Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm Covered

My lovely friend, Holly Heisey, artist and author extraordinaire, recently requested some of her author friends to let her do mockups of their unpublished projects. Just for fun, and because I've been working on Homebody for such a long time, I quickly volunteered.

And did she do a marvelous job!

After a little back and forth and heavy discussion on the image I wanted to convey, this was the result:

So, what do you think? I know people say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but based on this alone (and maybe the little blurb on the right hand side of my blog), would you pick it up?

Until next time,

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hiking = Writing

Yesterday, Sunday, TMOTH and I took my daughter, son, and Labrador Retriever for a hike at a nearby lake.

A photo from a trail I frequent... yes, this *is* Kansas!
Upon reflection, I learned a lot on that hike... about writing.

The trail we chose started out flat, across grass in a wide-open field. As we approached the woods, it got muddy, then rocky, and had a steep slope down to the lake. Once on the shore, we trudged over driftwood, rocks, and, again, mud until we decided to turn around and head back the way we came.

The flat, open part of the hike reminded me of how I usually start out on a writing project: good initial progress, seeing a portion of where I'm going, but not clearly the whole trail (even when I've outlined.) I usually hit some point where I've got a good feel for where I'm headed, but the writing gets rocky, and I slow down, carefully finding my next step.

Then, I get to the middle. Fits and starts, I'll progress in quick bursts, then find something I have to climb over, go under, or around. (In the actual hike yesterday, this was difficult since my son was in a carrier, pulling me off balance!) My daughter taught me a few things in this portion, as she forced us to take breaks (allowing for reflection, possible changes, or redirection in my writing analogy) and look at bobbers, shells, rocks, or throwing sticks and stones into the water.

Sometimes, in these sections of my writing, I get hurt, as I did on the hike (it wasn't bad--a scrape on my shin when my foot slipped as I was climbing over a large, fallen tree.) I have to backtrack, rethink what I'm doing. Often, these instances happen when I'm editing. On my most recent edit of Homebody, I had several major changes, some of which I'm still tweaking. When I started writing this story, now going on five years ago, I wouldn't have imagined some of these types of twists in my story.

On the way back up the hill, I'm starting to pick up steam. While I'm watching my footing carefully, I know I'm headed for the climax: I'm about to write "The End" soon. I may have to take a breather now and again--after all, it is a steep climb!--I'm moving steadily upward, and know how far I've got to go.

Then, I crest that hill.

I can see the end!

For me, this is often the fastest part of the hike--and the writing. Renewed energy hits. Frequently, I can write a 30 or 40 page section in first draft mode in a single evening, especially the closer to the climax I get.

Then I reach the car--or write my last lines. Relief! My characters are out of danger, my feet can rest (and I can get another cool bottle of water from the cooler and turn on the A/C!)

Do you have a favorite analogy on how you write? How has that taught you about your writing?

Also, I want to extend my hearty congratulations to Linda Yezak, who guest posted for me last summer, on the publication of her debut novel, Give the Lady a Ride. I can't wait to get it (hopefully on my Kindle!) and read it!

Until next time,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Swirls In My Brain

It's nearly midnight, the night before this post is scheduled to post. One that I should have written weeks ago, since this is part of the ChristianWriters.com blog chain, and I've known the topic for a while.

The topic this month is swirling, and quite honestly, the only swirling I can think about is the swirling of the things going on in my head, most of which do not involve writing, sadly.

  • Loose prayers echo through my skull, sometimes forming sentences I voice to God.
  • Thoughts of the things I need to do tomorrow.
  • Hopes that one of these days, my life will resume some semblance of "normal."
  • Concerns over new tests ordered for my son and what the results could mean in the long term.
  • Wondering when I may be able to resume a regular writing schedule.

The first item there is key. I can take the swirls in my head and voice them to God, and help calm all the confusion and chaos lurking inside my brain. I've been doing that a lot lately, a lot more than I used to, even a month or so ago. Praying can be very calming.

With the level of stress in my house right now, calm is in short supply, but I find if I can pray things out, even if it's just asking God to give my little boy another good day--usually meaning one in which vomit is not on the game plan for the day--I can be more calm, which helps keep my stress factor down.

Though, for some reason, my hair isn't reflecting this. I have about three times as many gray's as I did a year ago, and I haven't even hit the big 3-0 yet!

Hey, at least I still have my sense of humor.
"Cold Prayer" by Keith Riley-Whittingham

As a side note, due to the extreme craziness in my house right now, I may not be posting as regularly for a while. I intend to still strive for posts twice a month, and I'll try to continue on my regular weekly schedule, though some of these may be filled by guests.

By the way, if you are a writer or a reader and would like to be a guest blogger, whether to discuss a topic you've longed to have voiced, or to promote your upcoming book, please send me a note using the Contact Me button to the right of this post. I'd love to hear from you, and am always open to new bloggers, though I do prefer to keep the topic to writing and books.

Until next time,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why It's Important to Read Other Blogs

Due to couple of technical glitches on my end of things, this post apparently didn't run on Monday as I'd intended. Enjoy!


If you're like me, you watch your fair share of crime dramas on TV. I love Bones, Castle, and NCIS immensely.

But, if I'm not careful, I can allow them to color what I interpret as correct where police procedure is concerned.

This is why it's important that I--and you as a writer--read non-fiction, whether in blog form or in book form.

I love Lee Lofland's book, Police Procedure and Investigation, and his blog, The Graveyard Shift. With Castle in particular, he blogs about what the writers/actors did wrong where police procedure is concerned, and praises them when they get it correct. By reading this blog, I learn a lot, and that colors my view of other shows when I watch them. TMOTH is probably getting a little tired of hearing me go "They wouldn't really do that in real life" or "Oh, boy, I can't wait to see what Lee Lofland has to say about that tomorrow."

The same holds true for reading blogs by writers and agents. Lately, with having a little one in and out of the hospital, and being a busy mom, I don't have a lot of time to read lengthy books on the topic of writing. Truth be told, since I got my Kindle a couple months ago, I haven't cracked open a real book other than review copies for Christian Children's Book Review. So, for the writer in me, blogs are the best way to stay current with my craft.

I almost always try to stay up with three blogs a week: AuthorCulture, Wordplay, and Rants & Ramblings. If I have time, I usually like to check in with several others, but these are the ones I'll read while eating breakfast or lunch, or if I have a quick ten minutes where the kids are being good.

Sure, the four I've mentioned today are probably not the most comprehensive, although I feel they're pretty good. Heck, Rants & Ramblings has been on the Writer's Digest list of best sites for writers several years in a row. But, the important thing for me is that I stay connected. If I were to say "Chuck it. I've got too many irons in the fire. I'll pick my writing back up when the baby's better," I'd lose my grip on the market, on what's good writing, on my passion for doing what I want to do.

By staying active on the blogs, I'm also keeping my name out there. I don't comment on every post, but I comment frequently enough. And that, as a writer desiring to be published, is an important thing.

So, you tell me: What blogs do you make sure you read frequently? Maybe I'll have to add a few more to my "must read" list.

Until next time,

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