Saturday, January 26, 2008

Exploring the 'unknown'...

My novel is done. It's editing and cut and in the hands of others now. Three years of my life, my blood, sweat and tears are wrapping up. Is it the end of that project? No. Not by any means - but it is the end of me working on it. I don't have the excuse of it sitting there waiting to be written, to be edited, to have another thousand words cut.

Now I see how much of a safety net it was. I have another full-length novel in mind, but it's unfamiliar territory. I have lived in the world of my characters for so long, it frightens me to meet new characters. I'm terribly shy, you see.

So now it's time to bite the bullet. To explore the 'unknown' that I've avoided so long. I've written a historical romance...and it's sequels (we won't discuss how many words I've written in the past three years). They have all focused around one group of characters.

I will meet new people now. They've already begun to introduce themselves. There's Elijah Corey - the insanely logical male witch that only believes in his own power because he's used it. He's also my first-ever center stage male main character. Gwendolyn Cobleigh - an old friend of mine, but she's changing like a chameleon into a character more fitting to the novel. She doesn't like playing second fiddle, but for the chance at this role, she's willing to swallow a little pride.

I will also write a different kind of story. I will challenge myself to write a short story. I've had a short and spicy romance in my head for some time, so I have to attempt to write something shorter than anything I've written in a long time.

It's an exciting time...and a terrifying one. New challenges, new people. It's all 'unknown' to me. I'm stepping out of the 1870's and into the modern world. I hope I make the transition all right.


~Of course - just because I'm in the modern world doesn't mean I'm going to change my plans to make, from scratch, a dress appropriate for the 1870's....

Friday, January 25, 2008

I'm a Mazzikin, or is that mizzikin?

I hadn't been over to the Zooty & Flapper site for a couple days but was told he'd updated it and since I had some free time this afternoon, decided to check it out.

I have to say, he made me laugh. But I'll explain that later. Everything in italics is taken directly from his website, as is. You'll notice he's proud of his spelling errors.

On his home page, he has this to say about Victoria at Writer's Beware:

Victoria Strauss of Writers Beware, has joined with a band of Blitzers to stop Zooty and Flappers from moving ahead on this program. Ms Strauss puts herself out as a judge of what will, and will not work in the Publishing Industry. Perhaps she should go back to New York and tell the Publishers why the sale of books went down by 25%, and what they should do.I have taken note: Ms Strauss is selling her books on her Writer Beware site. She claims to have the web site to help writers? My question is: "Why do you want to help writers?" In my opinion, you're just using that old rag to sell your books. I don't think you give a damn about writers.

And on his "McCarthyism" page this:

Today we see a new person holding up the torch of McCarthyism, Victoria Strauss.

"Go where no women has gone before. Seek out and destroy those harming new writers. Dig them out of their holes, and pile their ink stained bodies in front of the literary world." We can't call you "Tail-gunner Strauss."

How about, "Mazzikin Von Strauss?"

I am going to be the first to stand up and tell you "Go to hell Strauss." You said in an interview, that your attorneys had told you not worry about those who complain, they will just fade away. I got news for you kid. Not me. You use the net to spread your fear. You are defending people who have told lies about me. heck, one even called me a con artist!.

Jean Lauzier of Storycrafters claims to have removed the blitz she started on her chat room, and did not have a copy to give to Preditors & editors. I printed everthing that was said on the subject in that chat room, right off the screen. And, I will print all of it on my web site. I'll tell you where you can nail my hide to the wall. Find spelling errors in what I write. I am a lazy speller. Heck I even put double words in at times.

The title of your blog about me, "Zooty Suit Riot." Were you making a slure about Latino's of the 40's who were beaten in the zoot suits riots in L.A.? Or about the Latino's who wear them today?

You put yourself out there as an expert as to what will work and what won't. You name three other's who have done the same thing. You say I can't do it, because others have failed. Hmm? Come on kid, why don't you stop trying to be an expert on things your not. I told my dog Ruff, "I don't want to get down in the gutter with this gal and her following of Mazzikins. I have been asked by others to publicize some of your exploits. I know some of your readers think of you as a sweet person.

Hmmm? You think we should tell em?

You want to play games like McCarthy? Shoot your best shot kid. I'm not going away.

And from his "Mazzikin" page, I just have to share this with you.

Standing on the edge of the writing world, is where one finds the "Mizzikin's." That's Hebrew for harmer. Unable to enter the real world of Published Writers, they position themselves on the paths leading to the Publishing World. It is here, they take the new writer aside, and whisper their view of the truth into their ear.Case in point; Jean Lauzier, co-founder of Storycrafters, a chat room for new writers. It is here her reason for writing comes to light. There is a true saying amongst writers, "You cant hide who you are when you write.

When he said he was going to publish the truth about me, I didn't realize it was going to be so funny.

Jean was the daughter of a military family. That's hard on a young girl, moving from base to base, never feeling like your roots ever take hold. The major devastation came when her parents divorced. it wasn't her fault, she had been a good daughter. Hurt and anger are sometimes hard for young people to deal with. Those are pains that never seem to go away. Some kids get into trouble when they express anger over a hurt. It's a very emotional, critical time for teens. Folks understand, and can pass over the things they do wrong. But as the troubled teen becomes an adult, they are expected to control their anger, and not use it to harm others. if they do, they are held responsible. Some try to rebuild and change their past by positioning themselves in a parallel situation. I can't say Jean Lauzier was doing that when she married a military man.

How funny. I'd never been on a military base until I went for basic training at 17. My father worked a regular job and mom stayed home taking care of us kids. I spent my summers riding ponies and working in the garden, not traveling from place to place.

And this... What sparked her to go public with her writing? And what direction did it take?She said she read an article in a magazine. Angered, she wrote a letter to the editor, giving a rebuttal. Her letter along with those of several other people was printed. She had slapped someone down in print! How did that make her feel? In her own words, "I think I slept with that issue under my pillow for a month."

How about at least getting the quote right. I mean, it's right there for all the world to see.

In fact, what really got me started on the road to becoming a writer was an article in a magazine. I wrote a rebuttal and it was published. The magazine was an international publication and I think I slept with the issue under my pillow for a month.

This was a reply to an editorial in the Fall issue of Doberman Quarterly in 1995. The article dealt with ways to protect your Doberman from being stolen. There was no "slapping" anyone down in print, just tips such as not giving strangers your dogs call name, not leaving them easily accessible to thieves and recommending that our much loved companions be tattooed and micro chipped. And yes, I did sleep with that issue under my pillow.

Her next venture, was to join the Long Story, Short Story School of Writing, as an instructor.To date, she claims she never taught there.

True...I did. And I haven't. But you know what, there's nothing wrong with this. Long Story Short is a great place to learn more about writing.

Their interview was where he came up with this misquote: Once Jean Lauzier was asked, "Where do you get your ideas from? Life or your imagination?" her reply? "An oak tree in my front yard inspired a hanging story."

Here's the full quote:
Q. Do you take most of your ideas from life? Or your imagination? A mix? (Do you hate when people ask this?)

I get ideas from just about everywhere. An old oak tree in my front yard inspired a ghost hanging story. Family gossip inspired another story and even my kids give me ideas at times. I guess I'd have to say most ideas come from my day to day life. And I think most writers love to talk about their writing so any question is fine:-)

Here's the link to the interview:

And no, I still don't like his view of who is a published author and us isn't. If you have a story, article or novel published, whether by a website, ezine, paper magazine, small or e-press, major publisher such as Harlequin (I think this is the standard publisher he's talking about. I sent the first three of a novel to Mills & Boon and got a very nice rejection letter from the editor. She even asked for my next project when it's ready.) or Tor, then you are a published writer. I even consider those who have gone the self-publishing route to be published authors.

I also believe pre-publishing a novel harms that writer's chance of having that novel picked up by an agent and traditional publisher such at Tor, Kensington, Harlequin and the many others out there.'s to being one of Domenic's "Mazzikins." At least he spelled my name right this time.

Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton

At one time, Kathleen Willy's name was all over the news. Opinions, rumors and inuendo flew from both sides. I asked her about the difficulties of getting such a controversial book published.

"Getting my controversial book printed was not as daunting as most author's efforts. I was just a regular American woman who got caught up in an extraordinary political event. Although that crisis occurred ten years ago, it is still a very powerful, troubling story. "

Now, you can read Kathleen's account of those events in her book; TARGET: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton

For more information on Kathleen Willey's Virtual Blog Tour and our purchase incentive program, go to

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Encouragement and Advice for Writers by Carole Schutter

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but life got in the way. We often have many roadblocks on our way to achieving our goal. How we deal with those roadblocks makes the difference between success and failure.

Awhile back, I drove through Colorado reflecting on how I felt like a failure in my mid-fifties. In some ways, I would have been considered a success. I grew up in a 900 square foot house where I lived with two of my siblings (the third was yet to be born), my mother and father, my grandparents, my aunt, and for some of that time, another aunt and uncle. We all lived in three bedrooms and one bath. I didn’t know we were poor because everyone in my neighborhood was just like me.

TV, the movies, and books showed me that the world could be different. It was filled with beautiful people, wonderful homes, fancy cars, and perfect parents. I yearned to be a princess but I was poor, plain, and as my father constantly reminded me whenever I told him what my dreams for the future were, I was an Asian girl in a white world. However, I had a mother who told me to shoot for the stars, I might get the moon.

Raised in church, I prayed as a child would. I wanted to grow up to be beautiful and rich. I was too young to know what a ridiculous request that was and I trusted God more than my father. I thought anything was possible with God.

I got the mansion and the prince not once, but twice. But that was just surface stuff. My life was a tragic mess. I needed to focus on something else. So, I began to focus on my childhood dreams of being a writer. By now, I had experienced so much of life; I knew I could write with conviction and passion.

The world will tell you that you have to make it while you’re young. The world will tell you that there are some things that are impossible. An ugly child cannot grow up to be a swan. It is impossible to succeed if you’re over fifty. Just because you want to write a screenplay doesn’t mean it will become a movie. After all, only 1.1% of all screenwriters ever get a movie. It takes a miracle to succeed as an author.

If God puts a dream in your heart, never give up. Too many people give up just before they receive their miracle. And just because there were land mines on your path of life, it doesn’t mean that you won’t reach your goal. It just means the victory will be sweeter. Determine that your setbacks will turn into comebacks. Remember that rejections are just part of the game. Don’t let people and circumstances get you down. Encourage yourself if there is no one there to encourage you. Never give up. Never give in. Remain open and alert to opportunities and the people you meet. Keep your eyes on the goal and not on your circumstances. Receive your miracle within and it will manifest itself in your life.

Believe in the God who believes in you and wants you to succeed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Write Spot

As writer's we are a solitary group for the most part. Yet, we still need to socialize with others who understand just what we mean when we say POV, show don't tell and talking head syndrone.

There are lots of social networks out there try. For example, there is our own StoryCrafters. We have a password protected critique area, information about conferences and contests along with just some great folk who are ready to encourage or prod as needed.

We also need an online presence, either a website or blog.

One option is Write Spot. It's a small but growing group of writers dedicated to writing and each other. Each member has his or her own page and each page has a place to blog. I really enjoy having the blogs of so many friends close by to read instead of having to click all over the web.

So, take a look at StoryCrafters and Write Spot. If you need an online home, we'd love to have you:--)


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

You Are More Than Enough by Judi Moreo

I am more than enough!!!

I've often gotten discouraged with self-help or motivational books because they excite me to the possiblitied then offer no advice or strategies I can easily apply to my situation.

Not so with Judi. I've had the privilege of emailing Judi several times and she's a wonderful, sweet, and caring woman. That attitude comes through clearly in her book and the Achievement Journal which goes along with it.

Now, I'll admit I haven't finished the book yet but I am so taken with it. At the end of each chapter are thought provoking exercises leading to self-examination and another step toward the goals and dreams in our lives. Also, there are affirmations to get us started on the path.

The Achievement Journal is also filled with wonderful affirmations, one for each day. I have to admit, when I thought "journal" I thought something like a spiral notebook we used in school. But this is something I'd be proud to take anywhere with me and show off.

There's been a lot said about "positive self-talk" and visualization and there have even been studies of those who use these techniques to improve themselves and their performance. So, I decided to give it a try.

While I was alone Saturday, I rounded up my tape recorder, a 90 minute tape and read each of the affirmations in You Are More Than Enough, into the recorder. I then read each daily affirmation and finished up by repeating the affirmations from the book. That gave me right at 45 minutes of positve, uplifting self-talk.

Since I made this tape, I've listened to it right before falling asleep for three nights and once during each day. So, only six times. But, that's over four hours of me telling myself things like; I am more than enough, I let go of my fear and step out of my comfort zone, I am strong and creative, I believe in me, and I was created for success.

Have you any idea how powerful it is to have you tell yourself these things? I didn't. But even after just six times listening to this tape, I find myself more positive, more at peace with myself and more focused on my goals and dreams.

Just this morning, I was thinking about something and started in with the negative self-talk. I caught myself before I even finished the thought and changed it to a positive.

I want to encourage each of you to go to Judi's website. Read some of her posted articles, get to know her. Then take the first step toward reaching your goals and dreams by ordering You Are More Than Enough and the Achievement Journal. You won't regret it:-)

I am more than enough!!! And so are you.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Zooty & Flappers pt. 2

The other day I blogged about the "World's First Pre-Publisher." For those of you who missed it, here is the basic principle of how this program works.

First, you send him your novel. He sets it up and puts it on his site as a free download. The readers that download it, give it a rating of some kind. If enough readers like it, he pulls it from the "download for free" side of his site, and adds it to his "bookstore" as an e-book or cd and sells it with him paying you 45% of the sale price. Then, once you sell 10,000 copies, he will send a copy of your book along with a sales report and a readers report to "ten real agents."

Naturally, I had some problems with this. I've studied the publishing industry for several years now. I've read agent blogs, websites, numerous books, talked to agents and editors at conferences to learn all I can. This just isn't the way the publishing industry works. You can find the rest of my post on this close by. I encourage you to check it out.

I gave my opinions, what I've learned and put it out there for everyone to see.

Since then, I've been threatened with lawyers, accused of slander/libel, had my character called into question because I'm listed as an instructor at the Long Story Short School of Writing, been called talentless and playing the expert.

What you have printed on this site, to the public, I shall take up with my attorney. If I can hold you and the chat room harmfull, I will.

I will take up with her in a court of law.

I understand why you have never been published by a Standard Publisher. I do believe anyone can go to a writing school, and learn how to write. But there are no schools that can teach talent. It's like learning to sing. Anyone can learn to sing, but they still need talent. And you can't learn talent. You either have it, or you don't.The one thing you do have. You have the power to shut anyone on this chat room down when they won't let you play the expert.

The above in italics are taken directly from Domenic Pappalardo's posts at StoryCrafters.

Not once have I called him names, attacked him, his writing or his character. Nor have I threatened him.

I have offered to change my opinion, reblog and take back everything I've said about his business if he will show me that I'm wrong.

According to Domenic, here's the way to get an agent to read your manuscript. How does one get an Agent to read their manuscript? One could marry and Agent, or give an Agent what they're looking for! A well written manuscript that readers love, that has a sales record of no less than 10,000 books.

Again, from what I have studied of the publishing business, this just isn't going to work. I have said several times, that'd I'd be happy to change my thoughts on this with proof.

Now, I know there are great writers out there who have self-published their books, sold thousands of copies and then gone on to get an agent and major, traditional publisher. Did they do it with the book they self-published? I don't know. From what I've read, Christopher Paolini's Eragon was published by his parent's small press, sold thousands of copies and then was picked up by a major publisher. We have both of his books by the kids love them.

I have no problem with small presses. I have no problem with those who self-publish.

When a writer takes his/her story or article, and posts it on a website, blog or any other place online where it is available to the public to read, it is considered published. Yes, it can be sold again as a reprint for less money but those first rights are gone forever.

The same thing applies to novels. When that novel is put on a website, downloaded and given away, it is considered published. Just because the writer hasn't been paid for that download doesn't make it pre-published. Calling it pre-published doesn't make it not published either.

This is my main problem with Zooty & Flappers. Writers who don't know the industry are going to believe giving away copies of their novel is going to get them an agent and traditional publisher.

I don't believe it will happen that way.

Again, this is just my opinion. I encourage each of you who reads this to go to his website, check it out.

Study the publishing industry and find out how it works.

Consider all your publishing options.

Decide what you want for your novel and go for it.

Today...Domenic posted this on StoryCrafters.

On Jan 20th. Read the true story of Jean Lauzier onwww.zootyandflappers.comThe face behind the Hangmens mask.

More character attacks???

Why not post a rebuttal to my original blog post explaining where I'm wrong?

I believe right will come out on top in the end. If Domenic is right about his way of getting agents and contracts with traditional publishers, then in a few short months he'll have testimonials from happy authors with traditional publishers for their books given away by Zooty & Flappers plastered all over his website. But until then, he's obviously going to attack anyone who doesn't believe as he does.

I hope his way works. I hope he has great success. I just don't believe it will.

Thursday, January 17, 2008 World's First Pre-Publisher

One of the things that annoys me to no end is folks who take advantage of others, especially by preying on their dreams. comes to mind when I think about places that take advantage of the new writer and their dreams of being published. I'm sure you've all seen them... you send them your poem, they send you a form letter telling you how great it is, that they're going to publish it in their latest anthology of poetry and you can get your copy for the low, reduced, bargain price of $69 or whatever it is lately.

Well, here's another site that is on my list of places to avoid. It's the "World's First Pre-Publisher" and is the brainchild of Domenic Pappalardo.

I've read his site several times and here's the gist of how he works.

First, you send him your novel. He sets it up and puts it on his site as a free download. The readers that download it, give it a rating of some kind. If enough readers like it, he pulls it from the "download for free" side of his site, and adds it to his "bookstore" as an e-book or cd and sells it with him paying you 45% of the sale price. Then, once you sell 10,000 copies, he will send a copy of your book along with a sales report and a readers report to "ten real agents."

I don't know about you but I have several problems with this.

For example...his definition of a published author.

What does Zooty and Flappers consider a Published Author? A writer who has secured an agent, who has sold your work to a Publisher who prints books on paper, and sells your books to books stores.

So, according to this guy, if you don't have an agent and a paper copy of your book, you aren't published.

Also, I have problems with his "approval" process.

If Zooty and Flappers accepts a manuscript, it will have to be of the same quality as demanded by Standard Publishers.We than put the book up for free review. This means readers may down-load the book free if they agree to give an evaluation of the book. If the greater percent of readers like the book, we than move it to our reader approved section.

Just how many readers does it take to get your book into the "reader approved" section so it can be sold? And where is he going to get these readers? And just what is their qualifications to rate these books?

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have the fate of my book in the hands of a professional such as a legitimate publisher or agent than some reader off the streets, so to speak. Not that I have a problem with readers...we couldn't do without them:--)

And this...

If the sales of any book reaches 10,000, that book along with a sales report and reader report, will be sent to ten real Agents.

I've been to conferences, talked to agents, and studied agents online through their websites and blogs. There is no way this will work. Can you imagine how quick this will "package" will be residing in the trash? Agents want quality books they can sell. Not a book that has been "pre-published" and sold 10,000 copies.

And this...The Worlds First Pre-Publisher!

Here's his explanation...The term Pre-Publishing, as used by Zooty and Flappers, simply means; If you have a good book, we will Publish and test it in the real world before a Standard Publishers comments (I think he means commits.) to taking it on.

Seems to me...if he publishes it on his website, then the book is published. He can call it what he wants but if it's out there for people to download, then I consider it published...especially since he is calling himself a publisher.

I think what bothers me most about this is the poor new writer who doesn't know how the publishing industry works and believes this is the way to get his/her book in the hands of an agent or major publisher.

So...I'm asking everyone...spread the word about this. Domenic may not like me for this post, but if I can save one writer from having their dream of seeing their book in a bookstore squashed, then I don't mind.


Friday, January 11, 2008

I've Always Been a Yankees Fan: Hillary Clinton in her Own Words

by Tom Kuiper

In assembling "I've Always Been a Yankees Fan: Hillary Clinton In Her Own Words," I've put together a collection of over 600 Hillary quotes from 60 books, and over 100 sources total. Because I believe in going straight to the horse's mouth, (pardon the pun), two of my most-used sources are Hillary's own books, Living History and It Takes a Village. Other well-known sources I used include former Clinton advisers Dick Morris, George Stephanopoulos, David Gergen, and Dee Dee Myers. I also cited Hillary statements from the mainstream media, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and The Fox News Channel.

These Hillary statements cover her entire adult life, although the vast majority of quotes cover her time as First-Lady of the United States, and as a Senator from New York - home of Hillary's favorite team, The Yankees! If you want to know what Hillary is really like, don't believe her campaign commercials. Read this book.

As Dick Morris writes in the Foreword of "I've Always Been a Yankees Fan," Hillary Clinton "is one of the most ruthless people we have ever seen in politics and she doesn't belong in the White House - at either end of the building, the president's office or the residence."

If Hillary Clinton become the president of the United States, she will have a direct impact over your life. It's very important for you to know just who she really is before you make your choice.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Someone thinks I'm an expert...other than myself:--)

In my email a few minutes ago was one from someone at They wanted me to sign up on their site and write How To articles for them. Well, dip me in chocolate and call me a bon bon!!! Finally someone has taken notice of how great I am and how smart I am. And it's about time too!!!

So...I click on over to their website and check things out. Okay, it looks nice. I read the FAQ page and they even have a program where I can earn some money. So, very cool right???

I decide the world needs what I have to offer so click the join up button. As I scan the page to see what info they need, I see their "terms and conditions" link. There's a little box to check if I agree with them. So naturally I check them out.

Seems that any article I submit to them becomes theirs. Entirely! They get ALL rights and can edit, revise and sell it elsewhere without my approval or getting anything from them.
Sorry, thanks but no thanks! I understand the need for editing and revising but I want to be the one to do it. Not only that, but there is no way I'm giving up all rights for something I've spent lots of time and energy on and not even getting any pay for it. In fact, I actually lost two publishing contracts cause I'd not give all rights when I was being paid.

I replied to the email with a thanks but no thanks. Wonder if they'll ask why?

The Internet is my friend...

Kate Monster: The internet is really really great!
Trekkie: For Porn
Kate Monster: I've got a fast connection so I don't have to wait!
Trekkie: For Porn

I apologize for the Avenue Q quote, but any time I talk about the wonders of the internet this song pops into my head and gives me a great giggle. This post is so not about what's on Trekkie's mind, but what's on Kate Monsters mind - RESEARCH!

I have recently begun research on my upcoming novel, Descendants of Salem. In order to write this novel I have to have a fair bit of knowledge on the events of the Salem Witch Trials, and on witchcraft itself in the modern day.

So I went to my local library to see what I could find.

Have I mentioned I live in the bible belt?

I found two...count them...TWO books on the Witch Trials! Woohoo!!

Did I mention I live SMACK DAB in the middle of the bible belt? And in the most conservative, backwoods town in my county!

One of the two books I found - The Crucible. In the non-fiction section they had The Crucible. Um, that's not exactly the most accurate reference to use. I didn't bother correcting them, I just came home.

I booted up my computer, and pulled up the internet.

*gasp* Hundreds of Thousands of hits on the Trials. I won't go into how much I found on witchcraft (or the fact that I have a first hand reference for that).

First rule of internet research, of course, is always make sure you double check any facts you find. Anyone can put anything on the internet, and it doesn't have to be true. But if you can verify sources and check against verified references, you're in a good place.

But beyond that - here at our computers we have the world at our fingertips. We can research things that years ago would have taken so more than a keystroke to find! It's wonderful and I'm happy to abuse use such a valuable resource.

The internet has been a key figure now in my research for this book. It helped me immensely with getting everything down to the names of every person involved in the Trials. To getting a lot of information on the modern day Wicca religion, and all the side effects that go with learning this information.

What has the internet done for you?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It takes a team to make a dream!

Yesterday I was going through a stack of misc. stuff in the corner of my office, getting rid of some, stacking some in different places to be sorted through later and so forth. I came across a tattered notebook and flipped through it to see if anything in it was important or whether I could give it to the kids to draw/scribble in. Among the grocery lists, scribbles of my own, and doodlings I found some notes that got the notebook tossed on a keeper pile to be looked at later. is later. I don't remember what or where I got these notes but here they are...

On the left hand page is...

Don't work for the team work with it. Dream the impossible dream, then do it. Teamwork makes the dream work.

On the other page...

It takes a team to make a dream. Nothing is impossible to those that believe. I will not fail if I will not quit.

This got me thinking...(You knew that was coming didn't you?)

Why can't I have a team? Why can't you have a team???

I've decided I want a team!!! I want team mates to encourage. I want team mates to prod. I want a team mate who'll kick by backside if needed. I want team mates who'll rejoice with my in my successes and uplift me when I have temporary setbacks. I want a team who is serious about seeing me succeed and will help me along the journey.

But you know what else? I want to be on such a team. I want to encourage and prod. I want to rejoice with and uplift my team mates. I want to help my team mates along their journey to success too. And if a good backside kicking is needed, well, I'll be there for that too.

I know that each of us here at Write Spot and at StoryCrafters sorta fall into the team category but I'm thinking about something a little more committed. A team I have to be accountable to, that expects great things and wants to see them.

So...if you are interested in being part of the "Troll's Impossible Dream Team" then let me know. If you want to have a team behind you, then let me know. Together we can achieve our dreams!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Advice for New Writers by Hazel Statham

I am often asked if I have any advice for new and upcoming writers, but there are many books that can tell you far more about the craft than I can. However, there is one thing I would like to talk about and that is rejection.

For some authors, rejection is very difficult to deal with. They see it as a repudiation of their worth, but this is not necessarily the case. Just because your work is rejected does not necessarily mean that you’re a bad writer – just that your work is not suitable for that particular publishing house. What suits one doesn’t automatically suit another. For example, if you write ‘sweet’, it’s pointless submitting to a publisher who publishes only erotica. Choose which publisher you wish to submit your manuscript to and then research the type of material they are currently accepting.

Trends change and so do publishers’ needs, but trends tend to run in cycles. I write Historical Romance and am constantly being told that it’s losing popularity, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. There is still a readership out there and publishers will continue to provide for their demands. Therefore, I seek out publishers who are actively accepting that particular genre.

My advice is to write what you know and care about, otherwise the results could disappoint both yourself and your readers. You have to love what you write so that your readers will too. Don’t be discouraged by rejection, write what is closest to your heart and enjoy the process. Soon you will reap the rewards of perseverance.

Hazel is the author of My Dearest Friend. You can find out more about Hazel and her books here.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Conversations with Characters by Judy Gregerson

The first time a writer told me that she talked to her characters and they talked back, I laughed. It was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard. I figured this was akin to channeling, something I wasn’t interested in doing, so I dismissed the idea totally and went about my way. It wasn’t until I hit a road block in my novel that I began to think that maybe my friend knew something I didn’t. After all, she’d published 5 successful novels. She didn’t seem like a total weirdo. Maybe she was right.

I was working on (my just published) BAD GIRLS CLUB and I had a very secretive character. Trying to get her emotions on paper was very hard and I often just didn’t understand who she was. Sometimes I’d write and then go back and read it and it just didn’t hit me as true. I tried every way I could to get her on paper, but she left me clueless. I knew that to finish the book, I would need to find out who she was, so I decided to have a conversation with her.

One night, before I went to sleep, I lay in bed and talked to her. It went something like this:

ME: Destiny? Hello? Are you there? Will you talk to me?


ME: Please?


ME: I need your help. I have to finish this book and I have no clue who you are sometimes. Can you tell me?

DESTINY: I’m afraid.

ME: Why?

DESTINY: If I tell you, no one will understand. I can’t talk about how I feel.

ME: What if you tell me how you feel and I’ll tell everyone else for you in a way that they will understand?

DESTINY: You’d do that?

ME: I would, if you’ll let me.

DESTINY: Do you think that people will understand?

ME: I’m sure they will. Can you tell me what’s bothering you?

Well, that began a conversation that went on for 18 hours, during which I got up and wrote every word she told me. The next evening, I had 45 manuscript pages, all of which are still the heart and soul of the book."

And then she stopped talking. My book had become her book and she’d taken charge. Over the next year or so, I had to learn to listen for her and know her voice when I heard it. Sometimes I just had to sit down and have a conversation and ask questions and if she didn’t answer right away, she usually got back to me fairly quickly, except for the time when she wouldn’t speak to me at all for about three months.

I think that interviewing your characters is the most fun way to discover who they are. And characters, like actors, love to talk about themselves because you, as the writer, are a captive audience. They will tell you things they won’t tell anyone else, if you’re willing to hear the truth, and sometimes they’ll tell you things you don’t want to know at all. In fact, they may hijack your story, as mine did, and send you off on a whole new path.

But isn’t writing about finding the heart and soul of a character? What better way to do that than to sit down and ask them questions. I suggest that you find a quiet place. Make your mind still and then invite your character into a conversation with you. I don’t suggest that you do this in public or ask people in the room to be quiet because you’re hearing voices! In fact, you might not want to tell your significant others that you’re talking to fictional characters because he might, like my husband, spit his coffee all over the table and say, “You have GOT to be kidding.”

This is a solitary exercise that requires a good ear, but the longer you listen to your character, the better you’ll know her voice. You’ll start hearing it at all times of the day and night (be ready to get up and start writing those words) because once they get talking, it’s hard to stop them. In a sense, it’s like learning the sound of your own baby’s cry; you’ll know it when you hear it.

It took a tremendous leap on my part to do this, but it was the greatest forward movement of my writing life.

So, go ahead. Try it! And let me know how it works for you.

Leave me a comment at and let's have a conversation!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Guest post by Amanda Young

How my life of writing began.

Why I Began Writing.

This is my story and it could be yours.

Why don’t I just let the words flow and try not to think so much? I have found that if I think too much then there is no flow. Then there are no words and alas, no story. Maybe I should begin at the beginning of when I realized how words could make a difference in a life. Mine especially.

I was about six years old and my life was completely void of happiness. My days were filled with more sadness than a young child should feel. Fortunately then I found out that happiness could be observed and discovered in a book.

I recall sitting with a book in my lap as I sat on the cold brick steps in front of the big house I lived then. For hours I stared down at the pictures of the boys and girls that looked so happy in the first book I ever read.

I remember carefully holding the book and reading over and over the few words that I knew then. The words in the book spoke of a boy named Dick and a girl named Jane. I thought that if I could read those words on each page I would know why the two were so happy in the pictures. Mostly in the beginning of the book it talked only of how Jane looked at Dick run. “Run Dick run.”

Then she told others to look at Dick while he ran. “See Dick run,” she insisted to everyone. Which they did and looked terribly excited to be able to see him run. This was amazing to me that I was learning to read the words on those big pages.

I remember how the teacher at school would stand over me, which she did a lot, to personally instruct me with my reading. My finger would slowly move under each word and often pause for a time as I looked up at the pictures of the happy children. This pause of course caused her to cross her arms tight over her stomach. She would then breathe in deeply and let it out with an exaggerated sound which told me she was obviously upset with me. I could not tell her that I was mesmerized by the sight of the happiness in the story and had to stop to look at the pictures.

Thinking back on it now I suppose she thought I did not know the words as she would tell me to begin at the beginning of the sentence again with a very frustrated tone of voice. I could hear the other children snicker when I had to begin again, which of course made me feel embarrassed.

I did as I was told to do as I knew very well that if I did not follow the rules I would be severely punished when I returned to the orphanage. There was no yelling or screaming in the books as I had heard before I went to the orphanage and even at the orphanage.

Then there were new characters added on later pages and even a dog that was named Sally. I named my first dog Sally. My dog was blond too, like the dog in the first book that I read.

I could not understand why Jane was bossy a lot of the time as she was always telling Dick to run. Sometimes she told him to run even faster, which he did. Over and over throughout the book she often insisted that everyone else watch Dick while he ran. But then Dick was always telling her what to do as well so I suppose he was rather bossy also. “Run Jane run,” he would often call out to her with a hand to the side of his face.

I cannot remember now why they were always running but then children are supposed to run aren’t they. I could not run at the orphanage. It was not allowed. We could not shout out to one another either because we would be punished. But I could look at the happy children in the books.

The idea came to mind sometime later that if I could read those words and learn even more words then I would be able to read the big books like the ones older kids carried around. Through the words and the pictures in the book I could escape over the gray walls of the orphanage or the sad places I lived. And so it was why I wanted to learn even more words. To maybe go to other places that would be far away from the sadness of my life.

I tucked away my books in the bag I carried my few belongings in because I always wanted something with me to look at and read that showed happy people. I never knew where I was going to live even from the beginning of my life. I had noticed at an early age that the people did not look happy at any of the places I lived and so I clung to any book that I could.

Years later when I was a teenager I secretly wished that I might one day put words onto paper that could take people away to wonderful places. I found that through books one could escape to happy places or sometimes to scary places. Sometimes even to romantic places and simply by reading words.

Many years later that I would write my sad story first before I could write the happy story or the stories of make believe that I enjoy the most. For in writing my story I would hopefully help others to heal so that they could be happy and run and play, just like Dick and Jane did.

In writing my story I have healed so much and in my mind I run and play just like Dick and Jane did. So it was of how my love of books began was looking down onto pictures of two children running around and looking happy. Through learning to read and write one word at a time my journey began of finding happy people and happy places without making a step and on the pages of a book.

Thank you and God Bless.

Amanda Young
Author of Silent Prisoner

For more information on Amanda or her book click here.