Showing posts from 2014

December 2014: The Gift of Presence vs. Presents

The marketeers bombard us with their best efforts at this time of the year. You are led to believe your Holiday won't be complete without a 70 inch television, a diamond, or a child's sized motorized car. If you don't deliver you have failed as a parent, partner, or lover.

This holiday season encourages us to teach our family about being present for each other. Start by instructing everyone to turnoff their cell phones, ear pieces, ipads, and computers. Collect their electronics in a beautifuldecorated basket and place them under the tree. Announce to your loved ones, the plan for the next few hours is to be present for each other. We are going to talk to one another. Proceed with your planned festivities minus the electronics. The tolerance of this activity helps you gauge whether your family and friends are ready to further learn about the gift of presence.

A present is a material object subject to loss. A gift of presence is a moment in time when someone feels you are…

December 2014: Cookies, Community, and Celebration

On the first Saturday in December, an eclectic group of women meet to exchange holiday cookies. Now the uniqueness of this event is we don't really socialize as a group during the year. The organizer and hostess of this Annual Cookie Exchange is Helen. She has opened her home and maintained this tradition for more than thirty years.

Our annual invitations originally came by mail. We confirmed attendance by our land-line phones. Technology changed. We then received an email and RSVP back electronically. An Evite now arrives mid-November to remind us of our yearly gathering.  A map is attached to the invite to download on our phone.  The phone's GPS can talk to us to her home.We have expanded our communication horizons, but the baking habits haven't changed.  The essence of cookie creation is traditional and substantial. The ingredients measured and true.

You are probably wonder why do we come every year? Why do we bake twelve dozen cookies and include a recipe? Why do we …

2014:NaNoWriMo Week Two Hits A Wall

Grueling describes the effort of my second week of NaNoWriMo. I missed a day of writing last week. Believe me, it is tough to try to make up 1667 words the next week. No matter how prepared you think you are before you start, pacing is key in achieving your goal of 50,000. I know people who have already written more than 30,000 words by the end of the first week. I don't know their strategy, but either they live alone, are unemployed, don't sleep, or have someone come in to cook for them. I cancelled much of life during the month of November, but 30,000 to 40,000 words in two weeks is beyond my scope. Master WriMos please tell me your secret in my comment section.

Then there is the fear of your plot running a muck. I outlined my idea. Started writing my story and somewhere near the end of the first week the main character (MC) does something that throws my original outline askew. To make matters worse, the MC goes off the rails in the second week. Then out of nowhere a support…

2014:NaNoWriMo Week One Explodes

Torturous, my preparation did not allow for the unforeseen family issues popping up during my first week of NaNoWriMo. I scheduled the local write-ins on my Google+ Calendar. I planned to hunker down with my fellow WriMos and write my heart out.  Didn't happen! I squeezed out my story in the wee hours of the night, in waiting rooms of health services, and anywhere I could sit for a half hour and write the next section.

To add to my frustration, I wanted to finish early so I could get a better discount from Scrivener for completing my 50,000 words. What I didn't realize was my tutorial watching and software learning took days off my trial run. So I am under the gun to finish my 50,000 words sooner than I planned.

This stop and start method of writing makes me feel stilted. My story doesn't feel like it has the rhythm and flow I like to see in my writing. I don't know if my feelings are the result of the external pressures of my environment or if my idea isn't good.

October 2014: Final Prep for NaNoWriMo

When I describe that I write more than 50,000 words in 30 days every November, people look at me and say how? The answer is preparation. Not just thinking about the story you are writing, but adjusting your life for the task ahead. The need to prepare for the month of focused writing is crucial for success.

The two secrets to reaching National Novel Writing Month's (NaNoWriMo) challenge is a space and a designated block of time to write. These two elements are critical in meeting your goal of 50,000+ words during November.

Scheduling time to write is a personal. Some participants get up before  the sun rises to write.  While others "WriMos" make a large pot of coffee or a hot chocolate and write until the birds welcome the sunrise. There are some authors who write on the weekend only.  I have reached my goal by writing an exact number of words per day during a specific block of time, or sometimes two blocks of time. Hey! I'm one of those "outliners," so it …

October 2014: The Business of Writing

Today, hard covered books are not the only publishing option. You need to understand all the aspects of Traditional and Non-Traditional Publishing. Even if you plan to get a literary agent, a business manager, or a public relations specialist, inform yourself about the writing business.
Writers aren't referred to as "faint-hearted." Everyone who scribed a piece of prose or poetry needs to understand their craft. A struggling apprentice needs to stay current about the business of writing.
This weekend I dared to explore the world of independent and self-publishing writers. Watch for my blogs sharing the following information gleamed from two fruitful days:  Traditional publishing vs. Self-publishing Selecting a third party vendo that meets your self-publishing goals Writing a marketing plan Selecting alpha and beta readers and a critique groupFinding  independent book reviewersMaking friends with technology2014

A big thank you to all the organizers of IndieRECONLive! 2014 f…

September 2014: Silence, Inspiration, Solution

My book is in its final edits. Yet, I still struggled with an issue one of beta readers pointed out to me months ago. She had a very valid issue. It haunted me during editing and rewrites like a pebble caught under the sole liner in your shoe.

It was a "maybe it is just me who finds this a bit confusing, but..." comment. Was this confusing for my other readers? Did my method of naming my characters make it difficult for the reader to follow the characters and the story line? Should I let this issue go or continue on with the final edits? Any new revisions may take be back a month, maybe two.

This character problem was solved shortly after a hot shower. I just finished putting on body lotion and flopped across the bed. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I only needed a few seconds rest before going out to dinner.  Bong! Bong! The clock's chimes woke me. In a short five minute nap, the solution to this nagging problem came to me. My editing timeline has been adjusted…

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts

I came across this blog and thought many of my readers might find this interesting. Enjoy!

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts: Most of the large publishing houses require an agent, but smaller houses often accept manuscripts and proposals directly from writers, as do...

2014 - September: Writing Again

Many colleagues have consoled me by saying a "writing slump" is a normal part of a writer's life.  I have observed others endure the agony of rewrites and the tediousness of editing. These tasks wear on the soul of a creative person. This process put my muse out of commission until I returned from my Counsins' Reunion.This newly founded tradition lifted me out on my slump.  I am planning my next project while completing my rewrites on my book.

 What is a Cousins' Reunion? A few years back at a family celebration my sisters and several of our female cousins reminisced about the great fun we had when we got together as kids. This prompted my cousin in Texas to initiate the first Cousins' Reunion in 2011. We flew to visit a small town, in the big state, that cultivates artists of all designs.

Our visit was filled with catching up on the history of the area and our lives. The days were filled soaking in a life style in a state most of us had never visited. The w…

Celebrating the Piano and Healing

Let me introduce you to Alexia Lantgen, musician, writer, teacher, just to name a few of her talents. We met on "Aspiring Writers Blogs" on She blogs about music, great literature, and writing. A while back she invited members of our group to write for her blog. I am honored to say, she accepted my contribution. It is a short blog on how music helped me back from a devastating stroke.
The link below takes you to her site and my contribution:

Stop by and browse through the richness of her topics. It is wonderful to meet and to share experiences with this multi-talented woman.

August 2014: Celebrating a Personal Partnership

This weekend my husband and I celebrate spending half our lives together as a couple. If you consider the marriage vows as a measurement of success, we have touched all the aspects of the challenges those vows predicted. Yet, here we are waking up each morning happy to see each other. Laughing, hugging, and yes, sometimes even disagreeing with one another on the little things. But, we still like one another more than we did when we first met in graduate school.

How does a couple accomplish longevity? There is no advice to give to anyone. Each couple must tackle their own unique issues and problems. There is one mantra that we both feel has helped:

Staying married is the hardest thing you do in your lifetime!
A couple's life would be simple if all they would have to do is tend to the dynamics between themselves.  Extended family members, children, friends, the demands of work, sickness, the maintenance of health, financial issues are just a few of the "mine fields" waitin…

July 2014: Writing Slump: Social Interuptions or Opportunities?

My all important writing schedule dissipated into scratches and mad attempts at midnight. I vigilantly maintained a four-hour a day prose vigil, since January. Boom! It is July, an overbooked social calendar exploded my best intentions.

The seventh month of the year proves to be too much for me.The national celebration of the
country's independence is marked in our household with gusto. My husband and I grew up among relatives who came from foreign soil to become Americans.  Celebrating America and acting as an American is a natural imperative. So, Fourth of July is a big deal.

Of course, living in Utah, our neighbors remember the courageous Mormon pioneers who trekked across the United States in search of religious freedom. Fearless people who sought a place to practice their new founded religion. Today, they celebrate because of the categorical imperative of their ancestors. Multiple week long festivities and gatherings commemorate their ancestors' bravery.

The partying cont…

2014: Linkedin Networking Helps

Every writers' workshop or conference reinforces the concept of networking.  One of myearlier blogsaddressed my decision to expand my social media connections.

I communicated with Neal James, author, and editor, in the "Aspiring Writers" group on Neal asked members of this group to consider writing stories for his website. I responded by inquiring about requirements and deadlines.

Neal was professional and supportive. He had suggestions for the Flash Fiction piece. It was wonderful to have an established novelist interested in my work.

 At the end of June, this link:  appeared in my email box. My heart leaped! Joy! Joy! Neal James is featuring me as his July 2014 "Guest Writer."

I am thrilled and delighted. Being published onThe Neal James Website has expanded my audience. This generous and supportive act gives new writers an opportunity to expand beyond borders.

Thank you Neal for your gracious invitation. This blo…

2014: Epublishing Adventure Continues-Editing Software

Critiques Lead To Discovery
When my beta readers returned my manuscript, their truthful notes were humbling. I felt I gave them a presentable copy. Yes, the spelling and grammar was in order.  They liked the story line, but they yearned for more colorful characters, deeper emotions, and a better story pacing. Lucky for me, their truths about my story sent me on a quest for an editor.
Editorial assistance is costly. It is difficult to acquire a person with quality skills fitting within your budget. My quest for a technician ended when www.AutoCrit.comEditing Wizard appeared on my computer. Documents receive quick and clear editorial feedback using this software. 
Take the Test Drive I took advantage of AutoCrit's Editing Wizard generous trial of three, free 500-word submissions. I extracted the maximum amount of words allowed for a test from my novel. In less than thirty seconds, the following categories summarized areas needing editorial attention: Overused Words - saps energy from sen…

2014: Father's Day - "If Only I Could..."

The topic of Father's Day dominated the last few weeks.  Newspapers remind us with ads of things 'Dad needs.' Television, radio, and the Internet prompt us of items every father wants for his workshop, garage, or cabin. This mild rant about Father's Day, like every holiday remembering a loved one, focuses on things.

My husband and I no longer can pick up the phone and talk to our fathers. We lost the moments of hearty laughs, intense conversations, strolls through the gardens, and the comfort of their presence.

Both our fathers born at the beginning of the twentieth century lived complicated lives.  They served in World War II. They came home. Built a life with a woman they loved.  Raised a family and wanted their children to have a better life than they did.

My dad would be 97 years old this Father's Day.  My husband's father would be 104 years old. Today we yearn for the day of talking to them face-to-face.

This holiday invokes strong memories. The celebratio…

2014: Expanding My Social Media Platform

I finally took my daughter's advice. I created my first board on Pinterest ( This social media platform serves a personalized file for media content and the content of others.
Users save individual pins to one of their own boards using the "Pin It" button. Pinboards are organized by a central topic or theme. Users personalize their experience with Pinterest by pinning items, creating boards, and interacting with other members. The users "pin feed" displays unique, personalized results. (Wikipedia )

Many writers may feel this activity is a waste of time. The exercise of creating a board and selecting my areas of interests became a springboard (I love that word) to multiple uses and ideas on how to maximized my Pinterest experience.

First, I had to stop and think what did I want to use this tool for me personally. My daughter's words rang true in my mind, "Mom, it help you organize your research.…