Posts Tagged ‘author’

Finding time to do what you love.

Where do you find the time?

I get this question a lot. As a part-time third grade teacher, a full-time professional writer, and a mom of two teen girls, it requires some juggling, but the real answer to this question is twofold.

First off, I have this theory that we always find time to do the things we want to do. Somehow, even the busiest people I know find time to chat on Facebook, or go to the gym, or watch that last episode of The Walking Dead, or sneak away for weekend trips. See what I mean? We prioritize things, carving out time to enjoy the things we love to do. It’s like that with writing. Sure I’m a crazy busy person, and maybe I didn’t have time to dust or organize the hall closet, but I have enough time to write because that’s what I love to do.

Second important point; there’s this thing called a legally binding contract, you see? Once my John Hancock is scrawled across that page, it’s not an option to not have enough time to complete the project. That’s the difference between writing as a hobby, and writing professionally.

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Brave? Or dumber than dirt? That old romance cliche!

You’re familiar with the scenario, that tired cliche that seems to crop up often in novels. The innocent young heroine goes into the dark empty building? Oy vey! Today’s heroines must be smart, savvy, and not at all helpless. If our fictional lady is going to walk into an incredibly dangerous situation, she’d better have a really good reason! Is the hero tied up, ready to be dispatched and there’s no way to summon help? No cell phone? No burly sidekick who can accompany her? No neighbor who can call the cops for her? If she goes ahead and does something dangerous without taking smart precautions, she’s just too silly to survive and probably shouldn’t. Readers (particularly of romance) are modern women who know how to solve problems. mysterious eyesThey’re intelligent, they’re resourceful and capable. They expect the heroines they read about to be the same.

What do you admire in a heroine? Are there any book series that feature female characters that you particularly enjoy? Post to enter the Starbuck’s card drawing for August.

And the July blog winner is…

Patrice W! Congratulations and enjoy the Amazon gift card! August contest starts tomorrow!prize

Should I pay for that professional photo? Judge for yourself.

And my final recommendation for where to spend those hard-earned dollars wisely is to invest in a professional head shot. I know cameras are nifty and one can produce a pretty good self-portrait with smart phones, iPads, cameras, etc. I’ve done it myself. Having a studio photograph however, really screams “I am a professional.” It’s not simply that skilled photographers can make the subject look better (ah, the magic of soft focus, air brushing and backdrops!). A quality image conveys the message that you consider yourself a professional, and you’ve invested in your writing career. Trust me, people can tell the difference between a do-it-yourself job and a “hire it out” photo. I’ve posted mine below. Which one says “professional writer” to you?

DSC_0065_edited-1Dana Mentink 29 sm

Have you ever paid for something that disappointed you? (I could go on about the musical snowing Christmas globe that I paid good money for and hasn’t snowed for a decade or so now, but I will refrain.) Do share. Comments get you entered in the July drawing for an Amazon card.

Show me the money! Writing money well spent….or not?

money
I’ve plopped down plenty of money over the years in the name of furthering my writing business. Those neato clips seemed like a great giveaway, but did I really need five hundred? And the nose shaped pencil sharpeners…well, let’s not get into that, shall we? I’ve subscribed to various cyber services, postal packages and online groups with varying results. There is some things that I’ve invested in that are worth every penny in this humble writer’s opinion. Let’s look at two here:

-a professional website. Yep, I’ve designed my own site before. Yep, it really looked like it. I realized there are many cyber savvy folks. I’m not one of them. My fabulous website designer makes me look spiffy and polished and takes care of updates as often as I’d like him to. He’s worth every red cent (and other colored cents too.)

-a writing related publication: I subscribe to Romance Writers of America. No, I don’t get something out of every article, but each issue offers me some insight into the business that I may not have considered and posts contests which are fun to enter. All in all, if I learn one new thing that improves my writing or business approach, that’s a good value in my book!

Have you ever invested unwisely in a business or hobby? Are you brave enough to share? All posts get you entered in the July drawing for an Amazon gift card next week.

Bitty Book Blurb, Charles Dickens Devotional by Jean Fischer

Here’s another condensed review of a book that made the recommended list for the California Women’s Retreat this year. I’m a book geek (huge surprise to you all, I’m sure) and the Charles Dickens Devotional took me to my happy place. Each day offers a snippet from one of Charles Dickens2010 01 24_2286 works, a discussion about the story as well as a Bible verse and reflection point. At the end is a short bio about Dickens and his faith. And may I say this book is pretty? Nice fabric cover, beautiful paper and font, perfect to give as a gift. Each day will leave you saying, “Please sir, I want some more!”

The person Anne Hathway forgot to thank…

All right, the glitter has settled after Oscar night and Life of Pi emerged with many awards. I saw the movie and found it to be a faithful rendering of a powerful story. Anne Hathaway carried the day for the actresses with her portrayal of Fantine in Les Miserables. Her acceptance speech was charming, elegant and sweet, like the lady herself, I’m sure. Just one tiny person she forgot to thank…Victor Hugo!
Yes, I know he died in 1885 after churning out heavy novels, both topically and in the sheer number of pages. He had many tragic life experiences to pull from.

No stranger to pain, his first child died in infancy. His cherished daughter drowned in the Seine at Villequier, pulled down by her heavy skirts, when a boat overturned. Her young husband died trying to save her. Hugo was exiled from France by Napoleon. He wrote vivid stories about social misery and injustice and he did it in such a way that the books have resonated for more than 150 years. Can you imagine crafting a story so compelling, so expressive of the human condition that it would last for more than a century? I can only dream of that kind of talent.

The blockbuster Les Mis movie and Broadway stage success comes from talented people reimagining a story that transcends generations. So the brilliant Ann Hathaway earned that Oscar because of her talent, indisputably, but also because more than 100 years ago, an author wrote Fantine, a woman who has stayed in the hearts of people for generations. Now that’s certainly worthy of a gold statuette.

What other book to screen stories have impressed you over the years? Do share. Comments get you entered in the drawing. Winner announced March 1st. http://screenrant.com/les-miserables-movie-trailer-sandy-175491/Oscar

Science fiction and fantasy…who’s at the top of the genre?

dragonContinuing on with the author King and Queen lists, we move onto genres which are often lumped together, though they can be quite distinct. I’m going to need some help with the Science Fiction/Fantasy realm. As a youngster, I devoured all things by C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, Madeleine L’Engle and others. I’ve also enjoyed some of Terry Prachett’s work and of course, Douglas Adams and Tolkien. If I had to vote for Queen I’d probably go with the obvious J.K. Rowling but I noticed she did not make the top ten in the NPR poll I’ve linked here.
http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books

King of sci/fi fantasy for me would be C.S. Lewis but I’ve strayed from the genre for a while, so I need some fresh recommendations.
Who are your picks for King/Queen of Sci-Fi and Fantasy? Or do you think those genres should not be lumped into one? Do tell.

Best LAST lines of novels…ending with style!

I know many writers who finish their toiled-over manuscripts with “The End.” I was trained as a young writer that if you needed to put those two words at the end, you didn’t really tie things up well enough. The reader should know they’re at the end without those two words. Thinking along those lines, I found an interesting article about incredible last lines of novels, such as….

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” The Great Gatsby,
F. Scott Fitzgerald. Much more effective than “The End” don’t you think?

It would be nice, though, if we could stamp a neat “the end” on certain phases of our lives and mark them permanently in the past. Personally, I was glad to see my teen bookkeeping job come to a halt. Believe me, balancing numbers is not in my skill set and the world is better off if I am not in charge of the reconciling. What phases or activities are you happy to have ended in your life? Comments get you entered in the January drawing for a $25.00 Amazon card and signed book.

***Here’s a link to the NPR article with famous last lines if you’ve a yen to see more! 🙂 http://n.pr/WYpPO7

Where do you like your fiction to take you? The power of a killer setting…

Snow, footprintsBilbo has his Bag’s End. Harry has his Hogwarts. Dorothy has her Oz. It’s hard to resist an amazing fictional setting isn’t it? Or is it? Personally, I’m a sucker for an unusual setting. Remote base in the Antarctic? I’m there. Canadian wilderness? You bet. Hollywood? The weirdest setting of them all, no doubt. Some readers could care less about an exotic setting. A juicy plot, some multi dimensional characters and compelling dialogue will do nicely thank you.

The books I’m currently writing take place in the Peten jungle of Guatemala, a remote island in the Samoan archipelago and an Amish turkey farm. (Not all in the same book, mind you.) So you can see that I’m pretty setting driven. How about you? When you read or write, is setting very important to you? What book settings have stuck in your mind?

All comments get you entered in the December drawing for an iTunes card and signed book.