Real Life Writer

Make Your Own Mark

Word Artistry

There are few things I love and admire more than words. Even used independently, a single word can evoke as much emotion and strength as when strung together into sentences: Surprise! Believe. Heartbroken. Bravo! Yes. No. Goodbye. There is power in words.

In the hands of a skilled writer, a carefully chosen sequence can paint a world as artfully as Monet, Gauguin, da Vinci, or Renoir. Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the beauty of words when given cadence. Like Baryshnikov, Astaire, Kelly, Pavlova—words have a flair and a style unique to their artist. The right words never lie flat on a page; they dance!

One of my favorite “writer stories” comes from the deGroot play called PAPA. One evening, a group of betting friends challenged Hemingway with writing a short story in ten words or less. On a paper napkin, he wrote, “For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” His powerful words—which in the true essence of a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end—won. Who can deny the beauty of a sentence, well written?

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean.

“The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world.” The Long Valley by John Steinbeck

“As Sonon strode through the evening forest, his black cape parted the sea of frigid air, leaving ice crystals swirling behind him.” People of the Black Sun by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

“On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky.” Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

“See, normal hearing aids usually have a part that wraps around the outer ear to hold the inner bud in place. But in my case, since I don’t have outer ears, they had to put the earbuds on this heavy-duty headband that was supposed to wrap around the back of my head.” Wonder by R.J. Palacio

“They found Seth Hubbard in the general area where he had promised to be, though not exactly in the condition expected. He was at the end of a rope, six feet off the ground and twisting slightly in the wind.” Sycamore Row by John Grisham

“Aiden Lynch slid down the steep creek bank, dirt crumbling beneath his bare feet and dust rising in a cloud behind him. He eyed the muddy trickle of water at the bottom and decided not to drink. Strange how a person could be so particular about drinking muddy water when he had come down to the creek to eat dirt, but nothing else made much sense in his life anymore, so why should that?” The Devil’s Paintbox by Victoria McKernan

“As I stepped out of the cabin, whiteness blinded me.” Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.” The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Each passage paints a world vastly different than the others, doesn’t it? It’s in the beauty of their words that we see the life within their stories. Artistry comes in many forms, but words are what touch my soul. They are as vivid as paints on a palette, as fulfilling as drink and nourishment, and as entrancing as the beauty of dance.

Words define us, even when we’ve not spoken them.

Originally posted at Romance Ninjas

Gold Medal Recipient!

So proud of BLACK LIGHTNING for winning GOLD at the Literary Classics International Book Awards! Here is what Literary Classics had to say:

Ten year old Samuel’s father disappeared years ago, and now his mother has passed away.  With no one to care for him and no place to call home his aunt vies to adopt him for all the wrong reasons. Samuel’s prayers are answered though when his mother’s will puts an end to that notion.  Now he’s living with his Grandfather.  Still grieving, and experiencing feelings of abandonment and insecurity, he dreams his father will someday return for him.  His Grandpa Tate’s interaction with the Apache natives leads him to learn of the legend of black lightning.  Samuel and his friend make a grand discovery and together they rebel against the rules and face possible death in the Last Land.  A talisman given to him by his father becomes a critical element for his survival.

Fantasy combines with tribal lore to offer an exciting spin on an entirely compelling story which will entice young readers.  Author K.S. Jones weaves an enchanting tale of lore and legend combined with a sci-fi element that will enthrall young audiences.  With well-developed characters and a magical component, Samuel’s journey is one that will not soon be forgotten by youngsters who enjoy reading fantasy or science fiction books.  Recommended for home and school libraries, Black Lighting has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

Less Words, More Meaning

It seems Twitter has taken the world by storm in the past two years, perhaps rocket-fueled by the unprecedented amount of presidential tweets. That’s not only good fodder for writers in general, but for comedians, lyricists, and dramatists. However, Twitter has a purpose for writers in many other ways, too. Have you ever participated in a Twitter Pitch? I have not, but I plan to engage in pitching very soon. Writing a twenty-five word pitch describing your 80,000-100,000 word novel is a lofty goal, so I’m taking an online class in hopes of learning how to succeed at it. Does that make me less of a writer? I’m not sure, but anything that teaches me how to write using less words with more meaning sounds good to me.

I can’t help but wonder  . . .  Are Twitter Pitches the new “slush pile” for publishers and agents? It’s an interesting concept. What are your thoughts?

Originally Posted at Romance Ninjas

Black Lightning, Finalist!

LIterary Classics Book Awards. Top Honors Book Awards. Youth Book Awards. Book Award Finalist – Literary Classcis Announced its 2017 list of book award recipients.

BLACK LIGHTNING, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy set in the American Southwest for readers 7-11 years old, has been named a Finalist in the 2017 Literary Classics book awards! Literary Classics is a class act (my previous book SHADOW OF THE HAWK won in 2015) and any writer looking for a worthy competition would do well to consider this one. Take a look at their award-winning books–you’ll find each one deserving of its award.

Writers Are Weird

Let’s be honest—writers are weird. We’re just a bit strange. Odd, maybe, is a better word.

On any given day, most people will look at me and rightfully say, “Oh, she’s a fairly organized, rational, detailed, methodical-type person. Friendly and outgoing, too.” Yet when my writer’s brain takes over, which is not nearly often enough, I become a whole other person, even known for telling my neighbors, “Don’t bother coming to my door because there’s a really good chance I’m not going to answer.” And I mean it. I’m really not going to answer my door. Nor my phone. Not my emails either. Nope. Not until I’m done for the day, or week, anyway. That’s the only way a writer can get any writing done.

Writers who are parents with kids at home have a whole other set of troubles! Wow, bravo to all of you. I was one of you once, which is my excuse for not having a novel published until after I reached fifty years of age. Of course, there was no such thing as respectable self-publishing prior to me turning fifty, so it was the traditional route or not at all. It was not at all for me because, in my opinion, I still had a long way to go before I became a “good writer.” Now self-publishing is king and there’s no waiting line. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry, and Susie and Sally, can hop online and publish any drivel they want and they’ll sell at least a few copies before the reading public realizes they’re frauds. Which actually hurts the great self-published writers out there because the readers no longer trust our profession. But that’s another soapbox for another day.

Back to us being a weird bunch . . .  Other than schizophrenics, how many other people see and hear invisible folks and their stories? I often amuse myself when I am in the midst of writing a scene—one in which I know exactly where things are going—and a door opens and someone I never expected to see is standing before me. (Yes, I mean in my make-believe world.) I am always shocked! “Who are you?” I’ll ask, and suddenly the events change and I get a story I never predicted. It’s miraculous really.

Real writers are never alone. We have our own tribes, especially since the advent of the Internet, so even though we may be hundreds of miles apart, we support each other, we understand, and we care. And when the Internet is down, well, we can always turn to our make-believe people.

Originally posted at Romance Ninjas

The Masters

Writers are a unique breed, in that they seek counsel and advice at every turn along their professional path. Books for writers sell like hotcakes, YouTube videos on the subject of writing, or its inspiration, often top the charts, and seminars, conferences, and speeches on the art can normally fill a room with those clamoring to learn more, or hear how to do it better.

I’m most intrigued with those of us who seek out the old masters for advice and wisdom, such as Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Margaret Mitchell, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Jules Verne, J.R.R Tolkien, H.G. Wells, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Jack London, Agatha Christie, and, oh, so many more! Depending upon our chosen genres, there are certainly one or more of the preceding names whom writers consider godlike. Well, wait . . .  Does the age of the writer matter? Apparently so, because those mentioned had their masters, too.

Ernest Hemingway admired authors Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov, John Steinbeck prized the King Arthur stories written by Sir Thomas Malory, and H.G. Wells, who wrote what he termed “Scientific Romances” in the late-1800s (later coined Science Fiction), admired George Bernard Shaw to whom a great friendship formed. It is said that Jack London, later in his life, purchased plotlines from an as yet unpublished Sinclair Lewis, saying, “Well, I can’t construct plots worth a dam, but I can everlastingly elaborate.”

But what of today’s “old masters?” To name a few, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Johanna Lindsey, John Green, Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham, and again, oh, so many more! They had their masters, too. The great Mr. King once stated, “Without Ray Bradbury, there is no Stephen King.” Johanna Lindsey admires authors Kathleen E. Woodiness and Rosemary Rogers, saying they are the writers who started her genre. When author Nicholas Sparks was asked about his inspiration, he said, “I like to think part of my trademark is the quality of the storytelling, and that skill is owed in large part to reading everyone from Stephen King and John Grisham to Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck.” Ah, yes, the old masters! (Spark’s has a helpful writer section on his website at: http://nicholassparks.com/for-writers/ )

The masters before us affect us in many ways. Writers should take seriously the scrutiny of their final product, lest their footprints in the literary world be washed away by the next wave. Write a masterpiece, not just a novel to earn a dime! Use your talent the way the “Greats” before you have done. Write so that your name cannot be erased. Dare to become one of the masters.

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT: http://romanceninjas.com/smatterings-4-the-masters/


Smatterings – Peanuts and Jam

In this age of throwaway gadgets and modern technology, the art of good old elbow grease should not be dismissed so easily.

While growing up on our remote California farm, my father rarely, if ever, called a repairman for anything. First, we couldn’t afford one, and secondly, few existed in our small farming community. In fact, on top of everything else my father knew how to do, he became a self-taught television repairman. Back then, one didn’t just toss out the old TV and buy a new one—it just wasn’t practical. Everything from the toaster, to the television, to our washing machine was repaired until it couldn’t be, and then we usually went without for a long time. That’s where elbow grease paid off . . . we learned to fix things ourselves. And if the item was beyond repair, we found ourselves handwashing clothes, having bread for breakfast instead of toast, and reading books rather than watching television.

Although writers don’t usually need to print their manuscripts these days (most submissions are electronic), I still find myself printing pages, or editing notes, or other important things. So last week when my printer stopped dead in its tracks flashing “Paper Jam!” I didn’t panic. A paper jam is easy to fix. However, after a few hours of not finding a single scrap of paper while the printer kept insisting it had a jam, my frustration mounted. I just wanted to print my editing notes so that I could keep writing! I wrote less and less with my thoughts intensely focused on those missing notes.

A week passed with my intermittent bursts of hopeful repair work, all to no avail. So today, as I prepared to drive into town for the sole purpose of buying a new printer, I felt my father’s spiritual presence. I had to give it one more try. Now, two hours and several bits of smashed peanut later, my printer works like new–thanks Dad! With all the incredible technology today, it would have been very helpful if the printer had flashed “Peanut Jam!” instead. I’m just sayin’… Maybe the geniuses of the world are aiming too high.

I’ll admit, I will be rethinking eating peanuts at my desk from now on, or else I’ll keep the scavenging dogs out from under my desk where the printer works. Yes, I’m blaming it on the dogs for dropping that fugitive peanut into my printer.

All in all, I think it’s important to point out that elbow grease still works! Although I must admit, spending forty dollars on a new printer last week would have been much easier.

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT: http://romanceninjas.com/smatterings-3-peanuts-and-jam/ 

About Book Reviews

I’ve learned many things since becoming a published author, and some of them have been exceedingly simple. It seems I am always on a voyage of self-discovery, which brings me to today’s topic: I love to read book reviews, whether posted on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, magazines, wherever. I find lots of good books that way. Recently, I heard it reported that Amazon has almost eight million titles available. How in the world do you find a great story in such a massive amount of books? Sure, you can narrow your search until you’re almost blind from staring at the computer screen, but more likely than not, you’re still going to miss a wonderful book simply because it is listed in a category you didn’t think to check!

Book signings, writer’s conferences, and other author promotions usually draw me like a magnet to them, not only to support the author, but also in hopes of gleaning a bit of wisdom, and maybe with some luck, I’ll learn a few new things. But to be perfectly honest, when I meet a writer—no matter how famous or prolific—who is rude, or insensitive, or bored by it all, or has an “I’m better than you” attitude, I don’t care how good their book is, I’m not buying it. But it’s hard to tell anything at all about a writer when their reviews or author interviews are online, so I often wonder . . . What kind of person are they?

Writing is hard work and anyone who does it, and does it well, interests me. Which brings me to my real question: Why don’t authors comment when a blog posts a review of their book? Why don’t they respond when their readers comment on their interview or review? Once in a while, I’ll see an author commenting, which immediately tells me they care about their readers and respect their interviewer and/or reviewer. I love those authors! That’s probably why my book budget regularly falls into the red—I happily spend my hard-earned money to buy their books. Rarely am I disappointed, but maybe that’s because I go headstrong into the story with a good attitude about the author.

Reviews are vital to an author’s success, and every author knows that to be true. So, if you’re an author, I urge you to stop ignoring your readers, bloggers, and reviewers! Say, “Thanks for taking the time to review my book!” or something more personalized. But say something. Your response tells readers you’re a nice guy/gal writer whose work might deserve a chance.

Two important points: #1 Should an author respond to an Amazon or Barnes and Noble Review? NO! Most likely not. So don’t look for author comments in those places. I’m talking about review sites and blogs only. #2 Many times, authors do not know a review or blog post has been written about them or their book—if they don’t know about it, they can’t be expected to respond.

Originally Posted at: http://romanceninjas.com/smatterings-2-about-book-reviews/