One Step at a Time…or is it one forward and 2 back?

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Reflections on my week of writing:

The Creative Process: Jeff Goins’s post, Why Your Work Never Feels Good Enough, is an inspiring piece of advice for newbies like me. The clip above came from there.

Sunday: I’m leaping off my chair into the “Six Sentence Sunday” event. Yup, I’m going to post six sentences from my manuscript and link it with others. I hope you come back for a taste of what I’m writing.

Revisions: continue. Every time I take a workshop or read a book, I’m driven back to the beginning of my manuscript to revise, revise, and  revise with new passion. It’s an interesting process.

Right now I’m reading Debra Dixon’s Book,  Goals, Motivation and Conflict, one of the most recommended books for new writers. OMG is it good! I know, nothing knew here, but it knocks my socks off every time I open it. Listen to this:

“If you provide a strong enough motivation [for your character’s actions] your reader will follow you (and your characters) anywhere – into alien spaceships, through time travel warps, along with little old ladies who take on the mafia by themselves. The key is proper motivation.” (p. 36)

Writers have to write: I know I do. It’s like the bird in Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven, the one that won’t go away. It sits on my shoulder whispering words and phrases in my ear. “Write it down, you fool,” it commands. Sometimes it uses a soft voice and takes on the magical elegance of the pheonix. Other times, it snarls and hisses at me and comes cloaked like a vulture smelling of yesterday’s carcasses. However it dresses, however it smells, it’s presence remains to whisper to my soul, “You must write.”

What about you?

Tell me your experience with the creative process.  Can you tame it?

4 Things I Love About the Netherlands…

…and think we should adopt in our culture.

1. Gezelligheid

To quote Lonely Planet:

“This particularly Dutch quality is one of the best reasons to visit Amsterdam. It’s variously translated as snug, friendly, cosy, informal, companionable and convivial, but gezellligheid – the state of being gezellig – is something more easily experienced than defined. There’s a sense of time stopping, an intimacy of the here and now that leaves all your troubles behind, at least until tomorrow. You can get that warm and fuzzy feeling in many places and situations:

  • while nursing a brew with friends
  • over coffee and cake with neighbors (the stoop will do)
  • lingering after a meal ….”

(p. 186, Amsterdam City Guide 7th ed., 2010)

It’s a wonderfully warm, relaxed way to live life, that is quintessentially Dutch. I’m finding it difficult to do justice to in my stories, but it’s fun trying. Maybe, I need to go back and do more research:)

I saw gezelligheid everywhere I saw people interacting. At first, I was shocked at how different the atmosphere is in restaurants. No one rushes you with a check,  quiet chatter and laughter fills the air, and the warm relaxed feeling of enjoying the moment is as much a part of the experience as the food you eat. Yes, I think I need to take more notes.

2. Dutch Kissing

They kiss a lot! When Dutch people greet friends and family they kiss each other three times (alternating cheeks) and hug. You end up feeling very kissed. The open expression of caring leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy. It’s nice.

3. Foot Power

People walk and ride their bicycles everywhere. It’s a flat country after all, and the people are fit and active.

4. Dutch Apple Pie

is worth the plane ticket to Holland. It oozes butter, freshly baked apples, and crisp pastry. Yum.

 

I don’t lie to myself…much

Yellow Roses for Friendship:)

Reflections on my week of writing:

Revision: revision…revision: There is no end to revision.

Nationals: It’s been an exciting week  making plans with a group of friends to attend the National RWA conference in  July. It’ll be my first. Wooohoo. I hope to see some of you there.

SoMe: “The Lucky Days Par tay”, book promotion, is a great success for readers and writers. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and took a look.

Pinterest: I started a board on Amsterdam on Pinterest. It’s fun. You can find me there.

Those Friggen Silly Letters: You know the letters I’m talking about, the ones that appear when you want to post a comment on a blog. They’re so twisted and mangled you can barely read them, but you have to type them in a box to prove you’re not a robot. On some blogs they don’t work for me. I’ll spend thirty minutes trying to decipher the code before I give up. Now I know that I’m not alone. I read one person’s solution is to switch to Chrome for an operating system. It sounds like work.  If anyone has any ideas on how I can solve my silly letter problem let me know.

How I Lie to Myself (Let me count the ways:)

I read a post, 12 Lies to Stop Telling Yourself, which got me thinking about lying. I don’t lie to myself do I?

I wish I could say I don’t, but  I’m human. Lying to myself is  a psychological way of treading water in the currents of my life. Yes, I have currents. What do I lie about? I made a list. Here’s the top five in the order they came off my pen (actually keyboard – see I lie).

1. My weight – I’ll  blame the scale, weather or  the alignment of the heavens, before I admit that I’m gaining weight because I’m eating too much. This is fixable.

2. My writing – I block periods of time to write, but the blocks get whittled away by this and that…. I need to be more disciplined or I’ll never finish this revision. If I say I’m going to write, I need to write.

3. Relationships – Whenever I feel queasy about the state of an important relationship I look at it through rose colored glasses and say it’s fine. It’s not always, but I’m happier thinking so.

4. My fitness level – is not as good as I want it to be. I swim, walk and do yoga, but not enough, not nearly enough. This is fixable.

5. My past – I remember it selectively, hanging on to the good parts and letting the rest go. I never stick my foot in my mouth, hurt other people’s feelings or drink too much wine. Never. A carefully painted past works for me. Who’s to say what’s true when you talk history?

Soooo my conclusion is that it’s okay to lie to myself about some things, but not others – which means I’m not having cookies in the house next week, but I will believe I live in a perfect world. I do – really.

How about you? Told any good lies lately?

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My Cheeky Angel

(1st book in the Angels with Attitudes series)

Mimi Barbour

     Annie is naïve and love-starved, she’ll soon to be celebrating her big 3-0. Something needs to be done! Celi, her ‘down-to-earth’ guardian angel appears to help kick-start Annie’s big change—her looks, her job, her whole life. By taking a managerial position with a sophisticated shoe manufacturer, Annie becomes embroiled with her new associates and hooked on the power of big business. Unfortunately, her exhaustion from overwork forces her to ignore old friends, and her lapse places someone she cares about in terrible danger.

Tyler, a Social Worker and a woman-hater previously hurt in two relationships, only wants Annie in his life as a good buddy. Oh yeah! And to help with his mixed-up street kids. Perversely, once her life alters, he misses her like hell.  In one sweet night of loving everything changes. But, due to an overabundance of nightcaps, she doesn’t remember the night he can’t forget.

Excerpt:

“Every time he closed his eyes, a strange image of Annie in trouble took on such realistic tendencies it seemed surreal. Sick of his own company, Tyler decided a walk would do him a world of good, clear his head, and help to get his mind off his tomboy gone rogue.

Once the idea appeared, it became a fixation. No choice, no dragging his feet, he had to get out of his apartment. Either he needed hallucination treatments or a curt, gravelly female had taken up residence in his brain and urged him to hurry and get his butt moving.

The elevator, not ever on his floor, awaited him with the door open and no one else inside. He shivered. Strange and stranger! The ride down lasted only seconds. When it slowly opened, a nightmare unfolded. One look at his Annie clinging to her evening’s escort and his rage superseded common sense. Without thought, he ripped her from the scumbag’s groping fingers and shoved the conceited-looking, puffed-up character against the wall. All Tyler’s six feet two inches of anger intimidated. He watched the coward evaluate, then shrink back.

Within seconds the smooth prick spoke. “Anna had a bit too much to drink. I was seeing her safely home.”

“Not a problem. I’ll take her up,” he growled. By this time, Tyler had a supportive arm around the wobbly woman. He looked down at her. “Say bye-bye to your date…Anna.” His spitting out her newly chosen name would have set worry bells ringing, if she’d been in her normal state of mind. Blitzed out of her head, she just jiggled her fingers and said, “Bye-bye, date.”

With everything happening so fast, Tyler knew Annie hadn’t had a chance to fully appreciate the change in her situation. One minute she was leaning drunkenly against the slimy character whose hands were all over her body, while her unfocused eyes gazed at him adoringly. The next minute, Tyler had taken over.

As the elevator doors closed, leaving Sergio shrugging off his disappointment, a fuming Tyler lifted Annie into his arms.

At ease, Annie wrapped her arms around him, snuggled her face into his neck, and then sighed. His familiar expensive cologne, one of her gifts that he regularly used, seemed to soothe her. “I love how you smell.”

His anger fled the moment he became aware that she sniffed at him like a small kitten. His legs almost buckled when he felt the tip of her tongue lick him, and then press a tiny kiss over the wet spot.

The groan started deep, frustration forcing it out, chasing away his righteous snit. At her door, he lowered her to her unsteady feet, but she refused to unwind her arms from around his neck. They clung, her body glued to his.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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How to Support an Independent Writer

Success in publishing is all about numbers. The more I watch the book scene the more I’m convinced it’s all about  Amazon numbers.This may be old news for many readers, but for some , it’s not.

Let’s talk turkey. When you “like” or “buy”  a book on Amazon that information goes into a database. When a book receives enough attention, Amazon promotes it to selected readers.

So how do inedpendent (Indie) writers get noticed? They don’t have the PR expertise and reach of the New York big 6 publishing companies. They hope that through good writing and word of mouth they will reach their intended audience, so they  work hard on connecting with readers through social media.

Free Books: I don’t trust things that are free, but free books play an important role in the marketing strategy of writers.  When you download a book from Amazon you increase the sales for that writer. That is why they are willing to give away their books. It raises their rankings  on Amazon  increasing their exposure to the market. They also hope that  readers will return to buy more of their work.

Tomorrow and the next day, my blog will be hosting a promotion for free books (Lucky Days Free Par tey). I hope you will stop by and download a few. Know, that even if you don’t read them, you will be supporting and promoting writers and they don’t bite.

Amsterdam in my Writing Loft

The Red Bicycle: is a print from IKEA that takes me into the world of Amsterdam engaging wonderful memories of  windmills, canals,  bicycles, Vermeer, tulips and… cheese made for the gods. The print sits above my computer as a visual launch pad into the setting for my first series, aptly named  The Nederlander Series. Nice of IKEA to do that for me.

Revisions: I’m working on revising my first manuscript in the series. The word count is shrinking but the prose is strengthening. I attended an amazing workshop, The Four-Layer Method of Revision with Shelley Bates on the weekend. Her process, for me, is like having four different pairs of glasses to view my work with. If you ever get a chance to take a course from her, do. She’s not only an accomplished multi-published author (22 books in numerous genres) she’s also an outstanding teacher who engages her students in the learning process.

Mentors: I continue to be amazed at how generous  experienced RWA writers are with their time and expertise. They tell me it’s because they’ve been in our shoes. I am so very grateful for all the workshops, conversations, critiques and comments. I can only hope that some day I will  pass on to others something they value.

Do you have a picture in your writing spot? …and  What’s your writing group like?

3 Blogs Honoring Women’s Day

March 8th was International Women’s day.  Who decides these things? Anyway,  I discovered some interesting blog posts. Enjoy.

  1. The Ten Most Powerful female Characters in Literature” by Emily Temple can be found on Flavorwire. Excerpt:  “The wife of Bath is lewd and lascivious – but behind all the dirty jokes she’s making an argument for female dominance and a woman’s right to control her body, using her considerable rhetorical skill to simultaneously underscore and attack the anti-feminist traditions of the time. Not too shabby for 14th century literature.” I’m not sure I would pick these ten, but I like them. What do you think?
  2. International Women’s Day: 10 ways to celebrate” by Maura Judkis can be found in the Washington Post. Excerpt: “International Women’s Day was born of activism – the holiday was founded in 1910, when a German woman named Clara Zetkin proposed that every country devote a day to the needs and political demands of women.”
  3. “5 Social Media Campaigns Rocking International Women’s Day” by Zoe Fox at Mashable US & World. Excerpt:  “Rock the Lips, a campaign created by agency AKQA, is trying to make red lips the universal symbol of women’s empowerment. The campaign hopes 1 million women will wear red lipstick and share photos of themselves on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram using the hashtag #RockTheLips.” Red lipstick as a symbol, hmmmm. Using make-up as a symbol of empowerment a bit of a stretch. What do you think?