Friday, February 27, 2009

The feel of a good book

I love the feel of a book in my hands. Walking into a home library with books stocked floor to ceiling on shelves is more intoxicating to me than the finest wine. It doesn't matter if it is a new beach read, a venerable leather bound antique or a much used and loved favorite; their power over me is palpable.

When asked what I would first buy if I won the lottery, I wouldn't hesitate--a house with a library big enough to warrant one of those cool ladders that move on a track around the room. So then, how do I reconcile that with the growing trend of e-books? I suspect that they are the wave of the future. I believe that our grandchildren will read more books via e-publishing than the hard copy, standard type books that we know today. This saddens me. I love the feel of a book in my hands, while I am propped up in bed with a nice cup of Lavendar Earl Grey tea. Somehow, the excitement is not the same when that is contemplated with a PDA or viewer in my hands. In addition, I would never be tempted to read in the bathtub after a long day faced with the possibility of dropping my PDA in the water like the library book that I baptized last month? I suspect not. This doesn't even begin to address how hard I find it to read off a computer screen.

I was lamenting the potential demise of the bound book as we know it at the breakfast table this morning. Trying to cheer me up, my husband informed me that they were in the process of developing a reader that had pages that looked like a book and even looked like a book on the outside. I guess my comment to that is much like the guy on the commercial who says: "If everyone compares their car to a Toyota, why don't I just buy a Toyota?" So..., if it looks like a book and feels like a book, why not just buy a book? Hopefully the time will not come that the cost of publishing a book makes owning books for only the truly wealthy. If that were the case, I would then have to buy 2 lottery tickets each week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

WWUD?

What would you do?

If the dream you cherished most never came to pass? Or if the dream looked nothing like you envisioned when it finally did come?

What would you do?

The goal of most writers is to become published. Mine is. To see my name on the cover of a book and my picture on the back. To have millions of people read and love my stories. But, what if that never happened? What if, instead of a paper or hardcover book, I am only able to sell to an e-publisher? I wouldn't be able to go into Books-A-Million and see my novel on the shelf because it would only be available online. I would've attained the dream. But, it looks different--nothing like how I pictured.

What would I do? Could I--would I--still write?

Would you?

To be published is the goal, the dream. It's the aspiration we reach for. But, seeing our names on the spine of a book is not the reason we write. Most of us didn't wake up one morning and declare, I want to be published; therefore, I'm going to write. No. Most of us were writing before we even realized what editors, agents or royalties meant. We had the urge--the need--to bring to vivid life the story in our heads by scratching it down on paper. To create. It's our purpose.

Purpose is described as our reason for being. I don't believe we were blessed with this gift just to be famous or to make money. We were meant to touch lives and make a difference. And, that may look like penning your child's school play instead of the next box-office screenplay. Through your gift, that shy little boy who always walks with his head down found the courage to try out for the lead role...and win it. But, he never would have discovered his confidence if you hadn't written the play in the first place. It may look like taking notes for your pastor so he can have a compilation that will one day touch the soul of someone who's lost, seeking guidance or encouragement. It's not an easy task. Or one that will see your name on it, but without your gift, there's a person that may go without peace, comfort or even healing.

What would I do if my dream of being published never came to pass? Could I still write? Oh, yes. Whether my name is on the cover of the book or only on a computer file, I can write because true writers have no choice. It isn't predicated on fame or fortune. It's simply what we were born to do.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Challenge

There are many ways to spur creativity. I cannot tell you how many books I have on my bookself that are meant to encourage the muse and to inspire one to write. There are different ideas, maybe its free form writing for five minutes (writing non-stop about anything). Perhaps it is describing a childhood incident. One of my favorites is taking a sentence and then creating a paragraph from it.

I am issuing a challenge, I am going to write a few sentences and I would like you to take one and write a paragraph or a few sentences just for fun. See if it does help. I will take one and write my own paragraph at the bottom of this blog. HAVE FUN!

Sentences to choose from:
  • What do you use to threaten a vampire when death is no longer an option?
  • Viola hadn't meant to start the fire, but now it was too late.
  • The rules were written on the walls outside of the community, barely legible and almost forgotten.
  • He lived for the hunt, until the day he became the hunted.
  • There is a moment right before darkness when twilight reigns and the doors between this world and another open.

So which will you choose?

I choose sentence # 3, :

The rules were written on the walls outside of the community, barely legible and almost forgotten. Sarah tried to read them, but all she could make out was the first one, "Never arrive alone." She laughed to herself, thinking it all old foolish myths from the past and walked through the arch way into the gated community. She never noticed the eyes that followed her, or the whispers that passed along the wind.

Fresh blood had arrived.

So there it is, please, take one of the sentences and write something! Anything! This is for fun, and to encourage the writer within.

I am looking forward to this.......

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rejection

I was explaining rejection in the publishing world to a friend of mine the other day. She simply couldn’t grasp what a maneuvering business the writing world can be sometimes.

I asked her to imagine asking someone to dance and getting the vague reply of, “No thanks,” otherwise known as the form letter. In the writing world, if we’re lucky, we won’t get the form letter rejection. We’ll get a personal rejection. You know, the one that stings a bit more. This is the usual, “No thanks,” along with the few or many reasons WHY the person doesn’t want to dance. Maybe I’m too short. Too thin. Too fat. I smell funny. Or, and this one is the worst, I’m just not what they’re looking for right now. Sound familiar?

Funny how that form letter is starting to look better, isn’t it?

Well, I asked someone to dance the other day. I received the usual, “No thanks,” but with an added, “I’m just not what you’re looking for.”

One sentence and it seemed to make such a difference in my quiet stroll back to the sidelines.

Have you ever received a rejection like this?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Did You Have Lunch Today?

I get a handy email from Publishers Marketplace called Publishers Lunch. It’s free and packed with info. If you don’t get it, click here and sign up.

Anyway, in today’s Lunch, they gave us a small piece of a Poet & Writers' interview of three editors. The question was “When you look at the industry, what are the biggest problems we face now?” Two of the three had interesting answers, but the most interesting was the editor who believed a first book could be reviewed by three major papers/magazines, and they still would not bring in sales.

Of course, this is only my opinion, knowing how in the past most of the books reviewed in such publications are the literary types, I’m not surprised. Now there’s really nothing wrong with liking/reading a literary book. Reading’s reading and we need everyone expanding their minds. But I personally don’t read them as the majority end unhappy or with nothing solved. I tried so many and always felt like I wasted my time.

Every book I read must have a little romance. Then I feel like I can connect with the characters even if the woman is too wimpy or bitchy or the man is too beta or a big ass.

Oops, I got away from my point of this blog. In regards of not bringing in the sales, I wonder if they realize when times are hard, people don’t want to be reminded of other people having a hard time. They want to feel like love can make it all possible. Romances do that for me. If I’m depressed, I pull out an oldie or buy a new one I think will do the trick.

So my question is, not what you think, what special hook makes an automatic buy for you? When it’s a Harlequin, it’s a cowboy. Yeah, I’m one of those. If it’s a historical, it’s a sexy medieval set in anywhere but Scotland. If it’s a contemporary single title, it’s a spy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Publisher Predicts End of Recession

I'll take all the good news that's out there, no matter how small. Go here to read more.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

See What I Found On YouTube

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Beginnings

I've recently completed a novel and am in the process of doing a final edit. I loved writing this book and I spent the last six months living and breathing along side of each and every character. Now I I have to remind myself to focus on the job at hand--editing to obtain the final product.

It's hard to concentrate. I don't want to edit. I know how this story ends and I am excited to begin my next great adventure. More and more often I find myself daydreaming about the next book. I've imagined all types of scenarios that I could put down on paper. Their draw is seductive and before I realize what is happening, I am heading down the road chasing my hero and heroine as their drama unfolds. These lapses into pleasant daydreams are not productive but they do mark an important milestone in the journey of writing a novel. One adventure is about to end and another will soon begin.

I have made a firm commitment to finish the editing by the next chapter meeting and send it out to agents. In the mean time, I will try to make a mental note of every idea that pops in my head as material for the next book.

I knew that the "itch" to get started again was out of control when I was eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, while watching an excerpt from the Westminster Dog Show and wondering how I could incorporate Skippy and Stump as two of my characters in my next story.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Always My Valentine

As Valentine's Day approaches I can't help but think of the times in my life when love blindsided me. Many people don't believe in love at first sight, but I'm not one of them. I know how it is to stare into a person's eyes and experience that initial punch in the gut. Immediately followed by a free fall that can only mean one thing--I'm forever lost. This person will always have my heart.

Acceptance. Trust. Sacrifice. For the first time in my life, someone looked at me and accepted me with all my faults and idiosyncrasies. And it was okay. More than okay. Because they loved me in spite of. But, the miracle was their love didn't leave me the way they found me. Because of them, I became a better person--a person worthy of the adoration and trust in their eyes. Through them, I discovered the true meaning of sacrifice. Sacrifice is more than going without so the one you care about can have. Sacrifice is decreasing so another can increase--being less so another can be more. Their dreams became my dreams; their pain mine, as well as their joys. I knew a connection that declared no matter where our roads may lead us, they will be a part of me and I, them.

Two times in my life I experienced love at first sight. On November 8, 1999 and June 22, 2005. The days my son and daughter were born. And, they will always be my valentines.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Connections

I realized as I wrote my blog, that I have been out of the loop for too long. I can withdraw so completely that I don't even surface for days. Specifically, I don't contact friends, I just do what needs to be done in my immediate area.

Still, I am trying to remain connected.

So at the behest of a good friend, I took the plunge and joined Facebook in the wee hours of Saturday. I dragged my feet to start this, because I thought it was unnecessary work. But, I need to be able to connect, to communicate with others and not be the hermit I naturally fall into.

Now for those of you with that innate cyber sense, setting up a Facebook page is easy, and user friendly. For me, it’s been frustrating. I've tried to add friends (I mean, that is my purpose, right?) and what have I done? I've invited people three times, while deleting others, I've skipped people, and honestly....I'm not sure what I've done. So, there is an invite out there waiting for you...I just have to figure out the best way to get it to you. Plus, throw in some guilt--I don't want anyone to feel obligated to join my page--add all that and I am in a dither.

Are you laughing at me yet? Because I think my ineptitude is hilarious.

Worse, every time I am on Facebook, and I lurk around, my Internet connection gets cut off (maybe its trying to tell me something?).

The thing is, it is also another distraction. I will have to be careful how I manage it. Like with everything in my life everything is going to have be prioritized.

How are you remaining connected while working, writing, and just making it through your day?
Do you think Facebook is a good thing or bad?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Stepping Back

I’m beginning to think I need a breather. I can be a bit OCD at times, especially while writing a book. I get so far into my characters’ heads I can’t turn it off, and when someone asks me if I’m making dinner I’ll answer, “I have to question this guy.” Of course, later I don’t recall saying that.

If any of you were at the January meeting, you heard me declare this was the year I’m getting published. I’m determined more than ever to make writing my career.

Currently, I’m trying to get an agent. As of two weeks ago, I started doing serious research on finding the right one, someone who can get me the type deals I need to do this full-time. On my end of it, I’m willing to put in thirty hours writing each week on top of a full-time job, which sometimes means I see text on the wall…

I sound obsessed, don’t I? I am. So now, as I look for the right agent, I’m getting OCD again. I’m stuck on little things like the perfect query, detailed synopsis, proper format, and adequate word count, so much that I had a dream the other night about it. In this dream (nightmare), I kept typing in my password and getting the error, “NOT ENOUGH WORDS.”

Okay, after this dream I decided it’s time to take a step back and a day off.

Do you ever find yourself so engrossed you have … episodes such as these?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Take A Moment


If you're like me, the last six months have been crazy scary. You know what's been happening around the world, so I won't go into it. No matter what I did to keep my spirits up, turning off the news, stopping my RSS feed from MSNBC, and exercising (yes, you read that correctly), I'd still found myself heading toward a funk. For those wondering what funk means: 2) a dejected mood (1735-45) per Dictionary.com.

On a CD about thinking positive, the narrator tells me whenever I start to feel that way, I should think about something that makes me happy. It can be my children, a favorite pet, a special day or whatever you believe will pull you from the edge and keep you on an even keel. I love my kids, but they're grown and I get sad because I miss them. I see one every day as she works with me and the other, I see every other weekend, but it's not the same. All my pets are gone or dead, and with the way Steve and I love to travel, I don't foresee us getting one for many years. Well, you can see how it's going.

So I told myself I had to have something that would make me chill (youthful slang here, might be out of date now though). I couldn't think of anything until last week. Friday was a rough day and I felt my blood pressure hit the roof to the point it scared me. I wasn't mad but upset about a couple things. Anyway, I knew I needed to calm down. So while I listened to the CD again on the way home, it came to me.

When my maternal grandmother was still alive, she owned a home with a wrap around porch on three sides. In the front, she had several white rocking chairs and a wooden swing. From the time I was five or six when she and my granddad moved there and whenever I visited and the weather permitted, I would sit on that swing. Grandmother taught me how to sew and cross stitch on that swing. My cousins and I would giggle until we cried while on that swing. I'd watched rain pour from the eaves while snuggled up to the pillows and reading on that swing. I'd ate homemade ice cream from hand churn buckets while on that swing. I'd listened to Northern Bobwhites and swatted at flies while sitting on that swing. My mom has a dozen pictures of me sitting in that swing.

So Friday, I sat on my couch and closed my eyes, imagining myself sitting on that swing. It was a beautiful clear day. Through my memories I looked at the gray painted board beneath my feet, the front entrance with the dark screen door, and the line of rocking chairs. I smelled the dust from the dirt road and the newly mowed grass. Grandmother's flowers were in full bloom and the bees were buzzing. I was there. I was a preteen again with little to no cares enjoying the peace and quiet.

I actually felt my blood pressure drop. My flushed face cooled off. The high strung feeling melted away. I had found my special place.

What's your special place/memory to help you forget your worries, to mellow?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Shelf Aware

I was in a cleaning mood for a brief time over the weekend (those moods never last for more than "a brief time" for me) and decided to attack my big ol' writing bookcase. I have it divided into five sections: Keeper Fiction, Writing Craft, Writing Resources, Inspiration, and Weird (the books that caught my eye for some reason or another).

Here is one title from each section.

Keeper Fiction: A Man Like Mac by Faye Robinson. This still makes me cry every time I read it. And Carmel (Faye Robinson) died way too young.

Writing Craft: GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict. No writer should be without it.

Writing Resources: Nicholson's London Street Atlas. I love maps, what can I say.

Inspiration: The Writer's Book of Hope byRalph Keyes. I've never actually read this, but knowing it's there is comforting.

Weird: Cruising Guide to Coastal North Carolina. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

What's on your bookshelf? Do you have the same sections I do? Tell us one book from each section.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Brings Back The Memories