I’ve gone in and out of several writing groups over the years. For the most part, I’ve gotten at least something out of each one — encouragement, sympathy, advice . . . and oh yeah, homegrown vegetables – writers have all kinds of interesting hobbies! For many of us, however, there comes a time when a critique group fails to serve its purpose. Here are FOUR situations that indicate it might be time for you to move on.
Writers must be brave. When we write, we reveal stuff – what we think, believe, imagine. It took me a long time to get over feeling vulnerable and exposed. Actually, I’m not over it – I’ve just learned to live with it. Continue reading “To Read Me is to Know Me”
There’s no magic . . .
I’m in the midst of querying literary agents. It’s hard work, painstaking actually.
To do it right, authors spend countless hours researching, investigating, and tracking. Landing an agent can take months. Or longer . . . Continue reading “My Literary Agent Soulmate”
In the spirit of giving during the holiday season, 100 percent of my royalties from The Long Dance Home will be donated to The Mar Vista Gardens Steppers, a non-profit dance program located in a public housing development in Los Angeles. In addition to dance instruction, Steppers provides at risk children and teens with the inspiration, mentoring, and support they need to help break the family cycle of poverty.
Every royalty penny I earn during December will go to this wonderful program. Please help me support The MVG Steppers and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica.
About the book: The Long Dance Home is a sweet, funny, romantic holiday story. Cece Camden, a cautious, organized planner, has her life all figured out. That is until she doesn’t. At the time of her twenty-ninth birthday, nothing goes according to plan, and the disciplined, level-headed, former ballerina is thrown into turmoil. With financial woes and boyfriend trouble, Cece makes an impulsive decision that sets into motion the unraveling of her meticulous life plan. Set in a small town at Christmastime, The Long Dance Home is about choices that alter life’s path and dreams that come true when they are least expected.
By the way, I love bookclubs, and it’s great fun to Skype with groups who have read the book. Let me know if your bookclub is interested! If you would like a signed copy for yourself or for gifting, please email me at email@example.com.
Thank you so much for helping me support The Mar Vista Gardens Steppers, and I hope you enjoy reading The Long Dance Home.
Available on Kindle for $2.99 and in hardcopy wherever books are sold. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ET55U0M
As NANOWRI winds down, it’s time for you to amp it up! With only a few days left in November, planning, time-management, and motivation are what will get you to the finish line. Here are three things you must AVOID! Continue reading “THE SPRINT TOWARD 50,000”
We hear endless reports about the drought in California, the potential extinction of the Northern White Rhino, and the disappearing rain forests. But does anyone care about a certain type of human being whose numbers are dwindling at such a rate they should be added to the endangered species list? This creature is disappearing faster than pay-phones and pop-tarts (for anyone who has never heard of a pop-tart, it is a toaster pastry that is delicious but not particularly healthful that we ate in the car on the way to school when I was a kid). What kind of human is this, you may ask?
Continue reading “Where have all the Readers Gone?”
A PEEK INTO A WRITER’S LIFE
When readers read a wonderful story or book, the words flow seamlessly. The plot unfolds, the characters come to life, and the sequence of events makes perfect sense. Readers should never stop and think “Wait, this makes no sense,” or “Hold on, why am I just finding this out now?” or “Geez! I’m completely lost!” It’s the kiss of death when readers get frustrated – that’s when they put down the book and move on to something else. So, in a quest to please, thrill, and delight readers, good writers go to painstaking effort to write well, to captivate, to give their readers an experience that takes them into another world, place, or time. It’s daunting, to say the least, and sometimes leads the writer on the fast track to a severe case of WRITER’S BLOCK.
Nothing freaks writers out more than the inability to write. Panic sets in upon the realization that their story or novel has lost direction and is sinking into an abyss of confusion faster than my dogs eat treats. There are countless reasons why writers stumble, lose focus, and end up suffering the paralyzing effects of writer’s block. Here are three ways to get past it – if you are writer, take note. If you are reader – enjoy this little peek into “A Writer’s Life.”
GET MORE INFORMATION: You’re trying to write a disaster scene but don’t know what disaster to choose. Earthquake? Fire? Disease? You need your character to murder somebody and hide the body, but you know nothing about murder and body-disposal (at least I hope not). Your character is about to embark upon a journey into the rainforest but you don’t know how to describe the environment. Don’t panic! Do some research. Go online and study natural disasters; read books about real life murders; watch a documentary about (or take a trip to) the rainforest. Information gathering revives inspiration, increases creativity, and helps you put your characters in believable settings, situations, and predicaments.
GET TO KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS: One of my favorite exercises is interviewing. Ask your characters questions such as: “What’s really troubling you? Why do you hate your sister? Why do you always have to be in charge? What do you hope to achieve by confronting your enemy?” YOU (the creator of your characters) must know their wants and needs and, more importantly, understand the difference.
GET BACK ON TRACK: “To be (an outliner) or not to be . . .” If you don’t have an outline, there’s a good chance you’ll go off track. Even with an outline you may wander into the netherworld of tangents and storylines that take you nowhere and end up in the “deleted material file.” Regardless of how you lost direction, you must figure out where you made a wrong turn. It might be a quick fix or a complete rewrite. Either way, the earlier you cure it the better, because the problem will not fix itself and in all likelihood will only get worse. If you have an outline, go back to it. If you don’t have one, try writing one or, at the very least, make a list of plot points: first this happened then that happened then something else happened.
Bottom line: Writing is hard work. Reading shouldn’t have to be.
(previously published on ShelfPleasure.com)
I am four years old. My mother has taken me grocery shopping, one of my favorite outings. As we roam the aisles, I traipse behind her, watching her read labels, check prices, and place items in the cart. I ask for cookies and treats, but she says no. I am distracted and don’t notice her rounding the corner. When I look up, she’s gone.
Continue reading “When Tables Turn”
“More sex,” he said.
I was having coffee with an old friend, a publicist, who had offered advice on book promotion. I hadn’t expected “sex” to be on the agenda, but he was the expert, so I went with it. And he was, after all, doing me a favor. He even paid for my double-shot, low-fat, half-caff latte.
I took a sip and licked some foam off my upper lip. “Go on.” Continue reading “Sex? I Can Do That”
A short short story that will take you back to those awkward teen years:
“Come on, it’ll be fun. Besides, you’ve had a crush on Patrick since third grade.”
“No I haven’t.”
“It’s not a big deal, everyone knows.”
“He doesn’t,” I argued.
“Oh, I think he does.”
And with that, Ally convinced me to go to the new James Bond movie with Patrick and Steve, two boys from school. It was 1973. We were thirteen, and Ally desperately wanted a boyfriend. Continue reading “FIRST KISS”
You would think that working from home is a writer’s dream. Going into the “office” any time of day, wearing pajamas or sweats (or whatever), sipping coffee or tea (or whatever), locating your workspace anywhere you want, ideally in front of a picture window that looks out over a forest thick with trees and birds and romping deer, as the sun rises (or sets) and one’s imagination runs free and stories spring forth and flow like a river of melting snow . . .
Yeah, right . . . Continue reading “Why Writing from Home Won’t Work”
Whenever I speak to a book club or at an event, somebody usually asks me about my favorite books and authors. Here are a few:
First book that comes to mind is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafon. I almost never read a book more than once, because there are so many great books to read. This one – three times!
Anything by Philippa Gregory – I love historical fiction and the British Royals. Gregory does it like nobody else.
The Girl with Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier – her words flow like beautiful music.
Sara’s Key and The Book Thief – both captivating stories written for YA but crossed over into the adult market because they are compelling and well-written.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – I just loved this book.
When I was a kid:
Nancy Drew – could not get enough of those great mysteries!
One of my favorite series was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. And I LOVED the TV series with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert based on Wilder’s life.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I’ve never stopped dreaming about secret doors in the backs of closets . . .