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Author Interview Author Recommendation CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS Writing TIPS

Sit-down with Rene Penn; dear friend, soul sister, and a hilariously good writer!

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Okay. Rene and I don’t write exactly the same genre. She’s sassy comic romance where I’m trying to be strictly sweet. Trying. She’s flirty with the lines–steamy in places–where I’m firmly drawing some. For a change. Bedroom doors weren’t always shut in my earlier writing ventures, but life brings many changes. Although I could be fooling myself entirely. Done that before. But good buddies, who should always be supported, are there for the reality check.

BEST word score EVER!

And Rene SO gets me. I hope I get her, too. I sure dig her snappy chick-lit vibe and the easy comedy that makes reading her a joy. A believing, practicing Christian, Rene lends a touch of worldly realism to her tales. But in the pursuit of happily-ever-after, her heroes and heroines always try to do the right thing. Tricky business in this maze called life. So while we’re not boxed-set-sisters, Rene and I are absolutely connected where it counts. In spirit. A spirit I’ve come to rely on and feel compelled to share if only to offer my readers encouragement, self-empowerment, and an example of how we all benefit from supporting one other even if our voices aren’t exactly the same.

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What moves you to write, Rene, and what ‘all’ do you write? (Interviews are the perfect time to dig for deets! LoL!)

I write fiction, specifically romance, mainly because I love reading it. I get my kicks from writing romantic comedy. I love the humor, the snarky comebacks, and the hilarious situations and interactions. Life can be very serious and full of challenges. Writing and reading rom-com is like a great escape. (No wonder we click!)

One avenue informs the other–so keep those doors open!

I also dabble in screenwriting, because I enjoy writing dialogue. I co-wrote an indie web-series in 2006 and wrote another web-series in 2009. Working in another genre can be a refreshing change that re-energizes the fiction-writing process. (Absolutely true. I hope we can hear more when you come back. You ARE coming back ;^)

Are you  a panster or a plotter, Rene? And why? (What does method bring to your stories?)

The HERO’S JOURNEY. A plotter’s paradise, not a dirty word!

I’m a plotter who likes to veer off into pantser-ville. (YES! YES! YES! I’m not alone!) I don’t want to be so rigid with my outline that I ignore my characters’ instincts. With each story I plot, the characters usually lead me in a new direction as I’m writing Act 3. I follow their lead, and the new direction is a nice surprise for me.

I use the Romancing the Beats to make sure that I hit the right notes and expectations for my romance readers. And I rely on The Emotion Thesaurus to enrich my language. (Those two sources are very helpful in my creative process, too. Hmmm. Looks like we’re sharing some DNA here despite divergent spice levels.)

What’s your favorite movie/music? Do you find inspiration in film/music for your writing?

Funny, flirty, and touching on serious issues with such ease it puts a smile on your heart. Only $1.99 to buy!

Movies are very important for me since I write romantic comedies. I want my readers to feel like they’re watching my stories unfold like a movie. So for every story, I choose a movie for inspiration.

Because whimsical holiday romps are delicious all year round! FREE on #KU

For my book Fake It Til She Makes It, it was The Devil Wears Prada X and My Best Friend’s Wedding. For Santa Bring Me a Ryan, I was inspired by Meet the Parents.

What’s at the bottom of your craft bag? (This is often more telling than a junk drawer!)

I like to make my own jewelry, especially earrings and necklaces. And I have a small 8” x 11” multimedia notebook where I use watercolor painting, crayons, and color pencils. I’m not a good artist at all, (doubt that) but I love creating something that takes 30 – 45 minutes. A quick sense of achievement and gratification is important while working on writing projects that take months or years to complete. (I use vintage pattern crochet bookmarks for this pop of Serotonin. Accomplishment–its where its at!)

Do you find family to be a support, a distraction, or an integral element of your writer’s life?

I’m lucky that husband and parents are extremely supportive. Without my husband, I wouldn’t be able to pursue this writing journey full-time. Some people I know, I thought they wouldn’t read my work—or that they’d look down on the fact that I write romance. But they’ve been a big part of my support system, leaving reviews, spreading the word, and encouraging me to keep writing. (You’re truly blessed, Rene. Thumbs up on that score all the way!)

Do you prefer city or country living? Does this impact the settings of your stories?

And yet–the BURBS can hold their own dangers. LoL. But I hear you about how times change.

I used to prefer city living, big-time. But that’s changed over the last seven or eight years. Now, I prefer the ‘burbs! But my stories are usually set in an urban environment, because that’s how I spent my 20s and early 30s. My holiday novel, Santa Bring Me a Ryan, is mostly set in Montana, because I wanted to capture that kind of cold, scenic setting. I have a personal connection with Missoula, and immediately knew this story needed to be set there.

What’s on the horizon for you? Books? Projects? Whatever?

My next book is called The Celebrity Look-Alike. It’s about a small-town girl who gets the role of her life to become a movie star girlfriend’s look-alike. My goal is to publish it in February/March. (Insider’s tip: This is a fabulous project. An absolute must read when it hits the cyber-shelves.)

Am I sensing a potential plot featuring a “Virtual” Assistant, Rene?

Do you indie-publish or traditionally publish?
I indie-publish, and it has been challenging and gratifying. I like being able to make all of the decisions and having carte blanche on the creative process. But it’s hard when you’re a one-woman show. There are a lot of balls to keep in the air, and I feel like I can’t always juggle them. A virtual assistant is an option that I may consider in the future.


What challenges have you faced?
Ads are a hard nut to crack: How many to run? How often? And for how long? And staying on top of social media is tough, too. It’s hard to balance hey-this-thing-I-saw-was-cool posts with me-me-me posts and buy-my-book posts. I’m still working on the right formula. On my to do list: looking into a social marketing tool like Buffer or HootSuite so I can schedule posts. (Later is also good. I’m trying to get to that–but later seems to be all I can manage. LoL!!)


Now for some soul searching. How should a writer define his or her success, Rene?
I think the measure for success varies for each writer. For some, success may be the act of publishing a book on Amazon–of simply getting a book written and “out there”–and the amount of sales may not be a concern. For others, finding an agent and getting traditionally published is the measure for success. And for indie authors, success may be getting on a bestsellers list like Amazon or generating a certain amount of sales or revenue per month. For each writer, establishing a definition for success is key, especially one that is measurable. It provides a goal, which turns into a game plan, and keeps you moving forward. We just can’t be discouraged if we miss our mark. Being flexible and gentle on ourselves is important–we can’t forget that writing is supposed to be fun! (And if you wonder why I’m keen on passing on the wisdom and wit of Rene Penn, there you have it. THE answer!)

Now for grins and giggles. What’s your favorite animal?

I’m sorry. It’s the dander!

I love dogs, but I’m allergic to most. As a child, I was scared of them. Now, I try to pet all of the dogs in the neighborhood! (I try petting the squirrels. LoL. But getting to know the furry ones is fun, no? I hope your allergies go away.)

What would you do if you won the lotto?

I’d be selfish at first. (Three cheers for honesty!) I’d want to buy a house—my husband and I are house-hunting now since our big move to southern California recently. (Prayers for Rene here. House-hunting–especially after a cross country move is daunting. We need some prayer warriors to engage God’s grace and plead mercy for this darling couple.) I’d also want to help family members with mortgages. Then, it would be nice to start creative writing scholarships at colleges and make large donations to writing centers, YMCAs, rescue animal centers, and cancer treatment centers. (YES! YES! YES!!)

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Well, we’re at the end of this interview, people, but the yesses absolutely have it. Thank you Renee. You’re the bomb. A shot of joy and humor fans of rom-com and down-to-earth realists can’t afford to miss. (I’m missing you already since you moved to California. Sniff, sniff.) If you’d like to learn more about my soul sister, here goes:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Rene-Penn/e/B07V3P7J61/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Blog: https://renepenn.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rene_penn

Feel free to follow us both. Write us. Comment. Tell us WHAT YOU’D LIKE TO READ. We’d be tickled if you did whether you’re a reader, writer, or both. Interested parties of any persuasion are always welcome as information and a communicated exchange of ideas is where its at.

Write ON!

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Writer's Tool Box Writing TIPS

Ads, Ads, and More Ads. Marketing makes the world go around.

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Here’s a hilarious Party City “line” idea. Halloween may be a ways away, but the costumes in store are getting to me!

Question: What makes you click a buy link? Seriously. What makes you pause – gasp for breath – and think, oh yeah, I’m so doing this?

We all have lines. Moral, financial, and fictional constructs that hem us in and keep us honest. At least until we’re tempted to go beyond.

The fantastic crew at Winged Publications works wonders with book covers. Cynthia Hickey is one talented individual. Creative expression is mine, however, when it comes to ads. So I ask you. What do you prefer? 

Great copy–those killer lines? Contrasting pictures? Does a smoldering hero or a savvy-looking heroine catch your eye? Almost nightly, a blur of the above races through my brain as I struggle for sleep, and the answer.

How about video book trailers? Check out one I made last week using Wondershare Filmora 9. GREAT!!! STUFF. That’s the software. I’ll let you be the judge of the video. (I’m LOVING this aspect of marketing.)

Do GIFs do it for you? Static ads?

Roham Arshad is quite the looker, no?

In between researching and writing my action romance series, DIAMOND DOGS, and visiting the sleepy town of WILD HORSE, MONTANA, home of my contemporary western romances, I’m busy figuring that out. Trying.

So throw me a bone if you’re so inclined. Let’s talk. I enjoy giving readers the experiences they crave. I’d also enjoy helping fellow authors who, like me, are scrambling to produce that secret something to put a yes on readers’ lips. That’s not mercenary, mind you, its fun to say yes. One reader to another.

The learning curve, however, has been a dark mountain. One that shall not be named. Can’t give power to the dark side. Veni, vidi, vici needs to be the order of this day – Friday the 13th with a full moon to boot – and every day. I came, I saw, I conquered!!! No chuckles. All things are possible with God and since I’m no Caesar, I’ll rely on Him to do the heavy lifting. That’s God, not Julius.)

I’d trust Andrea Vahl to do a live feed video — but I’m on the fence…in my pajamas!

Andrea Vahl – author, speaker, and consultant – recommends, “running Facebook Live videos to talk about parts of your book, the book writing process, or special tips around your book topic.  What this will do for you,” she assures readers in her blog, The 4 Best Types of Facebook Ads for Authors, “is create a “warm” audience for you to promote your book to in the future.  You can use Engagement retargeting when you promote your book to reach those who have engaged with your content in the past.”

That sounds great and all–although being retargeted sounds somewhat off putting. Unless you’re on the receiving end of loving-it. But still. I’m not sure I have what it takes to live stream. LoL. How about you? Is that something you’d like to see? The bumbling? The false starts? Lipstick on my teeth? If so, say so. I’ll think about it and maybe get the nerve.

What I’d really like is to hear from you, readers. Writer’s too as we’re in the same arena, struggling to stay alive and be relevant. Ideally, we read, too. So whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, Instagram, or Pinterest, stop on by. Let us know what you like to see. What you’d like to see more of. And always…

Write on!

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Writer's Tool Box Writing TIPS

Overcoming Summer Stall: A writer’s guide to get going.

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It’s supposed to be FUN!

Summer is here and I’m so glad. The gentle breezes, the abundance of birds and squirrels, the SUN. I never believed I was dependent on the latter. Having grown up in San Jose, California, I took sunshine for granted. Truth is I longed as a child to move somewhere I could experience real weather. Storms, snow, tornado force winds.

Be careful what you wish for is my answer to that wanderlust now. The shift from bright and shiny often leads to getting stuck. Not in snow, but the mire of our own minds.

We often carry around our own personal clouds.

That’s how it’s been for me these past months. Yes, we’re grieving the loss of a dear friend. Any and all prayers for the repose of the soul of our sweet young Brandt – and the family whose sorrows far outstrip mine – are very much welcome. So too is the article in Psychology Today that is helping me overcome the frightful storm that has consumed me.

But here’s my take on the 7 steps outlined for mental health. The mental health of a writer in particular, those of us who are, by nature, sensitive observers of the world around us.

1. Let go of the past. 

Don’t hold on to those things that hold you back.

We need, as writers, to learn from the past, not beat ourselves up with it. If you didn’t write yesterday, that holds no bearing on your ability to write today. Unless you let it. The past can be a great steam engine, pushing us forward in a manner wherein we avoid landmines we’ve learned are out there. It can, if not properly managed, become that ill-fated albatross, flapping desperately against the phantoms that will only sap its energy until flying isn’t an option. (So let those portions of the past go that prove detrimental. Shut the door. Toss the memory. Better still, associate that memory with a new, positive action that will head you toward your new goals!)

2. Change your perspective. 

Not the straightest path, but a great way not to get lost in the trees.

This one seems easy, but can be tough if you haven’t cut ties with past demons. A change in perspective is more than a change in scenery. Step number two involves looking at reality in a new fashion. So you’re stalled. Great. It doesn’t feel good, but what if it did? Changing your attitude about the change in productivity is often the way to get back on track. Engines need fuel to run and so do writers. If you’re stalled, it could be a sign that you need to fill the tank. But being gentle with yourself – and taking that break from the routine – may be just what’s needed to blow out what’s bothering you. Different people, places, and things give our mind a much needed rest.

3. Start with small changes. 

The baby steps are all part of the journey!

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a new perspective. A sign of just how stuck I am is that I’ve been willfully cleaning the garage and breezeway. LoL. But you know what? It feels good. The breezeway sure looks better and my mind isn’t bogged down with what I think I “should” be doing when I go out there with my laptop. Same goes for embracing my nightly yoga routine – a tiny one – outlined by my son who shakes his head at his OCD mother’s lack of balance. But that’s part of the change, too. My kiddos aren’t small anymore. They can see what might help me. So I’m listening. Not a complete change as I’ve always tried to do that. But actually “doing” what’s suggested is different. And that feels great.

4. Explore your purpose. 

The building blocks of good fiction, but also a great way to analyze what kind of character you want to be. And what roadblocks are keeping you from getting there!

Seek meaning in your work. Dig deeper. If you’re out of touch, maybe it’s because your purpose has shifted. And that’s okay. Writers write. But they don’t have to write the same thing all the time. I’ve been woefully neglectful of my blog and perhaps that’s adding to my angst. Perhaps analysis is the way to go.

We writers embrace the premise of Goal, Motivation, Conflict when crafting our characters, but often fail to apply these faithful tools to ourselves. Want to create a great character? Dig into GMC. Find “your” purpose!  To entertain? Teach? Share? Uplift? Intrigue. Rediscover what you want to do with your writing and then check out the obstacles with a dispassionate precision. You won’t be sorry.

5. Believe in yourself. 

We’ve come a LONG way, baby!

It’s been said that people are often their own worst enemy. But we can also be our own best friend if we actively engage in believing in ourselves. And the potential of every new day. So change the toxic dialogue in your head. If you’re not making the progress you’d like in your project, welcome to the club. Celebrate what progress you are making. Lift the cloud of self-doubt and key on what you are accomplishing. Even a much needed break is worth lauding if that respite keeps the proverbial cheese from sliding off your cracker. We’re only human, but humans can achieve great things if they believe they can. Otherwise we’d all be living in caves.

6. Practice being hopeful. 

If you want peace, ask for it. Need directions? Look up from the confusion and seek those sources wherein answers are found every day. And knock without ceasing if you want to be let into the inner sanctum of knowing it’s going to be okay. The door will open if we’re patient with ourselves and others.

Treat pessimism like the pest it is. Would you let flies collect on your BBQ when you have hands to swat them away? I know I wouldn’t. (Another food reference, I know ;^) So don’t let your soul collect flies whose sole purpose is to sting and sully. Get back to basics. Do what’s needed to forestall the inevitable because the flies are out – in greater numbers during some seasons of our life. Pray, meditate, engage in those physical activities that will distract you from whatever poison threatens to dilute your hopes and hope on. We need to eat to stay alive, right? Well, we need to work on positivity — we need to pray — to stay positive. The alternative is is a very dark place.

7. Consider talking to a professional. 

Friends really DO make a difference!

In the Psych world, this means seeking a therapist. In the writer’s world, this can mean seeking a professional editor and mentor, or it can mean networking with fellow authors. We’re not alone. We’re not the “first” to experience these realities of the writer’s life. Far from it. Sometimes just getting the assurance that others have gone before and conquered this nasty malaise is enough to nudge a writer back into gear. Sometimes talking with friends is the break-thru we need to rediscover ourselves, the core of whatever we write. So don’t miss the opportunity presented by summer stall. It could be exactly what you need to…

Write on!

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Author Interview Author Recommendation Writer's Tool Box Writing TIPS

Sit-down with Lana Higginbotham: Get to know the spirit behind the stories

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The awesome strength of nature is amazing to behold.

Hey guys. I hope everyone is enjoying the shift in seasons and that nasty weather is on the decline. (We had a corker lightning storm Saturday night. Full on cracking, white light flashing in the wee hours. Lovely. But I’m weird that way.)

Meanwhile, I’m back with another author interview. Why do I do them? Because learning keeps us fresh. And the best way to learn is to glean wisdom from those who have gone before. Those who are doing what we want to do — keep writing. (Reading, too!)

So who is Lana Higginbotham? And why WRITING?

Lana Lynne Higginbotham – well rounded, firmly grounded, and sharing the realities of God and family — the foundation for satisfying romance.

Firstly, I am Lana “Lynne” Higginbotham (Did you all catch that middle name? It’s important, but we’ll get there.) As a Speech-Language Pathologist and a writer/author, I wear two hats. My love of reading led me to writing early. During a terrible bout of scarlet fever at the age ten, my mother encouraged me to use her typewriter to decrease my boredom. It stirred stories, and I wrote, putting poems and stories in a drawer all the way through school. My high school Creative Writing teacher fanned the flames. I also participated in theater and started college in the theater department as a Communications major.

Earning degrees is excellent training for the long haul of continued publication!

However, an unexpected college course touched my heart and led to a change in my major from Communications to Speech Pathology. I married, became a mother, graduated with three degrees: Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Education with a Speech Pathology Major and a Special Education Minor, and a Master of Education in Speech-Language Pathology.

I live with my husband in East Texas. We are empty nesters and proud grandparents. (I’ll bet your granddaughter is pretty proud, too!)

You write romance, but what’s your message, Lana?

We all need guidance at the crossroads!

I have always loved romance, but I believe the best ones must also involve God and family. My characters all face challenging circumstances. None of my heroes and heroines find each other on their own. I want my readers to look for God’s hand during the everyday moments, as well as during the trials, recognizing how He walks us all eternally home.

How does family/work/personal life play a role in your writing?

I treasure my family heritage. It is a legacy of faith and love. My readers can see how important family is to me. I gleaned inspiration for my post Civil War novels from the heritage of my great-grandfather who served as a 3rd lieutenant in the 4th Arkansas Infantry, CSA, but my fictional characters served in the 3rd Arkansas.

Supporting those who support us doesn’t end on the battlefield.

My advocacy for soldiers draws from this lineage and also from growing up during the Vietnam war. I wore an MIA bracelet until it fractured into two pieces. The soldier never returned home and is still listed as missing.

Due to my years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, I also support those who have developmental and physical disabilities. One of my characters has suffered a spinal cord injury.

So what spurred that first book? And do tell about what’s out there for us to buy!

When my daughter entered middle school, I found my pen stirring again. I had continued to write poetry and learned to oil paint throughout my life. And after unearthing the last story I had started in high school, I headed to the library to start the historical research needed for the late 1866 period of my novel. But the winding road of writing prevailed. (Isn’t that always the way? That nagging have-to that isn’t satisfied until the words come out.)

And now. . .

INTENSE!

These are my published historical fiction novels under my pen name, Lana Lynne:

Home Always Beckons: A New Sunrise (First Publication 2009; Second Edition 2018); Trails of Change: A New Sunset (First Publication 2010; Second Edition 2018); and Sunbeams at Twilight: A Life’s Echo (First Publication 2012-first printing 2012, second printing 2014, Second Edition 2018). A Compass of Stars in Her Eyes (First Publication 2018) is my newest historical fiction romance.

Whimsy’s world holds treasures. Are YOU ready?

My first contemporary Christian novella is Whimsy Michaels and Her Amazing Room (First publication 2018).

Other writing credits include: A creative nonfiction novel, written with a coauthor: Life Between the Letters: The Chuck and Mary Felder Story (First Publication 2014) by Lana Lynne Higginbotham and Mary K. Felder. Unfortunately, this title is now unavailable due to the closing of my previous publisher. (Amazon, however, seems to have found copies. Pricey, but that’s a matter of perspective.)

The memories and wisdom of the greatest generation must be preserved!

Mary is now in her nineties. She is pleased with the people the story reached. The signings and public appearances/talks we made together following the book’s release satisfied her. The book received all five star reviews while available.

Well worth the read if you want to write!

In the arena of non-fiction, I am delighted to be part of the new collaboration release: Make Your Mark: Writing Tips from the authors of Winged Publications (2018).

Take us through your writing your process.

The characters come to me first. It’s like their names are whispered in my ears. The story premise soon follows and then the research process starts. I love going down that rabbit hole and the many tunnels of libraries, historical societies, newspaper archives, vintage bookstores, and internet searches. The last—internet research—is my least favorite. I’d rather visit the places and research the history of the cities, states, and surrounding areas in person. You don’t know the air, the smells, or people until you do. I’ve written from an outline and also without one, letting the story unfold on its own. Both have merits, but each story is different.

Whimsy Michaels and Her Amazing Room is my only novella. This contemporary story took me by surprise. I could feel the Lord’s leading on every page.

What has your writing journey taught you about yourself? I am a patriotic American girl with deep roots. God, family, and Country are my core. (Amen!)

Realize your worth, ladies!

What would you like other women to know/learn?

Their value. I think this really shows in all of my heroines, but especially in the characters of Hallie in Sunbeams at Twilight and Mina in A Compass of Stars in Your Eyes.

What’s next on your horizon?

My current WIP is set in the late 1930s and 1940s. It is a fictional story based on some of a family member’s real childhood escapades.(The family member wishes to remain anonymous.) I love Mark Twain’s adventure stories. I hope to honor this story-style. Due to burning the candle at both ends, I’ve taken a short break to care for family and myself. So, finishing it has slowed a bit. My critique group members were enjoying it, but understood when I took a break.

Sometimes a slow-down is what’s needed to keep that smile bright!

My husband and I continue to work. I am a SLP at an outpatient pediatric clinic. He teaches high school speech/theater/radio and also acts in the professional Texas Shakespeare Festival during the summers. We love time with our granddaughter and our second grandchild is due in June.

What would you recommend to new writers/established writers?

Don’t try to write like everyone else. You do need the input from critique groups, writing groups, conferences, and editors to hone your craft, but keep your individual voice. No one else can write your story the way you do.

Where can reader’s best connect with you? Social media, etc.

I am on FB-personal page and an author’s page, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon Author page, and Pinterest. (Translated: Lana is EVERYWHERE ;^)

Check out my website: http://www.lanalynne.com for links to my social media pages and other information about my books.

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So there you have it. Another sit-down to tuck away and review whenever the writing journey gets you down. Thank YOU, Lana. And thank you readers. Don’t forget Lana’s sweet spirit-fused romances that will fuel your creative muse when she needs a rest. (What’s summer without a great books?)

Write on!

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Wisdom Reblogged Writer's Tool Box Writing TIPS

Writing Tip: STOP Writing

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Ready, get set, STOP WRITING!

No, seriously. If you want to write well, check out this must read by short story novelist and reading enthusiast Kayla Ann. Published and well on her way to holding a Masters in English/Creative writing, she gets the impulse to forge on.

What serious writer doesn’t?

The MUSE is demanding if nothing else. She can also hide a great many warts that we writers will not see if we rush to get our darlings out the door. Don’t believe me? Read on…and I hope you’ll join me in following Kayla Ann.

Write on!

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CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS Writing TIPS

Care and Feeding of Roses: Not Your Everyday Garden Guide

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David Austin Lady of Shalott rose. I love, love, love it!

Do you want to bloom? Reach your peak? Do you want passersby to stop and admire those showy blooms and drink in that intoxicating fragrance? It all begins with proper care and feeding.

That’s right. Authors are like rose bushes, roots dug deep into the ground, a channel of endless potential that can go either way. Beautifully bloomed or bug ridden and burned out.

It’s taken me a long while to adopt this love of rose growing and quoting aphorisms like my mother. But while times change, people don’t. You are what you eat. You do get what you put in.

So authors, please, while our focus may be on that showy novel that delivers everything a reader could want while challenging the market to adopt our unique color, keep the basics in mind.

Try sleeping like a baby — take naps when you need them!
  • Get sleep: Roses don’t produce blooms 24/7. To everything there is a season. Exhausted people can’t write, not their best material. Cranky people DO notice flaws, even those that aren’t there. (The hamster wheel from hell.) So set a schedule to give your mind (your muse) the rest needed to meet demand.
  • Eat: Rose growers fertilize their plants for peak production. A projected 151 BILLION USD will be spent on soil enrichment in 2020. That figure includes far more than rose fertilizer, but you get the idea? If you want results, feed the team. That’s YOU. And I’m not talking caffeine and Cocoa Puffs.
The SUN is our friend!
  • Get plenty of sunshine: Roses need light and heat to produce blooms. Human beings need sunshine to produce Vitamin D. Depression, bone loss and back pain, muscle pain and fatigue are some of the lovelies that may visit those who disregard this basic need.
  • Drink water: Roses need water and so do humans. And while caffeine is my go to for energy, the side effects of premature wilting are all too real. Counter that caffeine with untainted H20. You’ll be glad you did. And you’ll look better, too.
I missed spraying this poor bud and LOOK what happened!!
  • Spray for BUGS: Beautiful roses often attract unwanted visitors, diners that will make a meal of your beautiful bushes. So if you find yourself visited by gnats of doubt, indecision, excessive criticism, please, don’t wait to pull out the big guns. Waiting to attack these issues is like letting a nest of aphids go unchallenged. Yes, the aphids need to eat, but if you let them get a taste for your roses, they’ll never leave. And you’ll be left with a blossoming cautionary tale. So when doldrums strike, recognize, resist, and redirect.
  • PRUNE: Roses are lovely, but wild branches that snag you on the sidewalk aren’t so much. Runway projects that take a writer away from what’s important are a nuisance, too. So reassess on a regular basis. Target extraneous clutter. Look seriously at those items sucking time and energy and ask yourself if they’re worth keeping. If not, cut them out. You’ll grow stronger!
Not my garden — yet! But maybe someday.
  • ENJOY yourself. Roses and other flowers can’t talk. But if they did, I can’t help but think they’d glory in the beauty of existing, especially among their fellows. Talk about flower POWER. So find your tribe and have fun. It’s good medicine.

Write on!

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Blog Wisdom Reblogged Writing TIPS

Star Trek Discovery – The Second Season

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Trekkie fans. I KNOW you’re out there. If you follow my blog — GREAT — if not, I hope you will. But for all things Star Trek, I’d be a real a real Ferengi if I didn’t share my latest find — SPACE TIME Magazine. (Life doesn’t revolve around profit!)

Alexa Wayne is ready and willing to get you jazzed about the franchise’s still new STAR TREK: Discovery – Because exploration IS logical!

Please, join me in venturing into this brave new world. (I have yet to convince the family to try Discovery. It took us nearly a decade to watch, then binge Deep Space 9. OH, what fun!)

And if you’re looking for writerly tips, they’re here in spades. STAR TREK is a successful franchise to be STUDIED. How to create characters? Steep interest? Carry threads from one glorious galactic exploration to the next. It’s all there. Have fun and…

Write on!

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Writer's Tool Box Writing TIPS

Do I sketch out the plot of my novel before starting it or do I allow my characters to lead the way?

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NO fooling. There are different ways to approach a story, but each carries its own consequences.

Check in with Florence Witkop, author of The Man from Yesterday, for some writerly wisdom that could save YOU some serious time. And, please, follow me if you’d like to continue this journey of learning, laughing, and generally having a BLAST. I know I am.

Write on!

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CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS Writer's Tool Box Writing TIPS

Slow and Steady: Writer’s Life Lessons from the Oldest Animal on Earth!

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Which are YOU?

Slow and steady wins the race. How often have you heard that tortoise and the hare reference? I’ve lived with it my whole life since I have a fascination with shelled babies. And yet a tendency to go wild-hare trips me up too often. (Remember, I’m the one who almost stomped her own tulips.)  

But times change and sometimes people have to as well. That’s how life shapes us. It’s shaping me.

Going rabbit may be my natural go-to, but I’m in time out. Why? I’m not certain, but Facebook put me in the holding tank so my book ads won’t be appearing in group chats for Kindle, Clean Reads, Sweet Romance, Christian Fiction, and/or any group that I don’t manage. Whatever will I do?

How about slowing down and eating some grass like Jonathan, the
Seychelles giant tortoise? Check out this long-lived wonder in the following video:

Well, maybe I can’t eat grass. Virginia isn’t St. Helena. My lawn is kind of brown considering we had ice and snow last week. But I’m back on my blog. Thinking, writing, and getting real with myself in between promoting FALLEN ANGEL and RODEO KING and penning my latest novel, Craving Grace: Diamond Dogs Book Two. (Methinks that title is a subliminal memo to yours truly.)

Anyway, here goes. Writer’s life lessons learned from Jonathan—the OLDEST animal in the world.

This too shall pass: Whatever your issues—writer’s block, Facebook jail (It’s no fun reliving life as a toddler, wondering “what” you did while being stuck in your playpen.), or fluctuating markets—IT WILL PASS. Either the situation will change or your response to the latest challenge will make it lose its power-over

LOVE it!!
  1. Make good use of your SHELL: Introverts often get a bad rap. But those with shells have them for good reason. A ready suit of armor is not to be wasted. It can protect you when you need it. Others will try to tempt you out of it–a fun exercise all around. But that shell can defend others as well, by demonstrating the quiet dignity of pulling back when need be and resetting in the mode of God’s good grace and timing.

EMBRACE routine: It’s okay to fall back on the structure of life’s rhythms to regain yourself and move forward. Jonathan, “typically spends his days lounging in the sun, munching on grass and relaxing with his tortoise friends,” according to MSN. A pretty dull routine and yet it has sufficed to see him outstrip his peers in the longevity department. At the ripe old age of 187 years, Jonathan’s oldest friend is 80-year-old “David” — a child by comparison–barely a twinkle. That brings me to my next observation.

We’re all in this TOGETHER!

DON’T discriminate. Toss the labels. Forget judging by covers (Although some cover reveals DO hook us!) True friends can be found everywhere, and in all age groups. As the youngest of eight, I always fit in with an older crowd, but my critique groups now include many young women. (Men, too. My Nick is 20 and gives me great critiques.) So keep an open mind, and an open door for friends to come in. Jonathan is so popular, “his portrait is on the back of the small island’s five pence coin.”

That’s some promo!

Follow the FOOD: Yes, I am a foodie. Can’t help it. My husband wooed me with his culinary skills, long story there, but the man knows the way to my heart. He surprised me with pizza on Thursday when it seemed my writerly world was crashing to bits. He’s cooking Eggs Benedict right now. (My husband is not the Grinch after all, despite his ditching my beloved mattress.) But, hey, Jonathan seems to agree with the wisdom of following what fuels you.  

What FEEDS you?

It’s often the simple things, something that’s everywhere in abundance that will get you through this life of writing. Family, friends, the quiet of your home, the routine of your 9-5 job. And there’s something to be said for following instinct, and God’s grace. Jonathan is said to be blind and yet,
“He knows my voice and he knows the vet’s voice and reacts by walking toward us,” Teeny Lucy (the chairperson for the St. Helena SPCA, and one of Jonathan’s main caretakers) said. “It’s all about the food!”

So what feeds you? Sustains you? What keeps you going through the long race that seems unending and fraught with show-stoppers? Find that rock and never let go. Storms will come, but they will pass. Thank you Jonathan…and all my FRIENDS and FAMILY who keep me going no matter what comes. I thank God for you all.

Write on!!

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Wisdom Reblogged Writer's Tool Box Writing TIPS

Beta Readers, CPs and Self-Editing

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Walk away, Renée–that Left Banke ’60’s classic–was a memorable song from my growing up. Why? I was almost named Renée–far more exotic than Ann, but there you go. My mom cooked plain food, too.

As fate would have it, though, I’m not able to walk away.

Good thing or else I’d be missing out! So here I am with another insightful Renée–aspiring author Renée Hurteau–whose on point advice for writers is absolutely golden.

Write on!