I thought this might be useful to those of you who attend costume parties or participate in reenactments. This is an easy bun that my daughter's dance teacher taught me how to do. And trust me, if I can do this, anyone can.
I thought this might be useful to those of you who attend costume parties or participate in reenactments. This is an easy bun that my daughter's dance teacher taught me how to do. And trust me, if I can do this, anyone can.
Sorry for the late post. I got so involved in taking my granddaughter to the Memorial Day Parade and getting the air conditioning running that I almost forgot to post my blog entry for the day. Now that the AC is cranked, pasta salad is made and the parade is finished I can sit at my computer for a minute.
For me, Memorial Day has been more than just remembering our soldiers who died for our freedom, but also a time to remember our loved ones who are gone. After the parade and Memorial Ceremony, I took my granddaughter to the cemetery where my father, infant brother and grandparents are buried. She wanted to visit all the graves. We didn't have time to go through the whole cemetery, but I showed her where my great grandparents were buried. There is so much history in the cemeteries, and I wish I knew more about the people who now reside there.
In Spring Grove Cemetery, where my relatives are buried are the founders of the city, pioneers in photography, and the infamous Confederate spy, Belle Boyd. She died in the town where I grew up while touring there telling stories of her Civil War exploits., and was buried in Spring Grove. Her remains were long since moved south of the Mason Dixon line, but a Memorial still stands at the top of the hill. Someday I will have to show my granddaughter and tell her the story of Belle Boyd.
Finally, I would like to thank all the soldiers who have sacrificed for our freedom. I hope that on this Memorial Day we create some wonderful memories to leave with those we will someday leave behind. Happy Memorial Day!
Recently, I came across a blog written by a well-established writer that really got me thinking. Now, being a total newbie, that isn’t so unusual. Virtually every blog I read whether from established or not-so-established writers gets me thinking.
This particular blog, written by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, is about the future of our industry and her concerns for established writers going forward. Ms. Rusch explains how the publishing industry is changing so fast that what it looks like today barely resembles what it looked like even five years ago, and it continues to change almost daily. Ms. Rusch uses parallels between the music and movie industries to show how our industry is making the same kinds of significant changes.
She says that “Big Publishing,” those multibillion dollar corporations we all dream of being signed with, count on writers to not “worry their pretty little heads” over the business aspect of writing.
It is a fact that technology is the reason behind the rapid change of the publishing industry. With nifty gadgets like kindles and nooks, people do not need to go to a bookstore and buy the physical copy of a book…they can conveniently download it and read it on their device. Or, if they’re not cool enough for one of those, they can simply get the e-reader app for their computers or smart phones. Everyone’s got some sort of computer and smart phone now, right? Right. Ok, moving on.
With the advent of all this technology, and the pace with which the changes are taking effect, Ms. Rusch fears the established writer will either fall into a stagnant pool of uncertainty, or will be taken advantage of by those less savory characters in the industry.
Why, you might ask?
Ms. Rusch explains that your average established writer has spent years, some even decades, letting their publishers and agents handle everything for them. From the titles of their books, to cover art, to mass marketing, to negotiating the numbers; someone else did all of the dirty work so the writer could do what he or she did best: write.
Well, technology didn’t just give the reader some cool new toys to play with; it also gave writers some pretty awesome tools to use. Writers can now format their manuscripts into books online, they can design their own cover art (or at least have a say in how it is designed), and they can even publish the entire book themselves with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Ah yes, for the first time, the writer actually has real control over their art. Not only can they tell their story their way without someone else going in and taking things out or putting things in how they want it, but the writer can even market their story to the public how they think it should be marketed, based on their own voice, with their own personal stamp.
Now, here’s where it really got me thinking. One of Ms. Rusch’s main concerns is for her fellow established writers. Understandably so. There are many established writers who don’t know how to do any of this new fangled stuff, and they are so used to doing it the old fashioned way, they can’t see themselves ever changing.
What about all of use newbies? What about those of us who haven’t been around the block a time or two? (pun intended) We aren’t set in our ways, and we either haven’t had any contact with an agent or publisher or we’ve had very, very little contact indeed.
Why, we’re veritable lumps of clay sitting on the table, just waiting to be molded. We’re brand new, coming into this industry with clean slates. We have all of these options open to us, so many different paths to choose! We do not have to vie for an agent’s or publisher’s attention if we do not want to. We can choose to handle our writing business our way, and create futures for ourselves the way we imagine them.
Or, can we?
What do you guys think? What have you heard about the industry and how it is changing? Do you have any personal experience stories you’d like to share? What do you think about all of the technology that is out there and what it can or cannot do for us as writers?
Definitely check out Ms. Rusch's website as soon as you get the chance: http://kriswrites.com/
Yep, by my title you can tell how I’ve been spending the time I should be writing this week. My desktop crashed over the weekend. Now, we can go into the whys but apparently four years is a long time for a computer. I am skeptical. And a little adverse to change.
I was willing to work off my lap top for the next couple months, but my dear husband worried I’d burn that out as well and we’d be down two computers. So Tuesday, he bought one for me. Which I thought I’d blown up the first hour I played on it.
But he brought it back to life with much grumbling and muttering, luckily for our marriage, most of it outside my earshot. I was watching the Biggest Loser.
Now, I’m building word processing programs on the thing. By tomorrow, I should be back to normal. Except, I’ll have Word 10 which I’m running a trial version right now and have to say….IT ROCKS. (This is no way an advertisement for Microsoft – even though my only child works on their Silicon Valley campus.)
One last thing to do and that’s drop all my files I saved on the external hard drive from the old computer into the documents file for my new toy.
Pray for me.
I hate losing words I struggled to put on paper, not to mention the time editing and choosing the exact, right, word.
Good news is I’m estimating I can pull all but two thousand words from my current WIP from the email back up I’ve used as I write on my lap top, the desk top, and at lunch at the day job. And I have the scene still in my head.
As I was complaining to my mentor last night about losing these words, she told me she sends her WIP to her email at the end of every chapter.
Thanks. Why couldn’t she have mentioned this before this weekend?
Seriously, what do you use as a back up method? So you have a back up to your back up? And have you saved your projects lately? Not wishing bad luck on anyone else, just saying…
Do you use auto pilot to navigate the day? You know what I mean…going through the motions without really listening or seeing what’s around you. We live in a fast paced world with more pressure and stress than previous generations so it’s easy to slip into a zombie like state and let our subconscious take over.
As writers, we’re always on the hunt for tidbits of color to add to our novels. Human interaction. We eavesdrop in line at the grocery store, people watch at the park behind the guise of dark glasses, and spy on our neighbors through cracks in the drapes. It’s research. Therefore it’s necessary. (At least that’s what I tell my husband.)
But writers are human with the same stresses and pressures as everyone else. We use auto pilot to manage our time and lives, often missing out on choice morsels of human nature at its best. Or worse. Or most amusing, horrifying, scandalous…. You get my point.
Hubby and I took the motorcycle for a spin last weekend. We stopped at a small gas station for a cold drink and fuel. While hubby was inside the local market, I stayed near the bike. Two elderly men were sitting on a bench in front of the store. In a matter of ten minutes, I heard several humorous tales of bravado and mischief laced with an admirable defiance toward growing old.
One man claimed to be ninety…he certainly looked that old…and bragged about buying a MoPed when his son took away his car. The other man had poor eyesight but a good memory and filled my head with local lore.
I met another man boasting to be in his eighties. During his career, he had participated in covert investigations with the military on several continents. One comment affected me so deeply I find myself still pondering the meaning. He was allegedly interviewed by a national news agency several years ago and asked if he hated the enemy he had battled in war. His reply was so simplistic and yet so profound.
"I never considered them an enemy,” he stated matter-of-factly. “They were adversaries. Those people were just as serious about their beliefs as I was about mine. I didn’t know them so how could I hate them? They were just adversaries.”
I’m already plotting a scene in my WIP to weave in this trio of old “war dogs”. They were such fun. And to think I would have never sampled such a delightful experience had I not taken the time to say “Hello”. Don’t let auto pilot run your life. You might miss out on something wonderful.
The wail of the whistle pierced her ears, cutting off anything else Justice might have said. A deep guttural rumble in the distance followed the shrill echo. A rumble which overshadowed the heavy thumps of the locomotive. Shielding her eyes, she looked to the western sky. In typical Kansas fashion, the sun shone high and hot while bright, white clouds bubbled like suds in a washtub. A storm was brewing. If it got too hot, the clouds too high, a monster wind was sure to funnel down from the sky and rip to shreds everything in its path.
Today I'll be short and sweet. Many people have recommended Christopher Vogler's The Hero's Journey, but looking at my writing and my characters I find my bigger weakness lies in my female characters. After a very long Monday, I decided to read The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock. My heroine's need more depth than I have been giving them. In one of my wips set in 1920's Chicago, my heroine has started out as an intriguing character with a good story to tell. As I reread my first two chapters I discovered I really liked her. She is tough, independent, and vulnerable, but I'm afraid I will let her down. I want to learn how to show all of the above characteristics and do justice to her and her story. Over the next week or two, I'll report back what I find in The Heroine's Journey, so you can decide if it is a book you should have on your bookshelf.
Has anyone already read The Heroine's Journey? What did you think?
I have heard many times on different agent's blogs that they don't want writers to write what's popular, they want a writer to create the next best thing. Vampires have been a very popular subject of late. That means we shouldn't be writing about vampires.
A friend of mine who is published told me that Amish romance stories are the next big thing. What I wonder is, how do we know what that is? How do we create it? I was told that if you are writing, but the time you get signed, edited and published a year will have passed and the subject then will be outdated.
Agents and Editors are going to know as they watch the market and are able to see a broader picture of what's out there. As a unpublished writer, I would not have that ability. For me, I started writing what I enjoyed reading and that is paranormal historical romance. I have always been interested in Scotland. I love to read historical romance and have been intrigued by time travel. Obviously I wrote about what I knew and interested me.
I have many ideas for new books, I am sure we all have. But will the ideas that float through our heads be the next big thing? So what do you do? Are there trends that never go out of style? If you are writing about what's popular now, does that hurt you or help you get published?
What are you writing about and have you descovered the next big thing?
No, I didn't get the call. And I didn't final in a contest. I got a Kindle!
I've been wanting an e-reader for a long while. I stood by on the sidelines as family and friends talked about their e-readers. I listened to their joy with great envy.
Now it's my turn!!! I HAVE A KINDLE!!! *g*
You want to know what the first things I downloaded were?
Historical research books! The Boy Settlers of Early Times in Kansas, Letters of A Woman Homesteader and The Twin Hells is a narrative of penitentiaries in Missouri and Kansas.
I love research resources but my favorites are primary ones. What better resources than stories and letters written from those who have first hand experiences.
Am I a geek or what?
All right, my friends, I know there are tons of books ready to be downloaded onto my Kindle. Any suggestions?
At times when I write, I write a scene that makes me cry, or a bit that makes me laugh. When I react this way I wonder if my reader will also feel these emotions or if I feel them because I am so close to my character that I can feel what they are feeling. As tears stream down my face, I think I hope my readers cry at this part too, because it is very sad for my character to go through this, but I never know for sure if I have conveyed the emotion right. In writing, evoking emotion is one of the most important jobs the writer has. We have to create empathy between the reader and our characters.
I still struggle to create that empathy. I'm not at the stage in my writing career where I have lots of readers to give me feedback about the emotions my writing has evoked, but I do get some from critique partners, and beta readers. They seem to be able to empathize with my heroes more than with my heroines. (Probably because I grew up with three brothers, and seem to get along better with men than women.) And so to evoke emotions in my readers in regards to my heroines I have been working on making them more sympathetic so my readers can get past their ambivalence and feel what my heroine feels.
Have you ever written a scene and found yourself bawling or laughing through the whole thing, and wondering if your readers will too?
Have you ever said to yourself, “This isn't going to work…I just don’t have time to write!” ?
Most writers have several jobs. We have our usual day jobs, y’know, the ones that pay the bills, but we are also parents, spouses, accountants, babysitters, dog walkers, boo-boo kissers, strong shoulders, housecleaners, and hopefully…somewhere in there, finally, writers.
Recently, in an effort to broaden my horizons, I signed up for a class entitled, “Becoming a Brand: Using Social Media to Become a Household Name” taught by Kristen Lamb. I’m sure many of you know who she is…I didn't because I’m so ridiculously new. Turns out this woman is a genius.
Like the rest of us, she has many responsibilities; mother, wife, best-selling author, freelance editor and speaker. Through her years of experience and vast knowledge, Kristen has created a unique program designed to help writers at every stage, from unpublished to published, to build a platform which will enable us to become successful.
Ahhh…where has she been all our lives?
Kristen not only teaches how to build our brands, our names, but also teaches the value of time and how to manage it correctly. She says we need to work smarter, not harder. This will help us market ourselves and eventually lead to lucrative writing careers…
…and that’s the whole point, right?
When I started this class, I was very skeptical. I work 8 hours a day, I have two very active children, a husband, a home…you know, the usual. Up until then, I had been struggling to find the time to write my manuscript with all of my responsibilities, and here I find this person telling me that not only will I have time to write my manuscript, but I’ll also have time to tweet and chirp and blog and whatever else we’re supposed to be doing out there in cyberspace, all the while taking care of every single one of my responsibilities.
Well… I've spent my most precious time reading her blogs and her book: We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide To Social Media. Even though I have not yet finished it, I have to say, I am reformed.
She teaches that even though there are only so many hours in the day, we can and will make time for our writing because, rather than being a slave to time we’re going to make time work for us.
Since soaking in all of this information I have found new inspiration and motivation. I have looked at my schedule and figured out ways to work it all in. I am more motivated than ever to finish polishing my manuscript and get it out there, and while I’m doing all of this, I’ll be building my brand: Me. And, yes, getting all of those responsibilities taken care of as well.
And I’ll even manage to get some sleep.
Unfortunately, there isn't enough room on this blog for the wealth of information Kristen can impart, so everyone reading this post needs to check her out if you haven’t already:
…and then go get her book: We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide To Social Media
…and when her newest release comes out, get that too: Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer
If you can’t wait…and really, why should you?...you can get both books for your e-reader now! Go ahead, all you have to do is open another browser window…
…while you’re at it, join Kristen’s Love Revolution…the #MyWANA Twibe on Twitter!
Before you leave, though, tell me about your own experiences with trying to cram it all in and what you've found works for you. Or maybe you haven’t found anything yet and need some advice…feel free to vent! The most important lesson I've learned, not only from Kristen, but from my fellow New Kids as well as the many other writers I've met so far, is how we can work as a team and help each other through this whole crazy process!
Last Saturday was beautiful here in the Midwest. Warm, sunny, the perfect day to walk my psycho-dog-from-hell, otherwise known as Homer. Homer is the youngest of my three Pomeranians and the most active.
We found ourselves walking the levee between our small river town and the wide Mississippi. Men were working on repairing barges, people were fishing from the shore and in boats and a few people, like us, were out walking.
As we got past all the activity, my mind turned to writing and my current work in progress.
Homer’s mind was on what he was experiencing. Right then, right now. He found a heron sitting by the side of the river. Then a trio of Canadian geese flew overhead.
The dog went crazy. He leaped and bounded, trying to fly like the geese. It was a joy to watch.
Later, I noticed a butterfly in the tall grasses, following us. The butterfly flew by Homer, but he was so excited about the geese, he failed to notice the small insect just feet away.
As we watched the geese disappear in the skyline, Homer gazed dropped and he noticed the butterfly that had been right in front of him, darting in and out of his line of sight. Gently floating on the wind.
And it struck me in that moment, when my dog acknowledge the butterfly, then continued on his walk, that was high concept in a nutshell. The geese had it. They grabbed our attention and held it. Flying and honking, screaming look at me, look what I can do.
The butterfly was floating around, whispering her story, waiting to be seen.
So, writers, are your stories geese or butterflies?
It's no secret that I love writing historical romances. Now, I don't know what elements y'all like in a novel but suspense is something that really draws me into the pages no mater the era. In my first two manuscripts, both set before the 1900s, my heroines have stalkers. At the time I had no idea I was creating a suspense element.
About a year ago I went through one of those manic episodes. Criminal Minds became my best friend. After days on end curled up with Hotch and the gang, I decided I should try my hand at writing romantic suspense.
It didn't take me long before I decide to shelve that decision. Not completely, but just for now. For one I have too many manuscripts up in the air and the thought of adding one more to the mix makes me dizzy. So after plotting a short and I filed it away. But now I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to write that story. I don't know much about suspense other than what I like when I read one. It seems to me as if it'd be easier satisfying Regency Purists than suspense readers. I mean there seems to be some sort of rule that either the hero or heroine need to be ex-military, Coast Guard, a Texas Ranger, or in some sort of law enforcement. I'll admit I'm kind of new to reading the genre, but why can't a reporter or an animal trainer be used?
All right, so the animal trainer might be kind of hokey for a suspense, especially if the other lead isn't DEA, but a reporter should work, right? What about a pawn dealer? Can you see the crew from Pawn Stars in Romantic Suspense? Maybe with Gerard Butler or Zach McGowan? Add a Cameron Diaz inspired character for the romance and a bit of humor.
What about American Pickers? I can see a romantic suspense forming there, can you? Gotta have Pauley Perrette for this one.
Do you believe I'm thinking too far outside those suspenseful walls? What about you? What ideas can you come up with?
Spring seems to be finally springing around here. We have had some beautiful weather over the last three days. It beckoned me all weekend long to come out and play. I gave in to that impulse for a little while, but then got down to work. I opened the window over my writing desk and pulled out the last chapter that I am revising. Day dreams tugged at my brain, and my thoughts would wonder, but I was able to bring them back to the page. The revisions are going well. I was inspired by an article I read in the RWR, a publication for RWA members, title Enter Late, Leave Early.
In the article, Christine M. Fairchild talks about beginning your action and dialogue as close to the end of the scene as possible to bring the reader into the action. She recommends cutting out the non essential fillers. An example of this is cut the dialogue where your heroine walks into the room and says "Hi, how you doing?" Then the hero answers, "Fine. How bout you?" Instead have the heroine walk in and slap the hero's face, and say "You cad!" The reader will ask what did he do to deserve that, and they will be drawn into the scene.
As for the "leave early" portion of the discussion, Fairchild recommends that you end a scene as soon as possible after the high point of the action or dialogue. In other words, after the slap and name calling by the heroine the hero looks at her, and says, "Yes, I am!" before grabbing the heroine and kissing her passionately, and the scene ends. By doing these two things the tension in your story stays high and so does the reader's interest. So I hope you can keep your spring fever in check and write to keep the springs of tension tightly wound in your story.
Welcome, all, to our author spotlight! This week, we have the lovely and talented Crista McHugh with us. She's a great writer, whose novellas I've enjoyed. She finaled with Cam in the RTTA contest this year, and we're looking forward to learning more about... the *scoundrel*. Happy reading!
I'm going to keep this short today. Wayward teenagers and a wanna be stalker have kept my mind occupied the last few days.
But I have a question to ask? How do you like your POV? Rare, Medium-Rare or Well-done? Never mind the cooking terms. My brain is a bit frazzled, like I said, wayward teenagers and a wanna be stalker.
I'm one of those readers who has a difficult time with multiple POVs within a scene, except during those intense scenes between the h & h. To be honest, I really like to have my POVs straight. Heroine (scene 1), hero (scene 2) and a villain thrown in every now and then. I usually don't like four or five points of view coming from all directions, even when it is well done. But I read a book yesterday that had several POVs and it didn't throw me out of the story. So now I'm rethinking this whole POV thing.
What about you? How do you like your POV? Do you have any pet-peeves when it comes to head-hopping?
Today, I have nothing to blog about, so I'm starting out with a free write to see what may emerge. I free write on occasion when I want to figure out a plot point or if a character flashes through my mind and I want to discover who they are. Sometimes I set a timer for ten minutes and just write whatever comes to mind. Often one thing leads to another, and I end up with a poem. Other times I end up with an interesting plot twist or meet a character who wants to tell his or her story. And yet other times, nothing useful comes from the free write at the time, but upon later review something of interest is revealed.
The most important part of a free write is to keep your pen or fingers moving because if you stop to think or look around the flow of ideas stall. Take this blog for instance, I stopped typing for a moment and noticed the dust bunnies behind my monitor. Off my mind went on a dusting adventure. I almost got up from my chair to get a dust cloth. Then I noticed the dust on the base of my desk lamp, and on, and on, and on. That's right I don't do a lot of dusting because if I start I have to dust everything in the room. And so it goes with mental dusting. But once I realized that I had stopped free writing and started thinking off the page I began to type a new paragraph. Now the world knows that my desk is covered in dust bunnies.
How about you, does a session of free writing spark creativity or just reveal secrets that you'd rather not have exposed? I'm off now to go in search of a dust cloth to clear the dust bunnies off my desk and out of my mind. Then maybe I'll do a ten minute free write to clear the dust bunnies from my WIP. (Yes, they sometimes gather dust too.)
Have you been hearing about Steampunk a lot lately? Wondering what it's all about? Want to learn about it for yourself? Check out the workshop I'm teaching, starting tomorrow.
The Woman Behind the Goggles: The Two Faces of Steampunk
Register today! Seats are filling up fast.
Monday: Food of the Week
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes I
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes II
Wednesday: Foxy Foodies
Thursday: Best Foodie Books
Thursday: Writing Prompt
Friday: Food Network Shows
Friday: Food Shows on TV
Saturday: Foodie Romances
Saturday: Foodie Blogs