From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Date, A Very Important Date

Now that my course is set for Annaheim, CA this July and I have nothing more to do than twiddle my thumbs as I cross the days off my calendar (yeah right), I just had to go enroll for another engagement in the mean time.

As if I didn't have enough stress waiting for March 26th to find out if I've made it to the final round of the RWA Golden Heart Contest; I signed up, through COFW, for a pitch appointment with an agent.  I get seven, yep count 'em, seven minutes to impress this agent with my story line. *Panic* 

No small feat there. *Deep Breath*  March 17th I have a date, a very important date.

Thankfully, a very professional 'pitch sheet' was provided by the sponsoring organization.  That in itself helped me to whittle down my thoughts and story line to their core. This Saturday the lovely ladies of Fiction Flurry have generously donated the second half of our regular meeting time to practice pitch sessions!  Since there will be three of us pitching to different agents and editors on the 17th, we were all in agreement that some practice was in order. 

So, anyone out there have any sage advice they'd like to pass along?  Funny stories about their first pitches?   We'd all love to hear it!

Monday, February 27, 2012


A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook this weekend. Apparently, someone dumped this adorable dog off on the corner. He has been waiting for over a week (sometimes in the pouring rain) for his owner to come back.
The good news is the local animal shelter is attempting to capture him (he runs away each time they try) and adopt him out.
I love dogs, cats, and all God's creatures. Praying his next home is a good one!

Friday, February 24, 2012

What's Your Favorite Book Store?

With the rise in popularity of e-books, there has been a corresponding bust of "big box" book stores.  At the same time, however, it seems something else is going on... independent book sellers, book resellers, and on-line book stores have continued to survive - some might even say thrive! - in this tight economy.  When an e-book won't do, and you just have to have that good, old-fashioned book-in-hand experience, who do you turn to?  What's your favorite book store?

Here in Columbus, Ohio, we have a nice selection of book stores to choose from. 
The Village Bookshop in Linworth is one of my favorites!

The Village Bookshop inhabits an old church building.

It's a treasure trove of good reads...and bargains!!!

Take a seat.  Stay and read for a while.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day Job Blues

Like many writers, I have a day job. And by definition of a day job, there are many times that it sucks the life out of me. It can be mind-numbingly dull at times. I frequently come home a bit tired, just from staring at a computer the whole day.

You may have realized that I'm posting this on Tuesday, rather than on Monday (like I usually do). Yesterday was one such day when I came home exhausted. But I came home with a level of exhaustion that rivals most any day at my job. By the time I'd gotten home, I'd been away from my house for thirteen hours. And five of those hours? Spent in a meeting.

After the meeting, I went straight to dance class. By the time I finally got home, I was so tired that I just laid on my bed, staring at my computer for a couple of hours. Not a single thing got accomplished last night.

What's the moral of this story? There are going to be days where the stupid "real world" will interfere with your writing one. There will be days when you will come home so exhausted from your day job that you will be able to do nothing but pass out. And you know what? That's okay. You just have to make sure you get it done the next day, as soon as you can.

So yesterday was my day of pure and complete exhaustion. I didn't get this post done yesterday. At least I got the post done today.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Brown and Furry

“Wanna play a game, Dad?” my son asked as we drove home from church one Sunday afternoon. It had been a long service and I was looking forward to lunch and a nice long nap.

I made a right turn from a stop sign and answered, “Sure. What do you want to play?”

I glanced at him in the rear-view mirror as he sat in his car seat and stared out the window. After a moment of tapping a finger on his chin, he decided, “How about ‘I’m Thinking of An Animal’?”

I smiled at his choice. ‘I’m Thinking of an Animal’ is a classic in our family.

“Ok, you go first,” I prompted.

He caught me looking at him in the mirror. “I’m thinking of an animal...” he began, “that’s brown and furry.”

“Brown and furry,” I mused. “Hmmm. Is it a bear?”

“Nope,” he said.

“Is it a spider?” I ventured.


“Ok, give me a hint.”

I stopped at another intersection and waited for the light to change. He looked at me again in the mirror and hinted, “It lives in the woods.”

“Brown and furry and lives in the woods, eh? Is it a wolf?” I guessed again.


“Give me another clue.”

“Wow, Dad.”

Apparently I’m the dumbest Dad in the world and any first grader would have guessed the answer already. I was feeling rather stumped by now and wondered if the next clue would give it away.

“It has three legs.”

Ok that wasn’t very helpful at all. Brown, furry, lives in the woods, and has three legs. Admittedly I’m no expert of forest creatures, but I’ve watched my fair share of Animal Planet episodes and nothing with that description was coming to mind.

We made a left and continued on a winding street where I had to slow down to navigate the curves.

“C’mon, Dad!” he pleaded.

I wasn’t about to admit defeat this early in the game, but I was honestly at a loss. My only option was to stall.

“Hold on, I’m thinking,” I said.

Brown and furry with three legs in the forest. What on earth? I had to go back and think about the rules of the game. We did clarify these animals were from our planet, didn’t we? I couldn’t remember.

I knew this was a wild stab of a guess, but I threw it out there anyway. Who knows? It could just be how an eight year old thinks.

“Is it Bambi with a busted leg?”

He shouted, “No!” then laughed, sounding as if that was about the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard before in his life. I was a moron.

We rounded the corner onto our street and I finally succumbed to defeat and told him, “Ok, I give up. What is it?”

“It’s an octopus, Dad!”

I almost ran over the curb as I tried to pull into the driveway, tears welling in my eyes from laughing so hard. ‘I’m Thinking of An Animal’ is a classic game in our family.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Journey to the 2012 RWA Conference

In the Fall of 2011 I decided that to complete my current manuscript I needed a solid deadline.  So, after chatting with a few of my writing friends I set one. The December 2nd entry deadline for RWA's Golden Heart competition for 2012.

I made this decision about mid October.  I was only 40,000 words into my manuscript. Consequently, I spent the entire month of November finishing my WIP completing it at approximately 78,000 words.  Needless to say, I was mostly brain dead for the month of December.  But it was well worth the effort.  I was on fire! I made the deadline and entered my novel into the competition.

While I wait to hear if I make the finals, announced March 26th, I have been perfecting my synopsis and query letter.  Reducing my novel down to a handful of pages is the most technical and powerful piece of writing I've done.

To enhance my nervousness and anticipation my dearest husband, Sgt. Dan, encouraged me to immerse myself in the journey.  So, I registered for the 32nd Annual RWA Conference, to be held in Anaheim, California this year!  Yay me! Little did he know exactly what his encouragement would entail.

Conference registration completed.
Plane tickets booked.
Hotel arrangements made.

I am going with the lovely Susan Gee Heino.  Who has graciously agreed to take me under her wing and make sure I do not get lost or go fan girl crazy on Stephanie Laurens, the keynote speaker. I hope to get a picture with her and not pass out in the process or make a complete fool of myself.  If I can at least be coherent enough to remember my own name I'll be satisfied.

Next up on the to do list, SHOPPING!  New dresses are first, not to mention that I need an elegant number for the awards banquet along with matching shoes.

In the mean time, I'll be working on my next project.  I have the support of the man I love, my family and friends.  What more could a girl ask for?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Is In The Air?

Just for fun I Googled "Worst Valentines Day gifts". I've taken the time to list a few of my favorites:

Number Five - Pierced earrings. Seems like a nice enough gift except the recipients ears were not pierced.

Number Four: A Garlic Press - Apparently the recipient had mentioned in passing that she saw an infomercial at 2:00 a.m. and her boyfriend took this as a hint that this would be a good gift.

Number Three: Vacuum Cleaner - I don't think this needs any explanation.

Number Two: Tickets to an event that he really wanted to attend. Very romantic.

And the number one worst gift (in my opinion) was.........drum roll please........

A Bathroom Scale.


How about you...what's the worst (or best) Valentines Day gift you ever received?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Author Reading Today!

Will be reading from her upcoming release
Passion and Pretense!

 at The Ohio State University's 
Thompson Library 
with Author's Donna McMeans and Paige Cuccaro

From 3:00-4:00 in room 202
Co-Sponsored by Ohioana Library 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Grandma's Taters

My grandma was born and raised in the hollers of West Virginia. Likewise, my mother was born in an unplumbed log cabin just across the Ohio River. From the two of them, I have heard folklore, legend and tall tales throughout my lifetime. I often use much of this material in my writing.

Grandma is no longer with us, but in her stories she lives on. Grandma also left me with some beautiful memories, most especially my recollection of Christmas mornings. The whole family – aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings – all congregated at Grandma’s for the festivities and we started our day off with a big, hearty, West Virginia breakfast. Eggs, sausage, bacon, buttered toast, doughnuts, and the potatoes - ah those potatoes! Grandma’s Taters, we called them.

Grandma's Taters (A Facsimile)

My friends who know me will not be shocked when I tell you this: I hate to cook. Love to eat, mind you…just hate the cooking part. I know many women (and a couple of men) who genuinely love the whole cooking business – and are pretty darn good at it, to boot! (Our very own Michele D. being amongst them!!) Sadly, the cooking gene skipped right over me.

I don't care where he's going...I'm gonna follow this guy there!

Luckily for me, however, finding delicious food is not quite as labor-intensive as it was back in the hunter-gatherer days. I only have to drive a block or two to be offered over a dozen tasty choices! And lucky for you, our next COSTOWRIMO write-in is going to be held at Der Dutchman Restaurant!

Der Dutchman Restaurant, Bake Shop and Gifts!!

And in case you were wondering – they do have some really delicious potatoes there, almost as good as Grandma’s Taters!

Serving up home cookin' since 1969!

Join us Thursday, 2/9 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm:
445 S. Jefferson (Route 42)
Plain City, OH  43064
(614) 873 - 3414

Have you had your Whoopie today?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere

There are times when I can place exactly the moment I get a story idea, and others when the ideas just seem to sneak up on me unexpectedly. The first novel I completed, which was about a radical religious cult...I couldn't tell you what spurred that idea. I remember being bored in Philosophy class sophomore year of college, and then I just started writing a story about a girl with the name of Elizabeth McLancy.

I've also gotten ideas from the news. The first year I crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line, I got my story idea from watching the news one night.

My current project, I can also place the exact moment I got my inspiration and where it came from. I was on a walk, listening to one of my favorite podcasts--Smart Mouths. They were talking about the earthquake in Haiti and what teenagers were doing to help, how wonderful it was that teenagers were stepping up and donating money through text messages, using something that they're usually made fun of doing all the time and turning it into something good.

One quote in particular stood out to me: "Our generation's gonna kick ass."

It was all downhill from there. I'm now querying that novel, and working on revising its sequel. And it all started with a podcast.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sharing Your Vision with Your Readers

I think monkeys might actually fly from my butt the next time I hear someone tell me, “You need to do more showing and less telling”.

As avid readers of speculative fiction, young adult, period romance, science fiction, non-fiction, dystopian, etc., we expect to pick up a story and be magically whisked away into some alternate state of consciousness, a place where we can escape the humdrum of everyday life and be someone and someplace else for a while. But when we pick up a book and never forget the fact that we’re lying in our bed, sitting in our chair, or maybe soaking in the tub, our expectation has not been met. It’s never very obvious to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong. We just know that, for some reason, we weren’t able to suspend our disbelief and get into the story.

As critics and reviewers, it’s easy to replicate that morsel of overused advice and simply tell the writer he’s “telling, not showing”. It’s even worse for the poor writer, who’s often left scratching his head and wondering what you meant, exactly. More puzzling is what he can possibly do with that vague feedback to improve his writing. Just how do you “show” rather than “tell”?

Here’s a classic example. Think back to grade school when it was your turn to bring in your favorite teddy bear for “show and tell”. (Aha! This damn term has been ingrained in our heads since the first time we began learning to read and write!) You could have shown up to class on your day with absolutely nothing. You could have stood up in front of your teacher and all your friends and “told” them something like this:

“My favorite toy is my teddy bear. He’s brown and fluffy. He has black eyes and a red scarf around his neck. He’s my best friend.”

If, however, you actually brought the cherished ursine into the classroom that morning, you could have “shown” your friends something like this:

“I’d like you all to meet Maximilian Scruffy Paws. Max and I go way back. My dad got him for me when I was four. He won Max at the county fair when he hooked four rings over some milk bottles. I call him Scruffy Paws because, as you can see, the pads on his claws are starting to wear off from all the adventures we’ve had. One time when it was really cold out, Max and I built an igloo in the snow by the street in front of our house. I put this scarf on him so he wouldn’t get cold, but then forgot him outside when Mom called me in for dinner. The plow truck came by and ran over our igloo and Max got squashed inside. When we finally dug him out, the scarf was smashed into his neck and we couldn’t get it out without tearing him. That’s why Max is a little lopsided. But I don’t mind. I love him anyway.”

Is there a difference?

Telling a writer that he’s “telling, not showing” has become a vague and morbidly overused cliche. I prefer to think of it rather as “sharing your vision with the reader”. As writers (I’d call us “story tellers”, but that would imply that our job is to “tell” a story rather than to “show” one) we already have a pretty good picture in our heads of the story we’re trying to convey. True, it might only be bits and pieces at a time - a location, a physical characteristic, a curious quirk of one of our characters, a cool building or piece of equipment, maybe even a clever quotation that someone might often repeat. But something in our heads prompted us to start writing a story and not always, but usually, we can imagine what it looks like in fairly vivid detail.

The problem is that, because we already know exactly what it looks like/sounds like/feels like/smells like/tastes like, we often neglect to inform our reader what he should be seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/tasting. Combine this with our determined drive to simply finish the first draft and our poor reader plods along feeling completely disconnected from our story.

So what can we do about our writing to help our readers experience the immersion of the story worlds we create? First, slow down! What’s the big rush anyhow? I remember starting work on my first story more than six years ago. It’s still not even close to being done. While I work on it, I often find myself thinking, “I need to just hurry up and get this one done so I can move on with revising (or starting another story).” I’m so consumed with finishing it that I completely overlook the enthusiastic experience and pure enjoyment of creating it. And if I slow down and take the time to get it right the first time, that’s less time I’ll need to spend later in revisions. Not to mention that the first or second draft will be that much more enjoyable for someone to critique. As it goes with life, so it should go with writing - the reward is not in the destination, but in the experience of the journey.

Here’s another great way to share your world with your readers: involve all five senses in your exposition and dialogue. Sometimes I feel that reading through my draft manuscripts is akin to suffering slow, two-dimensional, optical paralysis; there’s simply nothing there but black words on white pages. Where’s the color, the vibrancy, the life? Take that vision you have in your head for your current scene and paint it onto the pages for your readers. What does the air smell like? How does the surface reflect or refract sun or artificial light? How does her soft skin feel against his calloused hands? What kind of texture does the food produce on my tongue? Don’t hand me an apple and tell me it’s red and sweet. Make me bite into it, roll the juicy pulp around the inside of my mouth, maybe gag a little on a piece of stiff peel that lodged itself in the back of my throat on the way down. You get the idea.

You’re probably great friends by now with all the characters in your story. After all, you’ve been spending a lot of time following them around, making detailed mental observations and taking copious notes. You know who they are, what they like to do, where they like to hang out. We spend so much time with our characters and their locations that we get to know them very well. But your reader doesn’t know anything about them. It’s up to you to introduce them. Take the time from the very beginning to set the scene, paint the stage, and share with your reader the vision that you imagine in your creative mind. Your writing will be much more enjoyable for it. What’s more, the reading will be much more immersive, which is what readers really want and expect from a good story.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Come Write With Us!

Throughout the entire month of February, Fiction Flurry will be hosting on-line write-ins!  That's right, you can join us from the comfort of your own home, fuzzy slippers and all!

So pop on over to the Fiction Flurry Facebook page and write to your heart's content.  We usually hang out from about 7:30 to 10:00 most nights.  Come support one another and let's conquer those writing challenges together!

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