Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When Generations Collide

Back when my mother and mother-in-law were raising children, the terms "working mother" or "career mom" were unheard of. They were happy to be like June Cleaver, staying at home with their children while Ward worked and made all the money to maintain their place in middle class society.

Those days are long gone for many families. Women in the workforce are not the odd birds who couldn't find Mr. Right; they are women who want to have meaningful careers in addition to family lives. This issue has been discussed to death in my home as I have fought to carve out a writing career while raising two young children.

There are those in my family--immediate and extended--who believe I should shelve my writing career until both girls are in school, which means two years from now. This is contingent upon me not having to work outside of my house by that time, since any income I would make from my writing until then, would be gone.

And then there are those who understand that being a wife and mother isn't all of who I am. My writing is something I do for me and whether I ever get published or not, I would rather cut off one of my limbs than not be able to write.

So, where does that leave me? Positioned straight in the middle of two generations--one who remembers the days of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best and who would prefer I be more like June Cleaver or Margaret Anderson, and the other who has always been filled with working mothers searching for ways to balance a career and family.

I'm not sure I'll ever know which one is best for my family, but I remember that old saying, "If Mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." So, I'm going for being happy and hoping it all works out.


Monday, August 27, 2007

On Knowing Your Characters by Marilyn Meredith

Because I've been the judge for many writing contests and was a writing instructor for Writers Digest School for many years, I've read many self-published books and manuscripts by new writers. One of the problems I've seen over and over is lifeless characters, or characters who are no more than a name.

Often it's not because the author doesn't know his or her characters, but rather the problem is not knowing how to develop the character on the page so the reader will know the character too.

First, each character should have an appropriate name: a name that fits his or her personality, a name that fits the type of book, the time period, a name that doesn't sound like, rhyme with, or start with the same letter as another character. The author needs to do everything possible to keep from confusing the reader.

To make sure not to give wrong information about someone, the author should have the facts about each character written down so that the hero doesn't suddenly change eye or hair color half way through the book.

The author should know enough about the history of the characters so that the motivation for doing things, or reacting in a certain way rings true.

With dialogue, does each character have a unique manner of speaking?

Instead of always using dialogue tags like he said, she said, using an action by the character who is speaking or a description as a dialogue tag, can be another opportunity for telling more about a character.

Some authors keep lengthy notes about each character which can be very helpful.

I've been writing about my heroine Deputy Tempe Crabtree for quite a few years. I know her better than I know any of my relatives or friends. That may sound strange, but I am totally aware of how she thinks, why she thinks it, and how she'll act in any given situation.

When writing about any point-of-view character, I try to "climb inside" him or her and see the world and what is going on through that person's eyes, hear what they hear, smell what they smell, feel what they feel, both emotionally and by touch. This works for me, perhaps it will work for you.

My next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is Judgment Fire from Mundania Press

To learn more about me and my books, visit

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sweat Equity

I've been contemplating a writer's career and I thought I'd share a few things I believe all serious writers share.

1. We share the concern that what we write is meaningful.

2. We sweat learning our craft. Rewriting until our fingers cramp and our eyes are blurry.

3. We shed tears making each sentence sparkle.

4. We bang our heads against hard surfaces when the prose is wrong but we can't put our finger on why.

5. We hold are breath counting the days till we get a response from an editor, all the while accepting that it will most likely be another rejection. Worse yet, a Form Rejection.

6. We walk around talking to characters in our heads.

7. We crawl out of bed in the dark coldness of night because a character is speaking and we have to get it down before it's gone.

8. We soar through the clouds when we finish a piece. Only to weep a week later as we read the dreck we once thought was perfect prose.

9. We shed tears of sorrow or laugh with joy when our characters, die, get the bad guy, fall in love, or learn to tie their shoes.

10. At the end of each day, we shut off the computer with a bit of sadness and anticipation for the work that lays ahead.

That list could go on and on, but we do these things repeatedly, because it's what it takes to succeed. The countless rewrites are what drives us to madness. However, it's that madness that we crave and draws us back time and again.

So tell me, are the others out there that are somewhat jealous of the posers? No, I'm not talking about the novice or the unpublished. I'm referring to the 'Celebrity' who because of their fame, never jump through the hoops we regular Joes err...writers do. They don't sweat a spliced sentence or a fragmented thought. "Oh dear, I've stubbed my toe, what pain and suffering. Oh look it's bleeding. I have an idea... I'll write a book," they say, and boom they're published.

I stumbled across a blogger who has something to say about all this and has started BACA...Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors.

Here's the link to motherreader the founder of BACA...enjoy

IMHO, our sweat equity will pay off with much better dividends. There's still something to say about the people who have made it the old fashioned way...they've earned it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The TRUTH: I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything

Psychology and self-help author Barbara Becker Holstein, Ed.D, author of THE TRUTH: I’m Ten, I’m Smart and I Know Everything! (Ladybug Press), has our guest post today. I think you'll find it interesting.

I've included a synopsis and an excerpt after the intro so keep on reading:--)


The Truth: I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything Synopsis:

THE TRUTH ... how do we carry the truth from girlhood to adulthood? That priceless ‘truth’ that we all recognize as kids? How do we walk over that bridge into growing up, carrying the Truth? How do we recognize THE TRUTH in our children and help them carry their most precious selves into adulthood?

What if we could pass the gift of our early wisdom and brilliance along to our children, giving them permission to hold on to their most precious jewels?

My new book, THE TRUTH, My Secret Diary, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything, is a delightful, humorous secret diary, written by a girl who is 10-11 years of age. She is wise and yet so innocent. She makes us cry and laugh and remember ourselves. Behind this very easy read is the psychological message to the women reading THE TRUTH that they can and must recapture the fire and passion of their girlhoods not only for themselves to flourish and be happy, but for the next generation to also have the gifts of good emotional and spiritual health.

Women love the book and so do girls, ages 9-12. Women find it a pure delight-a hot fudge sundae with a secret message inside and no weight gain, while girls recognize themselves and finally feel totally understood!

It is a fascinating question as to why I wrote THE TRUTH, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything! I am filled with a passion to help both women and girls hold on to the best of themselves and not get swamped by the stresses and strains of life. Some people save forests and others save whales and all of it is good. I am compelled to save women and girls, as best I can. Life is hard but for most of us, if we understand our value as human beings and we work at it, we can stay treasuring our best friend and our constant companion-ourselves. I would like to now share the introduction to THE TRUTH as it further explains why I wrote this particular book geared to women and girls, and why I let the Truth be told by not me, but 'the girl.'

Introduction to THE TRUTH
Barbara Becker Holstein, Ed.D.

When I first came upon The Truth, I realized that it must be published. Twenty-five years of clinical work with women in my psychology practice has convinced me that many, many women forget the truth. We seem to forget what the ten- or eleven-year-old girl inside of us once knew with such certainty. We forget how strong we are. We forget how astute we are at sizing up the world. We forget our capacity to recover from hurts and build successful new relationships.

We forget so much of our childhood wisdom. We forget the excitement and enthusiasm that comes from letting our passionate natures come out to play. And we forget how to laugh, laugh from our bellies. We forget how to intensely react to daily life. So often we forget how to have fun. Many of us don’t allow the playful part of ourselves to come out. We don’t know how to let out, safely, the imp inside of us. And we forget how proud we can feel about ourselves.

I see it as a tragic loss—we have forgotten so many of the simple truths known to us in our girlhood. The cost is enormous. Many of us walk around depressed, feeling like we’re a balloon that has pins pricked into it. Many of us don’t achieve our birth right of living out our potential. Falling by the wayside, many of us are under utilized, under educated, and marginally productive. We spend our time ruminating, feeling bad, wishing we had made other choices with our lives, and often seeing ourselves as in hopeless situations. Too often we blame others, saying someone else is responsible for the decay of our own lives, having lost any sense that we are navigators of our lives. Like sleeping beauty, we await a prince to awaken us, rather than awaking ourselves to our own riches: our capacities for joy and fun, to create, study, invent, innovate, lead, recover, re-invent, feel, love, discover, share, etc.

When I came across The Truth I realized that here is an opportunity for us to see ourselves with fresh eyes and to feel once again the passions of girlhood. The girl’s truth may not be exactly your truth, but the girl has the power to stimulate, reminding us of our talents, our dreams, our wisdom and our resiliencies. Weren't you once determined to make adulthood better than what you saw as a girl? If the girl begins to mobilize you to bring to life the exciting woman that you were meant to be, then The Truth is not lost!

The Truth: I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything Excerpt:

Dear Diary,

I have a secret. I was going through my mom and dad’s night tables while they were out, and I found these great tubes in my father’s night table. They said Trojan on the label. You have to unravel them really carefully and then you can fill them with liquid, just like test tubes. I went into the kitchen and put sugar and water in one of them, salt and cinnamon in another, oil and pepper in a third and cleaning powder and water in the last. I had fun shaking them. I pretended I was a scientist. I hope my parents didn’t mind that I opened all four of them. Why would my dad have test tubes? He’s not a chemist.


Dear Diary,

I hate Gloria. Her teeth are too straight. She won’t need braces. That isn’t fair! Also, her thighs are slimmer than mine and don’t have little puckers on them. I hate my puckers. At the beach my mom told me to just hold my stomach in and no one will notice my legs. But that is NOT the truth!The truth is Gloria has nicer legs than I do, and she knows it. In dance class she does turns really easily. Who wouldn’t with those legs? I guess she will grow up to be a great dancer and I won’t. I think I’ll trip her accidentally when she walks by my desk.


Dear Diary,

Today, when I came out of the shower, I lifted my arm in front of the mirror as I was drying myself, and I had three dark hairs growing from my right armpit! I can’t believe it. It is beginning.

Good news: nothing in the other armpit yet.


You can visit her blog at

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Putting Fear of Failure in Perspective

I know you are probably sick and tired of hearing from me, but I can't help sharing when I come across things I feel will help my fellow writers.

I am reading Judi Moreo's book You Are More Than Enough Every Woman's Guide to Purpose, Passion & Power and I came across a section where Judi talks about fear of failure. This is what she had to say:

"What's wrong with failure anyway? Why do we let it stop us from doing, achieving, and having what we want? Failure just means you've discovered one more way that doesn't work. Thomas Edison worked for more than a year and a half to create a better, long-lasting light bulb that could be used in a mainstream application. During that time he found 9,999 ways that didn't work. If he hadn't persisted, you might be reading this book by candlelight! If you try and still don't get the result you want, it simply means you were willing to risk, it might take longer than you expected, your goal was unreasonable, you have to do something differently next time, or you have an opportunity to start something new which is more suited to you.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just overcome this fear? We know there's always a chance we will fail, so why worry about it? Everyone else has the same chance of failure as we do. We are not the exception to the rule, but we will never succeed unless we try."

Looking at fear of failure in this way makes writers heroic every time they send out a submission, even if it gets rejected. So, who are you going to be--the hero or the guy who didn't even try?

Don't let fear of failure keep you from following your dreams!


Monday, August 13, 2007

More on Promotion

It will be hard to follow behind Robin Jay, but I'll give it a whirl.

Last time I posted here I talked about promotion being a full-time job. And as I get involved in more aspects of the industry, I'm sure my comments were right.

I just finished the first draft of an article I am writing for the next issue of Writer2Writer. In that article, I spoke of tracking your time to be more productive. I included a sample sheet from one of my own work days and even I was surprised to see that I spend two hours a day on Marketing/Promotion.

But what do I mean by that?

That is the time I spend networking with people in the industry. I consider setting up author interviews for The Book Connection to be part of that. Then there is posting at various forums and Yahoo Groups about where they can find my work. Can't forget my blogs, which I try to update at least once a week.

And then there is staying in touch with the contacts I've already made. Once someone knows my name, I don't want him or her forgetting it.

It takes a lot of time. It's been a challenging task over the summer because there have been moments when my kids want to chuck my laptop out the window. And one day last week my six-year-old daughter said that I ignored her most of the time. I'm hoping this week's vacation (the laptop is staying at home) will help make up for that.

Sometimes I wish I could be the kind of writer who concerns herself more with creating than with promoting, but every writer has to be willing to promote herself and her work if she wants to make it in such a competitive industry. Long gone is the woman who shied away from telling anyone that she is a writer. I practically sing it from the rooftops now. I can't think of any of my close friends who don't know. And there are even people who I've only met once and might never meet again who know.

Promoting yourself and your work does take a lot of time and energy. But in the end, it will be worth it. How do I know that?

Because one day I posted at a Yahoo Group that I wrote a series of articles covering time management tips for writers, and a few weeks later I got my first paid writing gig. I asked authors if they would be interested in being interviewed for my blog and now authors are seeking me out to be interviewed at The Book Connection. And, because an editor friend I know saw a message about a book review I had posted, I am now reviewing books for the Muse.

Yeah, it's worth it!

Guest Post by Robin Jay

When it comes to giving advice to writers, I love to quote Stephen King. I devoured his book, “On Writing,” (a wonderful book for ANY writer!), in which he said that we need to write our first drafts “with the door closed,” figuratively speaking. It’s such a great visual for creating the ideal mental state for creative writing.

If we start to worry about what our friends or family will say, it will inhibit our creativity. I wonder if I could have written successfully when I was married. My fear or apprehension of what my ex would have thought might have stifled my creativity until anything I might write would end up more homogenized than a carton of 1% milk! Now that I have found my writing voice, I KNOW that I could exist in a relationship without it affecting my word adversely.

The first time someone called me a writer was in 1985. I was studying script writing at UCLA. I went on a blind date with an attorney to a dinner at the home of his partner. That night he introduced me as a writer and I’ll never forget it. I actually FELT like a writer! Let’s see, that was 24 years ago and my first book was just published in 2006. What does that say about my tenacity and perseverance? Or perhaps it just says a lot more about getting off track!

The point is that I remember that moment and how it felt. It felt quite perfect, and I believed I would be a writer some day. We tend to get pigeon-holed, (by those closest to us), in the roles that we’ve played for years. Being supportive of a close friend or family member’s newest venture can be a challenge for the people around them. That is where NEW friends come in! Join a writer’s group, a writer’s chat room or make time with any new friend who doesn’t know the “former you.”

I am friends with a woman for whom I worked thirty years ago. She is an author and professional speaker - just like I am. Judi Moreo, (, who is also on a Virtual Tour this month, works in the same industry and we understand the stresses of speaking in front of large groups, creating the perfect programs, handling the table at the back of the room, creating product, marketing ourselves and everything else that comes with speaking and writing. It is heaven to have a friend with whom I can share the highs, lows and challenges. I have another new friend, Judy Colbert, (we’ve never met, but we are e-mail and phone buddies), who is a writer back east. We met through a mutual friend. This woman is a full-time writer and focuses mostly on travel, spas and history. She does not really speak professionally, though, from what our mutual friend says, she can certainly hold her own on stage. I share a lot with her, too. And I have made the most amazing connections with authors from all over the country and even one special friend in Canada, Susan Zimmer, who just launched “I Love Coffee,” an amazing recipe book for coffee lovers. Susan originally self-published, (like I did), and then sold her work to Andrews McMeel Publishing. Her new book was just released ( Think WE have a lot to share?

My friends and family will never understand exactly what I do, though they are generally supportive. I don’t think my mother has read my book yet; she’s a voracious fiction reader. The first time my sister, Terri, heard me speak, she was blown away. She said, “I knew you’d be good, but I had no idea you’d be THAT good!” Her approval meant the world to me.

Getting back to writing, now…. write like your friends and family will never read your words. Just go for it. Lay it out there….“with the door closed.” Then, for your second draft, make edits and adjustments…. “open the door.” Imagine what someone will think when they read it. Make any necessary changes. Then, after a few more (or a few more DOZEN) rewrites, you might actually be ready to show it to someone. But share it with your writing friends first. It always helps to have the support of someone who understands your world a little better. Oh, and King’s other bit of incredibly valuable advice? He said, “If you want to write, you need to do two things: read a lot and write a lot.” Thank you for reading my two cents worth!


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Eight Principles of Fun

A friend sent me this link today. I thought I'd share it with you here...and part of what it has to say.

First Get Focused

1. Stop hiding who you really are. Figure out who you are, and what you stand for.
2. Start being intensely selfish. Think about your legacy you want to leave behind and go for it.

Second Be Creative

3. Stop following the rules. "If you follow all the rules, you miss all the fun." Katherine Hepburn
4. Start scaring yourself. Take risks, have adventures.

Third Use Your Wisdom

5. Stop taking it all so damn seriously. Ten years from now will it matter? One hundred years?
6. Start getting rid of the crap. Get rid of the clutter, bad habits that are holding you back.

Fourth Take Action

7. Stop being busy. Just cause you are going flat out doesn't mean you are on the right track. If it's the wrong hole, you need to stop digging. "We're lost but making good time." Yogi Berra
8. Start something. Don't wait for permission to do what you want. Stop procrastinating. "When all is said and done, there is a lot more said than done." Lou Holtz

Enjoy...and have a little fun today:--)


Monday, August 06, 2007

Epublishing 101 Kim Baccellia

Young Adult author Kim Baccellia stops by on her blog tour to talk about epublishing. Welcome to StoryCrafters!

I always thought my first novel would go the traditional route--agent, editor, publisher, and then a book at my local Borders. But after a number of rejections and disappointments, I decided to think outside the box. Why not try another way of publishing? Thus the idea of epublishing came to me.

There are a number of things I liked about epublishing. I liked the way you can download a number of books. I love the new Sony reader! But also, I love the idea of doing something different and new. And what better way to do this then by having my book epublished.

I ended up looking into an epublisher that does e-serials. Think Dickens meets the Internet. I thought this was a good idea, so I looked up their website. I ended up subscripting to two of their serials, and was impressed. So I queried them and later received a letter requesting the first four chapters. Then a month later, I received a request for my manuscript. After a couple of months, I received an acceptance letter. I decided this was a great opportunity to get my book out there and also to learn more about the publishing world.

So I signed with them.

Some suggestions if you decide to epublish:

**Not all epublishers are created equal. Make sure to do your research.

**One great site is Piers Anthony’s website. He lists some legit epublishers.

** Predators and Editors lists some epublishers that are legit and which ones to avoid.

**Join EPIC.
This organization will help you with links to contests, reviewers, and other sites that support epublished work.

** Attend on-line conferences. A good one to attend is The Muse On-line conference in October.

**Have a website.

**Don’t be afraid to get word out about your ebook. One good site is This site holds annual contests for epublished writers.

** Have a blog.

** Check out the book PLUG YOUR BOOK! by Steven Weber. This book has some great tips on marketing your book.

In conclusion, signing with an epublisher has opened doors for me that otherwise would have stayed close. Epublishing is the future. Who knows what the next few years will bring?
You can check out Kim's website here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Promotion is a full-time job

When I first started working with Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book Promotion, I wondered how a business like hers existed. How hard could it be for an author to get in touch with some bloggers and ask for them to interview her about her latest release?

I could really smack myself for being so naive. Promotion truly is a full-time job. I don't even have a book out yet and I find myself spending a good portion of my day promoting my work. I post at my blogs, write book reviews, network with other writers, set up interviews with authors, work with the others on the Musing Our Children project--and all of this helps to promote me as a writer. Every time my bio is viewed on a website, there is a great chance that someone might link to my website or blog and be interested in my work.

In addition, whenever anyone asks what I do for a living--I tell them. Then they ask what I write and the conversation goes on until one of girls is so bored to tears she is hitting me to get me to stop talking. Maybe this person will remember my name and look me up on the Internet.

So, I can imagine that for writers who have already published books or whose first book is about to be published, promotion is even more overwhelming and important. Now I know why Pump Up Your Book Promotion has so many clients.

How can you promote your work properly and still have time to write? If you guys have any ideas, I would sure be willing to listen.