Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Linkage

More interesting linky-links for a Friday morning:

Rachelle Gardner: Master the Craft of Writing. Please. Before you send me your manuscripts. (Editor hat off.)

PsyBlog: Why You Should Keep Your Goals Secret. Not sure I agree with all of this, but I definitely have noticed similar things happening to me personally.

Derek Haines: When Your Writing is Crap.

Jeff Goins: Don't Avoid Painful Writing. I've also read a lot of advice that says not to write out of your own pain because it's too self-indulgent to ever be any good. As usual, I think both thoughts have merit, and both thoughts are wrong. Was that helpful?

The High Calling: LL Barkat on Writing. I haven't read her book, and I disagree with her statement that some things just "shouldn't be published," but there's some good, meaty thoughts here on writing and finding the depth and guts of a story.

Social Media Examiner: 5 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Page.

Jane Friedman: My Secret for Battling Procrastination. Yes, I know none of you ever procrastinate.

Social Media Explorer: Education is the New Marketing.

Jenny Hanson, guest post by Jody Hedlund: Four Steps for Organizing Plot Ideas into a Novel.

SF Gate: Mark Morford: Hurry Up, Get More Done, and Die. Should probably be required reading for, like, everyone.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How KK’s Weird Breakfast Choices Can Help Your Writing

What is this, you ask? Has KK lost her mind? Has she decided she should run a food blog even though she can’t follow recipes to save her life?

Also—wtf is that picture?

Well, I’ll tell you. That picture is French toast with real, organic butter, organic maple syrup, a banana, and some shredded cheese.

If you’re like most people, you were hanging along okay until I got to the cheese. At the cheese, you probably went… Okay…why cheese?

Trust me. It’s really good.

When I was a kid, I lived near Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. There was a restaurant in Champaign that served French toast with bananas and cheese. (They also topped it with whipped cream, but I always thought that was overkill.) They called it a Cinderella, and it was fabulous.

Here’s another food story. We used to drive down to Olney a lot to visit my cousins. When we spent the night, they would make pancakes and put peanut butter on them. (And syrup. The “overkill” ingredient is vital for this one.) I thought it was weird at first, but when I tried it, I got hooked. Pancakes with peanut butter is awesome.

What’s the point? I think it’s something like this: if you’re writing a story or a book or a poem, you often find yourself moving down tried and true paths. You’re okay with the French toast with butter and syrup. Banana? That’s fine—fruit’s a traditional accompaniment for French toast. But cheese? With the banana and the syrup (and whipped cream if you’re a purist)? That’s just weird!

And then you taste it. And it’s fabulous.

So what’s the cheese you can toss onto your French toast book? Or the peanut butter for your traditional novel pancake? Is it a super quirky character you don’t think would ever work? A romance hero who doesn’t like to be touched? A powerful warrior with claustrophobia? Play with ideas. Eventually you’ll hit on something that sounds like it would never work but which, in practice, works perfectly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friday Linkage

Not quite so many links this week. Some good stuff here, though.

Writer's Digest: The Geyser 5-Step Approach to Revision.

Jane Friedman: Are You Worried Your Ideas or Work Will Be Stolen? Good, common-sense advice, as usual from Jane.

Tribal Writer: Why You Need to Write Like a Bad Girl, Part One.

Write to Publish: Good Reads 101: Part Two.

Happy Place: How to Keep the Grammatically Challenged off the Internet. This made me laugh.

The Business Rusch: New Paths

Jane Friedman: The Story Bible--What it Is and Why You Need One.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: Writing the Fire

Photo from Affiliate link.
iconI just finished reading this book this morning, and I'd like to recommend it to anyone who writes and is also familiar with yoga. Written by a yoga practitioner, Writing the Fire offers a variety of exercises rooted in the yogic tradition to help unleash creativity, still the mind, and improve the quality of your writing practice.

If you're not into yoga, or feel that a spiritual practice just isn't your thing, much of this book won't make much sense, and will probably make you roll your eyes a lot. But if you benefit from the integration of spirituality into your regular routine, this book will give you several new ways of looking at how your creativity works, how it ebbs and flows, and ways to harness a steadier, more reliable flow of ideas and production.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beau Coup Friday Links

Many, many links today...

The Passive Voice--What You Don't Know About Find and Replace in Microsoft Word. This information is both awesome and frightening. Use with care.

Fiction Groupie--The Post In Which I Rant About Blogging, Platforms, and the Pressure on Writers. This is an excellent post with much food for thought.

Erastes--Believe in what you write—even if it is “only for money”. Some words of wisdom.

Jane Friedman--The Evolving Model of the Entrepreneurial Novelist. Fascinating take on self publishing from Sean Platt.

Aliventures--7 Habits of Serious Writers. Amazingly enough, I do all these things. Go me!

Dystel & Godrick Literary Management--Writers with Imprints. Interesting development. I want my own imprint! Somebody give me one!

The Story Prize--Patricia Henley on the Rational Part of the Writing Process. There's a rational part to the writing process? Who knew?

Julie Isaac--How to Write Daily More Easily. Some great tips on increasing the consistency of your productivity.

The Guardian--Romantic Fiction's Passion for E-Books.

Patricia C. Wrede--The Hat Lecture. Great advice here for serious writers, and I love the presentation.

Livia Blackburne--The Psychology of Attraction: Uncertainty.

The Fall of Print--How a new survey of ebook discovery habits lends hope to self-publishers and tips for better marketing. Some interesting stats here.

Adam Westbrook--What Monty Python can teach the next generation of publishers. Good article, although not about all of Monty Python. Focuses on Terry Gilliam's creative process.

World Starvation. Neal Stephenson talks about the obligations of a science fiction writer. A meaty and thought-provoking read.

Last but not least: A friend of mine recently lost her job, and is working on building a Pampered Chef business. If you like Pampered Chef products (I think they're fantastic), consider dropping by her personal Pampered Chef page to place an order.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thoughts On Writing—Longhand Girl in a Techno World

I’m sitting at Wendy’s writing this blog post in a notebook and my son just said to me, “Why would you write a blog post in a notebook? That’s sacrilegious.”

Whatever the opposite of a Luddite is, that’s my son. If he needs to do homework and there’s no computer available, it doesn’t even occur to him to work on the essay longhand.

I often hear writers bemoaning the fact that their electricity is out so they can’t get any work done. I look at my pen and notebook and can’t figure out how electricity outage is keeping them from working. During the daytime, at least. At night, candles don’t quite cut it, and they can set your notebooks on fire.

The truth is, I’ve always composed longhand. Of course, back in the day, I didn’t have much choice. It was either longhand or a manual typewriter that made my wrists ache. Later my parents bought me an electric typewriter, which was easier on my wrists, but I still wrote my first drafts by hand.

I like specific pens. I like certain kinds of paper. In high school I liked rolling ball ink pens and looseleaf paper. In my twenties I preferred Bic sticks and steno pads. In the last few years I’ve switched to Moleskine notebooks, composition tablets, and Sharpie pens—the kind that don’t soak through the paper—and Sharpie liquid graphite erasable pencils that turn permanent after day or two, because they’re the coolest things ever.

I like the flexibility of writing by hand. I can stick a notebook in my purse and write anywhere. I also like the way it feels. There’s just something about the feel of a pen sliding over paper that makes writing feel more real to me.

There are disadvantages, of course. I have a tendency to misplace notebooks. A lost notebook can undermine my productivity for days at a time. (Or months. I’m great at losing things.) And then there’s transcription.

When I mention to my editors or other writers that I’ve got a story finished except for transcription, I’m often met with a O.o (an O.o? Who knows…). And looking at a full notebook that needs to be transcribed is kind of like looking at a sink full of dirty dishes. It takes time. And until recently, it was uncomfortable.

I recently made the leap to dictating software, though, which has made it a lot easier. My decision came largely because of carpal tunnel syndrome. I was waking up in the middle of the night unable to feel my hands. I’d try to pet the dog and end up pummeling her with big, numb clubs. She didn't appreciate it very much.

With dictation software—I use Dragon Dictate for Mac—I can just read the story into my computer. It’s actually faster than typing—and I type 100+ words per minute—and the dictation mistakes can be really entertaining.

I’ve written books on the computer, but I don’t think I’ve ever written an entire story on the computer. At some point I always end up with pen and paper, especially if I’m having trouble getting the words to flow. When I was spending more time drafting on the computer, before my wrists got worse, many, many stories started with several scenes written by hand before I started lining everything up in Scrivener (or Word, back in the Bad Old PC days). So when it comes to my current most efficient method of writing, longhand it is, no matter how many O.o’s I get.

If you’re a longhand girl (or boy) too, stick to your guns. Some days it seems there aren’t many of us left.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Join Me at Savvy Authors, October 17th

Starting October 17th--a week from today--I'll be leading a workshop at Savvy Authors called Writing Memorable and Meaningful Sex Scenes. I'll be recruiting the expertise of my erotica-writing evil twin, Elizabeth Jewell, as well as drawing on my own experience writing sensual romance.

There’s no question about it: sex sells, and the current romance market is thriving on more explicit content than ever before in the history of the genre. However, readers are discerning, and even the most daring content will fall flat if it isn’t integrated into the story on an emotional level and on a story level.

This course will show you how to write sex scenes that not only scorch the pages, but carry the story forward and reveal important plot elements or provide in-depth characterization. No more cookie cutter scenes—each sex scene will be integral to the story and specific to the characters involved, drawing the reader into your story and leaving them thoroughly fulfilled—in more ways than one.

Register for the course at Savvy Authors. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


It's Friday, Friday, postin' links on Friday... OMG my children are evil for earworming me with that damn song every week...and so I pass their evil on to you.

Anyway... on to the meaty linky bits.

Breaking In Before Breaking Down: Promotional Tips for Self-Published Authors
Will Boast: Cutting Out the Bad Bits. Via Jane Friedman, "Write More Raw Material Than You Need"
Rachelle Gardner: 10 Tips About Author Platform
Fuel Your Writing: Crowdsource Your Book With Pubslush. I'm fascinated by this new publishing model.

An Internet High Five. 'Cause we all need one.

Digital Book World: Social Media--The Art of the Nudge
Tribal Writer: 6 So-Called Rules for the Badass Creative Woman
Livia Blackburne: Revision Adventures: Building Strong Characters and Emotional Depth. Some great tidbits here that I plan to use.
AdAge MediaWorks: As Devices and Distribution Compete, Content Enjoys Renaissance I wonder if we need a new royalty/artist compensation structure to keep from driving the content distributors/aggregators out of business.
Jane Friedman (Guest Blogger Biba Pearce): 3 Tips for Professional Ebook Covers
Publish Your Own Ebooks: The Importance of Building an Author Platform. Yes, I'm a little obsessed with this topic right now...

The League of Reluctant Adults: Responding to Negative Reviews. This is FANTASTIC. Especially the art work. :-D

Wow, Barnes and Noble? REALLY? Maybe I'm not so excited about trying to keep you in business after all.

Have a great weekend!! And I think everybody should go to B&N and demand copies of Watchmen and Sandman. Just to see what happens.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Familiarity Breeds Contentment

A splash of gold
On pine-swathed breast;

The mountains lay

The fall to rest.

If you live in the mountains in Colorado, there are certain things you can be sure of. During the summer, to avoid traffic, go down the mountain on Friday and up the mountain on Sunday to avoid campers going the opposite direction. This applies doubly to Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends, except shift the Sunday to Monday.

Oh, and it’ll happen again on one weekend in mid to late September or early October.

That last was tricky. It’s never the same weekend, so you have to pay attention to the news or other media outlets to find out when it’s going to happen.

It happened this past Saturday. I was driving the kids downtown to celebrate my first anniversary of self-employment and my son’s eighteenth birthday, which will happen on Wednesday. Traffic was backed up in front of the road where I turn onto the highway. In fact, it was backed up nearly ten miles, in some stretches slowed to stop-and-go.

“What the heck?” I said to the kids. I saw no sign of an accident, and Saturday afternoon isn’t prime camping traffic.

Then it struck me.

The traffic was backed up for ten miles because everybody was heading into the mountains to look at the trees.

Growing up in the Midwest, I always had lots of trees to look at in the fall. Oak, maple, poplar—they smeared every fall landscape with reds, oranges and yellows.

In Colorado, it’s the aspens. Just the aspens, in masses and patches of brilliant gold set against the deep green of pines. It’s really quite stunning to see them high color. Aspens share root systems, so they grow in groves, all of which change color at roughly the same time.

This weekend was the prime weekend. That’s the thing about the aspens. If you went this past weekend, you will have seen the glorious display of hundreds of golden leaves shimmering in the breeze. Next weekend? It’ll all be brown, dead and gone. It’s a fragile thing. The beauty of the color depends on vagaries of weather, including temperature and rainfall, that I’ve never been able to figure out. People in the news media here do calculus while standing on their heads to determine the exact day that the color will be at its peak.

The color is vibrant this year, a darker, richer gold than I’ve seen in a long time, probably because we had a crazy-wet summer. But we didn’t go up the hills to Kenosha Pass or Guanella Pass or Mt. Evans. Not this year.

Instead we went around about our regular business. At the library, I looked up to see two huge patches of aspens in the peaks beyond, stunningly brilliant against the surrounding deep green. More golden splendor lurked between peaks I see every day, now transformed so that I couldn’t help but look and marvel a little as we drove down to lunch. At Meyer Ranch Open Space Park, I saw patches of red among the gold. And following the bends in the highway, I saw streaks of aspen groves like molten gold poured down the sides of the mountains.

It’s nice to go somewhere special to see the aspens. At Kenosha Pass, there are huge groves, so everywhere you look, there’s nothing but gold. At Mt. Evans, the swathes of gold highlight the towering, rugged flanks of 14,000-foot peaks.

But seeing that same gold scattered over my familiar landscape struck me more deeply this year than past treks to Kenosha have. This year the aspens were a special gift, one I didn’t have to seek out, but that instead was scattered all around me, in familiar places that were made special, gilded by the dying leaves.

I think I liked it better this year.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Posting on Tuesdays

When I made my initial blogging schedule for the rest of the year, I decided I was going to post on Mondays. However, it looks like everybody and his brother posts on Mondays, plus I have a #micropoetry thing going on on Twitter on Mondays (check that out if you like poetry), so I think I'll move my regular blog to Tuesdays.

So, coming up tomorrow, I blog about why the traffic was horrible in my neck of the woods this past weekend. There will be pretty pictures...