Monday, July 30, 2012

Out of Food

When do you know when you're in the zone, writing? When you're out jogging and didn't even notice what music played on your iPod because you're thinking about your characters. When you don't visit facebook for days. When you forget about lunch. When you notice there's no food in the house except for stale cereal and a jar of peanut butter.

So today we're down to about a cup of milk, four eggs and three whole wheat hamburger rolls and some frozen foods. I really need to go to the store, but I hate to stop when the words are flying off my keyboard. As of tonight, I'm over 37K into this newest WIP. I'm feeling a little pressure to get it done. I'll tell you on Wednesday during IWSG.
The Light at the End

I have managed to cook a few meals for my family's dinner the last two nights, but I've barely spoken to them. I just don't want to slow down. It's a pleasant tunnel I'm in and I can't quite see the light at the end, but there's some illumination shining through.

I apologize for not visiting as many blogs as I normally do and my posts have been a little bit sparse. In the meantime, my husband and kids might have to go out to eat.

Feeling any pressure lately with your writing? Do you wait until the cupboard is bare before going to the store, or do you keep stuff stocked up? What's the most words you've ever written in a day?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Shaping Up

I might have shared a few months ago that I had finally worked my way back into shape. A few orthopedic issues had sidelined me for over a year but all was good. It is hard work at my advanced age. I remember the days of not working out for months and then deciding to pick it up again and go out on the road for five miles. That was 'back in the day.'

But I'm not writing today about physical fitness. I'm writing about writing. I recently received my third book back from my wonderful personal editor and decades old friends(she's much younger than me) and worked to fix all the things she marked for me. Did I tell you she's wonderful. No, I won't share her with you. I'm now waiting to get my artwork from my cover specialist, Gayle. Gotta love those young people who are magicians on their computers. It's all shaping up.

My WIP is coming along like a race horse. It's already at 23K and I hope to have it finished by the time I return to teaching at the end of August and send to New Concepts Publisher, my romance publisher.

 For both Beneath the Mountain, Book #3 of The Futhark Chronicles and for Heart of Stone, I'm going to have to come up with some one-liners and attention grabbing blurbs. I don't hate writing blurbs as much as I dread writing a synopsis, but I don't enjoy. Tada ......

Stephen Tremp to the rescue. Stephen, a success author and promoter, is running a blogfest in August for blurbs. I'll be able to get feedback for my blurbs, read lots of other examples of blurbs. I learn by studying examples. I'll get those blurbs of mine in shape. You can sign up to be part of it.

So how is your writing shaping up recently? Are you going to check out Stephen's blurb fest? Are you good at writing those blurbs?

Monday, July 23, 2012

That Time a Little Early

My last child is heading off to college in a few weeks and we've been shopping. I'm not a person who love shopping, but I have always had fun going to Office Max and Staples for school supplies. Target and Walmart have also collected some money for us as we picked up stacks of notebooks, folders, pens and pencils. And being a teacher myself, I always search out the perfect kind of pencils and pens I want.

I always use a clipboard at school and last year I bought a really nice one. Every year I've had to buy a new one. I am a PE teacher and that poor clipboard is always getting tossed aside when I join into a game. It gets stepped on, kicked and sometimes wet in the morning due outside. But the great one I used last year is still in great shape. And this is my last year of teaching. So I'll probably never buy another clipboard.

My daughter only wanted a few things. Highlighters, some nice pens, one pack of pencils and a few folders. We're done with shopping for backpacks and all those other things they want to organize themselves for the first week of school. She already has three little thumb drives and her new laptop we bought her as a graduation present. What more does a student need?

We walked up and down the aisles in Office Max, admiring the markers, the pencil sharpeners, a really cool stapler and planners of every style and size. We didn't need any of them. The only thing I really needed was a pack of pencils. My pens from last year will due me for another year. How much writing do I actually do by hand? At school? At my writing desk at home? Not much. So I still have a stack of 'post-it' notes from before. A cupful of pens. No need to buy any.

I love shopping in the office stores yet I really have no reason too. I'm thrilled my kids are done with high school. I'm excited for my daughter to experience college. But I'm sure going to miss that back to school shopping for supplies.

We're going to Walmart tomorrow for shampoo and other sundries for my daughter. I think I better pick up some paper clips for me.

Do you enjoy the office stores? Do you do much writing with pen or pencil? Are you going to take advantage of those back-to-school sales going on through the next month?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sharing the Hope

I recently cleaned out some emails I've been letting pile up in my inbox. When I first started submitting my writing to agents and editors, I would save all those rejection letters. At that time, nearly all submissions were by snail mail. Each day, mail delivery was a time of dread and anticipation. 

I kept a special folder for book, keeping those letters organized. Eventually my first book was picked up by a small publisher, but I'm still collecting rejections. Only now, since almost all submissions are electronic, my rejections letters are sitting in my inbox.

I haven't decided whether to print copies to put in those fat file folders or not. But either way, I'm not discouraged. Not completely. There are lots of wonderful, indie publishers out there and I'm happy to be an indie author. Every writers collect rejections.

Cate Masters, a successful indie author, and one of the hardest working writers I know, is someone I'd like to mention today. Cate is very prolific and does tons of promotion. She is super supportive of other writers and has even started a blog, TBR, to help writers showcase their work. She really helped me when I decided to reclaim my rights to my fantasy series and published them myself. Please stop over and visit her. She has a new book, Death is a Bitch, will be coming out on August 3rd.

Do you save your rejection notices? Are all your queries electronic now?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I can't begin to list them, but over the past year many writers I know have enjoyed increasing levels of success. They're not all famous but they're well on their ways in successful careers. I'm thrilled for them. I'm cheering for them. And I'm trying to learn from them.

I've decided to spend a little more blog space helping out my friends by mentioning them on my blog. Alex Cavanaugh does this all the time, providing a great example of a successful blogger and writer being generous and playing it forward.

This past Saturday, I took a break from rewriting the first chapter in my newest WIP for the third time and attended George R. Appelt, Jr.'s booksigning.  George's book, Shepherd's Fall in of the horror genre and if George's first release though I'm sure we'll be hearing more from him very soon. Check out his book and his blog.

Today I'll also being doing some in-person cheering. My youngest son is working on his PGA certification. He'll be a junior at PSU this year. He's tearing up the study part of the program but still has to pass his playing test. It's a tough challenge and he's failed a few times already. The family has been taking turns being his caddy and his support. My turn tomorrow. Please send some lucky thoughts his way.

It's also supposed to be nearly 100 degrees tomorrow so I'm hoping for a little breeze. So how are you paying it forward? Do you like the horror genre?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Teaching Priorities

It's going to a few months of changes for me. My youngest child, my only daughter, is leaving this fall for Boston University. There aren't words to how much I'll miss her. We do so much together...

I'll also be starting my last year teaching next month after over thirty years in the public school system. I'm not having any sad thoughts about it, but I'll miss my students. Still, how many times will I be saying over the next twelve months, 'this is the last time for this.'

Another big change has started two days ago. My oldest son, now a teacher himself, bought his own house. He's in the process of moving out. Even people in their twenties manage to collect a lot of 'stuff.' He's been making numerous journeys in his car, packing and unpacking the same few boxes. There's no hurry, but it's interesting to see what he's taken and what is left behind. He has coaching responsibilities during the summer so he took most of his athletic clothing. His computer is still standing on his little corner desk. He uses it mostly for gaming(conquering the world). Only one possession is completely moved to his new domicile. All his books.  And there are lots of them. The only pieces of furniture he wanted to take with him were his bookshelves. His Kindle isn't laying around anyway either. Good boy.
Not what my son's new house looks like!

Today my daughter and I went into BAM. We can't resist. They had buy two get one free paperbacks. She wanted to buy a three book fantasy series that I already have on my book shelf. She said she needed to take it to Boston with her. I said take my copy. She said it's nearly worn out. This is the child who just received her AP scores in the mail and scored fives on all five of the tests she took in May. We bought the books.

My children know I can never say no to books. Even though we buy most of them as digital recently, we have more books than some libraries. As my children scatter to the world, I can't help but feel ... good.  They love to read. There's so much before them and they have the tools to discover their life's path and I'll know they'll do great. I hope if you have children, you buy them lots of books.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tools of the Trade(or old age)

I've spend many hours reading from the time I entered first grade. We didn't have kindergarten at my little country school, so I was introduced to Dick and Jane a few days after walking into that old building as a five year old.  And for the last six years, I've spent many hours writing on a computer and lots of added hours promoting on the computer.  That adds up to a number of things and one of them is eye strain.

Computers especially leave them feeling dry and tired. And like some many people, at one point I finally had to start using some reading spectacles.  At first I only needed them for the newspaper but now I use them for most reading, needlework and I like to wear them when I eat.

If you are someone who only wears glasses part time like me (my distance vision is still excellent) than you know they are never in the room where you need them. Fortunately for me, reading glasses are cheap and easy to come by. I purchase mine at Michael's Craft Store. I have easily a dozen pair counting the ones I keep in the car. So often they all end up in one room. They are plastic and made of beautiful colors. I can match any outfit. 

Another tool I enjoy sometimes when I write involves a different type of glass. It also comes in varied colors. I have some Zinfindale in the fridge right now.

Does using the computer cause you some eyestrain? What do you do for it? Do you misplace your glasses too?

Monday, July 9, 2012

At the Library

When The Keepers of Sulbreth was first released, like many other authors, I made sure those google alerts came to my mail box. I googled the title nearly every day, looking for reviews, searching for the independent stores who had stocked my title. It was fun, exciting and sometimes surprising. One of the things that surprised me was the number of libraries across the country where my book turned up on their list of titles, including my own county library.

In the past year, I've rediscovered my local library and enjoyed many books I wouldn't have read if I would have had to buy them. Lots of new authors were added to my list of 'read everything they write.'

Kansas City Public Library
But since I parted ways with the press that published Keepers for me and took the self pub route for the rest of the series, I won't ever see the next three books of The Futhark Chronicles in my local library.  I miss that and I've heard library sales are very big indicators of a book's success. 

I often look for my bloggy friends' books at the library also. Most of them are not there. The self pubs don't surprise me, but I think I should find some of those books published by small independent presses.

Does your library carry books by small, independent publishers? Do they carry self pubbed books? Do you make good use of your local library? 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nothing Can Be Perfect

I'm busy procrastinating. I have my third book ready to send to a pro-editor but I haven't done it yet. I keep thinking I should go through it one more time. Check a few more things. Do another find/replace for repetitive words. Then today I sat down at the local BAM (I miss my Borders everytime I sit in this dive), and flipped through July's The Writer while sipping a low-fat caramel frappe and read some wise words from Janet Evanovich.

The interviewer asked Janet what the most useful thing she'd learned about writing was. Janet answered, "Nothing will ever be perfect."  She went on to explain about letting a book go and move onto the next one.  So I'm taking her advice and moving on to the next one.

Now if only I can decide what the next one is.  Have you ever received some great advice that fit your situation perfectly at the time? Do you have trouble letting go of one and moving on to the next thing?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Insecure Writer: The End

Welcome to July's edition of the Insecuse Writers Support Group stated by Alex Cavanaugh. And happy July 4th, to all my fellow Americans.  I love the US of A.

Besides writing, I do lots of reading. I know it's important for writers to read alot, but I also just really enjoy it. I'll stay up late reading, read in between innnings of my children's ballgames, while in the bathtub, just about any place I can grab a moment. This is especially true when an author has pulled me into their tale, building the suspense, until I can't wait to see  how it turns out.  Often I don't want the book to end, but there is something wonderful about a satisfying ending. I'm sure you've all read those books that leave you thinking about them long after you've finished, replaying the scenes in your mind, and appreciating how the author tied it all together and crafted their story without giving away the end.  And don't we all try to do that as writers?

This past week I read a scifi book by a very well known, successful author.  This gentleman had published dozens of books and I've enjoyed a few of them.  Most are more along the lines of what my son reads with lots of technical speak describing the size of guns and engines.  This book had plenty of that but the plot was too interesting for me to be put off by that.  I stayed up very late to finish it, wrapped up in the struggle of the main characters against alien technology and the resilience of the human spirit.  I went into the last twenty pages, bracing myself for the defeat of Earth, when the author introduced a paranormal element. Suddenly, Earth had won and people were saved and totally accepting of this paranormal entity.  I felt completely cheated by the denouement of the story.

The experience has prompted me to rethink some of the things I've written into the final book in Futhark Chronicles fantasy series. Have I provided a satisfying outcome that doesn't cheat the reader? Are there surprises, but surprises that make sense? Will the reader read 'The End' and feel the story is complete? Will the reader think back over my story and say, 'yes, that is what had to happen?'

I hope I have not made the ending of any of my books a case of 'deus ex machina,' but we all need to guard against this.  Don't take the easy way out. Have you read a book that cheated at the end?

Monday, July 2, 2012

First Monday Health Tip

Last month, for some reason, I skipped posting my health tip on the first Monday of the month. As writers, its very easy to skip taking care of ourselves to work on our writing. Most of us are already working a day job, taking care of a family and fitting in some other leisure activities as well as writing novels, short stories, poetry and marketing all that.  Taking that hour or so to gear up, workout, cool-down and shower is sometimes last on our to-do list.

But it's summer for most of us. It's a great time to take that workout outside.  Stuck on a plot point, go weed the flowerbeds.  Unsure what to blog about next, go for a walk around the neighborhood and people watch. Want to check out a new book, walk to the library.  Have to go out of town for a speaking or signing engagement, learn a few simple yoga moves you can do in your hotel room.  Add a few pushups(there are endless varieties for all levels of strength) and some ab work(again endless varieties) and you'll be surprised how fine you feel.

Add a little exercise, and you'll come back to the work waiting for you feeling more energized. Even if you only take a few minutes to setp away from the computer and do some stretching, you'll feel better. Like right now before you click onto the next blog you're visiting, do a stretch even if you do it sitting in your chair. Every little bit helps.

Do you throw in some little fitness attempts during your day or are you a one solid hour and that's it kind of warrior? Do anything physical today?