Monday, April 14, 2014

Just Spring It!

IMG_1246I can’t think of a better way to welcome Spring than to clean out my closets and flowerbeds. But add to that, how about cleaning out my file of writing project ideas? Sounds like a reasonable plan.

I have a few ideas, some good, some really dumb ones, and one that even after letting it simmer for awhile I still think is fantastic! Guess that’s a keeper. Now, when I decide to work on it is one question. The other is how do I start?

Ideas are just that. Have you ever met someone who says, “I’m an idea person.” Yeah, that’s great. You come up with the idea and somebody else will do all the work, sweat and toil through the details. Don’t misunderstand me. You have to start somewhere and an idea, a premise for a story, is a really great place.

And what’s my idea? Well there’s the other thing. Call me superstitious, but I don’t really want to talk about it because then if it doesn't work or I won’t start on it … I guess it makes me a bit nervous. So, I don’t talk about it.

The same thing happens to me at times when I make an outline for a book. I place a lot of details into it, which you’d think would be a good thing, right? Have your trip agenda, your road map all set for you to hit the road. No worries. Who knew such a plan could give me claustrophobia? Yep. I feel constricted with limited creativity, like an artist who has his arms tied and told to go ahead, paint the darn picture!

So, change it, you say. Well, duh. I know that, too. But at the same time, I’m thinking, “what if I hadn’t written the stupid outline in the first place? Maybe my creative juices would have been awesome and I might have come up with a really, really great story, but now it’s just this oh-so great story.” Or something like that.

Just Spring it? That’s the great thing about Spring. It’s rebirth, it’s opportunity to start again and come up with new and wonderful things, like my story ideas. Yep, it’s time to clean out that file and start anew.

Happy Spring and enjoy reading and writing, all!

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom! You would have been 106 today Smile

Sunday, February 23, 2014

On My Mind's Way to ...

"It came to me when" ... At book signings, one of the most often asked question is how do I come up with my ideas for writing. I have to pause and think about it because there really isn't just one way or place or method that inspires me with what to write. It's not that easy. 

I'd guess that most every author has those moments, totally unexpected, when a creative notion pops into his head. I know I have. I might be watching a program on television, listening to a song, walking through the mall, playing with my dog, talking on the phone, or just daydreaming, and it will hit me, an epiphany, that seed of an idea that will root and sprout into a story.

Of course, it can't always be explained. Sometimes I don't even remember how the idea started. Maybe it comes in my dreams! But as I found, many authors have acquired their inspiration in various ways. Did you know that A. A. Milne used his son's name to create the main character of his books -- Christopher Robin, and the Hundred Acre Woods was part of his childhood imaginings with his father? Sherlock Holmes was based on Conan Doyle's medical professor in college.

Inspiration may come quickly and easily for some, but then pull to a halt. I've had great ideas, ideas I believed would turn into a bestseller novel. I'd get the story going, and then ... nothing. Glad to know I am not alone. Frank Baum did the same with The Wizard of Oz. He hit a road bump, stuck in a rut. Fortunately, he found his inspiration again and finished it. 

And the absolute worst? Doubt. When I write what I had thought was a fantastic story, but somewhere along the way, I start feeling this self doubt, a lack in confidence thinking that I haven't any talent, that all I come up with is crap. It's a scary feeling. Perhaps you've heard the story about Harper Lee. She wrote and rewrote her masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. And the evil master of doubt started creeping inside. She even threw the manuscript out in the snow one day. Aren't we glad she regained her confidence? 

Last of all, and maybe most important to remember, is that even the best idea means nothing if you don't have the talent to carry it out and create a story. And once a writer begins the journey, it's painfully hard, it's messy, it's always an uphill climb to the finish. In other words, it's work. Remember that the next time you read a book. Several hours to finish reading it? Think about several months, maybe several years, to write it. Yes, it takes inspiration, imagination, creativity, and endless hours of dedicated writing. And it's a truly great thing. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Another Blow ... and Yet Who Profits?!

In an article by Scott Turow in the NY Times readers learn of yet another event in the publishing market that chips away at the author income. It shouldn't surprise anyone, really. After all, as long as the powers-that-be profit from such a move, that makes it somehow okay. They must think that authors somehow won't care about it. Right? Yeah, sure. Midlist authors, ingenue authors ... all those struggling to make a name for themselves ... they don't need money. They are only writing for the pure art of it. Uh huh. That's one way to appease guilt and greedy acts.

Seriously though, I personally don't do this for the money. I enjoy writing and sharing my stories with readers. However, that's not the point. The point is that some very greedy people are profiting off of each and every writer's work, the work that may have taken him/her years to finish. I look at it this way. If I choose to give away my work, that's my right and my business. If somebody else is doing this and profiting from it, that's copyright infringement. And I realize there are fine lines to this. For instance, we purchase an item, any item and may turn around and sell it on Amazon, eBay, or even a garage sale. But the point is we purchased it in the first place. That seems perfectly fine to me. 

Anyway, read the article for yourself. In this age of digital products, purchasing online, and such easy access to most everything makes life indeed a tempting playground to do things not so very ethical or fair. I guess when it comes down to it, I'll keep on writing because I love to and keep on publishing because I want others to enjoy. And I'll have to accept the bad along with the good. Such is life ... cheers, all. Enjoy reading!

The Slow Death of the American Author  by Scott Turow

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Fun Time Bloggin' It!

I had a great time with the book blog tour for Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes -- a Lilly M Mystery. And I'm glad I took the chance to see if there would be better success this time than my previous venture ... and it was fantastic! Great reviews that posted right on time with little to no glitches. Over all, I think it gave me the comfort in knowing I'll do it again, and again, and ...

Anyway, here are some review highlights and the links to the blogs. Check 'em out!

I highly recommend this book to all cozy fans.  Kathy Long has a winner on her hands.  I am definitely looking forward to more from this author!!

Ms. Long also does a good job developing the mystery, there are several twists and turns throughout the story and I wasn’t sure about the “villain” until almost the end.

The thing that I liked the most about this book was the characters … The mystery was well-written and I liked how everything wrapped up nicely at the end.  Looking forward to reading more about these characters in future installments of the series.

This is the first book in a brand new cozy mystery series and it's off to a great start! It’s filled with some of the most eccentric characters I’ve seen in awhile.

The storyline was fun and the characters engaging (and quirky!)

This is a very funny book and I did enjoy it. A lot. It has all the elements of a good cozy; mystery, romance and humor.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tidbits and Tidings ... Ho, Ho!

It's been awhile since I've posted. Shame on me :-( I can't say there's been less time on my hands. After all, I've retired and that frees up forty plus hours a week. Of course it means I've slowed down with self-reflecting moments, indecisive thinking, and thumb twiddling. You know, the things retired people do. (grin) Seriously, I have been writing more, promoting more, and just plain enjoying life more. No regrets. So, that brings me back to posting, or the lack there of.  I warn you though, what follows might be recognized as rambling.

What's current: I'm touring "virtually" this week with various blog hosts in promoting Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes, my first Lilly M cozy mystery. It's been such fun hearing what bloggers have to say about the book. I've loved it and absolutely recommend the experience with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours . There's even a special offer for those authors who write cozy mysteries.

What's ongoing: I've been writing a third Lilly M mystery for the past several months. It's going well ... sort of. Just the usual hiccups, which drive me crazy! Lilly has a new setting, temporary of course. She's in Florida, along the Panhandle, solving another mystery. I'm sure folks back in Barton, Ohio miss her. Especially Kooky Colonel Crockett who must be standing watch up in his balcony with his trusty musket Old Betsy at his side! If you're curious, you can read all about him in Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes :-)

What's coming: I'm knee deep in edits with my latest book, a romantic suspense, entitled A Deadly Deed Grows. My editor at The Wild Rose Press, Johanna, is a real peach! She's so easy to work with and soooo very helpful. I've learned a lot and it's helped me grow as a writer. Thanks, Johanna! I can't wait for the story to be published. Who knows? Maybe early next year? Like February or March? I'll put it on my Christmas Wish List!

What's brewing: In my head, that is. I've been thinking about the book market. I know authors are obligated to self-promote. If they want to get noticed and sell books, obviously! And I can't help but wonder how promoting in the future will be. With all the technology changes in the works, the possibilities are virtually endless. For instance, what if you create mini promo videos and instead of posting them online, they can be delivered other ways ... maybe even by the Amazon drones! (haha) Or little robotic creatures may arrive on doorsteps to sing the praises of your work! I know one thing for sure, getting noticed when your work is one of millions out there is probably tougher than winning the lottery. Well, close enough. It goes without saying, authors and everyone else wanting to promote a product will have to think outside the box and be on the cutting edge, if they want to rise above the masses.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

When Are Reviews Useful?

WHEN ARE REVIEWS USEFUL? I had one of those “Huh?” moments after I visited the B&N site this morning and read the latest review of Dying to Dream. And though I claim to be past the stage of crying, ranting, or fuming over not so glowing reviews, there is one aspect that tends to get under my skin. First, I need to point out that this goes for both positive and negative comments. When authors read, obviously they bask in the glory of all the praise their work is given, but at the same time, I believe, they look for what might be ways to improve their writing as they read through the negative comments.

For instance, when both my sister and a blog reviewer remarked that in the first few chapters they were overwhelmed, somewhat confused, with all the characters introduced, I could take that critiquing point and do something with it. It’s a specific point about the writing, and that helps. It’s a useful review.

However, when the comments are vague, for instance, “This book stunk.” or “The writing is immature.” and even at the other end of the spectrum, “This book was great.” as an author I am left with that “Huh?” moment. Authors can’t really do anything with that. I’m not saying that reviewers are obligated to write specifics that will help authors to improve their writing, or at least consider if it’s something they want to change. But what about the readers? Don’t readers look for reviews to help them make a better decision on whether to buy and read books? Can these vague comments help?

I know this is only a personal opinion, but in some ways, I believe, a valid observation. Hopefully, some readers will at least think about it before they write another review.