Detour Home

Country Road

A while back I mentioned my new online home, where I’ve also transferred my blog. That being said, I neglected to include a sign up/follow button on my new site. It took me a while to get around to doing that, but it’s now done. I would absolutely love to have you visit me over there. So, despite taking a detour in my return to blogging, alas, I’m back, at my newly located blog home, ready to roll. Next week I will begin weekly Wednesday blog posts there. See you on Wednesdays, just around the bend.

Until then…

Carpe diem

 

Writing Communities

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For a writer, deciding to belong to a community of other writers will be one of the best choices you make. Writers understand other writers and the struggles we all go through like no one else can. It’s similar, I suppose, to any group of people with like interests.

Cops can understand each other’s black humor and often use it as a healing method, when the rest of society might think they’re crazy and a sandwich short of a picnic.

Alcoholics draw strength and support from one another that they can’t get from anyone else, hence the huge success of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Christians find peace, joy, and acceptance from brothers and sisters in Christ among other Christians, as they come to know there is strength in numbers.

Victims of crime find comfort in the presence of those who have gone through a like experience. Other human beings who understand the pain, the shame, the healing, and the rising from the ashes.

And on and on. You get the picture.

Paulo Coelho

For writers, the benefits of belonging to a community are endless. There are groups on Goodreads for just about everything writers experience; there are online critique groups as well as in-person critique groups; there are local writers groups as well as online writers groups, some with local chapters; there’s the blogging community to connect with those who have similar interests as you or to broaden your knowledge base; and let’s not forget the magazine community (think Writer’s Digest, Poets and Writers, and The Writer.) And these are just a few of the groups out there.

It’s in these groups that you will get ideas on how to manuever through the publishing process, whether you’re aiming for traditional publishing or going the indie route; it’s in these groups that you will get ideas for and help with:

Marketing and Promotion – One of the most difficult aspect of being an author is how to market and promote your book after it’s published. It’s here an author learns that writing the piece was actually the easy part. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it. Building from one another’s successes and learning from each other’s failures make the load a whole lot lighter to bear.

Formatting and Editing – For indie authors, formatting a manuscript for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or the old-fashioned paper format, can be a daunting task. Especially for those technologically challenged. Like yours truly. The knowledge from others in the group that are technologically savvy is priceless. And giving back in an area that is your strength is beyond satisfying.

Support and Encouragement – When a writer gets a bad review, isn’t selling any books, is having a serious case of self-doubt or writer’s block, who better to get support from than the very people who have gone through the same exact thing. Over. And over. And over.

Reviews and the Chance to Review – The truth of the matter is, as much as we would like them to, our books don’t sell themselves. Many readers depend on the sum of a book’s reviews to determine if they want to read it. Swapping reviews gives you a chance to get your book reviewed by someone who’s well-read and offers the chance to review another’s, which in turn only strengthens your own writing.

Critiques – What a better way to perfect your writing than by having other writer’s critique your work and having the opportunity to critique theirs. It’s a win-win.

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I have my blogging community where I share, learn, connect and make friends. I belong to local writer’s groups, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Northern Colorado Writers, where I learn by listening to other writers, taking classes and attending writer’s conferences. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, of which we’re starting a local chapter, and Guppies, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime. I belong to several groups on Goodreads, and participate in NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, both of which take writing communities to a whole new level. 🙂 It’s in these communities I find myself improving and growing as an author. And it’s in these places that takes the joy of writing and turns it into a thrilling adventure.

What groups/communities do you belong to? How has it benefitted your growth?

Natural Beauty

It seems I’ve been blessed with the beauty of nature everywhere I go lately. I wanted to share some of the serenity with my blogging peeps. Have a cup of tea/coffee, put your feet up, and let yourself be mentally transported to the great outdoors, surrounded by peace, chirping birds, a gentle wind, and the fresh smell of woods.

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Nature

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

Birthday Blessings

Seize the Day

I’ve heard people talk about 50 as being “over the hill,” “half of a century old,” “on the downward slide,” etc.

When I woke up this morning, having turned 50 myself, the first thing that came to mind was:

I AM SO BLESSED!

I got out of bed, got dressed and headed out the door for an early morning run. As I ran, I reflected on my life. What a better time than a milestone birthday, right? And as I strolled down memory lane, my heart nearly exploded with gratitude. I am, at 50 years of age, at a place in my life that is the best it’s ever been. The heart breaking moments and tragedies of years past are a direct connection to where I’m at now. If every one of those crises hadn’t happened, my life literally would not be what it is today. I think of all the prayers I’ve prayed, disappointed when they weren’t answered, only to realize that they were answered. Thankfully not the way I had hoped for at the time.

So today, at 50 years old, let me share with you some of what makes me the richest woman in the world.

First of all, the people who have been placed in my life by God, at the exact time and in the exact role that He knew I needed exactly when I did.

  • An amazing husband, Clint, who has given me the marriage, friendship, and partnership in life that I’ve always dreamed of.
  • Two amazing boys, Ben and Alex, who have taught me the true meaning of unconditional love and acceptance.
  • A granddaughter, Zoey, who brings unmatched joy to my life, and a chance to experience part of her father as a little one all over again.
  • A step-daughter, Jennifer, and five step-grandchildren who have accepted me into their lives, my life all the more beautiful because of them.
  • A step-daughter, Becky, who enriched my life with her kindness, sparkle and beauty–inside and out–who has gone ahead to greet me at the gates of heaven when I’m called home.
  • Parents who gave me the gift of life and the foundation of family and faith. It took me a while to catch on, but I eventually got it. 🙂 And while they waited, they taught me patience and perseverance.
  • Sisters, Sandy and Brenda, my best friends chosen by God for me to share life with from beginning to end.
  • My grandma Cielinski and my Uncle Earl who helped carry me through some of the most difficult times of my life.
  • Mr. Rude, my high school English teacher, who made such a difference in the life of this high school student with a love of writing.
  • My “Brighton Group” (you know who you are), who have accepted me exactly as I am, broken and flawed, who have taught me how to live a clean life, honest and true, how to love, and how to be a friend.
  • A Church and Church Family that lifts me up.
  • A blogging community with which I’ve grown as a writer and as a person.

And beyond these angels in my life, I’m blessed with and grateful for:

  • A job in which I’m blessed to serve victims of crime. Since I was a victim of crime at one time, I’ve come full circle, blessed to use my tragedy for good.
  • The ability to sponsor three kiddos from Africa (Togo, Burkina Faso, and Tanzania) through Compassion International, helping to release them from poverty and give them hope. Alex, Amede and Mamounata have taught me compassion, that the gift of giving blesses the giver, and the power of prayer.
  • The ability to be a sponsor to Amazima Ministries in Uganda, furthering the work of Christ as he reaches the unreachable.
  • The ability to be a donor to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I mention these things because it is not me or my money that helps in these areas, it’s all because of an amazing God who has laid these passions upon my heart and has given me the resources to be able to do so. And it’s this giving that has changed my heart as nothing else could ever do.
  • The gift of writing, which brings me so much joy and satisfaction. I published a book last year, The Inheritance, a dream I’ve had as far back as I’ve been able to dream, and another book, Shear Madness, due out next month.

And the blessings just go on and on. Go back to my thirties? Not a chance. Not even my forties. My best days, my best life, is right here, right now.

And as a side note, at the end of my run, still dancing on my pink cloud, I nearly stepped on not one, but two, squished flat as a pancake, messy toads. If that was the enemy’s way of bringing me down from my high, it didn’t work. It simply made me drive more carefully than ever to work. Just in case… 🙂

Carpe Diem

 

 

April (Word) Showers

I’ve temporarily changed the old saying, April Showers bring May flowers,  to April Showers Bring Lots of Writing Hours.

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Last April I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge,  and this year I’ve decided to head to Camp for the month of April. Camp NaNoWriMo. I will still be reading the blog posts of those participating in the challenge, however, and I encourage others to as well. There are such amazing themes by such creative minds, and it’s fun to be part of that community in any way I can. After all, supporting each other is what the blogging community is all about.

The past couple of weeks I’ve allowed myself to become somewhat lazy–okay, very lazy–in the writing department. I finished the 2nd edit of my mystery, Shear Madness, and along with it came the whole self-doubt crash. While it’s something every writer experiences, it’s hard to remember that while in the thick of it. So I’ve decided to let my manuscript cool a couple of weeks before beginning the next edit.

I’ve been wanting to write some short stories for a long time now, something I haven’t written for many, many years (we won’t say exactly how many 🙂 ) I’ve jotted ideas, plots, etc, but have continually put off the actual writing part. Until now.

For April’s Camp NaNo I’m going to let my hair down–or pull it up in a pony tail–and let loose the words to short stories I’ve been thinking about. I’m going to actually write them on paper–or computer–and have fun doing it. I’ve got my notebook, colored gel pens, computer, Camp NaNo coffee mug, my lantern, and the ingredients for s’mores set and ready to go. Heck, maybe I’ll even pull out a sleeping bag. 🙂

NaNo Coffee MugS'mores

It’s not too late if anyone wants to join in the camping experience. It’s among the most fun campgrounds I’ve ever camped. And rather than getting wet by rain showers, we get productive with word showers. That being said, it’s not necessary to commit to 50,000 words as is the case in November’s NaNoWriMo, but rather you set your own word count. While mine’s not set at 50,000 due to April being a busy month, I still set it high enough to challenge and stretch myself as a writer.

So–if anyone wants to join and has questions, head on over to the Camp NaNo website, or simply ask me in the comments section. I would love to help anyone get going on setting up a project. The more the merrier in this camping experience. And it’s one you’ll find yourself looking forward to every year. It’s too late to plan it at this point you say? No worries–and no excuses–there’s another Camp NaNo in July. 🙂

See you at Camp!

 Bonfire-Brainerd

Carpe Diem

 

My Workspace Blog Hop

Or as my friend Rachel Carrera calls it “The Monkey Wrench in the Works.” 🙂 Rachel is also the one who tagged me for this blog hop, the purpose of it being to showcase our workspace, that special place we create and find the joy in writing, and to touch on our process a bit. If you haven’t visited Rachel’s blog you’re missing out on a whole lot. She’s one of the most fun, energetic, real people I know in the blogoverse. Hop on over to visit her. I promise you won’t regret it! 🙂

On with the tour of my “sanctuary” that doubles as my office…

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My humble little desk surrounded by my necessities–laptop (yup, I’m a laptop girl because I take it everywhere) and my things that motivate my creative spark and life in general–paintings of scenes from a lake as well as a tiny canoe made from birch bark, my lamp shade reminding me to “live, laugh, and love,” a cross reminding me of the utmost important aspect of life, and pictures of my kids when they were younger. There’s even a little of my stained glass obsession there. My printed manuscript is to the left of my computer, a current work in progress.

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All my files are right by my side within reach, my planner–which I use loosely, as life is always changing the plans I have written down, but that’s okay with me. Life is for living and going with the flow. Without flexibility we’re bound to miss out on a lot of opportunities.

The notebook with the typewriter on it contains anything and everything about the cozy mystery series I’m working on. It goes everywhere I do because new ideas for the series, new character ideas, plot ideas, etc., seem to pop up at the strangest times.

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And here is my comfy chair I retreat to when studying the craft of writing and when I do my ten-minute writing practice with good old-fashioned pen and paper. I’m reading two different books at the moment, A Writer’s Book of Days which has the best practical advice and awesome writing practice prompts and is the book sitting on my chair, and Revision and Self Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell. His books have quickly become some of my favorites for instruction on the writing process. On the table in the bluish can is my staple–Simply Balanced cucumber mint sparkling water. Can’t live without it.

Moving on to tag some of my writer friends. If you’re not following them already you may want to consider doing so. They’re awesome ladies! 🙂

Michelle @ http://wolffdenpress.com/

Teresa @ https://homeandspirit.wordpress.com/

Marie @ http://writingwingsforyou.com/

Angela @ https://authorangelachristinaarcher.wordpress.com/

So, curious…do you have anything you keep at your desk that gets your creativity flowing? What are you working on at the present moment? Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you ever write with good old-fashioned pen and paper?

Carpe Diem

 

 

 

Wrapping up 2014

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It’s hard to believe that in just two short days we’ll be viewing 2014 and all of its cherished memories and experiences through the rear view mirror. While there are numerous quotes about the dangers of, and time wasted from, looking in the rear view mirror, I’m of the belief that it has its time and place. As long as we don’t keep our focus there for a prolonged period of time, lest we crash into our future rather than enter gracefully, looking back to review our successes and highlights of the year can serve us well. For that matter, remembering the not-so-happy moments aren’t a bad thing either. It reminds us that things can–and do–get better and the most important thing is to learn the lesson and find the golden nugget in the heap of mud. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, “Always know where it is you want to go and have a plan to get there, but never, ever, forget where you came from.”

Here are my top take-aways from 2014–and I still have two more full days to fully live  in 2014… 🙂

  • I crossed off a major item from my Bucket List–one that has been on it for 30+ years…I published a book, The Inheritance.

 

The Inheritance

  • My son got married and bought his first house. So many memories I’ll cherish forever, especially the mother-son dance to the song Watercolor Ponies. For any of you with sons, it’s guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your lips.

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  • Hours upon hours of running, biking, and spending time in the great outdoors, the wind on my back, the sun on my face, my spirit lifted high.

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  • Priceless time spent with family–my husband, my sons, my granddaughter–how blessed am I!
  • Completing two first drafts of a cozy mystery series.
  • The first time hearing my granddaughter say “Grammy!” with so much enthusiasm. Oh, the sweetness!
  • Connecting with so many other writers in this blogging community who I am proud to call my friends.
  • The loss of Maya Angelou that reminds me to always be grateful and to truly live life to the fullest. Her spirit will live on forever.
  • The tragic loss of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, both a heart-breaking, yet critical reminder of the importance of taking whatever steps necessary to cultivate my sober life.
  • Adopting the phrase “Carpe diem” as my mantra, because it sums up so much in so few words.

Seize the day, my friends, and I’ll see you in 2015.

Have a happy and blessed journey into the New Year.

Carpe Diem