All posts for the month March, 2012
Posted by Laura Best on March 29, 2012
Some books are meant to sit on a shelf collecting dust while others are bound for wide open spaces. For those of you with a good memory you might remember that around this time last year Bitter, Sweet took off on a little vacation. That’s right! My little old book sweet-talked my sister into talking it on a cruise, even sent home pictures that I shared with the rest of you.You can check them out here if you’d like. To say my book has travelled more than I would be a complete understatement. But I’m trying not to be bitter about it all. I mean someone’s got to stay behind and keep the home fires burning, right?
Now as if to add insult to injury, these photos arrived in my inbox today. All the way from Cozumel, Mexico. Yup, that’s right. Bitter, Sweet went off on another cruise. I don’t know, seems to me there’s something a little bittersweet about an author who can only write about the places her book has actually gone. What do you think?
Every night when you get back to your room on the ship, they always have the bed turned down, with chocolates on your pillow and a towel animal. Here’s Bitter,Sweet with one such animal…
On the beach at Roatan Honduras. I like to think late nights on the cruise ship attributed to this photo, not boredom.
Wide awake in Cozumel, Mexico. I wonder if she made it to the armed stand off scene yet? At the rate she’s going those poor kids are going to be trapped in that house for eternity… or at least until the cruise is over. I’ve got to say, I don’t much blame her. By the sounds of things it was a pretty busy week.
PS: I want to thank my baby sister for being such a good sport, and my book for cooperating as well. And a special shout out to say congratulations on your engagement, Kelly! Nothing bittersweet about a marriage proposal on a cruise ship. I’m glad you put the book down long enough to say, yes! 😉
* PPS: Due to technical difficulties beyond my control some photos from Belize were omitted from this post. I’ll post them as soon as I get a spare moment.
Posted by Laura Best on March 27, 2012
Today I’m about to do something I have never done on this blog. I’m going to post 7 sentences from page 77 of my WIP. Scary business for this author. Why am I doing this? Simple, writer Holli Moncrieff (A Life Less Ordinary) tagged me to take part in a lucky 7 meme. Thus the 7 sentences from page 77. See, had you known it was this easy for me to spill the beans I’m betting a few of you would have tried this before. I’m a good sport. What can I say?
This is an excerpt from my current YA novel titled :To Fly With a Broken Wing
(This story is told in first person by Cammie. Here goes.)
The truck sputtered a few more times before Hux cut the switch. If a truck could fart it would be old Hux’s. Butch was sitting on the passenger’s side, head stuck out the window. I reached in and patted him. His fur was slick and smooth, soft as a baby’s bum. His tongue slid out of corner of his mouth, pink and shiny as a junk of pig’s liver. I knew Butch found it hot sitting there in the truck but he had no say in the matter. That’s something Butch and me had in common. I didn’t have a say in anything either.
Butch was a black and white bulldog, homely as a stump fence. I didn’t hold that against him, though.
So there you go, 7 lines from page 77. Aren’t you glad you dropped in?
Here are the rules of this meme so writers beware:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know
Now to list
my victims 7 authors:
3. Diane Tipert
4. Carol Garvin
7. Jan Coates
Now if you want to make this interesting why not try guessing the next 7 sentences of “To Fly With A Broken Wing.” Just kidding… Hoping you all had a beautiful first day of spring. Here in Nova Scotia it was gorgeous. Happy Spring!
Posted by Laura Best on March 20, 2012
Have you ever seen an advertisement offering bike riding lessons? Nope, me neither. Sounds a bit silly. I mean, who would pay to learn how to ride a bike, right? More importantly is it even necessary? My kids learned to ride bikes when they were four. I remember watching my middle daughter hard at work one day, picking herself up again and again. “How do I keep my balance?” she asked. “It’s just something you have to learn,” I told her. At the end of the day she had it mastered.
Back when I was nine, and just learning to ride a bike, my older sister told me what to do. She showed me how to get on, where to put my feet and hands, and how to stop. A piece of cake. At least it looked that way when she went tearing down the road as fast as those pedals would take her. Trying it myself was a totally different story. Remembering to pedal while not steering myself into a ditch was challenging enough, but the most challenging of all was keeping my balance. Mind you, I ended up with a few skinned knees before it was all over and palms bit with gravel stones. Yup, we lived on a dirt road.
But I was determined. I knew it wasn’t something that was beyond my capabilities. Everyone I knew could ride a bike. It was child’s play, after all. So I set out to learn, secure in the thought that I would. It was just a matter of time. Practise, practise, practise. It was the only way I was going to learn. My sister could show me as many times as I wanted her to, but she couldn’t do it for me. You can’t teach someone balance. It something you understand through doing.
It’s that way with writing. We can read all the books on writing we want, take a hundred and one classes, but none of those things will make us a good storyteller. We actually have to hit the keyboard and start writing. Of course we’ll be wobbly in the beginning. We’ll fall more times than we can count. We’ll get our pride hurt. But each day, as we practice, we’ll get a little better. We won’t feel so uncertain. We’ll work out all the wobbles.
While I might be able to tell you enough writing rules to get you started, becoming a storyteller is altogether different. Good writing doesn’t necessarily make a good storyteller. I happen to believe that the ability to tell an interesting story, one that engages the reader, is a bit like bike riding. No one else can teach us, it is a skill that we develop with a great deal of practise. It takes time and determination.
I’ve never taken a writing course. I’m sure many of you haven’t either. I own perhaps half a dozen writing books. I may not be able to explain how I tell a story, the same way I can’t explain how to I keep my balance on a bike, it’s just something I do. Right or wrong, I’ve learned what it takes to make a good storyteller. You’ll learn that too. Writing is easy. That’s right, you heard me. Easy. I know someone who whipped up a novel in two weeks. The first thing he’d ever written. Was the story any good? What do you think? Perhaps the worse part was the writer wasn’t interested in making any changes, or working to improve what was there. Their writing was VERY wobbly, but it could have been improved had they understood that the writer you are in the beginning is not the writer you’ll be further down the road. Good storytelling is a skill you acquire over time.
Do you agree that good storytelling is something that is acquired over time, that writing can be taught, but storytelling can not?
Posted by Laura Best on March 18, 2012
If any subscribers out there have received notification of a new blog post today… ignore it! Seems WordPress is playing games with me. Hopefully I will figure out this issue soon.
Darn computers. Can’t live with ’em…. can’t blog without ’em!
Posted by Laura Best on March 16, 2012
Look up on the net, it’s a troll, it’s a spambot, no it’s SUPER BLOGGER!
Are you faster than a speeding bullet, arriving at a blog mere seconds after it’s been posted? Are your posts more powerful that a locomotive, firing up emotions in your readers that bring tears of laughter, sadness and fits of rage? Are you able to leap to the comment section in a single bound, writing out a response so engaging and articulate that people swear you’re going to be the next Danielle Steel (and think, that’s just reading your comments!)
Okay, so many most of us will never become a “Super Blogger,” at least not by those terms. All jokes aside, most of us do try to be good bloggers. We do our best to come up with interesting content, posting as regularly as life permits, and most of all we try and make visitors to our blogging home feel welcome. (We don’t even make them take their shoes off before they come in.) And many of us reciprocate when it comes to our blog followers and comments. It seems like the right thing to do.
Let’s face it, being a “good” blogger is a lot of work and could be all-consuming if we let it. We could be zipping up and down wordspress hitting the “like” button with lightening speed, staying up into the wee hours racking our brains to come up with clever and meaningful comments. But blogging, as with all things, takes us time to find the right balance, one that works for us. We wouldn’t want to be accused of being a rude blogger by any means and yet it could take over our lives if we let it.
Last week, Roni Loren blogged about blogging manners in her post, enough-with-the-quid-pro-quo-blogging-etiquette-free-yourself check it out to see what she has to say.
In her post, Roni mentions the “rule” about bloggers supporting one another, following each other, and commenting back and forth, and says we basically do it because it’s good manners. Many of us would agree with that. Growing up, my parents believed that when someone visited you then “owed” them a visit. It was a fairly common practise. People kept tabs on it, same as phone calls. It was tit for tat. I’m not so sure that this rule holds true today or if I just ignore it. If I want to visit someone I do. If I want to phone them I do. I could care less when last they called me. I figure if they didn’t want to talk they just wouldn’t pick up. Thank goodness for caller ID.
Roni says that in the beginning “the reciprocity thing can be a great way to start making friends,” and this is very true. If you don’t put yourself out there how will anyone find you?
So what is it then, have things not changed since my parent’s day? Are we simply reading other blogs and commenting so they will reciprocate? I had to give this some thought. It’s a tricky subject.
The point of Roni’s post is to say that it’s not bad manners if we don’t reciprocate. She says, “We should not have to suffer a guilt trip because instead of visiting all of our blogroll that day, we turned off the computer and took our kid to the park. We shouldn’t have to “catch up” at midnight and hit all those posts we missed out of some sense of obligation.”
She goes on to say that the key to having blog followers is to write interesting posts, ones that encourage discussion and above all be genuine. These are all great points and is why I read the blogs I do.
Okay, I certainly understand the idea of visiting back and forth and leaving comments. As one blogger said, “Everyone likes to get comments on their posts.”
But is anyone going to comment on your blog if you never comment on theirs? For me it’s nice to know that others are reading. Hits to our blogs don’t mean a darn thing if no one is taking the time to actually read what we’ve written. Call me a social butterfly, but I do like getting to know bloggers and it seems the best way to do this is to engage in conversation. Still, it’s hard to shake that thought that not reciprocating, at least to some degree, is bad manners. If I visit a blog on several occasions, leave comments that are never replied to, nor does the blogger visit at least once to say hi, it gives the impression that the blogger isn’t interested. Sorry, but that’s how I’ve been conditioned to think. I don’t need anyone to be my next best buddy, but if you acknowledge me, at least a tiny bit, I won’t feel as though I’m being completely ignored. Sound lame? Sorry, just speaking the truth here.
All that said, I do have blogs I follow that I seldom, or never, leave comments on. Roni’s is one of them. I love Roni’s blog. I visit often, but in the almost three years that I’ve been following her I might have commented on her blog three times. I don’t feel the need to let her know that I’m hiding in the shadows, and I don’t expect a return visit. I met Roni way back when she was blogging on wordpress. I follow her blog because I like what she has to say, which I guess was the point she was making. Like I said earlier it’s a tricky subject and I don’t really have any answers.
So the moral of the story is? Okay, I’m trying to come up with one here and I’m not sure if there is one. How about this? No need for any of us to worry if we’re not awarded Super-Blogger of the year. We just need to be ourselves. People will visit and leave comments because of the posts we write not because there’s something in it for them.
What are your thoughts about good/bad blogging manners? Do you feel ignored if a blogger never acknowledges you? Or do you feel a blogger’s only responsibility is to writing great post and to heck with reciprocity no one can be everwhere all the time?
Posted by Laura Best on March 14, 2012
Back in January I blogged about a guitar contest that I was involved with on Facebook. To RECAP: When local singer/songwriter Jimmy Rankin announced that he was going to give away a signed guitar for the holidays my niece thought it would a cool thing to try and win for her brother who had recently suffered a broken back from a car accident he’d been in. Since he loves to play guitar, she figured it might help lift his spirits during recovery if we were able to win it.
While the contest ended up being a race right to the very end (we managed a whopping 1600+ votes) we still came up about 20 votes short. Believe it wasn’t from lack of trying. Everyone was amazing, sharing the link to the voting and asking their facebook friends to help. It only goes to show what great guy Jimmy Rankin is, when he announced later that he would also give a signed guitar to our nephew Rob as well.Today, finally, I’m happy to say that Rob was presented with a signed guitar. The coolest part was, Jimmy Rankin, who happened to be in town recording this week, arrived at my sister’s house and signed the guitar in person..I say that really speaks to the kind of person Jimmy is..Totally awesome!
For those of you wondering about Rob’s health today, as you can see from the photo he’s getting around on his own. He does use a cane to steady himself, and he still has some paralysis. He says he can feel himself getting stronger every day. So thanks Jimmy and especially to all of you you played a part in this good news story. The most amazing part of this story was the way so many of us pulled together to help someone out simply for the sake of doing something nice. Oh the things we can do when we all work together. We are truly amazing, aren’t we?
Posted by Laura Best on March 10, 2012
Self-Sabotage anyone? For your convenience, I’ve put together a list of three things you’ll need to get started on your journey to non-publication.
Right about now I can hear a collective, “What the heck is she talking about—-self-sabotage?” Pffff!
I know, I know, you’d all give up your first born to be published, right? Well maybe not THAT extreme, but I’m willing to bet that at least once or twice you turned your head toward the stars, shook a clenched fist and vowed to do whatever it takes to see your words in print. I’m also willing to bet you meant it, too. So why aren’t you published then? I mean if you were willing to do whatever, it should be in the bag by now shouldn’t it?
You’re positive you’ve got talent. Our almost sure. Your fifth grade teacher even wrote it on your report card. You’ve read every best seller ever written and determined that you could do a better job. Heck, your grocery list is more interesting than last year’s Giller Prize winner. You’ve got creativity oozing out of your ears. Your mind is brimming with thoughts so unique and spectacular that your head can scarcely contain it all. Not only that, you bought every writing book known to humankind. In fact, if you laid those books out end to end you could go around the earth two time with some to spare. You stalk every agent blog in the blogosphere. You’re doing everything just right.
So what’s really holding you back? Why hasn’t your dream come true?
Poor, poor dreams. We use you, abuse you and toss you to the wayside. And then to add insult to injury we tell everyone within earshot that dreams make us who we are. We even look up inspirational quotes about dreams to prove we mean business and post them in our facebook status or on our blogs.
Now I know that for every dream that we leave in our wake there could be any number of reasons why we abandon them. No doubt if I wanted to, I could make this post go on and on. But I’ll spare you the torture and I’ll name three ways to ensure you’ll never be published. Now listen up. This could come in handy.
1. Practise the art of procrastination. Make it your business to learn all the ins and outs of procrastinating. Milk it for all it’s worth. Procrastination doesn’t tax the body or brain, and much like meditation you’ll find it relaxing, a breath of fresh air. There’s plenty out there to keep you from starting that best seller that’s been bugging the heck out of you since you were in high school. You know that story, the one that just doesn’t want to go away. It’ll get you a million dollar publishing contract as soon as you write, “the end.” Remember while you’re lolling away knee deep in procrastination not to forget that special promise you made to yourself one night after you had one too many beers because in your heart of hearts you just know that everything happens in divine order. A sign will arrive and you’ll know it when you see it. The morning you wake up and your horoscope tells you it’s time to start writing your novel you’ll be the first one out of the gate. But not until the time is right, right? We all have to stick to what we believe in even the staunchest procrastinator among us. The Universe will speak to us in its good old time. No need to worry or hurry. Relax and enjoy the ride. The Universe will provide.
2. Spend a wicked sweet amount of time blogging, surfing the net, tweeting, commenting on other blogs, facebooking and checking email not to mention blogging, surfing the net, tweeting, commenting on other blogs, facebooking and checking email. I did write that twice because you all know the truth when you read it. There’s nothing like good old social media to keep a good writer from becoming published. Write? Who’s got time to write? The next best thing to being published is reading about it on someone else’s blog. You never know, their success might just rub off on you if you hang around enough. There’s plenty more uses for a computer other than writing so you should be safe. And if all this isn’t enough to keep you from plotting your novel just let me say…Pinterest. Find out what’s cool and popular on Pinterest. After all, it could be something you pinned. If that photo you posted of a blade of Kentucky Bluegrass gets repined 52,643 times you need to know immediately. What better way to ensure you never get published then never starting that book you’re writing?
3. Embrace your inner critic. Take her to lunch, throw her a special party. Bring balloons. Not only that become best buddies. The moment you’re sure that the crap you’re writing is never going to be publishable, your inner critic will be right there to agree. Nothing like a good inner critic to knock some sense into you, I say. After all, in every friendship someone needs to be the strong voice of reason. Not sure if your writing stinks? Your new best buddy will confirm this beyond a shadow of a doubt cause that’s just the way she rolls. You’ve all heard about “kicking yourself when you’re down.” Well, who better to give you an extra little boot than your inner critic? Why waste the effort on yourself? Just stand back and let your inner critic take aim. She’s your BFF. She’s known you most of your life. Admit it, she’s sure better at kicking then you are at writing.
So there you have it three, count them three, ways to ensure you never get published. Follow them to the letter and I’m almost positive that you can kiss that long held dream of publication goodbye. I mean who need dreams? Don’t thank me now you can do that twenty years down the road when you’re waiting for the planets to align, while listening to your BFF tell you one more time that your writing truly sucks big time. Not to worry though, you can always turn to the internet to whine and complain about those dreams that slipped through your fingers during your youth. It’s never too late to finally give up on your dream.
So here are three things that have worked for me in the past. You might not want to try them all out at once. Maybe you should just ease your way into it and before you know it, you can be playing an active role on your journey to non-publication.
Have you discovered any special ways to ensure you’ll never be published? If you’d like to tell, I’d like to know.
Posted by Laura Best on March 8, 2012