Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are You Really Writing in the Right Genre?

We all start somewhere with writing. Maybe we start writing in our favorite genre. Maybe an idea hits us and we start there. Maybe we start with technical writing.

I began writing as a teenager. I probably wrote a hundred short stories during my high school years. They were a mixture of fiction - romance, fantasy, science fiction, horror… In my twenties I completed a novelette involving an alternate world. Even had someone critique it.

Jump ahead ten years and a wisp of a dream that would inspire my YA series. I poured myself into those books and they came so easy. I never envisioned YA though. Sad that New Adult wasn’t around then, because that’s where they should be placed. I’m still proud of that series, especially the final one.

I also wrote a non-fiction self-help book. It tied in with my motivational speaking and only took me three months to write.

Now I am in the middle of edits for my next book, another non-fiction title. I took a little longer to write, but I had so much more going on than during the first one.

As I revise and continue researching to get all the details right, I realize something. This is very comfortable. Although the amount of work and research to put this book together seemed overwhelming, I’m enjoying it. It suits my personality - I’m extremely organized and a detail person. With non-fiction, I think I am finally writing in my proper genre.

Do you ever stop to consider why you write your current genre? If you’ve been frustrated by revisions or rejections, do you stop and wonder if this is really what you were meant to write? Is there a possibility you are good with this genre, but with a different one, you’d be excellent? Are you really writing to your strengths?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Writing the Childless Couple

While most of the population chooses to have children, you may have a reason for writing about a couple who is childless. There are many reasons couples don’t have children and it helps to be aware of those reasons.

I’ve listed several scenarios and how the couple might feel or respond. This might also help you deal with real life couples without children.

They do have children - but they’ve grown and gone. Perhaps the couple had children young or they just look young. The couple might be enjoying their youthful freedom.

They do have children - but they live with another relative. There could be many reasons for this setup, from school location to inability to cope with children.

They do have children - but they live with an ex-spouse. This could be a part-time arrangement or permanent. Perhaps the ex’s spouse has adopted the children, in which case the couple would little or no contact. This could be a stressful situation.

They do have children - but they were taken away. In this case, social services may have stepped in due to drugs, alcohol, abuse, neglect, or poverty. The parents either want their children back no matter what it takes or they are indifferent, or somewhere in between. (As a former foster parent, I saw a mixed bag.)

They don’t have children - but they are trying. They could be young or old, perhaps even using fertility drugs or implantation. Some serious anxiety could be involved.

They don’t have children - but they plan to adopt. Maybe this is by choice. Maybe this is because they can’t have their own.

They don’t have children - and they can’t. Perhaps they’ve tried everything. Nothing worked. They wanted so bad to be parents, but it didn’t happen. A lot of regret and heartbreak here.

They don’t have children - by choice, but with regrets. Maybe they decided not to have children. Perhaps they are past childbearing years and starting to feel a certain amount of regret. What if? One or both spouses could harbor regret or even resentment.

They don’t have children - by choice, no regrets. It was never in the plan for them and now they are enjoying life to the fullest. The thought might creep in now and then, but they’re happy they never had children.

With several of these scenarios, the question of “Do you have children?” will be awkward. It might hurt, even to the point of tears.  For some, the endless questions from family and friends - “When are you going to have children?” - might cause either sorrow or annoyance. They may feel left out. Bottom line - the issue of children will spark some kind of reaction.

For those who are curious, my husband and I fall into the last category. We endured the “When are you going to have kids?” and “Oh, you’ll change your minds.” We ‘fixed’ the option of having our own and were briefly foster parents, which squelched all desire. Yes, I’m sure there are some joys we missed. However, we get to do what we want, when we want, where we want! We can pour our energies into each other and into what we love to do.

So, do you know any real-life couples who are childless for whatever reason? Have you written such a couple into your story?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Borders Failure Good for Independent Bookstores?

An article earlier this week in Publishers Weekly asked the question - “Is the Death of Borders Really Good for Independent Bookstores?

An independent bookstore owner had this to say:

"Does this herald a renaissance of the independent bookstore?" LaFramboise says of Borders' closing. "Probably not. Put me down in the 'I hope so' category. But stop short of the 'I think so' category." 

Most independents have not seen a surge in business since Borders and Waldenbooks started closing all of their stores.

Teicher says that brick-and-mortar stores—whether they are chains or independents—have come to recognize that they have more in common than they did a decade ago, including a shared rival in the form of online bookselling. 

Online sales now account for almost half of all book sales, both physical and ebooks. Independents will have to work hard to reap the benefits of Borders closing, and even then, it may be a losing battle.

What do you think? How many bookstores will survive when the sales tip to 80% ebooks in a few years?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Worst Movies Ever Blogfest

The blogging ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh, is hosting a blogfest today, Worst Movies Ever. Visit his SITE for a full list of participants and join in the fun. (And if you're not already one of his vast army of friends, it's only because you haven't found his blog yet. Or there's something wrong with you.)

Some of the worst films I’ve ever seen, in no particular order…

Warriors of the Wasteland 

This will always be my worst movie ever. This Italian film came out after The Road Warrior, and since I was working in a video store at the time, I decided to watch it. I made it through the first fifteen minutes and called it quits. Simply awful!

Battlefield Earth 

I read the book in high school and knew it would make two good movies. Sadly, we got one really, really bad one. What was John Travolta thinking? At least his and Barry Pepper’s careers survived.


Typical of 60’s films, it’s like a drug-induced trip. And look at that outfit. What was Sean Connery thinking?

Howard the Duck

This movie should’ve been a warning of things to come when Lucas directs.

King Kong Lives

I actually saw this in the theater! I felt so bad for Linda Hamilton

Pearl Harbor 

Titanic wannabe. The attack was well done, but the love triangle was annoying. My husband’s parents gave us their copy and it was so bad, as a joke, we sent it back to his mom for her birthday.


Was there a point to this movie? Weird, unfunny, and bad.

Phase IV 

I have a book on science fiction movies that touted this as a classic. Right. BORING!

Sucker Punch 

I HATED this movie! The premise is uncomfortable and the story takes place within two levels of fantasy world in the main character’s mind. By the time we got to the second level, I’d lost interest, because none of it was real, it was random, and totally meaningless! I’m still mad I watched this film.

Musicals in general 

In real life, people don’t break out into song! For that reason, all musicals annoy me. The only one I liked was Hair, and that probably had more to do with Treat Williams.(And Disney animated films are okay.) My husband likes some of these films and I always tease him that real men don’t like musicals.

What stinkers have you sat through?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Weekend Sillies Early and a Bonus

And now the bonus - my very own LOL Cats...

 This is the late Calvin, aka "The Weasel"
This is the late Hobbes, aka "The Monkey"

 This is Rocko, aka "Eee-Ooo" (Because that's the sound she makes when she meows.)

And this is Spunky, aka "The Buoy"

 The last two we are willing to give to an unsuspecting home!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If I Could Be Anyone, I'd Be...

This is Talli Roland’s 'If I Could Be Anyone, I'd Be...' party for the launch of her new book, Watching Willow Watts. It’s available now as an ebook and next month as a paperback - go buy it. 

If I could be anyone, who would I want to be? 

When I was a child, I always wanted to be someone else, because I wasn’t happy being me. But who would I want to be now? 

A singer with a voice of glass? I wish I could sing. I’m so awful, I don’t even mouth the words in church. 

The person who reviews roller coasters for a living? A whole day with a front row seat, riding as much as I wanted. That sounds like Heaven. 

A best-selling author with books read by millions? I could be Anne McCaffrey for a day. And I’d get to live in Dragonhold, Ireland! 

Maybe a prize-winning photographer? I’ve been trying for years and doubt it will happen without a little help.

Who would I be for a day? 

Talli, I’d have to say I just want to be me. I know what to expect. I know the good and bad points. And most important, I like me now. 

However, if someone would like to pay me to do a picture book of roller coasters, I might be persuaded to change my mind. 

There’s a list of others posting today at Talli Roland’s site.
Stop in and tell her congrats, too! 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Alex said to share our fears and/or a word of encouragement. I hope to do both.

One of my greatest fears right now is that my YA series, The Circle of Friends, will be the only fiction I ever write. I didn’t even intend to write YA. And it’s been such a battle.

YA needs to be edgy, paranormal, controversial, salacious… and my books are none of these things. They have realistic elements, but I didn’t want to delve into the darker things. I wanted to inspire. I’m an optimist who believes in happy endings.

I’m also aware of the improvements I’ve made over the years as a writer, but I know so many will miss that. The best thing I ever wrote was the fifth and final book of the series, and I’m sure many will never get to that book, even though all of the books are stand alones.

And after my experiences with one non-fiction title (and I’m working on another) I realize how hard it is to sell fiction. Non-fiction is so much easier. So while I have an idea for another fiction book (it already has a title, Four in Darkness) I doubt I will ever write it.

I guess if I could offer any of you encouragement or advice, it would be to diversify. Not necessarily in genre, but in what else you do beside write to make money. I’ve been a professional speaker for five years (and member of the NSA) and that is what pays the bills. I also do private consulting and book formatting. But it is these things that keep me going, keep the money coming in so I don’t have to get a J-O-B.

You might not make enough money to quit your job, but with the market changing so fast, diversifying is a good idea. And if you’re an author, you are an expert at something - capitalize on that talent and knowledge!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Getting More Comments Follow-Up

Happy Labor Day to my American Friends! If you're stopping in from Karen's BBQ Party, welcome - my post for the event (complete with recipe and cats who cook) is HERE 

Last week I posted How to Get More Comments with Matthew, Talli, and Alex offering tips. Nicki suggested that that another great way to get comments was to feature those three superstars! LOL She was right - that was the most comments I’ve ever received on a post. The guests did a fantastic job replying to comments, and I’d like to feature some of those comments today and get feedback from my readers.

“Since I started with Facebook it's harder to visit as many blogs as I used to.”
There are so many social sites now. It’s almost impossible to focus on more than two at a time. Is blogging still a priority to you? What social sites pull you away from blogging?

“I feel guilty if I keep posting and generating comments without being able to return them promptly.” 
With the exception of The Weekend Sillies, I won’t post if I’m gone. I don’t believe in presecheduling a bunch of posts before leaving on vacation, because it’s not fair to expect comments if I can’t give. (That’s also why I now only blog three days a week.) What do you think?

“A certain sci-fi author once told me to keep it short and be myself. Best blogging advice I ever got.” 
After blogging for seven years, I can attest - keep it short. I cap my posts at 1000 words, although most are shorter. I know people are crunched for time and I respect that. What do you think about length of post?

“I like comments, of course, but many of the blogs I visit I'll zip over from a tweet and scan quickly, get the info I need, and move on.” 
“Personally, I would never read a blog post and not comment on it. It doesn't make sense to me not to take 30 seconds to say something that shows: I came, I read, I enjoyed, and I care.”
Do you comment on every post you read? I know how much comments mean, so I always comment. A post with 1000 views but only ten comments is big failure to me.

“I follow a lot of blogs that have never even visited me… An unexpected side-effect though, that I've only recently noticed is that people who comment on those blogs have been coming to visit me…”
 People seem notice those who comment in many places. Do you?  Are you putting yourself out there for others to find you?

“Blogs which have more than 50 comments for each post have owners who… visit up to 100 blogs daily. I find it a bit weird since you can't really leave quality comments and do some quality reading on so many blogs.” 
“It really does take about two hours to visit 100 blogs...I've timed it.” 
Is it strange to comment on that many blogs? All three of the guests visit 50-100 blogs a day, and when I was actively promoting my YA series, I did the same. It’s building relationships and building a platform. As the second quote states, it is possible to visit that many blogs in a reasonable amount of time - AND leave meaningful comments. Do you think it’s possible? Especially if blogging is your main social site?

“I follow and comment on far more blogs than do it in return, but that doesn't matter. I value the real connections I have.” 
And isn’t that why we’re all here? To make connections? It isn’t the hits or page views. Sometimes it’s not even the total amount of comments. It’s the close connections with people we know and trust. Right?

Thanks again to Matthew, Talli, and Alex!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Weekend Sillies and BBQ Party

This weekend is Karen Gowen’s Labor Day Weekend BBQ Blogfest.

I’m starting with an easy recipe, followed by LOL Cats and food.

Sometimes the best dishes are by accident. This one is a result of not having the right ingredients and compromising. (I do that a lot!)

Cous Cous Medley

Cook one cup couscous - best to find a box of “add to boiling water and wait 5 minutes” - and add one bouillon cube to the water 

Saute one medium onion in a pan with a little oil, salt, and pepper 

Add 1/2 cup peas and 1/2 cup corn to mix and heat through 

Remove from heat, add 2 Tbsp soy sauce 

Add cooked couscous and serve!