This weekend we are busy hosting family for Easter, so I’m turning off comments.
Have a wonderful SPRING weekend! Enjoy!
Back to our regularly-scheduled posts next week 😀
Last weekend’s writing conference was a blast, even if it was busy for me, with panels and presentations and one-on-one meetings with other writers. As an introvert, that sort of event, even if it is a wonderful meeting of writers doing writerly things and talking everything writing, is draining. On the other side of it, though, is the sheer amount of creative energy that coalesces at these events. I think it has a lot to do with all those muses getting together. It’s like a muse convention.
In any case, that creative energy has clung to me, and I have started writing again. Nothing major, but it’s a start. Right now I’m writing longhand, because I think that encourages the process somehow. And I can feel a sort of relief as I’m writing again. It’s like I get anxious when I don’t write for too long.
Then again, maybe that anxiety has to do with the blizzard we had this week, with around 5 inches of heavy wet snow. And damn it, the grass was just starting to turn green and the trees are starting to bud. Ugh. And now it melts. So, three inches of slushy snow + gravel driveway = almost impassable even with 4WD. I hope things dry out a bit by the time I go back to work on Monday.
In the meantime, I have the weekend slated for Easter entertaining preparation (read: spring cleaning). Nothing like the thought of relatives coming over to kick off a frenzy of cobweb chasing and dust bunny wrangling. But what better way to put off cleaning than to sit down and write?
I open the door to my writing office and discover the light is already on. And guess who is chilling behind my desk?
“It’s about time, love. I thought you would be a bit more industrious after the conference.” My Muse pulls his feet off my desk and exits my chair, sweeping an arm in its direction. “I warmed it up for you.” The smirk on his face tells me he probably did more than warm it up. I’d better check for whoopi cushions or tacks.
“Would I do that to you?” He sits on a corner of the desk, one leg dangling. His dark denim jeans, white t-shirt, and flannel shirt in the traditional red and black checkerboard pattern, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, makes me wonder what he’s up to. It’s like he’s preparing for a wilderness tour. Not that I’m complaining. Nope. Not complaining about the rugged look at all. I should be thankful there is no fedora or bullwhip in sight.
“Really, love? Why would I be up to anything but nurturing your creativity?” His crooked smile tells me I’m more right than I hoped.
“Uh-huh. Like you and all those other muses at the conference didn’t swap ‘how to get your writer’s butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard’ stories? I’m sure you have a few new ideas.”
“I do. But I won’t use them unless I have to. You seem to be getting your stride back. Good job.”
“Don’t get too excited. You know I have to get ready for Easter.”
“Yes, but you’re writing again. And you set yourself up to be accountable with your project.”
What I suspect he didn’t say was something about being disappointed that being accountable to him isn’t enough. “You know, you are really good at your job. It’s just … I need someone who can help me work through the process again.”
“Do you know how long I’ve been helping writers work through the process?”
Honestly, I’m afraid to ask. With my luck he probably worked with Dante. Probably gave the man the idea for the circles of Hell. “No, but I’m good with that. Not knowing. I’ll be diving in to that after Easter. Promise.”
He studies me with those blue eyes of his. The room is getting warmer. I swear it is. His eyes narrow. “Good. I’m going to hold you to that, love.”
Ahh, yeah. O-kay. Anyway …
This weekend focusing on a much-needed, long-delayed bout of spring cleaning. Despite the three inches of rapidly-melting slush outside. Ick. Just when everything had finally dried out, we get this. Winter, you made your point, now go on vacation until, like, Christmas. Okay, maybe Thanksgiving. Just go away.
Have a wonderful writing week!
Whew! What a weekend! I’m here in Mad City, Wisconsin for the 30th Annual Writers’ Institute. The conference has gotten so popular that it now runs from Thursday morning through Sunday noon. And there is plenty of great stuff to go around. First, though, a well-deserved round of applause to Laurie Scheer and her team of tireless minions–er, assistants who help organize and run this conference.
(yes, you can say it: Julie takes lousy pictures.)
One of the keynote speakers this year was Jane Friedman, who spoke about writing for love and money, and about the myth of the “starving artist”. She shared the stories of various artists who managed to combine their creativity and business models into successful careers, such as Jim Henson and Alain de Botton. The key to success: use creativity to find more readers, because as more people demand your work, the more your writing (business) will grow.
The following day Jennie Nash was our keynote speaker. She shared three reasons authors give for writing a book. Writing a book has a high emotional cost, and low ROI (return on investment), so every author she and her team work with over at Author Accelerator are presented with the question: Why write a book? The answers boil down to these: to find and claim your voice (which may have been suppressed in the past), to influence other people or make an impact, or to write a book before reaching those pearly gates. And ultimately, “writers gotta write”. Find the reason that speaks to you and tap into that energy.
So many great sessions, so little time. I got to the conference on Thursday and caught three sessions. One was about a digital brand cheat sheet, presented by a high-energy social media influencer. She showed us the potential of social media to reach far beyond your family and friends.
Another session explained how bookstores–at least independent ones–go about decided what books to stock, and the best ways for writers to succeed in getting books on their shelves. It comes down to Fit–is your book a fit for that store, Timing–is the store ready to pull in new books, and Approach–suggestions on how to approach a bookstore about carrying your book and the things to accomplish beforehand (like ISBN numbers and early reviews).
An agent shared the biggest pitfalls writers make while revising their stories, starting with the familiar “starting the story in the wrong place.” Other things to watch for include characters that are not fully formed on the page, a lack of a physical sense of setting, raising stakes, and not following through on your promise to the reader (what is the story you are setting in motion). These things can be spotted by critique partners and beta readers, so the moral of the story: you can’t do it all on your own.
I popped into a session about author websites, which gave a lot of the same information Dan Blank did in his author website video series (check out his WeGrowMedia site and sign up for his newsletter. Really. If nothing else, his kids are cute 😀 ). Another session listed ways to “bring back the thrill” of your writing; making it fun again. The ten points included giving yourself easy goals and rewards for your accomplishments (and yes, a piece of good chocolate or a latte counts 😀 ), playing with your reader by inserting inside jokes (case in point: R. R. Campbell used the names of the universities in his books for the jokes, and no, I’m not going to tell you–mwahahahaha), listening to your characters and what they want to do, and surround yourself with people who believe in your abilities and encourage you. Finally, remember you are competing against no one–you are the only one who can tell your story.
Good stuff. I participated on a panel about writing books in a busy life, where we shared our own strategies and offered ideas on how other writers could carve out that time to write. A number of attendees found me later to express their appreciation for the panel, because it gave them some direction on how they could overcome the excuses of not having time to write. And yes, I learned a few things myself. I’m sure my Muse will remind me the next time I complain. 😀
I presented two sessions, one on “Setting as a Character”, which had a full room. I hope the writers got something out of the session. It was my first of the conference, and somehow I ended up with a lot of time left over. Hmm. My second session, about point of view, was much less attended, but one of the other sessions about outlining was very popular (I know it was, because some writers spoke to me before the session about wanting to sit in, but they also wanted to sit in on the outlining session).
The highlight of my experience, though–besides getting to see some of my Writing Sisters–was the Success Panel, where authors who have utilized the WI or Write-by-the-Lake or other writing programs from UW-Continuing Studies are now newly-published or have a new book out. Check us out.
The closing ceremony is Sunday, when we wrap up the conference. The energy generated by so many writers and creative people infuses the atmosphere here. It always amazes me how wonderful the writing community is. We try to help each other, support each other, and encourage each other. And every year I encounter writers who are attending for the first time, and see their wonder at these welcoming arms.
There is a reason the Writers’ Institute is listed as one of the top writing conferences in the country. And every year I have to agree. It has once again recharged my creative energies and given me lots of ideas on how to approach aspects of my journey as a published author, including wielding social media tools and focusing on “butt in chair, hands on keyboard”.
If you have a writing conference on your wish list, take a look at this one for next year. You won’t be disappointed!
FIRST order of business: A huge hearty THANK YOU to everyone who hosted me for my book release blog tour! You were all great, and busy–holy cow, I think there were three blog tours running at the same time. Bravo and thank you to all those who stopped by mine and the other tours!
Woo-hoo! Finally the weekend! Kids are at school, the weather is spring-like, and I can relax and unwind from–
Damn. He’s behind me, isn’t he. Good thing I decided not to do my version of the Snoopy dance.
“Like I haven’t seen it before, love. Go ahead. Get it out of your system.”
Well, now I don’t want to do it. I turn. Sure enough, my Muse is giving me the “are you quite finished” look. “What?”
He leans against the desk in my writing office, all rugged eye candy, especially with those fine-fitting jeans and his burgundy henley, sleeves shoved halfway up his forearms. He crosses those sinewy arms, which just pulls my gaze to his broad chest.
“You’re not usually so blatant about that, love.”
Damn again. I force myself to focus on his face, with the dimple in his chin and that bare shadow from five o’clock. And those blue eyes …
“Hey,” he barks as he snaps his fingers. “Focus.”
I shake my head to shuffle my thoughts. That was weird.
“Would you stop that?” I’d feel better if he couldn’t read all my thoughts. Especially those thoughts.
He chuckles, and the room warms. Or maybe it’s just me. “I’m your Muse, love. And it’s flattering.” He raises a finger. “But you need to focus. You have stuff to do before you leave next week.”
“I know. I know. I just finished the blog tour. I think it went pretty well.” Now to catch up on all those other blogs I didn’t get to. Not sure I’ll ever catch up at this rate. “Speaking of, I hope you and Mr. E got your pub crawling done for a while.” I have to get moving on Book 2. For the eighth time.
He smiles that crooked smile that makes the room get even warmer. “You have other priorities this week. Sounds like it’s going to be a grand gathering this year.”
Yes! I can’t wait! There is something about being around all those other writers at the conference that stirs up creative energy.
“And you need to get your presentations put together.”
Um. Yeah. “You really know how to crash a weekend vibe.” At least he didn’t remind me of …
“You have cleaning on your list.” He holds up a piece of paper–where did he snag my list from? “Oh, and that can’t wait.” He ticks off an item. “This can wait, but you better do this one this weekend.”
“Where the hell did you get my list? And which one?”
“The dreaded ‘clean the refrigerator’ one.” He sets the list on the desk beside him. “So, can we get the presentations done tomorrow? Then you have the whole next day to clean.”
This year will be a busy one at the Writers’ Institute, now that I have a real book I can sell at the book sale. And two presentations. And two panels. So, I’ll be getting further behind in my quest to catch up on reading blogs. Next week’s post will go live a day later than usual so I can get all the good stuff in from the big days at the conference. And it’s all good stuff 😀
Enjoy your weekend!
And the final stop on my book release blog tour is over at Mae Clair’s site. It’s been quite a journey, with a lot of amazing friends. Hop on over!
I am über excited to be taking part in the book launch blog tour for my friend, Julie Holmes. Her debut release, Murder in Plane Sight, a mystery/suspense novel is now available. I have been looking forward to this release for a long time, and am thrilled to know Julie has more mysteries planned. If you’re not already following her blog, Facets of a Muse, you’re missing out on a lot of fun. This isn’t the first time Julie has appeared on my blog, but it IS the first time she’s been here to share a novel she’s written. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome!
Thank you, Mae, for hosting me! I’ve had the opportunity to watch fellow writers release their books. I’ve even hosted their announcements on my own blog, hoping that someday it would be my turn to announce my own book release.
View original post 548 more words
One of the first reviews for Murder in Plane Sight. Yippee! Don’t forget, tomorrow is the last stop on my blog tour. I’ll be hosted by the talented Mae Clair!
Ciao, amici. When friend and fellow author Julie Holmes released her debut novel, I was honored to be one of her blog hosts. If you don’t remember that post or missed it, you can find it here.
I just finished reading it, and I’m happy to share my review today.
★★★★★ Great Debut Novel
I love romance and I love mystery. How could I not be happy with a book that delivers both?
In this debut novel by Julie Holmes, we meet Sierra Bauer, a talented airplane mechanic in a male-dominated world. This character is multi-faceted and complex. Not only is her career an unconventional choice, she has a dark and tragic backstory that makes the reader really feel for her. Then her past and present collide in the form of a murder mystery that jeopardizes her future.
Detective Quinn Moore is tasked with investigating the murder…
View original post 328 more words