Monday, April 30, 2012

Short and Sweet. Kind of...

No, today is not Tuesday, my regularly scheduled post day.  You did not enter a time vortex, and end up losing Monday.  I decided to post early.  Why?  So I could let you all know I'm posting over at Karen Elliott's blog, The Wordshark today!

I am sharing one of my favorite posts, Fiction Fears, with Karen.  If you have a phobia of aliens, or if you maybe like aliens and think they get a bad rap, this post will probably make you laugh.  Come over and let me know what you think!

Also, the marvelous Mike Schulenberg at Realms of Perilous Wonder tagged me while I was at the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference.  I haven't had a chance to acknowledge the fun until today!  Because I am in a time crunch right now, I'm not going to pass the tag on to anyone specifically, (linking takes forever!) but if you want to join in on the fun, feel free to play.  Thank you, Mike, for being gracious and thinking of me!

Oh, and go check out Mike's post, Dark Wings of Mr. Flappy.  It's a fun story with a happy ending and worth reading.  It made me chuckle!

My Eleven Questions and Responses

1.  If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be?

This is a tough one. Okay, it's from a television show, but it's still fictional.  I love Cabot Cove in Murder, She Wrote.  That's my pick. Laugh if you want. My husband does.

2.  Fiction or Non-fiction?

I haven't been reading.  It makes me sad.  I'm trying so hard to get my novel edited, and keep up with blogging, etc... that I just don't have time to read.  I'm looking forward to June.

3.  Do you read in quiet or noisy places.

I'll read anywhere I can.  I'm one of the lucky people that, when I'm engrossed with the right book, I don't hear anything.

4.  Do reviews influence your choice of reads?

Nope.  Nor do they influence which movies I watch.  Friend's recommendations mean a lot more to me.  Reviews may affect where I eat, though.

5.  Audio-books or paperbacks.


6.  What was the first book you remember reading?

Actually, I don't remember the first book, but I know I loved picture books.  I remember the librarian and my mother having a conversation about not letting me check out picture books anymore, so I'd read books at the appropriate reading level.  I still love picture books.

7.  Favorite Author?

Oh, without a doubt James Rollins.  And James Clemens (same guy, different genre).  Also, Dean Koontz.  Janet Evanovich.  Those are my current ones.  Some from the past are Piers Anthony, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, Victoria Holt, and Kathleen Woodiwiss.  The Cat Who... series.  I could go on, but won't!

8.  Classic or modern novels?

There are classics I adore, but currently I like modern novels.

9.  Have you ever met your favorite author?

Sadly, no.  I'm thinking of James Rollins right now.  I'd probably embarrass myself.

10.  Book groups or solitary reading?

I've never belonged to a book club.  I think I like it that way.

11.  If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Just one book?  Not even a series?  Something long, with lots of plot twists, and gorgeous writing (a la Dean Koontz or James Rollins).

All righty then!  Those are some fun questions, so I hope some people take advantage of the open invitation to talk about their reading life!  Linda Hatton maybe?  Leigh Covington?  Oh, Stacy Jensen, you probably need a post, since the A-Z Challenge is over, right? :)

You all have a happy week!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Funny Photo Friday

Before we get to the main attraction, I needed to let you all know that Jess Witkins is blogging on the Life List Club blog today, so hop over there and get a dose of fun!  Of course, as soon as I wrote that, I thought to myself "What if she's got a dead serious post this time!"  Guess you'll have to go see for yourselves.

My post, Better Writing through Pressure, posted on Wednesday, so if you missed it, you can check my post out after you read Jess's.

So, lets get on with the photos!

Dude, Chill!

The last picture requires an explanation.  I live in fear a mountain lion is going to eat my children when we're out camping or hiking.  I'm not being silly, because mountain lions are pretty plentiful in the mountain areas of the region I live in.  Several years ago, in the foothills about forty-five minutes away, a four year old was hiking at the back of a church group and was pulled away by a mountain lion, never to be seen again.  Freaks me out!

However, we really like to camp and hike.  Last fall, when we went hiking at Vedauwoo, we took one of our four dogs.  The smallest. 

Before you all judge me harshly, I have to say that Tumpa is the fiercest of all our dogs.  We kept him on a leash the whole time.  He was our decoy, but also our warning system.  I didn't really think anything would happen, but just in case, I'd rather sacrifice the dog!

Now you can all show your displeasure in the comments section...

Have a happy Friday, free of mountain lions!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear Loved One by Karen S. Elliott

I am so fortunate to welcome freelance editor and writer extraordinaire Karen S. Elliott to Motivation for Creation.  The first time I met Karen was through the Writer Unboxed blog, and then through the WU Facebook group.  Always helpful and friendly, she gave me some advice about some questions I had regarding blogging.  Just recently, we reconnected when I signed up for a Linked In account, and her e-mail happened to be in my contacts.  We started talking, and ended up deciding to swap some blog posts! This particular post is a favorite of mine, and I think you all will enjoy it as well!

Dear [Loved One]: I am a writer

My name is not Shakespeare, Poe, Bronte, or Rowling, but I am a writer just the same.

I may not be a doctor, lawyer, or executive chief, but my writing – to me – is just as critical. Can you indulge me, just a few moments?

You read articles in People, Sports Illustrated, Time, or Cosmo about the problems with celebrities and their children, the latest athlete arrested for drugs or spousal abuse, the trouble on Wall Street, or how to apply your make-up for a night on the town. However, when I try to talk to you about the article in Writer’s Digest about e-book vs. print book or how to improve my web presence, you give me the hand wave and say, “Who cares?”

You’ll spend a half hour with your nose in a catalog for new clothes, a new computer, or new hunting gear. I’ll spend a little time trying to find that just-right creative writing class or the perfect book for getting my novel to market, and you tell me I’m wasting my time.

I supported you when you wanted to start a small business, when you wanted to get out of a small business, when you wanted to start a new job, or retire. When I have a great idea for a new book or realize the book I’m writing must be shelved, you say, “Oh well” without lifting your head.

I’ve spent hours in the car with you to get to the ball game, watch the ball game, and get home from the ball game. I’ve watched, waved, and smiled as you pull out of the driveway on your way to that week-long hunting or fishing trip or when you were going for a girls’ weekend at the spa. But when I plan a day-long workshop at the local university or a weekend conference in Vegas or Seattle, you ask me, “What about the kids?” “What about dinner?”

I’ve sympathized over your aching joints or shin splints, your aching back, and your stress-related headaches. But when I describe my tired, bloodshot eyes or I’m afraid I might have carpal tunnel, you remind me you told me I shouldn’t spend so much fruitless time at the computer.

I’ve observed as you spend hours watching L&O marathons, night after night of Dancing With The Stars or American Idol or weekend sporting events. But if I ask for one hour of uninterrupted time to hash out a new outline or finish my edit, you complain.

You go online and spend hours sifting through junk email, silly chain mail, and funny pictures. You play farm games, card games, or puzzle through Sudoku. I spend online time with writers, agents, publishers, editors; I learn about writing, how to query an agent, or how to land a publisher. And you wonder why I don’t do something productive.

You regale me with stories of the quirky character at the grocery store, the fabric store, or the paint guy at Home Depot. But if I try to describe one of my book characters, one of my villains, or my protagonist’s triumph, your eyes glaze over.

I agreed when you wanted to upgrade to a $1,000, 54-inch TV, when you wanted another new car or yet another pair of designer leather boots. Yet you scoff when I want to spend $500 on a weekend writers’ conference or a professionally-designed website.

You spend hours tending your garden, washing and waxing your F-150 baby in the driveway, or creating the perfect lasagna. But you tell me I’m wasting time when I struggle over the perfect paragraph, the perfect opening line, the perfect surprise twist.

I celebrate with you when your second cousin in Alaska has her first baby, your aunt and uncle buy a retirement condo in Florida, or your friend in Arizona graduates from ASU. The birth of my novel is barely a blip on your radar.

I have coddled you through the flu, knee surgery, and that pesky rash. I have consoled when you were depressed and commiserated with you over what the boss had the nerve to do on any given day. Yet when I try to tell you how much mind-bending, sleep-losing trouble I’m having with my final chapter, you suggest I just give it up.

You will read a book if it’s on the NYT Best Sellers list (by someone you don’t know and have no hope to ever meet), a tell-all book by a politician you didn’t vote for, or a memoir by your favorite sports figure. Why won’t you open my manuscript?

You read numerous blogs every week about cupcake-decorating, care and feeding of a Labrador, how to paint a War Hammer figurine, or how to grow the perfect rose bush. Why won’t you sign up for my blog?

I hope we never have to talk about the death of my dream. I’m afraid you won’t listen.


Karen was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun. Her favorite book is the dictionary.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, writer, and grandmother. Visit her blog. Connect with Karen on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.  See her new website at The Word Shark

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Funny Photo Friday

All photos that are not from Pyzam were taken down, due to potential copyright infringement concerns! Please enjoy the photos that could remain!

Last week, while searching for funny animal photos, I saw some pretty funny signs.  I navigated away from the page, and then couldn't find them again.  But guess what!  I located them once again on Will and Guys Funny Clean Jokes, and have collected a couple of them here for your enjoyment.  We've got some more funny cat pictures, too.  I hope you like them!

I promise I'll diversify next week into other funny pictures besides cats.  There were just so many cute ones, I couldn't resist this week.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Checking In

I felt like I needed to give an explanation as to why I haven't been responding to all the great comments over the last few days, because I really appreciate them!  I am currently at lunch at the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference eating lunch during the Donald Maass Workshop, and haven't had the chance to even hardly think for the last couple days.  I wanted to touch base and say thanks for dropping by and leaving comments and following the blog (to you two new people!).  I'll get back to normal after Sunday, and I can think again.

By the way, this is GREAT!  Donald Maass is AWESOME!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Relationships of Writing - Part 2

Photo by kramkathrog/freedigitalphotos
Having joined the My Name Is Not Bob Platform Building Challenge, I've been thinking a lot about social media relationships. There seems to be two arguments going around the web.  On the one hand, writers are called to support each other and social media is all about "friends", "followers" and "tribes."  On the other hand, the legitimacy of these relationships are questioned as fake.

Personally, I don't know why it has to be an either/or kind of argument.  It seems to me that the relationships we make on the internet are what they are, no more, no less.

Although we might like the idea of writing being solitary, it has always required relationships and partnerships. A writer has always had a relationship with the reader.  Whenever I read autobiographical accounts of writers, it seems like they also had relationships (friendships) with each other.  And then they had to have relationships with their publishers and agents.

I can't imagine that writers of the past (pre-internet and pre-social media) had close relationships with all these people. The relationship depended on the need for the interaction, and probably the length of the relationship, as well.  Why isn't it the same for social media?

Just because we call someone a friend doesn't mean they are in the same category as the person we've known since kindergarten.  We define our relationships.  We make them important or not.

Social media is an introduction, an entry point for making a connection with someone else.  What level of connection is up to us to decide, no different from "real life."

I view writer's relationships with each other as similar to being on an Olympic team.  Sometimes Olympic athletes compete against each other, but they are still working for the greater good of the whole team.  We are Team Writer, and it is the nature of the business to compete against each other.  However, we can certainly have good sportsmanship.  We can help each other get better, we can make those connections, and share our success with others.

Does it have to mean we are BFF's and inexorably linked until the end of time?

No.  Not unless we want it to.

Our internet relationships are what they are.  They are a unique-unto-themselves type of relationship.  They may come and go quickly, because we don't see each other face to face.  They may lead to longer and stronger friendships, or to business partnerships.  It depends on the people behind the keyboard, and the connection that is made.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Relationships of Writing - Part 1

Photo: Simon Howden
The term relationship has a broad meaning.  It isn't just about friendships, or romantic involvements.  Relationships are the interactions between us and the world and people around us.  They can be as close or as distant as we want, or let them, be.

Typically, I've stayed away from blogging about the craft of writing.  As I've only been writing for a short period of time, I haven't felt qualified to speak about the topic. There are so many great craft blogs out there (such as two of my favorites, Writer Unboxed and Story Fix) with experienced professionals giving fabulous advice, I've felt it best to leave the topic of the craft of writing alone.

Relationships, on the other hand, are my area of expertise.  As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I deal with other people's relationships day in, and my own relationships day out.  We've all experienced the intersection of writing with our personal lives, and I have found such an intersection in the areas of writing and relationships.

The further I delve into writing fiction, the importance of relationships surfaces again and again. I have noticed three relationships that are obvious in writing fiction; those of our characters to the setting, to each other, and the use of cause and effect.

Character and Setting

Setting can be a character unto itself.  The way I view the relationship between character and setting is very similar to our own lives and the environment in which we live.  As individuals, we are shaped and formed as we grow up by our family of origin, our economic class, our religion, the friends we keep, the culture in which we live, the list goes on and on.  We can be comfortable within our environment, or it can chafe against us.

So it is with our characters.  Setting is not just location, although that's an important part of a story.  The setting of a story interacts with our characters, and can be a catalyst for change or a source of conflict.

Characters and Other Characters

This seems like a given.  Of course our characters are going to have relationships with other characters.  But this is where that broad term becomes important.  Each character (even the minor ones) have their own view of the world around them - their own setting.  Each character has it's own needs, wants, and fears.  Each character has it's own ideas about what they need to survive, and how to go about getting those needs met.

Each interaction is greater than "friendship" or "romantic involvement."  Conflict arises out of Character A needing something from Character B that maybe Character B can't (or won't) give, because of their own wants or needs.  Or maybe Character A has a belief that doesn't align with Character B's belief system, and how are they going to work together when that is the case, because they have to work together to save the world.

Cause and Effect

When I started reading how-to books, one of the best that helped me to understand story structure was Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham.  In the book, Mr. Bickham says that cause and effect is key to understanding story structure.  He says that, by understanding the relationship between cause and effect, we create a logical chain of events that helps a reader suspend disbelief.  They trust the story because there is a reason why what happens in the story happens.

The part I like best, though, is that by creating order that the real world often doesn't have (truth being stranger than fiction) we, as writers, offer hope to the reader that everything will turn out all right.   To quote Mr. Bickham, "Because this kind of presentation shows a world in which things do make sense...the resulting story also has the effect of offering a little hope to the reader...that bad things don't always happen to good people for no reason...a hint that maybe the reader can seize some control of his own life after all, and that good effort may sometimes actually pay off-and our existence may indeed even have some kind of meaning."

Come to think of it, maybe that's why writing is such good therapy.  We are able to take those events in our lives that confuse the heck out of us, and turn them around and give them some order. We're able to gain some control over the chaos that is everyday life.

Have you noticed relationships in other areas of writing?

Friday, April 06, 2012

Funny Friday Photos

I'm thinking about making this a regular feature.  My only worry is that I won't be able to find funny pictures some Friday.  These photos are the rest of the e-mail the cat pictures came from last week.  Enjoy!

And then I had to include a Star Wars one, just because I find this photo amazing... or maybe that's amusing.  I copied it from The Best of Everything, where the Star Wars 100 Day Blogathon is going on!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Goals are Great! (plus a Haiku)

Photo from Wookipedia
Really quickly, I want to post my entry into the second bi-weekly challenge for the Great Star Wars 100 Day Blogathon.  The challenge was to write a Star Wars Themed Haiku.  Since I am seriously down in points (meaning I have 0) I need to enter, so here it is:

Small, green, ancient, fierce,
Fighter, keeper of secrets,
Wise Jedi he is.

I just couldn't work in Wookies to get extra points.

Goals are Great!

Last week I explained how I had wallowed in frustration at my perceived shortcomings as a writer, and how some of my bad attitude changed when I learned to accept where I am in my writer's journey.  This morning, through goal setting, I received another little lift under my emotional wings.

Yesterday was the first day of Robert Lee Brewer's April Platform Challenge.  I ran across the challenge on Saturday, through the Writer's Unboxed Facebook group.  Since I didn't take part in the A-Z Blog Challenge, and the April Platform Challenge sounded very educational, I decided to give it a go.  Besides, if I don't complete a challenge, it's not like anyone but me will know, so it was a very low-stress decision to join in.

Yesterdays challenge was about defining ourselves.  Today's challenge was about setting goals.  Since I already have my Life List, the short-term goals were easy.  I just copied my Life List over to a Word document, and adjusted it a little.  I then adjusted my blog page, so if you're curious, click on the page and take a peek.

Photo by Ohmmy3d/freedigitalphoto
Coming up with my long-term goals was not hard, either.  What surprised me, though, was that by writing down the goals that I want to achieve beyond the next year, it took my writing career (Mark said I could call it that!) out of the dream category and put it into the attainable category.  I could envision a set of tasks I could complete in order to meet those goals.  

I know that there are variables out there I can't control, but that's true in any endeavor.  At least now I have actionable steps I can take to get ready for the eventuality that the stars align and everything works out the way I want.  I'll be ready for success, instead of dreaming about it.

That is the power of goal setting!

Speaking of goals, the Life List Club blog, where "side effects may include laughter and achieving greatness" is set to go live on April 4th, with the first post written by our newest member, Sherry Isaac.  I have read Sherry's author page, and her blog, Psychological Sizzle, and I think this first post is going to be something special.  I hope you all cyber-run over on the fourth and check it out!

I also wanted to mention two other collaborative blogs of fine bloggers I have met in the last several months.  Hugs and Chocolate and Falling for Fiction are both motivational and inspirational in nature, and are worth checking out!

Do you set short and long-term goals?  What effect has goal setting had on your motivation and inspiration?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...