Writing

Writers & Writing & Weekend Retreats: A Match Made in Happy Town

Denny (PortRoyale)This past weekend, I had a fabulous time in Boonsboro, MD, hanging with a bunch of writers I know from the Washington Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA) serving the Washington, DC area.

First, you may not know about Boonsboro (Nora Roberts hangs out there a lot, but not this weekend:). Three years ago, I didn’t know it from any other small town in Maryland. But each year since first attending this gathering I’ve had a tremendous time, but this year, I don’t know, this year was a really, really, good time. Why? What made it different? Well, this year, here’s what happened:

I learned about writing romance and how characters can fall in love – thank you Kathleen Gilles Seidel. I also learned I will do almost anything to receive the ARC for Lavinia Kent’s next book. Actually, I’ll do anything. I learned that with a gentle nudge Read the Rest…

All I need to know about writing I learned from a cartoon cow!

Mermaid CarleneWell, maybe not everything, but what I did learn was HUGE!

It was Sunday morning and ahem, I was watching Nick Toons. 🙂 Back at the Barnyard was on with an episode called “Cowdyshack”. For the record, I did not plan to come away with this writing nugget but I’m pretty much convinced that I was meant to receive it. And share with you.

So, Otis (the main character, a boy cow) is out with his posse of barnyard buddies and wrangles them a day on a golf course from his friend, a human named Crazy Louie, who sneaks them in. Once they’re all on the golf course, Crazy Louie bids them adieu. Otis and his buddies are practicing their swings when Pig takes a whack. He lets it rip and the golf club goes flying. It travels through the air and lands smack in Crazy Louie’s back, knocking him to the ground! Otis and friends run to his side. Crazy Louie is in…
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Writing through the Fog

Caution Heavy Fog pic

This past weekend I attended the SCBWI conference in NYC, and while we were waiting for the next great speaker, random quotes would appear on the mega screens to keep us patient.

One quote by E.L. Doctorow kept with me during the weekend, and I wrote it down in my handy-dandy composition notebook. It was this: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Wow. That’s it exactly! Each scene, each chapter leads you to the end of the book. That made me think about WIPs and the obstacles that get in our way while we’re writing. I started to see all these similarities between driving in the fog and writing a book.

Then I did what some writers do best. I distracted myself and started Googling. I found a bunch of warnings for…
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Mary Hart Perry Swims with the Mermaids!

I want to introduce you to one of my favorite authors — Mary Hart Perry, who is also known as Kathryn Johnson.  She writes lovely fiction in all genres, but lately has been writing these wonderful historicals with just the right amount of mystery and romance woven in.

The thing about her work is that she does the research.  These are real people, with historically correct situtations — that she has embellished, or theorized upon.  They range from Shakespeare to the daughters of Queen Victoria — and a sterner mamma you will never encounter.

Here is an interview we did about the first book in her most recent series about Queen Victoria’s daughters.  The third book of which just released a few days ago.

(If you have trouble playing the video interview, you may want to update your Adobe.)

I love the bravery of her characters — especially her heroines.  They stretch the rules to utter breaking points, but always do so in a completely believable way.  If you’re like…
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Let’s eat Grandma!

Dana MermaidWriting is an intrinsic part of life, whether it’s a school note, a research paper or the next New York Times best seller. The way we weave words together or where we place a comma can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

Getting My Butt Kicked

Susan-Mermaid-avatar As I’ve always said before, I generally avoid New Year’s resolutions.  This year, for a change, I made several:

–       I will join a critique group

–       I will allow myself to mentor someone, and ask for a mentor

–       I will submit material for publication

At the January meeting of CTRWA, I was right there with the club’s critique group.  We found much to say about each other’s work (both pro and con) and left feeling we’d encouraged each other in the best ways.  Resolution One:  check.

Also in January, responded to the semi-annual offer of matching Yodas and Grasshoppers.  Don’t laugh – our most accomplished writers are called Obi-Wans.  However, with the snag of a badly typed email address, I didn’t make the deadline for getting matched.  The coordinator felt badly for me and offered herself up, saying she didn’t feel she was Yoda status yet, but was willing to try.

Resolution Two: check.  Mentor achieved,…
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Snow Day!

Since Masha shared with us what she was not in yesterday’s post, I thought I’d tell you what I am. I am the type of person who watches a pot of water boil. No, seriously. (And it actually does boil, believe it or not.)

When we first got fish, I could sit and observe them frolic and swim around for hours. And don’t get me started on babies. Endless. Entertainment. Of course, this is from the mother who still loves to watch her son fall asleep. (Hey, he’s still in nursery school. That statement would be a lot more strange if he were, say, thirty.)

Where I draw the line, though, is watching grass grow. Too damn boring, too damn long. Yesterday, however, I found a similar, albeit more interesting and prettier, pastime: watching snow fall.

1-snow day 1

As the snow fell and fell and fell, I was thinking that the accumulation…
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What’s the Point?

Our actions should have points to them. Characters in books generally have a point—an arc that shows where they’ve been and where they’re going. But sometimes I feel like nothing has a real point, or we’ve covered the real thing with glitter to hide the underlying problem. Here are things that I can’t quite understand. What’s the point?

Giving free t-shirts to participants in walks for the homeless. Ummm. Not sure I get this one. I have five kids who have participated for years at their school. They get free shirts and walk around the school to help the homeless. First of all let me say quite clearly that our family volunteers and gives plenty to our local community action center. I’m not being insensitive here. I’m just wondering if we couldn’t serve the homeless a little better by actually giving them plain t-shirts or the money that it costs the companies to make them. Wouldn’t that serve the homeless a little better? I get that it’s publicity, but do…
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2014 Social Media Marketing (Yeah, for Books!) – What’s Your Plan?

Denny (PortRoyale)This post has a bit of snark in it so be warned…

And yeah, another title for this post could be: How to Overwhelm and Entertain in 1000 words or less…anyway…:)

I hang out online an average of 90 minutes a day. And no, it’s not 90 minutes that I could have spent writing, or cleaning or doing something else. I am deliberately ‘hanging’ out because the source of information that is most readily attainable is online. It is NOT on TV (well, to me, I hate television news, cable o r network), it is not on the printed page (although, I do miss when back in the day, I’d spend an entire Sunday at a  cool brunch spot on the north side of Chicago, reading the Sunday New York Times and Chicago Tribute – it was so relaxing and so Zen of us:) – and its not only on Facebook (Internet, yes, but not the only source of information…
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Writing Lessons: What a New Shirt Taught Me About the Muse

“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Susan-Mermaid-avatar   I had a “fashion” moment last Saturday.

I’d been to the hair salon for a cut and color – an absolute must before a major holiday!  I’d driven with bestie Colleen to Danbury for shopping.  First, I said, let’s stop for a bite to eat.  Then, I promised, we would attack the mall and our Christmas lists.

But, as I crossed the parking lot, I realized:

The shirt I was wearing didn’t feel “good” on my body anymore, It was too short for the current styles, And it was faded.

We must detour, I insisted.  Just a quick stop at JCPenney, I promised.  Yes, I typically take several hours to decide on anything, but this will be different!  Zipped…
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