Posts Tagged ‘book giveaway’

Three best perks of being a writer

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Yep, it’ s a hard job writing fiction books for a living but really, the perks just can’t be beat! Here are the three best things about my wacky job.

1.  It fosters curiosity.  As you’ve probably heard me say before, my other job is an elementary school teacher and you’d think that would be high on the “fosters curiosity” list too, but frankly, teaching 26 kids of varying levels and needs takes every bit of mental stamina I possess. In a word, I’m too busy to indulge my curiosity much while in the thick of things, but writing is lovely because it causes me to ask questions. What if a massive earthquake hit an old opera house? How would a man react to having his childhood disease return? What would it be like to be uncertain of your own identity?

2.  It can be done anywhere. My favorite location to write is sitting opposite my wild tangle of tomato plants, banging away on the keyboard while butterflies and finches do their thing. I’ve also written in coffee shops, the back seat of cars and composed tricky sections mentally while in the bathtub. (Do yourself a favor and don’t imagine that last one!)

3. I can provide justice in an unjust world. I only read the paper on Sunday and it’s INFURIATING. I know God’s justice will prevail ultimately, but I’m maddened to see how things are going along right now. I mean this I.S.I.S group? Violent crime in the U.S.? Children betrayed by the people who were supposed to protect them? I feel powerless to set anything right on planet earth, but in my books? Oh you’d better believe bad people will be punished! SEVERELY! I know it’s only fiction, but there’s some comfort in that, right?

So what are the perks of your current job or those you’ve held in the past? It’s a big prize month here at the blog. The September prize is a signed book, Starbuck’s card and a fun fall treat! I so value all of your comments!

Writing humor is no laughing matter.

imageHumor is hard to write and even harder to sell. This probably explains why so few comic television series survive. As someone who loves to write humor (I know, not what you expected from a gal who’s written 15 suspense novels) I can tell you it’s much more challenging than writing drama. Why? Answer the questions below.

1. What is sad?

On this, I’ll bet we can agree. The death of a child. Human suffering. The power of addiction. Violent crime. Are we together on this? These are all terrible and tragic. If I wrote a novel featuring any one of these themes, we’re all going to feel similarly when we read it, if I’ve done my job well.

2. What is funny? Someone slipping on a banana peel? Bathroom humor? Esoteric jokes? Lies and subterfuge? Hmmm. Now we’re getting into some disagreement. Do you think Woody Allen’s humor is funny? How about Dumb and Dumber? Case in point is the movie Anchorman. My daughter thought it was hilarious. I found it juvenile and crude. Am I wrong? Is she? Nope, we’re just not going to agree because funny is a moving target.

That is why many publishers will not take a chance on humor. It’s too much of a risk to guarantee the books are going to sell. I so appreciate Harlequin Heartwarming for allowing me to write a book which is truly penned in my natural, goofy, voice. I think it’s got some hilarious moments. Will readers think so? No guarantees!

Have you ever seen a movie that was supposed to be funny and you didn’t find it so? Or conversely, did you laugh through a movie and have others disagree with you? Would love to hear your thoughts. Giving away a gift card and two books this month.

Hard truths about writing and eggplant.

imageimageLet me just say the hard part first. If you want to be in the writing business, you’d better know that you’re going to fail. A lot. Take in the following two points, but be sure to read to the end. The bitter comes before the sweet!

1. If you want to be a writer, you’re going to feel rejection. Looking for an agent? You’ll no doubt query a ton of them before you get a nibble. I probably sent out a dozen agent queries a week for a while. I got some nibbles, but mostly just the form letters. Dear BLANK, Thank you for your interest in Skippy Doo Agency. Don’t take it personally, but we are not interested in representing you at the present time. Truth is, I published three books with Heartsong Presents before I even acquired an agent! Same is true with project proposals. You’re going to mail out a bushel of those babies and most will come back stamped “Thanks, but no thanks.”  I used to keep a binder to track my status and for many years the rejection section was bigger than all my published works stacked up!

2. If you want to be a writer, you’re going to experience criticism. It’s the nature of what we do. We write things, craft the very best product possible and send it out into the world. Some people are going to love it, and others are going to cut you to ribbons. Publicly. On Amazon and their blogs. And Twitter. It’s just the way of the world because consumers are very empowered by technology to share their thoughts. ALL of them.

Discouraged? Here’s the sweet part. Writing is like eggplant. Some people love it, and some can’t abide the veggie. Your book or article will find its way to the people who love it and need to hear it. Those are the people you write for, those eggplant lovers who need to hear what you have to say. You’re going to bless them, but you have to endure some rejection and criticism to do that.  It takes courage and commitment, but all good things do, don’t they?

What things in your life have required courage and commitment? Would love to hear your thoughts! Giving away a Starbuck’s card and two books at the end of the month!

Reviews…good, bad and excruciating!

imageAh reviews. We authors live and die by them. A five star review on Amazon? Woo hoo! That link is going to be posted everywhere in my cyber world. A measly THREE stars from Romantic Times? Grrrr. That’s not even going to make my web page. Glowing reviews or horrible ones, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. While I’d love to believe that I am the amazing author I imagine myself to be, in reality I’m just a hard working gal who’s trying to get a bit better with each book. The same is true of the horrifying reviews (“Mentink should never be allowed within spitting distance of a keyboard again!”) If the review is a personal attack, I’m going to discount the vitriol, but generally there’s a kernel of something in there which is the truth. Characters a little flat? Ouch, but I’m going to remember that when I dive into my next novel and try to improve. I’m not going to tell you it doesn’t hurt. I can read ten five star reviews, but the one that’s going to stick with me is the one suggesting that my dog could have penned a better novel. Reviews come with the territory and nine times out of ten there’s something to be learned from them (even the bad ones!) Below I’ve posted links to two of my reviews (one good and one not so good) so you can see what I mean. The second is from a reviewer who felt that I focused too much on plot to the detriment of the romance. It hurt to hear it, but it made me want to improve in that area.

Do you recieve criticism in your work or personal life? How do you handle it? Giving away a Dana Mentink and Alison Stone book this month and a Starbuck’s gift card. Appreciate your comments!






Why fictionalize a setting?


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So you’re sitting there at your keyboard, ready to start that quirky comic romance series that’s going to zoom right to the top of the bestseller chart. It’s going to take place in a seaside town on the California coast. Excellent! Now comes the big decision…are you going to set your story in a real town, like the charming Half Moon Bay or Pescadero? Or will you make up a fictional setting, perhaps modeled from a real town? This is exactly what I asked myself as I sat down to hammer out Return To Pelican Inn. My answer? I set the story in a fictional town called Tumbledown, loosely modeled after Half Moon Bay. Come to think of it, I’ve never, to date, set a story in a real town. Why? Here are my top three reasons.

1. Real towns are more boring than those I can come up with in my mind. I live in a city of 80,000 people and it’s lovely, but do we have sand castle contests and establishments like the Brew Unto Others Coffee shop? Nothing nearly that darling. We’ve got Safeways and Chevrons.

2.  People don’t like to know there are murderers in their towns. I write a lot of romantic suspense and sadly, there’s usually a REAL bad guy lurking around somewhere. Best not to set these kinds of villiains in a real town. It makes the residents feel a touch peeved at times.

3.  A fictional setting is clay under my fingers. Need a nice beach for my characters to take in the boat festival? No problem. Want to add a lovely old inn that overlooks the sea with nary a parking lot to mess up the view? Easy! Fictionalizing a setting gives me delusions of grandeur, allowing me to make the world exactly as I want it to be!

Do you like real life settings or fictional ones? Can you think of any that stand out for you? Giving away TWO books this month (including one written by the fabulous Alison Stone) and a Starbuck’s gift card.





May contest, free book or ebook

Howdy, all. I’ve been kind of underwater , or maybe more to the point, lost in the Peten Jungle (see earlier posts) but I’m resurfacing again with a May contest. All comments get you entered in a drawing to win a free Dana Mentink book (or ebook download.)

So here’s the pithy discussion item. What are you reading? Because I have attention span problems, I’m working on the following:

The Dog Who Talked to God (Jim Kraus)

Nearing Home (Billy Graham)

The Story (Zondervan)

A Christina Dodd novel, the title of which escapes me at the moment.

So how about you?