Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Friends and Old

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As much as I love a quiet day in which to write, I can't imagine doing that and only that. Truly, it takes connections with the rest of the world of writers. For that I'm blessed to have many options and opportunities.

One of the groups I'm a member of is the Women's Fiction Writers Association (founded 2009). I've mentioned my genre group many times here, but I could go on and on. Once I found my genre home and we formed, I found resources and workshops, but more than that, I found friends and cheerleaders who help me and allow me to help them. This group is international, but that doesn't mean that there aren't a few in my general area.

Jody Herpin, Emily Carpenter, Melanie Logan, and me
Last Saturday, a few of us in the Atlanta area got together for lunch. What fun! We found time to check in with each other about our writing journeys. Even though, I was an hour and a half late because of road construction and a wreck. (That's Atlanta traffic in a nutshell--even on a Saturday!) There's nothing like sharing the battles and victories with others of your tribe. Here's to you, Emily Carpenter, Jody Herpin, and Melanie Logan. I'm just sorry that the other Atlanta area writers--Kimberly Brock and Monica Cox--couldn't be with us for lunch. We talked, talked, and talked some more about our writing, and books. The fact that I'd missed Emily's BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS, has been remedied. (Once a book pusher, always a book pusher. ;-) Be sure you check out these talented ladies sites, too!

Long before I even know Women's Fiction existed and that my stories were included, I joined the CompuServe Books and Writers Forum. I know I've talked incessantly about this group that calls itself the "longest-running literary cocktail party" on the web. I can only thank Diana Gabaldon for introducing me to this marvelous group. It's within the welcoming membership that I've found fellow writers willing and able to teach and critique me. The Writers Exercises folder is worth a ton of $$$ and it's free! The only requirement is that you dive in and share your ideas and hints.

From the ranks of the Books and Writers Forum, I met sixteen friends who live all over the globe. Collectively, we're known as the SOC. and we share critiques, suggestions, and serve as a sounding board for all things story. But far more than that, we share acceptance, love, and genuine concern. It's not just writing that keeps our little group hopping. ;-) I love you one and all! 

Don't think that you'll be sentenced to solitude if you become a writer. Seek out genre connections, writers groups, and other like-minded souls and get those stories going!

Tomorrow: Don't miss my guest post on Jody's blog--Sensing Southern.
Next Week: IWSG--Inspiration for the Journey 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May Links--I promise they're good!

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I have a bumper crop of links for you this month. Enjoy!

If you've ever wondered why there are so many romance and women's fiction titles released, "Why Do Women Read More Novels than Men?" 

Do you procrastinate? No, really. There's a reason. "Why Procrastinators Procrastinate" has the answer. Don't put this on of--Read it now! ;-)

If you think that there's a lot to learn in order to write a novel, don't think you're done once you write "the end." Orly Konig-Lopez has the truth about how steep the learning curve can be after you sell your books in "3 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Selling".

Speaking of things you need to learn as you write: Chuck Palahniuk has a great post of "Thought Verbs" and how to eradicate them.

Are you confused about the difference in Upmarket and Commercial fiction? You're not alone. Thank goodness for Amy Sue Nathan's post--"The Difference Between Literary, Upmarket, and Commercial Fiction."

I hope you found a link that made you think or grin. I want your input on the "Link Worthiness" of these. Which one was the best?
Next Week: New Friends and Old

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Book Pusher's May Mini Book Reviews (part 1): L. Benton, C. Brandner, P. McLinn, G. Simsion

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A FLIGHT OF ARROWS Lori Benton: Christian Historical Romance

(Pathfinders Series Book 2) A Fight of Arrows is an amazing conclusion to this series. It's a deeply spiritual story of love, forgiveness, and sacrifice. Start with book 1 The Wood's Edge. A must read.

IN THE COUNTRY OF SHADOWS Cindy Brandner: Historical Fiction

This is the fourth in Brandner's "Exit Unicorns" series. A complicated plot reveals more of the duplicitous violence in the history of Ireland. This installment continues the story of Pamela and Casey Riordan and their friend James Kirkpatrick.

SIGN OFF Patricia McLinn: Mystery

This is a fast-paced, page-turning twisty mystery that kept me glued to the edge of my seat. The deep characterization reminded me of Julia Spencer-Fleming's Russ and Claire mysteries.

THE ROSIE PROJECT Graeme Simsion: Comic Romance

How I missed this delight before now is a mystery! All I can say is that Don Tillman is the most unconventional hero ever in the history of Romance. Enjoy! You'll be laughing out loud for the entire story.

Next Week: May Links

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

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This is a repeat, but can't say "Thank You" enough to my darling Momma who taught me to love words. Everything else comes from that joyous sharing of story.

Momma, me, my brother, and my sister--Lovers of Words and Reading
My Momma Had Words with Me

            I don’t know if it’s true anywhere else, but in the South, to “have words with” someone means to fuss, argue, or reprimand. My momma had another purpose for having words with me, for me, and around me. We didn’t discuss why people read or why it was important. My siblings and I just read. The power, magic, and glory of words surrounded us. No lectures were needed. No punishment was forthcoming to make us read. It was second nature to read. After all, our parents read in front of us every day. Momma focused on fiction while Daddy read the newspaper, biographies, and his professional journals.

So, it was all Momma’s fault that my father-in-law was shocked when my daddy built bookshelves that covered half the walls in our study from the floor to ten-foot ceiling. With wide eyes, he said, “No one has that many books!”

            My husband shrugged. “She does. Everyone in her family does.” He knew there would be no wasted space in our study.

            It was Momma’s fault that we take delight in words. She gave us no choice in the matter. From the time we were toddlers, we all had library cards and joined the summer reading program at the regional library branch in our home town. Every week, we checked out five books.

All the librarians knew us by name.

How do you feed a growing reading habit? Momma knew. She made sure there were books to read that challenged us. She made reading more books fun and expected. When our abilities to read outstripped our ages and we needed bigger, more complex books, Momma checked out adult books for us on her own library card. As the school librarian at my elementary school, she found harder and harder books for me to read when I had read everything at the lower levels. I clearly remember reading Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson in the fifth grade. It was my first adult novel and I’ll never forget holding the large book and being carried away into the Southwest by the words.

In time, my siblings and I found our own preferred genres. When given a list of three hundred books for college-bound students in the 1960’s, we attacked it from different angles. The fact that the complete works of Shakespeare and the great Greek historians were available in our home, made it easy to get started. My sister loves literature. My brother has a taste for biography, science, history, and true life adventure books. I read history, fiction of all types, and poetry.

            As voracious readers, we are the people who keep bookstores—large, small and online—in business. We are the people who always have up-to-date library cards. Our to-be-read lists of new books and old favorites are extensive. None of us is bored as long as there is something to read. And that isn’t likely to happen if we live a thousand years.

            It’s Momma’s fault that there is a longstanding family joke about the end of civilization. If an asteroid or other near extinction event occurred, our combined libraries would form the basis for restarting science, math, history, and literature. We could quickly raise man’s knowledge back to its former heights.

            The majesty and beauty of the words I grew up with created the desire to shape and form my own stories, to create new adventures, new people to meet, and new places to go. Momma encouraged me. She kept the poetry I wrote as an eight years old. Her simple acceptance made no obstacle insurmountable. Her faith that I could do anything I wanted allowed me to experiment and try different styles. She not only taught me to love words, but the persistence it takes to shape, order, and arrange them in coherent ways. When she gave me the love of words, she gave me the tools to accomplish what I desired to do. She gave me the ability to tell stories that soothe hurts, inspire challenges, and entertain. My mother gave me life—physically, mentally, and emotionally. She gave me dreams and encouraged me to strive to reach for them. My mother gave me words to share and the persistence to achieve the dream of being a writer. She still encourages me to write and inspires me with her own voracious reading.

            Thank you, Momma, for having words with me. I love you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

IWSG: Jumping Off the Cliff

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Insecure Writers Support Group
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Our Co-Sponsor's this month are:
Stephen Tremp
Stephanie Faris
Susan Gourley/Kelley
Bish Denham
Fundy Blue
M.J. Fifield
Loni Townsend

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

How do you do it get back into new story or on that's been on the back burner for awhile?

Some people swear by an Outline. Others say just pantsing will do it. All I know is I'm having trouble turning from Book 1 and diving into Book 2.

But I need to. My pitch package request include specific numbers of pages, extensive outlines of the 3 books, and summary paragraphs of two more. I do have a rudimentary Timeline for the second book. And now, I have a rough (emphasis on rough) outline now. My next attempt at getting going is to reread all the pantsing chunks I have and fill in the outline, while brainstorming the bits and pieces I'm missing.

So what do you suggest? How to you get started again?
Next Week: