Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Head Hopping"

I’ve often wondered why writers, particularly fiction writers, aren’t totally, completely and irreversibly NUTS.

Well, maybe we are.

Just…harmless nuts.

Anyone else who hears so many voices in their minds telling them what to do would be committed. Indefinitely. Diagnosed with multiple personality disorder or some other bizarre psychosis. Let’s admit it, we not only hear voices, we have to BECOME the owners of those voices if we want our characters to be believable. Point of view can “head hop” from one to several distinct personalities in just a few chapters at times. That’s several new “people” a writer has to become, so to speak, in a very short span, in order to create convincing characters to our beloved readers. In my current novel, “The Gingerbread Boy,” I jump into the heads of a compassionate rock and roll star with a fatal illness, the nervous veterinary medicine student who loves him, a vindictive, hostile young woman who conspires to reap havoc on the that student, and even an eccentric old woman living with a psychopathic husband who resembles a toad in a wheelchair.

And that’s just a few of the characters.

So how do we even remember who we are ourselves? We’re more like actors than authors. After writing a particularly exhausting scene, even with only one or two points of view, I often feel like collapsing and taking a nap. Thankfully, I usually wake up as myself.

Identity crisis? Nah. I can handle it.

Just ask me.Whomever I am.

Gotta go—voices are calling………

Lori Lapekes

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Roads We Travel Again and Again

It’s the new year, and a lot of us started down new paths once the bell tolled midnight on that last day of December. New directions are always exciting whether it’s personally or as a writer. But as a reader, my feet always manage to find certain well-worn pathways over and over again. After deep thought and consultation, I’ve come up with my travel route for this year.

The Road to Mordor: Tolkien’s classic “The Lord of the Rings” is a biannual walk for me. One blog I read spoke of taking this journey every Lent. I don’t have such a spiritual bent on it. I’m saving Mount Doom for the fall when crisp days fade into dark nights that breathe of winter, when Frodo’s decision to leave his companions and go it alone (except for the ever-faithful Sam) wrenches even harder.

The Road to Sicily: I’ve been too long without a trip with Yossarian, Major Major Major Major, Milo Minderbinder, and Orr. Heller’s World War II classic Catch-22 is on the list. Time to revisit the horror and humor of bureaucracy.

Any Road with Dr. Seuss: This year, I would love to walk all my favorite paths with Dr. Seuss. From a snide field nine miles wide—even though those pale green pants freak me out a little—to the Once-ler and his whisper-ma-phone. I might even stop in and visit Mrs. McCave and her Daves. Don’t you wish you’d named one of your children Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate? Either that or Hoos-Foos?

What an itinerary!

Any well-traveled roads you plan on taking again this year?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bodies Reveal I have a weak stomach

We went to the Bodies Revealed exhibit this week end. I heard that the bodies where Chinese people that donated their bodies to science. Don't know if that's true, but that's whats being said.

I normally get into stuff like this. Its interesting to me and almost inconceivable that organisms so small you can't see them with the human eye can turn into something that's us.

So to the exhibit we went. The first room has four skinned bodies doing some type of exercise. Throwing a baseball, swing a bat, riding a bike and I can't remember what the fourth one was doing. Not bad considering they are skinned and all males. So forgive me if I can't remember what they all were doing I had others things burning images into my brain. I mean everything was skinned. Some thing then just dangled there. It reminded my of those Klick-Klackers. You know those balls on the string. You hang on to the paddle and try to clank them together as fast as you can.  Anyway getting back.

My son didn't care too much about the bodies. He kept asking if the bat and bike were real. Its probably the only reason why I remember the bat and bike. The mind of an eight year old compared to a 40 yr old.

Moving to the next room.
They had blood vessels, arteries and nervous systems all laid out for you.  Then you moved to the cancers and diseased organs. This is when my husband came up to me and said he wasn't feeling so good. I wasn't going to confess that earlier I too had begun to feel a little queasy, but since he brought it up I told him laughing "me too."  Now I normally can watch operations on TV and it doesn't bother me. But something about staring at a skinned human just wasn't settling right.

The next room was the kicker.  Right when you go in you are met with a human that was sliced and sandwiched in between panes of glass. OK, so after seeing everything else so what, right? Wrong. The first slice was the front of a man with his "pee pee" smooched up against the glass. My kid laughed really hard. I looked around wondering if all the men shifted their stance when faced with the picture in front of them. Then I looked closer at the second sliced and realized one of his eyebrows was still attached. The other one gone. So I moved on quickly through that exhibit to get to the last pane and there was his bum smooched in that one. My mouth felt dry and I caught myself swallowing to help calm what I hoped was not going to be a rejection from my stomach.  Mind you we didn't eat lunch yet.

The last room was on the reproductive system. It showed all kinds of good things in there. From the actual outer and inners of the female, to a full body(skinned) with the stomach opened for you to see a four month old still inside. Well I'm done I said. My husband said "Yep, lets go."

My kid still thinks it all was fake.  I found out my stomach is getting wimpier with age. I also was haunted my those faces. When I took the time to stare at one of them and really look into their eyes (and yes I believe some of the eyes were real. Blah) it gave me the creeps. So what did I learn about the human body? We don't look good without our skin and....clothes.

So we left the museum and went out for Chinese.  Not intentionally. Its just where we ended up after two other choices weren't opened. But I can't help think, does that mean something?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

When I Figured Out Words Had Power

When I was 8, my parents got divorced (hang with me, people - I promise this isn't going to be a tale of writing my first romance story in a misguided effort to get my parents back together) and my mom went back to school and moved us to a trailer park near the college campus.

Our brand new, 1976 Champion trailer backed up to a heavily wooded ravine where my brother and I spent most of our time playing. The trailer park was filled with a lot of hippies, college students and hippie college students. For the most part, everybody was pretty friendly, particularly the stoners, and it wasn't a bad place to live. Our super-awesome babysitter, Suzanne, lived right next door and my mom's friend Pragati would come over and cook Indian food for us while my mom helped her study.

One night, Pragati brought over her boyfriend. He was a psych student who was interested in the effects of divorce on children and this dude (can't remember his name, but there was a major Tom Selleck mustache going on) wanted to know if I'd be interested in writing about my feelings. Well, I wasn't interested in writing about my feelings, but even at the tender age of 8, I had trouble saying "no" to people. (I'm sure no one here is shocked.) The next day, Tom-Selleck-Mustache-Guy brought me my very first blue book - you know, the kind you use for essay tests in high school and college - and told me to write about my feelings and encouraged me to draw pictures if I wanted to. He went on ad nauseum about how it was okay to express my sadness and anger and how important it was to do that.

I sat outside under our picnic table, carefully wrote my name on the cover. Then I drew pictures of all the animals, trees and flowers in the ravine where I would have rather have been playing. After I filled in every available space on the cover, I opened the booklet to the lined pages and tried to write about my feelings. After about five minutes, I realized I didn't want to write about my feelings. My feelings were fine. We were all happier after the split and it seemed stupid to pretend otherwise. I'm not saying that I didn't miss my dad, but even as a kid, I could see that the whole divorce thing was a good idea. But this guy expected me to be crushed, in fact, it seemed like he not only expected me to be crushed but wanted me to feel that way. Jerk. Who knows - maybe he was writing a thesis paper, and I was his subject.

So, I took my pencil and wrote. I wrote a story about a beautiful witch who lived in the deep forest in a small, stone cottage. She had a lot of pets - cats, dogs, cows, horses, mice, unicorns, deer, foxes and bears. She held lovely magical tea parties for the local children (who apparently lived in the forest...) and grew flowers and pumpkins in her garden. Unfortunately, a man with a mustache came to the witch's little house in the woods and asked about her feelings. Her pet bears ate him.

Now, I'm not saying this is the moment when I knew I wanted to be a writer, but it was the moment I realized that written words made a difference. Tom-Selleck-Mustache-Guy went away and left me and my feelings alone. I knew then that there was power - a kind of magic - in stories, and I knew that I wanted to experience that kind of magic whether I was reading or writing it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Inspirational Moment

I was at the doctor the other day when the cover of a magazine caught my eye. I forget the title, but it was something to do with visiting Arizona. Now, Arizona is on my list of places to visit, along with about three dozen other places, but that is not why the magazine caught my attention. There was a photograph of one of the canons at sunrise on it. I didn't read the magazine, but I did flip through it and thought the landscape that I saw would be perfect for a new world. Desert. Mountainous. Mountains that are inhabited by centaurs and dragons or maybe by trolls - but maybe you don't write fantasy - maybe sci-fi and it's hostile alien terrain that the crew needs to get through to get home. It could be the historical and the mountains represent something else like the hideout of outlaws, or contemporary or - the list goes on and on.

The idea the inspiration for a story can come from anywhere. A picture, photograph, object, or snippet of conversation paired with most writers favorite game of 'what if' - what if this instead of that? TV shows, movies and documentaries are also good...


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Life of Winona Writer

Who is Winona Writer? She is a student, a retiree, a single mom, someone who is under the constant barrage of the voices in her head, tangled plot lines and the ever burning question of “what if?” She is a watcher, observer and analyst, set apart from the mainstream. She’s been making up stories “forever” and “since I learned to write.” To her, the characters in her head have a will of their own, and her muse isn’t a Greek goddess but an uncontrollable diva, bent on slowly driving her insane.

Winona writes in the early morning before her family wakes, in the bleachers at soccer practice, or on an Alphasmart at the dentist’s office. Her desk is a space next to the furnace, the dining room table, or a spot at the library or local coffee house.

She dreams of fame, fortune and quitting her day job. Strong coffee, chocolate and the encouragement of fellow writers keeps her going. A rejection letter brings her down, but only temporarily, because she knows it’s based on the opinion of an editor or agent and the vagaries of the market.

Winona is a lifetime learner. She reads voraciously and soaks up knowledge about writing from books, workshops and more experienced writers. She invites critiques from trusted sources, corrects what improves the story and ignores the rest. Her skin is thick.

Her perseverance is astounding. Queries and proposals leave her desk on a regular basis, and she’s not afraid to send them out again and again and again. After all, so-and-so was rejected X amount of times before they were published, and look at them now. She knows her chance is just around the corner.

She gives back. She mentors new writers, volunteers to run a workshop for her writing group and voices her opinion at meetings. Once, she knew nothing and she feels an obligation to pay it forward. Others look up to her for guidance.

More than anything, Winona loves to immerse herself in a world of constant surprises, strong emotions and possibilities.

Are you a Winona?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Big Epiphany of the Week

by Tanya Eby

On my own blog this week I talked about losing my writing mojo. More specifically, my funny mojo. I feel like I’ve somehow become really, deeply boring because…well…I’m happy. And I wear mom jeans.

Surely I don’t have to be tormented to write, do I? Do I?

After talking this over with the therapist in my mind (I call him Bob. He’s much cheaper than a real therapist) I realized that I confused an interesting book with being an interesting person. I don’t need torment and conflict in my life, just my characters do. See, you don’t want to read a book where everyone is high-fiving and making necklaces and singing campfire songs. Even Amish love stories have conflict and I know this because I’ve narrated several. Sure, the conflict is sometimes about who makes the best Snickerdoodles, but it’s still conflict.

My big epiphany is that I’m still interesting, at least to my friends. I’m just going through a creative transition where I’m moving from being a struggling single mom caught in a life of torment to a published neurotic author whose life is pretty boring…but wonderful. I can do this. I can totally do this! And instead of living out a novel and fighting pirates and lovers and pirate lovers, I can just have my characters do that. I can wear my mom jeans and talk about daycare and a great bacon meatloaf I just made, and my characters can stand on the cliff of the end of the world, then jump off it, discover they have wings, and then make-out with someone really hot in happiness.

Actually, I don’t write that kind of book. The point is….I could.

Thank you, Bob. I appreciate your help. Now if you can just explain to me why I keep having dreams where I’m a country music singer I’d really appreciate it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Peace and Calm

You won't believe how excited I was to read Patty's blog about how calm and peaceful 2011 was going to be.  I thought that is exactly what I need - things starting go more smoothly.  Good days at the Vaughn household are hectic.  Bad days - well, I'm not sure I can describe them without using punctuation instead of letters or words my mother doesn't like (She still spells B-R-A-T and N-U-T-S.) Let's just say, there are two whiny beagles, three headstrong toddlers and me to wrangle them all.

Calm sounds so wonderful.  I envisioned fairies and unicorns dancing on rainbows and all three kids playing nicely together for hours on end while I finished my next book and all sort of other impossible things.

And then the stomach flu hit.  And not just the 'I feel kinda queasy; I'll pass on supper' flu.  To steal one of Bronwyn's words, it was 'barftastic.'

This, of course, after we'd spent the previous week scouring the entire house and laundering every piece of fabric that would fit in the washing machine to alleviate the symptoms of my son's newly discovered dust mite allergy. My washer and dryer may go on strike, but the good news is that he doesn't seem as stuffy.

So far, I'm not seeing the calm and peace.  Either 2011 is going to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb or anything will seem peaceful after this week. :-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Franken-manuscript: The Thing That Came From Under the Bed

We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man.
We can make him better than he was before.
Better, stronger, faster.

I don’t have many manuscripts under my bed. I used to have twelve. These things happen when you take seven years to get published. There aren’t twelve any more.

I don’t believe in wasting my work. There is something good in every story I’ve written that didn’t get published—I need to add that some were never submitted anywhere either.

The first book I ever wrote, as well as the fourth book I wrote, are part of the Zed Force series I’ll put out next year with Resplendence Publishing. The first book blew. So, it’s become Franken-Manuscript number one. Characters, one scene, a location and some dialogue will be used. Otherwise, this story it took me years to write has been gutted. Book four which is actually now book one in the ZF series, is Franken Book number two. Great portions of this book were rewritten on the quest to get it published. They’re solid and need reworking. Much of the original book however…you guessed it. Gutted.

All right. Books two and three are in the process of being completely rewritten. I’ll call these The Bionic Historicals. You know the 70s TV show (refer to the opening quote). I have the capability of building a better book. Stronger and better than it was before. But like the TV show…some gimpy things had to go.

Oh…book five. It was innovative. It did well in contests, and was even a finalist in a couple. I don’t know that I’ll ever have it in me to redo this book. It’s a high fantasy romance. A lot of world building. It will remain—mostly—entombed away where old files go. And every once in a while, I’ll take it out and look at it, blow off some dust and say “This is good” but then I’ll probably put it away again. Even so, some of it is alive. I stole the wedding ceremony in Blood Bought from the book.

Book six, probably my best pre-published endeavor is in the process of being revamped into an erotic romance. It will see light in the next couple years. Book seven, is a self indulgent pile of muck. I highly doubt it will ever go anywhere—not if I have any say.

Book eight. Book eight is Tribute for the Goddess. It’s been out from under the bed for over two years now. It’s one of my favorite books. I should have submitted it places sooner!

And infamous, books nine through twelve. Well, these are real Franken-Manuscripts and if you saw the originals, you might barely recognize them for what they are now. All eight main characters and their workplace/field were plucked from the original books and put into a new series. Parts of book nine ended up in book 1, 3 and 4 of the new series. Much of the rest…ditched. They were sappy if erotic, but they certainly weren’t the Cress brothers they are now.

And that just goes to show you, very little ever really needs to be wasted.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Say Anything

Perhaps you are someone who has a story to share. Or one of many who say, “I’ve been told that I should write a book …” but have not. Yet.

My personal opinion is that everyone has a story to share. Some share with words, maybe prose, non-fiction, or poetry. Others paint, draw, sculpt. Gardening, cooking, sewing – to me it’s all an expression of how you see the world. In other words, it’s a reflection of your story. It’s your voice.

Over the years I'd made four attempts to tell an important story. Each was a different style, and finally, after eighteen years, I heard its voice. It began in a silly way. I’d heard a song on the radio and said to my son, “there’s a story behind that song.” Being twelve years old and not inclined to question me if he didn’t want me to go into further detail, he agreed.

As I pictured the sequences in the song, the characters in my first novel, “Talking to Strangers” materialized and began to walk around in my head. That’s when I believe the muse settled in with me, sensing that I was finally ready to commit. Two more songs struck my fancy and I was determined to figure out how they all related.

Around that time I also discovered “The Alchemist,” by Paolo Coelho, about the importance of pursuing a dream. Looking back, I’m thankful that I was open-minded enough to feel the significance of these separate events – the songs and the book – and to feel the urging of the muse. And when I say muse, I am referring to that part of the brain that creates. There are ideas that spring from the dust, from the air, from sorrow and joy – and if you acknowledge them and find a way to work them, much like the way a potter works with clay, these ideas will invite their friends.

I should mention that I’m a single mother of a teen-aged son. Working full-time, I also volunteer at school and with Boy Scouts. This last year I found time to train for and walk a half-marathon. It is not my intention to brag, but merely to show that with the 24 hours that we have all been given, it is possible to find time to write. I wrote “Talking to Strangers” by getting up thirty minutes earlier each morning. As the pages progressed, I found that I woke up before the alarm, my need to write as strong as my prior desire for sleep. Sometimes I went to sleep earlier, but many times not.

Over the last year I’ve sent dozens of agent queries, looking to find a literary agent willing and able to fall in love with my novel enough to sell it to an editor. I’ve been politely rejected dozens of times. That’s part of the process. Yes, it’s like someone telling me that they don’t like my child. But my desire to publish is still stronger than my bruised ego.

More importantly, I joined a writer’s critique group that meets weekly and offers feedback on my writing. My novel is now so much better than it was a year ago. The thought of reading my work aloud to a group of other writers was almost paralyzing. But again, my desire to publish overcame my ego.

In short, if you want to write, I offer the following advice.

1. Just Do It. It’s important to begin and not worry about perfection. Writing isn’t about how perfect it begins, but about opening the door to the words that want to flow from you.

2. Be a Pro. Commit to writing like a professional. If you treat it like a hobby or a passing interest, it’s not going to make it past all of the excuses you’ll find for why you can’t sit down and write.

3. Join a Writer’s Group. Yes, it’s like the dream where you wake up and you are on stage naked. But so what! You’re a pro, remember? You have a burning desire to write and you will overcome. Your pen is in charge – not your ego.

4. It’s Your Dream. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. It’s your story. You are a writer.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

DIY Promo & a Yummy Treat

Do you have a book coming out? Does the price of promo make you want to run away screaming in fear? Well, guess what? Promoting yourself and your books need not put too much of a cramp in your wallet. There are many ways of promoting yourself without breaking the bank.

For instance, my first novel (written under Arianna Skye) was released by a small e-publisher. Even though they did some marketing, I knew I would have to pick up part of the promotional effort. I found a company online that offered inexpensive bookmarks. I used images from my book cover and designed the bookmark, uploaded the images and the company did the rest. For less than $100 I had 1000 beautiful bookmarks. I didn't stop there. I found another company online that sold tassels at wholesale prices. For less than $100, I had 1000 tassels. I then went to Wal-Mart of all places and bought beads. The beads all together cost about $50.

So, for around $250, I had 1000 bookmarks, all blinged out and ready to give to eager readers.

See how easy it can be?

And now, I've discovered that Michael's and Hobby Lobby are a treasure trove of goodies for my promotional needs. You can make all sorts of inexpensive items to hand out at events. My latest discovery is shrinky dinks. Did you know you can buy printable shrink paper? The wheels in my brain started to turn.

I took my website logo and printed up several sheets. I shrank them in the oven and came up with this:

All I need to do is add the ball chain and I have a perfectly functional key chain to give away. Please pardon the photo, it was taken with a cell phone.

Here's another neat thing I did with the shrink paper. All that's missing is the tassel.

PS: These don't make very good bookmarks. The plastic is rather thick, but still an interesting item to give away to a lucky reader.

Here's the breakdown on the key chains:
$120 for 100 sheets of printable shrink paper
$40 for ink
$100 for 500 feet of beaded ball chain (similar to the kind used for dog tags)

A little more expensive than the previous bookmarks, but an interesting promo idea, nonetheless.

See how promoting yourself needn't be a financial burden (and even a little fun)? And as promised, my favorite New Year's resolution breaking treat:

Skaarup's Kooky Key Lime Fudge (FMI:

© 1997 T. P. Skaarup, original recipe. May be copied unaltered. All
rights reserved.

1/4 cup butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
2 1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk (or small 5 oz can)
10 to 12 oz white chips
6 to 7 oz marshmallow creme or marshmallow fluff (may
substitute 2 cups of mini-marshmallows)
1/3 cup key lime juice
1/2 cup almonds or macadamia nuts (coarsely chopped)
1/4 tsp rum extract
1 tsp lemon extract

Line a 9"x9" pan with aluminum foil and set aside. Place White
chips, extracts, and nuts into Pyrex glass dish (or a 3-quart
saucepan) and set aside. Set butter aside to warm.

Heat milk at Medium setting until warm then add sugar. Bring to a
rolling boil (Medium-High) while stirring constantly with a hand
mixer (or wooden spoon). Add marshmallow creme and butter and
mix until creamy. And the Key Lime juice. Bring back to a boil for [5]
full minutes by the clock (start timing once the boil resumes).

The mixture will start to turn a little brown during the boil. If you get
brown flakes in the mixture then turn down the heat a little and
continue to stir.

Remove from heat and pour hot mixture over chips without
scraping the sides of the hot saucepan. Mix until chips are melted
then mix in nuts. Pour into prepared pan. Cool at room
temperature. Remove from pan, remove foil, cut into squares.

NOTE: If recipe is doubled then use a very large saucepan since
the marshmallow creme will expand when heated. Boil for [8]
minutes (by the clock) after the boil resumes instead of the usual
[5] minutes.

NOTE: Key Lime juice is acidic and will cause the milk to curl.
While uncosmetic, it should not effect the fudge's ability to set.


Many New Year's blessings for all!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Taking A Life Break At The Start Of The New Year

Last week I thought about my first blog post for GRRWG and figured it would be something about goals and the New Year and the handy dandy accountability thing a few of my friends will be helping me with. However, then I started feeling icky and then had the whole medicine head thing going. I do have goals and three posts that I was supposed to do on my blog, but nothing got done. I did yell at my kitten this morning. It was among things I never thought I'd say - "Quit chasing the snow flakes, you're ruining the blinds!", which goes along with "Tuarwen, quit pulling the pins out of the fabric, I need those!" I did get the I'm a cute kitty look with a belly flop onto my feet later from her.

Oops, digressing...

New Years.

It's the New Year and time for resolutions. They should be something you can do, or expect to learn to do and have the means to do them with. Keep them visible and give a copy to a couple of friends that are willing to call you out on them.

I have goals, a list of them and they include things like writing a 1000 words every day and blog regularly. These are good - they can be measured and seen. I can be held accountable for them.
But when coherency is flighty, writing is probably not something you can be reasonably expected to try unless you're superwoman, in which case why are you waiting?

Seriously though, look at the motivation behind your goals. The 1000 words a day is great, so is blogging. Both get me doing what I need to - write and 'talk' with people. And now by telling every body and their brother what my goals are, that means I have to actually stick with them. Because only sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing. I mean, I really don't want to be the only one to say, no I didn 't make mine. Well, I obviously won't make everyday, because life intervenes, but I also can say, I wrote all but one or five days. And I finished this many books, or this many whatevers.

Accountability is a good thing. It prevents people - me for instance - from making a list of lofty and hard to reach goals. I mean is it really reasonable to read all of Shakespeare's plays, the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Lord of the Rings Saga when you have very little free time and absolutely need to read books in your genre and research books not to mention school and everything else?

Now, back to writing, because now I'm feeling better and don't have any excuses. Well, I'm a writer I can come up with a ton of them and they'd even be plausible, however, I made a promise to myself to write 1000 words everyday and if I write a lot in the next couple of days I can kinda sorta make up for the missing days.

Happy New Year,


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Celebrating the New Year - Not!

You know it is going to be a bad day when they guy who comes to fix your furnace puts the thermostat on upside down and the furnace still won’t work. That was my welcome to 2011 after the celebrating was done. I know 2011 is going to be a great year!

With my current Karma, how can I move forward? How can I get a book done? How can I lose 50 pounds?

I could sit here and rail on the heating guy, my landlord and the water heater that also went bad. (Okay, I did that, but that was therapeutic, I swear!)
Then I have my birthday. There are six inches of snow and I have to make a thirty minute drive. When my son wants to take me out for dinner, I bailed because I was coming down with the flu. I’m really beginning to hate 2011.

Today dawns and I have to work at my day job. I forget all about my blog because I missed the last couple of days due to above said issues. Here it is 6 p.m. and I am writing my blog, only 19 hours too late according to my calendar alarm. I could just forget it…

Enough of my whining I really do have a purpose. I still have a book to write, 150 emails that need attention, edits to make and another book burning in my brain to get out. As a writer, it seems like all you get is reasons not to write. Then when you do finish something the cuts to the self esteem begin. You get rejected from agents and publishers. Writers have their own demons about their work. (Your work never lives up to how great you want it. You can always edit it more and be safe and never send it out.)

My point is that you can’t give up no matter how much life gets in the way. If you are a writer, you have to write. You can’t let the fact your fingers are freezing and can’t type stop you. You have to climb back up and let your fingers tickle the keyboard. It doesn’t have to be great writing, it just has be to words. Good prose will come. So I am back at it. 2011 can freeze me and make me barf, but I’m getting back up and so should you! Enough whining. My book is calling, gotta go! You get to your keyboard too. Fulfill those new year’s resolution. Don’t let anything stop you!

W.S. Gager is an award-winning writer of the Mitch Malone Mystery Series. A Case of Infatuation and A Case of Accidental Intersection are now available. A Case of Hometown Blues will be out this summer.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Today, a writer?

As a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, editor and writer, I wear many hats. Some days it's not possible to wear them all at once.

Yesterday was supposed to be the first day back to school for all three boys, but the middle one came down with the flu on Sunday and woke up on Monday still with a high fever. All my plans for getting back to my regular weekday schedule of editing and writing in a quiet house went out the window. Instead, I found myself checking up on him every time I heard a whimper from his direction, which was quite frequently. The poor little guy was really miserable.

It didn't help that I was adjusting to waking up at 6:15 am after sleeping late (like reaaaallly late) for the two weeks of Christmas break. My head felt thick and my eyes heavy. In the afternoon I was even able to get away from the sick boy for a while and take a nap.

So I didn't feel much like a writer yesterday. I didn't even open my current WIP, but I did read a few articles in Romance Writers Report at lunch. Instead of stretching myself too thinly, I tried to be the best mother I could be and still take care of myself with my regular exercise and healthy eating. And at the end of the day, I was okay with not putting new words on the page.

And today is a new day. Without carrying any guilt over from yesterday, I am more likely to open my WIP with a positive and willing attitude...even though the poor sick boy is still home.

How do you mentally handle days when you don't write? Do you give yourself a break, without giving yourself permission to completely blow off your writing?

Monday, January 3, 2011

To Paraphrase...

Since a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, it stands to reason "a Novel of XXX Chapters must begin with a single word.

I have to remind myself of that quite often when I hear of the enormous amounts of writing some of our fellow writers accomplish each month: novellas, magazine articles, plays, ebooks, novels, blogs.  I'll admit it, their productivity is somewhat intimidating to me. 

I spent a bit of time over the holidays trying to figure out the best way to turn that intimidation into inspiration.  I already fight an inner editor every time I sit down who wants to to polish, polish, polish instead of writing, so I needed to figure out something that would get me going.

I decided to borrow a goal from a fellow writer.  Awhile back, Patty said her goal was to write 100 words a day.  I got to thinking about it and decided that's a very doable goal.  Even after a hard day at work, you can certainly do such a small goal.  So, I started following her example and have been putting in time at the keyboard each day.  I found that once I started, I often wrote 500 or more words and not just the hundred I set out to do.  I've never asked Patty, but I suspect she's found the same thing since we just critiqued Section 13 of her work in progress. 

So, that's my goal for 2011, to sit down every day and write.  Instead of setting my goal to write a thousand words a day or two chapters a week or some other unrealistic (for me) goal, I'll simply promise myself and my muse that I will write one hundred words a day.  I'll let you know next month on the third how that works out for me.

~ Stephanie

By the way, the blog above was 307 words.  See, it's really easy! :)  

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year! It's a time of beginnings, and I will begin the blogging on this site each month. I chose to write on the first day of each month for a few reasons - one, it's easier for me to remember, and two, I love beginnings. I love happy endings, too, but beginnings are when I'm the most charged up and raring to go. So this part of the month is a good time for me to write, too.

Since I'm Asian, I thought I'd point out that 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit according to the Chinese Zodiac. People born during the Year of the Rabbit (if your age at your birthday this year is a number divisible by 12, you are a Rabbit) are articulate, talented, and ambitious. At least that’s what I found on one website. So all you articulate rabbits out there – you were born to write, so get out those laptops and get to work!

But what about the rest of us who were born in non-rabbit years? Well, I guess the first step is to settle down in front of the computer, open up a new document, and get to work. Whether it’s 100 words or 1000, start writing. The Year of the Rabbit, according to the charts, is supposed to be one of peacefulness and calm – so we should be able to get a lot done! Our group is tremendously prolific – come to one of our meetings and get energized!

However you celebrate your New Year, do it safely, and please come back again soon for a visit!

Patty Kiyono


Retrieved 12/27/10.