Thursday, December 30, 2010

Avoid the Slush at All Costs

In my efforts to procrastinate this week, I came across a book I started reading last year by Jack Bickham. “The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)”. Chapter one is title “Don’t Make Excuses.” Gulp. This hits home with me on so many levels. “Writers write; everyone else makes excuses.” Well, that means if I’m a writer I must write. I’ve been doing pretty good with this ever since NaNoWriMo and have almost finished editing a book I plan to send out to a publisher the middle of January. The following are a few tips I’ve come across from several different sources along the way that I feel have made my work stronger.

1. Lead with a powerful scene, a witty exchange or a dazzling description.

2. Make sure the right person is telling the story.

3. Create the right amount of internal monologue.

4. Don't have too many characters.

5. Make sure the characters you do have don’t walk, talk and act the same.

6. Add texture to your story with echoes, allusions and metaphors.

7. Check to make sure every scene is necessary to move the story forward.

8. Be sure there is a sense of time and place in your story.

9. Make your dialogue lively. Listen to those around you, then use what you hear.

10. Up the ante where you can.

(Raising my glass of sparkling cider)  Here’s to avoiding the slush pile and reaching our publishing dreams!

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Best Gift of All

There are very few promises in today's world that we can count on. Lots of good people, with good ideas and intentions but also with human conflicts and flaws. Let's face it, at some point in our lives everyone lets us down and we in turn do the same no matter how hard we try otherwise.

But there is One we can always count on.  Christmas is a time to rejoice in the Savior's birth and thank GOD for his promises. Sending his son was our promise of his love for us, our proof that this life in this chaotic world is not the end, but only a brief blip in our eternity. What a special gift indeed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Five Days and Counting

Five Days!  I must say, things are getting exciting around here.  Or I should say, the kids instead of things.  LOL  Doesn't matter that they are all over the age of ten and Old Saint Nick is a distant memory.  I can't quite figure out if it's the giving or receiving part that has them all wound up this year.  Could it be that they can't wait to see the look on the other's faces as they open their gifts?  We can hope.  Hope that in all this fantasy stuff we've played up all these years they have managed to hold on to the true meaning of it all.

From my home to yours, we wish everyone a Wonderful Christmas.  May you be filled to the brim with lots of Love, Joy and More Blessings than you can count at this special time and all through the New Year!  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Resistance – Bah Humbug!

For the past several days, my writing has become almost non-existent as I hurry to get all the holiday errands taken care of before the kids are home for Christmas break. But I have found time to read a little here and a little there. What better to read than craft books, right? Mostly as I sit in the car and wait for the kids to get out of school so we can then start the homework, supper and all around chaos again.

“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield is a book I highly recommend reading at least once a year. Every time I pick it up, I find something new. And it’s not just for writers, but anyone wanting to pursue their dream. Whatever those dreams may be, we creative types all have one thing in common?


Anything that keeps us from doing what we love or what we want to do falls under this constant struggle we call resistance. Boy is there a lot of that floating around my house on any given day. But this time of year? Wow, if I had a penny for every time I made an excuse not to sit down and write I’d be a wealthy woman right about now. LOL You name it and I’ll find myself doing it before planting my bootie in my  favorite chair to work on my favorite WIP. Cleaning the bathroom instead of writing? What’s wrong with me?

Blurb from the back of the book:

In this powerful, straight-from-the-hip examination of the internal obstacles to success, best-selling author Steven Pressfield shows readers how to identify, defeat, and unlock the inner barriers to creativity. The War of Art is an inspirational, funny, well-aimed kick in the pants guaranteed to galvanize every would-be artist, visionary or entrepreneur.

Now a well-aimed kick in the pants is just what the doctor ordered for this procrastinator extraordinaire. Maybe I should read this book about every three months or so. Keep it all fresh in my mind.

From here on out, or until I read the book again, I plan to resist the urge to resist or eat bugs. LOL Okay, I sure hope you don’t hold me to that last part.   :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Secret Behind Commitment

What is the one simple factor in individual success?


Think about it. Commitment ignites action. It helps us focus on eliminating those doubts and confront what is and what is not working. Commitment provides motivation for improvement. After thinking on this I have to admit, once I make up my mind to do something, it gets done. And afterward I’m left wondering why the heck it took so long.

Let me try and explain my take on this. There is a huge difference between being interested or enjoying something and being committed to succeed. If you are merely interested, time plays an important role. You’re sort of sitting on the sidelines only proceeding when time permits. But if you are committed, you look at things a bit differently. Time becomes your ally. It’s been there all along strategically hidden between the many tasks and responsibilities of life and mommyhood. But commitment helps us find that precious time no matter what. It makes us concentrate and brings out all our resources to help us fight for the finish line. There are fewer excuses, because well, you’ve made up your mind that nothing is going to get in your way and stop you. Results are the only thing to follow.

“Persistence with a Purpose” Now that makes a lot of sense. I know what I want. I know what I have to do to get it. Now all I have to do is commit and make it happen. Sounds easy enough. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

So no more excuses for not writing or editing. I can do a little every day. I can reach my goals. I might need to tweak them a bit as I go along, but it’s all good.

Sorry email, Facebook, twitter, procrastination, doubt. I just don’t have time for you anymore. I have a lot of writing to do!

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.

Watch your words, for they become actions.

Watch your actions, for they become habits.

Watch your habits, for they become character.

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny”


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Joy of the Season

I’m sitting here wearing a sweater, teeth chattering, fingers not wanting to move because they are ice cold, trying to write a post about my favorite Wintery things. Now why aren’t the ideas just spilling out faster than I can type them? LOL

I do love this season. We don't get much snow around the Houston area and the really cold days are few.  But there is something magical in the air at this time and if you pay attention you can feel it, see it, hear it. It might be difficult at times to overlook the chaotic shoppers or manic drivers, but the magic is still there waiting to be noticed. It might come in the form of a simple smile or polite nod. Maybe the extra effort made by a sales clerk to find that one last pair of shoes in the back. Heck it might even be the thoughtful act of a driver letting you actually pull out in front of them at a red light or the mall parking lot as they wave and smile. Honest. This really happened. :)

Then there is the sound of the Salvation army bells ringing outside the stores and the Angel trees set up around town to remind me that most people have a caring nature and given the opportunity won’t hesitate to help out those in need. I can see the smiles on the faces of those children who wouldn’t have a Christmas at all if it weren’t for the kindness of others. It truly is better to give than receive.

Getting together with family members you haven’t seen in a while is a great feeling too. Seeing how much their kids have grown and catching up on their daily lives is priceless. Oh, and I must not forget how my family loves to drive around and ooow and awwwe as we check out the Christmas lights and decorations. I’m amazed by the amount of effort and planning that goes into some of these. How do they get all those lights up and extension cords run in such a manner it doesn’t blow their circuit breakers. I’m still trying to find the string of lights that is tripping our GFCI plug when it rains. I must say the stomping back and forth out to the garage to reset the button is getting old, but I’ll find the culprit eventually and all will be well again. I must learn to plan better though. It never fails that I end up with two ends the same. No matter what you do they aren’t going to work together so it’s back to stringing them all over again. Do they a make a universal plug so it doesn’t matter which end you end up with? LOL

I guess what I’m trying to say is that my favorite Wintery thing, at least around Christmas time, is the joy and generosity it brings out in people. It’s there, I promise. You just might have to look a little harder sometimes.

Now get out there and spread some of that joy! :)