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 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

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

September 30th, 2011

Did you know worry can kill you?

I hear the gasps in the cyber crowd now.

I worry… you worry… we all worry. We can’t help it. It’s in the genes. We worry about our family, our careers, our finances, you name it and we can find a reason.

But according in an article written by C. S. Clarke, PHD:

‘Worry as a stressor is a direct source of headaches, insomnia, ulcers, and other gastric distress, paranoia, generalized anxiety disorders, depression and phobias. Most stress experts believe that it is an indirect source of disorders involving the immune system, such as cancer. We can literally worry ourselves to death. For example, when worry leads to depression and the depression becomes deep and unrelieved, our immune systems break down to the point where even a cold virus could become a killer.’

Gasp again!

Whether this is a medical certainty or not, those of us who worry (hello, my name is Sandy and I am a worrier…), can relate to the physical manifestation constant worry can bring. Just ask anyone who developed problems like mentioned above. Or worse. Most can attest that worry played a big part of the medical history.

How does this pertain to writing?

Worrying means having a lack of faith. So when it comes to my writing (since it is on my list of top ten things to worry about) it implies I have no faith in my ability to ever be published.

Webster’s dictionary defines worry as ‘a mental distress or agitation resulting from concern, usually for something impending or anticipated.’

Bottom line: I’m killing myself by worrying because I have no faith in something that hasn’t happened yet.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

So go forth and write without worry. Save your health. Save your life.

Besides, I also heard worry causes wrinkles.

Gasp!

~Sandy

August 29th, 2011

…a game called ‘What If’.

Couple of weekends ago, we were fortunate enough to travel to the Texas Hill Country again. We were surprised when the same friends we traveled to Napa and to the Texas Hill Country asked us to go with them and help celbrate their anniversary. We always have such a good time around them and have decided we make aweome traveling companions.

This time we visited different farms, restaurants, and such that we didn’t visit the last time. We even toured a Distillery that made whiskey and got to taste the mash and the White Dog (warning: Do. Not. Smell. It. In fact, don’t taste it either, but definitely don’t smell it. Can you say goodby to any and all nose hairs?) Ouch!!

One winery we visited had a small graveyard on the premises with an old cyclone fence protecting the graves from outside intruders. The graves dated back to the 1800′s, some of the engraving faded to where you had to trace the letters with your fingers to make out the writing. Watching guard over the tombstones was a large stately tree, it’s branches tall and strong, and surprisingly in good condition considering the Texas draught.

Having permission from the owner, Tracie and I respectfully and quietly tiptoed into the sacred grounds and went from grave to grave reading what was written about the deceased.

The first one was for a baby. Nothing more was stated except the little girl’s name and that she was only two years old. So sad. Our imagination was peaked and we wonder what happened to her.

What if it was due to an accident? Or what if she caught a disease like cholera or influenza that struck through the area killing babies and adults alike? Or a disease like the measles that is so easily prevented nowadays with vaccinations?

Next to her lay who evidently was her father. The name was listed along with the date of death and then strangely and weirdly enough under that was ‘killed by’ and the killer’s name listed.

Wow!

What if they listed the killer’s name so all could remember who did the awful deed of killing another human being? Or what if the deceased was totally the scourge of all who’s bad and the person who killed him was listed for bragging rights?

Next to him was his wife and evidently the mother of the little girl in the grave. According to the date listed of her death, she lived another thirty years after the death of her daughter and husband.

Tracie and I continued to the remaining few graves and although the names were different from the first three, we couldn’t help but wonder if they were all related in some way.

What if the mother/wife remarried and the rest were her new family? Or what if she never got over their deaths and never remarried and the graves belonged to other members of her family. Again, so sad.

The most interesting grave of all was the one right in the middle of the graveyard. All the graves had headstones and small footstones exactly the same as this one did but with one exception: The top of the grave – the entire length of it – had a large cement slab over it.

This dude was definitely not rising from the earth any time in the next eternity or so!

What if he was buried with something that was so priceless they hoped to deter grave robbers?

What if he had a terrible disease (I think of diseases a lot, but only because of my medical backgound – just sayin’) and if dug up would cause a world disaster like in the movie Contagion.

What if it was a monster buried under that cement slab?

We finally left through the rusted gate, our imaginations running wild.

But so did GW’s and Paul’s. LOL! They thought they way we were rooting around the graveyard for so long we’d dug someone up!

See how easy and fun it can be to play ‘what if’?

Asking ‘what if’ has caused many a story to be weaved. I bet even Harry Potter started out by JK Rowling thinking ‘What if there was a little boy with glasses who lived under the stairs and was a wizard but nobody knew…’

Now you try it. ‘What if’….and you fill in the blanks. And let your imagination soar. You’ll be surprised where it can take you.

~Sandy

June 20th, 2011

…was hot, hot, hot!

We have been in the triple digits for several days now and Texas heat can be miserable. It’s way too early to be this hot for the summer. Waaayyyy to early. Scary to think what August will be like.

Didn’t actually do much this weekend except run errands on Saturday and then come home and find ways to keep cool. Our subdivision has a cool pool with slides and other interesting toys, but we are just not much on sitting out and baking. Skin cancer, wrinkles, aging and all that, ya know. Not to mention the HEAT!

A week ago, we bought some more knockout roses to replace some bushes in our yard and only got two of them planted before we had to cry uncle. We ended up sitting on the front porch trying to cool down with water, vitamin water, popsicles, and other cool liquids to hydrate us. I think we may need to wait until midnight one night to try again.

For Fathers Day I was going to take GW to the Museum of Science and Nature where they have an interesting exhibit on Chinasaurs (were dinosaurs really any different in China?) and several iMax films he was interested in, but never made it there. Best laid plans and all that! We had an appointment with someone to give us a bid on landscaping our front yard, but he never showed up. Can you say ‘not too happy with that person right at the moment and wait ’till I see him again?’

So, instead, we went grocery shopping, cooked ribs (yum, the smell drove me nuts all day), watched movies, and generally vegetated. Even got a tiny bit of writing on my angel story (very tiny) and some on a short story I’m working on. Not a bad day at all just not what I had planned for GW for Father’s Day. Oh, well, he seemed happy enough.

Keep cool…

Sandy

February 14th, 2011

So how did everyone spend their Valentine’s Day today?

The blogs and the tweets ran rampant on the pros and cons of celebrating this particular holiday. My only opinion is that it depends on how you and your special loved one views it. Sometimes compromise has to come into play, but isn’t that what life is all about? Me? I’ve found my Prince Charming and not gonna share, LOL!

In fact, the Prince (GW) surprised me again (don’tcha just love surprises? I do) and fixed a special dinner of pork ribs and sauerkrakut and stuffed mushrooms. Yum! I’ve never had them before and they were fabulous, Dahling, just fabulous! I tried to eat like a Princess (which equals not much), but everything was so good! And we still have enough for leftovers!

Here’s a picture of the stuffed mushrooms!


Stuffed Mushrooms with crab stuffing

My card was beautiful and meaningful and made my day wonderful! Hmmm…maybe I need to promote him from Prince to King, LOL!

On the writing front, I finished the chapter I was working on and hope to start the next tonight. Kicked around a few ways to start it with Brenda this morning, so going to see what works. Brenda is so very funny and can come up with great ideas. Brenda is hilarious and makes me laugh alot. Brenda also needs to get busy on her writing!

~Sandy

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