Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dumbest Media Question

*Guest blogger today!

"CNN.com says it will be listing the dumbest media questions asked of the teams playing in the upcoming Super Bowl.

"I can give them the dumbest question asked of any coach right now!

"It happens just before the half of every football game. Some TV reporter sticks the microphone in the coach's face and asks what's their strategy for winning the game, or some variation of that question.

"And the answer is obvious - score more points than the other team!!! Duh! Am I the only one who thinks this?

"I would love for some coach to make that their answer some day. Until then, I just continue to grumble at the stupidity of it all!"

- Sarah Gardner, wife of Bronco's receiever, Matt Gardner

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Importance of Spell Check

I cannot stress it enough!!! It won't catch all things (like, leaving off the s in she - he is still correct to SpellCheck!!!!!), but it will save so much time & effort. I love Spell Check.

I also love my Thesaurus. I don't worry about variety the first time around as I hand write my stories, but when I putting it all into the computer, Mr. Thesaurus is right there with me!

In the book world, I discovered today that the bulk of YA fiction is put out by three big publishers. Oh, they may list another company, but it's always a division of a bigger one in New York.
I did find that one of the biggest Christian publishers is based out of the town I was born in, Eugene, Oregon. How about that?

Learn something new every day ...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Everyone Hates Duke!

* today's blog features a guest.

"Everyone hates on Duke, especially Duke basketball! What's up with that?

"Take last Thursday night's game for instance. Critics claim Duke got too many seconds put back on the clock and that it would not have happened like that had it not been Duke. They blame the team for a perceived unfair advantage. It's not the player's fault!

"I've played basketball for years, and sometimes the calls don't go your way. I say suck it up, quit crying, and play better next time! Whiners!!!"

- Heather Jennings, Duke graduate & women's basketball player

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Authors Answer Questions

Our writer's club recently asked several authors a list of questions. Here are some of the answers!


**Those are actually two different questions. What gets me motivated: daydreaming. And every night before I go to bed, I think about my characters and their latest predicament and I almost always end up dreaming about them. By the time I get to the keyboard, the scene is all in my head. I never experience writer's block. About outlining: since I write suspense/thrillers, I concoct the crime first and then find the fatal flaws in it. I determine the beginning, the middle (which is a climax in itself) and the ending. Then I fill in the character profiles and go from there.

## I don't outline, I just write. Whenever I begin a new project, I usually have the first sentence running through my brain, distracting me from every other thought. Once I've written that one sentence down, the rest comes flooding in. I write my books (1 children's chapter book and 3 young adult novels with a fourth on the way fall 2007) basically in three drafts. The first draft I get the story down like putting together the skeleton of a human or the black lines of a picture. The second draft I take the places where I "told" what happened and "show", take the narrative and make it a living breathing scene. Adding flesh to the skeleton and color to the picture. The third draft I'm smoothing edges, polishing, making sure the words are all in the right spots. Along the way I have a select few friends who will read and make comments which I take into consideration and make changes as necessary.
++ I am motivated by the energy and emotion of my characters – and my awaiting fans! Since all of the main characters are introduced in the first book, staying with them has not been difficult. The main two characters in Book I came to me in a dream, and as I wrote that first book, they became real to me and took on a life of their own. I am motivated to write knowing each character has a story to tell and that someone will identify with their struggle. However, since the characters and storylines DO overlap (and often!), I made a detailed outline for each book and a timeline to maintain consistency. The easiest has always been the ending – once I had a target to shoot for, the path became clear.

>>I had experiences as a SCUBA diver and traveler throughout the Western Pacific islands, so ideas were generated from those experiences. I had characters in my mind—bits and pieces of people I’d met, how they talked, etc. Actually, with that boiling around in my mind the story began to write itself and frequently my characters “talked” to me as I was driving, etc. They began in eastern NC and expanded across the Pacific.


## For me it was a long, long hard road. I was burned by some very creative scam artists. On my website I have an article entitled "Hard Lessons" which details that journey. My first paid writing gig was for a children's page on a website. I worked as a freelance for a year and a half and wrote 40+ stories or chapter serial installments before they stopped using freelancers. By then, my first novel, 101 Borden Street, had been accepted for publication.

++Sheer determination!!! Publishing a book had been a dream of mine for over 25 years. My first book follows an Olympic swimmer and I was determined to get it out before the 2004 Summer Olympics – or I’d be forced to sit on it for four years. I find many authors put out one book, and when it’s not a stellar success, they give up. As with most things in life, people tend to give up just a step away from success, never realizing how close their goal. Success with a book rarely happens overnight and one has to be willing to see their dream to the end.
>>I invited local authors Diane Wolfe and William Holloman to meet me for “coffee” at a local restaurant and asked them how they published. They were both gracious in sharing their experiences. I followed up with Diane and ended up using her publisher. I did try the traditional publishing/agent route and realized I did not have enough time left in my lifetime to continue pursuing that route. I was ready to publish and on my own terms.

** I broke into it twice - my contract for non-fiction computer books fell in my lap after an editor read my articles in computer magazines. Fiction was much harder. I purchased the latest edition of Writer's Market, identified the publishers and specific editors who publish my genre, and started with the biggest publishing houses... As I received more and more rejections, I went to the mid-size publishers. I have a theory that the books that are published are not necessarily the best - they're just the ones in which the authors did not give up.


++I MAKE time!!! I am also an avid reader, so I have seen enough books by enough authors to know that simple-simple only works for children’s books. Since I start by hand writing my stories, that first draft tends to be somewhat simple, as my goal is to get down the basic scene and capture natural dialogue. It’s when I begin putting it into my computer that I REALLY flesh out the story. (And I love my Thesaurus!)

>>Once you get started the characters write the chapters. The one thing I always try to do is end one chapter with something about to happen, so the reader has to turn the page to find out what.

** It's all a matter of priorities. Every decision you make places you closer to your goal or further away from it. I set aside time every single day to develop my story and write the pages. Every week I mark my progress. It also helps to have editors and fans clamoring for my next book. That is a motivator in itself!


## My publisher is Publish America, http://www.publishamerica.com/. The trick to getting published is to never give up and to keep writing, rewriting and submitting. 101 Borden Street was published 10 YEARS after I wrote the first draft. I knew it was a good book and there was nothing else like it out there so I kept submitting, editing, learning and applying what I learned along the way.

**Getting contact information for my publisher may not be the best route for you. Each publisher has their own niche. Mine publishes only suspense/thrillers, true crime, and mysteries. Your best bet is to visit http://www.writersmarket.com/ and either purchase the latest book or subscribe to their listings. Then target the publishers that specifically want to publish stories like yours. There are also agent listings through Writer's Market as well. My publisher's web site is http://www.drakevalleypress.com/.

++Writer’s Market is the best place to start, and search online for smaller to mid-sized publishers who accept your genre. The Guide to Literary Agents is good, too, as it will teach you the proper way to write a query letter and synopsis or outline. (Although your best bet is the publishing houses first, rather than an agent, unless you KNOW somebody!) There are many other options in this day and age of computers, too – independent publishing and E-Books are on the rise! It all depends on your goals.


** The more you write, the better you get - if you learn from your critics and your mistakes. Many authors make the mistake of placing their ego too close to their writing. Only through constructive criticism can you learn. Do NOT show your book to family or close friends and expect them to critique it for you. Send it to someone who doesn't care if you like them! I use Writer's Digest Criticism Service; they team me up with a published writer in my genre - which is extremely important, as each genre has its own rules - and they will give you detailed information and advice. Then keep writing. With each book, if you continue to take care writing it, editing it, and polishing it, should be better than the one before.

++ Sometimes we ask ourselves if we have indeed! But you learn from mistakes and continue to improve your craft. I chose my current genre from the adage that everyone needs something to hope for and someone to love, and I find as I travel doing appearances, there is SUCH a need for hope in this country! (Traveling also places you in bookstores, where you can view firsthand the current trend.) People measure success in so many ways, too. For me, true success is how many lives are touched in a positive way, and getting even one email from a young reader who says they are inspired to pursue their own dreams makes all of the battles worthwhile!

>>It’s also said that everyone has a book inside that begs to be written. Most people don’t do it. It requires discipline and organization. After all, unlike going to work each day no one makes you sit down and write. A person can talk about it forever, but you have to write, get words down on the page. That’s why the computer is so wonderful. You can write and come back to it. Even if you don’t like what you’ve written, you’ve gotten an idea down on paper and, believe me the characters will take it from there. Success means different things to different people. Just make your book the best it can be and don’t worry about others will say.

## For me, writing the book is the easy part. The hard part is the promotion and marketing work that comes after the book is published. My novels are considered young adult because there are no 3- page descriptions of blood dripping down walls, grisly murders or intense sex scenes. Truth is that I write stories that I won't be embarrassed if my family reads.


++Anytime I can! I have no set routine. I just try to write a little every single day. I compose my books in steps – hand write a scene first, then enter it in my computer, print out the page and do some editing, and then go back and enter corrections into the computer. So if I am stuck creatively with the writing, I simply skip to another step in the process!


** p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed author of three suspense/thrillers: Ricochet, The China Conspiracy, and Kickback; a how-to book for authors, Take the Mystery out of Promoting Your Book, and four non-fiction computer books. Go to http://www.pmterrell.com/ or http://www.mysterypromotion.com/ for more information.

## Susan Eileen Walker lives in New Bern, North Carolina with a rat terrier named Grizzly who thinks he is the boss. When she is not working as a medical transcriptionist or writing her next story, Susan divides her time between daydreaming, singing and making hats for infants and children. Her published works include 101 Borden Street and Maura's Trunk and I Am the Quigglebush Bear. Keene Publishing/Moo Press released her latest young adult novel, Secret of the Dance, in September 2006. You can learn more about Susan and her books at www.authorsden.com/susaneileenwalker

++ L. Diane Wolfe’s Southern-based series, The Circle of Friends, focuses on the pursuit of dreams and the overcoming of obstacles. The stories intertwine as the characters learn that with belief and encouragement, they can achieve anything. The author averages over eighty appearances and interviews each year, maintains a website & blog for her series, contributes articles for several other sites, and conducts seminars on publishing & goal setting. Meant to inspire as well as entertain, Wolfe’s books have been described as “encouragement personified”. The author loves people and does not believe in the word impossible. “When the dream’s big enough, the facts don’t count!” The Circle of Friends website- http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/ and Blog -http://circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com/

>> Patti O'Donoghue launched her first book, The Stanhope Trilogy, Book One, Celia, in spring 2006. She continues the adventures of Celia and Goldie in Where America’s Day Begins (America’s day does begin on the island of Guam, USA, an American territory in the western Pacific). The book is due to be released in Spring of 2007. Ms. O’Donoghue holds an advanced SCUBA rating which she received at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Her diving experiences include sites in the tropical waters of Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Ponape and the islands of Palau. She has explored wrecks of ships and aircraft of World War Two that can still be found in the waters off these western Pacific Islands. Fact and fiction of numerous wrecks have fed her imagination to create the Trilogy stories. Ms. O’Donoghue has served as Director of Public Information at Mount Olive College, Mount Olive, NC and as President of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce. Her writing and photography have appeared in magazines and newspapers. Her husband's 33-year Air Force career took the family to Germany, Turkey, Guam and bases in the United States. Patti and Greg O’Donoghue are the parents of five children and the servants of one cat, Miss Kitty. She is currently working on the third book in the Stanhope Trilogy, The Wreck. http://www.stanhopetrilogy.com/

Friday, January 26, 2007

Too Much Super Bowl Hype?

* Today's content comes from a guest blogger.

"Every year, the hype for the Super Bowl gets bigger and bigger. And with a two week lag between the final playoff game and the big game, reporters scramble to fill every day with as much specualtion as possible! They are quick to jump on any trash talk spewed by the players and harass the big names for even a morsel of information. This can be quite annoying. Of course, if you're not one of the teams going to the Super Bowl, you actually wish you were being pestered by the media! Oh, well, there's always next year ...

"What's become rather frightening is the amount of media coverage garnered by the commercials! Now, don't get me wrong - I love a good funny commercial! I'd rather catch them after the Super Bowl, of course, but hey, we should've played better this year. And I know it's something that draws a lot of attention. However, I worry when the ad highest on the list of priorities features Kevin Federline! Who cares? I don't want to see that!

"Guess the team just needs to get serious next season - then I won't care less what commercials air during the Super Bowl!"

- Matt Gardner, wide receiver for the Denver Broncos

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Author Questions

Our online writing club, The Writer's Meow, was asked to put together some questions they would ask an author. They've come up with some good ones and I'll be posting them in our club journal soon.

They are in for a treat, too! I contacted several of my author friends and had them assist with the answers. So the club members will be getting numerous replies to their questions!

Most of them came down to one common question - how do you do it?

(My thought is, WHY do I do it!)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Agents & the Publishing World!

The world of publishing is no different than any other business - there are levels to climb, hoops to jump through, networking to do, people to please, steps to take, etc. And it doesn't make any more sense here than it does anywhere else!

My agent is an interesting guy. Mark (no, not the character in my book!) is all over the map, physically & mentally. Of course, I guess that matches us up pretty well - I'm a hyperactive Type-A. And he likes to tantilize me with at least one publishing house he's approached - but won't reveal the name. (Like I'm going to run out and call them. Or get really excited - I know better!) Otherwise, he does keep me updated on the slow progress that is the publishing industry.

In the meantime, it's business as usual here, and I continue pressing for Book IV to be released in April.

So don't anyone lynch me - MIKE will be out soon, I promise!!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

An Effective Website

I'm amazed how many authors I meet that do not have a very good website. Quite a few use a free site and have odd web addresses as a result. Some don't have one at all!

The two books I am rereading right now, "The Web-Savvy Writer" by Patrice-Anne Rutledge and "Take the Mystery Out of Promoting Your Book" by P.M. Terrell, both emphasize the importance of a website. Every author must have an online source for their information, both for fans and the media. I've got a press room on my site, with everything in my press kit available for media, libraries, book stores, etc. The only thing I have yet to add is an audio feed.

Not knowing html is no excuse, either. I know very little about html! I simply found a webbuilder that was easy to learn and versatile enough for what I needed. And it's very easy to update - something I do at least once a week!

Guess that's the difference between those who make it and those who don't, huh?

"Always go the extra mile."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Writing Tips From A Publisher

A friend who owns a publishing company offered some tips for our online writer's club, The Writer's Meow. They were so good, I would like to add them here as well! Thanks so much, Robert!

Some common sense advice regarding writing:

I'm always amazed that many people fail to realize the importance of professionalism that editors and publisher expect from writers. Now, I'm not taking about common typos that one might create while typing an email or a typo that is obvious but when an editor receives work that is filled with major grammatical errors (sorry for the grammar lesson, but I'm also an English professor) such as subject-verb agreement, verb tense, subject-pronoun agreement, fragments that are not warranted or simply sentences that don't make sense a writer needs to know how these affect the very busy editor. That is, most editors might simply stop reading after it becomes obvious that the work is poorly written. That said, I have to confess that there are times I have read work that had energy and something to say and was well written but which also had a few errors that could easily be taken care of.

Bottom line: Each time you send out work, you are basically applying for a job and most editors/publishers, who receive countless mss on a weekly basis, simply will use the lack of professionalism as a reason to reject a ms outright, often without reading the complete ms.

Robert L. Giron
Editor/Publisher, Gival Press
Poetry Editor, Potomac Review

Friday, January 19, 2007

My first photo win!

I belong to several clubs on DA and had entered a B&W piece in one for "Perspectives". Believe it or not, it got third place out of forty entries! I was rather stunned!

So how did I come upon this shot? Easy! I'm short - so I'm always looking up!

Now and then, a little reward like this is good!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

When it rains, it doesn't snow!

And I only say that because a band of cold, wintery mix weather came through our area this morning - Raleigh got snow, and we got ... rain.
Something about that magical I-95 line that runs through the state! Western side gets snow, eastern side gets the hurricanes.
Not a fair trade-off in my book!
But there was some minor icing on the trees. Very minor. Tiny. I had to drive to I-95 to see it!

But in other situations, it rained and poured, too.

I now have a HUGE list of websites to research for promotions for my upcoming book. Some came from two books I am reading, The Web-Savvy Writer and Take the Mystery Out of Promoting Your Book. I've also received a a large list from a wonderful fan! Big hugs to my special fan & friend in Ohio!

In between, I really am trying to work on HEATHER. And prepare for the upcoming seminar I am teaching. Oh, and prepare a sample draft excerpt from an outline sent to me - I've got someone interested in having me ghost write a historical romance book. I'm really intrigued by the premise of the story and as I have a soft spot for WWII (my father served in the Navy), I'm going to see what I can come up with for this story!

Back to the snow ...

Guess that's the best I'll see this winter!

**But if you'd like a good laugh, check out the video of the 15 car collision in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, captured by a viewer. It's unbelievable! http://www.kgw.com

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Saints are Pursuing a Dream!

For those of you who do not follow football, you may have missed a miracle this weekend!

The New Orleans Saints, football's worst team last year, is playing for the NFC Championship!

After the city was ravaged by Katrina, the Saints were forced to practice elsewhere, as the Superdome was almost destroyed by the storm and refugees within. They were constantly on the road and lost almost every game.

This season, they were back at home in the Superdome. Blessed with several outstanding rookies and an awesome quarterback, and backed by a city delighted to have them home, the Saints have played like a team with a mission!! They have done what NO other team has ever done, going from worst to almost best, and have united the city of New Orleans with their passion. It has been incredible to watch all season.

Therein lies the miracle - because when the dream's big enough, the facts don't count.
And I am pulling for the Saints to go all the way!!!

How fitting that today is Martin Luther King's Day, the man who made famous "I have a dream .."?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Awestruck & Humbled

Last night, I drove to Lumberton for a seminar by author P. T. Terrell. I have one of my articles on her website and she led me to the Book 'Em event in Waynesboro, VA in October. (She's the co-founder.) We'd talked via email and I decided to go meet her in person. She introduced me to the library director, who might have me in later this year to speak and bought six of my books! Trish is SO big time! She's done two PBS specials and has two producers negotiating for movie rights to a couple of her novels. One reviewer called her the next John Grisham! She is super, super sweet though and thanked me (in front of everyone gathered!) for coming to see her. I felt so humbled! I am so nobody compared to her!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Joy in Gainesville as Gators Win!

Ohio State was the favorite, but the Gators won rather decisively. On any given day, any team can win. I always say when the dream's big enough, the facts don't count, and the Gators proved that last night.

Gainesville must be quite insane right now! I remember being there on game day for a book signing last September. One could not miss all the excited Florida fans! And I can imagine my character's excitement with this win - both Lori and James attended the University of Florida.

Hopefully no one remembers that just two years ago, they had a crocodile instead of a gator on their booklet!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Club, Heather, and Football

Odd combination, but that's where I'm at today!

Voting begins tomorrow at The Writer's Meow on our contest of First Chapter - Fiction. I've got a list of critiquing rules, so hopefully everyone follows the guidelines and the best piece of work wins.

Really progressing on Book V, Heather! She's such a fiesty character!

And in football, I hope Tony Romo's mother gave him a hug! I've never liked the Dallas Cowboys, and I certainly cannot pull for a team with T.O., but I hate to see that happen to anybody. It'll either break or make the young quarterback. He's just got to suck it up and move on!!!

Because no matter what, life goes on, and tomorrow is a new day.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Every Path Has Rewards

It's amazing the doors God will open up if you just keep moving forward!

Last night I was a guest at our local art studio's open house. In addition to selling some books, I also made a contact - a gentleman who works at a school and is interested in having me in to speak to the students!

Sometimes rewards are not always obvious, but something positive will happen when you keep trying. You can't give up because you can't physically see something happening right that moment!

So don't give up! Keep pursuing your goals. You may be just one step away from something amazing!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

December Winner and Book 'Em!

December's winner in my book giveaway was Joel from Moorhead, MN - congratulations, Joel!!!

I appreciate everyone who entered - keep watching for more contests & updates!

Also, I will be participating in a special event this October in Waynesboro, VA - Book 'Em! It's a program that battles illiteracy. After speaking with the organizer, Officer Mark Kearney, I will also be participating in oone or two of the events, which include panel discussions and visits to local schools. Very excited about this - and the cause!!!

See their website for details:

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 Begins

2007 has begun, although rather sadly with former president Gerald Ford's funeral tomorrow.

Also on a sad note, Borders Inc is closing many of their Waldenbooks stores across the nation and I will miss those I visited during the past few years!

On a more positve note ...

www.adbooks.org is in the process of determining the best young adult book on their List Serv.

www.webofhappiness.com is adding articles to their site. My article, "The Invisible Battle - Overcoming Mental Abuse" will be featured there soon.

And at The Writer's Meow, several very talented writers have emerged, both in the area of fiction and poetry!

Again, here's to a bright and hopeful 2007 for us all!!