Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." ~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blogging with a Theme

Sometimes I waver on my blog, not sure what it's about or what I'm doing here. This comes from lack of focus and purpose. And then April approaches and I get excited deciding on my theme for the A to Z Challenge and planning my posts. The focus returns for at least one month!

Besides discovering and meeting new bloggers, I enjoy the challenging process of posting the entire month on one theme. One year my theme was literary terminology; the year my cookbook came out, it was recipes; last year it was living in Guatemala.

Alex Cavanaugh interviews me this week for the A to Z Challenge Blog on my Guatemala topic. Pretty sure I'll do another aspect of living in Guatemala for the Challenge, because it helps me appreciate the wonderful land which is now my home.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Creating a Body of Work

To become a writer: 

 Develop talent 

Polish craft 

Create art 

This will consume at least 2/3 of your lifetime. Still in?

Monday, September 22, 2014

And yes, I admit to being pretty much afraid of everything

I've got a new book coming out soon, hopefully in October if I can get through the final edits and let it go. It's a novel, Afraid of Everything, and you can see here the cover and summary, followed by a little story on how the idea came to me.

Helena Carr is afraid of everything. After a crisis at work, she quits her job and feels lost. It’s time for a serious change, to beat the extreme anxiety that has plagued her since childhood. Something different, unplanned and radical. Sell her house, move to a foreign location, turn her life upside down in an effort to end the emotionally paralyzing fear. 

Before Helena can act on her options, however, she has a terrible accident on a Southern California freeway. Instead of going on an exotic vacation, she is in a hospital, in a coma, traveling to strange worlds of another dimension, meeting people who seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.

As Helena explores this intriguing new world, she realizes the truth about her past and the purpose of her future. And she is no longer afraid. Helena is at last ready to live. But first, she must wake up from the coma.

This idea came to me shortly after I finally admitted to myself I was afraid of practically everything.  Anything I accomplished in life came after first facing the horrible anxiety that preceded it. I have little tricks for getting past my fears. But I won't go into that or I'd have a series of posts instead of a single one.

One particularly anxiety-plagued day I was laying in bed, curled under the covers, imagining what it would feel like to be in a coma.

I thought of a woman, afraid of everything, who ends up in a coma and finds it a place of comfort rather than pain. In fact, it is an escape from the pain of living. I imagined her experiencing a transitional place, a spirit world, where she learns things and grows as a result. This was the kernel of the idea that grew into my novel.

It's been a lot of fun to write, refreshing and healing actually, and difficult to let go of at the end. I think I'll do an official blog tour for this one, probably through Women on Writing. However, if anyone would like an electronic ARC for review purposes, let me know in the comments and I'll get you one.

Afraid of Everything is available for pre-order on the WiDo Publishing website and Amazon. And on Goodreads here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Truth about Foreshadowing

In a novel, foreshadowing are those little hints the writer includes early on, previous to plot twists or big events. It's the foreshadowing that makes the reader say, "Oh yes, this makes perfect sense!"

Or let's say your child's favorite toys are cars, and when he is 12 and goes to get fitted for glasses and notices a sharp sports car parked in the optometrist's parking space he says, "I'd like to be an eye doctor and afford a car like that." You aren't surprised when this child decides in college to use his biology degree to go on to optometry school. Foreshadowing is how parents get to be so smart.

I used to tell my kids I had eyes in back of my head, and when they were little they believed it. I remember one little boy lifting my hair up just to check. When really it was me the English major paying attention to the compressed foreshadowing in daily life. And it's easy with kids since they leave their clues all over the place.

 Remember the South African giraffe on my blog header several years ago?

A giraffe, coming down the mountain like I was, the writer leaving her solitude and isolation to enter the community of bloggers. I thought it was why I felt the giraffe represented me and my blog.

Until I realized it was more than that. The giraffe was foreshadowing my hidden desire to go exploring in the great big wide world.

Another bit of foreshadowing:

My husband and I would seek out different kinds of restaurants in the Salt Lake area, ones that made us feel outside our usual circle. We'd sit by the window, look outside and I'd say, "This doesn't even look like Salt Lake. Let's pretend we're someplace else." And we'd talk about where else we'd like to be. Italy, or the South of France, or England. Although to be truthful, Utah in its greenest seasons never looks like any of those places.

When we announced our plans to sell everything and move to Guatemala, anyone paying attention to foreshadowing had to know it made perfect sense.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kindle Unlimited: Made for Book Lovers

When I first heard about Amazon's new "Netflix for books" program, Kindle Unlimited, I thought it sounded crazy. Who would pay nearly $10 a month, every month, for all the Kindle books you can read? I read through a few of the lists Amazon was using to promote their new feature and didn't see any of interest to me.

Then I looked again and thought, Well, maybe that one...And there's Life of Pi, I never did read it...And I love The Hobbit, I could read it again...and so forth until I clicked on the free trial. One month free to try it out. You can download any books regardless of price as long as they're listed on Kindle Unlimited. You keep up to 10 at a time, so if I have 10 and want another, a pop up shows your list and asks if you'd like to return one.

Amazon says 600,000 books are available on Kindle Unlimited right now. Not very many when you figure there's 2 million Kindle books. However, I'm looking for quality, and so far I've been able to find some pretty amazing books.

If I lived in the States, I'm not sure I'd go for it with the availability of libraries. But where I am, I can't run to the library and check out a stack of books-- in English. So when my free trial ends, I'll keep paying $10 a month for Kindle Unlimited. We pay $9 a month for Netflix and I don't watch as many movies as I read books. As long as they have good titles I want to read, it makes sense to me.

Have any of you tried Kindle Unlimited yet? Do you plan to?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Post to the Self-Published: Get Over Yourselves!

I saw a tweet the other day about removing the "self-publishing stigma." The article it linked to mentions how until self-published books are considered for literary awards, there's still a stigma attached. Recently Publisher's Weekly published a report on self-published books and sales, and self-publishers all over the Internet were saying SEE, SEE, SEE-- IT'S ABOUT TIME and such things as they linked to the PW article.

Personally, I think certain of the self-published community need to get the chip off their shoulders. Quit trying to convince the world you are legitimate, like you are Michael Corleone or something. We know you are legitimate, you don't have to keep hammering it home to us with all the SEE, look at us, we are real writers and real publishers. We told you so, na na na.

Because every time you do this, it just shows how in your own minds you still don't feel legitimate. Otherwise why else would you constantly be bringing up this same issue? Seriously, people, let it go, because the topic is old news. There is no longer a self-publishing stigma, except in the minds of many self-published authors.

Everyone in the literary world really does accept your business model as highly effective and useful for those willing to invest the time, money and effort to publish their books themselves. Anyone who does not see it as a legitimate business model either is ignorant of what's going on in publishing today, or has a vested interest in ignoring and/or denying the reality of it. So they aren't the problem. You are.

As I see it, the only stigma is the lingering sense of "I'm not good enough" and "I don't deserve" that fuels this over-reaction to anyone who doesn't bow before the self-publishing world. Face it-- it's not for everyone. But it is most definitely for some. And those in any facet of publishing accept the fact. More than you know or than you choose to admit.

So yes, unlike Michael Corleone, you are now legitimate. Got that? It's not personal, it's business--so get over yourselves and go write more books.