"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from our family of super heroes! To the left is a picture of my two beautiful daughters, and below is my oldest child! ;-)

We've been celebrating with church and fall festivals, class parties, Girl Scout gatherings, pumpkin decorating, costume contests, shows, and parades. I cannot possibly eat another piece of candy! (Who am I kidding - I'll never turn down chocolate!)

The forecast is calling for lots of rain here this weekend, but we still have plans for a great time. Good food, movies, and some great books will highlight our haunting fun.

If you prefer to stay home cuddled up with a good book, try one of my suggestions from 10 Scary Reads to Terrify Your Inner Child.

Interested in FREE scary books? Try one of these!

Need a last minute costume idea? Try one of these 10-Minute Lliterary Halloween Costumes and dress like your favorite characters.

How are you celebrating this season?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

To NaNo, or not to NaNo...

November is nearly here, and it's time to decide whether or not to participate in NaNoWriMo. 

I haven't made my decision yet. I'm so swamped with activities, obligations, and goals that I'm not sure I could pull it off. It's easy to think that ANY goal or writing is good for the soul, but not when it adds additional stress to an already worn out individual. I guess I'll make my final decision this weekend when it begins.

Not sure if you want to participate? Check out what best-selling indie author Glynis Smy says about the practice. And let me know...

Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Why?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Welcome Marty!

In case you've never seen the movie Back to the Future, today is the day the main character traveled to the future to visit.

In honor of this momentous occasion, many stores are hosting parties or celebrating by offering great discounts on their merchandise. Check your local listings and favorite haunts for more details.

Or, celebrate with one of these great reads and collectibles suggested by 2nd & Charles.

Will you be celebrating today?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

5 Things I’ve learned in Five Years of Blogging

Monday, October 19, will mark the fifth anniversary of my blog.  Instead of my usual excitement, I find myself reflecting on my purpose for this site and what I’ve gotten from it so far. I say “so far” because I intend to keep writing, sharing, and exploring this venue of the craft I enjoy so much.

Five things I’ve learned in these last five years of blogging:

1)      Schedules – while posting on a schedule can certainly help, it’s not necessary. I try to post twice a week (usually Mondays and Thursdays), but life happens. The stress involved in saying the perfect thing on a timeline just didn’t work for me. I felt pressed to find “fillers”. And my writing suffered. On occasion, I’ve just had to let the blog slide, and that was ok. I have readers who have stayed with me since the beginning, and I am so very grateful they enjoy sharing our love for the craft – when time allows.
2)      Comments – it can be depressing when you feel no one is listening, or “reading. After all, isn’t this whole blogging thing about interaction? The truth is, not everyone has time to comment on every post. I myself am guilty of reading blogs religiously, but seldom commenting. The number of comments you recieive is in no way a reflection of what you have shared. Some of the best blogs out there, with thousands of followers, may only get five or six comments a day. Think about the quality of the comments, not the quantity. After all, what does “Great post!” truly tell you? Interaction is the key. Did the comments left indicate your readers were affected by what you shared?
3)      Giveaways  – In the beginning, I was obsessed with giveaways. I continually handed away books, critiques, journals, gift cards, and more. I was driving myself crazy trying to “reward” my readers for “rewarding” me with their follows and comments. Don’t get me wrong – giveaways and promotion have their place. However, if it is no longer about the loyalty between reader and writer then it rings hollow. You are looking for a long term relationship, not just the day long boost to your numbers.
4)      Be Yourself – So many people (especially writers) have had a blog at some point. Don’t focus on what the crowd is doing. There have been times I felt I needed to discuss the same topics as everyone else. When in truth, this only made me “just like everyone else” with little original thoughts of my own. And even when they were original thoughts, they were not necessarily adding any benefit to the already highly debated topics. I’ve even gone back and removed posts because I felt they were too “repetitive”, or not truly representative of my best ideas. Don’t be sheep. Discuss your own experiences. Stop rehashing others. You are an individual, act like one.
5)      Never Stop Improving – There will always be someone smarter and better than you. Don’t settle for what you have now. Keep striving for more. More knowledge, more talent, and more friends, followers, or readers. Then give yourself a break. It doesn't all happen at once. Keep driving toward your goals!

What is something you’ve learned about blogging?

Monday, October 12, 2015

10 Markets to Inspire Your Muse

We all get stuck at times. Writer's block, a mute muse, depression... they all mean the same thing. If you've found yourself experiencing a rut then it's time to try something different. Try writing in a genre you've never tried before, or write for a new publication. Not sure who to try? Start with your own favorite reads. If you still feel stuck for inspiration, try perusing and writing for some you don't usually read. A new pace can mean fresh inspiration. Try one of the following 10 markets to get you going again. Simply click the title of each to view their writers guidelines:

Azizah Magazine — AZIZAH is the magazine for the contemporary Muslim woman, presenting her aspirations and achievements, and reflecting her experiences and empowerment as she seeks spiritual growth in today's world. All articles should be written from the perspective of the thinking Muslim woman. Regular features and fiction should be between 1500 and 2500 words. Rates vary depending on the article, and payment for first rights is made upon acceptance of the article. 

Chatelaine magazine(Canada) — Chatelaine is Canada's biggest, oldest and best women’s magazine. The editors are looking for topics that range from investigative reports, politics and crime to engaging profiles and first person narratives. The editors are always looking for informative or controversial health stories as well. Chatelaine pays $1/word and buys first North American rights in English and in French, as well as the right to archive your story and post it on Chatelaine.com 

Essence magazine — To submit your ideas, please write a query letter that explains your story concept, proposed story length, possible experts (if it is a reported piece) and why this idea would appeal to the Essence reader. Query letters should be no more than one page in length, and should be addressed to the editor whose section interests you at Essence Magazine. Payment to be determined. 

Ladies Home Journal — The editors are open to many topics, as long as the topic is something that most woman age 35-50 can relate to. They are not looking for tips or advice, but stories of personal growth told with insight and/or humor. Story length, payment, and deadlines are discussed with the writer upon assignment.

MS. Magazine — Co-founded by Gloria Steinem in 1972, Ms. quickly became a national and international forum for new ideas and issues, investigative journalism, fiction, the arts, political coverage, humor, women’s health, and international women’s news. Ms. is looking for pieces that use a feminist lens. We consider articles on politics, social commentary, popular culture, law, education, art and the environment. We do not consider articles on fashion, beauty, fitness, travel, food or of a "self-help" variety. Film, music and book reviews are covered in-house. Writers should reference several recent issues to familiarize themselves with content and style. Rates vary and are not discussed until an assignment has been made. 

REDBOOK magazine — REDBOOK is targeted to women between the ages of 25 and 45 who define themselves as smart, capable, and happy with their lives. Many, but not all, of our readers are going through one of two key life transitions: single to married and married to mom. Editors prefer to see queries rather than manuscripts, and suggest that you provide us with some ideas for sources/experts. Payment: TBD. 

Sasee magazine — Sasee welcomes editorial submissions from freelance writers. The editors seek essays, humor, satire, personal experience, and features on topics relating to women are our primary editorial focus. Diversity of subjects that reflect all age groups and variety of writing styles are invited. Articles should be no more than 500 to 1000 words in length. Payment for articles varies. 

Today's Christian Woman magazine — Today's Christian Woman's mission is to help Christian women grow deeper in their faith, influence their family, workplace, and community for Christ, and life out their calling and giftings. Today's Christian Woman articles need to offer first-hand, honest, biblical perspectives on a woman's life, relationships, faith, and ministry. Payment on acceptance of completed articles, $50-$150, exclusive online rights. For article that appear in print, we purchase first rights and pay $100-$300. 

Woman's Day magazine — Woman's Day publishes articles from freelance writers on a broad range of subjects of special interest to women, including marriage, health, diet and exercise, spirituality, saving and managing money, interpersonal relationships, careers, lifestyle issues, etc. Article lengths range from 650 to 1,600 words. Woman's Day pays top rates upon acceptance. 

Women's Running magazine — Women's Running is the only women-specific running magazine. The magazine covers all aspects of the running lifestyle, from active beauty needs to training plans. The editors are looking for experienced freelance writers to contribute. Payment to be determined. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG: Dealing With Worry

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

This morning I've been thinking about "worry". Everyone worries, but writers often seem to live and feed off of the emotion. Yes, I call worry an emotion because it's an extension of fear. 

The Bible tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

But I’m human. Which means, even with my faith, I tend to struggle with worry. Being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect. It makes you strive to be better than you were yesterday.

Worry has the power to occupy our thoughts. What if I’m not good enough to get published? What if I only ever get one piece published? What if my next book is not a success? What if no one buys my book, even though they all seem to be buying that crap on the NYT bestseller list?

It doesn’t matter what stage you are at in your career – just starting, or multi book deal. The worry is always hovering around. So, what do you do when the reminder ‘not to worry” is not enough?

1)      Face the Fear – Instead of suppressing the anxiety or running away from your perceived problems, it is important to deal with them as immediately as possible. Your uncertainty will only grow with time if you let it. Ask yourself what is truly causing you to panic, and what can you do about it right now – today. Take one day at a time. A friend of mine often refers to this anxiety as False Evidence Appearing Real, and says those emotions tend to flee with a proactive approach.

2)      Meditate – Whether you spend the time in prayer, or just focus on the sounds of the ocean coming from your stereo, meditation can offer you the needed break from the brain clutter causing you to seize up. This practice helps you achieve greater clarity and focus, and decreases the potential for worry.
3)    Work it out – sometimes #1 isn’t enough. Maybe you find yourself in a holding pattern. Or maybe you just can’t seem to escape those feelings. Exercise may not solve your problems, but engaging in ANY physical activity can take your mind off of things. Activity is a natural stress reliever that can clear your thinking, and result in a more positive attitude. Hate to exercise? Simple chores such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming away cobwebs from the ceiling, or dusting those high shelves provides enough movement to provide your brain with the needed energy boost to get back on track.
4)    Stay hydrated – Scientists claim dehydration can cause depression. While most of us roll our eyes at the “it’s important to drink enough water everyday” lecture, why risk your mental health? Drink more water, and feel the unease melt away.
5)    Take a break – just as meditation and exercise can reinforce your state of mind, so too can taking a break. If you spend your days sitting too long in one place, or there is a constant flux causing your heart rate to increase exponentially, then you need to periodically need a break. Allow time for fun and relaxation so your feelings of anxiety can subside.
6)    Seek help – Sometimes it’s impossible to go it alone. If none of these steps offer any relief, or the feeling just seem to continually increase, then it’s time to ask for help. Sometimes just finding others facing similar dilemmas is enough to help you. Join a writers group, find critique partners, and talk to young students who want to write. If those encounters still aren’t enough, then it may be time to find a counselor. Anxiety disorders are nothing to be ashamed of, or to take lightly. YOU ARE WORTH HELPING!
If you find yourself plagued by worry, try one of these six steps. Worrying by itself will not help you to solve your problems. Continued worry can only compound your situation, and endanger your health. Make a commitment to reduce your anxiety levels today. The power is yours, and it begins with the choice to stop worrying.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pledge to Write

The last few months have been a bit of a slump for me. I haven't worked on any new writing - I just plodded along trying to complete projects I already had in the works.

Ever since I returned from summer vacation I haven't been able to produce much (which makes me wonder if I shouldn't take vacations from my writing when I travel, but that's another topic). I've thought "that's it, I'm done. I'm not a real writer. I've just been pretending this whole time. It was a fun hobby while it lasted, but I guess I'm done."

While I felt further depressed by those thoughts, I couldn't break the cycle... until a few days ago. Suddenly, I'm overflowing with new ideas, and motivated to try new projects. I can barely focus on one manuscript at a time.

To celebrate my newly rediscovered zest for the craft, and in an effort to keep the momentum going, I'm committing to the Author Publish pledge. "I pledge to write at least one page every day in October."

If this works out for me, maybe I can use one of these new pages as a starting ground for NaNoWriMo in November. One thing at a time.

So, anyone want to join me and take the pledge? Have you ever found yourself in a slump, or overwhelmed with ideas? If so, you might enjoy reading about 20 Things Only Highly Creative People Would Understand.