Showing posts with label author. Show all posts
Showing posts with label author. Show all posts

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Peeking at the Process with a Debut Author

I've had a delightful experience I want to share with you...
watching the birth of a book up close and personal.

It started here, with my blog.
I follow some blogs just for entertainment.
I follow some blogs that are authors-agents-editors' blogs, 
hoping to glean valuable tips to help me in my own journey.
I follow a lot of writers that are where I am, hammering out that first manuscript.
And I follow some seeking publication with one or more finished books.

Terri Tiffany was in the last group.

 Terri has been published more times than I can count as a contributing author,
with several stories in the Chicken Soup books, as well as other inspirational collections.
She is a seasoned writer, but had to wait patiently for that first novel to be grabbed up.

Through following and commenting on our respective blogs,
Terri and I became friends.
One day she asked me if I would be interested
 in reading a chapter of a book she had written, 
and giving her some feedback. 
I eagerly said yes!

In June of 2012, I read the first chapter of a manuscript she called The Mulligan.

The story is quite unique.
The MC is a young girl who decides to go to golf school
to keep her family from falling apart.
What? You say you just read a book about the same thing?
I didn't think so.

In April of 2013, she sent me some revised sections.

And on it went...

We've exchanged a lot of emails since that first chapter.
She has shared a lot of her frustrations,
as well as highs, in the process of publication.

(I think I drove her a little crazy when it came to knowing the actual publication date.)

She had the patience of Job.
I didn't.
I don't know how many ways I can ask,
" you have that date yet?"

I would have been sending emails.
I would have been calling.
But she waited.
And trusted.
And waited.

I've learned a lot through Terri,
but the thing that stands out right now is
that getting published takes a lot of patience.
And talent.
And work.
And perseverance.

Our teen pastor recently spoke about what decides where you end up...
"Direction--not determination--decides you destination."
Although, I think determination can help quite a bit,
we can want something will all our heart,
but if we don't take steps in the right direction,
we will not reach our desired destination.

Terri is a perfect example of someone who kept facing the right direction.
She never lost sight of her goal.
Despite rejections, she kept trying.

So now, I want to officially say...

February 6, 2015
(I know...I'm a little late.)

I really owe a lot to Terri Tiffany.
She has lit the proverbial fire under me!
She not only encourages me,
but she challenges me.

I recently had the privilege of meeting her!
Yes! Face-to-face!

This photo doesn't do her justice. She is beautiful inside and out.
Hubby and I drove all the way down south to have dinner with her and her husband.
Yes, we drove 1500 miles just for dinner!
(Okay, maybe we were on vacation.)
We ended up spending several hours talking.
It was like we had known each other for years.
I guess we have.

Here comes another good part...
Terri gave me an autographed
copy of The Mulligan!

Of course, I already bought
 the eBook when it released.

But there's something
really special about having
an author hand you
their paperback.

Congratulations, Terri.
Published Author
The Mulligan

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Truthful or a Big Fat Liar?

Just when I learned from Stephen King to be truthful in my writing, I get an award for being a bald-faced liar!   Kim Kasch presented me with this one:

Thank you, Kim.  (If you want to know more about the award, check her blog.) 

Being a fiction writer, lying does have it's positive side.  After all, isn't fiction just a book of lies?  So, why does King advise us to be truthful?  I'll explain in a moment.

The advice I'm speaking of is from King's book On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft. Remember the books I got for Christmas?  I promised several of you that I would let you know what I thought of it...  (Sorry it took so long.)

I loved it.  As a memoir, I'd give it a ten, but as a handbook for writers, I'd place it a tad bit lower on the scale.  King shares a lot of personal history in this book, beginning with his beginning.  He wrote about his childhood and his earliest stories.  He talked about his love of writing - why he does it.

I had forgotten about the terrible accident that almost killed him.  In the last pages, he gives his account of what happened, and then he ends the book with a list of his favorite books.

In between the history and the accident, he packs his version of the nuts and bolts of writing.  It is brief, and, to be totally honest, I didn't learn a lot... BUT, it was definitely worth my time!   King states time and again that to be a good writer, one needs to read a lot and write a lot.  He even gives examples of why it's good to read bad books!   The book taught me that I already had enough knowledge about the craft, and now I need to put that knowledge to work.  He also gave my confidence a boost in some areas that I previously questioned...

In a recent post, A Christian Writing in a Secular World, I wrote about a dilemma I faced with the language of my antagonist.  He said a very naughty word!  Against some well-meaning friends' advice, I decided to leave it as written... He said it, not me!  I didn't feel I was being truthful with my readers to tone it down.  He is an evil person.  Vile.  Angry.  He does not say 'Oh, fiddlesticks!'  

According to King, " are breaking the unspoken contract that exists between writer and reader - your promise to express the truth of how people act and talk through the medium of a made-up story."  Like I said, I already knew that.  I just needed someone to tell me I was right.  Someone with authority.  I think Stephen King would be considered an authority on writing.

When I read, even a memoir, I get lost in the story.  I'm submerged up to the gray matter in the words on the page.  If I were reading a novel and, right in the midst of a violent scene, the bad guy hollers out, "Oh, poopy snickers!" I think I'd be violently yanked away from the story!  Have you ever been pulled out of the fantasy and into reality by an untruthful dialog?

King also reinforced my thoughts on scraping a big chunk of my WIP.  I'm writing stuff that nobody cares about.  It isn't essential to the story... it's more like a side trip that ends up taking you way off course.  That may be fine on a sunny day when time is not important; it's not good in the middle of a book.  I was struggling to get the story back on track because I wasn't anywhere near the track!  Sometimes it's just better to turn around and go back.

If you're looking for a technical manual on writing, King's On Writing isn't it.  Still, I highly recommend the book, especially for beginning writers, and/or for fans of Stephen King.  He is honest and open, sharing his personal journey, and the wisdom he has gained in his vast career.  It's an easy, enjoyable read.   I think you will agree that it's worth your time.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Favorite Gifts

I got them!  The books I wanted...

Both my daughter and my DIL actually asked me what I wanted!  I gave them book titles.  I can't wait to get deep into these titles.  They're exactly what I asked for.... but still, they're not my favorite gift.

It's hard to top this...

So if I never become the best-selling author I dream of being, I have achieved greater success already!

What are some of your favorite Christmas gifts?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christian Writing in a Secular World

WWJD?  I've been wrestling with this one.  My WIP is not Christian fiction.  There is no story line about how the protagonist got saved and it turned her world around.  As a matter of fact, it doesn't even mention God, church, Jesus...  At one point, the antagonist screams out hatefulness.  It was a hard dialog for me to write.  I still haven't decided on one sentence in particular.  He says a bad word.  Yep.  My mom would have washed our mouths out with soap!

OK, it's not the @ word, but it's still a curse word.  A Christian friend of mine, when told of my dilemma, suggested I use @#%*#!  Not that the thought hadn't crossed my mind; but dialog is words, not symbols.  The character spewing the word is far from reflecting Jesus.  He is evil, cruel, abusive... just plain mean.  He doesn't say things like, "Darn it, you mean girl!"  I left the word in there. 

I consider writing a form of art.  I am an artist.  I use words to paint.  You cannot paint a sunny day without the color blue.  You cannot paint a sunset using only yellow.  My WIP is already written in my head.  My story has a beginning and an end.  The characters are strong.  I cannot weaken them... it would do a disservice to my work.

I have a notebook on my laptop with oodles of ideas for other books.  Most of them have a dark character.  They're not childrens' books.  Don't get me wrong... I would let my teenage granddaughter read my book.  It's about real life, and sometimes real life is ugly.  I would not be ashamed for my Christian friends to see what I've written.  I really don't care what they think, anyway.  I do care what God thinks.

Sometimes I wonder if God would want me to only write Christian fiction.  I credit Him for this talent that I think I have.  (Although, being a writer, I will face another judgment day!)  Does God want us to use the talents He blessed us with for His glory alone.  If my writing does not bring people into His Kingdom or glorify Him in some way, am I not using my gift as He would have me use it?

I just finished reading that last book of a three-part series that is a prelude to the Left Behind series.  This paragraph, in The Rapture by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, really hit home...

"Another honoree was a prodigious pianist who had taken the gift God had given him and devoted himself to ministry rather than exalt himself by pursuing what was guaranteed to be a lucrative career in the great concert halls.  He taught piano in remote arenas of the world and used his giftedness to spread the Word of God, eschewing personal glory and wealth."

So am I exalting myself for my own glory if I write something other than Christian fiction?  Even though I still pray on this question, I think God says no.  After all, if I were a great classical pianist no one would expect me to play only hymns, would they?

I might someday try to write a Christian fiction novel, but I truly don't think I have talent in that area.  If it is God's will, I'm quite sure He'll let me know...

I have many Christian writers that follow my blog.  I also know a lot of you are Christians without writing Christian stories.  What do you think about this issue?  Does God want us to use our gifts solely for His purpose?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Didn't Die

I've just been taking a break.

My focus was off because of things in my life... mostly good things, but they still interfered.  Life does tend to get in the way of writing; but sometimes what I've written gets in the way of writing...

I reached a part that was giving me fits!  I didn't like the flow.  I wasn't happy with the story line... it seemed to lag a bit.  I want the important parts of these chapters to be more compact.  The voice didn't match the rest of my ms.  I was spending way too much time fixing little things, when I really needed to start over with that whole part.

I've been spending less time reading blogs, but still daily follow  Susan's blog, A Walk In My Shoes.  She has become a friend, offering me priceless advice.  ...reluctantly, I might add.  Not reluctant to share and to help, but reluctant to call it advice.  Rather, she modestly says it's just her opinion.  Susan supports my opinion to start over with this section.  She's been in a similar spot, wasting precious time on a part that just wasn't working.

It's so wonderful to have other writers to share with, and to glean from.  If you're a new writer, I encourage you to follow not only the blogs of agents and publishers (though much priceless information is freely given there) but to also follow blogs of other writers...  people that have been where you are, that can offer opinions to steer you around the roadblocks that can sometimes cause a new writer to give up too easily.  And don't just limit it to writers in your own genre.  All writers have common problems and solutions.

Hopefully, when you've found a few blogs to follow that you can relate to and learn from, you will be able to ask questions and get good sound answers.  Just because the current problem you're dealing with is not a current topic in Blogville, doesn't mean you can't ask it in a comment form, or even e-mail it to the blogger.  The people I've met through blogs are eager to help ,and to develop friendships.  Even though there are infinite great books that talk about specific topics concerning the craft, feedback from other writers is priceless.

It's hard for me to think about tossing such a huge section of my WIP; but if it's not working, what good is it?  So any day now, I'm going to go back to the outline process for this section, and add more structured detail to keep me on track.  I know what needs to be in there.  That's all that needs to be in there.  Once I establish my direction, my words should again flow as they did in the beginning.

As I get further along with my book, I do plan to join local writers' groups for the face-to-face support they offer.  But, in the meantime, I'll meet up with the talent right here in Blogville.  And Susan... thank you for everything!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Danger of Agents' Blogs Part II - My Brain is a Sponge

...and it's dripping all over my manuscript!  Have you seen that commercial for bing, the new search engine?  It's the one where the people keep spewing strings of information.  I'm having a similar problem.

I am constantly editing.  I write, then edit, then write some more...  I wish I could just write the whole thing down, and then, when the story is finished, go back and begin the editing process.  I've written on this before... my obsessive need to edit, but now I've taken it to the next level!

I made need to take a vacation from my WIP.  Not because I need distance from it, but I need to escape the thoughts that are consuming me.

 I absorbed all this information from reading the blogs, and now it's flooding my consciousness.  As I'm writing the current chapter, my brain keeps jumping back to previous parts and telling me, "You're supposed to..." or "Don't you remember what she said about..."  I think it's a form of mental illness.  Whatever it is, it's driving me crazy!  I think about it while I'm cooking and doing dishes.

Isn't this a good thing?  I mean, I've really learned a lot about the structure of a good manuscript.  That has to make me a better writer.  On the other hand, if it drives me over the edge, will I have access to my laptop in the padded room?

Is there anything in your writing process that you're extremely obsessive about?  Share with me so I don't think I'm all alone...  Hello?  Are you out there?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Editing My Blogs

One of the blogs I follow, A Walk In My Shoes by Susan Mills, has been discussing the topic of what we post in our blogs; specifically, things we wouldn't want potential agents to read. Susan would have been celebrating her 100th post today, but instead is celebrating 88. Why? She recently deleted several posts that she felt did not show her in the very best light when agent shopping. They weren't whiny or negative... just things that she felt didn't belong in the showcase.

I've been thinking a lot about this topic myself. I've been a little busy, and I would rather spend time on my WIP than editing my blog; but it will come. I've begun to look at this blog as a type of business blog. My main focus, in the beginning, was to document my journey in becoming a published author. I also wanted to be able to give a leg up to others... share things I learned along the way. Those are still my main concerns for this blog. However, my objective is still to be published. An important part of that goal is obtaining representation. So, like Susan, I've been considering deleting any posts that I feel do not show me in the very best light, looking at it from the viewpoint of an agent.

I've also been thinking a lot about my sister blogs. Most of my regular readers are aware that I have two other blogs. I've always kept my topics divided. When I want to share what's happening on my farm, I post to that blog. Things about writing and pursuing publication belong here. Then there's my miscellaneous blog, for anything that doesn't belong on the other two. I have links to the others in my sidebar that I will probably remove. Still, if an agent were to google, they would find the other blogs. I don't think anything I've posted there would necessarily show me in a negative way, but then...

What about the opinion posts? What if the agent I'm querying strongly disagrees with my feelings on a particular issue in the news? (Agents, after all, are people.) Would their viewpoint color their decision on my query? I don't think any agent would truly pass up on a manuscript they thought would easily sell, just because they disagree with my politics. It is how they make a living. But what if my book was a probably? What if they weren't sure whether or not to represent me? Could what I choose to write about on my other blogs tip the scales?

Of course, my other blogs could be a positive thing, too. Suppose the agent was a big animal lover. Maybe the scales would tip in my direction when she read about my relationship with Maggie. Then again, I don't edit my blogs. I just type what's on my mind and hit the publish post button. What if an agent were to scrutinize my grammar and punctuation on my other blogs? I don't think it would have much effect, really. It's not like I'm submitting these posts for publication elsewhere; but it is something to think about.

Another thing I've been thinking about lately is using a pen name. I have one in mind that is very special to me. (Sounds like another post, doesn't it? You will be the first to know.) If I do decide to use a pen name, should I completely separate my writer's blog from any ties to my actual identity? I'm not hiding. You all know what city I live in, and from pictures I've posted of my farm, it would not take a genius to track me down. Maybe I'll want to change that when (not if) I do become published.

I have a goal for my manuscript today, so I don't really have time to ponder all these things now. I would like to know your thoughts. Do you think my identity as a writer should be separated from my identity as a grandmother and farmer's wife? Do you think there are subjects I should avoid posting on this blog? Are you in a similar situation with your blog? Let me know what you think...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Danger of Agents' Blogs

I have posted several times about the positive side of following agents' blogs. Now, it's time I told the other side of the story...

Remember when you first discovered the internet? If you're like me, you were in utter amazement at the amount of information suddenly at the tips of your fingers. It was overwhelming! Often, when I was researching a particular topic, I would find myself venturing off my planned path to explore whatever popped up. Hours would pass before I noticed.

I'm experiencing that again...

I start my e-day by reading my mail. Then I come to Blogville and check my dashboard for new posts from the blogs I follow. It didn't take long before I was spending more time reading blogs than writing my ms. I could so easily lose track of time.

Recently, I made the decision to just scan the agents' blogs for topics of particular interest. I saved notes on some of them. I was learning a lot of what I felt was very useful information. Problem was, what good is it to me if I never finish my book?

I've got to get back on track. For now, I'm not going to read ANY agents' blogs. That's right... none of them!

One of the things I've learned from following them, is that they do a very good job of titling their posts and referencing topics. When I am ready for the next step, it will be quite easy for me to search their blogs for the information I need.

According to my calendar, it is mid-September already. I should have been done with the initial writing and well underway with the editing!

Do you find yourself putting aside your WIP because of too much time spent elsewhere? If writing is your dream, make it a priority. Don't save it for when everything else is done... for filling those left-over minutes at the end of the day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Are We Suckers?

I'm desperate. I'll do anything... well, almost anything to get my book published... to become AN AUTHOR. How far will I go? Will I grasp at anything that promises me success?

It seems that when I read all the agents' and editors' blogs, I get this picture of almost gloom and doom. They leave me feeling, as maybe they should, that my ms must be the absolute best to have even the slightest chance at publication. Getting representation is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

There is all sorts of help offered. You know I love the free stuff! But what about the stuff with the price tag? How much are you willing to invest in this process? Oh, don't look at me with that 'I thought they'd pay me?' face... I'm talking critiques, query help, editing, etc. Are you willing to pay for the expertise you might require to get your book published? How do you know you're getting your money's worth?

Let me put the fear of God into with this:

Florida sues Boca Raton literary agency

This story ran today in the Miami Herald. It's worth a look. Did you think the publishing world was immune to the vultures? No matter where we go in the world, there is always someone waiting to capitalize on our ignorance. I'm not going to say guilty or innocent in this matter, as I've just now heard about it; but I will say 'author beware'.

I can see how easy it would be to get sucked up into a scheme because of our obsession to be authors. There are so many opinions out there, who do you trust? In the last few months, I've read more than a couple of articles on how to select an agent, etc., that is reputable. I'm sure there are vast numbers of sources that will point us in the direction of honest experts in all the above mention areas.

I encourage you all to follow as many good agent blogs as possible. Sign up for free newsletters from publishers lunch (where I first heard of this suit) and any other newsletters you can find. I know... You say you have enough to read. Who doesn't? Scan.

I am not yet involved in any writers' groups. I do plan to be, before I get to the point of hiring experts for help with my book. Take advantage of the wisdom out there and don't fall prey to these varmints!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Michael Bolton in my book?

Hurray for me! I've passed forty-seven thousand words! I like spelling it out; makes it feel like even more! I had reached another transition that was giving me some difficulty. It didn't seem 'alive' enough. I spent oodles of time with my fingers in the correct position, staring at the screen. I'd never get this book done, if I kept erasing everything I wrote...

Finally a break through came and the words started flowing again. It's late 1990. Thanksgiving actually. Liz has company. A song comes on the radio...

So what were some of the popular songs in 1990? I went to a jukebox site and clicked on 1990. (Research is important.) 'How am I Supposed to Live Without You?' by Michael Bolton was on the list. Talk about memories...I remember how jealous the men at work were over Michael Bolton. In my bedroom, I had a stereo with a 3-CD changer. It was probably 1993 or '94 actually. Occasionally I would put in something different to listen to; but as soon as it was over the other CD was put back in. This album was one of the three semi-permanent residents for quite a while. Yes, I was a hopeless romantic. Every night while lying in bed I listened over and over again to those same three CDs. What were the other two?
Go back in your mind to the nineties... Are there any albums that stand out in your memory? Tell me why?

Friday, August 14, 2009

helpful sites and my tips for organizing

I hate to break a promise, but I didn't really promise, did I? I did say that I would occasionally update my sidebar links with the new sites I found to be helpful, but I didn't promise... I started following a half-dozen new sites today! I can see my sidebar running off the screen and across the keyboard. (I'm a bit under-the-weather and I haven't been able to focus on my writing, so I'm using the time to surf Blogville. However, I'm getting better so I might not hook up with any new ones for a while.) As soon as I get a chance, I will edit my list to the ones I find most helpful for the beginner. Yeah, like me.

Just now I added a blog that talked about hiring a tax guy and how to handle your earnings. I took notes from another on book signings. Well, if you're like me, you've got a ways to go before worrying about that. I plan to have the links on my sidebar focus on the blogs that pertain to writing, editing, querying, and things like that. One step at a time. If you are beyond that point in your journey, chances are you've already discovered helpful blogs for your circumstances.

On another note, I thought I'd share my thoughts on Microsoft Office One Note. I know a couple of people that have the program (it came installed on their PC) but have never used it. I was that person for a long while. One day I checked it out... wish I'd have done that a long time ago. It's the best for being organized with outlines, etc. It has books, tabs, sub-tabs, pages... and the best part? The search. You can search your entire One Note, or just a tab or book.

For example: My One Note is broken up into many books, such as recipes, author (bet you know what goes in that one), and one for Hubby's stuff I'm responsible for remembering. Within the 'author' book are section tabs: publisher, free-lance, agent, tips, promotion, after the check (the tax guy stuff), and a section for each book/series I am developing. Under the section for agent, I copy info on querying, choosing an agent; anything dealing with that step of the way.

The section for my current ms contains tabs for outline, locations and New York City. (Read the book - you'll understand.) Under outline, I have many pages: chapter outline, characters, time-line, Liz, Nick, Bill & Natalie, story layout, and of course, misc. I always need a miscellaneous spot! On each page, I group notes for that particular. Bill & Natalie's page is for notes about their relationship. Things I need to remember for later chapters. (When & where did he see her?) The time-line page is a must for me! If someone has a kid at fifteen, they must age at the same rate. In other words, she can't be thirty with a ten-year-old running around.

In the early stages of writing this ms, I found that I had given Liz one child, but later talked about her getting pregnant again. Oops. Don't worry... I found a way to make it work even better! Since I've discovered One Note, that will not happen again. If she has a kid, it goes in there! Most importantly, I make sure to use short notes; just enough info to refresh my memory. My time-line is a chart for easy reference. Don't overwhelm yourself with writing notes with a word count bigger than your ms! BTW... word count is in there.

Now for that search feature... You know all those lengthy e-mails that list a gazillion helpful hints that you'd like to remember when you needed them? Copy and paste it into your One Note. Dog gets skunked? I go to my Lily book (my e-junk drawer) and search skunk. Lipstick on carpet? Carpet. Vinegar, WD40, whatever... If there's a tip for it, I can find it lots quicker than you can Google!

I think I've praised this MS program enough. There may be similar programs out there that work just as well. My point is, FIND ONE AND USE IT! Having organized notes will not only speed up the writing process, but hopefully shorten the editing time.

There! Does your brain hurt?

Friday, August 7, 2009

In it for the long haul...

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. T. S. Eliot

This quote was on Judy's The Road to Here blog this morning, in her post, A Far Reaching Thought.

It quickly reminded me of one of my favorite quotes... Thomas Edison said, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

I have spent a lot of time this week reading blogs of writers, authors, agents, editors and publishers. If I weren't so determined, and I didn't have my Blogville fan club cheering me on, I could easily get discouraged. Blog after blog advises the same thing: You have to be better than the very best to have the slimmest chance of having anyone even ask for a paragraph of your work. You must spend three years perfecting your query letter, and this only after spending twenty years editing your first novel. Then, if you're luckier than a lottery winner, you must repeat that almost thirty years of work in a few months for your second book, or risk acquiring the reputation of a loser and violating your contract.

I have learned that there are plenty of people out there that make a living at helping you with your query letter, and that using them practically guarantees a letter (according to an agent's blog) that will be tossed. I have also learned that it is much harder to write a good query letter than it is to write a novel.

I have learned that you must make a terrific and lasting first impression with an agent, but must, at the same time, blend into the woodwork, so as not to appear anxiously self-promoting. There are conferences that allow you to mingle with agents, but if you get some face-to-face time, do not, under any circumstances, mention the fact that you have written a wonderful book.

I have learned that if a publisher is interested in reading your manuscript, by all means send it to them, even if it is the wrong thing to do!

I have learned that self-publishing can be a great route for many, but you'd have to be crazy to publish your manuscript without an agent... You will be taken to the proverbial cleaners!

I have learned that there are firm rules that you must adhere to, and even when you do, you'd have better luck getting struck twice by lightening.

With all this wonderful information, am I discouraged? Heck, no! How do you think people advised T.E. when he wanted to fly a kite in a thunderstorm? I'm probably on the verge of a sensational best seller!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Where I'm at...

I've added a few more sites to my sidebar for you to check out. Most of them have links to other sites that are also helpful. Sometimes I suffer from information overload... There's so much good stuff out there that it can be overwhelming. I've been taking some notes from these blog posts for future reference. Fortunately, most of the agents/writers blogs are nicely indexed.

Have you ever noticed that when you buy a car it seems like there are suddenly millions just like it on the highway? When you are focused on something, you see it everywhere! I was watching a movie tonight with Ali and Papaw, Labor Pains with Lindsay Lohan. Guess what business she's in? Yep. She ends up representing an author with a pregnancy book, and ends up pushing it in stores and on TV. It wasn't extremely educational, but it did get some wheels turning.

I realize that I cannot devote the time I need to my book right now. In less than a month, Ali will be back home for school. My writing will again become a daily priority. But for now, I'll settle for making a few notes, and maybe tweaking my outline. There's too much pulling me away...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Blogs Worth Reading

OK, I'm obviously not going to find time in the near future to detail very much about the different blogs I've been learning from, and what they've taught me. So here's what I have for you now...

Check out my sidebar for the links under 'blogs worth reading'. I used to have listed all the blogs I follow. I decided to now only list the blogs that have given me really good advice, or insight into the secret world of publishing. If I find others that are really helpful for us beginners, I will try to remember to add them.

As my time allows, I will be tweaking this blog to become even more finely focused on my writing experience. I will no longer be posting awards, etc on this site. I am planning to give it a more professional look, but that sounds more like a winter project, doesn't it?

If you know of some really good blogs for beginner writers, please let me know about them.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Future Bestseller Hits Blogville!

I know a few of my readers are into fantasy type literature. My oldest granddaughter has finally posted the next chapter of her Guardian Chronicles. Please check it out and lend her some encouragement. And let me know what you think, too! I'm very proud of her.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leaps & Bounds!

I have passed through a doorway! Just days ago, I stumbled on a blog with lots of helpful information for writers and wanna-bees. I clicked to follow it, and through that I have found several more helpful sites. Plus, I already have several blogs I follow that are written by free-lance writers.

Blogville has become an invaluable tool for me. Help is just a click away. I'm no longer trying to filter through pages of unrelated articles because of the labels picked up by search engines! So many have been where I am now, and are willing to share their knowledge and experience. It's wonderful how nice people can be.

When I get a little time to do more research, I will post with links to the most helpful sites for those of you that are in the same boat. For now, please browse through the list of blogs I follow in the sidebar. Many of them are writers, publishers, agents... Good luck!

Degree of Satisfaction

I'm serious about this writing stuff. I do want to be a real writer! Not just someone that writes. I want to make a living at it. I want to sell books. But first I've got to get a foot in the door. I've been thinking a lot about my resume... What do I have that says I can write? I don't have a Journalism degree, or any degree for that matter. I've never had anything published aside from letters to the editor. So I've been thinking about going back to school.

I'm a drop out... many times over. Back in the 80's I attended a community college, pursuing a degree in Electronical Engineering. I made the Dean's List and enjoyed my classes, but ultimately decided it really wasn't the career for me. I couldn't see myself doing this type of thing day after day for a big chunk of my life. Along came a job from GM, so I took a break from school. I swore I'd go back someday, and I did... again and again. I really wanted to earn a degree. It was important to me.

I knew health careers were a good choice, so I thought about a career as a Physical Therapist Assistant. I started taking classes full-time while working full-time and being a single mom. It was tough. I remember carrying my chemistry book around at work, cramming at every break. But when I got bumped to a different shift, it was more than I could deal with. It seemed every couple of weeks my schedule was changing. I couldn't work my classes around that! I dropped out once again.

Our union hall started holding satellite classes from the college. The times for the classes were set for right before or after shift times. It was doable. Some were labor relations type courses, but I also took some accounting, government, speech... basic all-around stuff.

Through the years I accumulated a lot of credit hours. I'm a math whiz, so I took a lot of math courses. Psych... I'm there. I love writing, so the English Comps were a breeze. (I'll get back to the Composition classes...) But I was making a good living and the desire to finish my degree shrank a bit. I realized that I had wanted to prove something to my family, and that no longer mattered to me. I still wanted it for myself, but not enough to push me.

Finally, I earned an apprenticeship through GM as a Tool and Die Maker. That required taking further courses from the college. So I aced drafting, machine classes, more math (the easy stuff like geometry & trig).

Life got a little crazy for me through these years, and the desire to graduate faded. I had
accumulated way more than the required credit hours for an Associates Degree, but in what? They don't have a jack-of-all-trades degree. What's that you say? Oh, they do? A.I.S. Associate of Individual Study. Do tell!

Back to the Comp classes... Just like in high school, my instructors were always urging me to enter the writing contests. I never did. I don't know why. Wouldn't that look good on a query? Something that said, 'Hey, she's not bad!" A notch for my belt.

I went online and searched their website, thinking of enrolling in a web-based course. There are a couple of creative writing classes that I hadn't taken. This time I will enter the contests. I need to brush up on some basic stuff too. I realize I have more than a full plate right now, so I'd only do one class per quarter.

That's when I stumbled on the A.I.S. degree...

Even though I have met the requirements I don't know if they'll count all the old credit hours. We're talking about going back decades! Next week I will call. I'm not going to get my hopes up on them accepting the old credits, but you never know...

Alumni. Has a nice ring, doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oh no! Not another blog to read...

I love starting my e-day with blogs. I've made so many wonderful friends in Blogville! Some blogs I follow have stunning photography and art. A couple feature their homemade crafts. But mostly it's the daily life thing... I feel like I know some of you in a face-to-face kind of way. I read about your heartaches and the high points. You share photos of your new grand baby and your pets. I find snippets of humor to lighten my load. There are so many reasons I read what you write.

I've posted before about how it's hard to find time to write and keeping up with all the blogs just might be making it harder. OK, it's not a 'might' thing... It's a 'does' thing. I need to start speed-reading. I leave comments on most (but not all) of the blogs I read. I could probably save myself a lot of time by skipping the comments once in a while. I can't do it everywhere though. Some of the blogs I follow are people needing feedback. Some have very few followers and need encouragement. I can't fail them. I believe in them! What's a girl to do?

I keep promising myself to stop collecting blogs to follow. I even stopped following a bunch. It's not that they weren't interesting. (OK, maybe a couple.) I follow everyone that follows me. It's the right thing to do. If I expect them to spend their time on my blog, I should return the favor. After all, they are here because they want people to read and comment on what they write. Right?

So that brings me to today... I was catching up on all the blogs that posted since last night (whew!) and happened to stumble on a link: Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent. It made my day! I know there's probably a gazillion similar blogs out there, but I found this one first. I follow some published writers and some hoping to be published; I figure I'll learn from them. But some of them are right where I am... trying to figure out where to go next. This blog is a road map! On his sidebar he has links to almost everything you wanted to know about the process of writing, editing, queries, etc. It's an encyclopedia for people like me!

I didn't spend much time there, but I did learn a few important things:
  1. You can not edit too much!
  2. I'm no where near sending a query.
  3. I need to read about them anyway. (It gave me ideas to get my feet wet locally. My query should show I've got a little something under my belt.)

If you are like me, working on a project that you desire to publish, I encourage you to visit his blog and set aside some time to research the topics listed in the sidebar. You can never be too prepared! Good luck, and meet you in the bookstores...

Sunday, June 21, 2009


How could she not let herself fully trust this man? He understood the tug-of-war inside her head without her having to say a word. Liz took Michael’s hand and headed back toward the surf.

Yes, I'm writing today!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Family of Authors

I was visiting over on MySpace when a video I posted caught my eye... I realized my friends in Blogville didn't know about my daughter's book. I mentioned in an early blog about her being a writer and artist, but I didn't talk about the book! She wrote this delightful children's story titled 'Do Tigers Purr?' several years ago. When I started talking about my book, it brought up her dream of having her children's book published.

I thought it would be nice for her to be able to read her story to the babies at bedtime out of a real book with illustrations; So one day when I was feeling a bit crafty, I decided to make her book into a book! I found some cute pictures on the internet and did my 'own touch' thing to them, added her words, printed them out, made a binding... Well, the result was what you see in the picture. It is probably the best gift I ever gave her, even better than the first car!

When she first pulled it out of the bag, she thought I had found a book with her title! Then it hit her!

Someday soon I hope to have her book published. G#1 Dani is going to do the actual illustrations. (She had better get on the ball!) That will make it a three-generation effort. When you find it in the bookstores, it will not say, 'by Mommy' but by Jen Grams. I'll let you know...

I absolutely love her reaction to the book. Here it is for you to enjoy:

My Essays blog has a link on the sidebar to my MySpace profile. There you will find my older blogs (before I moved to Blogville) and lots of pictures and videos of life on the farm and my family. (You must be my friend on MySpace to view my grands' pics.)