June 7th, 2012

“If you continue to write and rewrite, to submit and resubmit, you will publish and republish.”

~Paul R. Martin

We’ve covered several ways to get started or back to your writing.

But none of what we discussed will ever take the place of actual writing.

Putting the words on the paper is the only way to get your book written.

I repeat, the ONLY way.

Thinking about, talking about it, wishing, hoping, and dreaming will NEVER get you published.

So let’s take the plunge and start putting words down.

Write what you’d like to accomplish TODAY. Then this WEEK. If you’re brave enough, what about this MONTH.

Journal your progress.

Jot down character, plot, story ideas.

Challenge yourself to write an opening sentence. Set a goal to complete the first paragraph, then the first page and then the first chapter

Pull out something you’ve written before life and Trolls got in the way and re-read it. Soon, you will correct a word here, a phrase there, and before you know it, your head is back in the story and you’re doing some revising on it which leads to writing new words and brings you closer to finishing it.

The important thing is to START.

And by keeping your head in the game and focused on your objective, you’ll soon be off the bench and on the playing field.

~Sandy

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June 5th, 2012

…but GW and I have a new obsession! And it is…. (drum roll please)

Embroidering!

Yes, you heard me correctly folks, it’s embroidering. How did we get started on such a creative outlet?

One day, I mentioned to him that I didn’t have a sewing machine so had no way of doing minor alterations and/or repairs to our clothing. So, GW being GW, he did his research to decide which machine we needed to buy. (I just love this about him. I mention something I’m thinking of purchasing and he does all the work to find the best for the money, the best reviews, etc. I get to skip this part and just enjoy the rewards, but don’t tell him I said that. He might start making me do it myself and I don’t have the patience, LOL!)

So, off to the sewing center we go. He’d decided on a Brother machine – one that does sewing AND embroidering! Cool, huh?

We take it home, read the directions and viola! His first project:

Isn’t Mickey cool??? But the saying is a private joke. If I told you, I’d have to kill you!

GW did great job even though he was being a smart aleck (which he is also good at). The reason for the text being a little different colors is because he used variegated thread (which means different colors both light and dark).

And then he surprised me with a bar towel:

Then we (meaning he) decided since the biggest project this machine would do is only 4 inches by 4 inches, we (meaning he) MIGHT need a machine that does a much bigger area. So, after much research (again) off we go to the sewing center (again) and came home with this:

Bigger, Better, Behr, LOL!!! It even comes with a tablet you can draw things and digitalize them to be embroidered.

So cool, huh?

So next came bar towels for a friend:

The friend loves them and has them in the new bar he just built in the game room. We were over there this weekend at a party and several people were commenting on them. Not that we were eavesdropping or anything (and loving every minute of the oohs and ahs and isn’t that cool. LOL!)!

Together, we’re working on a generic baby quilt (sorta like an experiment) and it’s turning out really cute. He embroidered all the squares and I am putting the quilt together on the smaller machine.

We are working on an idea for a special order baby blanket for his daughter and then plans to make several more quilts in different patterns.

Are we not the creative cats meow? He and I are both having so much fun poring over patterns and ideas and creating new works of art. But I do have to say, I’m proud of him for what he has learned and accomplished in such a short time. I like to think up the creative parts and he enjoys figuring out how to make them work. And he has some awesome creativity ideas himself.

So stay tuned and I’ll share more of our ideas as we go.

~Sandy

June 2nd, 2012

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

~Vincent Van Gogh

We’ve talked about ideas to keep our stories, our characters, our writing in the forefront of our minds.

But what keeps us ‘wanting’ to go to the trouble when it is so easy to let go of it. And, trust me, it is easy to let go.

I’ve been told we create pathways in our brain. Those paths become familiar and, no matter whether they are good ones or bad ones, they start to feel comfortable to us. It’s what we know.

For example, I’m a worrier. I was born worrying! And now worrying is so ingrained in me, I barely register I’m doing it. So, now, I make a conscious effort to stop the negative thoughts and head them in a more positive direction.

Believe it or not, it works.

We have to create a positive pathway with our writing. And inspiration can help keep that path open.

What inspires you?

Think about it on a daily basis. Talk about them. Get together with writer friends and talk about writing. About Books. Plots. Characters. Publishing. Author Branding. The Industry. If others are excited about your writing, it’s easy to catch the fever also.

Join a critique group. Attend local writer’s meetings. Join online chapters and never leave the comfort of home. These are excellent support systems and sources to keep up with the industry. Believe it or not, Publishing IS an industry just like any other business.

Design a new blog, website, bookmark, or business card. Visit other blogs and websites.

It is amazing how it can jump start the creative juices to flow.

Think about what inspires you. Maybe you have some ideas I haven’t thought of. Share them if you like or email me personally

Next we’ll talk about the writing itself!

~Sandy

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May 30th, 2012

Today, we’re talking about the ‘G’ word!

Yep, setting Goals. With a capital ‘G’.

If you are like me, setting goals is not so hard, it’s accomplishing them that is tough.

I love setting goals. They are like writing lists to me and I’m a list maker. Going down my list and checking each item off is such a big thrill to me. I feel such satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of the day. It makes my life easy in so many ways.

But goals, not so much.

It seemed every time I set a goal, the Goal Trolls clap their hands in glee and with an atrocious maniacal laugh set about to thwart me in ways that make it impossible to complete them.

{{sigh}}

So how does one beat them at their own game?

Set. Your. Goals.

You heard me.

And it’s okay to start small. When you reach those tiny ones, you will be surprised how good it feels and will become excited to set others. Maybe the next one will be a bit bigger. And soon, those Trolls will find someone else to pick on.

To make it a little more exciting – Issue yourself a challenge. It doesn’t have to be an expensive challenge or even a monetary one. And it doesn’t have to include anyone else but YOU to do it.

Just fill in the blanks. If I accomplish (goal)________ by (time frame)_________ then I get (reward)________.

And no cheating. No accomplishment, no reward.

Back at ya next time!

~Sandy

May 27th, 2012

Here we are. Back talking about how we can accomplish our writing dreams.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase Keeping Your Head in the Game before. Especially if you, or anyone you know, have ever been involved in any kind of sports activity. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my sons coaches preach it.

Basically, it means to keep involved and focused on your objective.

Things out of our control are exactly that. Out. Of. Our. Control. But there are a few things we can control and here are a few ideas to help you get back in the swing of things.

Set a few minutes each day for writing. Everyone can find five minutes in a twenty-four hour period they can devote to it.

If it is honestly impossible to write in that designated five minutes, then read something about it.

Read Craft books, writer’s magazines, your favorite author’s blogs, books in the same genre you are writing in and even those in different genres. It’s a good idea to get an idea what’s out there on the bookshelves whether they be a bricks and mortar store or a cyberstore. Reread the book(s) that inspired you to become a writer. Everyone has at least one.

Buy or borrow some tapes on writing. Listen while cooking, cleaning, doing chores, running errands (or just running if you are into that), going back and forth from school or work each day.

I belong to Romance Writers of America and their yearly National Conference tapes are available each year at Bill Stephens Productions and you can now download individual sessions straight from their website. I get so much out of them and listen to them again and again, learning something new each time.

I’ll continue next post more on how to Keep Your Head in the Game. But until then, your mission is to decide how many minutes each day you can devote to your writing. Start a diary, a spreadsheet or even keep up with it on your smart phone.

I’m sure there’s an app for it, LOL!

~Sandy

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May 20th, 2012

“You gotta keep your saw in the wood.”

~Paul R. Martin

So you wanna write a book?

You’ve got characters you’re in love with, a plot that rocks, and a theme to die for.

But what is missing here?

That elusive thing that everyone has, but not enough of.

Time!

In today’s fast paced, instant gratification world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed with ordinary day to day living. School, work, family, friends and a multitude of outside influences demand your time and energy making it difficult, if not impossible, to get any writing in.

Little by little, your characters stop demanding their stories be told and eventually drift away and become silent. The worlds you built become nonexistent and the plots you so labouiously crafted to torture your characters become a distant memory.

It becomes easier not to think about writing and harder to remember why you started in the first place. You lose the excitement of getting those first words down on a new story. You forget the adrenaline ‘high’ of getting into the ‘zone’ where the words come faster than you can type.

So you don’t even try any longer.

It becomes a ‘when this happens, I’ll start again’ which turns into a ‘maybe someday I’ll get back to it’ until you don’t even think about it much less talk about it any longer.

Your dream dies a slow, painful death. I know, I’ve been there.

For the next several posts, I’m going to address some things we can do to avoid this from happening.

It’s called Keeping Your Head in the Game.

For now, I want you to focus on one thing. What do you want to accomplish? Do you have something brand new or is there a WIP that has been sitting collecting cobwebs you’d love to get back to? Take a day or so to decide and we’ll meet up again this week to discuss a plan to get you back in the chair and in front of your computer/laptop/alphasmart/iPad/pen and paper.

Until then…

~Sandy

April 8th, 2012

Happy Easter to all!

Picture this:

Me. In grubby old shorts and tennis shoes with sweat dripping down the back and staining the front of my shirt, gardening gloves hiding the dirt beneath my nails while battling the winter weeds in the flower garden in the front yard. The wind briskly whipping my hair into a frizz ball and heat and exertion turning my face a unflattering bright red.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a car turn the corner into our cul de sac and stop right in front of our mail box. A little gnome of a man opens his door and with slow deliberate steps, makes his way up the driveway pausing when he was about half way. (Not sure if he was out of breath or just being polite.)

Ever the hospitable me, I rise from the ground, a handful of weeds in one hand and a garbage bag in the other, thoughts of ‘I’ll never get this done and get back to my writing’ hopefully not showing on my face.

I drop everything and walk toward him while sizing him up.

Too old for a kidnapper and I could probably take him on easily in a fight.

Can’t be Publishers Clearing House. Forgot to enter.

No one in the family has passed on so can’t be an attorney searching for relatives for surprise inheritances.

So, to my surprise he introduces himself as Mr. Smith (name changed… yada yada) one of the board members of our Homeowners Association and he had something for me.

Now, honestly, my first thought was ‘what did we (meaning me) do wrong?’ GW tends to follow things to the letter and since I’ve never read the HOA rules, I’m not sure I do or don’t. I’m good at winging things and asking for forgiveness later.

But never in a million years did I expect what came out of his mouth next. “Your home as been chosen as the Yard of the Month for the subdivision and we have a gift for you!”

Do what?

Then never in a million years did I expect what came out of MY mouth next. “You must be kidding, right?”

Now, our yard is not bad. Not bad at all. But it is still a work in progress and we haven’t had it professionally landscape like a lot of them in our subdivision have been. We’ve added, we’ve subtracted, we’ve pruned, we’ve planted, we’ve rearranged, we’ve fertilized, we’ve even put deer urine down (ewww!) to keep the rabbits out. read here if you don’t believe it.

Nope, he assured me. The gorgeous green lawn, breathtaking knock out roses, beautiful accent bushes and the flowering plants all make for an eye catching symmetry of beauty.

Yep, he actually said symmetry of beauty.

I stood in shock before asking if he could wait there for a moment. Please don’t go anywhere. Just a moment.

I walked slowly with dignity to the front door but once inside ran all the way to the back of house yelling for GW. I told him there was someone outside he just HAD to meet. No, I can’t tell you about it, Babe, you won’t believe me. Just HURRY!

GW came out and met Mr. Smith and the first words out of his mouth were, “You’re kidding, right? Maybe you’ve mixed us up with the neighbors across the street?”

Hmmm… great minds think alike, huh?

But, eventually, we were convinced when a sign was posted near the mailbox and a $25.00 gift card was handed to us.

So, it ended up being a pleasant surprise and definitely an Easter miracle.

It’s raining today or I’d post pictures. Maybe another day.

~Sandy

April 5th, 2012

I like a little banana pudding with my Cool Whip, LOL!

As promised, here’s a picture of the new recipe I tried for dessert.

It was good, but very different from my regular banana pudding and GW and I both agreed that we liked the regular recipe better. The carmelized bananas were delish, but a little too overwhelming.

Maybe over vanilla ice cream like Bananas Foster?

This weekend is a long weekend and looking forward to chillin’ out and just doing whatever we decide we are in the mood for. We entertained the thought of going to the Renaissance Festival, but it’s opening weekend and may be just a little too crowded for our taste. Have plenty of time and weekends to go yet.

Today turned out beautiful! Such a difference from Tuesdays severe weather North Texas endured. We were blessed not to have any in our little town, but the surrounding towns had enough that it was too close for comfort here.

I was busy working on the computer not even watching the weather going on behind me outside until I started seeing Tweets about DFW being under a severe attack of tornadic attivity. A few minutes after I turned around to face the window and saw the huge wall cloud in the sky, the phone rang and it was a recorded message from our city stating we were under a severe tornado warning and to take cover NOW! GW soon texted me to see if I was okay, but none of my texts back to him could go through. Until I thought of hard booting the iPhone which worked.

But besides the driving rain coming down in silver sheets accompanied by hail, we didn’t get anything else.

My thoughts and prayers to those whose homes were destroyed or damaged. Thanks to the good Lord above there were no fatalities in a situation where there was so many tornadoes in the area even the meteorologists couldn’t keep up.

Back to work…

Have a great Easter weekend!

~Sandy

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April 3rd, 2012

Have you ever bought brown sugar and once you get home, it’s not the soft, sweet, box of sugary goodness, but a solid, can’t even get it out of the box hard brick?

Well, sure you have. And so did I this week.

I found a super new recipe for carmelized banana pudding and thought I’d surprise GW with dessert. We normally avoid desserts for many reasons, some obvious, some not. Mostly to keep our youthful shapes from becoming not so youthful. Or not so shapely. But occasionally we (meaning me) decide that we’ve been good and deserve dessert.

But back to the story. While pulling the box of brown sugar out of the grocery sack, I dropped it and just barely missed my foot as it crashed to the kitchen tiles. I picked it up (after making sure kitchen floor not damaged, whew!) and wondered how I was going to use something that was so rock hard.

So I did what I always do when I have a question: I ‘googled’ it.

Here’s what was recommended:

Place one slice of bread in plastic bag with brown sugar...

…for a day or so. Um, no.

Try marshmallows in plastic bag with brown sugar...


…for day or so. Like, No!

Place a few drops of water in plastic bag with brown sugar...

…again, NO! Visions of mold flash through my mind.

…no damp towel either!

Seriously?

…Seriously?

Frustrated, I did what any exasperated, in a hurry, need it now cook would do.

The Behr Way

Of course, the pounding could be heard all the way from the back of the house where GW hollered, “Babe, what are you building in there?” If he only knew the trouble women go through for our desserts and our men, LOL!

And it worked! And after a trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I now have a new friend that keeps my brown sugar soft and crumbly and ready for use when I need it.

I call him Sugar Behr!

Will let you know how the Carmelized Banana Pudding comes out tonight!

~Sandy

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January 24th, 2012

I’m a sucker for books. I love my new Nook Tablet – and yes, I still have my old Nook and no you cannot have it, :-) ! But since I have my nook, I generally will buy them on the e-reader and not in print now.

So, one day I decided to make more room in the house (did I tell you I am totally hooked on organizing? I could be the poster person for how to organize your house. You really need to come check my closets, LOL!). So, I took a day and diligently and lovingly went through all my print books and categorized them into those into categories:

1. to be taken to Half Price books,
2. to be given away,
3. to be kept. You know the kinds: some written by super special friends of mine and several of my all time favorites. And, of course, the many, MANY reference books I have collected throughout the years. Those I put all in appropriate and labeled boxes and have stored safely away. Out of sight, but easy to get to. (the organizing thing again).

But, I discovered last year I don’t like journaling on the computer. I NEED something with me, at all times, that I can jot things down that I just know I will need at some point. Or thoughts that I want to remember and can refer back to. Or set some goals for the day/week and check them off. Or even some errands I need to do that day and want to plan my day.

Last year, I’d picked up a really neat hardback book at Barnes and Nobles that was perfect for me to carry around. The size was perfect, my special pen fit in the spiral binder (I have a special book so need a special pen, correct?) and it truly went almost everywhere I went. I actually filled it up during the year and when I went through it the other day, I was surprised at some of the things I’d written.

Some were profound, some were funny, some I’d forgotten about but needed. It also showed me where I was at the beginning of that year, and where I ended up at the end. And I realized I’d grown in some areas that I’d needed to and am pretty durn proud of. There were also some ideas on possible stories, some plotting ideas on the one I’m working on now. A few snippets of conversations I’d heard that would make good fodder in a story some time, and some of those really cute sayings that you think you’ll never forget, but always do.

Since I’m such a visual person, I thought I’d share a picture of it:

2011 Journal

So, I decided to do it again this year.

I gathered all the similiar books, I’d collected throughout this last year and put them all in a basket (that silly organizing thing!) and contemplated which was the one I wanted to use this year. It had to be the perfect one for the year as I’d have to live with it for the next 12 months.

Hmmm...lots of possiblities.....

They are all so pretty! How to decide???

But, eventually, I had to make the decision and the winner for the magical Journal of 2012 is…

Journal 2012

So, do you journal and, if so, what do you like to use?

~Sandy

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