Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolution Suggestion

I teach a high-school level creative writing class. Want to know the commonest mistake I see? An overabundance of this cutesy little punctuation mark...


Exclamations are fantastic for e-mail, and possibly for texts, but when you're writing a novel, use them only for interjections (hey! ow! zoinks!). But just in case you don't think I have enough clout to boss you around, let me pull out a bigger gun.


"Cut out all those exclamation marks. 
An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke."

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

This year instead of promising to lose 10 pounds (you know you won't) or swear you're going to cut out sugar and eat healthier (until the next slice of cheesecake comes along), allow me to suggest a resolve that's much easier to keep: use your words to make your emphasis instead of relying on a line and a dot.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best of the Best - Silver Winner

Before I announce my second place winner of 2012's best books that I read, you need to know I really struggled with naming this one. Not because the writing wasn't stellar. Because it was. Not because the characters didn't live with me a long time after I closed the book. Because they did. And not because I didn't set aside housework to park my rear in a chair and just read (which, for me, is rare). Because this one left dishes stacked in the sink and my family eating frozen pizza.

So, what's my problem?

I hesitate to recommend this one because the romantic scenes went farther than they needed to. Let's just say the author left the bedroom door open a few times. The first time took me by surprise, but after that, I could sense when they were coming and it was easy enough to skim past the steamier moments.

Now then, with that out of the way, my pick for the silver medal of 2012 is...

Keowee Valley
by Catherine Scott Crawford
Bell Bridge Books

Spring, 1768. The Southern frontier is a treacherous wilderness inhabited by the powerful Cherokee people. In Charlestown, South Carolina, twenty-five-year-old Quincy MacFadden receives news from beyond the grave: her cousin, a man she'd believed long dead, is alive-held captive by the Shawnee Indians. Unmarried, bookish, and plagued by visions of the future, Quinn is a woman out of place . . . and this is the opportunity for which she's been longing.

Determined to save two lives, her cousin's and her own, Quinn travels the rugged Cherokee Path into the South Carolina Blue Ridge. But in order to rescue her cousin, Quinn must trust an enigmatic half-Cherokee tracker whose loyalties may lie elsewhere. As translator to the British army, Jack Wolf walks a perilous line between a King he hates and a homeland he loves.

When Jack is ordered to negotiate for Indian loyalty in the Revolution to come, the pair must decide: obey the Crown, or commit treason . . .


My Official Review

I’ll be blunt here…Pre-revolutionary war sagas are not usually my chosen genre from which to read. I accepted this one on a whim. And just like Quinn, my reading life changed in ways I didn’t expect. Translation: I LOVED this story! And I totally can’t wait for a sequel.

While I was sometimes annoyed with Quinn for her super independent spirit, I also love that it made her character unpredictable. I didn’t always relate to her, but that just made her more believable.

Hero Jackson Wolf is everything a hero should be. Strong. Courageous. Yet his love for Quinn—or Mac, as he calls her—is undeniable and sometimes very sweet and compassionate. He’s a complex man, with a fierce loyalty to family and his Cherokee people.

Disclaimer: this is not a “Christian” book. There are several steamy scenes that are pretty explicit, so if that’s a turn-off for you, you might want to skip a few parts.

KEOWEE VALLEY is a stellar debut novel for author Katherine Scott Crawford. She combines breathtaking description with passionate relationships amidst some intense action. Her writing is strong. Her history lessons are real and gritty. And I am anxious to get my hands on her next book!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best of the Best - Bronze Winner

Now that Christmas is over and the food coma's dazing you out in full-force, it's time to snuggle with your blankie and crack open a book. Yes, it's that time of year when I once again recommend a few novels, the best of what I read during 2012. Keep in mind that I read a lot, so to make it even to third place from the stack I read is quite an honor.

Taking 3rd place this year is...drum roll please...

No Safe Harbor
(Book 1 in the Edge of Freedom series)
by Elizabeth Ludwig
Bethany Publishing

Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.


What I liked About It

The suspense. Author Elizabeth Ludwig always keeps a reader guessing. Plus I love the historical aspects of it. Be forewarned, though...this is the first in a trilogy so not all your questions will be answered by the end. But that doesn't mean you won't be satisfied, because you will.

My Official Review

Ready for a historical thrill ride that will keep you teetering on the edge of your seat? NO SAFE HARBOR is the book for you! Author Elizabeth Ludwig not only weaves intrigue with historical fact, but creates memorable characters that will leave you begging for more. Good thing this is the first in a trilogy (The Edge of Freedom).

If you love historical fiction with a splash of mystery and danger, and a heaping portion of romance, don't miss out on this one!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Gift to You

Find a few minutes today to sit down with the hot drink of your choice and watch this amazing rendition of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." 

(and no, I'm not Mormon, but they sure did a great job with this presentation)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Want To Watch a Christmas Movie?


I found yet another fantastic web site for you to visit. It's called Lemon.ly. They do all kinds of fun flow charts like this one. You can even sign up for them to send one weekly to your inbox here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

You Still Haven't Fill-in-the-Blank?

It's that holiday time of year. You know, the ol' get together with friends and family scene...and the inevitable, "How's your writing going?"

On the surface, it's an innocent enough question. And don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing the genuine interest of others about my writing journey. In fact, it shows care and concern from my loved ones. So why do those 4 simple words wallop me like a jab to the kidneys?

Because I, like every other writer on the face of planet earth, know what's coming after that question is answered. It's always followed by another...

You still haven't been published?
You still haven't heard from Publisher X?
You still haven't finished that book?
You still haven't gotten an agent?
You still haven't made it to the NY Times Bestseller list?

The definition of insanity (according to Albert Einstein)  is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results. You know those questions are coming, so this year, writers, let's be proactive.

Share an interesting bit of research you've uncovered.
An engaging tidbit of information oftentimes turns the conversation onto a whole new direction. And who knows...you just may have found someone who can add to your knowledge base on that particular subject.

Prepare a fun and snappy comeback.
You don't have to feel defeated because you "still haven't." Lighten up the situation with a quippy reply. Don't just grin and bear it. Yuk it up.

Flip it.
No, not your finger. Flip the question back to the questioner. Be honest and admit you haven't whatever-they-asked, then ask them if they've accomplished one of their goals yet. Only use this tactic, however, if you really care, otherwise you're going to come off as a sour-grapes connoisseur.

Remember, 'tis the season to be jolly, not crabby. Instead of cringing in the corner at the next holiday gathering, go out there and have fun!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tag...I'm it!

I've been tagged over at Brandi Boddi's blog (say that 5 times in a row fast)...
Really Lame Clip Art of Price Tags Because I Couldn't Find Any of Kids Playing Tag 
What does that mean, exactly? It means I've got 8 questions to answer here on my blog, then I need to tag 4 other authors to do the same. Apparently this is called a Blog Hop Book Tour. Whoda thunk? So, without further ado, let's get this show on the road, eh?

What is/was the working title of your book?
UNDERCURRENT is the title of my latest book, and yes, it was my working title. Usually publishers will change an author's title, but Risen Books thought it fit the story well.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
UNDERCURRENT came from an old family story my mom told me about her mom, Clara Brekke. Sometime back in the early 1900's, Clara's father took her two-year-old sister and walked out the front door. Just like that. No bags packed. Not a word about where they were going or when they'd return. Nothing. No one ever heard from them again. As a result, I've always been curious about missing people. Assuming they've not met with foul play, where exactly do they go?

What genre does your book fall under?
Time travel and/or speculative fiction.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Professor Cassie Larson leads a life her undergrad students hope to attain...until she tumbles into the North Sea and the arms of a Viking.

Will your book be self-published, published by a traditional publishing house, and/or represented by an agency?
I sold UNDERCURRENT without an agent to an independent publishing house...Risen Books.

What other books would you compare this work to within your genre?
Lisa Bergren's River of Time series or Lisa Mangum's Hourglass Door trilogy (though both are young adult).

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I've got Viking blood in me. Or at least I like to think I have. My mom is full-blooded Norwegian so who knows...maybe.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Vikings often take the rap for being filthy barbarians wearing stupid horned hats (don't even get me going on that). However, a lot of that is just bad press. Many Nordic people took to the sea not necessarily in search of adventure and gold (though some did) but for land and a place to settle. Travel back in time to find out about this people group. I uncovered some great facts while researching.


Bonus ~ Here are my main characters:
CASSIE LARSON
RAGNAR
ALARIK
SIGNY
TOROLF
If you'd like to see more pictures of the settings and action in UNDERCURRENT, check out the pinterest page here.

Now then, on to naming the next 4 lucky ducks that I'm tagging. Drum roll, please.

Elizabeth Ludwig 
Ane Mulligan
MaryLu Tyndall
Jill Williamson

Not sure when they'll post their answers, but check their sites often. These are some of my favorite authors so you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Huh...Maybe I'm Not a Freak After All

Once I'm finished with a rough draft of a manuscript, the next step I take is to apply critiques I've received from my 4 best critters. Nothing weird about that. This is what most writers do. Here's where I differ...

I print the thing out, the whole thing, then stock up on red pens and read through the entire hard copy. Not too many writers do this anymore. I simply like the feel of a red pen in my hand (and editing is my favorite stage of the game), but I have been told I'm a luddite for doing this. And to that I say...

Luddites of the world, UNITE!


There was a great post over at Lifehacker yesterday affirming that this practice is a great way to edit your own work. They went so far as to say:
"As any writer or editor will tell you, critiquing someone else's work is much easier than deconstructing your own, because outside eyes bring a fresh perspective. To approach your own work critically, you need to simulate this "outsider" perspective by viewing it in a form other than the one you wrote it in."
So to all you naysayers out there who called me a neanderthal, I humbly say, "Na-na-na-boo-boo."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can Fiction be Christian?

Usually I leave this hot topic to those more learned than I am. It's always seemed like a silly little game of semantics to me. Lest you wonder what in the world I'm talking about, here's my understanding of the argument...

Some say that if a story involves Biblical truth, then it's Christian fiction. End of story.

Others argue that there is no such thing as Christian fiction. But neither is there Buhddist fiction or materialistic fiction. There's simply fiction and non-fiction. After all, fiction doesn't live and breathe and have a soul, is not in need of salvation, therefore is not capable of being 'Christian'.

I used to be in that camp, but I came across an interesting quote by Doug Wilson this weekend that made me pack up my tent and portage over to the other campsite.
"The world (and all it contains) is Christian because Jesus is the Lord of it. If something is expressly prohibited by Him, then that rebellion will be punished because He is Lord. If He did not prohibit it, then hearts full of gratitude may do as they please with it, and His lordship is extended over the enterprise for blessing."
Not only does this change my mind about the concept that fiction can indeed be 'Christian', but it gave me a whole new stamp of approval to write. If I am honoring to God in the stories that I tell, then the fiction I create with the faculties my Creator has blessed me with is Christian because Jesus is the Lord of it.

Wow. That's a huge thought for little ol' me, and I'm just barely grasping the essence of it. If you'd like m
ore fodder for thought to delve deeper:  Fiction Plumb Line, Blog and Mablog, deCOMPOSE. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Stop the Merry-go-Round...I Want to Get Off!

How do you de-stress during the holiday season? Here are some of my favorite ways...


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Need a Buddy?

Want to know what originally gave my writing a kick-in-the-pants head-start on the road to publication? Joining a critique group. It was there I received feedback about what worked and didn't work. Plus I made some really good friends.

As much as I'd like to be everyone's crit buddy and provide that same boost to other wannabe authors, there's just not enough time in my day. I can, however, point you toward a site that will connect you with others who will give you feedback.

LegendFire is a creative writing community where you can meet other writers and exchange writing samples for critiques. It also provides writing challenges and contests if you're so inclined.

So if you're feeling a little lonely in that hard, cold, cruel writing world, check out LegendFire and make a new writerly buddy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve Twelve Twelve

Have you looked at the calendar? Today's one of those rare, super cool numberly days...12-12-12. It's really just a warm-up for the ol' 12-21-12 when the epic armageddon of the world is supposed to happen. Personally, I think all the hullabaloo stems from a dyslexic Mayan who ran out of parchment. 

But what if it's true???

Not that I think the world will end on December twenty-first, but I do think the world will end. My days will end eventually. Yours will too. To some that is a morbid bit of gristly thought to chew on, but I say it's good to dwell on it. King David asked God to help him to remember to number his days, so I feel like I'm in pretty good company to recommend it.

As a writer, that thought pushes me to pen words that are on my heart. Write stories that impart Biblical truth. Leave a written legacy. Writing to the market has never tempted me because--for me--that seems like a waste of my precious hours.

My point is, whether the world ends today, on the 21st, or not for another hundred years, be bold enough to write with intent. Craft each story to serve a purpose.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Doin' the Hustle Bustle

Sounds like a new dance move, eh? Nope. It's the I-need-to-shop-bake-party-entertain-and-how-will-I-ever-find-time-to-write syndrome. It's a virus that lays up pretty much every writer I know during the Christmas season. And to make matters worse, the ol' drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest doesn't work for this one.

Finding time to work on a manuscript is tricky when life takes on warp-speed at holiday time. My solution? Cut yourself some slack. Live a little. Be present with your loved ones, not off in some story world in your head. Your ideas will still be there after December 25th.

But that doesn't mean you should stop writing altogether.

Hold on. I hear you. "But you just said put to put my pen away until after Christmas Day!" Not really. I merely suggest you set aside your WIP for a short while. You can be present with those you love and write at the same time. How?

Hand write out a Christmas card.
For years we've used those photo cards (which I still love). They're so easy! Slap a pre-printed greeting into an envelope and voila. Finito. How about this year, though, you write something on the back? Something for them to ponder. Something you love about them written in a creative way. Put those writing skills to use.

The gift of story.
How about write a Christmas story, print it out on super-cool paper, and roll it up like a scroll.  Toss that in a basket with a mug and some coffee or tea, and then cross that person's name off your gift list. And if you really want to add a personal touch, put that person into the story. What a treat for someone to snuggle up on a cold day with a hot drink and a wintry tale.

Become a Psalmist.
Christmas is all about the birth of the Savior of all mankind, Jesus. It's His birthday, so why not pen some prose to the King of Kings, listing his attributes, thanking Him for leaving heaven to come to this hovel just for you. Write a prayer to the one you love most, and if he's not at the top of your list of loved ones, then talk to me at michellegriep@gmaildotcom.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Publishing Possibilities


Got a short piece of flash fiction sitting around in a drawer? How about an epic poem you penned awhile ago? Or maybe a creepy little horror story you wrote one dark and stormy evening? Have I got a website for you!

places for writers is the absolute all-time best site to visit when you're hankering to enter a contest or looking for a place to submit something other than a novel. They are dedicated to getting wannabe writers published, so they keep the opportunities fresh and updated. It's a Canadian organization but provide information from sources outside of Canada as well.

Check it out then spread the word, especially to newbie writers who are looking for some writing credits.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Do's & Don'ts of Writerly Christmas Gifts

Need some help choosing the right something special for your writerly-type friend or family member? Never fear. I'm here to help.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Power of Story

Some Sunday mornings, when our pastor goes all militant theologian on me, tossing out eight-syllable word grenades like I should know what they mean, I tend to zone out. But when he throws in a story...wham! I'm leaning forward in the pew, listening like a preschooler at library time, wondering how it's going to end.

What's up with that?

Story, that's what. Stories make our ears perk up, engaging us to a depth that resonates deeply in our brains. Something to do with neural coupling and all that (whatever that is). The bottom line is a story, broken down into it's basic elements, is a connection of cause and effect--and that is how we think. (If you'd like more detail than my simple analysis, check out Lifehacker's Science of Storytelling post here.)

Story is the most powerful way to disperse truth. Jesus knew that, hence his use of parables. When I write a novel, I have an underlying, Biblical truth that I try to get across to the reader without being too obvious. In UNDERCURRENT, it's sacrifice and forgiveness. Okay, so that's two, but you can't have one without the other.

So, novelists, next time you sit down to map out a new story, don't spend all your time figuring out your characters and plot. Be intentional about what truth you want to impart to your reader and weave it into your character's personalities and into the storyline. Engaging a reader with truth via the medium of story will leave a lasting impression...and if it's a Biblical truth, an everlasting impression.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Election Day's Not Over Yet

Yeah, I know. The president has been chosen, but I've got another election that's way more fun than politics. 

It's the Nominate Your Favorite Writing Blog contest. 

I realize that by presenting this contest here, on a writing blog, that this could be construed as a shameless bit of self-promotion. The ol' "Pick Me! Pick Me!" rallying cry. Not that I mind if you nominate Writer Off the Leash, the actual point of my mentioning this is so that you readers are aware of other writing blogs. I'm not the only fish swimming around out here in the writerly sea.

So check out the link and scroll down the comments where sites are nominated. You'll discover a ton more writing blogs. Never hurts to expand your reading horizons, eh?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Staying True

"To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard."
~ Allen Ginsberg

Voice. Everyone's got one...even if you're mute. I'm talking about a writing voice. How you arrange words, what words you choose, even what words you avoid leave a distinct impression on a reader. That's your voice.

Agents and publishers are always looking for "new" voices...but what if they don't like your voice? Newsflash: they just might. Because a writer's voice is distinctive and writing is subjective, not everyone is going to love your writing.

Think of it as in the music realm. I happen to love Mac Powell's voice (from Third Day). He's my all-time favorite and I buy everything the man puts out. But (and I've always got a big but) some of my friends think he sounds like a frog (no offense, Mac). So either I--and Mac--can get angry and bitter about that, or I can keep on enjoying his music and let my friends enjoy theirs.

All this to say that your writing, your voice, is going to rub some people the wrong way. Don't make the mistake of changing your 'voice' to please everyone. You'll simply end up with a sore throat and the same percentage of those who won't like your writing, plus agents and publishers will turn you down flat. They know when someone is straining. 

Stay true and hold the course no matter what any mortal says.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Epic Nano Failure

NANOWRIMO is officially over for 2012. Friday night at 11:59 was the last shot to enter any more words on my word count. My goal was a very modest 10,000 words, well below the standard 50k. So...how did I measure up?

A dismal 7258. But hey, that's 7,000 words more than I had on Nov. 1st.

Sometimes I wonder if having a "For Real" deadline would help. If I knew I had a 90k manuscript to hand in by April 1st, I imagine I'd be typing my little fingers to the nub right about now instead of leisurely drinking a cup of java and contemplating taking the dog for a walk.

For those of you who did crank out the full 50,000, I not only give you a palm-stinging high-five, but a hip-check and military salute as well. Kudos to you!

Just because NANO is over, though, doesn't mean the writing should stop. Even my sluggish word count is no excuse to roll over and play dead. After all, it was the tortoise who won the race. Check out these other sites that will keep you accountable for pumping out more words:

Inky Girl
I actually like Inky Girl better than NANO. Oops. Did I say that out loud? This site fits in a bit better with my writing style. The goal here is either 250, 500, or 1k words per day for six days a week.

April Fools
If you're too busy to write during the holidays, there's another challenge coming up this spring called April Fools. Like NANO, it runs for a month. Unlike NANO, you set your own word count.

750 Words
On this site, you earn points for typing in 750 words every morning. It doesn't have to be only on your novel. It can be absolutely anything.

And those are only a few sites. There are many more. All that to say...get out there and write!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Move Over Rachel Ray

Avoiding BBS Syndrome during the holidays is tough, especially for writers who sit all day. Never fear, though. Here's a delicious alternative to all those sugary Christmas cookies.
(oh yeah, note to self...next time while shooting a cooking video, put away the dishes in the sink first)


CHEWY GRANOLA BARS

2 Tablespoons Flaxseeds
1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons water
2 Cups Oatmeal
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Nut Butter of Your Choice (peanut or almond or whatever)
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips
Whatever else you have on hand...pumpkin seeds, walnuts, coconut, pecans, cashews, raisins, dried fruit, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 375. Combine flax seeds with water and set aside.

2. Combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt & sugar in mixing bowl. Stir in chocolate chips or whatever else you're using.

3. In separate bowl, mix maple syrup with nut butter and mix until smooth. Stir in flaxseed mixture.

4. Add wet and dry mixes and stir well.

5. Put in a greased 8 x 8 pan and bake for 15-20 minutes

Patience  [pey-shuh ns]


Technical difficulties posting today's blog.

This Link instead.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hug A Book Blogger


I’ve been thinking about publicity lately, mostly because I hate tooting my own horn, yet it seems that’s what many authors are told to do nowadays. There is one marketing tip, however, that doesn’t make me cringe. If others want to talk about my books, I’m okay with that. So, how to go about getting that word of mouth?
Get Reviewed by High-Profile Bloggers
Sounds easy enough, but just like becoming a concert pianist, it takes some serious work ahead of time.
BECOME KNOWN TO THE BOOK BLOGGING WORLD
Visit their websites. Leave comments. Check out their Twitter and Facebook pages. Leave comments. Did I mention leaving comments? Dropping your name into their sphere makes you familiar. That way when you do eventually knock them up for a review request, you’re not some stranger begging for cash on the corner. But don’t overdo it. Simply make them aware of you, not drool all over them and tattoo their name on your arm.
TARGET BIG BLOGGERS
How do you know? Well, you can simply look at how many members they have on their site, or you can visit Alexa.com. Type in their blog address into the ‘site info’ box and nose around for their statistics.
BE A BOYSCOUT
Plan ahead. Be prepared. Start early. Pick your favorite get-off-your-butt-and-get-moving idiom. The point is that you can’t wait until your book is already out there. Send out ARC’s (advance reader copies) BEFORE your book launches.
And here's a bonus for you...these ideas don't simply apply to self pubbers. Traditional authors can and should go for it as well.
Top of Form

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writerly Things That Make You Go Hmmm

You need to blog to build a platform.
Blogging is a waste of time. Twitter and Facebook is where you need to be.

You need to be on Facebook to build a platform.
Facebook is a waste of time. Twitter and Blogspot/Wordpress is where you need to be.

If you want to get your foot in the door, write to the market.
Only great stories sell, so write the story of your heart.

Never, ever, ever keep an agent or editor waiting even if you're busy.
Expect to hear back in 3-6 months (or never) from an agent or editor because they are too busy.

Learn and follow all the writing 'rules' to hone your craft.
Break the rules to allow your voice to show through.

Story is king.
It's not what you know; it's who you know.

Self-publishing is for losers.
You should self-publish.

You should submit that manuscript to Publisher X because they'll probably offer you a contract.
You can't possibly accept that contract from Publisher X because they're too small.

Is it any wonder that author wannabes take more Prozac than the public at large?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Secret to Creativity

When I first started writing, my kids were younger, so I ran away from home one night a week. I met my muse each Thursday evening in the relative peace and quiet of a local coffee shop. Now my baby just turned 18 and I've got more time to write...but I still don't write at home. I just can't.

Why? Great question. I used to think maybe it was because of the siren call of the laundry and/or dishes pile. I mean, there's always some kind of housework staring me in the face, daring me to watch it grow larger vs. type another word. Or it could just be that my self discipline is out of whack. Or...gasp...maybe I'm a loser addicted to the taste of java and the sound of an espresso machine.

Turns out, though, that none of those is correct. I came across a recent study that justifies all those crazies out there who feel a surge of inspiration in a coffee shop. So...what's the secret to creativity?

Ambient noise. 

Seriously. And I thought I was getting out of the house to get away from noise. Sheesh. But it's true. Modest ambient noise kick-starts the part of our brains responsible for abstract and creative thinking. No, I'm not making this up. Check out the study results here (taken from The Atlantic). According to one researcher:
"Instead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking out of one's comfort zone and getting into a relatively noisy environment may trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas."
So go ahead. Pack up that laptop and toodle off down to Starbucks. Science just gave you permission.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Mooch



I didn't simply just shop and eat way more pumpkin pie than any human being has a right to this weekend. I also did a little surfing. And, as is my wont, I'm happy to share my latest greatest find with you.

Ever have a hankerin' for a particular book but when you open your wallet moths fly out? Yeah. I know the feeling...but it need never happen again. BookMooch is a fantastic site where you can give books away and get books you want. 

Here are some samples: click here.

And here's how it works:

1. Type in the books you want to give away.
2. Receive requests from others who want your books.
3. Mail your books and receive points.
4. Ask for books from others with your points.

Yep. It's that simple. Give it a whirl for some cozy-up-under-a-blankie-with-a-book quality time this winter.

Friday, November 23, 2012

3:00 AM Shopping Run

video

I did my part for capitalistic materialism. How about you?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Other Than Turkey

Here is some food for thought this Thanksgiving Day, and bonus...
it's calorie free.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Are You Thankful For?

Personally, I'm thankful I'm a writer because...

Killing off characters is a great stress reliever, plus it's not a felony. Win, win.

I can time travel to any era that strikes my fancy--and I don't even need any magic crystals to get there.


Capturing the voices in my head on paper is a whole lot cheaper than buying Prozac.


I get to network with some of the most creative people on earth. And guess what? They're all just as wacky as me so I rarely get that jaw-dropping, raised-eyebrow look from them.

What other profession lets you make things up as you go along? I mean other than a politician.

I don't have to change out of my jammies to get some work done.

If I'd never started blogging, I'd never have gotten to meet some sweet cyberspace buddies like you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When Gratitude Malfunctions

So honestly, how can one be thankful when one receives a crappy haircut? I said I wanted a new style, even showed the gal a picture, but whoa baby...this is NOTHING like the sassy, curly 'do on that glossy magazine cover. I'm finding it a bit hard to be grateful for my new butch look.

And how does one remain thankful when the manuscript you've poured your lifeblood into for over a year makes the rounds of all the usual big publishers and gets nothing but rejection? It's difficult to be appreciative when you're stuck in the ol' thanks-but-no-thanks spin cycle.

Or how can you sincerely be grateful when a buddy lands a whoppin' fat contract for beaucoup bucks and your last royalty check was for $45? Yeah, I know, better than nothing, but still...

Sometimes gratitude is hard. Sometimes it's impossible.

And that's the best news ever!

Hang with me here. It really is good when we finally admit that we can't generate a grateful heart. Think about this picture...when you throw your hands up in defeat, which direction are they pointed? Yep. Right up at heaven. Only God can change your heart. Only He can work in you an attitude of gratitude. All you have to do is ask Him to and be willing to let Him do His work.

When you surrender, God will answer. One thing I know for sure is that God is faithful.

And the other thing I know is that my hair grows fast...thank God!
 
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