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.

Z is for Zenda

Z is for Zenda. Well, I had to think of something that started with Z, and it could have been Zoo, with all those animals all around, but no, it's Zenda.

When our two youngest children were little, my husband and I placed an ad in The Lady magazine in Great Britain. At that time, you could advertise for household help, and it was a great way to find well-trained nannies. Now the US has schools for this sort of thing, but at the time, we were impressed with the degree program in England, including child development and first aid, and wanted someone who wanted to spend a year or two in the States just for an experience.
It turned out to be one of the best things we've ever done. The advertisement generated some 200 applications, and we actually had a hard time choosing. We arranged a trip and interviewed our top 3 candidates, and their families. We wanted to make sure their parents were okay with where they were sending their daughters. And at that time, getting a 6-month visa wasn't difficult, if we agreed to sponsor them and take care of their health insurance.
Zenda was our first.
We came home from church one day, about 4 months after she started, and she had run off with an American guy and left us a note.
We telephoned our next in line, and she was delighted to come over, and actually stayed with us for almost 2 years. She loved American guys. I'll never forget my 4 year old son, who used to stand at the kitchen door and watch as a young man emerged from her cottage in the morning, and usually a different one each morning! “Why does Jane have so many friends? And they all are boys.” Even with this, she was a loving addition to our family and we were grateful we had found her.
This was the year that Charles and Diana got married. Jane and Angela (a girl we found for another family) were deathly homesick. So we got up early, waited on them hand and foot, poured mimosas and made them a gourmet breakfast fit for a king. They sat all day on our family room couch and cried. All day. Boy did they miss England.
Watching the royal wedding this morning, I thought back to that day, and I must admit, I missed my girls, those two lovely young ladies from England who helped our families out so much. My son had started calling a sidewalk a “footpath” with an accent. Asking to go to the “loo”.
I watch the pomp and circumstance, the proud heritage of this tradition going back over a thousand years, and it got me weepy too. I thought the commoners were very regal. It was moving to see the young couple. And every girls' romantic fantasy. Marrying a prince. A ceremony of a proud people. A refreshing change that I hope has touched the world.
I hope there is a happily ever after for them. I'd bet there will be. I'm grateful to spend a whole day honoring love and commitment. Couldn't be better for a romance writer, now could it?
And I hope Zenda, Jane and Angela are doing well. My one big regret is that we've lost touch.
What about you? Do you remember the other royal wedding? What did you think of this one? Did you get up early and watch?

Yes, I’ve Earned My Stripes Today

Forget rejection slips. Forget low scores on contests. We all work so hard to do our best, to write our best and manage our schedules as best we can. We help each other as writers, comment for each other, critique each other and encourage each other. That's what writers are supposed to do. Right?

And every single writer I've met has been this way. Coming from a competitive corporate world where I had to get my armor on, get on the telephone for three to four hours a day, cold calling and getting rejected 99% of the time, I saw the writing community as one big loving family. I could not believe how helpful and supportive everyone was. I was warned that it wasn't always that way. I was beginning to believe that the person who told me this, was wrong. “Not me,” I said. “Couldn't happen to me. I'm such a nice person.”
Well, I've removed the knife from my back and suddenly I can stand up straight and breathe. I got a bitter reminder today that you can't please all the people all the time. And it was naive of me to think so. **wince wince** this is part of the process. Darn it all.
Kristen Lamb has taught me more this year than perhaps any other blogger or teacher. I try not to miss a post of hers, and go through withdrawals when she's gone. Here's her address:
About a month ago, she had a post about the sharp-edged people around us that help polish us into the diamonds we are, instead of the rough stones we start as. Her point was that no one gets to be good without being able to withstand the knives in the back, the hurtful critique or harsh judge, or a friend who proves to be something of the opposite.
Life isn't fair. Things just don't work out sometimes. Sometimes some people are toxic. So you move away. But that's it.
Nothing stops because we're having a particularly bad day. My dogs didn't care. They came up and gave me loves just like they always did. My chickens still needed to be fed and the eggs collected. The garden had to be watered, AND I HAD A GOAL OF 20 PAGES TO COMPLETE TODAY.
And I did it! I even managed to stay out of the sugar and the flour: my refuge in times of trouble!
Being a good writer means you must be easy to start and difficult to stop. Like a locomotive. You start out slow, no matter how hard you put your foot on the pedal. After the engine is revved and you are gliding down the rails, you have momentum to keep you going. You could even take your foot off the pedal, and for a time, the train would continue.
That's what I want to be: easy to start and hard to stop.
I'm proud that I stayed the course and didn't let a bump in the road ruin my day or stop me from writing. In fact, I may have found a new villain!
Tomorrow's my birthday. I feel healthy and clean, and so happy to be a writer during these challenging times. I'm going to celebrate!
How about you? Any things you think about or tips you could share about how you overcome things that could stop you?

X Marks The Spot Where Jack London Wrote

There are some places that are filled with the ghosts of the past, and I was at one today. Our eclectic multi-genre critique group meets every Tuesday morning. Today, we met at the old Grist Mill, where Jack London used to write in an apartment over the mill. We sat out on the patio and had a wonderful catered lunch by Yeti's Restaurant – Nepalese food. With the sunshine pouring over our red umbrellas and a soft breeze whispering through the trees, we read our stories, sipped tea, ate wonderful curry dishes, and felt the presence of Jack London amongst us.

These are the same windows he looked out of when he penned his best-selling books. Once an apartment, it now is the upstairs to a new restaurant re-opening soon. It would be a wonderful place to read or do an author signing.

Can't you just see London working at his table, listening to the gigantic waterwheel turning in slow rhythm, the opulent trickling of water? What a place to let one's imagination grow.
In my former life, as a Realtor, I sold a home for a relative of his, and held in my hands some of his books, probably written right here. Today was like the past and the present all coming together. All six of us hope to be best-selling authors some day. We have helped each other tremendously in this group that has been going on for almost three years. And now we have Jack.
Our critique session was over too soon, and we were off in separate directions, like leaves scattered in the parking lot. Words read, suggestions given, ideas shared, laughter and warm friendship. Everything has faded, except the sharp pangs in my stomach from the deliciously rich food I loved eating, but that haunts me tonight, just like Jack.
How about you? Do you have any special places “haunted” with dead writers or inspired by creatures otherwise? Do tell!

W is for Write Every Day

This is a do-over. Just a short post to remind you to write every day. I interviewed JR Ward at RWA Nationals in D.C. two years ago, and she told me she had written every day except for three in the last three plus years.

I asked her about dinners and family events, vacations. No. Everyday, she told me. And I saw that that's what it takes to be successful.
It's been said that you have to write 1,000,000 words before you start getting good, or before you can start to write. I think I believe that now. But when I was just getting started, I thought I was so brilliant, the world was my oyster!
And I still think the opportunities are there, but I'm more realistic. Talent is overrated. You must write and write and write, get rejected, and write some more. Keep writing. Write every day, and the rest will come. It's about putting it out there.
And don't wrestle with any pigs. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it!
How about you? Do you write every day? What do you do when you don't feel like it?


Don't go away just yet! I promise I won't bore you with vampire lore, if you're not a fan, or have gotten tired of them. I think they will be here to stay. Fact is, we've been writing about them since 300 AD. I understand early Hindu writings incorporated vampire lore. They lived in trees, caused mysterious deaths, especially to unsuspecting children and non-believers. Don't know about you, but that's more chilling to me than the ones that are dark and sexy, that heal quickly, are the strongest things on the planet (just about), and have a libido that most humans would envy.

I laugh whenever I hear the comments, “Vampires are out.” Just like I laugh whenever I hear, “Angels are too controversial.”
I wrote Honeymoon Bite because I had a crit partner who was writing vampires, and I decided to try it. I'd read all of Anne Rice's books, and loved them. Found them very sexy. Except their plumbing didn't work, and I just knew Anne would write some raging love scenes if she hadn't written herself and her characters into a box. Talk about unfulfilled! I learned later on that she wrote erotica under a pen name.
But what she did was bring the dark, brooding vampiric characters to life in memorable ways, and without her, I doubt the Sookies and Bellas would have been created. And now as I read Kressley Cole, Nailini Singh and Larissa Ione, their characters have become a hybrid of several species, even brothers, as in Larissa Ione's Underworld General stories, with different species, depending on their parentage. I like that about paranormal. There are so many things you can do. I have a fallen angel who was a vampire, turned into an angel by accident in the 4th book I'm working on. Why not? It gives us a good basis for why he's got a chip on his shoulder.
I'm itching to get back to the edits on this book so I can send it to my agent. But I have to finish my contemporary first, from a request.
Indulge me. Read my first few paragraphs, and ask yourself if you like this story, would you keep turning the pages, and then go ahead and post your reactions. You're not going to get a nasty comment back, even if it isn't your cup of tea…
Anne looked down on the sleeping form of her new husband and, God help her, he looked like the first man she would murder. Nestled into his arms was the naked body of her Maid of Honor. It was the second time today the bride had caught them. First was at the reception. In the bathroom. Monika’s dress and his tux were splayed over the chair and floor, trampled, along with a spilled bottle of champagne, cream satin shoes, a long taffeta slip, a hot pink pushup bra and Robert’s new black socks. “Not exactly what a bride wants to see on her wedding day.” Anne spoke the chilling words in soft lilting tones, like she had recited her wedding vows that afternoon. It caused the reaction she hoped for. Monika bolted up, her eyes crossed but wide, clutching a sheet to her chest. Robert was scrambling to the floor. “Don’t bother to put your pants on.” “Honey—Anne—,” he said in his I’m-so-sorry-I-got-caught voice. His tanned face used to melt her insides, like when he smiled and the sun came out from behind the clouds. But today it wasn’t going to work. Everyone knew it. The bride had murder on her mind. “I’m so glad you’re all right. We were…” Robert began. “I’m fine. I can see how worried you were. Touching.” Amidst rustling taffeda and satin, Anne reached down to the handle of her wardrobe roller, stuffed to bursting with brand new clothes for her honeymoon, most with tags still on them. She made sure her money, passport and airline tickets were still zipped into the top pocket. “Your dress, Anne,” Her former best friend pointed to the red stains down the front. “Is that blood?” “Catsup.” Anne saw them both flinch. “Not blood. Not yet.” “Now wait just a minute.” Robert climbed back into the bed and put his arms around Monika, but his body was tucked safely behind hers. “I’m sorry about all this, Anne. I’ve been a fool.” Monika turned around and looked at him in a drunken gaze. Maybe she was wising up already. “No. It wasn’t going to work, you asshole. Don’t you think your timing sucked? Couldn’t you have done it before we did all this?” Anne lifted her skirts as if to curtsy. Robert relaxed and hung his head on Monika’s bare shoulder. Anne grabbed a black rain slicker and rolled her trousseau out to the hallway. Whispers came from her bedroom. Unzipping her bag, she extracted the red and black outfit she had planned to wear on the plane—the one with the plunging neckline. Locking herself in the bathroom, she shimmied out of her bridal gown and slipped into her new things. Her feet found a comfortable home in her favorite pair of black crocs, the ones decorated by her bachelorette buddies with little bride and groom charms surrounded by red hearts. No way. She grabbed Robert’s toenail nippers from the vanity and snipped off both the bride and groom, but left the red hearts there. Romance wasn’t dead. But her marriage sure was. Robert stood in the hallway in his shorts. “Where are you going?” “On my honeymoon. I planned it. I paid for it. I’m going.” She descended to the ground floor of her apartment building and realized her wedding gown was still draped over her left arm. A convenient row of black plastic garbage cans, out at the curb for an early morning pickup, became the gown’s final resting place. The nuclear tufts of stained and shredded white organza looked like tissue paper stuffing for a tall wedding present.
My heroine's luck goes from bad to worse, because she does get bitten on her honeymoon. And her life changes forever.Do you like vampires? Do you like humor in those stories? Characters that find themselves in impossible situations? What do you like about vampires? Or dislike?