Week 3 of NaNoWriMo

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” —Richard Bach

We’re now well into the third week of NaNoWriMo and I’m still hanging on by a thread. Life took some twists and turns the past week and I was barely squeaking in my word count. But what’s most important is I am hanging in there. I’m nothing if not stubborn and determined. Haha!

I even managed to squeeze in some outside fun with a 3-hour writing class with Northern Colorado Writers where I met some other NaNoWriMo participants. We’re in a Facebook group, but meeting them in person was fantastic and motivating! I left the class feeling energized and ready to roll for another week. I also had a table set up at a local holiday craft fair. Over 80 vendors, Christmas lights and music, high spirits, and a coffee bar on the premises. It certainly doesn’t get any better than that! It was a huge success!

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And now it’s off to get in some more words on my work-in-progress. Next week we NaNo-ers will be sliding into the finishing streak. Wishing you all a beautiful week!

Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.                  —Anonymous

 

Book in a Day

Book

Last week was perhaps one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a long time, in large part due to Crime Victims’ Rights week (more on that next week), causing me to fall a bit behind on my Camp NaNo hourly goal. Nothing I can’t make up, though. And Saturday’s all-day event made it worth it.

Book in a Day, put on by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, was an all-day event in beautiful Golden, CO. Although, to tell the truth, I didn’t get to see beautiful Golden because I was in a conference room all day with nary a window.

But, again, it was worth it.

The event began with Stuart Horwitz, founder of Book Architecture, a firm of independent editors, and Anita Mumm, teaching a class based on Stuart’s latest book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts. Given how informational and motivational the class was, I would strongly recommend the book.

Following that was lunch with fellow creatives. And there’s nothing that gets a room more fully charged with inspiration than writers brainstorming, sharing information, and networking–with FOOD! 🙂

Tummies and brains fed, we moved into simultaneous afternoon sessions, one on Indie Publishing and one on the path to Traditional Publishing. While I’m an indie author with seven published books, I attended the latter. I really enjoy being an independent author and it was my choice to do so (in fact, I didn’t even consider traditional publishing for a very long time), but with a new series brewing in my head, I’m considering shopping around for an agent. Considering. I’m still undecided. The class was taught by Angie Hodapp of Nelson Literary Agency. Now, let me say that I’ve attended several of Angie’s classes and have never been disappointed. The woman is a genius and knows how to deliver a message. In fact, when I attend the Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference in May, you can bet I’ll be attending her classes there as well.

The last session? Marketing. I tend to shudder when I say that word. Simply because if there’s one weakness I have in the writing life, it’s marketing.  The session, however, was a treat! Successful, talented, and kind-hearted indie authors (Bernadette Marie, Lisa Manifold, Corinne O’Flynn, Nathan Lowell) and, again, the wonderful Angie Hodapp, shared in an entertaining, informative, attention-keeping manner the ins and outs of what has and has not worked for them. Social Media appears to be the most agreed upon success.

To make it easy to find them, I’ve included the links to their websites. It’s well worth your time to check them out.

 

And now…I’m back off to Camp to begin week three of revising book two, Abby’s Retribution, in my Whispering Pines series. The lanterns are lit, the bonfires are burning, and the campfire conversation is flowing. I think it’s time to break out the s’mores!

 

Ready to Roll

Reenergized & Rejuvenated

We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden.           —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Have you ever declared some time off, regardless of what other people think or do? It’s called being true to yourself and is one of the best things you can do for yourself and everyone else in your life.

In the writing world there are numerous beliefs. One widely held belief is that we “must” write every day. Another is that in order to be successful in the blogging world, one “must” adhere to a schedule.

While I believe both are important, I also believe they’re not the most important things. The MOST important is what is true for you. What fits in your life at this precise moment. I say that because our lives are fluid. Needs, priorities, available time, schedules…they all shift depending on the season you’re in at the moment. Heck, sometimes mine shift depending on the day. By trying to live someone else’s success or beliefs will only lead to struggle and burnout.

I took an extended break the past month and am all the better and healthier for it. I didn’t write hardly anything at all on my WIP (work in progress) but that doesn’t mean I left the writing life. Ideas came and went, percolating into bigger ideas that I jotted down. But I didn’t take the time to flesh them out. I simply let them wander aimlessly to see which direction they wanted to go.

I didn’t blog much, but that doesn’t mean I left it. I love the blogging community. It’s a place of online friendships and support that you can’t find anywhere else. And I’ve found peace with the fact that if I don’t blog every week, that’s okay. For me.

I didn’t read any books on the craft but that doesn’t mean I didn’t read and learn. I simply read other things, some for shear enjoyment without any hidden agenda, but in some I loosely noted style and detail.

What I did do is spend time nurturing family bonds. Growing relationships that are golden to me. I spent priceless time with my grandchildren, my grown children, and my extended family. I loved, cherished, enjoyed, and treasured every moment and will continue to do so. Every. Moment. I practiced living in the moment, keeping my mind completely present, rather than distracted by what I “should” be doing. I lived fully, feeding my soul and my spirit.

Because of that time “off”, busting out of routine, my writing life is again ready to roll. I’ve got plans to get my newsletter back on the road (if you’re interested in getting my newsletter, please email me and I’ll add you to my mailing list), I’ve submitted my project for the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo (revising book two in the Whispering Pines mystery, Abby’s Retribution), I’m signed up and ready to learn at the Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference in May, and a new mystery series is in the gestation phase.

By taking a break I didn’t lose any time, I gained it. And I gained so much more!

Do you ever go against what the majority believes to be true in order to be true to yourself?

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. -Henry David Thoreau

Writing Goals

 

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Nowhere does it say goals need to be set in January. In fact, it’s never too late to set goals. After all, today is the first day of the rest of your life. I spent some time this weekend reviewing my writing accomplishments from the past year and made some goals for 2019.

What I did in 2018:

  • Participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July, meeting my goal in both.
  • Participated in NaNoWriMo in November and won by completing 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days.
  • Entered into an agreement with a narrator through ACX, making my Melanie Hogan Series available as an audio book. Thus far Shear Madness and Shear Deception are available.
  • Attended the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver in September, spending three days fully immersed in all things writing.
  • Completed the first draft of book two, Abby’s Retribution, in the Whispering Pines mysteries.
  • Completed the first draft of book four, Shear Fear, in the Melanie Hogan mysteries.
  • Had a creative non-fiction essay chosen to be published in an anthology, Colorado’s Emerging Writers (2018).
  • Published book three in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Murder, on New Year’s Eve.

My goals for 2019:

  • Participate once again in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July; and, once again, meeting my goal.
  • Participate once again in NaNoWriMo in November; and, once again, win by meeting the 50,000-word goal. (I have to admit this one gives me a bit of anxiety already.)
  • Attend the Northern Colorado Writers Conference in Ft. Collins, CO in May.
  • Complete the project of finishing books three and four in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Malice and Shear Murder, in audio.
  • Work on learning and implementing some marketing techniques. I’ve never been comfortable with marketing and it’s time to step out of my comfort zone and just do it.
  • Teach a four to six-week creative writing class to kids ages 12-17. I’ve got the agenda and the location planned. I just need to schedule it.
  • Submit a short story to the Colorado’s Emerging Writers 2019 anthology.
  • Revise, edit, and publish book two in the Whispering Pines mystery.

Whew! I’ve got some work ahead of me. Work that will require cutting down on TV time. Ready! Set! Go!

Do you have any writing goals for 2019? I’d love to hear what they are.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Jim Rohn

Rhonda Blackhurst

 

 

Writing Communities

Pen

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?

Why Do You Write?

Sandi Ault, author of the bestselling, award-winning WILD Mystery Series, was one of the presenters at the Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference I attended this past March, and one of her sessions was called Writing for Love, Prestige, or Profit.

To say the class was filled beyond capacity is an understatement. We were very cozy with those sitting around us!

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Her class was as packed with useful information as it was with participants. The first thing she had us do is take a few moments to think about WHY we write.  I can’t say that I’ve ever thought about it before, so it was an eye opener.

As the session title basically asks, is our goal to make money, become famous, or simply because we love to write and can’t imagine not writing?

She stated, “If you feel called to do this (writing), its a memo from heaven. Put on your boots and big girl pants and do it.”

She named some of the successful authors and the “why” that drives their writing, among them:

James Patterson – Money

Tom Clancy – Wanted to write about co op missions. (Such a huge loss to the literary world when he died.)

JK Rowling – To bring magic into her life.

As I vigorously scribbled  copious notes, absorbing every word I possibly could, I discovered my “why” is simply because I love to write. While making money at it would be super, and fame could be fun and perhaps validate my efforts, the bottom line is I cannot imagine not writing. And that is what motivates me to keep writing.

Writing makes me happy, it brings me peace, it’s a God-given gift that would be wasted if I didn’t use it.

And in the words of Sandi, once you realize why you write, “honor the why.”

How about you? What is the real honest-to-goodness reason why you write? What is the one thing that gets you to your computer every day?

Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away.”
Tom Clancy

Special Mother’s Day Gift

Two fabulous authors have a Mother’s Day Offer I wanted to share with you. (See below)

Need a special Mother’s Day gift for your Mom, Wife or Grandmother? Mother’s Day is on May 11 and Hot Chocolate Press has a special buy one get one free offer.* Buy And Then I Smiled ($11.95) by Dean K Miller and get Planes, Trains and Chuck & Eddie ($10.95 retail) by Kerrie L. Flanagan for FREE.** Both will be personalized, signed and sent to you (or directly to your gift recipient) before Mother’s Day. Offer ends Tuesday (May 6, 2014). To Order Visit: http://hotchocolatepress.com *Limited quantities available **Shipping & Handling extra

Below is a sampling of the beautiful writing by Dean K. Miller from And Then I Smiled .

 

A Mother’s Patience

A mother’s patience is one of her most under-appreciated traits. It starts at the moment of her son’s conception, as she is the first to know that life has been created inside her. Though her love for the unborn child is strong and the bond of motherhood already formed, she must wait nine months to hold this unique miracle.

She watches as he grows, withstanding sleepless nights of nightmares, his stuffy noses, tantrums and the scrapes and bruises. Someday her son will become aware of the love, the nurturing, and the guiding. And, finally, of the letting go. But she knows it is on his schedule, not hers.

As he spreads his wings and explores the world, the mother continues to wait. Whether it’s late-night phone calls, listening to girlfriend troubles, the lack of money or the feeling of not knowing where to go in life, she is there when called upon. Patiently she watches him, knowing in her heart that the choices are his, and sometimes wishing he would choose differently.

But wisdom, learned perhaps from her own mother, has taught her that the journey is not hers to take. Patiently, she watches from afar, understanding that life will teach her son the lesson he needs at the exact moment he needs it.

When he calls to express his frustration, she doesn’t try to undo the lesson, but instead helps her son capture the learning.

Then, the moment she has waited for arrives. The son has discovered the true source of his inner self and joyfully returns to her doorstep. With patience she listens to the moments of his life that brought him happiness. Subtly, she encourages his story to unfold, laughing silently at his follies and smiling brightly at his courage to face his fears. He tells her things he has told no one and knows his words are protected and safe.

Though it has taken decades, the bond of mother and son has grown to include a friendship which knows no equal.

Now they walk through life together, knowing their love between them transcends all boundaries. It is everlasting and it makes them smile.

Thank you, Mom, for allowing me to grow into myself, for patiently waiting all of these years for it to happen, and for accepting me each day along my journey. You are the magic behind the story of my life.

 

 

“J” is for…

The Journey

Journey

Remember when you were a kid and road trips seemed to last forever?  I used to sound like a broken record as I asked my parents “How much longer ’till we’re therrrre?” Complete with all the drama I could muster.

And as the years passed, I eagerly awaited each milestone.

“I can’t wait ’till I’m in 6th grade so I can get my ears pierced.”

“I can’t wait until I’m 18 and finally an adult. Then no one will tell me what to do.”

“I can’t wait until I’m 21 and can legally drink. I’ll never have to worry again about being busted!”

“I can’t wait to meet Mr. Right.  Life will be so good when I’m in love/when someone loves me.”

“I can’t wait to have a baby and be a mother…until my baby says his first words…takes his first steps…”

My focus on the destination obscured my view of the journey.  It robbed me of the potential delight in each step of each day as I hurried through to more quickly reach my destination.

While I’m a firm believer in goals, I’ve also come to appreciate the steps that get me there.

In a class I took at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference, presenter Sandi Ault had us figure out why we write and to truly honor that why. We were to write down our top goal and work backwards to identify each step that leads up to the one following, leading to the beginning point of where we were at that moment. Missing just one of those steps would alter the path and, ultimately, the outcome, of my goal.

As I’m traveling to a destination, whatever form that travel takes or looks like, I want to enjoy each step of the journey, recognizing the importance that each holds.  It’s the journey that holds the beauty, the opportunities at growth and learning.  And it’s the journey that creates the memories.

Today I am going to create some amazing memories. 🙂

Peace.

 

 

Calm Before the Storm

Since I was at the NCW Writers Conference–which was amazing, by the way–and using every molecule of brain power trying to absorb everything I could, I didn’t post my last usual Gratitude Friday and Weekend Quote posts.  But rest assured, tomorrow begins April and the A-Z Blogging Challenge, for 26 posts in 30 days.  God willing. 🙂

APRIL-CALENDAR [2014]

“See” you tomorrow. 🙂

A Writer’s Heaven

I’ve been waiting for this weekend since about this same time one year ago.  Why, you ask? If you didn’t, I’ll tell you anyway.  🙂  It’s my second NCW writer’s conference, and it’s less than three days away.

The first one gave me so much – ideas, motivation, inspiration, new writing friends, and time to re-evaluate the direction I wanted to take my writing. And, yes, it forced me to get out of my comfort zone which is my study with my computer and books, and to socialize with the other living, breathing beings.  By the time we all left the hotel at the end of the conference, our eyes were bulging, and our brains were jumbled, wires misfiring, from so much information being fed into it. But what beautiful sparks those misfires created!

Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the first one brought me close to none other than Andrew McCarthy. (Think Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, Weekend at Bernie’s, Mannequin…) I have to admit when he talked to me I was dumbfounded and speechless.  And I’m quick to say my husband would tell you that simply does not happen often.

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Here we are, a little bit blurry, as I believe the person taking the picture with my phone was likely as  giddy with “teenage heartthrob-itis” as I was, but here we are nonetheless.

Andrew McCarthy's Book

Uh-Hm…back on topic – Andrew is not only an actor but an amazing award-winning travel writer, and was at the conference as our keynote speaker.  Not only did he entertain, he taught me what writing can do to and for a person.  It can lead us on a journey one never wants to return from.  A journey of self-discovery, hope, pleasure, and even the greatest pain.  And yet, a writer can’t help but write.  It’s what we do.  It’s what makes us complete.  As insane as it can make us, it’s also what keeps us sane.

So “all my bags are packed, I’m ready to go”… Oh, wait–that’s John Denver, and he took a jet plane.   I’ll just hop in my car and head to writer’s heaven. And to listen to Chuck Sambuchino teach me from his infinite writer’s wisdom the scoop on literary agents, humor, and anything else my sponge brain can absorb.

Write on.