WHAT DAY IS THIS?

The OtherlifeThis is the look of my days, not quite night, definitely not morning, and my eyes are red from writing and reading. Sometimes, I feel like there is no in between and it is hard to decide upon AM or PM. One thing for certain, the challenges for each day push me forward into uncharted territory.

This past Saturday, I attended my Georgia Romance Writers meeting and came away with new thoughts, new visions, and new ideas. Why? I was surrounded by writers. Some struggling to keep everything together and some celebrating new books and trying to balance their time and others hitting the blank spot of the brain. I realized none of us have it all together and this made me feel good. Do I like it? Nah. But, we keep surrounding ourselves with other writers and gather support. This is so important when you are struggling with a page, a chapter, a thought, and know you have others you can bounce these thoughts out there and get feedback.

I have found out that writers jump on the wagon and either pull or push you forward. It is the momentum from their hard work that propels new writers forward. Then, it is our turn to do the same to other new writers. Writer friends are friends we turn to in times of questions and they understand our problems. Why? Because, most of them have been in the same situations and managed to break through to publication and above.

Make certain you have life-lines to throw out to all of your writer friends, and they have the same coming your way. Beta Readers, Critique Partners, and Writing Groups are the best life-lines writers have. They may not be perfect, but it is a starting point. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be yourself. But . . . never compare yourself to another writer. We are all different and our needs are different. Keep your avenues open for everyone. Make sure your bridges to others are always open.

My big happening this week, I received my book in print and can hold my ‘baby’ in between my hands. And, it was not an easy birth, but I am busy on two other books. Maybe these will be a little easier to produce. No matter what happens, I will continue to write, write, and write. And you, as a writer will continue to write and write and write. Once a writer, the need to write, share, and publish never goes way. Good Luck to all of you writers.

A saying, I believe in and maybe you will too, is from Eleanor Roosevelt.
“The future belongs to those who dream.”

Happy Dreams. Happy Writing.

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FAILURE EQUALS SUCCESS?

pen and inkI can hear the wheels in your head screeching. What trick is this? Who would want failure? To give you a better picture, Winston Churchill has been quoted as saying, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

In my Georgia Romance Writers Group, we have a program that honors rejection letters and at the end of the year, the writer with the most rejections receives a prize. What does this mean to writers? You are busy writing and submitting your stories/novels. You are continuing to do this in an attempt to get published. Courage? You’d better believe it. Embarrassed? Why? You are working hard, getting rejected, and you keep writing and submitting and  rejected until that special letter or phone call comes in…we want you to send the FULL manuscript…this little statement has made all the hard work worthwhile. Still, it is not a done deal. So, you keep writing and writing and submitting and submitting. As a writer, this is the blood that flows through our veins and keeps us going. Is this failure? It depends on how a person looks at the situation and themselves. This could happen to anyone, not just writers.

You apply for a position and feel confident about the interview. A week or two goes by and you hear nothing. So you wait a few more days before you make the call. You learn another person, more qualified, has been hired. Do you stop looking at the employment ads or do you keep sending in applications. The FAILURE would stop, but SUCCESS keeps reading the want-ads. However, instead of answering a bunch of employment advertisements, you list your qualifications, past employment history, make certain these are what the position involves, and be prepared. This is working from the success side.

As writers, we are in the same position. We are told it will be a rough ride to publication, and yet we find ourselves sending query letters to agents who do not represent our genre or maybe we hope they overlook this area. Wrong. One of the first things we learn…read the rules and qualifications of the agent and see if your work fits the categories.

As you proceed in your search, no matter what area, take a good look at your skills. Are you familiar with new technology? Do you need to brush up on your computer skills? How long has it been since you attended any conferences or meetings? Do you belong to any networking areas, a book club, or groups in your church or neighborhood? Do you volunteer for any events? These are avenues of successful people. Failure is sometimes being lazy and hoping you’ll get recognized. Success is taking your measurements and making certain you update these often.

Failure is not the end, but the beginning of a new way of thinking, being, and doing. Setbacks are sure to come along the roads you travel, but you can handle a detour. Sometimes they are as important as a straight road.

Happy Journeys.  Happy Detours.  Happy Writing.

WHY DO YOU WRITE?

New BLog OutWhy? Because. Yeah, but because of what? Now, do I have your attention? Everyone writes for different reasons and some may seem familiar, some may seem ridiculous, and some may even be the right reason for you. We cannot group writers into one formation and have great stories. This is why different genres play an important part in each writer’s life.

If fame and fortune are your goals, then you need to work hard, harder, and even harder to make your writing and the story stand out from all the others. But, every story has been written. You can only let Cinderella go to one ball, right? You are the writer, take Cinderella to a different kind of ball and to kick-start the story, have her go barefooted. Change the setting and you can change the story into YOUR story.

Some may say to reap the rewards in monetary value. But all writers will not be awarded in the same way. Do you have another book to follow, maybe not a series, but another book in the wings waiting for acceptance by a publisher, or your own type of publishing. One book, no matter how great, will not be enough for writers in today’s publishing business. And, then the readers want more and more. If you are a writer and connect with your readers, then you must continue to honor your readers and craft another story for them and new readers. You write because you want to write and this is where you find pleasure.

Then, you find the most satisfaction in writing a penetrating story that touches even the hardest heart and you realize a goal you’d never thought about. The satisfaction your writing gives another person. And you hear a reader’s response that this story touched me and I could not put it down. Maybe, your writing helped that one individual come to grips with her or his fear, helped them make a decision, or found their love was still with them. You just wrote what was in your heart and let the words fill the pages for another person to read.

You write because you have a writer’s mind and heart. You are interested in the whole process of having ideas and crafting the words. This brings you happiness, even when you become frustrated and do a file save, before getting up from your chair and laptop to do a dance around the room or go for a walk to let the frustration simmer a bit. While you dance with your ‘broom’ partner, new thoughts race through your head. Or on your walk, the sounds of nature fill you with new insight to your frustration and new ideas flow. This is the writer inside you acknowledging your irritation and letting the muse nurture you back to your chair and laptop.

By now, you have a good idea of Why You Write. Keep your writing fresh, invigorating, suspenseful, and full of love for your readers. Surprise your readers. Yet you are the same writer giving new stories to your readers – consistent, interesting, and refreshing.

HOW DO YOU LET YOUR CHARACTERS SHOW. . .

BookclubToday, we are in a book club together. No particular book by name, but the book you are writing, and we want to discuss characters.

How do you let your characters show their power of empathy? You know the sensitive side of themselves without being overbearing. Can your characters (male and female, protagonist or antagonist) let down their attitudes and become human? There’s one character who can never let down his/her guard. Always on edge, waiting for something bad to happen. Now, this character needs your assistance. How can you provide without taking away the edge? Try to work in a little compassion and let your character have one moment where she/he might be vulnerable. The desire to share her/his concern is there, but not all at one time. This may be a ‘sore spot’ for the character and to empathize would take away the hardness needed to survive, or so the character thinks. Show all of these emotions to your readers, a little bit at a time. Even the most hardened character needs to be transformed.

Your character has allowed small irritations to fester, and heaven help the next person to encounter this explosion. Do you ignore the outbursts? Do you try to show your reader the insights to this character and why? Or, do you build up these small raw spots so the reader can relate to this character and empathize with these trouble areas.

Secrets….always pose a problem. Secrets are not secret as they come out each day in our characters’ lives. SHHH….. well forget this. Someone has spilled the can of beans all over the sidewalk. As a writer, you can have a ball with this scenario. Do you go overboard and show an oversensitive character or a thin-skinned character? Does your character get irritable or touchy and has no respect for herself or himself? Does this character want to get in a pay-back mood? Only you, the writer, will know how to handle this in your story; but be aware, you can have a great turn-around or one less character.

Now comes some fun parts.Think about friendship in a love relationship. One character wants a relationship and the other a friend. What a combustible fragment you can create. You know your characters, so could this be avoided? Not if you want your readers to follow every word, line, and page. One of your characters needs to crawl on the sofa and be held, comforted, a back rub, and nothing more. The other character wants to give more than a hug, a few kind words, and when nothing happens walks out the door or goes to another room.

Okay, put your heads together and I would love to hear some of your responses. There is no one way to solve or handle , but when a group gets together……watch out. Writers know how to handle the most delicate or horrendous situations.

Got a couple more for the next time. So, let me hear from you and we will conquer. What? Whatever needs to be conquered.

Happy Writing.

READ OUTSIDE YOUR BOX

As a writer, we should read, read, and read other authors. We need inspiration by their word choices, settings and different genres. These readings stimulate our own mind and the way we look at our stories.

Read all genres, which are different from your normal writing, and then read in your genre. Read for pleasure. Experience the feelings your body absorbs. Do not question, just enjoy. Then when you finish the book, examine some of the areas where you found yourself stimulated or bored. Go back to the places and read again to see why you experience the different emotions. Do not get bogged down, let your own imagination take you on your journey through other books.

When I belonged to a book club eons ago, our choices ran rampant. We selected books at random and across all genres. This was when, in a bookstore or library, I ran to the thriller section, my get-away genre. In our book club, I found myself venturing into other areas and my mind became saturated with all books. Once every six months, we would pick a non-fiction book about a specific individual, such as Georgia O’Keeffee, Queen Victoria or Indira Gandhi, just to mention a few. You had to stay with the chosen person, but you could pick any author who wrote on this subject.Talk about intriguing and stimulating conversations….we sometimes went way over our closing time. This is where you find out how different authors view the same subject. Interesting comparisons.

A friend gave me a book while I was in the hospital. “You will enjoy reading this, I promise,” she told me.  THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY became my bedfellow. The author, Mary Ann Shaffer, was an editor, librarian, and bookseller. This was her first novel. Her niece, Annie Burrows, stepped in when Shaffer’s health issues took top priority. After her death, the niece’s persistence and ability to promote, gave this book the push needed for a best seller.

Take yourself back to WWII and the German invasion of Europe. There are several Channel Islands between the United Kingdom and France. This novel is about the Guernsey Channel Islands and the people who lived there and the hardships they endured. This is a book of letters and each letter to a person gives, you the reader, the feeling of being right there. You get to know the people associated with the Guernsey Island and the literary society. Sometimes, I’d put the book down and wait for–mail call. I met new and interesting characters; resourceful, funny, sad, lost lives, hard-working, limited abilities, deaths, a young child and love. All of this during the invasion of their little island. Please take yourself on a letter journey with this book. I bet you will find yourselves waiting for the mail to arrive.

This was ‘outside my box’ reading until a non-fiction writer friend loaned me a copy  one of her critique friends had published, OF HUMAN CLAY, the making and breaking of a nun by Aimee Wise.  Check her out on Facebook and Twitter

Writers, readers, and followers, I’d love to hear your comments on how and what you read “Outside Your Box.”

HAPPY WRITING…..HAPPY READING

DO YOU ACT BEFORE YOU KNOW ALL THE FACTS?

Audience

As writers, we hear over and over about platform. Have one – Get one – Make one – Do one, and we try to do all we should before we study and do research. Why? Best guess is we want to keep up with everything and forget to take a deep breath and learn.

Maybe, all this hesitation is really procrastination and we are not ready for all the work before us. You do know we have to write and get out book finished. I do not know how I’ll get everything done. I feel swamped.

Let’s take this a step at a time and stop the nerves jumping, the heart pumping harder, and get things under control. No one is ever ready to head into an unknown  project, and this project can determine the outcome of your book. Scary?

Do you know your audience? What audience? No one knows about the book I’m writing. As a writer you need to study your characters and their lifestyles. You know if your story involves children, young adults, mature teenagers, or thirty, forty, fifty, sixty or seventy ‘something ages.’ Go to a library, bookstore, yes even a grocery store that sells books. See who is picking up the books AND notice how they read the back cover. Start your research.

Contacts? Oh? Do you have contacts in radio or television or even the colleges around your area? Research each venue and find the name of one person to assist you. It might be the receptionist, but be polite, considerate and congenial. Ask if there might be a possibility of meeting the person for a quick visit. No,not an interview, at this time. Sometimes a quick face-to-face meeting is a great start.

Stay focused. You will never feel 100 percent ready to promote yourself and your book, but find your focus plan. Do you belong to writers’ groups; have a website; blog; a Facebook page with your profile? Put some excerpts on your blog, throw some spice into your social media, and keep writing, writing, and writing.Read everything you can on publication, as it changes every day. Bone up on the avenues you must travel to keep yourself going forward. Commit your time and energy to your new and emerging business–yes, business. As a writer, you will publish, promote, read, do interviews, and you need to be prepared for all the extra pleasures and pit falls.

You are headed in the ‘WRITE’ direction and your momentum is unstoppable. You have done your homework, you have other people to work with you, and YOU CAN MAKE IT.

Hit the road and never stop.

Marketing The Old-Fashioned Way

Two friends

Here we are again. Things ( all sorts of things) happen with the wave of a hand now days. Everyone wants instant make-overs, tools that do the work for you, and no sweat.

We over heard Patricia talking about Marketing to a writer friend. No, let’s make a correction – we snooped and listened. She opened a folder with lists, lists, and more written lists of things to do to market you, your writing, and your book.  Seems like a lot of work for no “instant gratification.”

Do you know how old-fashioned marketing works? Take a trip back with us to small villages in Britain. Not yesterday, we’re talking back to the 16th century and chapbooks. Yes, people wrote stories and poems with flimsy paper and the feather ink pen. These were sewn together with a needle and a thick thread, right down the middle with an outside cover.

They were “hawked” on street corners and priced for workers and rural areas to afford. These were used for family reading or groups in alehouses. These first “books for sale” contributed to the development of literacy.

Then the early printers made their way into this chapbook industry. Sometimes, chapmen got them on credit, and carried them all over the countryside, selling door to door, and returned with pay for the printers.

Now, think about how you would market the old-fashioned way. Then, stop and be thankful you have all the lists, and lists, and more lists. Once Patricia reads our bit of information, we are certain there will be more up-dated lists on marketing. But, this was fun. We all need to step ‘outside our boxes’ once in a while. So, we’ll rest for a long time.

Happy Hawking.