Friday, January 25, 2013

Still A Writer

I've been in my new/old job for almost a month now.  The job change was necessary financially but not exactly my first choice.  It's a job I've done before and one I knew I could do again.  It's also one that in theory should provide me with a little more writing time.  So far, however, I don't think I've done any writing outside of case notes, reports, emails between CPS workers, Foster Care workers, and lawyers.  I get in a few tweets here and there, but even those have been pretty slow lately.  I know it sounds weird, but I'm hoping that once I have a full caseload and can get back into the groove of it all, I'll be able to figure out where my writing can fit in.  Right now I only have half a case load so my schedule is just abnormal. :)

I see cute little quotes in blogs, on Facebook and on Pinterest that are supposed to motivate people like me to write.  Quotes that basically translate to "If you're not writing daily, then you're not a writer."  I suppose for some people that would be the kick in the ass they need to grow their word count, but not for me.  My theory is more like, "If you're not writing daily but you still love to write, and write when you can, you're being a responsible adult who simply doesn't have the time right now but you're still a writer as long as it's in your heart."

Of course I would love to be able to fit writing into every day.  But let's face it... I have responsibilities to attend to (like responsibilities that made me go back to a job I previously left), I have my health and chronic illness to consider, and sometimes writing just can't come first.  That doesn't make me less of a writer, or a writer who isn't serious about her craft.  It just makes me... me.

I feel like there are so many successful writers out there who honestly think they're trying to help budding writers but really all they end up doing is discouraging us. (Not including Neil Gaiman whose writing advice rocks my socks.) They make us feel like we're not giving enough to our writing if we really want to be successful at it.  But you know what?  Success comes in many different forms.

Success for me is writing something that I'm proud of, that I don't hate, and that I want to share with readers who I trust.  I realize that I won't find myself with the success of James Patterson anytime soon at this rate, but maybe I'm okay with that.  Perhaps the only kind of success I need is my own.

So write what you love, how you love to write it, and when you can. Find your own success, not someone else's.

What does your version of success look like? :)

Kel
http://coffeeandprozac.wordpress.com

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CUT BACK. CUT OUT. CHILL OUT.

By: Diane Kniowski

Life gets busy. I don’t know how it happens, but it happens. I try to have a calendar. I try to have a schedule. I try to set up a structure that I can function in. I even build in ‘down time’ on my calendar.  Life doesn’t happen that way. You really can’t structure conversation, chatting in the hall, running into someone at the store, deciding to window shop, becoming a friend, developing as a person.  But life gets busy. It seems there are so many things that need to be done. It seems there are so many lists left undone.  In trying to build a schedule to help me, did I build a schedule that prohibits me?

I had to stop and take a look at my life. I had to look at what I thought I could do if I got organized. I had to look at what I thought I could accomplish if I followed a schedule, a routine or a time table.  Do you know what? I just got caught in my own system. I set myself up on a calendar with unrealistic goals and no flexibility for being myself.

I had a really rough 2012. I was overcommitted in every way. I was overcommitted at my job. I was overcommitted in my personal life. I was overcommitted in my social life. I was tired and felt like I was never done. I did it to myself. I thought I was being smart, efficient and effective. I was building a trap.

Yes. I accomplished more in 2012 that in the last 3 years combined! It was just too big of a cost. I lost such a big part of me. I lost my ability to be casual and spontaneous. I lost my ability to relax. That impacted everything else about me.

After being honest with myself and reviewing my previous year, I made a promise to myself. Cut back. Cut out. Chill out.  Enjoy the little prizes and let go of the aggressive big goals for a year.

I am starting to embrace the new me in 2013. I am a chatty person. I am a window shopper. I love to walk slow and listen to people. I love days when I don’t wear a watch and have no where to go. I love to linger in bed. I love to hang out in my pajamas and drink tea. I love to walk alone on a nature trail. I love time with animals and I love snow-shoeing in the quiet snowfall. I like it slow.

I still have my calendar. The first thing I did was build in days with NO appointments during my week. I also made sure that 2 weekends each month are free! I also promised myself to book no more than 2 appointments on any day. We will see how that goes, but so far, it’s good.

I don’t want to be the person who judges herself by her accomplishments. I want to be the person who did a really good job and then went out to celebrate with a great group of friends, who stayed too late and didn’t care.

In 2013, figure out the best gift to give yourself. And then do it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's Picture Time!

Okay, I'd planned to write a long, thoughtful post, but then I ended up with a pile of editing. So instead, I'm totally going to cheat and share some images that inspired the book I just finished.






Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Blahs

    I am a southern girl through and through, which means there is only so much of this white junk that we can tolerate before we start to whine. I figured after my thirty minute rule I needed to find something else to do...so I started looking at places to submit my kids book that I'm starting in a week.
    Well, it started out that way...and then "oooooh, shiny" kicked in and the cookbook I've been threatening to write for eons crept in there and those places landed on the list and I had to pull myself out of that area and try to refocus...in the process I ended up with three more story ideas in my sooner or later folder.
     I think my problem is that I can't crawl into a writer box and say "I write________." and have it be one thing only. I'm never sure where the ideas will come from- some are dark and twisted, others are a reflection of life, and others come from discussions with my kid.(Yes, the book-aphile) My current project is one that came to me back in Sept. and has steadily reared it's non-pc head and yelled at me to let them out of the folder. Only other writers would understand arguing with characters that you created. So, as these tid bits pop up,and are catalogued, I also discovered that I am subject to taking that 'ooh shiny' aspect to pictures-where I am quite likely to look at one and think, "oh yeah, there's a story behind that" and then it all goes to ink and I'm scribbling away again.
    There is one common denominator across the genres, and that is a strong female lead character, one that knows her mind and follows her gut instincts. This is going out the window with the kids book, my lead finds herself in an unknown place, and everything that was familiar, is changed in someway--I can't wait to see what happens with her. Of course, this new entity has also created a need for a pen name. I was fine with my name being attached to the main stream fiction book, and/or the erotica...but I'm not so sure I want someone seeing my name on a kids book and then seeing the other titles-especially with one of the covers looking very juvenile, and then discovering that there is nothing child-like about those stories.
    And now you know why I chose crazycarissa for a twitter handle. To have this much stuff vying for space, you either have to be a writer, or in need of mental health care. Check out my Beastly Beauty page on facebook. It's where my updates are- hopefully soon I'll be able to say I have a publisher for it. https://www.facebook.com/therealbeastlybeauty?ref=hl
If Mother Nature cools her jets and provides some decent weather, I'll be able to see all you lovely people again soon. Keep writing. :)
~Carissa~

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nourishing Creativity

By Lynn Doezema

I'm going to take a guess that 95% of the population does not readily love and embrace change. Maybe more since I can't say that I've ever met a change lover before.

I love my comfort zone. It's a plush blue, slightly worn recliner. Kick back, relax, and sip tea. I'm eyeing the hammock blowing slightly in the wind and sunshine outside, but, no I'll stick with my recliner. I shut the blinds.

But if I always write in my comfy blue recliner, I'll always write comfy blue recliner "stuff." I'll never write the romantic silken hammock story.

I can't decide whether artists are more open or more resistant to change. What I do know, is that change is imperative for creativity to breathe.

I don't necessarily think the change has to be a dramatic life changing event. I think the small changes add up.

Today I took a new route to Holland. That doesn't sound very exciting and yet it was inspiring in some odd way. I took in the new sights and sounds. I actually admired the scenery, rather than being so narrowly focused on a two lane road. I felt like my brain had been jolted out of hum-de-dum routine. A switch was flipped.

I also magically turned into a dark brunette this afternoon. I've always had fun changing my hair over the years, and I've noticed that it brings out a different side of myself. It zooms and refocuses from a different angle on my persona. As if I've channeled a fictional character, not one in particular, but maybe a new one percolating in the deep recesses of my mind.

It's important as writers to evolve, so our ideas stay fresh. I'm not sure how that can happen if our bodies and minds are stuck in the same routines, habits, inclinations, and so on. As much as I resist major change, I actually enjoy variety and itty bitty changes. I just never realized the impact they might be having on my muse.

Who knows what sort of ideas that Ethiopian dish, with it's combination of smell, texture and taste, might inspire in you.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Motivation


Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you today! I’m Lisa Orchard, the author of the Super Spies series and today I’d like to talk about Motivation.

I think having hopes and dreams is a very essential part of happiness. These goals are the motivation that gets us out of bed in the morning. Wouldn’t you agree? J

As I look back on my life I realize my happiest times were when I was pursuing a goal.  When I was a teen, I wanted to be a detective. That’s right; I wanted to be Nancy Drew. J

So, I got my friends together, we formed our own detective squad, and started detecting. We had the time of our lives! It was awesome! Not only were we occupied for hours on end, but we stayed out of trouble… for the most part. J

As I look back, I realized why I had so much fun.  It was because I was chasing a dream and it was my dream not my parent’s, or my teacher’s, or my coaches; it was mine and mine alone…along with my friends.  I feel this is an important distinction when it comes to motivation.

And maybe that’s why there are so many problems in our educational system today. We have reluctant readers and kids who don’t want to go to school. I have to wonder why? I loved school when I was a kid and even though I had a hard time getting up in the morning, J I was excited about learning.

When I thought about why our young people don’t seem motivated to learn, I had to ask why. And then it hit me. It’s the way our educational system is designed. J When my kids go to school they have to learn what the teacher or the state chooses to teach them. So, if they’re learning about a subject that doesn’t interest them, their motivation goes right out the window.

 I say let’s give our kids choices especially when it comes to reading. Why can’t our kids choose the books they want to read? The goal is to get them reading, right? Why not let them read the books that interest them? I think this would solve the motivational problem with some of our reluctant readers.

I know what you’re thinking? That’s kind of unrealistic. I mean we can’t provide different books for every kid.  Really?   Here’s my solution to the problem. You knew I had one didn’t you? (wink).

Let’s provide all the students with e-readers. I know you’re laughing right now but let’s just think about this for a second.

If each student had an e-reader they would have a virtual library at their fingertips. With all the e-book choices out there I’m sure even the most reluctant reader would find a story he’s interested in reading.

I know you’re worried about the cost, right? Well…e-readers are expensive that’s true, but have you checked out the price difference between paperbacks and e-books lately? I bet the savings between the two book formats would offset the cost of the e-readers very quickly.

And now that we’re talking about cost, why don’t we put text books in e-book format. Think of the huge savings there!

So there you have it in a nutshell, my solution to the motivational problems for our reluctant readers. I’d love to hear what you think and if you have any ideas that would help ignite a young mind please share. And while you’re at it, check out my books.

I’ve got two available in my Super Spies series and I’ve been told that young readers have a hard time putting them down. J  They’re written for the Upper Middle Grade/ Young Adult market.  The covers and blurbs are below.

The first book in the series is on sale on Amazon for $.99! Check it out!
 

 

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…

 
 

 


This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Still reeling from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. She decides to investigate. The FBI arrives on the scene. Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. To make matters worse, the bombers are determined to finish the job. Can the Super Spies find the bombers before it’s too late?



You can find me at these social media sites:



 

Buylinks:

“The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer”



 

“The Super Spies and the High School Bomber”




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blaming the Pounds on Writing

I decided to put together a cookbook as my first self published eBook. Since then I've been testing out a few different recipes that are inspired by a single cookie. Luckily, I have some taste-testers to help out, but I've gained several pounds while testing the mix as I go along.

The cookbook has been requested by friends and family to assemble all my cookies, muffin, and bread recipes together. I don't expect it to sell even 100 copies, but making it available by eBook will make it easier for everyone who's had a particular cookie or muffin get the recipes in one fell swoop.

Baking is my hobby, not my profession, nevertheless I've been told I make “evil” goodies. They are evil in the sense that they will call you from the kitchen to come eat them and you can't possibly eat just one. Some of my favorite recipes have been nicknamed “Satan” and one of my newest recipes has been called “Heaven”. It will be fun to include all the nicknames that the recipes have been given.

I wish there was a way to deduct my pounds like I can deduct expenses from my taxes. The tax man would probably want proof of my weight before and weight after with increases along the way attributed to each trial. Maybe if I gave each pound a name I could deduct them as dependents?

Nah! That's too much work, think I'll make another batch of cookies instead.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Social Media: How to?

By Joselyn Vaughn

Don't ask me.

I find myself lost when I stare at my Facebook and Twitter feeds. What do I say? Do I have anything relevant or interesting? Will it be construed as spam? Does anyone even care? Will anything I do not be awkward?

In real life, I'm more of a listener than a talker - even more so now that I'm writing more. I don't jump into conversations unless I feel like I really fit in and I have something new to add. For some people, being online gives them more freedom, they can shake off their introvert tendencies and interact with people differently. I'm as much of an introvert online as I am in person.

I cringe when I read or hear advice to build a social platform on Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus or whatever then next big one is. I have no idea how.

What are some things that work for you on social media? What helps you connect with people and build relationships? 



I'm on Facebook and Twitter and Google Plus. Feel free to join me there, but be warned, I have no idea what I'm doing. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

by Suzanne Graham

In today's writing world, I'd offer the bold statement that authors can't afford not to be on social media. I know that was a horrible double negative. Let me rephrase: In today's writing world, self-promo is a major component of selling books, and social media is one avenue authors should not overlook.

The question becomes how much is enough? And I would say that has to be left up to each individual author, but a good marker would be to get yourself out there at least daily in some form or another, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads. There are so many options for connecting with readers.

The other side of the issue then is when is it too much. I suggest closely monitoring the time an author spends on social media in relation to the time spent actually writing. It's too easy, as I know from personal experience, to ignore my real purpose as a writer (to write books) and spend my available time sucked into the world of tweets and status updates.

If you are new, or not so new, to the world of Twitter, I recommend this helpful article called, "Twitter Tips for Authors". I wish all the authors I follow on Twitter would follow these great suggestions, especially the one that says, "Don't try to sell your book." As a tweeter, I'd much rather get to know people first then decide if I'm interested in reading what they've written. Remember it's "social" media, not "ad" media. The hard sell from authors is very tiresome coming through my timeline day after day.

If you are a published or not-yet published author, I would say you really don't have an option about staying out of social media if you hope to sell your book/future book to a wide audience. Readers are more and more interested in connecting with authors on a personal basis. You have to put yourself out there and make the connections. You never know who you will meet and who will become your next best writing buddy - again, speaking from personal experience. :)

So go forth and Tweet boldly!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No tears- I promise.

      So, yeah, not my day, but there's been a few gaps so...think of this as a space saver.
     I was wrapping a present for my son-Joe, and I thought back to his favorite present. He was in third grade, so you'd think-super heros or some toy...yeah, not so much. It was a book. Now, not just 'a book' because he had been a fan of Shel Silverstein and my favorite mom torture/punishment for the others (Joe is the youngest) was if they misbehaved, they had to sit and read to Joey.
     He got to pick the book, and there wasn't any cheating because he would rat them out in a heart beat. Joey really liked when Jason got into trouble because he would do voices for the characters. Every Christmas the older kids got a "good" book, it was well made, bound well, and a classic. Joe kept asking when he was going to be old enough for a real book and I by-passed the answer.
     That year had been a triumph- he made it through the whole first part of the school year without being admitted to the hospital, he was doing well in school, no major disasters other than the washer having a melt down and every third item on his wish list was for a "real" book. So I watched him with his library books for a couple weeks and then went to speak with the librarian. She said Joe, who is usually a disaster zone, was always so careful with his books...so I caved. I went to the store and tracked down a copy of Frankenstein. Leather bound, smelled like a book and bought it.
   He, along with the others teased for an early present, one for Christmas Eve, so I dug under the tree until I had one for everyone, they tore into them- Books, they were checking out each others treasure and then they realized Joey hadn't opened his yet. Slowly he pulled at the tape on an end and peeked in, then opened it a little more and then the ear piercing shriek as he ripped the rest off- he had a real book.
Life was good at that moment- right up to bed time when he had to close the book & realized he didn't have a book mark. It was suggested he just fold the corner...yeah, the result was a look that was akin to telling him broccoli was actually better than chocolate. We had to find his wrapping paper, fold it, flatten it until it wouldn't bulge and THEN he would use it. (eye roll a teenager would be proud of)
     Ed was adding bows and tags this year when I started to snicker as I remembered that long ago gift-which is still on his book shelf, and asked what was so funny. I reminded him of that night and he just sat shaking his head and said it was all my fault he was so persnickety. Joe got the last half of a set he was reading, seven in all and once again....yeah, not a book mark to be found. *sigh*.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Goals, goals, goals!

by Andrea Dickinson

Yep, it's that time of year again. Time to set goals for the new year. Time to write down what we hope to achieve in the next twelve months because there is power in writing down and posting your plans where you can see them and be reminded of what you plan to accomplish.

I'm looking forward to good things in 2013. The second book in my City Hearts series, Philadelphia Storm, will be released May 1, and I will be attending two major conferences to further my education and promote my work.

If you are in the Kansas City area the first week of May, please stop by the Romantic Times Conference and find me among the several hundred authors! LOL Likewise, if you are in Atlanta in July, you can (try to) find me at the Romance Writer's of America Conference!

How about you? What are your goals, plans, expectations for the new year? What are you excitedly looking forward to?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Take My Word for It!!

by Stephanie Michels



They say there are two types of people in the world:
1- Those who save regularly, and
2- Those who LEARN to save regularly

I fell in category 2 after I lost a complicated spreadsheet several years ago. I had worked on it all day when our server suddenly went down, and I had failed to hit save for a couple of hours. After that, I became the spokes-model for saving often.  Whenever I did a training class or mentored someone, SAVE OFTEN was my mantra.

With that in mind, you'd think I would be pretty vigilant about keeping my manuscripts secure, right?

I thought so, too. When I work on a manuscript, I make sure to hit SAVE regularly, and I keep all my writing projects on individual flash drives. I carry the drives with me in a zippered case as I am NOT going to risk losing a lifetime of work if something happens to my house.  So, all in all, I felt pretty confident that my works were safe and secure.  There would be no more lost projects for me!  I had learned my lesson. Except, I hadn't taken into account a rare catastrophe I'll refer to as Flash-mageddon.

What you ask is Flash-mageddon?

Let me explain. Flash-mageddon is when the flash drive containing all the manuscript versions, research, and timelines for a project -- including the final manuscript you'd just finished -- crashes when you remove it from your computer.

The day in question, I'd pulled an all-nighter working to finish a manuscript on time. I used the version on this particular flash drive, making certain to save often. I didn't make a working copy on my computer itself -- something I normally do, but I was in a hurry ("Deadlines in the Schedule Are Closer than They Appear" is another thing I need to learn).  Because I was in a hurry, I didn't take the time to save a backup copy.

Dumb!!

So, the eve of a major holiday found me pulling out my hair, praying and desperately seeking a computer tech who might be able to help me retrieve the data.  No such luck. The most promising possibility was the Geek Squad at Best Buy -- they told me they could send it out to have someone try to repair it. I was desperate enough that I might have coughed up the $250 starting fee for the work (with no guarantee of success), but they couldn't do it until after the holiday and said it usually took 10 days or so. My deadline was that day.

Several hours later, when I thought all was lost, I managed to get into the admin tools on my PC.  After fooling around with things I probably shouldn't have -- thank goodness for CANCEL -- I managed to unhide the Windows temp file and retrieve a temp copy of the manuscript! Word had auto-saved it to my hard-drive about 15 minutes prior to when I had finished it.  I was really lucky, I only needed to rebuild the last few pages of the story.
 
I've learned my lesson!. Now, I've added another safety mantra to my work processes: Save Often and Save in Multiple Locations! My new routine is to save on my PC or laptop and in at least one backup location. I still like my flash drives, but I also save important data in my Google Drop Box.

Are you making back ups of your work, too? I hope so, because Flash-mageddon (or its cousin Hard Drive-mageddon) has to be one of Dante's nine rings of hell!

You don't want to be there!

Keep writing,
Stephanie

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Image credit: sellingpix / 123RF Stock Photo

By Patricia Kiyono

2013 promises to be a great year. Yes, I've seen the experts' thoughts on this and the predictions for weather, finance and politics are not very cheerful or encouraging, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is going to be a banner year. Why? I suppose part of it is because I'm an eternal optimist, but part of it is because I think that each person makes his or her own happiness. If I choose to dwell on the negative, then I'm not going to expect good things. So I focus on the good things. I have my health, a great family and a core of supportive, wonderful friends - like those I've met at GRRWG! How can I go wrong?

Added to this optimism, I've got the wonderful news that a book series I've begun collaborating on has been accepted and the first story is slated for release this month. It's a collection of stories about a group of women who belong to a quilting club, meeting weekly at a shop in southwest Michigan. Definitely close to home for me, since I belong to a similar group. My group meets at my church, and it's been a source of comfort and inspiration to me. And when inspiration hits, one has to seize it and run. 

I'm working on this project with a partner, which is another new adventure for me. Stephanie Michels has read and edited everything I've submitted to Astraea Press, but this time I'm so pleased that her name is going on the outside of the book. We're hoping this series will provide a lot of entertainment and food for thought for romance readers, since the subjects (members of the Stitching Post Quilt Guild) are of various ages and walks of life. There should be something for everyone!

So with great news like that, how can I miss? 2013 will definitely be a great year. Just look for the good news, and I'm sure it will be a great one for you, too.