Saturday, September 28, 2013

Are You the Egg or the Ham?

Someone taught me that we are either the egg or the ham when it comes to achieving our goals.

A chicken has to have the right conditions to lay an egg. The chicken needs to be in a relaxed environment (no trama) with lots of sunlight. The sunlight helps activate a gland. When the gland is activated then the chicken can lay an egg within 24-28 hours. After the egg is laid the chicken can get up and move around and start the process all over again. Depending on the chicken and the environment the chicken can lay eggs all over their surroundings. Hence the part, when a chicken lays and egg it walks off to start a fresh new project.

As for the ham, the ham has a tough life. When the piglet is born the focus is to keep the piglet healthy and happy. She needs time to play, eat health, and be loved. As the piglet grows into a pig then there will come a time when she has served a purpose. For a happy thought, I would let the pig become part of the family where she can produce off-springs. But still, those off-springs on a farm are fed and nurtured for one reason. When the time comes they will become a moist and tasty piece of ham. The ham has one purpose and the ham usually reaches the end goal.

Which do you choose to be in your quest for accomplishment? Would you rather be the egg that is dropped everyday or the ham that successfully reaches the end results?

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I'm going to be THIRTY on Saturday. I need to use all caps when I say THIRTY because THIRTY is like, whoa, THIRTY.

I'm on the brink of actual adulthood. Aren't our twenties some sort of awkward practice adulthood where we attend college, get married, procure a hasty mortgage and then start a baby making factory? That's a little bit how mine went. Let's explore what my expectations of my twenties were versus reality.

What I expected at college was that I would finish. Reality is, I'm a work in progress, and amazingly enough, I'm perfectly fine with that. I'd rather be still plugging away than be all like, "Yeah I have a bachelor's degree in shit nobody cares about because it was what my parents/society/Mr. Pfieffer thought I should do." That's crap. Yes, a degree certainly opens doors to more career opportunities faster and more money, but not necessarily more happiness. I'm happy with my "education", both formal and what I learned from Google and  by watching Britney Spears very publicly turn her life into a shit show. Drugs are bad. Use commas. Find the value of X. I can tell you what NAFTA stands for and where Sacramento is. I think I'll be able to continue to perform as a functioning adult without a piece of paper that says I spent a bunch of money on a bunch of classes that nobody I've worked for has ever asked me about.

What I expected about marriage is that it would last. Reality is, sometimes people don't know who the hell they are when they are barely out of their teens. Sometimes, people WANT to do things like take out the trash and live together forever but reality is that there is no point in two people being miserable every day of their lives simply because they grew up and simultaneously apart. Yes, marriage is a sacred commitment and should not be entered into lightly. I certainly didn't wake up one morning and decide I was bored and divorce would be a grand adventure. I made a mistake. We made a mistake. Whoops. Let's move on happily apart and cooperate for our children. Oh, and now I don't have to share my pizza or wait for the bathroom. Score. I'm happy. I'm a better mother, friend, employee, person in general. That's progress. It didn't turn out how I planned, but it's very much okay and I'm definitely the opposite of bitter, whatever that happens to be.

What I expected about having children is that they would cry and poop and eat, a lot, and that I would sleep, well, not a lot. Reality is, my children are crazy but also the single most amazing source of joy and make me more proud and happy than I ever could have imagined. They teach me so much and I would never ever recommend to anyone that they avoid becoming a parent. It's the best decision I ever made. Nobody could ever really "expect" the bonus package that comes with being a mom, so this one is sort of difficult to compare. Reality is that being a parent is so much easier than I ever expected and also so much more difficult than I could have ever expected. Yes, I realize that those are conflicting ideas, however, I'm sure that at the risk of sounding condescending to people who aren't parents, the parents reading this will "get it".

Here's the thing: what we expect about life is rarely what we get. But if you look for it, you'll find so much more is given to you. You might not have planned on wearing a hoodie and jeans, a pair of boots with camo on them and a hot mess of a ponytail to a Pizza Hut in Paw Paw, Michigan five days before your thirtieth birthday and writing a blog entry about expectation. But if you did do this, you'd have realized that the amazing thing about THIRTY is that, in my case at least, it comes with perspective and joy in all you've done. By society's standards, by my parent's standards, by my peers' standards, I may not be traditionally "successful". But, by MY standards, I'm farther ahead than I ever, ever imagined I would be at THIRTY. I have things that no career, degree, or amount of money can't buy. I am comfortable in my own skin and I know the purest type of love, and that, to me, is success, and all I ever want to expect out of life.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Oh? You're a writer? Or like a serious author?" & the rest of the story.

     Yeah....I heard that one recently, I was doing a drop off of books at the local book store and I had to bite my tongue. I had several snarky comebacks but I held them as she asked, "why does it take so long for my favorite author to get the next book out? I mean, how complicated can it be?" So, at this point, my son left the immediate area and took several people with him, I heard him mutter something about not being a witness. Chicken. I found a good spot to perch and asked what she wrote and she laughed and gave a wave of her hand as she said "Oh, I barely get a grocery list scribbled down." There was definitely not enough coffee in me that day to not sound.....cranky. Yep. We'll go go with that, but in reality, the word is closer to witchy.
     I rolled my eyes and made some inane wise crack and explained the process. First we have to come up with a basic premise, what will the book be about? Then we have to create our characters and naming them is nearly as bad as naming your own kids and it went on from there. By the time I got to the end she had this look on her face that would be perfect for having been served a bug salad. She shuffled away, her Nicholas Sparks book clutched tightly to her, glancing back over her shoulder at the door like I was going to chase her down. I wouldn't chase anyone over the age of 3 if there was a million dollars up for grabs.
     The entire time this older teen had been listening and he wandered up and asked why I wrote if it was such a crap shoot. I noticed the music book in his back pack and asked him what his world would be like without music. I got a horrified look at first, slowly the connection was made and he started to smile. "So it would be like not breathing?" We sat and talked about books and writing and music for the next 90 minutes, every now and then, someone else would join in on the discussion. His girl friend asked how I came up with the characters and wanted to know if they were like anyone I knew in the real world. I laid out the vampires- they are exactly opposite of everything Hollywood and that sparkle woman ever put on paper and that it was done on purpose and why, and how in Rebel Child, several of those characters were straight from my life and in The Secret in the Abbey, my grands were characters. She nodded and asked some great questions- about writing, schools, etc. I see a future member in her.
    When the mom/taxi driver for the kids appeared I signed her book and we joked a bit and as they walked out the door she looked over and said, "I envy you. I have things I always thought I'd do one day...but I'm too chicken." She's on the sheriff's dept. and she's afraid, I was surprised. She followed it with, "But I love the fact that you can just write in someone from life and kill them off and its all legal." More one liners were traded as we worked our way to the parking lot. I asked what was one thing on that list that she really wanted more than the others, she said it was to learn how to play piano. I gave her my old music teacher's name and phone number and told her to do it. For a whole bunch of reasons, but just do it.
    Today I ran into her, she had a basic piano book in her bag. We chatted and her younger child was doing the antsy one foot wiggle-hop thing, as they walked away I heard her ask her mom, "who was that lady?" and the answer was, "she wrote the book I'm reading" and the kid came back with "Is she like a real author? with real books? Or just a writer." Mom ruffled her hair and said, "If I have her book I'd say they were real...yeah? And she's the one who gave me Mrs. B's name and number." The girl glanced back and said, "so it's her fault we have burnt casseroles on Thursdays?"
     My teens would have been proud of the eye roll....maybe I'll hook her up with JC's cookbook when it's done.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Facebook Sobriety

I knew what my time suck was, but I didn't want to admit it. I was spending too much time on Facebook.

So I'm in the midst of trying what I'm calling an "experiment." It's less anxiety provoking than saying I'm going cold turkey and never going back to it. I'm on day five of my Facebook sobriety. I even have an accountability person for when I'm feeling weak. Yeah, it's that bad.

There were many factors that went into the decision, but one was time. Some things such as my day job aren't negotiable and it takes 40+ hours out of my week. Sleep is not negotiable. Showering is not negotiable.  I realized that despite the advantages Facebook gives to writers to get in touch with their readers or simply provide a link to their newest blog post, if it's taking time away from when I could be writing then there will be no audience. Nothing to market.

I'm working through my withdrawals and so far it hasn't been as bad as I'd feared. I have urges to check it, I'm a little jittery. In case you're considering it, my hint is that it's helped that I could temporarily deactivate my account so no one can comment or message me and therefore, I'm not as tempted to check it. It's also a relief though that not everything is lost (it's the closest I ever came to compiling a "wedding album" of pictures) so I can go back to it at anytime and everything will be there. My "experiment" is to take it one day at a time and see how long I can go.

I was aiming for more time, but I've been surprised at how much it's decluttered my mind. I don't need to know all those details about everyone else's lives. I don't need to witness the drama that sometimes unfolds from a simple post or picture. Why fill my mind with unneccessary information about everyone I know? I'm learning to be more thoughtful about what occupies space in my mind. The same applies to commercial ads, TV, the Internet etc. If I'm going to have more room in my mind for creative ideas and story tidbits, decluttering your mind is just as important as providing yourself with more time in a day.

Maybe it's something about fall and hibernation, but I've also felt a need to close some of the shades in my life. I'm naturally a fairly private person, but removing myself from Facebook is also my way of focusing inward, regaining more privacy so I can be more aware of the creative thoughts that bubble to the surface.

Tangible differences: I've been journaling more, reading more, and I'm writing this post (which I sometimes run out of time to do).

If you're one of those disciplined individuals that checks Facebook once a week or once every few days, this may not apply to you; maybe there's something else that's a time suck or that clutters your mind. For me it was Facebook.

It's also a relief that you can't "like" this. That's awesome if you do, but it's not essential for me to know either.

Lynn Doezema

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Healthy Dip Recipe for all those Football Parties

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I'm Lisa Orchard the best-selling author of the Super Spies Mystery/Thriller Series and I'm the guest here at GRRWG today.

Since it's football season, I thought I'd share with you a yummy recipe that's also healthy. :)  I call it Marie's dip because my sister in law Marie gave it to me. I have no idea what the real name is, but who cares? It's really good!  Here it is below:

Marie’s Dip Recipe

One can black beans rinsed well and drained
One can corn drained
A few tablespoons of lime juice
Packet of McCormick salsa seasonings, mild—you can find this in produce sections of the store
Half red onion diced fine (I rarely add this)
Green pepper diced fine
Red, orange, or yellow pepper diced fine
Two or three tomatoes diced fine
One avocado diced fine and added close to the time of serving (if timing is not working in your favor, salsa is good without it)

Mix together. If adding the red onion, let dip sit about a half hour before serving.

***I serve this with tortilla chips and it's yummy!

This is great for all those football parties that require you to bring a dish to pass. Easy to make and clean up!

And if you've got a tween/teen who's not interested in football, check out my Super Spies series! They're great reads for the tweens/teens in your life! Here's the cover and blurb for the first book in the series!

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission.  The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying…

Lisa Orchard's Social Media Links:

Buylinks for "The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Aloha and Mahalo!

Hello, fellow GRRWGers!
I forget to blog here almost every month.  I use the excuse that there's a six hour time difference, and that if I write after dinner my time, it will be the eighteenth your time when it posts, so why bother?
I did want to let you know of a development in my mid-Pacific world, which I owe all to you!
Last winter, I joined a local networking group, West Oahu Women.  We meet monthly, network and listen to a speaker, similar to what GRRWG does, only without the writing.  A couple of weeks ago, I met with the founder, and I talked so enthusiastically about writing and you and what a wonderful group you are that I was asked to present this month's workshop, "How to write your first book".
I'm winging this one, relying on an exercise I used during the first GRRWG conference in which we wrote a book on the fly.  We'll hit on voice, GMC, some of the here's journey, plus structure before I ask for Q & A, which I'm relying heavily on to fill the time slot.
What I wanted to say to you is a big thank you (mahalo).  Without your support, wisdom and friendship, I' d never be able to make this step.  You are an awesome bunch of people.  I follow most of you on Facebook and still belong to the loop.  I may not respond often, but I'm very proud of what you accomplish.  Whatever else life throws at you, you're "ohana" (family) to each other and me.  Keep on with your journey and know that you have a major supporter on a little rock in the middle of the ocean.

P.s. Expect a few sales of "The Everything Writing Guide" as I'll be plugging it.
P.p.s. There's talk of starting a West Oahu Writers Group.  You'll be its inspiration.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Diving into the Self Publishing Pool

I've been working on a cookbook for the past several months. What started out as something for my friends and family is rapidly growing into a much bigger production. I decided to self publish it for many reasons: 1) my friends and family are scattered across the globe, 2) most of them are big eBook fans, and 3) I want to keep the cost as close to “free” as possible. Because a few of them want a print copy, I need to price it at Amazon's minimum to be eligible for their CreateSpace print-on-demand option.

Several of the GRRWG members have had great success lately going this route. As a new author, I am not holding out hopes for large number of sales, but hope to at least get my setup costs covered. ISBN's must be purchased, a publishing company name needs to be selected, I need to develop the book cover, have it edited, get testers to test the recipes and pick a name for it. Lots of work yet to do for what I thought would be a “quick” side project.

The biggest obstacle is simply me being me. An IT geek by trade, I'm always thinking of ways to improve thing, and my recipe list is growing as I keep thinking up recipes to add. My “beta tasters” are growing to hate me as their waistlines have grown since I started down this path. I've selected my most “kid friendly” recipes for this book as I'm a big believer in teaching kids bake and cook simple things for themselves. The one thing I can't really do for this book is the artwork, as I am not an artist or photographer.

I'm still debating about the photos after seeing how much work it may be to get the layout I see in my head to work for an eBook. So for the first edition it may end up with no photos, but I gave myself to the end of the year to get this book out, so I may have to give up a few things to get the first edition out. Plus it's a lot of work to get all the samples ready for a photo shoot, and I'm a horrible procrastinator.

Another thing to consider when self-publishing is which platforms you want to publish on. There'sjust so many: Amazon vs. Nook vs. Smashwords, just to name a few. The decision may end up being a tad easier for me though as Amazon seems to be the one platform that all of my potential readers can get to.

Who knew that self-publishing could get so complicated?  I just wish there were self-publishing life jackets.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jumping In

by Suzanne Graham

After much weighing of pros and cons, I've decided to finally join the growing number of self-published authors in the market. This decision has re-energized me and increased my excitement about writing new stories. Something I sorely needed after a rough start to this year. Like many authors, I suffer from bouts of debilitating depression. The first half of this year was the worst I'd experienced in a long time. I am grateful to be nearly back to myself now.

I'm excited to announce the upcoming release of The Billionaire's Pilot with this gorgeous cover by ├╝ber talented cover artist at Fiona Jayde Media.

Coming Soon!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Writing Challenges

There can be many troubles that occur before everything slowly comes together, but in due time everything will work itself out. The trick is to stay steady in mind and determined to succeed. And of course, it is important to continue trying to solve the problems until they are resolved.

For the past several months writing has been a challenge. First there were computer problems. The computer will overheat and shut down. Whether the work is saved or not, it does not matter, the computer shuts down and erases all the writing. Next, the wireless internet would stop working for almost two months. That can make it difficult to write when some of the programs used are only available via the internet. Third, to start from scratch on writing because everything has been erased can be frustrating when beginning again.

So what to do? When everything is decently working again, begin by setting completion dates for your writing. And then begin with an outline.
Currently, I have started composing an outline. The outline is to be finished by Friday. Next, a rough draft shall be written by September 30th, 2013. Then the final draft should be composed between October and November. And then the fun begins, trying to become a published writer. 

In the meantime, enjoy each day. Work on being healthy. Enjoy the work you do. Make sure to enjoy the company around you: family, friends, significant others, and pets. And let the writing flow from your fingertips when you sit down and write. 

Never get frustrated when things don't go your way. Get tough, fix the problems, and then make everything else go your way. (and then when you are in a rhythm, have fun with all your writing friends and enjoy a weekend writing retreat with all the greatest writers surrounding you in November.) 

Those are my words of wisdom on how to successfully overcome writing struggles in the year 2013. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's In The Details

 Do you remember this? Those pictures where you had to find the differences between two pictures or find the one that’s different out of seven of the same person/drawing/character/silhouette?

The answer was always in the details.

It still is.

In writing, there is one very important rule that has nothing to do with grammar or story line. It’s the details. It plays into consistency. It’s more than are the characters eyes blue through out the whole story, barring things like contacts. Or if they change colors, do they change between the same colors for the same reason. These things are important. But they aren’t the only details to be concerned with.

Does it matter if in book one of a series the main character goes to Michigan State but in book 15 they go to University of Michigan? Or that throughout the first 5 books the terms creds/cred were used to refer solely to money, chronometer was used to refer to a watch, a compad was a computer, and all vehicles were referred to as mats then in book 6 the cash was used in place of creds, and book 10 the vehicles became transits? Does it matter if the main character went from shooting one handed to a two-handed stance? If the main character always ends their calls with 'later gater' then says once 'bye' or 'see ya', is it going to matter? Does it matter if time is referred to in parsecs for 19 books and in one paragraph of book 20 it becomes minute/second?


But, they're minor details. Surely no will care about those.

Okay, so changing schools isn't a minor detail, and in Michigan - those are fighting words, as people can be fiercely loyal to one school or another. Even the name of the school changes from Tudor State University to University of Tudor or State University at Tudor, it will matter. 

Major details that change without reason are a no-no, and all writers should know that. But the minor details - like word changes - are also a no-no. 

There are no such thing as minor details. Not to your readers. 

If it's in book 1/from first introduction and there is no good, written/shown reason for a change then it needs to be there to the end. 

Laws of your world don't get to change. But to a degree, neither does the language you use. If money is always referred to a cred, even in the exposition - the non-dialogue part of your story, there needs to be a really good reason to use the word cash, dollars, or some variation thereof. A simple word change can completely pull your reader out of your story. Done enough, the reader may not finish the book and refuse to read any others.

Find a beta reader or two who is good at details, who will look for/find those minor details for you and point them out. Read the manuscript out loud, or if your computer has the ability, have it read back to you. Find a way to organize your series notes and include those minor details.

In the overall big picture, do the minor details matter? Yes, they're just as important as the major details, because without them, the world you create and ask your readers to step into will appear incomplete and unsatisfying. Some people aren't going to notice. But some will.

Mistakes happen. To everyone. The idea is to learn from them and go forward, to grow as a writer.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back to School

by Andrea Dickinson

September...the temperatures dipping low at night and bouncing back to summer levels during the day. Good sleeping weather.

Kids, backpacks stuffed with supplies, little bundles of energy with smiles on their faces and anticipation in their eyes boarding noisy, crowded yellow buses.

The house empty, quiet, except for the chatter from the parakeet, the scamper of two little kitties, the snoring from the big gray beastie, and the pop hits playing on the music channel.

The promise of learning new things, reaching new goals, and challenging myself to stretch further. To you, I wish the same. :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Time Management

   Sometimes I hate those words.  It always makes me feel as if I'm disorganized lacking in good management skills, but in order to accomplish anything, you have to manage your time.  It's like a budget.  Not so good there either.  When I plan my budget and walk around feeling virtuous because this time it's going to work, along comes the water bill which I forgot or the car needs a set of new tires or whatever.  When I plan to write every morning from 8 to noon, every week day, I end up falling off the track almost right away.  I was just too tired to get up that early and writing from 11 a.m. to noon while you're still foggy just doesn't produce a lot of work to be proud of, or you forgot you have a doctor's appointment or someone is coming over that you want to impress so you have to clean your house.  She's not going to be interested in your time management, but whether the bathroom has been freshly scrubbed or whether last night's dishes are done.
       Time management when it comes to writing also depends on discipline, another word that barely makes it to my vocabulary list.  Self discipline means forcing yourself out of bed, putting something in the crock pot for dinner and meeting that person you want to impress at a coffee shop..  Being disciplined means prioritizing, is there such a word or did I make it up?
       Anyway, I'm having these thoughts because summer is finally over and I will soon be like that woman in the commercial who is sitting in silence, the sound of September, she says with a wise smile.  I understand that this year more than ever.  Somehow, the summer started off with a bang and stayed that way for all three months.  Our children are grown up and have graced us with grandchildren who come to stay with Grandpa and Grandma a lot.  What can you do when they wake up and stretch and say I love waking up here at the lake.  I'm caught.  I'm not sure my grandchildren have ever heard the word no from me for anything unless it might endanger them.
        So tonight they've gone home.  They only live two miles away, but I know things will change.  School starts in just two days.  My time is my own again.  (Their mother is probably thinking the same thing as she counts down to that moment the school bus takes them away and doesn't deposit them home again for eight blessed hours.)  I no longer have to share my computer with my ten year old grandson, I don't have to play dolls or make cookies  or answer innumerable questions for my four year granddaughter.  I can lay in bed first thing in the morning and think about what I want to write today.  I can discuss things with my characters, what they feel, what their goals are, their problems.  I can progress with my story line.  I can be organized and manage my time and achieve.  I'm grateful that time has come again, but you know what.  I'll be looking for that bus to drop my grandchildren off some days so I can make cookies and play dolls and share my computer.  That's as important as time management..

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Who Cares?

by Patty Kiyono

I've been working on my current work-in-progress for about three months now. I assumed I'd have it done by the end of July, because the outline of the story came together rather quickly. But July came and went, and the story wasn't finished. The scenes were there, and the characters did what they were supposed to do, but it didn't seem finished.
I went back to some notes from a workshop taught by Debra Dixon on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict (GMC). I took another look at the story and specified the goals and beefed up the conflict. That added more words to the manuscript, but I still didn't like the story well enough to send it anywhere.
I finally took a break from the story. I thought, maybe it's not meant to be. Perhaps I need to step back and work on something else. I do have several other projects I can work on.
And then in the middle of the night, it hit me.
Last spring, I flew to Los Angeles for spring break. I visited my cousin, went sight-seeing with my daughter, and had a lovely lunch with a fellow author. We talked about how we put our stories together. I mentioned that I usually begin with a central conflict. My friend's response was: Readers have to care about that conflict.
Ahh. That's why I didn't like my story! My character definitely had a problem to overcome, but it wasn't presented in a way that anyone else would sympathize with her. I needed to make her greatest obstacle to happiness be something that the average reader could understand and care about. Only then will her journey be one that people will want to follow.
Ah well. Back to the drawing board. At least I have a better idea where this story is headed…