need sleep for the next few months or what else I can do to give myself the time/energy/focus to get it all done?

Any suggestions? Please?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jester's Folly, A review

I've just read a delightful short story by my friend, Aubrie Dionne over at Flutey Words: Jester's Folly, published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. It's a 6300 word story in her CARNIVAL OF ILLUSIONS series. This is the first one I've read and now I want to read more of her stories.

It's always useful to see what another writer does right. Aubrie draws you into the world of the Carnival and her main character, immediately (can be difficult to do). Her main character is sympathetic while being unusual and her problems are great (good writing here). There's plenty of excellent action, an unexpected event and a satisfying ending rounds it all off. With a touch of a twist to boot!

What might be missing? Not to give it away, but one relationship seemed a little...too easily resolved. It's hard to have too much complexity and conflict in 6300 words, but I wanted a bit more struggle between two characters.

Overall, a fun engaging read.

Aubrie also writes novels--so my novelists out there, what do you think about writing both novels and short stories? I find doing so to be useful. But I have friends who find it only confusing, switching from one format to another.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

FREEDOMS!

Puck is amazed at his first July Fourth!

And I'm grateful for the freedom to write, live and love!

If you're one of my readers in the States, how do you celebrate the Fourth?

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY EVERYONE!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Puck--My Other Excuse

video

For why I've been a bit absent over the last couple of weeks! Here's the first video of my new puppy--and one of the first videos I edited. It's fantastic, having a new puppy, but also time consuming, exhausting and distracting. Add to that a couple of writing deadlines...and well...some days it's been all I do to maintain the basics. Some days I've been in survival mode.

So I haven't written nearly as much as I've wanted to--insert guilt and shame here--but have also realized over the last couple of days that Puck won't be a puppy forever. And I'm learning an editing program. And I've found the back of my brain has been working on my w.i.p., now that I have a few moments to return to it.

I'm working on forgiving myself and not offering excuses, because what good do they do? But I had to post this one...because he's so cute!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My first edited video!

Here's what I've been doing recently instead of...much of everything else, save teaching exercise classes and playing with the new puppy. I'm learning an editing program for next weekend's i48--a local film festival in which you have 48 hours to produce a 3-6 minute film.

video

What have I learned so far from this besides how to use the program? Writing counts. I didn't bother to script any of this footage as it was all "practice," I just did the exercises. But even a little scripting would have helped the entire process. Saved me time and effort. Writing's often the most important part.

Our i48 film will be scripted!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WriTueWedNoMo

The grin on my face is no lie--away from the distractions of everyday life, I'm writing!

As Kathy of Well Placed Words mentioned in her latest post, a couple of weeks ago she and I headed up north for a two day writing marathon.
 Here's Kathy on the way home, snow in May!

 How did it go? Fantastic for me, I achieved my goal of a rough draft of an outline for my new w.i.p.Both Kathy and I focused and accomplished a ton in a couple of days. What have I gotten done since then? Um...not so much. Where we were, there was little to do except write, walk the dog, write, eat lunch, write...you get the idea. No Internet service, no e-mail, no snail mail, most people knew were gone, so few calls. No TV, either. No laundry, no dinner to cook, no house to clean. No teaching exercise classes, my other job. Gone were the excuses and distractions of everyday life.
Kathy's dog, who didn't do any writing (that we know of).

 And now all those lovely "reasons" for my not sitting down hour after hour have returned--with the problem of being behind in all of them. It was only two days for heaven's sake! My mom always said, "If you're gone for two days, might as well be gone for two weeks" and she was right. With prep work and catching up, it takes time, energy and focus. And oh, how I miss my writing marathon time. But I can't take two days out of every week to drive north to McCall to stay in Kathy's friend's cabin to write.

So, what to do? One thing I've determined is to "Do it first" as Margie Lawson so wisely says. I haven't yet--I returned to a couple of major distractions, but I'm setting my intention here.

One glorious distraction: Puck, my new puppy who arrives here soon, at 4 weeks.

What else? Lists always help me--unless I can't find the list! I'll admit I'm still scrambling for other ways to be focused and effective, whether it's writing my new w.i.p. or shopping my current novel or paper training Puck. Readers, ideas? Please?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

HAPPY MOM'S DAY!

A few lilacs fresh from the garden for mom

A little late, but here's a fun brunch for mom and everybody any celebration (and healthy too).

HEALTH NUT WAFFLES:

1/2 c. quick oatmeal
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. ground flaxseed (or increase amounts of oatmeal and flour)
2 teas. baking powder
2 teas. or more cinnamon
1 teas. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
3 tablespoons healthy oil
 
Mix dry ingredients together, then wet, let set for five minutes, add milk or egg if too dense to pour. Pour into wafflemaker (should make about 4 good sized waffles) and cook. Eat and enjoy.
 
My mom always loved waffles for breakfast and then LEMON cake for dessert on her special day. Any traditions for this day that you'd like to share? I'm sure there are a number of different ones--all unique. And family traditions can be a great addition to a work, either as characterization (Mom loved lemon anything) or background or even a telling event.

AND ENJOY MOM'S DAY!
 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Never give up the new novel

Behind this lovely magnolia bloom are a lot of dead ones

In case you've noticed, I've fallen a bit behind in my blogging lately. This is for several reasons, some good, some bad and this post is about one of them. I'm working on my new novel, while sending out the last one. I say, "working on the new novel" but it'd be more honest to say "struggling with the new novel." I have a great premise, but a premise is not a novel. The characters, especially the main character, are busy talking to me about who they are. But characters are not a novel. The plot is beginning to take shape, with even an unexpected event. But a plot is not a novel. I'm working on an outline. Again, not a novel.

So what is a novel? And how do I wade through all this...decision making? How do I have the courage to never give up on the new work? How do I have the confidence to continue? It's hard not to second guess myself ala "maybe this would work better" or "what genre is this specifically? I have to know before I write" or even "this will probably suck big time, no matter what I do." It's hard not to endlessly prep by reading and studying books on writing (many of them excellent, but that's not writing the novel!).

One way, that I clutch to as a strong guide, is: I love to write. So write. The truth of this novel is in my heart, if not yet in my head. It will come.

But I'd love some suggestions and advice about how to get over the new-novel-hump. Readers?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Basenjis, ratties and character building

Cleo on the lookout, and yes, we let our beastie family members up on furniture--even place furniture for their enjoyment!

As I posted earlier, Cleo passed away. The past couple of weeks, I've been on the search for a new dog family member. This is partly for myself and partly for the cat--who is missing having a dog sibling.
Bax grooming Cleo, now the cat insists on grooming my hair!

So the search is on--and over the past couple of weeks I've learned a lot about a different breed, rat terriers or ratties or feist dogs. I have friends who have ratties and I adore those particular dogs so I read up on the breed and fell in love with a new type of dog. Why? Because the breed is different in a way I believe will add a lot to my life (and I can add a lot to theirs because of who I am). Rat terriers are healthy, curious and active dogs, who adore their people. In the last three ways they are like my previous dogs, basenjis. But they are different in that they are very social, and adore being in the midst of it all, are not overbred so not prone to many diseases and are a terrier--so trainable and love to "do stuff with others." Me too. It gets lonely sitting in a room by myself, writing.

Cleo, under the clean towels on the bed, wondering what all this has to do with writing.

Well, Cleo, I got to thinking about how, basically, all dogs have much the same character in many ways, because they are pack, i.e. social animals. Overall, they get along and need to be with other pack members. This is part of their secret of success with humans, who are also social beings. The huge majority of dogs are friendly, love being with people, etc., no matter what the breed. (I've known a pit bull that knew he was just a big lap dog.) That having being said, I thought about how the dogs I've known personally have all had very distinct personalities one from another. And while a particular dog might be "of the breed," basenjis for example love to eat paper products, each dog will have their own unique twist. Cleo liked to eat paper-like weeds:
 Cleo going in for the kill.

If dogs have these many unique differences, how about sentient, supposedly more evolved, people? It doesn't matter if my book is set in a small town where most people are middle class and staid and...would seem indistinct one from another. But then one goes and eats a weed.

So now, as I'm building characters for my new novel, I question: How is this character like other people? How is this character different--and why the differences? Why does this character eat weeds? How does that work with the plot/the other characters/the entire book? (In real life there may not be a reason, but there needs to be in fiction.)

Dear readers how do you build a character? Or do they come to you fully formed? Or?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Of this and that and t'other

This is my dear friend Kathy's of Well Placed Words daffodil, thank you Kathy!

This post is a spring mix of various blossoms and one weed.

First up: a couple of FANTASTIC contests if you're looking for an agent:
Sarah with a chance is holding a contest with several great prizes, including lunch with well-known agents! This contest closes Sunday, April 25th.
On the QueryTrackernet.blog, they're having a one line pitch to an agent contest starting April 27th.

And speaking of great places, great places to go to find agents are QueryTracker.net and Agentquery are both excellent resources.

Now the one weed: I doubt if the spammers will get this message, BUT--here goes. At least I'll feel better. I vet every comment on my blog and say yay or nay on it's being posted. I allow anonymous comments because I have some family members and friends (Hi, Cynthia!) who don't have a screen name. However, if you're trying to sell me something that enlarges a part of my anatomy that I don't even possess, or trying to sell me cheap, bizarre drugs from some other country, or marry me to become an American citizen, or post something in gobbledygook, I reject your comment. I don't post it. Nyah, nyah.

There, vent over. I do feel better. Does anybody have a better way of handling this problem?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Devil You Say?

In the comments of my last post, several of you mentioned eating oodles of eggs so I thought I'd post my favorite recipe for deviled eggs.

Deviled eggs Conda style:

Take a dozen hard boiled eggs, cut in half, and remove the yolks. In a large bowl, place the yolks, a half cup of mayo (fat free works), a tablespoon or two of any mustard you like and...my secret ingredient, a tablespoon or two of curry spice. Blend well until smooth, then spoon into the egg halves. Sprinkle with paprika or chili powder.

Eggs are healthy, so eat! Good brain food for being creative!

Readers--variations?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Egg and Spring Day Greetings

Daffodils for a HAPPY EASTER

One of the funnest things about being a *semi* Buddhist is that I feel that I can embrace all holidays! I'm a semi-Buddhist partly because I was raised by a declared atheist who participated in Navajo ceremonies and a come-to-it-late sloppy sorta Buddhist. Our tradition was a morning egg hunt, but we had to find all the eggs and have egg salad sandwiches forever after. And why we celebrated Easter...

Whether you're celebrating the traditional holiday or love eggs or simply enjoy a new spring day my good wishes go out to you.

My favorite Easter candy is Cadbury cream eggs--but I only like them NOW. How about you? Any traditions you'd like to share?

 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Unexpected Event

Cleo (wearing her dress)
December 2002-March 17, 2009

On St. Patrick's Day this year, I took Miss Cleo into the vet for her blood test. We were trying a new drug to help her with her autoimmune hepatitis. We don't know when she first developed this deadly disease. She was a rescue and perhaps always had it. But she'd been in remission for years and now the disease had returned. She wasn't ill, yet, this was a preemptive strike against the disease. The drug wasn't working and made her dehydrated and so they gave her fluids. Being a curious basenji, she always enjoyed the vets, always loved the activity. She was sitting up, watching the world, then laid down and stopped breathing.

She died.

This is the unexpected event. 

First, I know all my wonderful readers will be sympathetic and empathetic and thank you. It's been a rough couple of weeks, but the family is recovering from the loss of this sweet dog.

Second, as all you creative people know, everything is used for our art. The last few days, I've been considering what many writing coaches call "The Unexpected Event." If used well, it's one of the most satisfying parts of a novel or short story or screenplay, etc. IF, that is. After this unexpected event, I realized some of what is needed to make it work.

The event must be improbable but not seemingly impossible or random. Although the vet was shocked and horrified that Cleo just...stopped breathing, she did have a serious, often fatal, disease. Although her disease seemed to be in remission, there was no knowing how much damage it had done, or even if it was in remission. Cleo was a basenji. All basenjis in the US are descended from 4 breeding pairs, so all basenjis suffer from inbreeding. Who knew what else was wrong? As the vet said over and over, "I didn't EXPECT Cleo to die today."

So the groundwork has to be laid carefully when writing the unexpected event--not too much or the reader will guess what's going to happen. Not too little or the reader will think "Where'd this come from? Ridiculous. Absurd." Having an unexpected event happen in my life has helped me sense where that balance of enough planted information or enough setup without forecasting the event.

Dear readers, have you had an unexpected event in your life that you can think of? Or several? Or many? How about in your writing?






Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Places--Books and Odd

The last few Sunday posts have covered a wide range so I was going to cover books with this post but my good friend Kathy of Well Placed Words just blogged about books and her choices are fantastic. I'd add Writer tells all : insider secrets to getting your book published  by Robert Masello and Thanks, but this isn't for us : a (sort of) compassionate guide to why your writing is being rejected by Jessica Page Morrell.

Here's a link to a one line pitch contest with an agent at the Query Tracker blog: http://querytracker.blogspot.com/ thanks to Suzette Saxton of Shooting Stars. Thanks, Suzette.

Next, why I've been absent the past couple of weeks because of an unexpected event.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Telling truths, telling lies


Helen of Straight from Hel awarded me the Creative Writer Award a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I've read and enjoyed several other award winners. But it got me to thinking about truth, lies and fiction and where the lines between them all are. Or are there lines? Any boundaries at all? Doesn't a story change as the storyteller changes? Don't we all "tell to our audience"? Even when writing the truth in the form a memoir such as Elizabeth of Sixth in Line, I believe writing or simply telling changes the tale.

Part of that is because truth is so odd, so fantastic, that it must be explained or simplified or something to be enjoyable to read. As proof here are a few truths that read like lies:
1. I graduated from college 3 months after I turned 19, the same year I was supposed to graduate from high school. This created many problems with employment as nobody believed me.
2. I can chew my own toenails (but don't).
3. The photo above is of the first blooming flowers on the original Oregon Trail. The trail is a few feet from my home in a suburb and my great-great grandfather traveled this same trail 150 years ago. This flower is considered a weed by many people because it grows wild.

So, dear readers, what do you think? Am I right about my ideas? Wrong? And what are some of your fantastic truths? Please share.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Places--Classes

Hi all,

This week has been one of computer problems and taxes. Hence, my absence from the Web. I'm baack...this time with some classes to increase writing skills.

First, the online classes:
WritersOnlineClasses.com offers inexpensive (usually $30.) on a wide variety of subjects with excellent writing coaches.
WriterUniv.com offers different classes (again usually $30).
The Romance Writers of America's Suspense and Mystery offers classes ($30--this seems to be a standard).

Writing advice, much of it fantastic, abounds on the Internet. A couple of my favorite sites:
WritersWeekly.com has a wealth of articles interesting to the writer (and markets).
Margie Lawson's newsletter contains great lessons and contests to win her lecture packets.

Now, before I'm knocked off the Web, I'm headed over to visit some of my favorite blogs, some of which are listed in my sidebar (more soon).

Any classes or sites, dear readers, that you'd like to add?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Places--Cautionary and a Contest

Two great sites to check for scams, bad contests (only looking for the fee money) and really bad agents (remember anyone can say, "I'm an agent")  are Preditors and Editors and Absolute Write. Both contain a wealth of info about legitimate agents, contests and markets as well.

And here's a blog contest with oodles of great prizes that's easy to enter (but hurry, ends Monday): Author Michelle McLean. In general, Michelle's blogs are chockablock full of info too!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Places--A Couple

First off, here's one that's new to me, www.storypilot.com. This is for the genres of sf, fantasy and horror and is not always updated, but I spotted a couple of markets I'd never heard of before.

Last week I mentioned a contest on Guide to Literary Agents, a blog on Writers Digest.com and I realized that Writers Digest.com also provides a wealth of information, articles, markets, contests, all for free! (Although, an aside, Writers Digest's own contests have fees. I consider WD contests about the only "fee" contests that a newbie might consider entering, because of their reputation.)

That's it for this Sunday!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

If Winter Comes...

...you all know the rest of the quote and here's a little I'm looking forward to:
 
Unlike during the summer, these are store bought.

January is always the toughest month for me. The holidays are over. Where I live, in the Northern part of the U.S., the sun vanishes far too often. This January and part of February has been particularly difficult. Three close family members had big health issues, two with broken bones and one taking radiation treatments. (Each is doing okay and going to be all right, in time.)

What I've noticed is that I'm even more distracted than usual. And less effective than usual. Gone is much of my focus. So, I sat down for a very few moments and tried to remember what worked in my life to recreate creative focus, even in a snowstorm of "this has to be addressed NOW" emergency distractions.

One, lists work for me. Even if I don't refer back to the list, keeping one keeps me on track.

Two, deadlines work for me. Deadlines for contests, etc. are better, but even self-imposed deadlines keep me going.

Three, forgiving myself works for me. Life intervenes and guilt about what's not accomplished is an energy suck.

Dear readers, do you have suggestions for what works for you when the distraction monster gobbles focus?

Next post, a bit of lying.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Places on Valentines Day

First up, Aubrie mentioned in my comments another great, updated often, site, www.ralan.com, which is primarily for genre: horror, sf and fantasy. Aubrie has several good blogs (how do you do it, Aubrie?) but two favorites for me to visit are Book Reviews by Aubrie and Author, Flutist, Teacher, Aubrie Dionne.

Next, for markets and contests and great writing advice (and I'm not just saying that because I've had an article published there) go to WritersWeekly.com.

Last, if you're looking for an agent, check out (often) Guide to Literary Agents Editor's blog. Even if you're not, this blog contains a wealth of info and some great contests with agents as judges (why not get a free critique from an agent?) and fabulous prizes.

That's it for this Sunday, hope you're all submitting and succeeding!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day...

 
A rose for all my friends.
For some of you, my faithful fellow bloggers, this post will come a bit early. For some it will be "on the day." Whichever, here's a yummy, full of brain helping anti-oxidants, recipe to wish you all a

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY
Chocolate Walnut Shortbread:
1/2 c. walnuts
1 c. white flour
1 stick unsalted butter, or baking margarine, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 c. chocolate bits (mini baking choc. bits work best, but any chocolate is great)
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 teas. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Pulse walnuts in grinder until finely ground. Transfer to bowl, add flour & stir thoroughly. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, add flour mix and beat until combined. Stir in chocolate bits. Butter 8 inch round cake pan, place dough in pan, cover with plastic wrap and press until dough is spread evenly in pan. Cut with sharp knife into eight wedges, prick all over with fork. Bake until golden and firm in center, 30-35 minutes. Recut into wedges and prick again. 

Can eat when slightly cooled. EAT!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Places

This first post on various places to go to find contests and markets is focused on the short story. Jim Murdoch of The Truth About Lies pointed out, one of the best places to go is Duotrope's Digest. This site is user friendly and updated often. A blog that is fantastic for short story markets is Sandra Seaman's My Little Corner, again she posts new places often, including flash and contests, plus interesting news and tips about the writing world.

Finally, yes, this market listing is a whole big dollar an issue, BUT Kathy Ptacek finds and lists so many different markets in a vast array of formats (e-publishers to anthologies) all organized for quick referral that she deserves a mention here. And because I've found several markets last year alone that I sent to and sold to. So check out the Gila Queen's Guide to Markets.(For my artist fellow bloggers, her listings include artwork.)

Most of all write, so you can submit! And because you are writers!

What do you think, dear readers, does this, my first "Sunday Places" help? Or not? Something else you'd like to see? Or add? Let me know.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I know everyone

A couple of weeks ago, I was searching for writers I'd met at the Willamette Writers Conference on Facebook. One fellow's name didn't come up, but Facebook provides "alternative possible spellings" of names. There, first, was the name of a fellow blogger who often commented on a blog I follow.

I know everybody.

At that same conference, most of the agents discussed the now invaluable tool of writers establishing their own platforms. Gone are the days when publishers promoted a new author or even an established midlist one. For more info on this subject and how to self-promote, I'd suggest J.A. Konrath's excellent blog A Newbie's Guide to publishing which ranges far and wide on the world of publishing as it exists today.

Since I'm now in process of finding an agent, I've been working hard on platform. But I also want to work different as well. In that vein, I'm mentioning (and listing to the left) different blogs and webpages that have contests or markets or agent and publishing news. My first listing is for a contest. The deadline has passed for this contest, BUT the agent will do more.

What do you think, dear readers? Useful? Something else might be more useful? Or something additional? After all, I know everyone.

An added PS: after your first few comments, I've decided to have a Sunday post with useful blogs, contests, etc. Thanks and keep those great comments coming.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Starts--Don't Stop!

Okay, the book or project is finished. Okay, it's submitted, hanging in a gallery, delivered to a client. Now what? If you're like me, the strong tendency is to slump in your computer chair and take a nap. Or read a book. Or watch a movie. Or whatever activity or non-activity I've neglected and yearned for since I began now-finished project. Which I believe is healthy and wise.

Unless. Unless it becomes a new lifestyle. When taking a break becomes a full stop. Yes, it's intimidating to start again and anew, but it's far worse to get stuck. And then go into full waiting mode--for the rejections to come in the mail.

What helps me? Goals, deadlines and working with friends on same. While working on one project, I'm thinking of the future and what's next. Deadlines, whether outside world real or self-imposed, help keep the idea that time is limited, time to get onto the next project. And most important, friends such as Kathy of Well Placed Words, encourage and support that all important, "get doing it"!

Dear reader, do you find yourself stuck after a big push? What was a small break has turned into a chasm? If so, what do you do to get started again? Blog? Clean and organize? Look up markets? Or?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Keeping Going and Going On

This is an addendum, or a going on of the last post, focusing on the process of keeping going, in this sense finishing and sending out. This can be difficult for any creative person, whether beginner or pro. The belief is that it gets easier after a few successful sales. In my experience, it becomes more difficult.

A story in point:
Once I attended a two-hour fused glass jewelry workshop. The only requirement to attend was having attended the basic workshop in how to make fused glass (which is easy with some safety precautions, and the teacher provided the kiln). The class was full with mostly us beginners, mostly for fun. One attendee was a professional jewelry designer who had her own shop with her designs. While the rest of us happily prepped piece after piece of jewelry to be fired (no limit on number of pieces), this poor woman attempted to "design" one single piece.

Now glass doesn't act the same as metal--while being fused, glass melts. Metal in lost wax casting can be very exact, glass can't. With all her knowledge and experience with jewelry design, the poor woman didn't grasp that main fact. She also mentioned several times her ability to design, so she was worried about her reputation.

While the rest of the class played, relaxed and having fun, she struggled to design one piece. Despite the encouragement of the teacher and the rest of us insisting she relax, we weren't judging her, she couldn't. She ended up with that one piece, which she almost didn't let be fired and finished. She hated the end result. Meanwhile, I made 11 pieces, 6 of which were beautiful and all of which were suitable for gifts. One gal made 34 pieces! Again, all lovely.

Hence, my post about "going on." A pro can never let anything, including professionalism, stop the work. Yes, it's difficult when you have published some, to face rejection, to send out more while questioning your own judgment and the critiques or compliments of others.

At some point, if a pro, finish and go on. Take a chance, and then another. Finish another and send it out. Submit. Go on to the next.

Does this resonate with you, dear readers? Do you find it difficult sometimes to go on to the next? Or to finish? What do you do then?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pro or no?

All the diverse responses from my posting about pay for creative people sparked a fire in my mind regarding the question of professional versus amateur. Many of the professional groups I belong to have a two-tier system where you have to have sold X amount to belong to the "pro" level. Yet every group has differing criterion and calls the levels different things. From "Pre-published" to "Associate" (sold a bit but not enough) to "Affiliate" to "Full" (Pro) member, the list goes on and on. And of course they need some criterion for membership. But still...

So: What does it mean to be an amateur? Or a professional? Can you be both at the same time? (I believe you can.)

After long thought I've decided what comprises a pro for me is more what they do. What a pro does:
Realizes, accepts and embraces that anything creative is also hard work.
Is willing to continue to learn and question and challenge the work.
Understands that criticism can be the best tool.
Understands that all judgment is subjective.
Understands that rejection is part of the process.
And most important, the sign of a professional in the creative world: Keeps going.

The last means no matter what. No matter the setbacks, the rejections, the lack of recognition or pay, the difficulty of getting up and creating each day. Keeps going.

So, dear reader, what do you think of my list? Do you agree with my criterion? Does something need to be removed? Added?