Saturday, November 21, 2009

Project 365-5: Use It or Lose It

My poor rocking chair didn't see much use this summer and the vines took over. Now it is the true definition of use it or lose it. Of course the vine will die, I'll trim it back and recover the use of my chair.

It did get me to thinking about my life and the vines that I've allowed to creep in. It's happened so slowly that I didn't even realize. I think it's time to do some pruning and I don't think I'll wait for New Year's.

How about you?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Project 365-4: '70 Chevy Nova

Did you ever get rid of a car and then you wished you'd have kept it? If you did it's probably a car from your youth and somehow you've managed to forget all of its shortcomings. Like the lack of power steering (which can be added for a price), the lack of air conditioning (which also can be added for a price) and the process of warming up the motor before you can actually pop it into gear and take off (which evidently can't be remedied for the price he's willing to pay).
When we got married my husband had a 1969 Chevy Nova, which we kept for a couple of years and then got rid of. Needless to say, after about 10 years, he was kicking himself for getting rid of it and spent the next fifteen years looking for another one.
This spring he settled for a 1970 model and hauled it home. Someone had sprayed painted the interior red, there were no seats and worse yet, no motor. He was thrilled. He didn't do a ground up restoration on it as he just wants to use it as a driver. After many hours spent in the garage this is the result.
We recently took a trip down memory lane when my friend had an 80's themed prom for her birthday and we drove the Nova to the prom just like we did the last time.
Now it's your turn. What have you gotten rid of that you wished you'd kept?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Project 365-3: Flashlight

If I had all the money that I've spent over the years on flashlights I could probably buy myself something really nice. I've bought the super cheap $1 lights, the sleek sexy Maglights, the utilitarian super sized lights with the handles, and even the ones with long fluorescent bulbs that you use for emergency lighting.

Most of them met their end at the hands of my husband. He's forever carrying them off. Finally, in self defense, I picked up this little cutie for 50 cents at a rummage sale. Just squeeze the handle in back and it will open it's mouth and giggle. The light is inside. Not only will he not fit into my husband's glove box or under his truck seat he also won't fit his image.

I've managed to hold onto this one for a couple of months now and I'm hopeful I'll have it when I finish this project. I'll let you know.

Do any of you have problems holding onto flashlights?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Project 365-2: Christmas Cards

I'm trying to get a start on my Christmas cards today. Christmas cards are kind of iffy around my house. I either get them out early or not at all. And I never, ever, ever send a Christmas letter. Come to think of it, I've never received one either.

I'm wondering how much longer Christmas cards will be around. It's easier to do an ecard and send it to your contacts list. Probably a lot greener too. But, there's something about receiving a card in the mail. It's personal. Someone took the trouble to go to the store, pick out the card, address it, stamp it and get it in the mail. Whew! sounds like a lot of work so I'd better get back at it.

How about you? Do you still send Christmas cards via snail mail, do email cards or just forgo the whole thing? And if you do write a Christmas letter, let me know what one should include in such a document.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Project 365: Day One

I first learned about Project 365 on facebook. My cousin started doing it and it looks like fun so I decided to give it a try.

Wondering what the heck Project 365 is? It consists of taking one photo a day for 365 days. I plan on posting mine here though I may not be able to post daily I'll at least take on every day.

Oh, so now you want to know what the point of this is? You're already too busy and this will cut into your quality reality television time. Well, suck it up. The Project Runway finale is tomorrow and American Idol auditions don't start until mid-January by which time you'll be in the habit of taking your daily picture.

I'm hoping that the project reminds me not to take the everyday for granted and helps me to look at things from a different angle. I'm also hoping that some of you will join me in the project. If you don't have a blog to post your photos to then put them on facebook or Flickr. You could even upload them to an online photo album.

If you decide to participate, comment and leave a link. I can't wait to see the world from your prospective.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Taking the Next Step

After you've been writing for awhile you may realize that something is missing. At least you should realize that it's missing otherwise you'd be on a bestseller list somewhere already. That's what had happened to me.

I was like a dieter who had plateaued. I'd attended the conferences, participated in critique groups, and read a ton of books and blogs on how to write. Somewhere in there I actually found time to put some words on paper and get a few short stories published and write a couple of unpublished novels. Still, I knew that I needed something to take my writing to the next level.

Much to my family's dismay, I decided to give William Bernhardt's week long writing workshop a try. I packed my clothes, my computer and my snack mix. Then I coerced a friend to go with me and headed for Tulsa.

We weren't sure what to expect when we got there. The classes were only scheduled to last four hours per day. What would we do with ourselves? So we concocted this dream world where we went to class, hung out at the pool, did our toenails, put the green facial goo on our faces, and got spiffied up for long leisurely dinners with the other writers in the evenings.

Ha!! The reality was four hours of class in the morning a quick lunch and homework. Yes, homework. It normally took us until 11 pm to complete it all plus read and critique everyone in the group's writing. Dinner consisted of a can of tuna and some crackers eaten in the room as we didn't feel that we had time to go out. (Well once, but just for an hour.)

I'll admit we're a couple of overachievers but we felt that we'd only get out of the experience what we put into it. And how many times do you have the chance to get a New York Times Bestselling Author to critique your submission packet (query letter, synopsis, first three chapters) as often as you'd care to re-write it?

Normally when I leave a conference I'm all pumped up. It's kind of like going to a revival. You ride high for a few days and then things settle back down. This time I was quiet, thinking about how I could rearrange my life and my schedule to find more time to write. I mentally reviewed my budget. How many hours could I cut back at work? Could I afford a housekeeper a couple of times a month? Was it possible that I would be awake enough to write at 5 a.m.?

Writing novels has been a dream of mine for a long time. But, for the first time, it's more than just a dream. It feels like it's real. Now I know that I can actually do it. The scary thing is if I fail it's my fault for not putting in the time and effort.

If you're ready for the next step, get yourself over to the Hawk Writing Workshop in Tulsa next month. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

To Plot or Not to Plot

Every writer has an opinion on whether or not to plot. I've tried it both ways. The first book that I wrote under the "No Plot, No Problem" school of thought was a hot mess. But at least I learned that I could produce a novel length work.

This inspired me to do a ton of research. Read a lot of books and plot, plot, plot. Even though I've changed it during the course of writing the actual novel. I think what I'll be doing for novel number three is to combine these two methods. I'll plot my main points and let my characters tell me how we'll get from point A to point B.

Just so you know, here are what some published authors do about plotting:

  • Jeffrey Deaver plots extensively. I heard him say once that he'd rather waste four months writing a lengthy plot outline and discover that a book wouldn't work than spend a year writing the book and then realize that it won't work.
  • Steve Berry says he plotted his first several books but doesn't anymore.
  • William Bernhardt is a believer in outlining his books. He say "When you outline . . . . and you will outline."
  • K.D. Wentworth doesn't outline.

Check out:

Plotting It Ain't for Wienies

Author Interviews with: Evan Marshall, Marilyn Harris Collins, and Carolyn See

Friday, April 3, 2009

People talk and talk and talk

At least they talk to me. I've been accused of being a freak magnet even though I'm pretty sure that I'm just a good listener.

For instance, just by listening I've learned:

  • No less than three theories about where Elvis is currently living.
  • A really good reason never to eat frog legs.
  • How to subframe a car.
  • Three really good reasons not to drink tequila.
  • What to say to your ex that will constitute terroristic threatening.
  • All about french drains
  • Why artificial sweeteners will kill you
  • The merits of implants versus real boobs

I could go on and on but you'd probably rather I didn't. The cool thing is that all of these things will surface somewhere in my writing one day. Even if it's just something that I know about a character that no one else does.

If you're not a natural freak magnent like me then you may have to be a little sneaky about it. I'd suggest sitting on a bench in your local box store. You'd be amazed at what you can learn in just half an hour.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Evan Marshall's Template Generator Saves the Day!

I was doing some revision work on my romantic suspense novel last night and came across a scene that just wasn't working. I wrangled with it for a couple of hours and seriously considered pitching the whole thing.

Why was it there anyway? Should I just cut it out and paste it into my junk file? Today I had the brilliant idea of looking back at my Marshall Template Generator. I'd filled it out faithfully and was pretty sure that I didn't put anything in that wasn't necessary for furthering the plot.

Sure enough there it was and it was necessary. I must have been having one of those days at the keyboard because my template told me exactly what my conflict was and I'd even typed in some notes as to how I'd accomplish it.

Those notes allowed me to fix the scene to make my novel stronger.

Thanks Evan:)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

10 Essentials to Pack for a Writer's Conference

Image courtesy of Flickr

There are certain things you'll need when attending a writer's conference. Many of them have absolutely nothing to do with writing. Here's my list of things that I can't leave home without.

  1. A comfortable pair of shoes. Chasing down an agent/editor isn't something that is easily accomplished. And definitely nothing you'll want to attempt in heels.

  2. Your own name tag. They really aren't that expensive and it's much better than having those HELLO My Name is tags stuck to your armpit. (Don't ask)

  3. A supply of business cards. Go to Vista Print and order their free ones. Don't let them scare you into expedited shipping. If you're too freaked out to list yourself as a writer at least put your basic contact information on them.

  4. Coffee and fixings for the mini pot in your room. Honestly, when was the last time you had a decent cup of coffee in your room. Take your own, you'll be glad you did.

  5. Shower shoes. Need I say more?

  6. A flashlight. I always check the emergency exit route and sleep with a flashlight on my bedside table. Better safe than sorry. Plus you can find your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night without waking your roomie.

  7. A clean trash bag for your dirty clothes. I dump my dirties in the bag it's easy to transfer them to the suitcase and then to laundry room at home.

  8. A couple of gallon size freezer bags. They're great for wet swimsuits or for organizing various goodies you picked up at the conference.

  9. Breakfast bars. They're perfect for a midnight snack or light breakfast.

  10. Super glue and double sticky tape. You should be able to fix hems, shoes, purses, finger nails, gaping blouses and a variety of other things.

What's on your list?

Friday, March 13, 2009

HAWK Writing Seminars--"The Writer's Boot Camp"

The Seminars (June 8-13) are week-long intensive writing symposiums on the beautiful University of Tulsa campus for aspiring writers ready to seriously improve their work. This is a rare opportunity to transform your writing by working with Executive Director William Bernhardt and other multi-published authors.

The Seminar is five intense, inspiring days learning the art and craft of writing. In these small, hands-on groups, each participant will write or revise a first-rate query letter, synopsis, outline, and several chapters—the building blocks for selling and publishing your work. This is an rare opportunity to transform your writing.

There will be two separate seminar groups—one for fiction and one for nonfiction. Each group will meet between four and five hours a day and will be strictly limited to ten participants. The small class size and the direct focus on each writer's own work has proven to produce results. Two students from last year's Seminar have already sold their first books to major publishers. Bernhardt taught the same program last year at Maui, and three of his eight students have already sold their first books to major publishers.

There are discount rates available at the Crowne Plaza. See the HAWK website for contact information.

HAWK Writing Seminar
June 8-12, 2009
University of Tulsa
Tulsa OK

For information and registration, use the attached brochure or visit:

HAWK Writing Workshop--"The Writer's Way"

The HAWK Writing Workshop (June 6-7) is a professional writing symposium modeled after the successful programs at the Gotham Writers Workshop, the University of Iowa, and the Maui Writers Conference. There are no contests, auctions, or costume balls--everything is geared to one goal: allowing serious and dedicated writers the opportunity to make their work publishable.

The Workshop will feature multiple tracks of presentations, panels, and master classes from more than a dozen published authors, agents, and editors, providing aspiring writers the chance to learn the art and craft of writing. There will also be opportunities for one-on-one consultations with writers, agents, and editors, and specialty programs on getting published, young adult books, magazine writing, screenplays, and poetry.

Fiction : From the latest trends in fiction to the art and craft of the character-driven novel, our star-studded fiction track is sure to educate and entertain you. Led by two bestselling authors, Steve Berry and William Bernhardt, our faculty will offer the invaluable insights that made them successful—and could do the same for you. Steve Berry is not only one of the most successful writers working today, he also was recently awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award at the Maui Writers Conference.

Creative Nonfiction: Whether you are writing a memoir, a history, a biography, or the latest blockbuster self-help book, these sessions will inspire as well as instruct. Led by New York Times-bestselling author Susan Piver and Pulitzer Prize-nominated Michael Wallis, every aspect of researching, organizing, writing, editing, and publishing your work will be addressed. Susan is a wellness expert who has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, and others. In addition to talking about writing, she will lead meditation classes and discuss the important relationship between meditation and creativity.

Saturday Banquet and Sunday Lunch with the Authors. The Saturday night banquet will feature keynote addresses from our special guests, New York Times-bestselling writers Steve Berry and Susan Piver. Sunday Lunch will give every participant the opportunity not only to dine with the authors but to hear testimonials on how they became published.

HAWK Writing Workshop
June 6-7, 2009
Doubletree Hotel at Warren Place
Tulsa OK

For registration information visit:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

SIWG Writing Contest 2009

The SIWG (Southern Illinois Writer's Guild)Writing Contest is an annual and much anticipated event. Entries are open to all persons over 18 years, or enrolled in post-secondary education. Submissions for the 2009 contest can be sent in beginning immediately. The deadline is May 1.


1st Place $100; 2nd Place $50; 3rd Place $25, in each category. Honorable Mentions as determined by judges. Winners will be published in the Writers Voice, the SIWG anthology, unless authors request otherwise. Winners will be notified by mail in September.

Entry Fee

Five dollars per entry, maximum of three entries per author. Check or money order only, no cash. Make checks payable to: John A. Logan College. Entries not enclosing the fee or following the rules will be discarded.

Entry Rules
  1. Fiction - Any subject or genre. Nonfiction - Biography, memoir, article, or essay on any topic. Poetry - Any style or topic. (Please, no explicit sex or excessive violence.)
  2. Original work of the entrant; unpublished at time of submission.
  3. Page limit - Up to eight pages for Fiction and Nonfiction, one or two pages for Poetry.
  4. Format - Standard manuscript format (8-1/2" x 11" paper, typed and double-spaced, 1" margins,12-point Times New Roman, pages numbered and title of entry on every page). Poetry may vary margins and spacing as needed.
  5. Two copies of each entry.
  6. Cover sheet for each entry, with contestant's name, address, category (Fiction, Nonfiction, or Poetry) and title of entry. Author's name should appear only on the cover sheet, not the manuscript. Optional - Provide email address for winner notification; brief bio to include with publication.
  7. All winners must supply social security numbers in order to collect a cash prize. Please do not supply your SSN until you are notified that you have won a cash prize. There will be no exceptions to this rule.


Judges will be announced

Mailing Instructions

  1. Postmarked no later than May 1.
  2. Mail flat, not folded, with sufficient postage. Do not send by certified mail.
  3. Optional - include a SAS postcard for verification that your entry was received.
  4. Send to: John A. Logan College
    Attn: Student Activities C109
    SIWG Contest Entry
    700 Logan College Rd.
    Carterville, IL 62918

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

94th Annual Missouri Writers Guild Conference

They've got some discounts available for the MWG Conference- April 3-5, 2009 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. You can check out their website for the full agenda. Faculty includes Harvey Stanbrough, Barri Bumgarner, Marcia Preston, Lee Goldberg and Annette Fix. If you've never heard Harvey Stanbrough speak then you've been missing out.

The announced discounts are as follows:

Here's a special announcement from MWG Conference Publicity Chair, Margo Dill Balinski, to members of Saturday Writers and any other interested writers:

"During March Madness, the Missouri Writers’ Guild is making the following offers for the 94th Annual Conference in Cape Girardeau:

1. Calling all College Students: If you are currently enrolled as a full-time student at a college or university, you can attend the MWG conference for $139, which is a savings of $30 off the current price.

2. Saturday Only price: We’ve had several requests about attending the MWG conference on Saturday only. So, we are offering pricing just for Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. (includes lunch). The prices are $109 for MWG members, $119 for chapter members, and $129 for non-members.

3. Deals on Master’s Classes and the Banquet: FOR ONE WEEK ONLY From March 9 to March 16, you can sign up for a master’s class for $10 off ($55.00) or for the banquet for $5 off ($20).

4. More Deals on Master’s Classes and the Banquet: If you add a Sunday Class or the awards' banquet to your registration from March 17 to April 2, you will get a $5.00 off coupon for the conference book store when you check in at registration on Friday night. (If you are only attending a Sunday class, this will not apply because the book store is only open on Friday night and Saturday until the banquet.)

5. If you live in the St. Louis area and can attend the SLWG meeting on Saturday. . .Barri Bumgarner, MWG board member, has been invited by the St. Louis Writers' Guild to share a program and information about the conference. If you register on that day and pay Barri in cash or check to the MWG, you will save! We are basically offering early bird pricing on that day only if you attend Barri's talk and pay that day. If you need more information about this, you can e-mail me at

Check the MWG conference website for more information: , call Margo at 217-714-8582, or e-mail Emily at

Hope to see you there!

Margo Dill Balinski"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Writing Conference vs. New Tires

I'm still trying to decide which I need/want worse, a new set of tires for my car or to attend a writing conference. I'm sure I actually need the tires worse. I couldn't cover Lincoln's hair even if he was styled with a bouffant up do on my penny.

But, I also want to sell a novel or perhaps two this year. My rationale is that I could buy tires if I could get even a tiny advance. Of course with my tread in its current condition I may not make it to the workshop.

Maybe I can compromise and buy two tires and go to half a workshop. Do ya think?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Learn Character Driven Plotting in Two Days!!

Here's another workshop that sounds great. I wish I could attend them all. I hope some of you are able to make it there.

Our 2008 classes were filled with writers not-yet-published and multi-published authors.
This program is great for Plotters and Pantsers – what?!

It’s true. Plotters learn how to organize their story so that conflict doesn’t break down and pacing stays strong. Pantsers leave with a way to flush out weak spots in a story – PLOT HOLES – and fix the problems. Getting published just got harder with budget tightening…but publishers are always looking for good books.

More so than ever before – your story has to be the very best.

Instructors for Break Into Fiction® Power Plotting Retreat:

Award-winning author Mary Buckham
& NYT best selling author Dianna Love.

Retreat has limited seating to assure time to work with every attendee on their story throughout the 2 days. And…attendees receive 5 bonus templates.

"...I used to think I was good at plotting – but this past (retreat) weekend made me realize I’ve been guilty of a more complicated version of the ‘one damned thing after another’ plot. I’m stunned at how well an entire story arc came together in just two days.” Marcella Burnard

“Break into Fiction is solidly grounded in storytelling fundamentals but then goes much farther into the practical detail that determines whether your book will bring a check or a rejection slip.” ~~ Jon Franklin, author of Writing for Story and a Pulitzer Prize winner

Break Into Fiction® 2008 Attendees…

4 attendees from 2008 have sold
2 more have books with editors who have “recommended a buy”
15 have had agent requests, 10 finally finished their books
Many have finaled and won contests that put them in front of editors & agents
Published author feedback shows they are thrilled with their new level of production and writing quality

What about you?


St. LOUIS – April 4-5th

P.S. Also be sure and visit the website to enter a Contest for great writing-related prizes.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"How to Create and Sustain a Compelling Story"

The Village Writers’ Club of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas presents "A Day with Laura Parker Castoro.

Laura will be teaching a one- day workshop titled “How to Create and Sustain a Compelling Story” on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at the Coronado Community Center in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. Pre-registration is $30.00. Lunch is available for an additional $10.00.

Workshop Schedule

8:30-9:00 Registration
9:00-10:15 Character development
10:15-10:30 Break
10:30-11:45 Plots and Subplots
11:45-1:00 Lunch Break
1:00-2:00 Critique Session
2:00-2:15 Break
2:15-3:00 Editing and Revisions

Pre-registered participants are invited to submit one short story, memoir or piece of creative nonfiction for possible critique by the presenter during the afternoon session. One month prior to the workshop, five submissions will be drawn at random. Those manuscripts will be emailed, without author info to Laura Castoro and to all pre-registered participants for review prior to the workshop.

Manuscripts must be no longer than 1,500 words and emailed as a .pdf file or in a Microsoft Word attachment. All submissions must be double spaced. On the top left of page 1 list your name, mailing address, phone number and email address. Word count should be listed on the top right of page 1.

Pre-registered participants should email their manuscripts to Madelyn F Young at The deadline for emailing manuscripts is February 27, 2009. Snail mail submissions will not be accepted.

If paying by check your registration must be postmarked no later than March 13, 2009. Registrations will be accepted at the door if space permits; however there will be no guarantee of lunch for late registrants.

Details, registration form and a map are available at:

Or contact:
John Achor
42 Vega Lane
Hot Springs Village, AR 71909
Phone: 501-915-9186

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

HACWN Offers Personal Coaching

I've never attended this conference but it may be just what you're looking for.

Are you at a stage in your life in which you're longing for personal feedback on your writing? Then check out HACWN's Spring Mentoring Retreat April 16-18, 2009. This event is designed for the people who long for a personal touch and coaching from a professional writer/editor that goes beyond 20-minute paid critiques that we offer at the conference.

We'll all get away at a retreat center near Kansas City (Excelsior Springs). You'll show your materials to your mentor, the mentor will give you feedback, you'll go work on your project, and bring it back again to show to your mentor. You'll have access to your mentor from Thurs. to Saturday. Each mentor will have 6 to 8 people to coach. We're excited about our team of mentors. These are people who are passionate about helping writers on a more personal level, such as Nick Harrison from Harvest House, Katura Patton from Tyndale, Eric Reed from Christianity Today and others, Jeanette Windle with Kregel, and Zena Dell who has seen her screenwriting produced.

If you have a writing project that just isn't getting done, this is a great chance to just get away and get that project well underway. It's also a great place to get in-depth career consultation. All for a fraction of the cost to hire a consulting editor for 48 hours! This is an investment that just might bring high returns.If this fits where you are in your writing right now, I hope you'll take a good look at the flyer and pray about the possibility of coming.

If you have questions, feel free to contact Mark at or 816-459-8016. If you do feel drawn to this even, you might register quickly--it's a first-come thing and we already have several registrations.

Also, feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested.Blessings as you pursue your writing dreams.JeanetteJeanette Gardner Littletonco-director,Heart of America Christian Writers

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 Seeks Exceptional Fiction and Poetry

Arts Review Fogged Clarity is now accepting submissions for our March and April editions. Submissions should be sent to Our February (debut) issue is free and available at

In it you will find new work from poets Bruce Smith, Amy King, and Peter Ciccariello, experimental photography by Kyle Jones and Ryan Daly, short fiction by Dmitri Gheorgheni, and much more. Fogged Clarity aims to transcend the conventions of the typical literary review by incorporating music, the visual arts, interviews, and political exposition.

Our ambition is to form a community of artists whose interaction is not constrained by medium, but broadened by a collective love of expression. Our network is extensive, and our passion for ventilation intense. We sincerely hope you will join us, and share the fruits of your own fogged clarity.

-- Executive Editor, "Fogged Clarity"

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cave Region Review: Submission Guidelines Change

Coffee and Critique is reporting that Cave Region Review have changed their submission guidelines.

"Please pass the following information along to your members. I am co-editor of a new literary journal, Cave Region Review, published at North Arkansas College. This journal is dedicated to highlighting the best literature and art being produced in the Ozarks.

We have extended our deadline to Feb. 15 and have broadened our submission guidelines to welcome submissions from all writers and artists living in the Ozark region. Please visit our website, ttp:// for complete submission guidelines.

This is going to be a quality journal in both content and format. It will be 75-100 pages, full color, and professionally bound."

Phil Howerton
English Instructor
North Arkansas College

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why Can't I Get a Job Like This?

Let me start by saying that I really have enjoyed some of the writing jobs I've had/have. But, I wish I'd have had the job writing this how-to insert for Peerless faucets. Normally, I don't have any desire to look at an instruction sheet, much less a desire to write one until now.

Here's a couple of excerpts: Again, this may take an adjustable wrench or pliers (and if you like, a few mild curses). Have you banged your knuckles on the pipes yet? If so, congratulations. Get out from under the sink, apply a bandage and move on.

So how much fun was that? No orders to attach Part C to as shown in Exhibit H. No instructions in Swahili or Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Just a fun down to earth imminently doable set of directions with some sass.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Author Interview: Carolyn See

I love Carolyn See's book, Making a Literary Life. One of the things she recommends in the book is to send a charming note to an author, agent, publisher or editor daily. I felt it was appropriate that she be the recipient of my first charming note.

I later asked if she'd do an interview for me and she graciously consented.

MP: What is a typical workday?

CS: There is no "typical" work day. For my weekly reviews I try to take the book outside and read for a couple of hours until they're done. Then, since I'm such a terrible typist, I'll write the review on one day (they're 850-900 words, but I count them as 1,000), and type it the next -- which is the hardest part of the process. Then one day to revise, with notes from the editors of the Washington Post, and that can vary wildly, from ten minutes to three hours. They're wonderful people, but I have my favorites -- those who agree with me, of course.

If I'm going to a conference or a seminar, I'll spend a couple of hours organizing, or if I'm lazy, I don't.

For writing long projects, I try to do 1,000 words a day or (no more than) two hour's revision five days a week. If I'm working on a deadline, all that goes out the window, of course. I have a couple of anthology pieces coming up, and I'm procrastinating so much that I'll end up doing them over a period of three or so days. But I don't recommend that. I try to work in the morning, read in the afternoon. But I also try not to get tied to any particular schedule -- there too many ways to get off it and then beat myself up about it...

MP: How do you feel about plotting and outlining?

CS: For plot and outline, as I say in MAKING A LITERARY LIFE, I generally know the first thing that's going to happen and the last. Then I'll do the second chapter and the penultimate chapter. Then I'll do my favorite scenes, the ones I feel like doing that day. I don't want to be dogmatic about it, but I think, except for mysteries and commercial novels, you don't need an outline. Because life doesn't have one -- it's full of surprises, and by doing outlines you fence yourself in.

more later . . . . .

As more of this interview becomes available I'll get it posted.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Epic Sagas, Movie Marathons, and the Lure of Horses

A few weeks ago my husband decided he'd like to watch Lonesome Dove. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Lonesome Dove was originally aired in 1989 as a mini-series. It's based on the novel by Larry McMurty. I haven't read the book but have heard that he does a lot of description. Perhaps too much for some people's taste.

Be that as it may, the mini-series is wonderful. The music, the fabulous cast (Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, Danny Glover, Diane Lane) and the breathtaking scenery only serve to enhance a plot full of twists and turns. I still have it on VHS so we watched it, as intended, in two hour intervals.

When we came to the end we were compelled to watch it's sequel Return to Lonesome Dove. And we didn't want to wait. We were still basking in the glow of the first mini-series and needed a fix. So, like the movie junkies we are, we began calling every video and retail store within an hour's drive to see if we could locate a copy.

Bless the guys down at Vintage Stock in Rogers, Arkansas for they had a used DVD which they put on hold for us. We were able to continue the saga, uninterrupted for another three days. Putting us at 12 hours in 6 days.

Not willing to give up the momentum we decided were in a quandary as to what to watch next. Should it be the Gone with the Wind or the Indiana Jones films? I hesitantly suggested The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's a series of films that I enjoy but my husband isn't into things fantasy.

"Is it really that good?" he asked.

"Yes. And there are horses," I replied.

That was good enough for him and we spent a couple of hours each night for the next six days entranced by the adventures of Frodo, Sam and the ring. Overall, he like the movies but I'm not sure that I made a convert of him horses or no horses.

What are your favorite epic sagas? It's not necessary that they include horses or that they be made into films. I've got to say my favorite one as far as reading goes is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. How about you?