Friday, April 30, 2010

Writing in Chaos

I went to listen to National Bestselling Author Anne Lamott Thursday night and she had a special message about grace and finding it in three places where you would least expect it. She talked about the three moments in her life where grace found her. The first when her son became a father, the second when she was in India in the fog and the last was an ordinary moment of chaos.

I haven’t read any of Anne’s books, yet! I purchased Bird By Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life. I hadn’t really planned on going until a friend insisted on making it “Writer’s Night Out” for our critique group. Usually we are relegated to an afternoon of reading each other’s work while kids are in school and our husbands are at work. It was the best suggestion! It was a moment of grace, according to Anne Lamott. I’m not sure about the grace part but it was a great evening for friends to laugh, think and enjoy each other’s company. No written words were needed. Just a love of the written word and knowing that writing is a part of each of us. It just is. With all the chaos in our lives, the big decisions that need to be made and all the things we do for our family, there is a part of us that has to write, that burns inside until we put words to the paper. It isn’t something we can control, it just is. At the end, Anne challenged each of us if we felt that burn to give up the news each night and write. We can always catch a recap the next morning. It’s true. Each of my friends knew it, have known it because we are writing books with chaos all around. We’ve talked about stopping because of the pressure of everything else and it is just that, talk. It is a part of who we are.

So as Anne challenged us last night, I challenge you. Pick up the pencil, the pen, the keyboard and start banging out the words. It doesn’t matter if they make sense or not. They are yours. With Anne’s inspiration, I also developed a tag line that I plan to end every blog with starting today . . . Don’t forget to write!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chicago's Spring Fling A Great Carer Move

Just returned from Chicago where I attended Spring Fling sponsored by the North Chicago Romance Writers of America. What was I doing at a Romance conference? Learning. I write mysteries but when I first started my first novel I thought it would be romance so many of my contacts and friends are romance writers.

I must say the North Chicago RWA group certainly knows how to put on an event. They had headliners, like the outrageous Cherry Adair who took pictures during several of her presentations to send to her husband at home and the humorous Julia Quinn, whose homespun humor was so easy to relate to. Of course there was lots of chocolate and great sessions on craft.

My favorite sessions was “Getting it Done” by Allie Pleiter ( She gave a very specific recipe for figuring out how long it takes to finish a book and keeping you on target every step of the way. Great job Allie. You have helped me so much (Today’s chunk: only 310).
Another good session was Sarah Wendel from Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog. She had great suggestions on keeping your name on the internet and top five lists for websites and to get noticed.

Another cool thing was the book signing on Saturday afternoon. By luck of the last names, I was able to sit next to Simone Elkeles who just made it on the New York Times Best Seller List. She was so gracious and a consummate marketer. Watching her with all the teens who were such fans was amazing. She is helping to create a whole new generation of readers!

Thanks Chicago North members who were very friendly and enjoyed each exchange. See you in 2012! Special thanks to my great friends at the Grand Rapids Region Writing Group who never allowed a dull moment. Thanks Kim, Cheryl, Mary, Cindy, and Andrea. You’re the best!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I have an essay in Chicken Soup for the Soul

I’ve been meaning to get this blog up for the last few days and especially by yesterday because it was “the day,” but alas, was not meant to be. I guess only a day late won’t make that big of a difference. (Drum roll here …) I have an essay in the newest Chicken Soup for the Soul book: Thanks Dad.

The book hit the stores Tuesday (hence my deadline) and is obviously geared toward the Father’s Day market. I submitted something for this because a friend had an entry and the publisher had submitted a call that more entries were needed to do the book. I had an idea, wrote it in a couple of hours and sent it in on the day of the deadline. I’m not sure if it was karma or what but my article was accepted. My submission is number 105 out of 107 in the bonus section and titled: “Running the Gauntlet.”

It talks about the torture I went through whenever I brought home a guy to met the family. To understand what was going on, I was the only girl and the men in my family were very protective. I was just a little rebellious.

I love the Chicken Soup for the Soul concept because you can pick up the book and flip it open and by some miracle it is something perfect to give you perspective. I must admit that I had dragged my feet in announcing this until I could get with my Dad and give him a copy. I didn’t want him to read about it anywhere. He was surprised when we finally got together late last week.

Sometimes in the writing and publishing business, things don’t go as planned and you get discouraged. And then you get these little surprises like the acceptance of my submission for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad. I want to say Thanks Dad a little early for Father’s Day. I inherited my stubbornness from you and it has been a good thing!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Following Dreams Like Julie and Julia

I just finished watching Julie and Julie. (I know the movie has been out for ages but I’m really slow at getting around to watching movies. I would much rather read a good book!) This moving was so cool. Great story, great acting, just great. It didn’t hurt that I love food and it was a great story of a writer who struggles and then makes it big. I’m hoping for that to happen to my Mitch Malone Mystery Series. I could see it as a great TV show similar to Castle.

Julie and Julie gives me hope that it can happen to me. You work so hard getting the books written, then you have to sell them and what they don’t tell you is that after you sell the real work starts and that’s the promoting. I’m struggling with that part and I have a background in marketing. The hardest part is tooting your own horn. I could promote anything even canned dog poop but I have a hard time telling you that A Case of Infatuation is a fantastic read. The next in the series, working title A Case of the Accidental Intersection, also has a great surprise ending. Look for it this summer.

I watched the author do an interview on the “extras.” It was so easy to see myself doing a similar interview. She talked about what it was like. The best of the movie was the end when she accomplished her goal. I’m doing this blog post as a promise to myself that I’m going to blog more, put myself out there. Tell me about your hardest job you have to do is?