The Book Bible

Welcome to talented author Ana Pergakis. I asked her to do a series of posts on The Book Bible. No one has ever successfully explained to me how to set one up, and how to use it when writing a stand alone book or series. Because I looked hard and wide for someone who actually used one, when I learned about Ana's plan, I was thrilled she agreed to share it with all of us. Please join us for
the next three days as she shows us how to do it.

THE FIRST POST Thank you so much Sharon for letting me be here! I’m truly honored. I want to start this post with a little disclaimer if you will. When it comes to Book Bibles, there is no right or wrong way to organize them. I will tell you how I set up mine and you can change it to what works for you. Now let’s get into the thick of things shall we? For the purpose of this post, I’ll use my Book Bible that I made for my fantasy adventure series, The Kinir Elite Chronicles.

What you need: A three ring binder (one for each book or series) Tab dividers (make sure you have plenty!) Printer (including paper and ink of course) A three hole punch (or a single one will work too) Your imagination Labels (big and small) (optional) Setting it up: Now for a series, I keep all the information for the entire series in one notebook. Since characters and settings often repeat themselves, I find it’s easier to keep up with all the details this way. However, the set it up is the same for a single book as well, just less tabs. For the rest of this explanation, I’ll talk about setting it up for a series, just change what you need to for a single book. First thing I do is take a big label (ya know the ones about the same size as those name tags you stick on your shirt) and write the title of the series on it then stick it on the front of the binder. Then I use the smaller labels – narrow ones, and write the name again with the letters on top of each other for the spine. (This way you can still see the title when it’s on the shelf.) Now you don’t have to use labels. You can use paper and simply tape or glue them on. Whatever works for you. With the tab dividers label them as so: Characters, Setting, and Notes. You can add more if you like of course. For example, I have a tab for Languages because my characters have their own language that I need to remember through out the entire series. If your book centers around politics or religion in some way, you can have a tab for that also. I’ll talk about each of these tabs in more detail later on. Now, the rest of the tabs are for the Plot. Since I don’t always know the titles of the books in my series, I just label the tabs “Book 1 Plot,” “Book 2 Plot,” etc. Now that your binder is ready to be filled with fabulous information, it’s time to get your imagination in gear! I’m going skip the Character and Setting tabs for today, as both are very detailed and make for long posts. Notes (and other tabs) For a brief explanation, of my Languages tab that I use for my books. Since my characters are usually elves, dragons, faeries, etc, I always give them their own languages. Now, there are those that make up an entire language like J.R.R. Tolkien did with his elves in “Lord of the Rings.” I would keep such a thing in this section too. But, I don’t go that far. Usually I just have a few words for the languages – Mother, Father, Yes, No, Greetings, Currency, etc. I set up a spreadsheet in Excel for this. I have it divided like this: Word/Phrase | Pronunciation | Direct Translation | Meaning. The first two columns are pretty self explanatory. The made up word and how you pronounce it. The last two I’ll explain with an example. In my series the Kinir Elite Chronicles, the team has a saying (my elves here speak Latin by the way) Vivo Liber. Morior Bonum. The direct translation of the phrase is “Live Slow. Die Fast.” (At least as I want it to mean, I’m sure my Latin isn’t perfect!). But under the Meaning column, I explain further that really the meaning behind the words is to wish someone a long, joyous life and to not suffer in death. Of course, not all words or phrases will need the extra explanation. My Notes tab I use to keep random bits of information. One of the characters in my Kinir Elite series is a very religious person and is often praying to one God or Goddess. So I have the few deities that I made up so I remember them later. I also include any symbols I made to represent them. Basically, the Notes tabs hold any information that you have to remember, but doesn’t need a full section in the notebook on its own. Like a few deities or government ranks, etc. My rule of thumb is if I have more than a page of notes, then it warrants having its own section in the notebook. The Plot Tabs This section I hold copies of my query letter, synopsis, blurb, etc. I also make my own cover art to use on my website and blog, so I also print a copy of that here. I would keep a printed copy of the official cover art in this section also. When the book is completely finished – as in about to be released and I literally have all the edits done, I print a copy of the manuscript and put it in this section also. This is so that when I go to write the next book, I can refer to the notebook, instead of juggling two open word docs on my computer. Now, to keep these posts from being too long, I’ll stop here. Please tune in tomorrow! I’ll explain the Character tab in detail tomorrow. If you have any questions about something I didn’t explain well enough, please leave a comment here. I’ll be sure to visit all day to answer your questions.


From Where I Sit

There's lots of future in my future. And I'm so grateful I get to write, that I live on a beautiful piece of property, and get to garden, tend my chickens, be close to family and the community of writers.

Today, I'm filled with gratitude for all I have. Nothing is certain. Things change. We live in challenging times filled with pitfalls and dark caverns. Some people are dangerous. What I have to remember is to forgive them. The quote I love is “Forgive them. Change me.”
On the Naked Hero blog yesterday http://thenakedhero.com/blogging-therapy-or-vice-versa, Misa was talking about being true to herself. I liked what she said. And it got me thinking. The only thing I can change is my thoughts. My thoughts change my attitude. Change my attitude, it will change my behavior. Change my behavior and it changes the results. But it starts with my thoughts.
So today, I see years and years of prosperity, and a future “so bright I need shades,” to quote Steely Dan. And opportunity. And time to do it all.
This is Day 36 without flour or sugar. Yes, I've missed not tasting some items. But I'd rather feel like I do today. Grateful. Grateful for everyone around me.
I want to thank my writer friend Julia Barrett, who I feel will be a friend for the rest of my life, and my sounding/grounding board, for Tina Folsom and Bella Andrade, for believing in me, for helping me stumble through all the ups and downs of self publishing. For Virna DePaul for first inviting me to a RWA Chapter meeting and making me feel welcomed, and offering to review one of my early WIPs (ugh!). For Lee Lopez and Jill James, for Karin Tabke (Black Diamonds all), Brenda Novak. Sophie Littlefield at all the crew at SF RWA who again made me feel like a sister. Veronica Wolff for critiquing, and being the first person to say, “This is hot. You can take that to the bank!” For Catherine Bramcamp who watched as I began my writing process, and, when I asked her, “Is it normal to write 92,000 words in 30 days?” she nicely answered, “If you can do that, you can do anything.” Darynda Jones who was gracious to share her great story with me. My Tuesday “Jack London” crit group, all the teachers and coaches I've had: Marlene, Ana, Margie Lawson, Deb Dixon, Donald Maas. I'm grateful for my new friends at WG2E (Misa, DD, Tonya) and Ravencraft Romance Realm, Hannah and Marina, Esther and Janet and all the crazy ladies at SV RWA, my old friends at Wicked Writers, and for my agent, Jill Marsal.
When I say I am a writer, it is only because these and many more others have helped me in the past. I write this because, without them, I might have given up on the dream of becoming a best-selling author. And because of them and their stories, I won't quit until I get there.
Angel is out now in all eformats. I'm proud of that book. And I'm revising Book 2 in the series, Josh's story, the dark angel who switches sides. It was hard not to fall in love with Josh while writing his character, so I knew his book would come next. All the major characters have their own stories. I'm intrigued with the angelic realm and the space between Heaven and Earth, where all the drama is. Heaven isn't 100% perfect by design, the Underworld isn't 100% evil by accident.
Tomorrow, and for the next three days, we're going to hear some great ideas on creating a Story Bible, from talented author Ana Pergakis. You won't want to miss it.

So, who do you thank? Has there been a special mentor or friend in the business who helped you? Is there someone you are grateful for? What do you do to keep gratitude a part of your daily life? One lucky commenter will get a free download of Angel and my thanks for showing up.

Angel is Out Today!

So happy Angel is out today. Available on all eformats. I know it's up on Amazon. We're waiting for B&N and Smashwords.

Claire, an unconventional Guardian angel sent to save a sexy Brazilian-born painter from killing himself, discovers Daniel has been preyed upon by a powerful dark angel posing as his best friend and agent. Although successful in saving Daniel’s life, Claire is in danger of losing her own when attraction to her handsome charge blooms into a forbidden love. The dark angel offers her what she’s only dared to dream about—an eternity with Daniel. Will she sacrifice her soul, or sacrifice a lifetime with a man she knows she was created to love?Here's an excerpt: Daniel hesitated a second, then lumbered to the stairway, mumbling something not in English. Claire willed herself up to the top landing, near the entrance to what she assumed was Daniel’s master bedroom suite. As he passed through her, she smelled the wine, the sweat, and trace elements of his aftershave. Telling herself she was concerned he wouldn’t try to injure himself further, she followed him into the bathroom, leaned herself against the door for support, and watched as he slipped the tight black slacks with paint smudges down over his briefs. In one smooth move, he bent over and slipped off the gray briefs, exposing the tanned and muscled cheeks of his ass. She blushed at this intimate view of him from behind. The smooth, tanned flesh made her quiver. He was healthier than the charges she usually got. Lean and well toned, this one didn’t resemble the usual cadre of suicidals who had done years of damage to themselves, usually through drug and alcohol use. Simply put, Daniel was perfect in every way, from his broad smooth shoulders to the smallness of his rear and tightness of his thighs that were dusted with just a little dark hair. She watched the muscles move under his skin as he pulled aside the shower curtain and stepped in. When the water began to run she waited, giving him privacy. Truth was, she usually liked to shower with her charges, but it was not the recommended way. She would give him a little more distance tonight; let him show her his dreams and the true source of his torment. Her instincts told her to be cautious. Something in her internal radar was bleeping off the charts. She inched her way closer so she could smell the shower gel he used. She leaned against the wall, letting the lemony steam cover her invisible but sensitive angel flesh. She closed her eyes and listened to him reprimanding himself in Portuguese. It wasn’t important to have a word-for-word translation; she understood perfectly what he was saying. The way the sounds rolled off his tongue and the deep resonance of his voice was soothing. She knew in that instant that she could save him. He didn’t want to die. He wanted to live. He was fighting with himself, and right now that was a good thing. She was still daydreaming when the water stopped and he reached for the towel located on the wall Claire was leaning against. His hands went through her shoulders to grip the blue terrycloth hanging there. She didn’t move as he pulled the fluffy cotton to him, buryied his face in it, and then reached behind him to towel-dry his hair with one muscled arm as he arched backwards and gave her a first class view of his chiseled abs, and more. The place where he had touched her was warm. The full length of this slick, wet Adonis who smelled of fresh lemons was no more than four or five inches from the edges of her gown, but her body underneath began to glow and she was suddenly shy, and blushed. This had never happened to her before. When his hands again went through her body to replace the towel, and he exhaled a release, filling her nostrils with his mortal breath, she knew she had to get out of the room. Willing herself into his bedroom, she rubbed her upper arms until the sensation of his palms was gone, and took a deep breath. Daniel dressed while she stepped out onto the upper landing and occupied herself watching Joshua tinker around in the kitchen below. In a crisp white shirt that smelled freshly laundered, and a pair of blue jeans with sandals, Daniel brushed by her angel gown, not knowing he barely grazed her back. She followed the trail of his scent as he danced down the stairs, fingers of his long dark hair trailing behind him. Close one. Other Guardians had told her if some kind of attraction occurred between the angel and the charge, her invisibility could be compromised. And if she appeared to him in the flesh at any time, it might mean a quick trip home to Heaven. She would have to be extra careful to make sure that didn’t happen.

Behind The Grog

A big thanks to Sharon for hosing us all here this week, for being a fan of The Naked Hero and WG2E, and for offering up our insight to you all. What a fun, fun idea! Making a grog work means that everyone knows the expectations, everyone is on board with those expectations, and everyone has jobs they understand and can commit to. I’m definitely the Behind-the-Scenes girl of our blogs, running the dashboard, organizing our content, structuring the blog pages, etc. Was I always a techy girl? Nope! I learned out of necessity. We launched our blog way back when and I wanted it to look a certain way. I wanted to have links in the sidebar widgets. I wanted content organized just so. But none of the original founders had the money to spend on any more than the custom WordPress design we’d agreed on (customizing a WordPress design is very easy and one of the most affordable ways to get a blog/grog rolling). Now, I should interject here and say that my parents call me a pioneer woman. That is, I am rarely idle, and I do what needs to be done, particularly when there’ s no one else to do it. So, a little HTML didn’t scare me. I dove in, began reading about SEO and code and WordPress, and I experimented. I learned. And while I’m no pro and would never quit my day jobs, I do enjoy having the ability to manipulate the look of our websites, add the content that the other gals want added, and I’ve grown with the industry and the world by learning to be techy. I love participating on both The Naked Hero and WG2E (I also write for the grog, Killer Characters). They all give me something different–outlets for creativity, thoughts, and a means to hone my craft and dig deeper into the industry. Working with others means the pressure to produce a daily blog isn’t there. I write on my day and trust that the others will meet their commitments and write on their days. This is super important for me because I: • Am the Marketing Director for Entangled Publishing ( http://entangledpublishing ) • Am a mother of 5 • Am a wife • Like to read • Want a life • Am a writer ( http://misaramirez.com ) Blogging is fun. It’s important for different facets of my career. It’s an outlet. But it’s also work, so doing it with other people who I enjoy spending [virtual] time with makes it all the better. We’re our own little family– lots of love, some squabbles (like DD said, we don’t always agree on everything!), and the knowledge that we always have each other’s backs. About Misa/Melissa Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL (Pleating for Mercy: http://www.amazon.com/Pleating-Mercy-Magical-Dressmaking-Dressmakers/dp/0451234367 ), and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox and two romantic suspense novels to be released in 2012.


BLOGGING: How We Work/How We Get Along

WAVING from Kentucky! Yes!~ we do have internet service here! Most people know me as Tonya Kappes, mother of four, but readers know me as The high-class hillbilly that writes romantic comedy and cozy mysteries. My short stories, Masked Souls, and Another Quirky Christmas are published through a small press. Recently I Indie published my debut novel, Carpe Bead ‘em and excited to say it hit Amazon’s bestsellers list in the United States and the United Kingdom! Needless to say, I’m over the moon.

Enough about me…. When Sharon asked our grog to take a week and blog, we were delighted. I decided to tackle how we work, cooperate and just plain get along. Now I’m not gonna lie, sometimes we want to spit in each other’s eye, but we don’t. We chew harder on that piece of straw and bit our tongue because none of us have the same opinions. You see, we all have different writing career paths and no matter which path we are on, it’s not the wrong path. That’s what makes The Writer’s Guide To E Publishing work. We bring all different sort of opinions and ideas.

When D.D. and I came up with the idea, we wanted a place where writers had all the new electronic publishing tips in one place. D.D. is Indie published, Lee is polishing her manuscript, Misa is big six published and indie published, I am small published and Indie published, so we bring a lot of industry knowledge to the site. First we got a yahoo loop. We each took a day, and since D.D. had so much information already, she took on a lot of the other three days. But Lee is doing a lot more of that now. Anything that needs to be discussed, goes through the yahoo loop. We all agreed, that we would be honest in our journey. Honest about what we like about publishing and what we don’t like about publishing. Lee gives the facts, I try to make it fun, and Misa and D.D. just tell it like it is. And sometimes we don’t agree. But that’s okay! It’s what makes the grog work. WG2E was designed to give the writer every option they have to make the most of their careers. We wanted to pay it forward and give back to writers. WE believe in KARMA, good ju-ju, and this was our way of doing it. For example, my experience may be different than Lee’s, but at least the writer gets to look at all our experience and not go into something with a blind eye like we did. We aren’t saying it’s a bad blind eye, but we are honest and let you know what to expect on all fronts. So come on by WG2E, no matter what stage of the publishing game you are in. I promise you will learn something new!!
Tonya Kappes is the author of Carpe Bead ‘Em , that hit Amazon’s Hobby Fiction Best Seller’s list only six days after the debut. The Ladybug Jinx, a romantic comedy novel will be available in August 2011. Tonya is the author of two short stories which can be found in the Something Spooky This Way Comes and Believe Anthologies. Her, co-authored, non-fiction book The Tricked-Out Toolbox, helps writers explore the best promotional and marketing strategies for their career, will debut January 2012. Besides being the co-founder of the beyond quirky writer’s grog The Naked Hero (www.thenakedhero.com), she also is co-founder of The Writer’s Guide to E Publishing (www.thewritersguidetoepublishing.com). When she’s not writing about quirky characters and even quirkier situations, she’s busy being the princess, queen and jester of her domain which includes her BFF husband, her four teenage boys and two dogs. Why write a book with beading elements? Once upon a time, Tonya was the proud co-owner of a very successful beading company, Beadnicks LLC.


Grogging Your Way to Readers and Sanity

Hello, Sharon Hamilton-Land!!! I’m Bestselling Romantic Comedy and Cozy Mystery Author D. D. Scott, plus the #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of MUSE THERAPY: UNLEASHING YOUR INNER SYBIL, and without a doubt, me and my muses too are huge fans of all-things-grogging! What’s Grogging? Grogging = Group Blogging Doesn’t the name itself just sound sooo cool rolling off your tongue?! Anyhoo… Why Grogging? Well…because of two reasons: 1. We’re Writers…and thus our ultimate goal is to “find” readers 2. We’re Writers…and thus hanging onto our sanity can be a bit of a rough ride, right? To that end, first, let’s get the writer’s sanity issues out in the open…

Yesterday, on one of my grogs The WG2E http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com to celebrate the release of my 5th Indie Epubbed book –THUG GUARD – I kicked-off my D. D. Scott “Put Your Big Girl Panties On & Deal With It” Blog Tour. Because yeah, to make it to your own Publishing Oz in our writing-for-publication, full of wicked witches publishing world, many days it simply boils down to putting on your big girl or boy panties and just dealing with all the crap piling up on your road to success. Today, I’m sharing one of my “sassy observations about life…”…the writer’s life that is…on this fantabulous blog: A Little Bit of Monika http://monikamichalak.blogspot.com So hop on over there now and catch my My Evil Editor Turd Anecdote straight outta my MUSE THERAPY book.
http://www.amazon.com/Muse-Therapy-Unleashing-Inner-ebook/dp/B004774LN4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306947576&sr=8-1 It doesn’t get much sassier than this…and, keep in mind… This is… no joke… what actually happened to me at RWA (Romance Writers of America) Nationals in 2009. Once you’ve read my anecdote, you’ll know why it’s sooo damn important to find any means you can to maintain your sanity along our writing-for-publication journeys. One way I’ve found to do both that as well as continue to find new readers and fans for my books is to Grog with other authors who sooo “get” our sanity issues and challenges as writers and who also sooo hope to build their reader and fan bases too. I became a Goddess at The Naked Hero in October 2010, then fellow Goddess Tonya Kappes and I brainstormed and created our next grog The WG2E – The Writer’s Guide to Epublishing – in December 2010, with the tech-savvy-super-smarts of Author Misa Ramirez and the indie epub newbie angle that soon-to-be-pubbed L.A. Lopez could also share! Tonya had taken one of my Muse Therapy Online Classes, and she and her muse Lucky Lucy (formerly known as Lazy Lucy) immediately bonded with me and my muses The Carrie Squad (named after my beloved Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and The City fame). Tonya asked me to become a Naked Hero Goddess, and I was thrilled to join her, Misa, Lee/L.A., and Heather Webber on Mount Olympus as the Hump Day Goddess. I luuuvvv that with The Naked Hero, we’re really focused on Readers and Fans. We luuuvvv getting to know reader peeps and sharing all-things-books-movies-TV-pop culture-and-life in general. Now, with our WG2E grog, we’ve created a destination site for all-things-Epublishing. We’re writers helping writers by Paying It Forward with real numbers and real experiences. On this grog, our goal is to share everything in our writing-for-publication worlds to hopefully make it a wee bit more pleasant for other writers traveling the Epublishing Road to Oz. So yeah…we’re grogging for both readers and writers! And many of our grog fans participate on both sites…which of course we luuuuvvv!!! With Tonya, Misa, Lee/L.A., Heather and I, we bring a wide range of experiences and career levels to our grog readerships…and I think that’s what makes us sooo successful. We’re all coming at our writing-for-publication careers from different points and preferences. And ohhh yeahhh, we sooo do NOT agree on all elements of our journey…but again, it’s that kind of innate differences, experiences, viewpoints, and opinions that really rock our readers and give ‘em that extra zest and spice to make our grogs must-visit-daily sites! In today’s publishing world, perhaps even more so than that messed-up world of yesteryear, it’s even more important to be visible on every possible social networking venue – every day – and grogging gives you that kind of visibility EVERY DAY!!!

Thanks bunches for hosting me today, Sharon! Please…feel free to comment and ask me any questions you’d like. I’ll be checking-in through-out the day! In addition, you can always catch me at all my cyber homes: http://www.DDScott.com http://ddscottauthor.blogspot.com http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com http://thenakedhero.com http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=100001238957002 http://twitter.com/#!/ddscottromcom http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/949843.D_D_Scott I look forward to welcoming y’all to my Bootscootin’ and Cozy Cash Mystery Worlds!!!


BLOGGING: How To Get Started

Welcome Lee Lopez, fellow chapter mate of mine at RWA-Black Diamonds in the East Bay, California. Lee not only has been a great friend, but she was one of those people who had to look at one of my early (oh! this is sooooo painful) first drafts. You know that one that we all have? When the critique partner starts the crit with, “Um.” But she couldn't have been more helpful, and her kind and gentle approach to all things has inspired me in so many ways. A very public and well-deserved thank you, Lee.I've been impressed and watched the success of their blogs: Naked Hero and Writer's Guide to ePublishing. Links are below. This week, we're going to be touching base with all the writers who contribute. Welcome to you all.

First I’d like to thank Sharon for inviting, myself and my blogging partners from the Writers Guide to E-Publishing, to be a guest on her site. Sharon had asked me how do you create a successful blog, with four other individuals, with four different styles of writing, and four different backgrounds. There is only one answer, not very easily. This is where you start: 1. Know your partners. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and understands this is a commitment. No slackers! 2. All the parties involved, must come to an agreement on the format of the blog. Is it about writing, heroes, dogs, kids, etc. 3. Discuss responsibilities of maintaining the site. Who is the techie, who is PR. 4. Choose your days for blogging and stick with it. One of the biggest reasons blogs go under is one person isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. It can ruin friendships, when the group as a whole has to carry dead weight. 5. Talk to your partners. Keep open communication. If you can’t blog on an assigned day, let them know. Bring in a guest, or switch with someone. Remember it’s a commitment. 6. Be consistent. Readers return because of reliability. They become fans and expect a certain degree of quality. If you don’t post for a few weeks, you’ll lose readers. 7. Be careful what is written. Do research, and quote experts, don’t ever bad mouth anyone. 8. Remember what you write will remain in cyberspace F-O-R-E-V-E-R. 9. Know copyright law. Don’t enroll in law school, but research copyrights, especially on pictures copied to your site. No what you can copy directly and can’t. Getting a nasty gram from someone claiming you’ve copied them, is embarrassing. 10. You must answer every comment on the blog. It makes the commenter feel like they are saying is important, and it gives them a connection. They feel like they know you. 11. Have fun. Enjoy what you’re doing. Have contest, give away, make it fun. I know it sounds like a lot, but it is what makes a successful blog. Is it work? It can be, but once the rhythm of writing for the blog takes hold, its fun. My mind is always swirling around things to write about. And I find ideas in the oddest places. When blogging first started, I heard many writers say, they weren’t going to bother, it was only another fad. Well, that was five years ago, and here were are with, probably millions of blogs in the bloggessphere. There is even a bloggers convention, with awards. It is a personal choice to make this commitment. It is easier to go with partners, it keeps the blog up dated daily, and it brings fresh new ideas. Some prefer going it alone, and do a great job. Right now I’m apart of three blogs: The Naked Hero,www.thenakedhero.com The writers guide to e-publishing, www.thewritersguidetoepublishing.com Voices from the Heart, www.voicesftheart.blogspot.com (I blog once a month there.)



The witty crew from WG2E are going to be here next week to show us the ins and outs of successfully doing a blog and holding it together.

Come back all week and check out what we have in store for you. And thanks to the gals at Naked Hero and WG2E for the gift of their time, and experience. I think you'll be as impressed as I have been with what they've done, and how they do it.
We start the week out with author Lee Lopez, on Monday, HOW TO START A SUCCESSFUL BLOG.

Natural Ability and Achievement

I quote from a very wise man, Gary Keller. He is the master at making models for business, a man who has tried and failed several times. And when I say failed, I mean failed miserably. Like rock bottom, lose your house, everything.

He told me once about getting in his car and crossing town to hire the best HR person he could find, and promised them a salary he wasn't sure how he was going to pay. But he knew if he did it, the money would come. And it did. Big time.
Before I start, you all should know by now I love Cindy Pavlinac's work. She has a studio in Marin County, and she has taken photographs of sacred places all over the world. This is her photo, not mine. http://www.CAPavlinac.com
Back to Gary Keller's quote: “Reinventing the wheel every time is just plain exhausting work. And it leads to breakdowns and burnouts. On the other hand, I think you'll discover that modeling will be very empowering. In fact, it may make things appear so simple it feels like cheating. Powerful models usually feel that way.”
Then he goes on to say: “In my experience, people tend to predict success based largely on a person's natural abilities. This can truly be problematic no matter where you see yourself in this spectrum. Lots of natural ability can lead to overconfidence. Likewise, lack of natural ability contributes to low confidence, so much so that many never even attempt tasks that appear to be outside the realm of their natural abilities. The truth about ability is that it is neither set nor predetermined. However, it can be developed or it can be wasted.”

He finishes up this piece with this: “Now here is the simple truth we must all deal with: Natural ability can take us only so far. No matter how gifted we may be, each of us will eventually hit our own ceiling of achievement. There is no “if” to that assertion, just a “when.” So the most important achievement question you may ever have to ask yourself becomes: When I hit that ceiling of achievement–whether it is low or high–how will I break through?”
To relate this to writing, we model after other successful writers who have come before us. Some we model our careers after and some we learn from the mistakes they have made. How many people do you know who have told you they had a story idea and a book they wanted to write some day? Yet, very few of them ever do it, and of those few, only a handful are successful. Part of the problem is ego. People get tied up in their work and can't see the reality of what they've written. They judge, justify and make enemies.
But smart writers don't crave a following of writers, although that can be a good way to get started. Smart writers model themselves after someone who has gone successfully before them, and keep their egos in check to see the reality of their writing.
Writing then isn't a gimmick. No one wants to be a flash in the pan. Good writers are willing to break through the ceiling of their own achievement, and learn from the writing community as a whole. Yes, this community is made up of many varied fellow travelers. Some with limps, warts, fairy dust and fangs. But those people will help you, if you have the guts to open your eyes and ears.
My favorite line is, “I know what I think I know. But I can set it aside for what I have yet to learn.” Someone much wiser than I coined it. Though it's sometimes painful to find the flaws in ourselves and our work, it is the price we have to pay to get all the gold and the glory.
Who do you model yourself after? Can you measure yourself and seek the reality of your abilities as a writer, or do you write to “feel good?” What do you do when you hit that ceiling of achievement?

Welcome New Guest Bloggers

The ladies at Writers' Guide to ePublishing are going to be here next week to give us some tips on their success. I'm so thrilled they have agreed to share their extensive knowledge with all of us. As most of you know, this blog is fairly new (only started it this year) and we are off to a great start. I'm hoping that with dynamic guest posters you will stick around all year long for the great information I hope to share.

Like Tina's Folsom's blog last Thursday, I hope to inspire great things for all of us, as well as point out some of the pitfalls and lessons I've learned about life and writing.
I have to figure out how to do a post on the side for future topics. Right now, just want you to stay tuned, especially next week, as we explore the ins and outs of epublishing.

Thanks for the Gift of Your Today

I found this inspiring inscription at the Superior Court building in San Francisco. I was taking a tour, with a number of my writing friends. Employees there had created a wall to honor and thank the Vets who served in WWII.

It may be too small to read, but the inscription was credited as being carved by an unknown Marine on a rock outside a temporary graveyard on Iwo Jima.
I remember hearing a speech Colin Powell gave several years ago, when he said (and I paraphrase): “These brave men and women sacrifice much, sometimes all they have. All they ask is for a little patch of ground on which to be laid to rest.”
Kristin Lamb had an inspiring blog yesterday, giving thanks for all the freedoms in her life she is able to enjoy, due to the sacrifice of a few. I think she says it better than I ever could, so I won't try. Memorial Day–To Those Who Give the Ultimate Sacrifice.
We do have a lot to be thankful for. Just being able to post something here and not worry about the boots coming to my door to take me away is huge, especially for a writer. There were times that wasn't always so. Some things are better, and much is still to be done.
Memorial Day is something special in our home because we have relatives in the military. I go to the services at Franklin Park Cemetary where the sounds of flags flying is louder than the din of traffic. There's a board with the picture of those who have fallen during the last 12 months, and a place of honor set aside for the family of that loved one in the front rows–a place I hope never to occupy. I look into the eyes of a grieving family: parents, children, husbands and wives, grandparents, friends. Maybe my being there somehow helps.
And then I vow never to let another day go by that I don't thank them for the freedom and blessings in my own life, paid for by their precious gift.
And go out and live my life to the fullest, which is the only way I can truly honor them. I'm not going to waste their gift.
What about you? Do you have a special someone you thank on Memorial Day?

Welcome Author Tina Folsom

I am pleased to welcome an incredible writer, and one of my best writing friends, Tina Folsom. You may have read recently in Forbes and the Washington Post how such talented writers as Bella Andrade and Carolyn Jewel have had huge financial success by releasing their backlists to the self-publishing craze. These are agented, writers with years of publishing background.What makes Tina's story so compelling is that she has done it without an agent. And she has done this without a backlist of titles released previously. She is definitely one to watch, and a writer who not only shows talent, but commitment to her craft and her readers. No wonder she has exploded on the scene. A Writer’s Life By Tina Folsom, San Francisco, California When I started out writing, I had a definite preconceived idea of what life as a writer was like: long stretches of sitting behind my computer, writing eagerly, would be interspersed with tea breaks and contemplating looks out through the window, then long lunches with my girlfriends, a little shopping in between. And by four p.m. my work for the day would be done, and I’d prepare a leisurely dinner for me and my husband or make a reservation at a nearby restaurant. But becoming a writer was nothing like I’d imagined, yet everything I wanted. My day starts early: I rise before 7 a.m. After a quick cup of coffee, I’m already at the computer, checking emails, sales statistics and sales rankings and make sure that all my books are still showing up at the various retailers. I’m a little paranoid that way, but after the things that have happened at various online retailers over the last few months (and I’m not naming names), I find it prudent to make sure my books are still for sale. Once some of the admin work is out of the way, and I’ve replied to reader emails and guest blog requests, I start writing. I try to get about 4 – 5 hours of pure writing time in every day. On most days this translates to about 2000 – 3000 words or 8 – 12 pages double-spaced. But if I thought that my day would then wind down, I was sadly mistaken. The rest of the afternoon and early evening is often spent with marketing tasks. Whenever I find a new retailer to upload my books to, a whole process of formatting and marketing starts. Only recently, I started uploading my books to the Apple iBookstore and had to discover that even though my ePub looked perfectly formatted on my computer, when I bought a test copy for my iPad, most of the formatting was gone: no indents, no justified text, no italics, no centered headings. It was a disaster. That’s when my real work started: I had to find out why my perfect ePub was suddenly not so perfect anymore. Needless to say, I spend hours correcting things and re-uploading. I’m a perfectionist that way. Now, every time I upload a new book somewhere, I purchase a copy for the appropriate device and make sure it looks all right. Would a publisher do that for you? Not sure. But frankly, that’s why I’m self-published, so I can control every aspect of my books. So, while other authors out there tell me that they don’t want to be both publisher and author, but would rather just concentrate on writing, I can’t let go of either. And even though it often is double the work, and many days I work 12 hours, I also reap all the rewards: I don’t have to share my royalties with an agent or a publisher. But what’s even more rewarding is the knowledge that I was able to do it all myself. With the help of my faithful readers, of course, because without them, my books would be languishing on the digital shelf.Thank you, Tina. I am sure you have inspired other writers to follow in your footsteps. What amazing opportunities we have now as writers in this dynamic, changing arena. As usual, the generous sharing of your success helps us all to reach for the stars. Brava!Stop by, and if you leave a comment on Sharon's blog post, you'll be entered to win an autographed paperback of Venice Vampyr – The Beginning (Novellas 1 – 3).www.tinawritesromance.comhttp://authortinafolsom.blogspot.comhttp://www.facebook.com/AuthorTinaFolsomhttp://www.twitter.com/Tina_Folsom
All Tina's books are available from BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com and other onlineretailers.



My daughter and her husband gave me the registration to the Windsor Green Race as a birthday present. I walked the 5k and finished just under an hour, pushing our granddaughter.

There were ten thousand people here today. I watched a ten year old cross the finish line. Girls That Run had 238 girls from 17 different elementary schools, all wearing green tee shirts. I met the Kitchen Connection, a group of ladies who get together and cook at each other's houses.

There were about seven hot air balloons. People cheered us across the finish line, whether we were walking or running.

These lovely ladies from San Jose were out for a girls' weekend. Their shirts say Run Now, Wine Later. Hola!
Since it was the day after the
world was supposed to end, some came with an attitude. This lady's tee read: Twin Moms, Twice the Fun and Twice as Fast.

We were serenaded by a mariachi band half way through. This guy treated us to reggae.

Someone ran with a bridal veil. All very good fun, and for a good cause: raising money for the Windsor School District. Afterwards the local firemen dished up pancakes and scrambled eggs, and lots of smiles.
Well, I stayed away from the pancakes, but couldn't help myself. This guy came in first, and was nice enough to pose for me.
Boy, the things we gotta do to get our stories….

Two Pages A Day

I've been stressing about getting some edits done. Editing is not my favorite thing. I like the writing part. When I first began my writing career, I was so inspired by Diana Gabaldon that I emailed her and asked her about her process. The conversation went something like this:

Me: So how do you edit your story without eviscerating the characters, losing the love for the story while you pay attention to all the technical parts of the words, of the craft?
DG: O.M.G. I LOVE the editing process. That's how I polish it up, reveal the real jewels of the story, find the buried treasure. That's where my story comes to life.
Me: So, how many pages do you write a day? What's your schedule?
DG: I get up to fix breakfast for my husband and then go back to bed, or answer some work-related items, get up again around 11 and write until mid afternoon. Then family activities, shopping, getting ready for dinner. I have dinner with my husband and after everyone is in bed and asleep, I go back to writing until 2-3 AM. Then I go to bed. I'm lucky to get 1500 words a day in.
Ahem. Clearly, I am no Diana Gabaldon. Now, she may have changed her schedule a bit since that little email some years back, but it became clear to me the two of us approach things in completely different ways. I can write 5,000 words in a day, and have done it many times. I've written 92,000 words in 30 days and 50,000 words in a month many times. She writes slow and loves to edit. Hmmm. And she sold how many books?

I had the opportunity to attend a weekend workshop with Margie Lawson at Asilomar on the beautiful Monterey Coast this weekend. I asked her where to begin applying all her lessons to my WIP. By the end of the weekend, it was beginning to look like a piece of stinky laundry. I told her that the thought of going into deep edits clearly with six different highlighters gave me a visceral reaction sending my blood pooling around my ankles like pudding. That was a pink, for those of you in the know.
She said to start with the dialogue, blue. Then do the emotional/visceral reations, pink. But to do one at a time. While doing the blue, you could recognize the dialogue descriptors and plump them up, then look at the pink and look at the appropriate power words…and then….and then… In other words, do them one at a time. Print out the assignments one at a time.
This morning I was at a meeting and I heard someone say they read just two pages a day from a book that helps them. Two pages. They stop in the middle of the word or sentence or paragraph and only read two pages. Because eventually, the whole book will be read cover to cover, two pages at a time.
So how will I attempt to do the deep editing of my WIP? One chapter at a time. I will apply all the lessons, one at a time, each color one chapter at a time. And eventually, the whole book will be deep edited.
I'll get out my prospecting clothes and big glasses, and look for all those jewels lurking. I know they're there. And now I have a method to find them.
Thanks Margie. Thanks Diana.
How about you? How do you tackle the hard part of editing your work in process, or some other thing you find tedious, looking like Half Dome in your mind?

No Flour, No Sugar, No Coffee?

I am so nervous to write this, but for today at least, I have given up flour, sugar. I can't give up coffee yet, but will by next week.

You know you have to do something when you don't like the pictures anyone takes of you, even though everyone else says they're great.
(“Wings” sculpture: bryantedrick.com)
I realize I'm been swimming around in a fog, a haze created by my addiction to these food items. It's frightening considering giving these things up for the rest of my life. But the truth is, I am allergic to them. I've just not been looking at it.
Someone once said, “The closer I get to reality, the better I do.” Funny, coming from a romance writer, who specializes in fantasy. Driving down the road with a book on CD, or my favorite music so loud I can't hear a darn thing except the thumping of my heart is one version of reality I can live with. It's actually harmful to me to just turn on the radio and take whatever they want to give me. I like having the choice. I'm good with creating my own reality for a story, a mood, setting a stage at a party or entertaining.
But I've been thinking about reality in other terms lately. Like the reality of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. The reality of looking at my words and being able to say: this stays, this goes, like pruning in the garden, dead-heading. I will never be able to trust my own instincts until I see the reality of how I write.
After four days now, I can see how these little vices have run my life. I think about the finality of not having those things. And I think about perhaps leaving this earth with too much unsaid, too many books not published, readers to thrill. The giving up of flour and sugar is nothing compared to checking out before my time.
I know that if I fertilize and prune, I'll have more flowers and fruit. If I cut and polish my words, I'll be a better writer. If I eat more healthy and give up some sacred cows, I'll live longer.
What about you? Have you struggled with things you have to give up to achieve a goal, or improve the quality of your life? What did you do to help you overcome the struggle?

My Mother’s Day Gift

You might ask why I would get a slingshot for Mother's Day. Living here in beautiful Northern California, we have acres of gardens and in the middle of our field, we have an abandoned pool from the years the kids were little. I have it filled with koi, and goldfish. It didn't start out that way, but, as things in my life have a way of doing, soon became the “big blue thing” I could see outside my kitchen window that got converted into something nicer. It's now one huge koi pond.

Life is indeed about taking lemons and making lemonade. The last thing I wanted to see was blue plastic in the middle of a meadow, but on the day we were going to remove it, it was filled with polliwogs–thousands of them. I knew that in time they would become little frogs. Over twenty years ago I brought 6 little green and yellow frogs from my garden in Sebastopol, let them loose near a natural pool and I've been serenaded by their ancestors all these years later. It just wasn't in my nature to destroy all these little lives. My husband had a different opinion about it all, but I won out.
But when summer came, and all the frogs had moved on and out of the pool, I got concerned about mosquito larvae. I bought some comets at a local fish store, and watched as they grew several inches that first year. I tried a couple tiny koi and the same thing happened. I put in water hyacinths and other water plants, added some minnows and then more koi.
Now they are having babies and I must have over 100.

My pond has defied all the odds. It is as green as moss. I don't clean it. I just put in bubblers, a little trickle of well water and feed the fish every other day in the summer. They eat about a Big Gulp's worth of pond sticks each feeding.
Their idyllic life started to change when we had a visitor. A great big Heron, almost five feet tall, decided this was his own private hunting ground. I watched in horror as he ate at least a dozen fish, some of them almost a foot long. I tried to get my dogs to notice, but the bird is smarter than they are.
But not smarter than my husband. So, for Mother's Day, I am armed and dangerous. And on a focused mission to protect the little eden I have created, by accident.
Happy Mother's Day from my garden to yours.

Do You Think I Can Fly?

I hired the talented Cindy Pavlinac http://www.CAPavlinac.com to help me design some author shots. Her stunning photographs of sacred places has charmed me into a journey and has inspired some of the scenes in my stories. I also participated in a Labyrinth Walk in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral last November. It was the highlight of the holiday season for me.

Heavenly Lover is being readied for release, and every time I drive by this stunning sculpture by local artist, Bryan Tedric, I'm filled with emotion. It is a sacred space for me. You can visit his website here: bryantedrick.com.

If you've been to Burning Man, this sculpture has been there too. These wings move back and forth in the breeze, catch light from all different angles at all times of the day.
When we shot this, the sky was initially gray, but as we continued shooting, the clouds parted, literally right there above my head, and we got wonderful striations and blue sky.
I've said before I'm a Christian with a bent antennae. I believe in good and evil and guardian angels everywhere, as well as much more. And so that's the story I was driven to write.
I don't dare to attempt to instruct anyone on anything religious, because it is to me something very personal. I'm not qualified to deliver a message. I'm creating a fantasy, something for entertainment. A movie in the mind. A world that might be, could be and is, in my mind only.

Warriors All

It isn't a stretch to imagine this little boy growing up to be a superhero in his chosen field. I think they are made inside the womb. Born of a different mold.

Of course, every child is born different, and special. No two are even remotely alike, even though they grow up in the same family. But those that choose a warrior's path, in the traditional sense of the word, are indeed, well, special.
That's why they call it Special Forces.
There's been a lot of talk recently in the media about the role of the SEALs and their job: doing things we sometimes don't want to talk about. Doing things no one else can or would want to do.
I'm a little uncomfortable about all the publicity, and know SEAL families feel the same. They quietly do, are completely dependable, don't boast and don't need the limelight. It isn't their way. Not what they are taught. Not what keeps them out of harm's way. Most of them won't tell you anything, even if you ask. Even if there are things worthy of praise. They don't need it.
We've seen some pretty incredible pictures recently. And we're going to see a lot more. Let's remember that some of these fine military men and women, don't come back. Not every mission is successful. It's easy to have a ticker tape parade when everything turns out great. Harder to be a fan when the mission isn't successful.
Jimmy's grill on Coronado has a wall for the fallen. I hope we never forget to say thank you. Even when things don't turn out so well.


Way To Go SEAL Team 6

Any wonder why these fine men are the true definition of hero? Quiet, unassuming, avoiding drawing attention to themselves.

I can't tell you how proud I am. I'm usually not speechless. But I am so grateful.
I lost the valedictorian of my graduating class in the 9/11 attack, Naomi Solomon. I lost another member in the U.N. bombing in Algeria, Chad Hamza. No one can bring them back, or all the others who have lost their lives all over the world, including the military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
And we know there will be more.
But today, there is cause for celebration.