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!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Operation Gratitude Attitude

It's that turkey time of year again, and Thursday I'll be doing my patriotic duty of gaining the requisite 5 pounds. But is that what Thanksgiving is really all about?

I think not.

So this week on Writer Off the Leash, we'll be practicing an attitude of gratitude. What are you thankful for? Wait. Before you answer that, think again. I'm not talking the usual thankful for dark chocolate or good java (though I am). Go a level deeper than that. You don't have to share this out loud, so be honest.

Believe it or not, I am thankful for the dark nights in my soul. The wicked ugly times that force me to my knees. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I enjoy those times. Far from it. But I am grateful that God is so gracious, He allows uncomfortable, even wounding things in my life so that I'm driven to Him.

Take a minute to reflect today on one of your black moments. Can you find anything in it that you're thankful for? If not, ask God to show You. One thing I know is that He's faithful to answer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Research Shmesearch

When I first started writing fiction, I totally didn't think about accuracy. I mean, come on, it's fiction for crying out loud! Aren't things supposed to be made up? Isn't that what fiction implies? 

I suppose ignoring fact works for fantasy, but for historical fiction, you'll be crucified if you use an English gold sovereign in 1807 because they weren't actually minted until ten years later. Some of you may be asking "Seriously? Who cares?" 

Answer: historical readers, that's who.

There's just no getting around it. Research is key, whether you pen contemporary or way-back-when tales. Why? Because it's jolting to a reader when they come across something they know for a fact and see it misrepresented.

So writers, do your homework. Don't let it cripple you, though. You can't be 100% perfect down to the last detail. I'm just saying try to stay as true to the period you write in as possible.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Got Anything Quote Worthy To Say???

Yesterday, not only did I write a dismal 148 words for NANOWRIMO, but more importantly, I came across a super-freaky fun-fun-FUN website that I've just got to pass along to you.

You know those cool quotes that everyone pins on Pinterest? I've often wondered how to create those,  I mean other than ask my teenager to do it for me. Now I know. Check out Recite This. Just type in a quote you've written yourself, hit create, and voila. Your words in quote format cute enough to pin.

Here's one I whipped out...

So go for it. I'm sure you'll see me there. I have a feeling I'll be hanging out there a lot.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yeah...What She Said

I came across some great writerly advice from author Beth Moore on the Living Proof Ministries blog. Here it is in a nutshell...

Writing a book will be harder than you think and take longer than you want.

You very often will lose passion for the project somewhere in the middle of it.

You have to factor in more than writing time. (Example: research)

Panic only exacerbates inevitable waves of writer’s block.

Do the work.

God will most often take the message we’re writing and prove us genuine by hammering the themes relentlessly on the anvil of our souls.

Submit to the angst of decent editing.


That, my friends, is some spot on advice that I intend to listen to. How about you?



Monday, November 12, 2012

Killing Perfectionism

"Perfectionism will snuff the flame. Period. Give it up. It's cheating us out of hearing your genuine voice."
~ Beth Moore

So here we are, smack in the middle of NANOWRIMO, and I've got absolutely nothing to say. No brilliant plot twists. No larger-than-life characters wreaking havoc in my mind. I'm talking squat here, people.

I could blame this ugly blue funk on life circumstances that have recently whapped me upside the head, but that wouldn't be honest. Usually when crap happens, I just kill off a character and go on my merry way. So, what's different about this time?

I think I'm stuck in perfectionism.

Yeah, I know. Those of you who know me just threw your hands in the air and yelled, "What the heck? You? Perfectionist? No way!" Newsflash: sometimes, actually, yes I am. And for a writer trying to make headway on a rough draft, perfectionism is a HUGE road block and the bane of many a writer.

What to do?

Writers write. Before I open up my WIP Word file today, I'm going to pull out a Sharpie and some 3x5's, then I'll jot down these reminders and stick them on the wall in front of my face...

  • You're not Steinbeck, so don't try to be.
  • Enjoy the ride, bumps and all.
  • Don't over think it.
  • You don't have to keep what you write today.
  • You can't edit what you don't have.
  • Just WRITE!

There you have it. Feel free to use these and any others to kick yourself in the behind.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Guest Star Elizabeth Ludwig on Fun Friday

Today on Fun Friday I've got an extra special guest, and her hair looks way better than mine.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hope for the Hurting

When the going gets tough 
(and if it's not yet, it will):

  • you receive the final rejection from the last prospective publisher
  • you're hit upside the head with a cruel review
  • your personal life takes a nearly fatal blow
  • one of your dearest writer buddies passes away
  • your hard drive crashes and years of work is lost because it wasn't backed up
  • fill-in-the-blank with the disaster of your choice

Hang on to this...
But He said to me, 
"My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness." 
(2 Cor. 12:9)

God promises His grace is sufficient. Not will be sufficient or is in an amount that will just barely get you through, but IS sufficient.

That's where I'm pitching my tent today. How about you?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stretching Your Wonder Muscles

Amidst all the busyness of yesterday (waiting-in-line to vote, sending off one of my guests, teaching two classes, yada-yada), here's what I accomplished for NANOWRIMO: a whopping, big, fat zero words. 

I hope that's an encouragement for those who didn't pen any new prose either. But today is a new day. It's time to move on. 

If you need a little inspiration to jumpstart your creative juices, I came across a very interesting site that made me go, "hmmm." 

It's a collection of photographs and narrative about a recently discovered stash of suitcases in the attic of a closed insane asylum. Hold on. I hear you. Am I crazy myself? That's debatable, but honestly, just take a peak at this: Abandoned Suitcases Reveal Private Lives of Insane Asylum Patients and see if that doesn't make you wonder outside the walls of your usual box. It just might give you new insight into one of your characters and add an extra dimension to them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Do Your Civic Duty

Today is the day you can effect the twisty-turny plot of the United States. Which character will you vote for? 

Make sure to take some time away from writing to GO VOTE!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lunch with Elizabeth

Elizabeth who? Ludwig, of course, though I call her Lisa...but I already had a Lunch With Lisa post. So allow me to more formally introduce one of my critique buddies who came to visit me this weekend, Elizabeth Ludwig. She's got a fan-freaking-tastic trilogy in the works (the Edge of Freedom series), and the first book just came out in October. NO SAFE HARBOR is historical romantic suspense at its finest. Stay tuned for a blurb at the end of this post.

As we chatted over tacos yesterday, I asked her to impart some writerly advice to wannabe authors. First off, she recommends you take the time to learn the craft. Find out what the rules are and follow them. How do you find out? Read craft books. Attend writer workshops. Go to conferences. Or even network with more seasoned authors.

Secondly, she recommends you also take the time to learn and apply yourself in the social media arena. Her top 4 picks are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Goodreads

Yes, it will cut into your writing time. The trick is to be disciplined. Don't get sucked into those sites for hours on end. Set a timer if you have to.

And be sure to check out No Safe Harbor. Here's a blurb:

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.

Honestly, Lisa is one of my favorite authors, so if you like historicals, be sure to pick this one up. And don't forget to check out Lisa's blog: THE BORROWED BOOK

Friday, November 2, 2012

Surviving National Novel Writing Month

Don't let NANOWRIMO overwhelm you. Here's my secret for surviving...

video

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And The Lucky Winner Is...

Today's the big drawing for a free signed copy of UNDERCURRENT. Who will it be? Well, whoever it is better email me their address so I can mail it out!


 
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