"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Writers and Readers

This is the time of year when work picks up for me. I have many projects under way at once, and I'm enjoying the flow. However, it means I have to cut back on some of my more social endeavors. 

So, in an effort to keep this brief, I wanted to mention a new blog I learned about at the conference last week.

The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood may have been created from the 2009 RWA Golden Heart Finalists, but it's open to and helpful to any genre. I urge you to check it out.

Other Websites or Blogs Worth Frequenting:

Anne R Allen and Ruth Harris
Goins, Writer
Positive Writer
Tara Lazar: Writing for Kids
Helping Writers Become Authors
The Write Practice
 Live Write Thrive
Rachelle Gardner
Terrible Minds 
Jennifer Blanchard
Fiction Notes
Writers Digest
Nathan Bransford
Jody Hedlund
Hope Clark
Mysterious Matters
Kill Zone
Alex J Cavanaugh
Jane Friedman

Southern Writers Magazine 

At first glance, most of these are genre specific, but the truth is, each offers great information for any style of writing. I'm also attempting to get through my TBR pile and finish promised reviews.

What about you? Is this a particularly busy time for you? Are there any blogs you recommend? Any great books we should read?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Sharing Your First Conference

On March 3, I took my ten year-old to her first writer's conference. While she enjoys writing, I was worried she wouldn't like attending a conference. After all, how many preteens want to spend a Saturday in classes? My mom went with us. You can see her and my daughter, to the left, getting their first look around the conference location during registration. That's right, three generations of women in my family at the same conference. Clearly, writing is in the blood.

If you've never been to the Jambalaya Writers Conference, or one similar, there are usually multiple sessions at every hour and you pick the ones you want to attend. 

For the first hour, all three of us chose to take part in the "Tale of Two Authors" session. Both authors write romance and spoke briefly about the genre itself, but the main focus of the session was the varying approaches to publishing - Liz Talley got her start with traditional publishing houses such as Harlequin while Jaycee Ford started Indie. Now, the balance seems to be using both methods. These women were engaging and interesting. While my daughter has no interest in Romance (for now), I felt this was a nice, relaxing, open, and even fun first session.

At most conferences I attend, I have a specific goal. All of my day is spent towards one achievement, genre, editor, agent, etc. However, I decided to try a variety of sessions this time since I enjoy writing in a variety of styles. While I encouraged my daughter to attend any of the sessions that interested her, she generally chose the same ones I was interested in attending.

My mother chose a different speaker for the second session, but my daughter and I went to one hosted by Louisiana Poet Laureate Jack Bedell. I found this experience to be quite interesting and enjoyable. We particularly related to his comments on how writers can get too caught up in form and expecting the first draft to be perfection right out of the gate that it interferes with the story of the poem itself. He showed examples of other poets work, and his , where the poem started as a story or free writing with no form. We looked at their development from early draft to publication. Notice I say publication and not completion. Many authors go back a tweak following publication. The end of the class we spent writing our own freestyle story - no line breaks, no punctuation, etc. We both left that room with a promising first draft of our own.

My mother rejoined us in the next class on short stories. While I often write short, I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much because nothing seemed new, interesting, or particularly inspiring. However, I think this was my daughters second favorite, so you just never know what or who will inspire.

Next, we took a lunch break. And of course, we ate Jambalaya!

Afterwards, the keynote speaker, R.L. Stine, regaled us all with funny tales and humorous notes. Did you know he got his start writing jokes? He also shared some interesting news - including upcoming books and movies! This was easily our favorite part of the day. 

Unfortunately, the conference organizers opened his following autograph session up for FREE to the public. So, we waited in line for nearly two hours behind people who HAD NOT paid to be there. We were one of the last ones to get his signature as he had to leave for another presentation.

While I applaud the library hosting the event for trying to bring FREE programs to their community, this should not have happened at the same time as, or even ahead of, those who PAID to be there - very tacky!

Our next session, hosted by Pamela Kopfler, was on writing the cozy mystery. She gave a brief explanation of the difference between regular mysteries and cozies. The remainder of the class was spent in a collaborative effort from the entire group on outlining a cozy mystery. I found this EXTREMELY interesting, because even though everyone present wanted something different (so many opinions and desires) it also offered a rare chance at collaboration that you don't usually get in a 45-60 minute session. I think we all left with a better understanding of what would and would NOT work in a cozy. We also left armed with a basic plot we could make our own.

While there were several more sessions available for the day. We chose to leave after this one as all three of us were getting tired, and we had a five hour drive yet to get home.

Overall, this is a good conference, and was a great first experience for my daughter who truly seemed to enjoy it.

What about you? Do you remember your first conference? Have you shared the experience with family members?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IWSG: Celebrate

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

MARCH QUESTION: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal / finish a story?

MY ANSWER: I'll usually indulge in some form of personal down time. My favorite is curling up on the couch with my dog, an old movie, and chocolate :-) 

How about you? How do you celebrate a writing achievement?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Jambalaya Writers' Conference

My oldest daughter will be attending her first conference this weekend! I'm so excited to share this event with her, and I can't wait to tell you more about it later.


Monday, February 26, 2018

5 Step Formula for Plot Structure

New writers are always looking for a formula for success. Experienced writers will tell them there is none. But, don't we all have our own formulas that work for us?

I'm working on some flash fiction again, and I thought I would update my own formula for plotting. I'm a pantser first, but I always go back in revision with a similar plot checklist. Even though I'm working on shorter works now, this formula is the same no matter the length of my manuscript. The movement just occurs much faster in flash fiction.

A-B-C-D-E Plot Structure
Let these occur in chronological order, unless you want things to slow down or become confusing to the reader:

A - is for Action. Open in the middle of it - this is the focus of my first paragraph.
B - is for Backstory. If it's flash fiction, this shouldn't last more than a few sentences or paragraphs. 
C - is for Character. If the reader isn't starting to connect with your hero/heroine by now, you are in serious danger. In flash fiction, I need to relate or empathize with the protagonist right away.
D - is for Development. What are the important details, or descriptions, needed to carry the reader through to the end? How are the five senses being employed here?
E - is for Elixir. Christopher Vogler refers to the ending of the tale as the elixir. In other words, what is the prize, or goal, achieved in the ending? Will your reader be happy they invested in the time with your tale?

So, try it out. Let me know how it works for you.

Do you have a formula or checklist you use when working?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Six Words Are The Way In

Six word story challenges have been around since well before Hemingway made them popular. 

Don't know that tale? Once asked to write a full story in six words, legend has it that novelist Ernest Hemingway responded: "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."

In the many years since then, flash fiction has seen an increase in popularity. Even the "six word challenge" has seen a resurgence in demand.

In this spirit, Smith Magazine invited writers "famous and obscure" to distill their own stories into exactly six words.  See the amazing results in the video below for inspiration.

Have you written a six word story? Want to share? Did the video inspire your own writing?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

For Love

It's Valentine's week, and while I love flowers and chocolate my family and friends know my favorite gift is a good book.

Not sure what to get the writer in your life? Check out this list of suggested Valentines day gifts for writers or check out these 
Six Ways to Participate in Romance Week at 

This year's Goodreads challenge can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1161-romance-week-2018

Want to share the theme of love with children? Check out these 10 Best Children's Books About Love.

So many of us love reading and writing. We have favorites that we return to again and again. How about you? 

What is your favorite genre? Favorite author? Favorite book from childhood? Are you doing something special this week?

Happy Valentine's!