What I’ve Learned From Other Writers- BE a writer

If you don’t know by now, I have an issue with labels. I remember one time when a published author and I squabbled good-naturedly about the definition of a writer. The author said that a person wasn’t a writer until they were published. I argued that anyone that puts a pen to paper and crafts a story or poem or essay is in fact a writer. When you publish then you become an author. We agreed to disagree and continued on with a pleasant acquaintance to this day.

What does this have to do with what I’ve learned from other writers? In order to be a writer, one has to write on a regular basis. I find that difficult at times, since I have a full-time job and other interests that pull me away from the craft. But I’ve realized one very difficult fact; when I don’t write regularly, I get rusty.

Writing is like any other ability. You have to practice to become more adept and agile in the performance of it. When I write on a consistent basis, I find myself bursting with ideas and become more able to write with full knowledge and use of descriptive words, less likely to get bogged down in mechanics, and quite frankly, more enthusiastic about the job.

I run into a lot of obstacles, among them distractions like crafting, reading and watching television, as well as getting lost online. Unfortunately, housework isn’t much of a distraction! I also find sometimes that my own insecurities about writing may interfere with my own creativity. But, when push comes to shove, I come around to writing and enjoy crafting stories about the characters that fill my mind and my dreams.

I start each new year with intentions of writing every day. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. But I’m not beating myself up about it. I DO try to apply myself to my writing every day, whether it’s plotting, working on swag or giveaways, promotions or actually writing. When my daytime job interferes too much, I try to make time for the actual writing on the weekend.

So, are you a writer? Do you manage to write on a consistent basis? What gets in your way? And most importantly, how do you find the time to BE a writer

This entry was posted on February 15, 2015.

90-year-old Valentine cards: A look back

I thought these Valentines were lovely!

Writings & Reminiscences

Valentine1

A few years ago, my mother gave me some Valentine cards she had received when she was a girl in school. Most were not dated but one was: February 14, 1926. I’m sure all were from around the same time period. It’s interesting to look back at the styles and to read the verses. One read,

I want to send a Valentine

A friendly one to you

But it takes a bit of courage

Such a bold bold thing to do.

Another verse read,

I like to hear the birdies sing

Because it is the sign of spring;

I like to hold your hand in mine

Because you are my Valentine.

Valentines2Another feature of these old Valentine cards that I found interesting: Apparently some students reused cards from previous years. It was easy enough to see where one person’s name had been erased and a different person’s name added. In our throw-away world…

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This entry was posted on February 13, 2015.

What I’ve Learned from other writers- Even if you don’t like them, booksignings can be fun

Yesterday I went to a Meet and Greet with the Authors at a small library in a small town. I loved the event. And for me to say that is amazing.

I hate tooting my own horn. Hard to believe maybe, in that I’m an author and want people to buy my book, but like many authors, I’m inherently a private person and book signings are almost painful for me. IF I do them alone. I’ve found a couple of secrets, as a result of watching other authors and experimenting on my own and I’m willing to share them. The first thing is that this event was touted as a meet and greet, not as a book signing. Though we did sell books and sign them, the distinction may have made me a little more relaxed. Psychology is a very good thing.

I don’t like private signings but I do enjoy a group event, even if it’s with one other writer. I guess it’s share the pain or share the joy. Or even to share giving directions to the bathroom with. I enjoy having an opportunity to talk with other authors and to be honest with you, enjoy talking with people. Yesterday I talked with one lady about Abraham Lincoln, which had nothing to do with my books but it was a fun, informative time for me.  So, if you have a book signing, try to find someone to go with you!

I make things. And I love doing it. I’m a craft nut and I’m cheap, so usually the giveaways I do are free and handmade. I always have candy of some sort to give away, so it draws people. I also have drawings for small things. All of this combined seems to draw people to my table and I’ve got something to use as an opening (” Do you want to sign up for a free giveaway? Did you get a free Tacky Tassel bookmark”).

Finally, I think participating in a group event amps up the excitement,  both for the readers and the authors. There’s a festival air about the room, with beautiful table setups, interesting giveaways, and more books to add to my to be read pile.

So, if you are like me and hate book signings, start asking around, you may find others that share the sentiment but would be willing to share a table, share a corner of a bookstore and share the pain/joy of book signings.

This entry was posted on February 8, 2015.

What I’ve Learned From Other Writers- Creativity Takes Time

When I started writing, I found ideas everywhere.I wrote them down, then immediately started on the new idea, sometimes to the detriment of an already begun work in progress. As a result, I ended up with lots of works in progress and very few, or no, finished manuscripts.

Other, more mature writers gave me an invaluable piece of advice. Wait for the creative spark to ignite and build. As I’ve grown as a writer, I began to realize the wisdom of this advice.

An idea is just that, a spark, a flicker of something that, with proper attention, will grow into a warm blaze. A creative idea often needs time and attention in the form of imagination, world building, and at times, space and time to grow. I usually write my ideas down and then leave them to rise, like bread. As new elements pop into my head about an idea, and they often do, I jot it down, just as a note to the idea. When an idea has taken hold of my imagination to the point that I’m obsessed with it over anything else, then that’s when I know, it’s time to start with that book.

How do you deal with your ideas? Do they emerge full blown before you? Or do they come in tiny increments, growing from a spark to a flame in your mind over time?

Don’t be afraid to let an idea rest and grow on its own while you finish another story. Given time, your imagination will take hold and nurture it into the book you HAVE to write.

This entry was posted on February 1, 2015. 2 Comments

What I’ve Learned from other writers- Perseverance

Writing isn’t what I imagined it was when I first started. No, I didn’t expect it to be all bon bons and dictating to a secretary or getting rich on my first book, but I didn’t expect the changes that occur with the publishing business. Over the past twenty years or so that I’ve been writing, the ebook business has emerged and bloomed, self publishing has evolved from a “vanity” business to a thriving avenue for writers, another choice to make. And the “big” publishing houses are no longer the only businesses in town.

I’ll not go into my personal travails that I’ve gone through in my writing career, just suffice it to say, I’ve been around when two of my publishing houses closed down or were bought out. The thing is, my story isn’t that unusual. Other authors, some very well known names, have “closed down” houses, have had to reinvent themselves over and over and have kept on writing through it all. Others started writing genres that ended up not being bought by houses in New York or Canada, yet they kept writing, either choosing another genre to write or looked to small presses and epubbing.

So what happens when a publishing house closes? Keep writing. What if your favored writing genre dries up? Keep writing. If your health, financial arrangement, love life goes south? Keep writing, even if it’s in fits and starts. Sometimes it’s the only thing that will keep you going.

This entry was posted on January 25, 2015. 2 Comments

What I’ve Learned from other writers- It’s a Tough Business- Get a Support Group

When I was a child, I had a lot of dreams and to be honest with you, being an author wasn’t one of them. For me, an author was Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and others from a century before, as well as the Harlequin authors I sneaked to read, Anne Stuart, for one. I loved making up stories and listening to others tell them, as well as jotting them down, but to dream of being an author seemed out of the reach of a little girl growing up in the mountains.
I first thought of writing when I was in law school and reading tomes of case law. I think I started my first book as a way of escaping that. While I didn’t shine in law school, my writing improved until I joined a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America. There I found like- minded people and began to learn the craft of writing. Over the years, I learned about pitching to editors and agents, the mechanics of writing synopses, point of view and other essentials for good writing. And I found a support group that is with me to this day.
Having a support group is more important than I can say, but I’ll try to explain. When I’d been in the group for about a year, I became frustrated with the whole process and self doubt hit me full force. I planned to quit the group and focus instead on my “real” job and forget about writing (unrealistic as it was, as I’ve written in some form since I was very young). A woman who I’d met a few times in the group called me and asked about my health then inquired why I’d missed the last few meetings. After talking for a few minutes, I remembered why I wanted to be a writer and continued on with the meetings, becoming more involved in the chapter and remain active in my writing group to this day. And still, there are times I wonder, why am I putting myself through this, writing and submitting, finding time when there isn’t any extra to go to another world and craft a story. And each of those times, my writing friends have pulled me off the ledge and gotten me back to the story.
I’ve also had writing glitches in the business sense. With each hurdle that I’ve encountered, I’ve had support from writers with more experience than I to counsel me, those with less experience to encourage me and those with equal experience to commiserate with.
Readers are also a great source of support. When I get a compliment about my stories or even a criticism, I remember the reasons I write, to leave behind something for others to read and to empty my head of all the stories. Readers are, after all, the final consumers of our product. There’s a quote that has been around for years, “A writer starts a book, the reader finishes it.”
I’ve published and continue to write, my view a bit more focused than when I started. I hope to continue to write throughout my life, publish, and leave behind books that entertain. During the years ahead, I’ve no doubt I’ll have my writing friends, both old and new, to support me and whom I hope I’ll support.
If you are a writer, do you have a group of people that you can turn to when in the dumps or to celebrate? If not, by all means, find a support group, whether it’s online or in person. If your’e a reader please consider letting your favorite authors know if you like the books you’ve read.

This entry was posted on January 18, 2015. 1 Comment

Things I’ve Learned from other writers

I love belonging to a writing group. I joined a local chapter of the national Romance Writers of America organization in 1997 and have consistently attended monthly meetings, been involved in a critique group and participated in conferences, workshops and other learning/social activities over the years. As a result of that one action of joining a group years ago, I learned the mechanics, craft and business of writing. It’s one of the most important things I did to become a published writer.
Over the past year or so my small chapter had to make the difficult decision to dissolve as a part of the National organization. I personally had a lot of angst about that. After all, I had a lot of time and affection invested in this group and what would happen afterwards?
Well, yesterday I went to the first meeting of an independent writing group, formed largely of members of my former group, plus some other writers from different genres. We had a lively meeting, exchanged tips and made plans for the coming year. To say that I was relieved is an understatement. I felt the same energy that I always got at writing meetings and I returned home with the zeal for writing.
So, what does this have to do with the title of the blog? I’m starting this topic to share some of the pearls of wisdom I’ve learned from other writers. Some of them are multi published, others are not published at all, and all of them have taught me some very important things.
So, look for more of these blogs.
And thank heavens for writers who want to come out of their cave once a month to socialize, learn and exchange ideas with like-minded people.

This entry was posted on January 11, 2015. 5 Comments