Thursday, March 29, 2007

Saying no...

Have you ever suffered from SYTT Sydrome? That's "Spreading Yourself Too Thin". I do this all the time. Thinking I need distraction from what's going on in real life, I offer myself up to a multitude of tasks; working on things for this person, that person, this person that I didn't know until they PM'd/emailed me. On top of my regular real life duties, 3 kids, a husband, my e-business, endless parades of bills, doctor's appointments, therapy, where does my novel fit in?

Lately, it doesn't. For the first time in over 3 months I wrote 2 chapters last week. In two days. It was wonderful, it was freeing, it was satisfying. So why haven't I done it again? Because I can't say no.

Why is it we have such a problem saying no? Making obligations to people we've never met, and likely never will. To bring joy to others, when our own joy and release is the touch of a keyboard away.

I could blame writer's block, but I don't believe in that anymore. I know that if I sit down and force myself to write for 10 minutes I could write until 3AM...I know because I've done this many times. It's how the first draft of my novel was written.

I could blame my age-old "I want everyone to like me" defense. But, that's hypocritical...if you wanted everyone to like you, you'd be nice to them, not turn yourself into this insane monster trying to get everything done for everyone.

I could also blame my SAHM defense. I insanely believe I have all the time in the world...when I truly have none.

Maybe it's because, as a writer, I'm innately sensitive to "no". I expect rejections, I know what they feel like...I certainly don't want to bring them to others.

I don't know the reason, it could be all of these, it could be none. But I've realized just in the past few days that I have to say "no." To my online life. I'm hiding in it. I'm addicted to it. I don't want to disappear from it...but I have to stop taking responsibility for things that I really don't have time for. I'll be a more pleasant person for it. I'll have time for important things, like true conversation with my online friends. I'll also be forced to face the real life that is plaguing me, which if I faced it I could get MORE writing from. I might even have time for the most important venture outside of my novel.

So today I'm saying "NO" to the extraneous stuff. I have spread myself too thin, and it's time to refocus.

Where in your life have you said yes, when you should have said no? Think seriously before every decision, don't dive headlong into it. Think about what's important, and if this thing is important enough to squeeze into your day.

And for once, just say "NO".

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Managing your emotions

We writers are an emotional bunch. It is both a blessing and a curse. Our ability to tap into the deep emotions raging inside us is what allows us to create such believable characters. At the same time, we are prone to experiencing periods of self-doubt, insecurity, worthlessness, and in the worst case--depression.

I am reminded of Rose Wilder Lane's biography The Ghost in the Little House. Rose was considered an excellent writer in her time. She traveled to Albania, Vietnam, and Baghdad. She ghostwrote many books, in addition to her own books and the many articles she wrote for Country Gentlemen, Woman's Day, and the Saturday Evening Post.

Yet for all her success, Lane spent a lot of her adult years unable to write because of the depression that overtook her. She felt torn between living in Europe and the responsibility of caring for her parents in America. Not feeling loved as a child, she reached out to men whom she felt she could have loving relationships with, only to end them because she never found exactly what she was looking for. She always sought to write something more substantial than the books and articles she had already penned.

It has been over a month since I've been able to write anything other than blog entries. Like Lane, I am controlled by my emotions. I have two novels and a memoir waiting for me, not to mention the two short stories I wanted to finish this month. And yet, I feel absolutely no desire to write. I knew it was bad when I couldn't even write a fan fiction story--that has always been my key to kicking my imagination into gear.

In Joyce Meyer's book Managing Your Emotions, Meyer speaks of the importance of not being led by our emotions. Surely, I am one who is led by every emotion I feel. Whether or not you consider yourself a person of faith, this one sentence in Meyer's conclusion sums it all up:

Until we learn to manage them, our emotions can be our greatest enemy because Satan will try to use them to keep us from walking in the Spirit.

Can it not also be said then, that unless we learn to manage our emotions, they can be our greatest enemy because they keep us from reaching our full potential? This is where I am now. I am being led along by emotions, unable to write, because I can't manage what I am feeling.

I refuse to allow this to continue. I want to be a published writer. I want to see my books on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and Borders. I want people to interview me, instead of me interviewing them. And the only way for me to do this, is to manage my emotions. I'm not sure how to go about it yet. I will read Meyer's book, which I was never able to get through the first time. Maybe I just wasn't ready. I will keep forcing myself into my chair to write blog entries and even some words in one of the handful of writing projects I have going on. I will get through this, because I am a writer and nothing can keep me from reaching my full potential--unless I allow it.


Monday, March 26, 2007

More about dressing...

Speck’s dress-for-writing-success blog post reminded me of a humorous little game that I and some of my fellow conference buddies like to play.

Several years ago, I attended my first Harriette Austin Writers Conference, held on the beautiful campus of the University of Georgia in Athens Georgia.

As I rested between sessions in one of the many cozy niches watching our fellow scribes interact, I wondered if I could guess what genre a writer fancied by the type of clothing he or she wore.

Soon, I engaged my gaggle of new friends to play. The romance authors (the females, at least) tended to dress in flowery prints; some complete with beribboned hats. The mystery writers seemed to favor monochromatic attire, as did the science fiction group. The poets wore more eclectic outfits—flowing garments or bold colors. Each time we guessed successfully, we high-fived and laughed. Amazingly, we were correct more often than not, and the writers we approached enjoyed our game enough to join in.

One thing I consistently noted; the published authors and those serious about their writing were nicely attired. I saw no flip-flops, torn jeans, or slouchy clothing. First impressions stick. Who knows if the person you meet might be a future reader, agent, or editor? Shouldn’t you think enough of yourself to consider presentation in your appearance as much as in your manuscript?

All of this observation led me to wonder. As a southern fiction author with humorous undertones, how should I dress? Hmmm….

Rhett DeVane, the madhatter

Friday, March 23, 2007

Dress for Success

This was brought up at a blog I read often and I thought I'd share it here. Dress the part! No, this doesn't mean you have to wear a suit and tie or something formal and writerly to write. Jammies, sweats and barefeet are still just fine for writing.

But...when you go out in public, what impression are you sending out? I live in a very small town where practically everyone knows everything about everybody. It's very tempting to just run down to the local store in a tattered t-shirt, ragged jeans and flipflops. I try to remember when I start promoting locally they aren't going to see the professional writer me, they will see the neighbor down the road who has a lot of bad hair days. So, I'm trying to be a little less casual for those trips. Or I send the kids:--)

Another place to consider the impression you are creating is at conferences. Are you dressed as an up and coming star that everyone wants to know or do you look like the custodian and get mistaken for housekeeping? I'm not saying you should wear a business suit at conferences however you should look professional.

Websites are often the first impression a person has of us. Consider what your website says about you. Professional, approachable and fun loving or scatterbrained, stuck up and stick in the mud?

Now...I'm off to consider how to make the best first impression at the upcoming conference. I'm sure lots of chocolate will be involved:--)


Monday, March 19, 2007

Nifty use for bad poetry:--)

A few weeks ago, I talked about using everything. When we write we have to draw on everything about life that we know. Then we have to add the stuff we don’t know, but that’s another post. I was going through the junk on my desk this morning and I ran across several poems. I wrote them while I was sitting here, lost as to what to add next to my juicy novel.

I was trying to set a romantic tone in my story and needed a little help. I don’t know about you but I don’t feel too sexy in my husband’s sweats and my old black slippers. I don’t want to change my clothes, so instead I try to change the mood. Writing love poems helps set the mood I need to write believable love scenes.

Use everything, including your poetry.

It adds to the story…or it can. Weaving your own poetry into a story gives you one more way to express yourself. You might be working on a character who needs something, but you aren’t sure what. Make that character a poet. It can be the MC or a bit player, it doesn’t matter. Now, find a way to write in the poetry. Maybe the character keeps a journal or maybe he writes it on bathroom walls.

I recently read Garrison Kiellor’s Love Me. It was great fun; he’s a funny guy. One of his supporting cast is a poet. At least in her mind she is. She is trying to unlock the deeper meanings of life through her poetry. She spends most of her time in the story bordering on suicide. If I wrote the kind of crap she did, I would be suicidal too.

The point is that Mr. Keillor made up some bad, bad verse and used it to his advantage. The scraps of paper stacked beside my laptop are dripping with bad poetry. I know just what to do with them too. Her name is Kay and she writes bad poetry for her fantasy lover…or something like that

Sherry Heidelberger-Blackburn (aka) Gwanny

Titled and posted by Speck cause blogger gremlins have invaded Gwanny's puter.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Reading and Writing - Meet The Muse and The Mentor

I believe a writer’s life starts long before their desire to put words on paper. I think it starts when we fall in love with reading. My grandmother loved books and taught me to read when my teacher said I’d have to wait another year. In those days, left handed people were thought to be slow learners or dim witted. Grandma said that was bunch of hog wash and began teaching me herself. She instilled in me her honest belief that if I learned to read I could learn anything.

Each night before bed, she’d pull out one of her hardcover books and we’d start our slow progress thorough each and every word. Some books were medical journals, others were books written by philosophers dead long ago. Genre wasn’t important to her, she’d read anything she could get her hands on. Her books taught me more than words, they showed me about life, and took me to places I’d never heard of. I don’t remember the titles, characters or the even the places we visited. What I remember is that my Grandma believed in me.

I’ve been struggling for the last few weeks to write a historical fiction in which my main character is fashioned after Grandma. I had been moving right along at a steady pace when all of a sudden my muse took a nap and wouldn't help me write the ending. Right when I was frustrated and ready to hit the delete button, Grandma’s tenacity came back to me. I pictured her standing in front of me with her and on her hips. “Hog wash-- if you can learn to read, you can learn anything.” Of course I finished the first draft of that story yesterday.

We all need mentors. They don’t have to be someone you personally know. They need not be a national hero or a celebrity. Preferably your mentor is someone who shows fortitude and inspires you to strive forward even when you are about to hit the delete button. Grandma did that for me, actually she still does. She wasn’t a quitter and neither am I.

If she hadn’t taken the time to teach me, I don’t think I would have learned to love reading and later become a writer. She listened as I stuttered through each new word. In her last days Glaucoma took her eyesight and forced her to listen to books on tape but they weren’t the same. I think she was missed her first love, reading.

Find your mentor and every time you think of quitting think of how they might react. Would they simply quit or would they say something like-- “Hog wash.” Remember writing is hard work and sometimes we have to dig deep to find the determination to continue.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007 do or not to do

Most of you know of my recent contest experience but for those of you who don't, here's the short version.

A major publisher sponsored a contest in which three winners get an indepth editorial critique and possibly a request for partials. They required the first chapter and synopsis. Since this is a market I want to break into, I sent them all they asked for and began the very long wait. They were to announce winners last week. Naturally as the day approached I got a bit excited. My chapter and synopsis had been polished until you could practically see your reflection and the story fit the contest line. I was hopeful. Now, fast forward to "winner announcement day". No winners list on the website. No phone call or email of any sorta. I'm left hanging...did they not announce the winners yet? Did I not place? Did my email eat the notification of winning or possibly did they snail mail the winners and I just haven't received the letter yet?

As most of you know, I sulked about this for a day and most of another. But this reminded me of several things about contests. I thought I'd share them:--)

First...contests are subjective. In fact, very subjective. We can't really know for sure what the judges are looking for, even with their guidelines.

Second...judges sometimes wouldn't know good writing if it reached up and smacked them. Many times judges choose what they like instead of the best entry. I've seen major writing contests have the strangest, worst written winners. I don't enter many contests just for this reason.

Third...contests won't make or break your career. Sure, some contests carry more weight than others but most just aren't that important.

So...when choosing whether or not to enter a contest consider a couple things.

Is the contest one that will make a difference in the long run. The contest I entered would have given me a foot in the door so met this requirement. The Romance Writers of America have a great contest each year and making it to the final round is very respectable.

Who is judging the thing? Again, the judges were editors of the line I want to break into so it would have been nice to impress them.

What are the judges looking for? Get some guidelines and follow them. I read three books in the line then reworked my entry to meet the expectations of that line.

What is it going to cost to enter? Many contests have entry fees and that shouldn't be a problem. Unless the fee seems high for the amount given back as winnings. Some very good contests are free. Charging a fee isn't a sign of a good or bad contest, just something that should be taken into consideration when deciding to enter.

So, will I enter another major contest? Depends on lots of things. Right now I'm working on an entry for a flash fiction contest. The judge is very good, the entry fee is low, and there is a nice prize package. While not the most prestigious contest, I'm having fun writing the piece for it.

And we should enjoy our writing whenever we can:--)


Monday, March 12, 2007

Research once, write much

I am one of those crazy writers who loves research. I sometimes think I love it more than writing. We are constantly told to write what we know, but that doesn't mean we can't write about what we don't know--we just have to do some extra work. And once that work is done, it can be used over and over again, saving you time and increasing your productivity.

I began researching ovarian cancer after an annual visit to the OB/GYN. The lack of a reliable test for ovarian cancer got me interested in finding out more about the disease that has long been called a silent killer. I spent endless hours pouring over articles on the Internet and information from the American Cancer Society, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, and the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF).

Through GCF, I was put in touch with a woman whose sister died of ovarian cancer. Sheryl Silver, the Founder of Johanna's Law Alliance for Women's Cancer Awareness agreed to an interview. From the information I found and Ms. Silver's interview I was able to write two articles--one focused on raising awareness of the early warning signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and the other on Silver's attempts to increase the instances of early detection.

I was also able to use my research in a novel I co-wrote with my sister where one of the main characters is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. We could not have provided the level of detail we needed to if we did not understand the early symptoms, treatment options, and the physical and pyschological effects of ovarian cancer.

In the fall of 2005, I queried an editor of an ezine to find out what topics she most wanted to bring her readers. She asked me to provide articles that offered time management tips for writers. I thought it was a great subject-- one that I struggled with, but knew little about how to fix. I purchased a handful of books about working from home and browsed the Internet to find what I was looking for.

This research turned into four articles focused on providing my fellow writers with ways to manage their time so they could have more productive days of writing. I continue to use this research in my current role as staff member for the monthly ezine Writer2Writer.

I even plan to reuse all the research I did for last year's National Novel Writing Month project. With what I've uncovered about daily life in the times of Jesus, I will write its sequels and possibly future articles.

If you are one of those writers--like me--who is constantly struggling to find ways to make the most out of your writing time, using research material to generate numerous articles and story ideas is a great way to save time and write more.


Writers, Read !

Writers, Read !

There seem to me to be an awful lot of aspiring writers who don’t read; or they don’t read much. It is beyond me how they think they will ever become a good writer when they don’t crack a book. Oh most of them have read in their lifetime; in school, as young people, as young adults, and they still read the occasional novel, but they think they have read all they really need to. They get it. They always wanted to be a writer and now that they have read all of Tom Clancy, they can write the next Great American Novel. Sorry to burst your bubble but it won’t happen. The one thing all good writers have in common is they read, and most of them, more than they write.

That is not to say that you can’t get your novel published. There are small publishing houses all over the world who make a living, albeit a small one, publishing mediocre writers. The writer assumes that if they can just get their book on a shelf somewhere, people will begin to read it. They will tell other readers how great the book is and before you know it, they have sold hundreds of thousands of books. I don’t want to make you mad, but if your writing is mediocre, people won’t mention the book. Other than to say it wasn’t well written.

If mediocre is all you’re working toward, then write on. However, if you want to be a good writer, then you need to start reading my friends. Stephen King says it best, "Reading is the creative center of a writers life." How, on earth will we know if we are good or bad, if we don’t compare our work to those who are both good and bad. I’ve read writers and thought, "Dang, I can do better than that. I am doing better than that." How will we know if we don’t read?

This second quote is part of SK’s theses and whether you are an SK fan or not, and I’m not really, the man has sold more books than I ever will. So it behooves me to listen.

"While it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible to make a good writer out of a merely competent one." Stephen King "On Writing" pg.136 par. 2.

I am a competent writer. If I will work hard, listen to those who know and learn from them, I may someday become a good writer. A great one? No. I am no Faulkner, or Shakespeare or Steinbeck. These folk are genius, and I sure ain’t one of them. Nevertheless, I can be good and I know I can. I read the good stuff and know that if I keep writing and reading I can attain the level of readership those writers have.

One more point and I’m done. I think it is audacious for a writer, who won’t spend money on someone else’s book to expect that anyone ought to lay down cash for theirs. Who do we think we are? Will I buy a book I don’t think is worth the money, one I’m not going to read? No; however, I do buy those written by good, hardworking, know their craft writers. You should too.

Reading and writing go hand in hand. If you don’t do the one, you won’t be very good at the other.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Putting our best foot forward...

I learned how to read and write in the early 1960's, when phonics was part of the elementary school curriculum. My classmates and I learned to "sound out" the words. Then we learned how to spell the words correctly, use a dictionary to look up the meanings (and check those all-important spellings), and how to diagram a sentence to learn the rules of grammar. I learned to love to read and write perhaps in spite of all these lessons, since anymore it seems that these methods have fallen so out of favor that there is a stigma attached to them -- and to anyone who longs to see correct writing.

On a website and forum devoted to writers and writing, shouldn't we be putting our best written foot forward, as it were? "E-speak" is fine when e-mailing or text messaging friends, but, come on, we're in the public eye here. If professional agents, editors, and publishers visit this site, what do you want them to see? I want them to see my best writing -- even if the subject matter is trivial and the thought process is a little muddy. I at least want all the proper elements present and accounted for -- like complete sentences (or at least fragments that make sense), capital letters where called for, punctuation, and correct spelling. Or just call me the Grammar Gestapo.

I think I'll be leaving the country for a while now.


Speck here... No need to leave the country. I say Amen to this post. Because we just don't know who migh show up at StoryCrafters and look around. Many of us have a link to StoryCrafters in our email signature. It is also in my blogger profile and when I post a comment at other blogs (which I do at times), anyone can come from those blogs to StoryCrafters. I bet some of y'all have the same thing going on.

Miss Snark and other agents say they do google the names of those who query them. You never can tell, but we may get agents at StoryCrafters occasionally. And while I'm not as "formal" as I could be, after all we are supposed to be having fun but I do try to make sure my words are spelled right and my posts for the most part make sense:--)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Make Every Sentence Count

I’ve been reading The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman who is a literary agent based in New York City. The book is full of insight into the world of agents and editors.

It was my naive impression that editors and agents read manuscripts with the hopes of finding one to publish. But, according to Noah, it’s the opposite. They have hundreds to plow through, so from the moment they pick yours up they are looking for a reason to reject it. Unless, of course, you are a well known author, then yours is read from start to finish and even if there are problems, they’ll find ways around them.

This book addresses more than just the first five pages. It covers everything from studying an agency and knowing why you are contacting them, to presentation, plot, pacing and progression. Each chapter has helpful examples and exercises. Lets look at hooks for instance; some writers treat them like a marketing tool to get the reader interested. That’s okay, but the rest of the book had better stand up to the hook. How many times have you felt cheated after reading the first few paragraphs of a story and just when you are getting comfy it goes flat. Not that you should keep the reader in a frenzied pace, but you must avoid the dreaded saggy middle. In his book, Noah suggests that not only each paragraph, but also every sentence should feel complete and leave the reader either satisfied or wanting more.

I did find some things that I didn’t agree with, such as, FedEx your query. The idea is that if the agent had to sign for it they'd be annoyed but would remember you. A year ago, this advice would have had me dashing to the nearest FedEx store. Now I’m more seasoned and no longer read books on writing as if they were written in stone.

If I were to FedEx my query it would most likely arrive at the agent’s door in the middle of happy hour and she’d have to stop socializing to scribble her name. Then after taking a sip of her apple martini, she’d giggle with her coworkers about the clueless newbie who had the nerve to interrupt her day. Next, she’d accidentally spill her drink on my query, shrug her shoulders, and ask for a refill. Annoying is not the first impression I want to make. If a good agent or editor receives a 1000 or more queries each month, do they want to have to sign for each of them? I think not. Writing a sensational query will get you noticed without being annoying.

I would recommend The First Five Pages as a good study aid. The exercises can help your manuscript shine and possibly get you out of the slush pile.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Check out the Scenery

When I sit down and crack open a new novel, one of the first things I want to know is where the story takes place. It's why I love To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons. They open by showing me the hot Louisiana bayou or the sub-freezing climate of northern Minnesota, or the dusty streets of Maycomb, Georgia. Once the characters come onto the scene I already have a pretty good idea of what kind of characters they will be.

Where we come from shapes us. Where our characters come from shapes them. But that's only true if the writer understands that place is a character and should be written as one.

Writers use various tools to construct, or create if you will, a character. We use index cards and checklists so we can keep up with whose eyes are green and whose hair is red. We don't want the blond at the bar to have been a redhead two chapters ago. That wouldn't do at all. But when it comes to place we novice writers tend to just tell our readers the novel takes place in Nashville, or Memphis, or Nevada and leave it at that. We do a fair job of showing our readers the interior of our setting, but we fail much of the time to give them a taste of our exterior setting. And, in my humble opinion, that's a big mistake.

I tend to write what I know, as most of us do. I know the western part of Kentucky pretty well, having lived here more than 25 years, so it is almost always the location of my stories. Hopefully my work will reach people who have never seen the state so I want to show them our pretty green, rolling hills. Tobacco barns full of hanging red -gold leaves, smoke seeping out of every crack in the wood. The early morning fog that kisses the hilltops and the verdant green forests full of life. I want to show them the beauty that shapes my not yet introduced character.

But I also need to show the poverty here. I want to show them hungry children living in un-kept shacks whose momma bore them at sixteen. I want to show them fifty year old men, unskilled laborers whose jobs have been taken by immigrants because they work for less money. My reader needs to smell the stale, dead air of a Kentucky coal mine.

Now I will introduce my character and when I do, you will know that what shaped her was growing up surrounded by beauty that she could not appreciate because she was un-learned, poverty stricken and beaten down by a life filled with babies she couldn't feed and books she couldn't read.

Keep in mind when you write that location is as important to your story as your main characters. Show me the heart and soul of your location and you show me the heart and soul of your characters.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Listening In - The Gentle Art of Eavesdropping

My grandmother was head of the little-ole-lady hotline. She lived by her own version of the Commandments, especially the one pertaining to loving thy neighbor as thyself. To her way of thinking, you couldn’t love your neighbor unless you knew what he or she was up to. She perfected the art of observing and listening, often to the extreme.

As a writer, I follow in my grandmother’s steps, only without a phone pressed to one ear. I watch people. How they move. How they dress. And, most important; how they speak. When I first started to construct dialogue, I made the newbie-writer mistake of stretching for English-composition-class perfection. One editor pointed out the error. People do not speak in complete sentences, nor do they speak in proper English. Her advice: go out into the world and practice listening to the way others express themselves. Rarely, did I hear someone say, “I am going to do this.” Instead, I heard, “I’m going to do this.” Real people use contractions to save effort. In my area, I hear tons of dropped “g’s”. People aren’t “going”, they are “goin’”. Children use different terms than their adult counterparts. Then, there is regional slang; another story all together. Especially here in the Deep South, language is a colorful and malleable thing. In my writing, I depend on the subtleties to flesh out the characters and differentiate them from each other.

My point? Yes, I do have one. Read over your dialogue – aloud, preferably. If it doesn’t sound real, make it so. Each time you venture into public, take the opportunity to eavesdrop. No, you don’t have to be obvious. In this day of cell phone mania, practically everybody around you is screeching one end of a conversation, oblivious to the surroundings. Turn off your mouth and open your eyes and ears. Then, go home and put what you learn into your writing.

Rhett DeVane…aka Madhatter

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I am a writer!

That's right, I'm a writer. And so are you if you are writing, even if you aren't published yet.

But you know what? Sometimes I like the idea of being a writer better than doing the writing. Imagine with me...the fabulous parties, the very cool book signings and all the other "glory" that comes with being a published writer. How fun and exciting.

But darn it all...none of those things can possibly happen if I don't plant myself in front of the puter and work. And, writing really is work. Sure you can write just for yourself but for those of us wanting a career as a writer we have to take into consideration our readers.

We have to plan our writing. We must hook our readers from the start, keep them begging for more through those mushy middles and then leave them with an end that satisfies along with wanting to read your next story or novel. Not the easiest thing to do if you ask me.

Sure, I know the odds of fame and fortune as a writer are slim. I've heard it said many times if you are writing for money then you are in the wrong profession, better to be a plumber.

So why do I continue to sit here and peck away at the keyboard when I could be out enjoying the sun getting the flower beds ready for spring planting? It's actually very simple. I'm a writer, I have to write. Writing makes me happy...even on the days the words come slow and painful.

My challenge for you this month is to start to think like a writer. When someone asks what you do...tell them you are a writer. Make time each day to write. If you are wanting a career as a writer...treat writing like a job. Set realistic goals, deadlines and then work toward that career.

If you aren't after the career, that's cool too. Write what makes you happy, express yourself with your writing. Have fun with your words.

There's no telling where those words may take you.