Hey look at me I’m published!

This means I know everything there is to know about writing.

Right?

WRONG!

This message came through to me loud and clear this week as I worked at my current WIP. (Not that I ever thought I knew every thing there is to know about writing!)

News flash here!!

Words do not always flow through a writer’s life like a meandering river.

Sometimes we hit turbulence, sometimes a freak storm comes up, sometimes we hit the rapids in the river, but if we’re lucky our boat will not capsize. We won’t fall in the water and drown. Turbulence just means we have to work harder to keep our craft afloat.

As an editor once said to me, “Writing is not for wimps!”

Boy, is that an understatement.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to all of the woes we experience in life or writing. I think I’m safe in saying that no one does.

Life is a journey of learning, and each day presents us with new opportunities. I choose to look for ways to improve, to make what is good and right in my life work even better.

Our lives, just like our writing, can usually stand some improvement. If you’re one of those lucky people who have a perfect life, and if you are a writer who gets the story right on your first attempt, then I send you blessings because you are one of the truly fortunate ones.

A facebook friend, who just happens to be a published writer, sent me this link last week titled “Eleven Things You Need To Know” by Tim Wynne-Jones. I knew my WIP was going to be too wordy. She sent me this link saying she likes to keep these tips in mind when she’s looking to streamline a manuscript.

These tips are sort of straightforward, things that any writer would look and say, ah yes, but of course. As a beginner, I would have looked at these tips and gobbled them up, chewed and devoured them and asked for more. As we proceed into our writing life, creating plots and characters, it never hurts to brush up on the obvious. I certainly appreciated having these tips presented to me last week at a time when I needed this reminder.

There are lots of books out there on writing and most authors have their favourites, books that we fall back on when the water get a bit rough.

Perhaps one problem is that we become so comfortable in the place we are now we begin to slide backwards without even noticing. We unlearn the things we worked so hard to learn. Turns out the lessons that we thought we learned we didn’t really learn after all. Sometimes we are so tightly wrapped in our chapters that we kind of let all those useful tips slide. Just as we fall back into old behaviour patterns, we sometimes fall back into old writing habits. Yes, it happens. It never hurts to keep a supply of helpful hints close by.

For any aspiring writers out there I urge you to check out this link , and if you’re a published author I’m sure you’ll appreciate the gems inside these eleven tips. I know I’m going to keep it handy for those times when the water gets a bit rough. It will serve to remind me to slow down and pay attention, steady my strokes.

Happy Living! Happy Writing!

Dead Witness

“I think you’ll like it. Well, I know you’ll like it…. You just want to keep reading to see what’s going to happen next.”

This is what my mother had to say about Dead Witness a suspense thriller written by blogger friend, Joylene Butler. What you need to know about my mom is that when she’s knee-deep into a book that she’s really enjoying, #1 I don’t hear from her so often #2 She finds it difficult not to talk about the book and blow the whole ending. After Mum gave Dead Witness her seal of approval it was my turn to tackle it. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed with Mum’s review. She hit the nail right on the head. So Mum’s review of Joylene’s book gets two thumbs up from me. Great job Mum. You really know a good book when you read it. You also did well to not blow the ending for me even though I caught you a few times in mid-sentence about to spill the beans. I wouldn’t blame you if you had, some reads are hard to keep to yourself and we have Joylene to blame for that.

Joylene’s book can be purchased through Chapters.ca and Amazon.com

What’s The Book About?

Valerie McCormick is a wife and mother from small town Canada. While visiting Seattle, she becomes the only witness to the brutal seaside murder of two FBI agents. When she flees to the nearest police station to report the crime, she becomes caught up in a web of international intrigue and danger. Suddenly, she and her family are in the sights of ruthless criminals bent on preventing her from testifying against the murderer. Even with FBI protection, Valerie is not safe. Whisked away from her family and all that is familiar to her, Valerie fights back against the well intentioned FBI to ultimately take control over her life with every ounce of fury a mother can possess.

Good news for Dead Witness: Joylene just announced yesterday on her blog that MuseItUp Publishing has just purchased the e-publishing rights to Dead Witness And as if this isn’t enough, Joylene’s next novel, Broken But Not Dead is to be released this summer. Check out Joylene’s site for details. Way to go, Joylene! Congrats! You deserve it.

Interview & Book Giveaway

Today over at Lynn. A. Davidson’s blog--here’s the link- there’s an interview with yours truly. What’s in it for me, you might be asking? A chance for you to win a copy of Bitter, Sweet., that’s what! So head on over, leave a comment for Lynn, and enter into the draw. It doesn’t matter if you already own a copy there’s probably someone on your Christmas list who would take a copy if you wrapped it up all nice for them with lovely wrapping paper and a really big bow. Don’t you think? Everyone likes getting free stuff!

Speaking of Christmas gifts and Bitter, Sweet, I’ll leave you with a photo that I posted a over a year ago of a Christmas gift my daughter made for me.

This was painted on a fungi that came off of a fir tree in our area.

Merry Christmas! I’m mean good luck with entering the draw!

Family Literacy Day: What Are You Going To Do About It?

When asked what the best way to encourage our kids to read, I recall one author’s response was to have lots of good books in the home.

While it’s certainly important to have books visible in the home, my answer would have also included the importance of reading to our kids at an early age. Not only do we need to start reading to them early on, they also need to see us reading.

How can we possible expect our kids to be reading it we aren’t?
Kids learn from example. We all know that!

January 27th is Family Literacy Day here in Canada. Family Literacy Day means that as parents we need to encourage the reading and writing skills of all the members in the family. That doesn’t just mean kids but ALL family members. Yup! That’s me and you!

How early is too early to start reading to our kids?

My daughter has been reading to Miss Charlotte for months now. At eight months she was already able to pick out the bunny on each page of her, “I Am A Bunny” book. When she came to visit in December there was no denying the delight she experienced the moment one of her baby books was opened.

While I’m as proud as the next grandma, I’m inclined to believe that this doesn’t simply show Miss Charlotte’s genius, but rather shows that starting early is the key. So young moms remember, it’s never too early to start. Make it something you do every day. Make reading as natural as eating and breathing. It’s something you’ll never regret.

The theme for 2011 is “Play for Literacy,” –that means board games, card games, word games—you get the picture. Find a fun activity. Make it enjoyable. Read a book, play a board game, but do something. And don’t just do it one day, make it an every day activity. Make it fun!

What are you going to do for Family Literacy Day?

Author Appreciation : Spread Some Love

Have you hugged an author lately?

Seems to me there’s a lot of love and appreciation directed at authors. Lots of reviews and interviews going on these days over the Internet. Love is bulging from every corner of cyberspace— the blogging community, Facebook and twitter. Feels pretty darn good, not only to receive the love, but also to help spread some of it, too.

So you don’t have a blog or a twitter account?

Not all of us do or ever will. Does this mean you have to sit in the sidelines and let everyone else spread the love? I don’t think so.

If you’re not on twitter or Facebook, if you’re too shy to drop a comment on an author’s site for the whole world to read, there’s still a way to help spread your love and appreciation.

When was the last time you googled an author whose book you’ve just read? Did you check to see if they have a site? Most of us do.

If you’ve come to an author’s site you’ve no doubt noticed that most of us provide an email or contact me tab. If you were aware of this did you take a few moments to fire off an email to say you enjoyed their book?

I recently received an email from another author who’d just read my book. Pretty cool since I’d googled her a few years back and sent her an email right after reading her book. And you know what? She remembered that email! Authors have excellent memories when it comes to those sorts of things.

Is your email important?

Of course it is. We all want to feel appreciated no matter who we are. The thing about writers is this, many people will read our book, they’ll enjoy it, they’ll become totally immersed in the stories we create, but we never hear from them. They are our silent partners. They travel this journey with our characters, they watch them face adversity, silently cheering for them, or cursing their very existence.

So, I challenge all you readers out there. The next time you read a really good book take a moment to google the author, find their site, look for a contact tab or email address, write a note of appreciation (it doesn’t need to be long) and hit send. It may not seem like a big thing to you and you might think that your name is quickly forgotten, but believe me it isn’t. You’re little note will find a soft spot in our hearts. On those days when we’re feeling very unappreciated, when we decide we’ve spent too many hours working on a WIP that, in the end, turned out to be nothing more than monkey crap in disguise, we can search through our email folder, find your saved email and feel the love all over again.

What do you say, are you up to the challenge? You are? Great, let the googling begin!!

Relaxing

I was highly tempted to call this post “Chillaxing” not only because of the cold snap we had last night, but as a bit of an inside joke with my kids. Oh, they know what it means!

I thought I'd throw in a nice relaxing photo of a cat named "Tah" --Please do not ask about the name!

Anyway to keep this post short and sweet, if you’re sitting back relaxing today, and can’t think of something to do, I’d like to mention that there’s a review of Bitter, Sweet over at Lynn A. Davidson’t bog today–here’s the link if you’re interested in taking a peek.

Lynn’s a great support to writers and I do thank her for this.
Thanks Lynn. :)

Amanda in Arabia

Earlier this year, I *met* Darlene Foster as we were both contributors to the Country Roads Anthology. Darlene is a writer from Tsawwassen, British Columbia who also writes for kids. I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading her book. Amanda in Arabia :The Perfume Flask.

Inspiration for the book came about 10 years ago when Darlene made a trip to the United Arab Emirates. Like many writers, Darlene was able to incorporate some of her own experiences into the book. Be prepared to learn a lot about the culture while you follow Amanda on her adventure.

I was curious about Darlene’s publisher ireadwrite and asked her to tell us a bit about it. If you’re like me, you know very little about e-publishers.

This is what she had to say:

“I have had a very positive experience with my publisher. ireadiwrite is an e-publisher and the owner lives in my area. She came to my writer’s group as a guest speaker to inform us about e-publishing. We later talked about my book and she invited me to submit the manuscript. The book was published as an e-book and after 6 months and some success, she decided to publish it as a printed book. I was very fortunate that she believed in my book and my ability to market it to the public as she doesn’t normally offer printed books.”

I’ve added a link to the publisher’s site for anyone who’d like to check them out. ireadwrite Publishing.

The next installment in the series, Amanda In Spain: The Girl In The Painting, is available in ebook form.

Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask is available at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com

Nature’s Music

When we pay attention to nature’s music, we find that everything on earth contributes to its harmony.

HAZRAT INAYAT KHAN

Yesterday’s storm dumped an abundance of snow on eastern Canada. Strange, that what we now call a lot of snow doesn’t compare to some of the storms we had years ago.

Today I live in the quiet, joyous expectation of good.

ERNEST HOLMES

While I may not be winter’s biggest fan, it is impossible to ignore its beauty, impossible not to hear its sweet harmonious music.

Wherever you are may you allow nature’s music to enter your heart.

Hanging Out With George Clooney

Just wanted to share a photo that author, Jan Coates emailed me earlier today. I blogged about her book launch here, back in September.

Jacob’s in Southern Sudan for the independence vote taking place this week, and according to Jan, he’s been busy promoting the book, too. For those who don’t know, Jacob’s story provided the inspiration for her book, A Hare In The Elephant’s Trunk.

Whether you’re a writer, a reader, or neither, you’ve got to admit that getting a photo like this would be oh so sweet! This is one of those moments every author comes to savour. Yay Jan!

And The Word Is, Jejune.

Jejune (adjective)

How many times have you heard the word jejune uttered in your lifetime?

One hundred? Once? Never?

Have you read it in your favourite novel?

Any idea what it means? (No peeking in the dictionary.)

More importantly, can you use it in a sentence?

sentence:

Many people said that his writing style was jejune.

Know what it means now?

No?

I’m not surprised.

This was the first word for January in a Word of the Day calendar that came from the Dollar Store. It was the first time I’ve run across the word.

Okay, just so you know not all the words in the calendar are as obscure as jejune. Many of the words in the calendar would be helpful in expanding our word power. Lets face it, most of us are not walking dictionaries. We can benefit from a little vocabulary expanding from time to time.

I used to think that using long, extravagant words went hand and hand with good writing. I used to think that the key to publication was wowing some editor with how big, how impressive my vocabulary was. I mean, aren’t writers supposed to know all the words? Story is important but so is the use of words. If big words = good writing, it’s as good as in the bag, isn’t it?

That’s what I used to think, way, way back when publication felt like a pipedream, the idea of which was held together by a wish and a prayer, but had very little with the actual writing involved. Good writing takes time to master. Even after we think we’ve mastered it we make mistakes.

I now know that good writing has nothing to do with the length of the words we use, but rather the way we use those words. Good writing is capturing the reader’s attention, holding it in the palm of our hand, showing them different worlds, different realities, immersing them into a story that will make some sort of impact in their lives. Good writing leaves a lasting impression, a faint sweet sensation that can bring a smile or a tear.

I can clearly state that I have never, nor will I ever, use the word jejune when writing a story. God help me if I do.

So here it is:

Jejune: Definition

1. lacking interest or liveliness; dull
2. naïve and simplistic

You got that, now—-Right?

Any great new words you’ve uncovered recently, one that you had to use a dictionary to find it’s meaning? How about, for the fun of it, you try using the word, jejune, in a sentence to wow and amuse us? Who knows, you may even be able to bring a smile or a tear? ;)

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