Tag Archives: books

What I Learned at the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference

This is how I looked the day after the conference. I had so many new ideas my hair exploded!

me

It is easy to be intimidated by conferences, pitches and critiques. The reason I signed up for the conference was to absorb new ideas and improve my craft. Since I’m only three years in, my sponge-like brain was ready to sop it all up.

From Chuck Wendig, I learned to “not care too much.” By that he means don’t get so wrapped up in one manuscript that you become afraid of rejections and are paralyzed. He is a great example of the opposite. He published his first novel, Blackbirds, only three years ago and cranks out books like some people bake cookies. Okay, not that fast, but he makes it look easy. Although that book crossed too many genres for traditional publishers, he has sold tens of thousands of copies. Long live Miriam Black! He has written books about writing for his beloved Penmonkeys along with a variety of fantasy novels. He blogs on TerribleMinds.com and his books can be found there as well.

Chuck Wendig and me

 

From Gail Carriger, I learned that writing can be like breathing. It is something we have to do in order to be happy. But sometimes we have to make choices. We can’t do it all. Gail had a career in archeology. Typing all day for work and writing her novel at night became too painful. She chose to write novels since it is her oxygen. She has a slew of humorous fantasy books on the New York Times and USA Today Best Seller lists, so I would say that was a very good choice! The first book of the Parasol Protectorate series called Soulless was published in 2009. She’s at GailCarriger.com and her books are here.

gail carriger

From Jim C. Hines, I learned that we all have an opportunity to include diversity in our books. We can write characters of any race and sexual orientation, and can include strong women protagonists. We can give our readers someone other than white heterosexual males to root for. His first book Goldfish Dreams was published in 2009 and is told from a young woman’s point of view. Go Jim! He has written three fantasy series since then. He can be found JimCHines.com and his books can be found here.

jim c hines

From Hank Phillipa Ryan, an investigative reporter for NBC’s Boston Affiliate, I learned to ask questions like, “Will anyone care? Do I care?” She encouraged us to work even when it’s hard since we’ll always feel a sense of accomplishment. She taught us that it’s never too late to start writing novels. She wrote her first book, Prime Time, after being a reporter for nearly forty years. It won an Agatha Award for best new novelist. Hank is my hero. She can be found at HankPhillipiRyan.com and her books are here.

hank phillipi ryan

The theme I heard all weekend was, “Writer’s write.” Authors don’t get stuck on one book, they continue to stretch and grow and learn about their craft by producing many more. We all have a voice and whether it’s heard by a few or by thousands it is still important to just write it down.

Are you writing a book?

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Writer’s Conference Do’s and Don’ts or How to Avoid Abject Humiliation

A virginal experience can be frightening and take you out of your comfort zone, but it can also help you in ways you could never have imagined. This is exactly why I attended my first writer’s conference. I compiled a list of tips just for you!

Be on time.

The morning of the conference started with master’s classes and critiques which writers had signed up for weeks and months in advance. I registered the week before, but decided to sit in on a critique session. No biggie right?

When I finally made it through traffic, I was 30 minutes late. Volunteers chatted at a table set up in the entry of the hotel. I was told, “You’re late.”

“Yep. I know, but can I still audit a critique class?”

“I guess that’s alright.”

“Where do I go?” I looked around the vast atrium.

She pointed behind her. “Up the stairs.”

Think before you speak.

“Is there a particular critique group I should look for? I write paranormal thriller and wouldn’t want to end up in a non-fiction group.”

“Ma’am, we are the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. There are NO non-fiction critique groups.

My cheeks scorched while I continued to show my vast intellect. “Oh yeah. Duh.” Continue reading

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How My PC Almost Killed Me

It started out like any other ordinary day. I sipped coffee while checking email and social media.

I had no idea what was coming

9:00 AM - I opened Microsoft Word to get some real work accomplished. It surprised me that I’d left three documents open from the day before. A draft of my Boob Report and a travel post listed as Document 2 and 3 hadn’t been named. The third was my book. I rewrote 202 pages during the last week and had been hitting Control, Save without changing the file name. I checked my saved files. Whoa! The last time my computer saved my book was on 8-8 and it was 8-15. My computer had been acting glitchy after downloading 5000 photos from my vacation. I had purchased an external hard drive and had freed up another 5 GBs.

Not too worried, I pressed, “Save as” expecting the file name option to come up, when my computer froze. I got an error message, “The Dialog box is open.” What the heck is an Open Dialog Box?

9:21 - I tried everything and then called my husband Danny. He gave me the name of his IT guy, Matt.

10:57 - Matt called me back and began working on the computer via internet.

11:40 - He called to give me the bad news. “I can’t find those files anywhere. I think you’re screwed. Just Control, Alt, Delete and reboot, but you won’t be able to save your files.

11:57 - I freaked out! I called Danny in tears. “I worked all week on those stories and my rewrite. What should I do?”

“You’ll probably have to Control, Alt, Delete.”

“I’m not giving up.” Continue reading

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It’s All About Passion

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My first banner seemed wild enough until summer arrived and the snow melted.

This week marks my 2nd blogiversary. First of all, I think it’s funny that bloggers are primarily writers and they can’t decide how to spell it. Is it with an i or an a? Google corrected it for me, so blogiversary it is.

I never thought I would be a writer. I am an artist and was a medical illustrator before becoming a full-time mom, but have always loved telling stories. Maybe it’s the Irish in me. After spinning one of my yarns almost three years ago, a friend of mine said, “You should really write these stories down.” Her words shocked me and a light bulb turned on in my head.

This happened at a time when I was often introduced to random strangers who asked, “What do you do?”

I never had a proper answer. I had been out of a job since my kids went to college and had been searching for a way to express myself.

You see, I had never really found my passion. I enjoyed creating through different mediums like illustrating, painting, gardening, cooking, decorating, and even sewing, but when thinking about turning any of these into a career, I would moan and groan and grumble. I enjoyed seeing the fruits of my labor, but didn’t enjoy the labor part of the experience.

I took my friend up on her idea. While outlining a snarky and satirical non-fiction book about women and life in Boulder, I plodded along. I was such a slow typist and changing anything was excruciating. Navigating the minefield of not being offensive to anyone while trying to avoid blowing up my relationships, took forever. It was hard enough to find the letters on my keyboard.

Then, I was told that no one would publish my book unless I started blogging to build a writer’s platform. I only knew blogging as a diary form of word vomit. I wasn’t that thrilled about journaling, but I read a few posts and realized I could choose my own focus – hence the Wild Ride!

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I loved this second banner, but I got bored, opted for vibrant color and cut off my hair.

When I started blogging here at WordPress in May of 2011, I could not figure out how to get views. Just when I was about to give up, I discovered the home page and realized tags were crucial to being visited. Remember, this is two years ago, way before WP created the Reader.

After writing blog posts for a couple of months, I reviewed my book proposal with anxiety. I found my voice and writing style right away since I write the way I speak, but the genre was wrong. I could feel it in my gut. Non-fiction is tricky. It involves real people, places and events. I had to be careful not to alienate any of them.

I was falling in love with fiction through writing 100 word flash on Fridays. The freedom of writing whatever I wanted allowed my vivid imagination to explore all kinds of exotic places and different types of characters, some of whom I admired, a few who made me laugh and others who came from nightmares and dark places in my mind. I loved this new creative medium.

Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I found my obsession and my passion.

I shelved my non-fiction project with a huge sigh of relief and had to choose which fictional idea to expand. Looking back, I could not have picked a wilder or more challenging story for my first book. What was I thinking?

I had to stop writing flash fiction on Fridays since the characters in my book would start partying down with the new ones in my flash and they would wreak havoc in my pea brain. I needed a split personality to deal with all of them and keep them separated. It was hard to stop writing 100 word fiction for my blog, but once I did, my book flowed.

Now my paranormal thriller is done and I am very excited about it!

Third try's a charm

Looking back on the last two years, my blog has changed how I define myself, the stories I want to tell, and the focus of my life. I am in the throes of embarking on a writing career which is challenging, humbling and more exciting than anything I have ever experienced professionally.

I am looking forward to querying an agent and getting my story out there. Will I take a break? Hell no. I have eight more books I want to write. Two more in this series, three which took a back seat when I drew straws for which one to write first, a screenplay, a historical fiction, a compilation and that’s off the top of my head!

Now when someone asks me what I do, I have an answer.

Have you found your passion?

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Do You Curse Brightly?

While finishing my paranormal thriller, I have made some major cuts and additions. I think my sex scene is sexier after eliminating the mechanics and expanding the sensual description. I fixed the parts where the chicken went into the oven and came out as roasted rabbit. I deleted overused words like “perfect” even though at one time I thought they were perfect.

Reading best-selling thrillers while writing my first have inspired me, until yesterday. In the middle of an intense scene where agents were kidnapped, the protagonist, “cursed brightly.” (insert sound of needle scratching record here) WHAT??? It pulled me right out of the story. I stopped reading and set the book down.

shouts expletive

The hammer actually smacked my poor thumb, hence the realistic grimace. Continue reading

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A Quicky! Fan Art for Chuck Wendig

Have you met Chuck Wendig? Well this is a picture of him, but usually he is attached to a body.  He looks a bit bereft which is not a good description of him. In fact over at his hilarious, irreverent and twisted blog, Terrible Minds, he has a lot to say. Continue reading

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