Posts Tagged ‘iTunes gift card’

My Writing Life…Through Papa Bear’s eyes




I could tell you all sorts of riveting info about my writing process which would be sure to bore the socks off you. Yes, I’ve had 30 books published. Yes, I’ve won awards. I could recite chapter and verse about the nuts and bolts of my process, but I figured it would be much more interesting to see it through the eyes of the guy who watches me do all this business…the hubster, Papa Bear. He not only watches, but he helps with research, reads through countless pages for me, and holds my hand when the going gets rough.  Here’s what I think Papa Bear might say about his wife, the writer. (We’ll have him weigh in later in the comments and see how I did. )

1. She gets completely mesmerized by an idea and that’s going to wind up in a book somewhere, somehow. It’s beyond a passing interest. She talked about halibut for three days after she learned their eyes migrated to one side of their bodies! There’s gonna be a halibut in a novel at some point.

2. She alternates between self assured and insecure. At some point she will throw the manuscript on the floor and say, “I’m not sure if this is genius or a pile of you-know-what.”

3.  She is not terribly organized. There are piles and post its and notepads everywhere and now there are even notes on the bathroom mirror. Oy!

So hubs. Did I get it right?

What would your husband/children say about your work habits or hobbies? Giving away an iTunes gift card, a signed book and a Fall surprise this month! I would SO love to hear your comments. 


Why Mick and Mike shouldn’t be in the same book

Imagine my surprise to find out somewhere in chapter seven of my work in progress that I’d manage to create both a Mick and a Mike in the same book. Mick? Mike? Perhaps I shouldn’t have thrown in that Jane and Joan either. Accck! It’s a small point, but an important one. Extremely similar names confuse readers. Unless it’s absolutely essential for the plot, I usually avoid names that begin with the same letter, too. Tom and Tony, Betsy and Bonnie, Peter and Parker. Same goes for last names. If you can avoid having a Mr. Beaver and a Mr. Banfield, do so. Our poor readers have a lot to keep track of already: twisty plots, unreliable narrators, red herrings popping in at out at any given moment. Why not make our characters names easy to remember?

What’s the most memorable name you’ve ever heard? (I once learned of a woman named Silver Coin.) Giving away an iTunes gift card this month and today is the last day to enter! snowflake

Are you ready for transmedia?

DaydreamingOkey dokey.  I’ve pretty much got the Facebook thing down. And I’ve been known to Tweet fascinating facs about my latest books and such. I’ve even been known to whip up a book trailer or two. Obviously, I’ve made a stab at blogging, as you can tell. So when I read an article in the latest Romance Writer’s Report about getting on the transmedia bandwagon I naturally said, “Er…the WHAT?”

After reading up on the topic I can tell you that transmedia is all the rage with technosavvy readers and writers. As I understand it, transmedia is a way authors use multiple media plaforms to enhance their stories. Examples?

-interactive ebooks that expand on the printed book

-online episodes with supplementary material

-web comics

-blogs “written” by secondary characters

-fictional websites for points of interest in your novel.

All the examples are ways to help expand the story so readers can engage more deeply.

My reaction? Awww, gee. Remember when we just used to, you know, read books and engage the stories with our wee little imaginations? While my heart may long for a simpler time, my head cannot deny that we are surely living in a transmedia world.

So what do you think? Would you enjoy experiencing a story in the ways listed above? Which ones might tempt you?

Writing Resolution #3, Follow that octopus!

Writing is an odd business. You never know where a story idea will take you. Some of my best writing has sprung unplanned out of an oddball interest, an intriguing fact. Resolution #3? Follow that octopus! This December we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and took a behind the scenes tour. One aspect of the presentation enthralled me…the giant octopus. Did you know that octopuses (octopi? octopodis?) can tell the difference between two people by feeling with their suckers? They also learn by watching each other, and the only thing the keepers have found that an octopus cannot stick to is Astroturf. Why do I need to know this as a suspense author? I don’t know…yet, but one thing I’ve learned is that if I’m interested, fascinated, enthralled by something, it’s going to make for a great story someday. I might not understand it now, but down the road, that octopus is going to wriggle its way into a novel. My advice to writers everywhere? Follow what fascinates you. It will lead to a story, I promise.

So what are you passionately interested in? Posts get you entered in the January contest for an iTunes gift card. new year 2014

Resolution #2, Quit multitasking already!

It is certainly a comfort to know that I can make coffee, text a friend, walk on the treadmill and think out a new synopsis all at the same time. Bravo for me. I am also thrilled to have a six book contract with one imprint and two books brewing in a different genre for the other.  Blessings, truly. Having a lot of irons in the fire is excellent, in my view. I thrive on it. There is only so much brain capacity in the old cabeza, however.  Daily I need to remind myself of resolution #2. Be in the moment. Time to work on that suspense novel? Great. Sit down and do nothing else for an hour. Need to start prepping the next proposal? Set aside time to do that and only that, preferably later in the day after a walk or lunch break. It does no good to multitask while writing. Creativity and skillful  prose are going to require the full measure of mental energy.

Are there tasks you need to perform that require your full and complete attention? Do you find yourself multitasking frequently in your day to day? Would loveNew Years 2012 to hear your thoughts. 

Got a pen name? Secret identities that aren’t.

One way to get around the author branding problem is to use a pen name. Jumping in to a new genre? Try out a new name. Most authors aren’t going to try and hide their true identity, like J.K. Rowling did. She had her reasons. Most mainstream authors take on a pen name to give their readers notice. It’s a way of saying, “Hey, I’m trying something new.” Writers like Nora Roberts, Lewis Carroll, Voltaire, and of course, J.K. herself all used pen names. Isn’t it ironic that Joanne Rowling changed her name to J.K. because her publishers felt a book about wizards would be more accepted by pre teen boys if it was written by a man? She used another pen name, Robert Galbraith, to step into the mystery genre with The Cuckoo’s Calling. I wonder what her next pen name will be?

Do you read any authors who have pen names? If you had to come up with a pen name for yourself, what would it be? Why would you pick that name? Giving away a Starbuck’s card this month. mysterious eyes

April contest blog winner!

Hooray for you, Jillian! You’ve won the drawing for an iTunes gift card! I’ll be contacting you shortly.


Thanks to all who commented in April. I’ve really enjoyed our “cyber” conversations!prize

Should I write it? Three rules I live by.

On the heels of my rules for selecting books, I’ve got a few soft criteria that I follow when I decide which books to write. As I tell the bear cubs, just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

First off, I have to feel it will be uplifting in some way. That’s not to say it has to be Christian fiction, it doesn’t, but if there isn’t some hopefulness or encouragement to the reader, I’m probably not the gal to write it.

Second, no graphic sex from this writer. Oh I know, it’s popular, it sells, it’s what many people want, but I just can’t write it. writer thinking

Third, I’m not going to embark on an epic, ten book series. I have a wee little attention span and frankly, after three books I’m done writing about those characters. I really admire writers who can build such an intricate, character laden series that readers will hang in there for years. I’m that kind of reader, but not, I fear, that kind of writer.

How about you? How do you decide what to write? Are you a faithful fan of any particular writer? Comments get you entered in the April drawing for an iTunes gift card.

A 24,000 dollar Christmas present?

giftOn the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a partridge in a pear tree.

If the words from this classic song came to fruition in my house, my true love and I would have to have a talk. It’s an odd song, isn’t it? Full of pipers, milk maids and plenty of fowl. I’ve read theories that the tune was actually penned by English Jesuits in the 16th century as a way to covertly teach Catholic doctrine to the faithful in a time of persecution. This year my enthusiastic third grade students did our best to calculate the cost of those unique gifts were they given today. The price tag would run the giver over $24,000, for just the 12th day alone! (We were most surprised by the cost of swans, these days.)

It got me to thinking about the most amazing gift (a tangible item, not the human or spiritual kind) that I’ve ever received. It was back in my early teaching days when my classroom was a leaky portable circa WWII, nestled next to a dumpster and a weedy field. The kids and I (with assistance from Grandpa and Grandma and Papa Bear) dug holes and planted lovely flowering shrubs, laboriously hauling water from a nearby spigot. The kids were thrilled and so proud, until a few days later when we arrived at school to find someone had dug up and stolen the shrubs. I was crushed and had no more money to replace the plants. I wrote a note to the children, and posted it during Open House to the effect that they should always keep planting, keep striving to make the world better in spite of the bad things that happen.

The next day I arrived to find that someone had replanted all of our shrubs in the night. I suspected the principal, but he denied it. Papa Bear? He denied it as well. To this day, some 20 years later, I still do not know who the giver was…but it was worth more to me and those kids than any 24,000 present.

What was the most amazing gift you ever received? Posts get you entered in the December drawing for an iTunes card and signed book.

P.S. If you’ve got youngsters around for the holidays, here is an awesome website where the kids can have some fun and hear what the actual cost of the 12 Days of Christmas would be today.

Hero of Destiny…Who, me?

light saberAh the Chosen One! That hero that has his destiny revealed after a particularly nasty set of confrontations. The poor guy is usually clueless at first, with no inkling of his special skills and minimal training. He’s likely to say, “Who, me?” when his wise guardian tries to hammer his status home and teach him the skills needed to save the world, etc. Any literary or cinematic examples spring to mind? Just let the force flow through you and let’s see what kind of list we can come up with!

Post your fave “hero of destiny” and you’re entered in the December drawing.