Monday, April 28, 2008

Maass' Writing Workshop

Spring on the Oregon Trail

And since it is spring, it is time for me to attend Donald Maass' High Tension Workshop. As I've mentioned before, workshops can be highly beneficial for improving the quality of writing. And as I may have mentioned before (or should have) Don's workshops are some of the best. After attending his week-long Intensive workshop, I noticed (and my writer's group did as well) a great improvement in the quality of my writing. If you'd like to know more about Donald Maass his website is Donald Maass Literary Agency. And I just noticed he has a free download of his excellent book The Career Novelist.

Which is a roundabout way of saying I won't be posting again until after the conference--earliest next mid-week. See you then.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

An Easy Live Forever Recipe

When a stomach with legs is demanding dinner...

...of course this recipe is for humans. It's fast, easy, tasty with easy variations and is full of anti-oxidants that are anti-carcinogenic and anti-aging. Excellent for various ailments and to just live a longer, healthier life!

Quick Curry Soup

2-3 cups Chicken, Beef or Vegetable broth
Vegetables you like as much as you like
If you are a meat eater, add meat of your choice
Add curry spice by teaspoon to taste (caution: turmeric, the main ingredient in curry, has a bitter aftertaste if you use too much, so add slowly and taste often)

That's it. This is low calorie unless you use a high-fat meat (not recommended).

Additions that power up the anti-oxidant properties: Add to your taste.

Fresh garlic/onion
nutritious yeast
beans of any kind
olive or sesame seed oil (a tablespoon is plenty)

So eat up!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring Fever

First Flowers of the Season

Are you having a bout of Spring Fever? Trouble concentrating? Focusing? Getting tasks completed?

Relax. You are not alone. Instead of beating up on yourself, remember that spring is a season for renewed growth. It's a physical, emotional and energy shift from winter. What does that mean? Well, it may mean that you're not distracted, you're on a brand new track. That perhaps this isn't the time to ultra-focus on one task. You may be missing opportunities. Or ideas. Or some other form of growth.

So, do you have Spring Fever? If so, do you enjoy it? Fight it? Destroy it? Embrace?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Judging Writers and the Agent's tough job

I've just finished judging entries for a local contest. I've learned an amazing amount. Much of it encouraging to all us creative folks who struggle with rejection.

First, the work matters. It's easy to spot a beginning writer. It's easy to spot a writer who's worked on the craft and written some. It's easy to spot a writer who's written a great deal and who has learned many lessons from writing all those words. (Talent doesn't seem to enter into it--but that's for another post.)

Second, I've gained an understanding of not only what agents go through, but that the agents tell the truth when they say "Sorry--just not my type of thing." The best entry I judged was excellent, compelling and professionally written at a high, high level. But if I had been an agent, I would not have taken this writer as a client. Why? Not my type of thing. And as an agent, it needs to be "my type of thing" for me to know who, how and where to sell the manuscript.

And a final note, somewhat related: I've had a manuscript out, making the rounds. In my research of agents, I've come across some great agent blogs: Nathan Bransford, Lyons Literary LLC and Bookends, LLC to name a few. These blogs give great information and advice on finding an agent and the publishing world.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Counting Coup for Creative People

Give Yourself Some Roses for Your Accomplishments

Even if you only give yourself a lovely picture of roses. A recent blog entry on J. A. Konrath's blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing prompted this post. Although this entry is about money, it is also about a writer's struggles with following the passion of writing. And that there is a piece of success that writers have no control over: luck.

This is true for all creative people. It can be frustrating. It can be discouraging and depressing. It can sap away creative energy.

So here's a tip that helps: Give yourself kudos. Regular pats on the back. Daily. Even hourly if you're feeling a slump. Especially if you, like most creative people, sometimes fall into the trap of beating up on yourself ala: "I should have written/painted/produced more today. I'll never be as good an artist/writer/musician as insert-famous-name-of-person-you-admire-here. Etc." We all know the drill.

This is especially helpful when you can't think of anything good about your creative process. Then stop the thoughts and replace them with one thing, no matter how tiny, minute, insignificant, that you've done today to further your creativity. Thought about a new scene? Yes! Picked up a single item and sorted it? You go! Looked out the window and noticed the weather? Congratulations!

Okay, it seems silly, but it works.

What do you have as an accomplishment for today? What's a little one that you usually take for granted?