Sunday, January 29, 2012

Patience vs. Persistence

I received an e-mail the other day, a nice little note from the group who I submitted my short story to back in November.  The note was sent to thank me for entering the contest and for being a valuable part of the writing community.  My heart sank when at first I thought the note was an attempt to lift my spirits before crushing them.

My spirits are safe, for the moment.
The note turned out not to be a rejection letter but instead a notice to inform me that judging is now underway and the winners will be notified at the end of February.  Another month to wait on top of the two months I’ve waited so far.  And this is for a short story of no more than 1,500 words. 

When I started my blog and wrote about having completed my first book (or the first draft anyway), I was asked by many when the book would be available to read.  At the time, my plan was to submit the book to contests because, I was hoping, if there were any chance of winning, it would also result in getting my book published.  The contests are certainly a draw to newbie authors such as myself because it is a way to get a book published without having to find an agent willing to take on the task of selling the novel of a new author to a publisher.  Even worse is trying to find a publisher willing to take a chance on a new author when there are no guarantees I can earn a profit for them.
Due to these cold hard facts, my plan was to submit my book to contests, especially those where only unpublished authors could submit work.  How long will it take to hear back about a full-length book contest? 

Too long, I have determined, and I’m not sure I have the patience for it.
There were a number of contests I had my eye on, one actually offered results in two months but according to most of the other contest guidelines, the results take an average of about six months.  It’s understandable, of course.  Each organization holding a contest must receive hundreds or possibly thousands of submissions.  It would take many, many hours for the panel of judges to read through such a high number.  I don’t envy those judges; it must be very tedious and tremendously difficult to work your way through such a large number of novels in only a few months.

So what does all this mean?
Patience has never been a virtue of mine.  I especially have difficulty waiting on others even considering the fact that I might understand their delay.  The idea of sending my book off to a group or a number of groups and then wait…for what will feel like an eternity for a “yea” or a “nay” is something I find very difficult. 

Instead, I’ve been researching my options and the possibilities are endless.
I do love research.  Being informed means being well armed.

Although I may continue to enter short stories into contests to see where I stand in that regard, I have decided to take the publishing bull by the horns.  I may be able to find an agent who may be able to discover a publishing house willing to take me on as a new author but I won’t bank on it.  In the meantime, rather than wait on someone else to do the job for me, I will take the options available to me so that my book and the ones to follow will be published sooner, rather than later.
I’ll keep you informed as I go along.  Wish me luck!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Novel Beginning, Weeks 3 & 4

Happy Friday everyone.  I am spending my Friday still catching up on projects after being without power for just over a week.  It is remarkable how often or how long a person can get sidetracked from what it is they wish to accomplish. 

Some things can be helped, some cannot. 

Today I’m posting weeks 3 and 4 of my writing journal.  While reviewing the journal again, I see now how often interruptions threatened to hold me back from writing my book.  Read on to see what I mean.  I will apologize ahead of time as this has turned out to be a longer blog.

Week 3


An interview tomorrow for a potential job has distracted me the past few days.  A number of other commitments have also taken up much of my time, including some booster club work, a second job I had been working the past few months, school shopping with my youngest son and time spent with family.  In the middle of all that, I spent time researching and preparing for the job interview, as it is only the second interview I have had in the past 20 years.  I hate to say I just haven’t had time to write.  I had to switch gears so that I am focused and ready for the job interview.  I’ve been my own boss for the past 12 years and the thought of working for someone else is not my preference but certain factors beyond my control have forced me to look in to taking a different path.  I am optimistic that even with another job I will be able to make my schedule work so that I can regularly write.


I got through the job interview pretty well, I think, but time will tell.  Now that the interview is under my belt, I need to spend time catching up on my case files and preparing for a visit with my brother and his family.  During their visit here from England, my brother and wife will be in Kona and my nephew will be staying with us for over a week.  I will do what I can to write but I’m not certain how much I will accomplish while my nephew is staying with us.

Week 4


It has been great making memories with my nephew during his stay with us and I would not trade that for anything.  I may have been optimistic in thinking I’d be able to find time to write but that has not happened.  We have been keeping very busy, since I promised my nephew we would be doing something fun every day.  He’s 4 years old and has a lot of energy…I am 40+ and my energy level does not compare.  I have kept up with him during the day but by the time he goes to bed around 8p, instead of writing as I should be, I find myself flat on the couch dozing off during television shows.  Needless to say, I am now going to play catch-up and will try to get as much writing done as I can.


Today was a good day and I was able to write without much interruption.  I have been putting together family and personal profiles on all my characters and I’m also trying to pick names to match each character well.  Now I’ve realized I also need to choose birth dates so that their Zodiac signs match their personalities well enough.  Maybe I’m putting too much thought into my characters but my characters are like actual people.  Without personality traits and other characteristics to separate them from everyone else, they will seem two-dimensional.  I realize Zodiac signs may not be a reliable reading into someone’s character traits but from what I know, they usually come pretty close.  Either way, I just want to make sure to add some real depth to my characters so that potential readers can find something in common with them. 


Today I bought a new calendar for next year because it was labeled a “writer’s diary.”  Unfortunately, it was in plastic so I was not able to see what it contained until I bought it.  Although it will be useful as a calendar, I now realize I could have waited and spent less on a regular calendar later in the year without the “writer’s” additions.  There are some useful tidbits but not much I can’t live without.  I do wish there were more inspiring quotes and tips; that would have been the most useful.  Say, an inspirational quote or idea or tip to motivate the writer’s mind each day.  The few quotes found in this book don’t really inspire me.  One example is, “An idea, like a ghost…must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”  (By Charles Dickens)  Or, “Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand – a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods – or it should be an art.”  (By Willa Cather)  Okay, I get it.  But there are many other quotes I have found which do a better job at inspiring me.  For example:  “You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.” (By Jack London)  I just love that one.  Or, “If your ship hasn’t come in--swim out to it.” (By Mary Engelbriet).  Maybe I’ll just have to put together my own inspirational calendar…


Boy, when I do get the time to write, it’s great how much I can get done.  Today I was able to write most of the day and I’m happy with how far I’ve gotten.  I also spent time researching house plans to match the house I have in my story.  I love Victorian homes so it was not a chore to research Victorian houses and their house plans.  I finally found one I adore, with a rounded corner tower and a huge front porch spanning the length of the front of the house.  I changed the layout a bit to work with my story but I now have a good visual of the house the main character has moved in to.  Whether some think this is useful or not, I believe it is very useful.  I do not like to write about anything without having a visual in my head with regard to what I’m writing about.  I believe I learned this throughout my years as a private investigator.  When I question people, their answers put a visual in my head that I see like a silent movie.  Considering some of the terrible things I have had to interview witnesses about, this is not always a good thing but it is necessary for the type of work I do.  Once the movie runs in my head, I can tell if something doesn’t seem quite right as I ask the witness to explain certain details about the incident.  In those instances, I know when I need to go back and verify information in order for the scene to make sense.  I am then able to include those details when I type up my reports so that it accurately reflects what the witness recalls with regard to the incident.   I'm hoping that the abilities I have gained as an investigator along with a strong desire to write will prove to make me a great writer.

As weeks 3 and 4 indicate, distractions are only temporary.  They may interfere with concentration, they may be a diversion, but they are not permanent.  The trick is dealing with the fact that distractions are constant.  Unless a person has no family, no friends, no job, and gobs of money to pay others to cook and clean, interruptions and distractions are just a way of life.  Time management may be difficult but to take on any project, goal or dream, it is necessary to understand how to manage time wisely when it comes to what can pull you away from your mission.  I will admit I haven’t yet mastered the task of time management and I’m not sure I ever will but as with anything in life, we are all students and only need to have the desire to learn.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Can Mother Nature sign my Absence Slip?

For anyone who has viewed my blog the past six days only to discover I have not added a new post since last Wednesday, there is a reason and I do have a good excuse.  Friends and family who live nearby will know exactly what caused the delay, as they too were dealing with the same issue…the force of nature called Mother Nature. 

And boy was she mad!
We were all tickled to see the first bits of snow when it finally decided to stick.  The words “No School” due to snow always bring on happy faces in my house.  We were then impressed when we received first six inches of snow and then another ten inches the following day.  I don’t recall having to use a measuring tape before but last week it was necessary in order to record an unbelievable 16 inches of snow.  In this neck of the woods, getting more than a foot is a rare treat, or trick, depending on your point of view.

Here’s a shot of the pretty white stuff…our driveway is in there somewhere.

Snow just makes everything beautiful, doesn’t it? 
That was the fun part.

We were then hit with freezing rain, rather than the nice warm snow-melting rain we had been promised by our weatherman, or woman, as the case may be.  For a solid day, we lost limb after limb and tree after tree, as they snapped, crackled and popped from all the heavy frozen snow attached to the limbs and the tops of the trees. 
I’ve honestly never heard anything like it. 

I’ve heard trees fall during a good wind storm and we had a severe ice storm years ago but this was something else.  Every few seconds was one more loss to the forest, causing damage or demise to hundreds of trees as they continued to snap and fall.  It sounded like a war zone outside; rifle after rifle shot ricocheting off the hills. 
This all would have been bad enough but Mother Nature had not completed her alterations to the tree line or the hillsides.  Next for our viewing pleasure was a slight thaw.

What did this produce?  An amazing amount of snow still remained on the branches or tops of the trees.  If it wasn’t weighing down the branches so that they snapped and plummeted to the ground in a heap, the snow itself was falling through the branches, breaking into pieces and then hitting the ground as loud as a glass chandelier might sound after falling from a high ceiling.
All of this, in a word, was amazing, sometimes frightening, but most certainly, it was a nuisance.  The storm itself was not so much a nuisance as was the after effects.  The roads were a mess or impassable, power lines and trees were everywhere, and power was out for days and days and days (five and a half days for us).  Offices and businesses had to close, schools were closed, phones and computers were down. 

Work could not be adequately accomplished.
And that, my friends, is the rub.  It is ironic that at the end of my last post I commented on how thankful I was to have access to current technology, as the very thought of writing, editing and rewriting a book on a manual typewriter is just too much to even contemplate.  Since Mother Nature decided to throw one of her winter tantrums at us, it left me wishing I had some other way to work, where I did not have to function only with items containing wires.  I might have been able to accomplish much more these past six days if I did not rely so heavily on modern technology. 

Hi, my name is Paula, and I am captivated with modern technology.
That said, the power is finally back on, my office is nice and toasty and the computer is warmed up and ready to exert itself at my command.  Rather than continue to focus with regret on what I was not able to accomplish these past six days, I will now take pleasure in the technological wonders available to me because they are what make life and work more manageable.  I won’t deny I very much enjoy the fact that I can now continue with my writing, in the new-fashion way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Edit...another four-letter word.

I will admit to a real high-on-life feeling when I made the statement that I had completed my first book.  I will also admit to the fact that I misspoke.  What I should have said was that I had completed the “first draft” of my first book.  Having a first draft meant I had completed the first big step but it also meant something else; my book was ready for the next step…the editing process. 

Writing a book is one thing…editing is an entirely different matter.  I will admit I prefer the writing portion.
Editing is…difficult and exhausting but also exhilarating and a real defining moment: 

  • It is difficult to be critical about your own work.
  • It is exhausting because you are very emotionally attached to your work and you might not like making some of the necessary changes.  It is also emotionally draining to know the first edit is not the last.
  • It is exhilarating to read your own work and realize you enjoy reading the story as much as you enjoyed writing it.
  • The whole process is a defining moment because as you read over your work, you appreciate what you have accomplished and with some awe you realize what you are capable of once you set your mind to it.
In the research I completed before I even began writing the book, there were many bits of advice offered with regard to editing.  You would think the number one piece of advice would involve grammar, spelling, dialogue and anything else that might make the story better.

You’d be wrong.
Instead, most authors advise putting the book away where you cannot read it, much less look at it.

Why?  For how long?
In his book titled The Newbie's Guide to Publishing, J.A. Konrath's advice is to put the book away for a week, maybe two.  His reason:  “The longer you can stay away from it, the more you can forget what you wrote and approach it with fresh eyes.”

Tom Monteleone, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel, agrees.  His advice is to put the book away for at least a couple of weeks because “you’ve been so close to it, you can’t possibly have much objectivity working for you.”
The advice makes sense, doesn’t it?

In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he believes the first draft should be set aside for six weeks.  King further states, “…you’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.  It’s yours, you’ll recognize it as yours, even be able to remember what tune was on the stereo when you wrote certain lines, and yet it will also be like reading the work of someone else, a soul-twin, perhaps.  This is the way it should be, the reason you waited.  It’s always easier to kill someone else’s darlings than it is to kill your own.”
You might ask what darlings are being killed at this point.  It’s just a quote by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch who once said “Murder your darlings.”  No, we’re not talking about the rock band here.  It is a phrase to define the difficult task of removing from your story portions which may not be necessary even if you love them.     

It is, admittedly, a very difficult task.
So did I wait six weeks to review my work?  Of course not, or I would still be waiting.  I gave myself just about two weeks before I began to edit.  Honestly, I could not have waited any longer.  I’m on a personal timeline here.  However, Stephen King was right, it was an exhilarating experience to recognize what I wrote but also feel as if I were reading someone else’s work. 

So I have completed the difficult task of editing the first draft.  The printed version of my book is now a mess of notes and scribbles.  What’s next?  Retyping my work to reflect the changes I made to the first draft.  After that, I’m hopeful the second review will require only a limited number of necessary changes so that I can accurately state my book is complete.
Imagine “back in the old days” when writers used manual typewriters?  Am I aging myself when I say I actually remember using a manual typewriter in high school?  I am thankful for technology because I cannot imagine this process without my computer.  I will say I truly respect any author who first broke into the world of writing with only a typewriter, reams upon reams of paper and a truly high tolerance to hard work.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Novel Beginning, Weeks 1 & 2

This will be the first in a series of posts I will be adding to my blog.  These posts will be continuous, covering an 18-week span and will be posted at least once a week until I’ve reached the end. 

Are you curious?
While I was writing my book, I also kept a journal, which I have titled “A Novel Beginning.”  The journal was for myself at first, in order to keep track of what I had accomplished, to keep myself accountable and also to have some reference to look back on and compare to as I continued to write other books.  While my blog will share with you the high's and low's as I move along in the writing and publishing world, I decided I would also share with you the thoughts I jotted down during the months I spent writing my book.   

Are you interested? 
I hope so.

If you are, continue reading as I share with you now some portions of my notes from the journal, beginning with the first two weeks:
Week 1

Writing a book has some fear attached to it, or rather, quite a bit of fear.  I finally had to admit to the fear I had about putting so much work into something, only to be told by someone or many some ones, that it just wasn’t good enough.  BUT you only fail if you do not try.  At least if you try, it is something to be proud of, whether you meet someone else’s expectations or not.  So, I began to make regular time to write.  That was the true beginning for me; making an actual schedule to write.  I had already bought enough books and magazines, already researched enough online articles, it was now finally time to make true what I was too chicken to say out loud: I am a writer so I will write! 

I began to type, after fighting what felt like writer’s block right from the beginning.  Then as I began to let the words come, the sentences followed, then the paragraphs and finally the pages.  I had earlier planned to write a certain number of pages every day and I may not quite be there but my first sitting ended with 13 pages.  I felt good about that, considering how long I stared at the keyboard and computer before words finally flowed from my fingertips.  I do believe I can do better and I just need to work on finding the right blocks of time so that I can write a good number of pages per day.  It should not be out of the realm of possibility!

Week 2

Tonight I was supposed to take the life of a character…and I just could not do it.  I was working on a particular scene and as I wrote out the scene I had already envisioned, I could not write the actual words necessary to cause the character’s demise.  Is it odd that I cannot take the life of a fictional human being?  I have other characters where this will not or would not be a problem for me but this particular character…well, I guess I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to write them out of the story as I first intended.  I’m thinking they might have more to offer if they stick around.  So I did not completely write out the scene and in fact, it is unclear to me at this point if the character will live or die.  It may completely change my storyline but for now I have not quite decided how this part of the story will play out.  For now, the fate of the character is unknown.

My definition for the word “distraction” is “the worst adversary for any writer.”  Whether you have a job, a spouse, children, friends, dogs, cats, a house to care for, parents to visit, club commitments…the list continues.  The trick is finding the time and then making sure anyone in your immediate vicinity knows NOT to bother you!  What I’m learning from the start is that I might not be able to block out four hours in the morning, or three hours in the evening every day to write.  I have a business I’m running, children to take care of, a spouse to spend time with and other obligations I cannot ignore.  However, I expect to find some good quality time every day when I can at least spend some time getting my thoughts on paper.  Although I had hoped to write a certain amount every day, I have decided it’s really not how much I write every day, but that I do write every day.
To be continued…

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th or "Friday the 13th?"

It’s Friday the 13th…I’m sure many of you have a feeling about this date, whether your opinion is that it’s just another day or you believe it means something more.  Some view Friday as an historically unlucky day while many view the number 13 as an unlucky number.  Rolled together into one, they can cause instant fear.  For those who have this fear, the year 2012 may be tricky as it has its fair share of the superstitious date (three times rather than just one or two).   I personally don’t have any issues with the day, the number or the date myself; I’m glad to say that in the past I’ve actually had good things happen on Friday the 13th.

Or, maybe you don’t even think about the date at all, you just think about the movie. 

While I enjoy a good horror film, I have to say Friday the 13th has not been one of my favorites, not the first, second, third…how many did they make?  I’m not sure I’ve completely watched even two of Jason’s movies.  Back when both were a hot item, I was always more partial to the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.  Freddy Krueger was a villain you could easily detest and who, with his scarred face and knife-wielding fingers, could promote nightmares in all ages; much more, in my opinion, than some guy in a hockey mask wielding some sharp instrument. 
And what, pray tell, does this have to do with writing? 

Well, my focus today is what draws people to a book (or a movie). 

Is it the story? 

The title? 

Interesting characters? 

A good story is just that, a good story, regardless of the title but you can hope a good story also comes stocked with great characters.  The story may be one you already know, say, like the Titanic.  The story hasn’t changed; the title doesn’t change much from book to book or movie to movie because, after all, it is about the sinking of the Titanic.  You are already familiar with and won’t be disappointed by the story which gives you time to enjoy learning more about the characters.  Who was on the ship?  What were their lives like before they decided to board that fateful ship?  How did their lives change afterwards as one of the few remaining survivors? 

Some titles are used again and again as a draw but the story plot may change, as well as the characters.  Friday the 13th was not an original title and previous stories and movies with this name aren’t all about a weapon-wielding, hockey-mask-wearing guy named Jason.  But with the superstition surrounding the title along with the character who gave young teens nightmares (back in the day anyway), this version of Friday the 13th will retain its place in history where any other story by this name has long since been forgotten.
Characters are obviously a draw, as with Jason in Friday the 13th and Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street.  Those who watched every single movie kept coming back for more because of the main characters, not because of a story plot which basically remained the same.  I don’t believe anyone familiar with either movie will ever think of the names “Jason” and “Freddy” without first comparing them to the movie characters.  Honestly, because of that fact, I doubt I would ever call any character in any book I write “Jason” or “Freddy.”   

When it comes to searching out a good book to read, the trick is finding a good story with great characters.  Can you go beyond what your friend or mother recommends or what is currently on the best seller list?  I’m not saying these aren’t terrific ways to add books to your reading list but what else would make you decide to read a book?  There are so many to choose from and not all books worth your time end up on the best seller list. 

So how do you pick out a book if you only have the book title or cover to go on? 

Like a hummingbird to sugar water…is it what strikes your senses when you look at the cover that causes you to even pick up a book to inspect it further?

Have you ever purchased a book based soley on the short synopsis and how the title or cover caught your attention? 

I have been there many times, wading through the book store, carefully looking over each book cover, hoping to find a book that will draw my attention and prove to be the perfect find.  However, I am interested in what catches your attention…is it an author you are familiar with, a title you find catchy, a cover you are drawn to, a riveting brief synopsis on the cover, or something else entirely?
Okay, let's be honest.  My real question is…what, other than the fact that you might know me, would interest you enough to make you pick up one of my books to read it? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My reading list lately...

In my last post I gave you some idea of the types of books I like to read.  Although reading is a favorite pastime of mine, I will admit it’s been very difficult to make my way to the end of any fictional story lately.  Since I had been so busy writing my book, I haven’t had much time to actually read a book.

Well, I’ll take that back.
I haven’t had the time to read fiction but I have made the time to read books on writing.  Since I’ll admit I was new to the whole idea of writing a book, I wanted to research the techniques involved with completing a book and what it took to become a published writer. 

Research…it can help you, but it can also hinder you.
Here’s what I’m talking about:

I already loved to write and had many story ideas but when I finally decided to write my book, I wasn’t willing to take on such a huge task without first researching the idea.  I’m pretty sure my very first purchase was The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing and also The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published.
Can’t say I quite like the term “idiot” but there you go.  These books are easy to read and really do have a lot of good information about the whole process.

Then I moved on…
I began to read books about the writing process, writing exercises, how to write, how to find time to write, styles of writing, how to deal with writer’s block, how to build a platform, how to be a productive writer…and the list goes on and on.

Here’s a look at some of the books I read:

Sure, I love to read and yes, I won’t hesitate to research any topic as serious as this but after a bit I realized I would just have to set the books aside and get to what was really important…I just needed to write!  A quote from Agatha Christie says it all: 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” 
All the advice in the world was not really going to change the way I write.  How or what I write was only part of the issue; the other was whether what I write would later be something you would be able to read in print.  The books about publishing were eye-opening, I’ll admit.  It is a daunting task but it is all part of the process when it comes to the commercial side of things.  From writing query letters, to finding an agent who will read your book to finding a publisher who will print your book, it’s a stressful waiting game, no question.    However, whether a publisher wishes to print my books or I have to publish them myself, it doesn’t really matter.  That is the remarkable part about this process, especially these days; you are essentially in control because you can make it happen on your own if that’s what it takes to start.

I believe my favorite book out of the whole group was On Writing by Stephen King.  Yes, I am a fan, and yes, after reading his book it made me question my sanity at even thinking I could be a published author.  However, reading his book also made me appreciate the fact that all the big-time authors were once nobody’s too. 
Every author started from scratch, no better than anyone else. 

It is also good to remember that hardly anyone can get where they want to go without first putting in a lot of hard work.  The end result is due to the sweat, blood and tears you give it, not because someone decided to give you a break the first time you thought you were good enough to make it.  (You will have to remind me of this a year from now if I begin to complain about the process!)
Actually, many well-known authors were struck down multiple times (Stephen King included) before that first real book deal came through.  I’m not saying I’ll get to the “well-known” level but I’ll certainly work hard at it.  Whether it’s due to a publisher willing to take a chance on me or because I take a chance on myself, I believe my hard work will eventually pay off. 

As Stephen King once said, “Talent is cheaper than table salt.  What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What, or who, is stacked on your bookshelves?

I love to read, always have.  When I was in grade school and middle school, I would look forward to the book order forms the school would send home with all the students.  I would pour over the color photos of the books on display throughout the pamphlet and after carefully choosing my selections, I would wait with excitement for the book orders to finally arrive.  It was always a special treat…getting new books I could take home to read at my leisure.

I love books but I especially love a brand new book…flipping through the pages, smelling the “new” page smell.  Ahhh…it’s just heavenly.
I still enjoy reading, when I find the time, but my choice of books has changed quite a bit from Black Beauty and Little House on the Prairie.   

When I get into a good book, what I do read varies.  Some mystery authors I enjoy are Mary Higgins Clark and Terri Blackstock.  Suspense authors come and go but John Grisham is always a good read and so is James Patterson.  Horror would include Stephen King and one of my all-time favorites has been John Saul.  Dean Koontz is also talented with putting together a good thriller.  Two authors I came across and have also really enjoyed are Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker, who both spin a good tale if you enjoy a religious-based undertone mixed with horror or psychological thriller.
Mystery, suspense and horror are just the beginning…

I also enjoy historical fiction and my most recent find has been Ken Follett.  I’ve already read The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End and just recently purchased his latest, Fall of Giants, which I will somehow, eventually, find the time to read.  These books are huge, just under 1,000 pages, but the characters, the history and the story itself are all very easy to get lost in.
And who can put down a good western? 

Not me.  Although I haven’t read much in that genre lately, my favorite has always been Larry McMurtry.  Lonesome Dove is top-rated when it comes to books and to movies.
But what about a good ole’ romance, you say? 

For me, it’s not my favorite genre.  I used to read Danielle Steel, a lifetime ago, but if I did have to choose my favorites in this genre, it would be Jude Deveraux and LaVyrle Spencer.  I still remember my first Deveraux find…A Knight in Shining Armor.  I enjoyed it so much I hit the used book stores and bought every Deveraux book I could find.  The same goes with Spencer’s stories.  The first book I read was Hummingbird and it was such a light and funny romance, I was hooked.
But the list goes on and on…once I find a favorite author, there is no doubt I will soon own every book they ever wrote.

Here’s a look at just one book shelf, messy as it is:

And yet another…

I’m hoping soon my own book(s) will also be on these shelves.
I love all types of stories and all types of authors.  The real reason I even like a book is not because it might be written by an author in a genre I prefer but because it’s just a good story with characters I can relate to with a plot that sucks me in.

That’s what a good read is all about.  Whatever your genre or author preference might be, I hope you find the time to enjoy a good book every now and then.  It’s a great escape everyone should take pleasure in!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Don't let Life rule your Passion.

I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid but it was more of a hobby than anything else, especially when school, college, marriage, kids and work took over my life.  After some time, I had the urge to do something real with my writing so I began to dabble with short stories and book ideas sometime in 2007.  However, life took over again as my husband and I finally decided to take on the dream of building our own home which left the rest of 2007 and much of 2008 filled with the obligations involved in that process. 

And what a process!  Thankfully, building a house is a short-term obligation.
I dabbled again with writing in 2009 and played around with more story ideas but in 2010, life once again took over.  This time the obligation was much more serious and involved the health of two dear family members diagnosed with cancer within six months of each other.  With many home visits, doctor visits, surgeries and out-patient care, there really wasn’t much time for my imagination to come out and play as my mind was seriously very worn out from stress.  While we did lose one family member to the cancer towards the end of 2010, I’m glad to say the other is a cancer survivor and is doing well.

Cancer is a disease I can spend a lot of time harping about so I will move on. 
I guess I decided I did not want to leave this world without accomplishing that which truly gives me joy.  Having a terrific marriage, wonderful kids and a job I enjoy are one thing and very much a blessing I will never take for granted.  However, I’m talking about what brings out the passion, the imagination and the creativity I believe we all can achieve in our own way. 

Are we all creative? 
Maybe not in the same way but we all have a passion for something, whether it’s writing, crafts, photography, painting, caring for animals, teaching, caring for the elderly or volunteering our time.  You just have to figure out what brings out the passion in you.

Ever heard of Chicken Soup for the Soul? 
I’m sure most of you have.  There is a book for everyone in all walks of life…you should make sure to check it out if you haven’t already.  You can find them here:

Anyhow, I was reading a book from the creators of Chicken Soup for the Soul called Life Lessons for Women: 7 Essential Ingredients for a Balanced Life.  One particular chapter hit me, titled “Take your passion and make it happen.”  In that chapter, I read the following:
“Authentic passion is the excitement you feel when you’ve discovered what you love.  When you are passionately engaged, you are totally present.  You are enlivened, focused.  You lose sight of your surroundings, you forget yourself, your struggles, your day-to-day life.  You’re connected with something larger than yourself, something magical, something sacred.”

I had already begun to seriously play around with the idea about writing an actual book about a year ago but the words I read in the above paragraph hit me hard.  I DO have a passion for writing; I do get lost in my work, putting away my own struggles for a time, connecting with something larger than myself and living in another world that to me is truly magical.   
This type of motivational reading, along with my husband’s wonderful support, are what made me realize I needed to move forward with my dream and desire to write.  Whatever happens, happens, but I will be happy taking a chance and doing something I have a passion for.  I believe Eleanor Roosevelt said it best with this quote:

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
If there is something you truly love to do but have been putting off because of life in general, don’t let life rule your passion.  Take on what brings out the life in you and what makes you happy.  Of course, we still need to make concessions for our family and other necessary obligations (watch out for the unnecessary ones).  Family should always come first but you can always find a way to make time for yourself.

There is no reason to believe it’s ever too late. 
And to top off the post with another great quote, remember this from George Eliot:

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mystery subject is revealed!

Here are a few comments based on questions that have been asked of me since my first post:

First of all, thanks very much to everyone who has emailed me, sent me text messages or commented on my blog. I truly appreciate all the good luck wishes, nice words and overall faith in my abilities. You have made me fear much less the anxiety I had at baring my soul.

Since anxiety is a terrible thing to waste, let’s move on to the first question…when will my book be ready for you to read?

Any anxiety I have about this subject is based on the fact that I can’t yet answer the question. Although the book is finished, it’s really not finished. More to the point, it is not quite ready for everyone else to read. I am currently editing the first draft and will spend the next few weeks on that lengthy task to prepare my book for some upcoming contests I wish to enter as an unpublished author.

The key words here are “unpublished author.”

I cannot yet make the book available, whether by publishing it myself or selling it as an e-book, because I wish to remain qualified to enter the contests as an unpublished author. The contest winners receive cash prizes and book publication, which is not a bad return on the small entry fee if I were announced as a winner.

Talk about anxiety…waiting to hear back regarding contest results is a nail biter. I entered a short story contest the middle of November and won’t hear the results until possibility sometime later in February! If that contest ends on a positive note, you will hear it here first. If any work I submit to agents gets me any further in the game, you’ll certainly hear about that as well. Whether I win, lose or draw, you’ll hear about the status as I go along. My plan is to use this blog to show the ups and downs of an up and coming author.

Dare I dream the dream? You bet!

But wait, I digress…the next question was what kind of story did I write? Well, that I can tell you.

It’s a mystery novel. I’m sure that won’t be surprising to some. Murder, of course, plays a part in the plot. I wish I could say more but that will have to do for now.

I love mysteries, horror, suspense or just a good story about people whose lives I can totally get lost in. I hope someday my book will be recognized as a good mystery with a good story plot about people you can love but also some you can hate.

Here’s another question asked by quite a few…are my friends, family or a likeness of them in my book?

Maybe…but more like bits and pieces of what I like or don’t like in people is what I used to give real life to my characters. The book I just finished is the first of a series I wish to continue, with characters I have come to completely adore and will someday soon introduce to you.

There are more books I’d like to write, not relating to mysteries; one in particular I will start the end of this month along with the second book in my mystery series. In fact, while going over a few changes I needed to make in my first book, I came up with another new book idea! It doesn't end there…this is only a few of many more story ideas I have come up with. Time will tell which of them will make the cut.

With all the ideas running through my mind, is there any wonder how I ever sleep deep enough to really dream?