Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's Time to Think About Goals...

photo courtesy of Tim Zim

Goal is a dirty word, I know. When I worked, my stomach would tighten, my eyes narrow and my heart palpitate when my boss said that four-letter word. Goal. Hrrrmmmp. Goal. Then he/or she would proceed to give me a laundry list of items I was to accomplish in the coming year. AND almost all the items I had absolutely no control over. NONE.

So you can see why goals make me cringe. I'm the kind of person who takes full responsibility for things over which I have control. Not a problem. If it's in my sphere of influence, I'll take charge and do it to the best of my ability. But don't expect me to solve the national debt, end the war in Afghanistan or balance my checkbook. Okay, the checkbook I do have control over, but I'm lousy at math.

But my dear writer friends, we do have control over our writing. I'm much better at achieving my personal goals if I write them down and keep them close. So here's the list I have taped next to my computer. I encourage you to do the same (make your own list, that is.)

1. Finish the damn synopsis (Yes, I have started referring to it as The Damn Synopsis)
2. Final edit the book
3. Attend 1 workshop to work on skills
4. Attend 2 conferences when I can pitch the novel
5. Begin second draft of second novel
6. Participate in NaNoWriMo for 4th year
7. Assemble the list of potential agents and begin the query process
8. Submit one - two essays per month.
9. Organize my office
10. Remain positive even in the face of rejection.

Okay, so there you have my goals.

What are your writing goals for 2010?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Time to Start Thinking About Conferences

image courtesy of paul

I know, I know. Christmas isn't even here yet, but it's not that far away. And with the new year right around the corner it got me to thinking about writing conferences. I attended two last year OWFI and MWG. Both are in the planning stages for 2010. Each was good and had lots to offer in the way of speakers, motivation and opportunities.

OWFI is a class act and hard to beat. The quality just keeps getting better. MWG was smaller than normal last year, but I still got my money's worth.

Last year was my 2nd year for OWFI and my 4th or 5th year for MWG. For me, attending conferences is all about two things, networking and pitching my novel. So this year I've decided to branch out and try another conference or two.

Any suggestions? I'm curious about Jackson Hole Writer's Conference, Mad Anthony, Northern Colorado Writers Workshop, Society of Southwestern Writers, South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference.

But I'm open to suggestions. Any of you have any tried and true conferences or workshops that you attend?

Tell me...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ta Da - NaNoWriMo

image courtesy of minegro

Is it the end or is it the beginning? I typed my 50,000th word on November 20th just hours before departing for Minneapolis. This is the quickest I've every completed a NaNoWriMo. However, I couldn't validate the results until today. So that said, I WON. Woo hoo, what a great feeling to have a third novel waiting in the wings.

That brings up the it the end or is it the beginning. Even though I have the 50,000 words, the novel is far from over. Now I begin the laborious project of adding, cutting, editing and in general getting the masterpiece into well... masterpiece form. After 20 days of writing with my internal editor locked in a drawer, the resulting novel needs more work.

So, why try and write 50,000 words in the span of a month (or 20 days for me) if it is going to need to be edited and massaged into shape? Because, if I hadn't challenged myself to going all out, I would still be at the starting line thinking about writing the novel.

Where do I go from here? Good question. This novel (working title Dirty Deception) goes into mothballs for a year. Yep, I let her stew for about 12 months. She lingers around on my hard drive while I pull out the novel I wrote for NaNo last year and start the editing process. Dirty Deal (working title from last year) has been laying around relaxing and now it's time to drag her out and see what needs to be done.

Why do I let them lay around for a year? Absence makes the heart grow fonder they say. And with my NaNo projects nothing could be truer. If I were to start the editing process immediately I would probably just delete the sucker from my hard drive because after working on it non-stop for twenty days (for hours and hours each day) I am sick of it. So to prevent me from having a meltdown and to preserve my prose, it gets to rest for a year.

Now for a well-deserved Thanksgiving dinner for one and all. Remember to give thanks to all that is important to you and yours.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 14 NaNoWriMo

image courtesy of duncan

I'm reveling in my aheadedness (is that a word, I don't think so,) but I'm ahead of the curve and my writing buddies. Take that maryji and k9friend1 (I mean that in all sweetness. I'm not trying to be ugly, I swear.)

I pulled ahead of maryji yesterday, but she has a good excuse -- company and football. so I'm sure the minute her company leaves, she will kick my butt.

k9friend1-- don't know about her. I'll send her a little email and see what's up. Though, I imagine the minute she gets back to writing, she too, will kick my butt. That woman can write some words.

I've got company coming tomorrow, so I'm trying to get some extra words in today.

The weather here is excellent for November. Windows wide open today and no coats. Makes it hard to stay inside and write. Though it looks like rain all next week, so that will help the word count.

I have 1450 for today so far, with another three or four hours to write yet. I'm hoping to pull off 3000 - 4000 today.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 11, 12, 13 NaNoWriMo

image courtesy of sneeu

The last three days have gone by in a fog.

Day 11 - I spent with my friend Barb, who I am so thankful chooses to spend her Wednesdays with me. It's like having a free therapist and getting to each lunch all at once. Let's hear it for good friends who listen even when you rant and rave... :) Word count for Wednesday was 2002.

Day 12 - Critique day. Yep, after the gym and critique, I managed to squeeze out only 1586. But I noticed the word count widget is working. Yeah, NaNoWriMo gadget gurus. Thanks. don't ask me what the colors mean. I tried to figure it out thinking it was days I hit a target were one color and days I didn't were another color. And what's the thirds color. Anyway, that's not it. So if anyone can enlighten me, please do so. It's driving me crazy.

Day 13 - I am struggling mightily. I'm ready to kill off my main character and throw her love interest off a bridge. Sometime this week I totally abandoned my linear process and jumped write into writing out of sequence big time. I swore I wouldn't do that this year, but I did. I'll have to work on the linking scenes when my brain isn't so muddled. Word count today is 3003.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 NaNoWriMo

I've been busy, busy, busy.I noticed my little counter thing is still not working, so tomorrow if I get some time, I'll see if I can download another one.

Day 5 - Today was my critique group. No I didn't dare take in what I've been working on for NaNo. I do have some pride. I managed to crank out about 1500 words today.

Day 6 - Headed to the lake for a little peace and quiet. It's always easier writing in an atmosphere conducive to reflection. It doesn't hurt that it's in the middle of nowhere and there are no kids running up and down the roads on 4-wheelers. The only sounds are the rustling of the wind through the leaves. Oh wait, the leaves were all on the ground. The sound I heard was actually acorns falling on the metal roof --ALL NIGHT LONG. Due to travel, eating out with friends and the fact that my eyes were sagging by 8 p.m., I only managed a little over 100 words today.

Day 7 - Got an early start today. Had almost 1000 words before 8 a.m. Hubby went to coffee with the old codgers, so I hopped up and went to work. The afternoon lagged a little because my neighbor invited me to lunch. But I picked it up again in the late afternoon while hubby was raking leaves. YEAH for NaNo, it gets me out of raking leave. I did feel a tad guilty, but not for long. Grand total today 2300.

Day 8 - Neighbors went out of town, so we had no interruptions until hubby climbed in the attic and began tearing up the floorboard. His hammering and prying nearly drove me insane, so I read. Seriously, he should have been out raking leaves. When he realized I'd quit working on the novel, he went out to the barn to work. YEAH! I managed 4009 words today.

Day 9 - Neighbors still out of town. I fixed and awesome breakfast then gave hubby the rake and told him to get to work. I moved out onto the porch with my laptop and cranked out 4025 words. Hubby rewarded me with a bonfire and s'mores that evening. He must like me.

Day 10 - Travel day and bunko night, plus had a pukey puppy at home. Between all that and a visit to Crane's Country Store, where I swear I have never seen so many Carhartt items, I managed to get in 1615 words.

My grand total for 10 days is 23,765.

I did stall a couple of times and resorted to writing a few scenes out of sequence. I highly recommend this in the event your plot is stalling. If you know there are scenes you need, go ahead and write them, you can always go back and write the linking scenes when time permits. I managed 5 of these scenes this weekend, and it helped me to examine my plot and get a better understanding of where I was going with it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 4 NaNoWriMo

photo courtesy of Hilarywho

Yes, Virginia there really was a Day 3. However, I barely made my word count. Needless to say I did not blog.

Day 3 was torture. My character is boring! It's hard to be funny in the face of murder, but she needs to lighten up.

Yesterday I worked for every word I put on the page. I struggled, but true to NaNo, I did not edit. Me thinks that is why I struggled. I know my character too well. As I would type a sentence, my internal editor screamed from inside the desk drawer, "she would not do that. Make her stop. She is not that stupid. Give her a funny line. Make the cop kiss her, you doofus."

I threw chocolate in the drawer, she shut up and I continued to type. I made it through Day 3.

Day 4, a tad better. I got to the point in the story where my character's personality is starting to shine through. (The only sounds that came from my desk drawer were moans of pleasure. I'm hoping it was the chocolate or it could have been the Chippendale calendar I threw in there. Whatever! At least she isn't screaming at me.)

My word count...are you ready (drumroll sounds) 10,140. k9friend1 and maryji are still beating me. But as my professor daughter pointed out, "They are probably writing crap. It's much easier to make your word count when you throw down a bunch of crap." Did I say how much I love my professor daughter. Little does she know how much crap dear old mom is writing.

Ah, but that is what NaNo is all about.......writing. Letting the words flow onto the computer screen. Foregoing contractions. Adding every adverb and adjective in the dictionary and never, ever hyphenating a word. I can clean all that up in December :)

I promised a little widget on the side so you could keep up with my word count. . . it's broken. Rest assured the brain trust at NaNoWriMo is working on it. So when you see it, you'll know it's fixed.

Oh, I need to give a shout out to my friend Barb, for taking me away from the computer today and listening to me carry on and complain. That's what friends are for!

So, how's your day going?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 2 NaNoWriMo

photo courtesy of Rootytootoot

TODAY IS: PLAN YOUR EPITAPH DAY (No I did not make this up.) What do you want on your tombstone?

Took a shower this morning. I'm not one of the NanoWriMoers who can go without the basic necessities like clean clothes, brushed teeth and clean hair. I'll give up word count for personal hygiene any day.

Apparently, I'll give up word count for a good shopping spree, too. My daughter's been gone a week, and today was her first day home. She asked me to go shopping today for goodies for her new house. Could I say no? No. So a shopping we did go. But I did use the time wisely. While we were driving to our destination, eating our lunch and agonizing over which curtains would look nice in her living room, I plotted.

I'm sure the lady who overhead our conversation at lunch was ready to whip out her cell phone and call 911. It went something like this.

Me: If I murdered someone at school, say in the maintenance shed out back, would the cops shut the school down?

Daughter: Depends. Is school in session?

Me: No, the principal canceled classes due to the flood.

Daughter: Did you leave any clues in the actual school building?

Me: No, the murder weapon is in the maintenance shed right next to the body. Easy to find, right out in the open.

Daughter: You should be good to go. They might close it down for 24 hours or so while they investigate, but you should be back in after 24 - 35 hours.

Me: Great, cause I still need to clean up after the flood.

Now to put that all into perspective. It's been raining here for about 40 days and 40 nights with all kinds of flash flood warnings.

Anyway, that's pretty much how my day went--mulling murder and mayhem while shopping for curtains, rugs and utensil containers. What can I say? Just an ordinary day in the life of a writer. Create a scene and buy some pots and pans.

So... I didn't get back to the computer until after six, and I've been slaving away over the keyboard ever since. Except for the side trip to the kitchen for a bowl of pretzels. Oh, and after I started eating the pretzels, cough, cough, cough. I needed a Diet Coke to wash it down.

Next year I am seriously considering buying one of those little refrigerators for next to my desk. I figure if I don't have to go downstairs for caffeine, I can add about 100 words to my word count. And diapers, if I drink all that caffeine...well you know what happens. It's not that the bathroom is that far away, but the time it takes could be more wisely spent adding word count.

Now for the word count you ask? How many did I get? Well, you all aren't cheering me on, so I only managed 2018 today--482 short of my goal. If I'd had that fridge and the diapers, I could have easily made it.

Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow. NO SHOPPING, NO CAFFEINE, NO POTTY STOPS.

Oh and my writing buddies... K9friend1 topped 8300 today. I think she is so wearing a diaper. Maryji is at 4699. Not sure what's happened to Maryji today. She hasn't checked in that I know of. She's probably out buying diapers, so she can push the word count tomorrow.

Till then, keep rooting for me.

P.S. I don't know what's wrong with the little word count widget I added. I'll keep working on it. I need something to procrastinate on anyway.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 1 - NaNoWriMo

image courtesy of Duncan

Woohoo! I stayed up until midnight last night. Being the rule-abider that I am, I started my novel at 1 minute after zero hour. I didn't last long, and was in bed by 12:45. But I had a start.

After a leisurely breakfast, I read the newspaper and scoured the ads for sales. Nothing of interest, so I climbed the stairs and pounded out 2500 words finishing just before supper. Kind of slow for me, but I took several breaks and checked in with my writing buddies K9friend and Maryji. I am not happy to report that both ladies have exceeded my goal and are making me look bad. Though I am glad they are doing so well. I just hate that they're making me look like a slacker. But I did manage to meet the daily goal I had established and the night is still young. I'm hoping to end the day with about 3500 words. I'll be happy at that pace.

I have kept my promise to stay off Facebook. I might use that as a weekly reward, but only if I meet my weekly goal. It's just to tempting to click on it and check on everything. Oh, Facebook, I miss you.

Keep your fingers crossed. I need all the luck I can muster.

Off to the bat cave!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tips and Tricks for a Successful NaNoWriMo

Courtesy of NaNoWriMo

Can you believe it is a little over 24 hours before NaNoWriMo starts. I am stoked this year. I have two wins under my belt and ready for another.

It's only 30 days, but it can be a frustrating 30 days as I have found. First of all November is a short month, and it has Thanksgiving and Black Friday--two days where I am totally worthless when it comes to writing.

Here are my tips and tricks for completing NaNoWriMo.

1. Start with an outline, idea or basic premise. Don't wait until zero hour on November 1st to start thinking about what you want to write. The only given with NaNo is that you cannot start writing the novel until November 1st, but you can outline and do character sketches to your heart's content.

2. Have a beginning, middle and end in mind. You may not make it to the end before you use up your 50,000 words, but at least know what the end is. How can you get there if you don't know where you're going?

3. Turn off your internal editor. This really goes without saying, but I'll say it again. Shove your internal editor in the drawer along with copious amounts of chocolate. Let yourself write crap. You can clean it up later when you aren't on deadline. So you miss a comma or split an infinitive. Who cares? Get the story down and worry about cleaning it up later. Focus on the big picture, not the little details.

4. Draw up a schedule. You have to write roughly 1666 words a day in order to reach 50,000 by November 30th. If you know you're going to be cooking the turkey on Thanksgiving and have 50 belligerent relatives coming over, chances are you aren't going to be writing 1666 words that day, so spread them out across other days. Plan for it and then spend turkey day with your family. I have an Excel spreadsheet. I know I'm obsessive-compulsive, get over it. I set a daily goal for the entire month and then track it each day. If I lag behind, then I smack myself around and catch up.

5. Front load your schedule. You're going to be fresher in the early days in NaNo than you are coming down the home stretch. If you can write 1800 or 200o words a day the first couple of days or the first week, you'll be ahead when you start to feel like your dragging. Or if you are employed (some of us aren't) then plan to write extra words on your days off. I always plan to take Thanksgiving and Black Friday off, so I divide those 3332 words up and write them in the beginning of the month.

6. Do not allow yourself to get behind. Some days it's hard enough to come up with 1666 words, but if you get behind, especially in the waning days of NaNoWriMo, it is almost impossible to keep up your momentum. That's where the schedule comes in handy.

7. Get a Writing Buddy. It helps to have someone encourage you through the event. Misery loves company, right? So get a writing buddy and track your progress with each other. Don't get bogged down in emails and drivel, just check in periodically and give each other a kind word of encouragement.

8. Log on to NaNoWriMo. Speaking of support, NaNoWriMo provides it. Whatever you want. They have forums of every sort, cool widgets to take your progress, buddy lists, encouraging pep talks, word count tracker, Municipal Liaisons who organize and support local write-ins. You name it they got it. So go check it out. And while you're there, consider making a donation to help keep the site up and running. (Thanks NaNoWriMo for all you do.)

9. Use a timer. Raid the kitchen junk drawer, and get out that timer you never use. Or download a timer from Harmony Hollow Software. Set the time for one hour and write non-stop. If you need to take a pit-stop or caffeine break, stop the timer, do you business, then come right back and start the timer. No fair sitting in the bathroom until the timer goes off. Once you finish your hour, set the timer for 10 minutes and take a break. Get up and leave your writing space. Grab a coke, stretch your legs, deep breath, put the laundry in the dryer--whatever. When your ten minutes is up, set the timer for another hour and continue. Repeat with 10 minutes breaks until you've written your daily goal.

10. Don't give up the fun stuff. Are you addicted to email, Facebook, Farmtown, or any one of a number of online distractions. Use them as rewards. When your hour timer goes off and you get your 10 minute break, use it to check your email or play a quick game. But when your break is over, go back to work. NO EXCEPTIONS!

11. Reward yourself. Once you've written your daily goal, do something fun. Kick back and relax, take a bath (you know you need one), go for a walk, call a friend, eat a healthy snack.

12. Backup your work frequently. You do not want to lose even one single word you've written during NaNoWriMo, so back your work up onto a flashdrive, an external drive or whatever means you have to backup your documents. Don't just back it up on the PC or laptop you're using. Make sure to have an external source. During NaNoWriMo, I back up my to 2 flash drives and if I leave the house, I take one of them with me. Paranoid, I know. but it saves having to re-create a file that you've slaved over.

13. Select writing music. I have several mixes I use to write with, depending on my mood and the type of scene I am writing. If you haven't tried writing with music, give it a try. If it's distracting you can always ditch it, or change up the tunes.

14. Don't be afraid to lock the door and turn off the phone. Most non-writers do not understand the the need we writers have to dive into such a project. Heck, some writers don't even understand it. Send an email prior to NaNoWriMo and tell your friends you love them, but you want them to leave you the hell alone until December 1. I would say do this to your immediately family, but you live with them and may have to depend on them to slide your meals under the door or toss in clean underwear periodically.

15. Emerge periodically from your office. You need sunshine so you don't get rickets or scurvy or whatever that horrible disease was that sailors use to get from lack of sunshine. At the very least eat an orange now and then.

16. Finally, and foremost, remember why you are doing this. Can't help you here. I have my own reasons and they probably differ from yours, so insert yours here________________________________________________________.

Go forth and have fun. See you at the finish line.


P.S. Come back here often and cheer me on. I'll have a little counter shortly so you can see my progress.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hello World

photo courtesy of viewmaker

Ready or not. I am back. It's been a few months since I've updated the blog. What can I say? Life has a way of getting in the way. Actually it was my novel. I'm on the downhill slide of editing. It's going out to a couple more readers (thanks Kim and Ashley) then that puppy is going to be making its rounds to various agents and editors. So if you have any suggestions, send them my way. It's women's fiction with a cozy bent. But not too cozy.

I'm ready to take on Novel #2 which was written during NaNoWriMo last year. It's the sequel to the one I just finished editing, and I am looking forward to digging into it and getting back in touch with the new characters I added. It was really hard to go back to editing Novel 1 after I had written Novel 2, because my character had grown, but I had to remember not to include the growth. hard to do. Plus I added some depth to previous characters and had to leave them shallow. Aargh! It was hard.

Actually working on the outline for Novel 3 which I will discuss a little next week.

So for now, keep writing and if you have agents/editors who are looking for women's fiction, feel free to name drop. All suggestions accepted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Too Many Miles

photo courtesy of Punk27fay
Sorry I've been out to lunch lately. In truth, I've been on the road. Logged more than 300o miles in the past two weeks. (I'll tell you about the rest of the trip another time.)

Started my trip in Norman, OK at OWFI. Now if you haven't been to OWFI, you haven't been to a writer's conference. OWFI stands for Oklahoma Writers' Federation, Inc. Those folks really know how to throw a great conference. This is my second year. I didn't think they could top last year, but they did.

The keynote speaker was New York Times Bestselling Author Tess Gerritsen, and she was amazing. Her speech was motivating and peppered with personal anecdotes about her writing.

My new favorite author Jodi Thomas was there and I attended every one of her sessions. My only downfall was not getting her to sign the book I bought. I got so wrapped up in conference, that I got away without asking. There was even an autograph party, but I wasn't able to stay. I did get Tess to sign hers.

Jodi was also motivating and very personable. Her willingness to talk to people just stunned me. Several times she gave out her phone number and told people to call her, especially if they got stuck or felt like their writing career was stalled. (Sorry, I won't give it out, but bet if you check Jodi's website, she'll have a way for you to get in contact.) Jodi, if you read this, I heart you. All the advice you dispensed will be taken to heart by me. And I sure hope to see you in Amarillo next year. Can't make it this year, but I've got my fingers crossed for next year.

The Book Doctor Robyn Conley did two great talks that I attended and also reviewed the first five pages of my manuscript. I received a glowing report and she only found a couple of things.

All of the sessions that I attended were excellent, the speakers professional and approachable and the buzz of excitement in the air was exhilerating. And they had a great crowd. I met several writers and had a great time. I also took tons of notes.

Oh, oh, oh... The best part. An agent asked to see my first three chapters and a synopsis. Now the waiting begins.

Oh, and Ody got hailed on again. Not sure what it is about Oklahoma and my van, but this is the second year in a row, that it has hailed on us in Oklahoma. I'm beginning to believe that it hails every day down there. Thank goodness it was only pea-size. Last year it looked like golf balls. Several vehicles suffered broken windshields. Ody just had hudge dents. This year I couldn't tell, because I never had him fixed from last year. Good thing. Next year, I'm flying.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Word Frequency

photo courtesy of Feuillu

I'm somewhat of a word hoarder. I find a word I like to use and latch on to it. A few of my favorites are: well, so, maybe, finally, little, and very. Recently some rogues have slipped in like: decided, some, clearly, eye (don't ask) and shrugged.

To combat my
little problem, I have a list of words that all too often pepper my writing. I try not to use them, but my hands and brain don't always work in sync. Did I say I'm a techno-phobe when it comes to the computer? In the past, I have always performed a "find" and "search" and rooted out the evils doers. It takes for stinking ever to do that.

But, aha, last night I found a macro that will do it for me. One swift click of a button and all the "wells" are rounded up and highlighted in red. Makes it much easier for me to go back through and slay the ones I don't want to keep and bypass the ones that get to stay.

I can tweak the macro to change the word or color. I'm in love...

How about you? Doyou have any words that sneak into your writing? Do you let them slide and pick them out in editing or do you kill them right away?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Point of View

photo courtesy of herr_hartman

The topic of point of view at our monthly meeting of Saturday Writers got me to thinking about my preference for writing in 1st person. I like the immediacy (is that a word?) it gives me. It allows me to be the character. For me it is easier, because I don't have to worry about inappropriate POV shifts. I just ask myself WWMCD (what would my character do?) If my character's not seeing it or feeling it, I know not to put it to paper.

However, I've noticed that I like to read a combination of 1st and 3rd person, and it depends on the genre. If I'm reading romance (which I don't usually do) or cozy mysteries, I prefer first person. I prefer to "be" the character or at least see the story from the protagonists POV.

But if I'm reading a suspense, thriller or historical, I prefer third person. And I really like multiple POV's. I feel like it gives me a 360 degree view of the story.

And I've even read a couple that switch back and forth between 1st and 3rd. Most of those are pretty clunky, but Harlan Coben does it in a couple of his novels and does an excellent job at creating a story so smooth you never notice it. He's also a great story weaver, but that's another whole topic. He's my writing hero. And I just discovered him last year, and already I've read all his books. So, Harlan if you stop by and read this, get to cracking on that next book. I'm waiting.

What's your favorite POV to write and does it differ from your favorite POV to read?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

True Confession Time

photo courtesy of jovite

No sordid details. I promise.

The other day I sat down to work on edits for my novel and something seemed off. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was different, but I had a hard time concentrating. The words were a jumble on the page (that's why I needed to edit. Duh!)

I ran downstairs and got a Diet Coke, grabbed a bowl of pretzels and returned to my computer. My comfortable writing chair felt fine, my screen was at the perfect angle and the light wasn't glaring. Then it dawned on me. I had shoes on. I usually never wear shoes in the house and never wear them upstairs to my office, but in my excitement to finish editing the chapter, I had rushed in after an errand and failed to remove said shoes.

Now is that dumb or what that I couldn't concentrate with shoes on. I wrote curriculum for XX (a lot) of years in a corporate setting and always wore shoes in the office.

Anyway it got me to thinking about some of my other weird writing habits... Like my chair. My old faithful died a few years back, so I went to several office supply and furniture stores and did numerous test sits until I found the perfect one. Now, if I'm not at home, I have a hard time writing because my butt is not comfortable anywhere else.

And my tunes. I have a couple of different mixes that I use depending on the scene I'm writing. If it's introspective, I listen to classical. If it's a tense, I tend to go more for old rock tunes. And romantic, I pick country. But, I always have music on.

My clothing. I opt for sweats or pj's. Again, couldn't do that in the corporate world. Yeah, for working from home!

Visuals. I used to have a window by my computer, but found it too distracting. I'd catch myself staring out into the yard watching butterflies or thinking about the weeds that needed to be pulled. Anyway, I switched my office around so I can't look outside, but whenever possible, I keep the window open. I love a gentle breeze. But that aside, now I have a wonderful view of my bookshelf, and that makes me happy.

And I love fragrances. I keep one of those diffusers on my book shelf, usually with something fresh-smelling like rain or clean cotton. I'm a sap for all that natury stuff.

So what are your writing habits? Do you write in your underwear with a lampshade on your head? True confession time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Short Story Contest

photo courtesy of Cowtools

Here's one for all you Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Suspense or Thriller writers. The Garden State Horror Writers sponsors their 15th annual short story contest.

1st price is $100
2nd prize is $50
3rd prize is $25

Each eligible entry will be critiqued by up to three published writers and/or editors.

The entry fee is $10 for non-members and $5.00 for GSHW members.

Check their guidelines for submissions. Be sure to read them and follow to keep from being disqualified.

Contest closes June 30th.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Poetry Contest

Photo courtesy of sky_mitch

Poets Contest Corner
announces the 2nd Round of submissions
for its
Poetry Competition
Winner will receive $200 Cash Prize

If there are enough entries, there will be two runners up who will each receive $50 Cash Prize

Poets Contest Corner welcomes you and invites you to join in our endeavor to bring a little unexpected income by way of your poetry. In these hard times, when the dominant breadwinners may have lost their jobs and the price of everything has gone up, we hope that we may be helpful in a small way.

Our intention is to begin small, and with the success of our first rounds, we hope to increase the amount of cash prizes and the number of winners.

Please talk it up on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, College Dorms and classrooms— anywhere you can network. The reading fee is only $5, which is very reasonable. This fee is also used to cover our advertising costs. So, the more you pass the word, the less advertising we need to pay for, which means the more the cash prizes can be. We do not want to up the entry fee, as we wish this to be as affordable as possible to all.

(Note: Get your entries in early. The judges keep them in the order received. Those received early are those that remain in front of them the longest. )

Check their website for Rules and Guidelines:

Should you have any questions, please email Poets Contest Corner.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Writers's Conference

photo courtesy of Ant Smith

Looking for a writers' conference. I found this one too late to attend (already had plans), but it's not too late for you. It's The Mad Anthony Writers' Conference in Hamilton, OH., April 17-19.

It features Lee Lofland, award winning crime and mystery, 30 multi-genre workshops, publisher and agent appointments, manuscript critiques and a Writers Police Academy (how cool is that???)

Jane Friedman, Publisher and Editorial Director of Writer's Digest will be there. I recently attended a workshop led by Jane, and she was fantastic. I learned so much about platform-building, social networking and what turns an editor off. Plus, she is so approachable.

The early bird price has expired (sorry, for not posting sooner), but if you postmark by April 15th, it's still as bargain at $125.

This one is definitely going on my calendar for next year. If anyone has attended this conference, please let us know details.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Short Story Contest--April 1st Deadline

photo courtesy of hint of plum

Hey all you hip mamas hop over to hip Mama and check out their contest. Top prize is $100. The theme is open but a mama must be in the story. So get on your computer and get those keys aclacking. You can churn out a story in 2500 words or less. Come on, you know you can.
Oh, there's an entry fee and a possiblity to get your story critiqued for an additional charge.

Sorry for the short notice, but the deadline is April 1st so hurry. You can pay by Paypal and submit online. so check out the guidelines.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour

photo courtesy of rustybrick

Want to save some energy? Join a cause? Do something good for the planet? Tonight from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.(local time), you can participate in Earth Hour. Simply turn off your lights for an hour. You can join millions of participants in conserving energy for this third annual event. Read about it here.

Can you do it? Will you be able to shut off TV, turn off the computer, read by candlelight? The Gateway Arch in my home city of St. Louis will be dousing the lights along with other such notable landmarks as the Sydney Opera House, Las Vegas Strip, the Golden Gate Bridge.

And while we're on the subject did you know that many states are participating in an Energy Star Tax Holiday? If you live in Missouri, the Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday runs from April 19 -25. State sales tax will be lifted for qualified Energy Star appliances.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wanna Write a Script?

Here's your chance? November has NaNoWriMo and April has Script Frenzy. What better way to get your feet wet writing a script than do to it with a group of fellow writers and a website to cheer you on. Check it out Script Frenzy.

The challenge, if you're up to it, write 100 pages of script in 30 days. Script Frenzy starts April 1st and ends April 30th.

I can already hear the coffee pots gurgling and the chocolate bags rustling.

If you're up for the challenge, let me know!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hear Ye Hear Ye

My writer friend David Kirkland has a new book hot off the presses.

Now Available!

God's Three Step Plan
A Celebration of Micah 6:8
by David Lee Kirkland

"I found God's Three Step Plan a wonderful read.... I have read a number of books that have tried to draw out the meaning from Micah and I have always found them wanting. This book wonderfully draws out the meaning to each part of God's message to us in Micah (act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God). I loved how lots of different voices, many from outside the Christian tradition, helped illuminate God's three step plan. It is a very Christian book but refreshingly aware of the voices outside of our religious tradition who can help us see what Micah's words are saying to us."- (The Rev.) Kurt J. HuberRector, St. Peter's Episcopal Church

Intrigued? Read an excerpt at:
Available at

For bulk purchases, contact

ISBN: 978-1-60653-004-7

Also by David Lee Kirkland—The Yesteryear Tales
Short stories of Appalachia and the Ozarks
Awarded First Place in the Ozark Writers League
2008 Book of the Year Competition

Friday, March 13, 2009

Book Giveaway

Image from Christina's website

Christina Katz has chosen Coffee and Critique as a stop on her blog tour celebrating the second anniversary of her book, Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids.

Stop by the Tricia Grissom's blog Coffee and Critique Writers Group on Saturday (March 14th) and leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Christina's book. The post will be up starting at 12:01 a.m. tonight. Christina is telling the story of how she got published and she has some great info in this installment on how to build a support system for your book. Writer Mama is an excellent resource for jump starting your freelance writing - whether you have youngins at home still or not.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Image from Jamie Cat Callan's website

Well, maybe not. Sliced bread is pretty awesome. You can toast it, butter it, slather it with P,B and J. You can make a sandwich with it. The possibilities are endless. Endless, I tell you. You can cut a hole in the middle and bake an egg in it. (Why one would want to do that I don't know.) You can hide a pill in it and fool your dog. Ya get my drift.

So what does bread have to do with it. Nothing. My critique group, Scribes' Tribe, did an exercise tonight where we used The Writer's Toolbox by Jamie Cat Callan.

When our fearless leader announced "Creativity Night", I groaned. I hate spontaneous writing. My mood has to be just right. I have to be in my favorite writing chair with my writer's hat perched atop my head (literally). My iPod must be plugged into my ears, and I have to be free to roam about the room and ponder that on which I am writing. I NEED MY SPACE and copious amounts of tea and chocolate.

Everyone else in the group seemed to take to the idea like butter on bread (see I worked it in.) Rather than be the proverbial stick in the mud, I decided to play along. I even took my laptop. I hoped the center where we held critique had wifi just in case I was bored to tears. I could surf the net while the other suckers members toiled over their miserable excuses for stories. (I kid. I kid. I love you guys! Smooch, smooch.)

I won't give the whole premise of the toolbox away, but let me just say it gives you ideas for story starters, obstacles for your characters, unusual situations, surprise characters and on and on.

There is a timer involved and Popsicle sticks and short spurts of speed writing. We provided chocolate, cupcakes and cookies to feed the muse while we worked. (Jamie, you might want to think about that in future editions.) Our leaders hauled in real tools like hammers, levels, chisels, screwdrivers and blueprints to set the mood.

Each member drew a starting sentence stick and the exercise began. There were a few whimpers and a curse word or two, but everyone, and I do mean everyone started writing or typing (and no, the center did not have wifi). We wrote without pause for three minutes, then stopped and drew another stick (no, I'm not telling you what it was. Go check it out for yourself.) We wrote for another three minutes. It seemed like we had about eight writing triggers (I got so engrossed I lost count), each with a brief intermission while we stuffed our faces.

When we finished the exercise, we all had complete or almost complete stories, and we took turns reading them aloud. None of them will win awards, but most of us came away with something we could work on. (And the best part was Candace didn't hit anyone with the hammer. Personally, I think she brought it to use on me. She'll deny it, but I know how she thinks.)

I came away with my first ever flash fiction piece. It even drew a few laughs from the group. (Yes, it was supposed to be funny. Thank you very much.) It still needs a lot of work, but it's 700 more words than I had when I went tonight. And I certainly came away with a character I would have never dreamed up on my own.

If you're looking for something to add a little zing to your critique group or even your own writing, give it a try. It is definitely an activity I will try again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Writer U.--Online Writing Workshop

photo courtesy of sgrace

April 3-30, 2009

"In & Out: Writing Believable Conflict"

by Sherry Lewis

This workshop focuses on the art and craft of creating realistic, believable conflict for your character, both internal and external, and on weaving those conflict together in ways that are fresh, exciting, and powerful enough to catch an editor's eye.

Topics include:

* Understanding how a character's core beliefs crate conflict

* How internal and external conflicts work together

* When to hang on to / let go of a character's past

* Keeping conflicts realistic

* Creating layers of conflict

* Why urgency matters in conflict

* Applying conflict to each scene you write

* Avoiding anticipated conflict

Sherry Lewis is a career writer with more than 30 published mystery, contemporary romance, and time travel romance novels to her credit. She loves sharing what she has learned since selling her first book fifteen years ago, and has given workshops all over the country. Sherry has also taught online workshops for several years.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Woman's Day Essay Contest

Library photo courtesy of OZinOH

Woman's Day magazine and the American Library Association are announcing a call for essays on using the library to help save money. Here's a link to their submission requirements. The contest is open to women 18 years and older and must be submitted no later than noon ET on May 18, 2009.

Good luck to all who enter.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Who's on Your Blog Roll?

photo courtesy of rustybrick

Aside from my blog, what blogs are you reading? Please check out my writer friends. Not only are they great writers, they're also smart people. If you check out their blogs and like them, tell them I sent you. If you don't like them, what can I say? Sorry! Likewise, if you came to my blog from one of theirs, let me know.

What do you look for in a blog? I like entertainment, for sure. But I'm also looking for industry news and writing advice. I'm especially anxious to check out the blogs of several agents every day. Some of the ones I follow are Janet Reid, Nathan Bransford, Jenny Rappaport, Colleen Lindsay, Kristin Nelson, Laurie McLean.

If you're submitting to agents and not reading their blogs, shame on you. It's a great way to get insider information (not in a stalker kind of way) about the agent's likes and dislikes. I don't stalk you guys, I promise. Well, maybe a little, but not in a scary way.

Here's a great post by Dustin Wax that lists 22 Blogs Every Writer Should Read.

So tell me, what are you favorite blogs and why? If you want to tout yours here, give me a shout and I'll swap links with you.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Writing Retreat -- St. Louis

Learn Character-Driven Plotting In 2 Days!!

Our 2008 classes were filled with writers not-yet-published and multi-published authors.
This program is great for Plotters and Pantsers – what?!
It’s true. Plotters learn how to organize their story so that conflict doesn’t break down and pacing stays strong. Pantsers leave with a way to flush out weak spots in a story – PLOT HOLES – and fix the problems. Getting published just got harder with budget tightening…but publishers are always looking for good books.
More so than ever before – your story has to be the very best.

Instructors for Break Into Fiction® Power Plotting Retreat:
Award-winning author Mary Buckham
& NYT best selling author Dianna Love.

Retreat has limited seating to assure time to work with every attendee on their story throughout the 2 days. And…attendees receive 5 bonus templates.

"...I used to think I was good at plotting – but this past (retreat) weekend made me realize I’ve been guilty of a more complicated version of the ‘one damned thing after another’ plot. I’m stunned at how well an entire story arc came together in just two days.” Marcella Burnard

“Break into Fiction is solidly grounded in storytelling fundamentals but then goes much farther into the practical detail that determines whether your book will bring a check or a rejection slip.” ~~ Jon Franklin, author of Writing for Story and a Pulitzer Prize winner

Break Into Fiction® 2008 Attendees…

4 attendees from 2008 have sold
2 more have books with editors who have “recommended a buy”
15 have had agent requests, 10 finally finished their books
Many have finaled and won contests that put them in front of editors & agents
Published author feedback shows they are thrilled with their new level of production and writing quality

What about you?


St. LOUIS – April 4-5th

P.S. Also be sure and visit the website to enter a Contest for great writing-related prizes.

Writing Contest

photo courtesy of Witheyes

The Kansas Author’s Club District 2 is now accepting entries for the 2009 Annual Writing Contest. The contest is open to all writers and includes four prose categories and four poetry categories.

Prose entries, which have a 2000-word limit, include: short story, memoir, inspirational, and children’s story. Poetry categories are: classic forms (sonnet 14 lines, all others up to 40 lines); free verse (40-line limit); rhymed verse (40-line limit); and haiku (3-line limit).

All entries should be unpublished.

Prizes of $20, $10, and $5 will be offered for First, Second and Third place in all eight categories. Honorable mentions will receive certificates. Closing date for entries is March 31. Winners will be announced on May 9.

The entry fee is $3 per submission for KAC District 2 members, $4 for non-members. Only the title and category (no name) appear at the top of the first page of each typed entry. On a separate cover sheet, type name and address, including email address if available, a list of entries submitted by title and category, and indicate whether a District 2 member or non-member.

The submission plus entry fees and a self-addressed stamped envelope should be sent to Norm Ledgin, KAC District 2 Writing Contest, P.O. Box 23571, Stanley, KS 66283.

Information about Kansas Authors Club is available at
Under “Districts,” then “District 2 News,” click on “2009 Writing Contest” for more information.

Words Matter
Kansas Author’s Club, District 2

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Body Language of a Cop

For all you mystery writers. You have cops in your scenes. Do you know a cop? If not, cops have different body language than the average joe citizen. I know, I'm married to one. when I started my mystery series it was pretty easy for me to figure out how my cop was going to act, how we would react and what his body stance would be. Yep, I just observed hubby.

I love watching him interact in public. The most obvious thing I learned about his actions was that in a restaurant, he will NEVER sit with his back to the door. Being a writer, I'm an observer of people and this drives me nuts, because I have to sit with my back to the door. I get stuck watching the looney birds in the corner play smoochy face or whatever, while he gets to watch people come and go. I know I could run in and sit down in the seat facing the door, but it's a protection, macho thing on his part. So I watch the looney birds.

I ran across a great post by Lynda Sue Cooper about cop body language, and this gal really drilled it. It's because she and her husband are both cops. As I read the post, I thought, "Oh boy, she must know my husband."

The next time you write about a cop or any professional for that matter, stop and think about what in their profession causes them to do certain things or act certain ways.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Writer's Block

photo couresy of Darren Hester

Do you believe in it? Have you experienced it?

I can't say I believe in writer's block. What I do believe is that some days I am more inspired to write. On the days I'm not inspired, it's not that I don't have anything to say. Goodness knows I always have something to say. But I may not like the tone on the rhythm or the way it looks on my computer screen.

Did you ever have one of those nights where you were tired, yet you couldn't sleep? The more you tried the more frustrating it became. Or how about a recipe that you've made a thousand times and everytime you make it, it tastes different?

When I experience on of those "frustrating" times when I'm writing, it's usually because I am trying too hard (kind of like the sleep thing.) Sleep experts tell you when you are dealing with insomnia the worst thing you can do it stay in bed. Get up, walk around, watch television, read a book, but don't lie in bed. I try and follow the same advice when I'm sitting at the computer and the words won't come, because the more I stare at the screen, the more frustrated and anxious I become. Changing scenery is sometimes just the thing I need to work out the cobwebs in my head and find the perfect words I wanted to say.

I found this article by Jennifer Roach that talks about jumpstarts when your writing is stalled. Even if you don't suffer from writer's blocks, these are some great ideas for story starters or for just letting your muse wander.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cliches and Me

I have a hard time with cliches (and also the html coding for the wierd little thing over the e.) So bear with me. I'm talking those crazy little phrases that drive us up the wall (notice the cliche.) But if I say, "cute as a button," for example. Ya'll know exactly what I mean. Or if, it was a dark and stormy night, there is no getting around the fact (getting around the fact is probably a cliche, too) that there was rain coming down, and the sun was not to be found. What about, let the cat out of the bag. We all know someone couldn't keep a secret.

Rather than ban cliches, I say embrace them. Then we don't have to think so hard to figure out what's being said. Do I hear a yes? Anyone?

I know, I know. Agents make little notches in their knickers every time they see a cliche, so I'm redlining them (the cliches, not the agents.) Agents are our friends.

When I go back and edit, I always find those stinking little words. They are way too easy to slip in subconsciously. I even made a lit of the worst offenders. But it's like cussing, if you get the habit, it's hard to break. Maybe I need to put a quarter box on my desk and tos sin a quarter for every cliche I find.

I am contastly looking for new ways to express myself in my writing. I Now I'm just hoping that no one latches onto my new phrases and makes cliches out of them.

Check out this link that lists cliches. It's from Laura Hayden's "Left-Brain- Right Brain/Creativity Program". As a added bonus, there's a listing of euphemisms for the word "Stupid." And I found one I've never heard of... His yeast went bad. Is that a knee-slapper or what? Oops, I think that should be added to the cliche list.

Hope you enjoy the link.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flash Fiction Contest

Pike's Peak courtesy of DewKnight

Announcing the 2009 Pikes Peak Branch National League of American Pen Women Flash Fiction Contest

A complete but very short story of 100 words or fewer

Deadline: Postmarked by March 2, 2009

Entry fee: $10.00

Prizes: 1st $75; 2nd $40; Judge's Merit $15.00

Theme: "Everything was perfect"

Flash fiction is a complete but very short story of 100 words or fewer. The title is not included in the word count. The story must pertain to the theme, "Everything was perfect." All genres are welcome, and multiple entries may be submitted. An entry fee is required for each entry. No poetry. A self-addressed, stamped envelope must be included. Winners will be notified by or before April 15, 2009. For complete rules and entry blank please go to (click Pikes Peak branch, then contests) or e-mail

Carol Caverly
Flash Fiction
Contest Chair
86 Rising Sun Ter
Colorado Springs, CO 80921

Monday, February 16, 2009

Call for Submissions - Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love

photo courtesy of my_amii

Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love
101 Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about Dating, Romance, Love and Marriage

Everyone loves a good love story. And we all love stories about how the love started and blossomed.

Join us in a fun new book about dating, romance, love, and marriage, scheduled for publication in January 2010, just in time for Valentine's Day.

We are looking for true stories and poems about your soulmate, your true love, the one that got away, and all the ups and downs of your love life. Stories can be serious or hilarious, or both.

We prefer stories and poems written in the first person of 600-1,200 words. Stories should not be pre-published unless in very small publications.

Here are some suggested topics, but we know you can think of many more:
Dating adventures - the good and the bad
How you met
Internet searching and dating
Speed dating and other strategies
When did you know?
Wedding stories
Parental pressure and support
Pressure and support from children
Senior dating and love at a certain age
Making marriage work
Second chances

If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose.

You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100.

You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it. SUBMISSIONS GO TO
DEADLINE IS May 31, 2009.

Teen relationships will be covered in a future book, so please do not submit them for this book.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Online Writing Class

Online class: March 1-31, 2009

"Pacing: How To Create A Page-Turning Manuscript"
by Mary Buckham
Registration $30 at

What keeps a book intriguing enough to have fans turn the pages and not set it down? How can one author's books have you riveted and another's leave you feeling ho-hum? Ever wondered if there are key craft tips and techniques to balance fast-paced conflict, tension, suspense or mystery, action and emotion? In PACING: HOW TO CREATE A PAGE TURNING MANUSCRIPT you'll learn:
* The ingredients of a page-turner
* What hooks are and how to maximize them
* The power of effective scenes: common pacing pitfalls to avoid
* The ten elements of strong pacing
* How to use subplots and secondary characters
* How to avoid a sagging middle
* What a beat is and how to use it
* Great beginnings & endings that have your readers wanting more!

Mary Buckham’s debut Romantic Suspense novel, THE MAKEOVER MISSION, was a Silhouette Intimate Moments release. Her second novel, INVISIBLE RECRUIT, was a May 2006 Silhouette Bombshell. A former magazine editor, she has written hundreds of free-lance articles and a non-fiction book. Currently she is a national writing-workshop presenter, both online and at conferences. Visit or for more information about the release of her Break Into Fiction book coming June 2009.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Writer's Groups and Community

photo courtesy of iirraa

I'm always evaluating and re-evaluating the writer's groups I belong to. Am I contributing enough? Am I growing as a writer as a result of belonging to the group? Do I belong more for socializing than for the benefit of my writing? Do I leave the meeting or event fired up and ready to write?

I ran across this essay written by Jerry Waxler, the Workshop Chair for Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group. I love that Jerry talks about writing groups promoting regional culture and teaching writing classes at senior centers. How many times have I thought about what I wouldn't give to have had my grandmother write down our family history. It's too late for me. What an awesome class to present at a senior center. I'm not going to rehash his essay, so just go read it. And while your at it, check out his blog Memory Writers Network.

I hadn't given much thought to the impact my groups have on my community. But, I'd like to think we are giving something back. Though, I have to admit I'll be adding this question to my evaluation. What does my group bring to the community?

Jerry has provided some great ideas for ways writing groups can enhance a community. I know it has me thinking.

What does your group do for your community?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Platform courtesy of acromion

Interesting post (scroll down to Fiction Writers need Platforms, too) by Jane Friedman over at There Are No Rules. It's always made sense to me that a non-ficiton writer needs a platform. I mean if you're dishing dirt on celebs, probably makes sense that you actually know some. Or if you writing a book on parenting, probably a good thing to have a couple of kids who aren't in prison, unless of course, you're writing about how not to parent.

Now they tell me it's a good thing for a novelist to have a platform. Ummm, I've written a murder mystery. No, calm down. I have never murdered anyone . And my protagonist is a rich country club type. Nope, never belong to a country club, and I'm not rich-yet. So now I gotta figure out my platform. I thought the synopsis was bad.

After reading the tips which Jane says Christina Katz also discusses in her book Get Known Before the Book Deal, I'm off to buy Christina's book. I think I've figured out my angle. I have a fair knowledge of law enforcement (having slept with a cop for 30 years), and what I don't know, he'll be glad to tell me. Plus, I'm writing about a real location, so that's a no-brainer. I just have to figure out the rest.

Now I'm back to they synopsis. Aaacckk. Anyone? Anyone out there with a smashing example of a synopsis for me? Better yet, anyone out there willing to write the synopsis for me? Acccckkkk.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Missouri Writers' Guild 94th Annual Conference

Press Release: 94th Annual Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference or
by Margo L. Dill 217-714-8582 or

CAPE GIRARDEAU--Writers and editors will be speaking and networking in Cape Girardeau at the beginning of April. If you are a writer at any stage in your career, don’t miss this opportunity to meet with writing professionals right in the Midwest. The Missouri Writers’ Guild is thrilled to be hosting its 94th annual writing conference and inviting writers of every genre to attend for the weekend of a lifetime. From April 3 to April 5, conference attendees will have a chance to meet one-on-one with speakers, have two pages of their work read in front of editors, network with other writers from across the country, perfect their craft, attend lectures and workshops, and enjoy a spring weekend just over 100 miles south of St. Louis.

One of the speakers is Lee Goldberg, television writer for Monk and Diagnosis Murder. “I'll be talking about how to break into television and teaching conference goers how to watch a TV show the way TV writers do,” Goldberg said. “How to recognize the ‘franchise’ and key conflicts that power the narrative engine—essential skills if you hope to succeed in the TV business.”

Two inspirational women in the writing business, Angela Mackintosh and Annette Fix, will speak and meet with attendees. Both Mackintosh and Fix have years of experience as writers and are the editors of the WOW! Women on Writing e-zine. Fix is also the author of The Break-Up Diet. “I'll be doing a session on memoir writing--teaching how writers can mine the unique stories in their lives, find their voices, and shape the material into memoirs that have universal appeal,” Fix said.

Other speakers scheduled are Pulitzer Prize nominated poet, Harvey Stanbrough; Simon and Schuster editor, Kate Angelella; editor of Listen Magazine, Celeste Walker; tween series author, Jessica Burkhart; and Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Marcia Kay Preston. Check the website,, for speaker updates, bios, and classes they are teaching.

For one registration price, attendees will be able to attend a keynote session, break-out workshops, a luncheon, and social-networking periods with snacks. A bookstore and free materials will also be available to conference registrants. Attendees can also bring two pages of their work for an open-mic critique session with the editors on Friday night. The price of attendance for Friday night and all day Saturday is either $139, $149, or $159 until February 6, depending if you are a Missouri Writers’ Guild member or not. After February 6, add $10 to the above prices. You can register on-line or print off a registration sheet at A Saturday night writing awards’ banquet ticket can be purchased for an additional $25, and Sunday morning master’s classes will be available as of February 1 for an additional $50.

The conference will be held in Cape Girardeau, MO at the Drury Lodge, 104 South Vantage Drive, phone number: 573-334-7151. Drury Lodge is providing a special rate of $85 a night for rooms for the MWG conference attendees. The hotel offers free wireless Internet, a free evening beverage reception, free popcorn, free long distance calls, and a free hot breakfast in the morning.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Writing Workshop -- FREE

photo courtesy of AJC1


March 14, 2009 at Ozarks Electric, 3641 W. Wedington Drive, Exit # 64, off I - 540. This is also highway 16/Wedington Road west. Go ½ mile West, building is on the left. Sign - In 8:30 a.m.

We ask that you pre - register so we can be prepared.

Email Velda at or Dusty at

Scheduled Workshops:
9:00 a.m. Storyteller Molly Lemmons will demonstrate how to turn family memories into entertaining and informative stories.
10:00 a.m. A PowerPoint presentation. A critique panel of workshop members will demonstrate how the group critiques the work of novice writers.
10:45 a.m. Break
11:00 a.m. Instruction on manuscript formatting from published authors in short story, fiction and nonfiction genres.
11:30 a.m. Pam Thompson will present the Top Ten Grammar Errors and how to clean them from your manuscript.
NOON Lunch Break. $6.00 will buy your lunch on the premises. It will consist of meat and cheese platters for sandwiches, chips, cookies and a cold drink. During lunch break published authors will read from and discuss their work. Plan on remaining in the building.
1:00 p.m. Velda Brotherton will speak on the literary, the mainstream and the genre in today’s market.
2:15 to 2:30 p.m. Break
2:30 to 3:45 p.m. Dusty Richards will speak on Writing 101. The basics of writing a good book.
Published authors are invited to bring their books to sell during the conference. We’ll have plenty of tables.

Don't forget to enter our anthology


All members of the Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop and anyone attending the March 14, 2009 one - day seminar sponsored by the NWAWW are invited to submit a short story for consideration for an anthology of short stories.

· Unpublished short stories only, up to 3,000 words, no
essays or

· Standard manuscript format, Times New Roman, 12 point
font. No
fee. Mail one copy to Dusty Richards, P.O. Box 6460, Springdale, AR
72766. No SASE required.

Manuscripts will be destroyed after contest. First North American Rights.
Rights revert back to author thirty days after publication.

· Include a cover letter with name, address, telephone number
email address upper left, Title and length upper right, and a fifty word bio halfway down the page.

· All genres, except erotica. No gratuitous foul language,
violence, or gore.

· By submitting to this contest, you are giving permission
for your work to be edited and to publish your work in this anthology. No other contract will be required. There will be no payment to authors for work published. Prior to publication, authors will be able to order copies at a discounted price of 40% – 50%.

· Deadline for entries: Postmarked no later than March 21,
Chosen authors will be notified thirty days after submissions close.

· Publication date: March, 2010. Available at the March
NAWW seminar.

About our speakers:
Molly Lemmons is a vivacious speaker who draws the crowd into her world.
She will illustrate how she wrote her book of memories, then everyone will join in with examples of their own memories as she gives story prompts.
This promises to be a worthwhile hour.

A panel of experienced critique group members will illustrate how the group helps writers who attend the weekly workshop.

We see writers having trouble with manuscript formatting, so there will be a panel to illustrate the proper formatting of all sorts of manuscripts by authors published in those fields.

Pam Thompson writes and edits for a living. She is an expert grammarian who can spot a misplaced adverb, adjective or verb a mile off.

Velda Brotherton is the cochair of the writer's workshop and is a multi - published writer in short and long fiction and non fiction.

Dusty Richards is the chairman of the writer's workshop and is well published in the western genre. He will share his popular writing tips.

The group sponsors this free workshop to pay forward all the help we've been given over the years, and we hope you can make it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fearless Writing Workshop

photo courtesy of Theremina

Fearless Writing:

creative reinvention & resilience in tough times a barrier-breaking workshop which uses writing as a powerful tool in developing practical, ongoing creativity

Taught by Crescent Dragonwagon. Four evenings, January 11-14, 2009, Little Rock.

Fearless Writing with Crescent Dragonwagon: four evening workshops in Little Rock

Sunday, January 11, 2009 - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Historic Arkansas Museum 200 East Third Street Little Rock , AR 72201 United States

You don't have to be a writer, or would-be writer, to get a lot out of a Fearless Writing workshop. On the other hand, if you are, you'll get a double-dip: skills and techniques that will serve you not just in writing but in almost every other life-endeavor. If you've ever found yourself stopped cold by unexpected change, doubt in your own abilities, uncertain outcome, or unfamiliar economic, technological, or social conditions... if you're tired of this, Fearless Writing offers a way to stop being stopped. The workshop uses the anxiety generated by chaotic conditions as a powerful creative force.

Fearless is practical, effective, creative, serious and playful. It turns apparent obstacles into the material from which to build a thriving life. Fearless's writing practices and principles spill over cornucopia-like: from writing, to creativity and problem solving, to business and personal life. It works for blocked or would-be writers, and for people who don't identify themselves as either. It works whether you perceive the obstacle stopping you as an inner or outer barrier. It works, period. In Fearless, you'll discover how to
*unwrap the secret gifts of fear, misgivings, and self-doubt
* decode procrastination's hidden messages
* align expenditures of time, energy & money to your life-destination
* experience, trust, and use your creative self as a reliable partner
* work harder by working softer
* immediately begin writing with more clarity, strength, and ease
* find your authentic, original, unique voice
* use Fearless's template to create a business, personal, & creative life in which you thrive & grow
* become your own mentor, continuing the Fearless path long after the workshop


Your registration fee includes 25 + pages of valuable material, given at the workshop. Besides its usefulness in your on-going Fearless practice, you'll get that special insider's I-was-there-first satisfaction: Crescent's book on Fearless Writing will be published by Ten Speed Press in 2011, and the hand-outs are a sneak preview of the book's core principles.

Want to know more? See Is Fearless for you? Meet your fearless leader.

Most of all, register right now.

* Register Now Tell a friend

Contact Information Email: Send Email

Payment Instructions

* $295; register on-line

* all credit cards accepted

* full money-back guarantee

* includes 25 page + hand-out The 10 hours of Fearless training, over four days time, are conveniently scheduled so that you can (as some people so unkindly put it) "keep your day job."

Sunday, January 11, 2009: 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm

Monday, January 12, 2009: 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Tuesday, January 13, 2009: 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Wednesday, January 14, 2009: 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Friday, January 2, 2009

Science Fiction Writers Workshop and My Word for the Year

photo courtesy of dotpolka

My Word for the Year...

Ran across this on another blog (thanks Country Girl) that I frequent often (mostly when I'm wasting time researching.) Anyway, she made me think about if I could only choose one word for how I wanted to live my life in 2009, what would it be?

So I thunk and I thunk and came up with world peace. Okay, that's two words, and it's not something I have much control over. Though, I'm pretty sure if my grandma were still alive, she could lick it pretty quick. When my brother and I were young and stayed with her, her answer to our feuding was to sit us on the front porch with a big grocery sack full of peas to shell. Nothing takes the fire out of an argument like sitting on the front porch shelling peas. Course it doesn't hurt that we still made faces at one another sticking out tongues and crossing our eyes and such.

If Grandma could have set old Bush and a few world leaders down on the front porch and made them sit there (she woulda needed a tractor trailer load of peas), I do believe she could have solved the world peace problem. And we'd a had a big, old mess of peas to take care of world hunger, too.

Oh, I've digressed. So what's new. My word is REDUCE. I think it's a great word and fits so many aspects of my life. REDUCE the amount of waste I make. Think recycle. REDUCE the amount of wordly goods that I covet. Think clean up my office and get rid of the stuff I've been meaning to read for a decade, but just keep piling up. REDUCE the amount of money I spend on frivolous things. Think less shopping. REDUCE my figure. Think get back on my healthy living plan. REDUCE my carbon footprint. Think a more green environment for me and my family.

Yes, REDUCE is my word for the year. What's yours?

Now for a Workshop...

Ran across this the other day and had to sigh. Oh how I wish I could find a workshop that specializes in what I write... Cozy mysteries. I'm don't mean a conference, but if you happen to know of one, let me know. But I'm looking for an intensive workshop in novel writing for cozies or even mysteries.

But for those of you looking for an intensive writing workshop check out Science Fiction and Fanstasy Novel Writers Workshop. For 2009, the Writer's Workshop will meet from June 28 through July 10. The Campbell Conference follows it up from July 9 - 12.

In the meantime, think about the word you want to live by for 2009 and post it here.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a great 2009!