Tag Archives: #amwriting #amblogging #amlearning

Is it Narcissism, or something else? Why I blog…

I had a random acquaintance ask me the other why I bother to blog. The way she phrased it was “does anybody really want to read about your daily life? I mean, all you do is write, right? That’s kinda boring.”

Those of you who know me probably think you know how swift, cutting, and murderous my reply to her was. You would be wrong. I actually stayed silent and just stared at her. She was probably thinking, “well she can’t even come up with a creative reply, so she mustn’t be that good a writer.” In reality, I was thinking something else.

And it wasn’t 75 ways to verbally vivisect her.

Her question got me thinking: “was she right? Would anyone who doesn’t know me, and even those who do, want to read a blog about my life as a writer? Why would they?” And the fact that I think people would, well, does that make me a little narcissistic in some way?

Heady stuff.

I had to take a step back and consider the reasons why I started writing a blog to see if I could truthfully answer that question.

The moment I signed my first book contract, the marketing instructions I was sent stated that I needed to begin an online presence so I’d have a platform to inform the public ( the people I didn’t know personally) about my soon to be released book. I joined Twitter, developed a Facebook author page, and then this blog. In the beginning, it really was just a venue to promote my book. It quickly turned into something more, though. I started writing about my life as a writer, my struggles, creative ideas to break through writer’s block that I’d learned from other industry professionals. It became a place to recap conferences for writers who couldn’t attend them, a place to promote good books I’d read, and new authors I’d found whose work I wanted to share.

And through all of this, I kept getting more readers and subscribers, to the blog- the majority of whom I’ve never met!

There’s a way on WordPress you can get your daily analytics to garner info on how many people are reading your blog, clicking it through it and when ( like, what time of the day). Every day when I check those analytics I see a lot of data and it’s all good, so that means people really do want to read what I have to say, receive what I want to share, get to know the authors I’m introducing. And that makes me feel good. Really good.

So, to the fringe acquaintance, if you’re reading this ( and who am I kidding because you’re probably not!) take that!

Oh, and those 75 ways to verbally vivisect you? Yeah, I came up with 143. In less than 10 minutes…just saying. So the next time we meet…

When I’m not being narcissistic, I mean, WRITING, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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I’m not Inventor-y…

This week’s topic is a hard one for me because I’m not an inventor-y-type girl. I don’t even like to go to the beach, much less an island. If I got stuck on a deserted island, I’d probably be the first one the cannibals ate, anyway because, you know…I’m chubby! Lots of protein and fat.

But…..

So survival being the name of the game I’d need some kind of device that would be able to turn the water surrounding the island into water suitable to drink. It takes 3 minutes to die without air, 3 weeks without food and three days without water, so the water is a necessity. I know there are currently machines called desalinization thingies, but I’d need to be able to make this on the island from the raw materials around.

Don’t know how I’d do this, don’t have a clue where to being, but….that’s what I’d make. A thingie machine to make clean, drinkable water.

And then once that was off the drawing board and put into practice, I’d find a way to invent a pizza oven. Just saying. Food, you know?

Heehee.

Well, it’s uber obvious I’m not inventor-y, but maybe some of the other authors on this challenge are. Hop on over to their sites to see what they’ve come up with. And if it’s good, I’ll probably make arrangements to be deserted with them so I could survive.

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Research is spelled P-I-N-T-E-R-E-S-T!

This is a funfunfun topic for me. I sincerely don’t know what writers did before PINTEREST came along. The first time I was ever told about the site and then visited it, I was addicted. For Life. Seriously.

You all know I’m a huge plotter when it comes to my books. I have everything lined up, plotted out, and squared off before I ever start writing because I’m so anal. It’s that damn scientific background – I always need to know where I’m going. In the past I’d look for pictures of my characters or places or settings in magazines. Being able to visibly “see” how I wanted someone to look made it waaaaay easier for me to write about them. With the advent of Google, I tossed the mags and started trolling celebrity sites – because back in the day they were the only pictures you could really find.

It’s a new day, people. We don’t need google images anymore -we’ve got PINTEREST. Anyone can upload a picture of pretty much anything ( legal, that is!) From the moment I used Pinterest to categorize and help me plot/storyboard my books, my life got sosososos much easier. I had more time to write because I didn’t need to troll endlessly looking for images thru mags anymore. I simply plugged in something like “guys, 30’s black hair, green eyes” and 9,000,000 PINS instantly popped up for me to choose from.

Score!

So, for the first time, I’m giving you a little glimpse into how I storyboard my characters on Pinterest. The links below are to my Will Cook For Love Series books. These Pins/pictures are how I “saw” the books when I was writing them. (A few of the books haven’t been published yet so this is like a little teaser!)  Let me know your thoughts.

Will Cook for Love

A shot at Love/Gemma

Melora and Riley

Abby and Rick

Ellie and Sloan

And I even have an alternative, breakout, spinoff series to Cooking with Kandy called Bros, Inc.

You’re welcome for that last one!

When I’m not doing RESEARCH ( wink wink) you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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#MFRW I don’t like your voice….

The prompt of this piece is the worst writing advice I’ve ever gotten. I’m gonna share that, but a little backstory first so you can understand why the advice was the worst!

I’ve been searching for a literary agent since I started my journey in publishing. Haven’t found one yet but it’s not because I haven’t tried. At every conference I attend that allows agent pitches I sign up for a spot. In the past three years I’ve pitched myself and my work to 9 different literary agents. 6 were NYC based, 2 were from California, and one was from the NorthWest. They’ve all been industry  pros with great author pedigrees and clients,  but none of have them have offered to represent me. They’ve all asked for me to send them my work, which I have. Now remember, I’ve pitched to 9 agents. 4 never bothered to contact me back after I’d sent the work and waited the allotted 30 then 60 days for a response. When I did re-email them, no responses. 4 sent me form rejection letters within 15-30 days after I’d mailed my CV and work, not commenting on what I’d sent. The last agent I met with was last year. I’d actually connected with her via email  prior to the conference and she’d asked me to send her my work right away so that she could get a feel for what I wrote before meeting me. I complied.

I met her face to face for an allotted 15 minute meet/pitch and the first thing she said to me was “I don’t like your voice.”

 

I knew she meant my writing voice, not my actual voice voice. Even so, that was a bit…harsh as an opening line. She went on to say she’d read 5 pages of the 30 she’d requested and couldn’t get past the way I wrote. There was nothing technically wrong with it, she said, just that it was unappealing.

Huh?

Okaaaaaaaaay. This had taken exactly 15 seconds of a 15  minute space. What was I supposed to do? Sit there and just stare at her until time was up? Stick up for myself? Cry?

 

I mean really. Talk about how to hurt someone’s feelings. Only, mine weren’t hurt, surprisingly. No, I was feeling something else entirely.

When I get really mad I tend to get very quiet. Deathly so. People around me have remarked that me, quiet, is terrifying.

 

I was so stunned by what she’d said, I couldn’t think of a response. That silence, I think, prompted her to say her next thing – the worst advice I’ve ever gotten. “You should think about changing your voice. Experiment with something different, because I just don’t think you’re going to sell commercially sounding the way you do.”

Huh?

It was apparent to me that she hadn’t read the publishing CV I’d sent along. Last year I had already had 8 books traditionally published and had contracted for 3 more. So without an agent I’d already sold 11 book to publishers. If she’d read that she would have known that SOMEBODY liked my writing voice enough to publish me. 11 times. Traditionally.

 

Again, I stayed silent and smiling, even though I wanted to stick my tongue out at her and say, “so there!!” I know. Real mature. By now I knew even if she offered me a contract ( which she didn’t) I wouldn’t sign with her. If you have an agent you want her/him to be on your side, have your back, and promote you and your work and strengths. When I continued to stay mute she said, “Well, I have a lot of people to see today. I’ll be making decisions on who I want to take on, what work, and such, so  I’ll get back to you within a week or so with my decision.”

Huh?

Hadn’t she just told me my voice was horrible and that I’d never sell commercially? That certainly didn’t sound like she wanted to represent me, does it? I couldn’t take it another minute. I stood, shook her hand and said, “thanks for meeting with me. Enjoy the rest of the conference,” and I bolted before she could say another word.

Weird, right?

Do I really need to tell you she never, ever, got in touch with me again? Not even a form letter.

Like I said: weird.

So that advice –  to change my writing voice – was simply the worst piece of writing advice I’ve ever gotten. Who would say that? WHY would you say that? Each writing voice is unique; distinctive; individual. I could understand that she didn’t like mine. You can’t please everybody. But as an industry professional to actually tell me to change something that’s so inherently part of me is like asking me to change my DNA makeup; my height; my personality. Would you ask Dr. Suess not to rhyme? Would you advise ee cummings to capitolize?  Make Janet Evanovich ditch the humor? Good God, would you ask Jane Austen to stick to writing letters and give up on the whole fiction thing?

Needless to say, I am still on that quest to find an agent. Preferably one who likes my voice.

Since this is a blog hop, click on the other authors in this challenge and see more example of bad writing advice!

 

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#MFRW Top 5 things on my bucket list

Until the movie THE BUCKET LIST came out, I’d never heard this term before.

Once I knew what it meant I kinda ignored the term for about 10 years or so because I wasn’t ready to make a list of things to do before I die. I mean, come on. It’s not like I’m imminently north ( or south) bound. I don’t have one foot tipping over to the hereafter yet.

Yet is the definitive word in that previous sentence.

So, since I can dream about what I want to do someday, here are my top five thoughts on the bucket list in no real order of when or how I want to do them.

GO skydiving.

My daughter went a few years ago and said it is unlike any feeling or emotion you will ever have.

TUSCANY. I want to visit Tuscany for an extended stay and take cooking lessons from real, old world Italian chefs. My pasta making needs expert instruction!

Testify before the House Committee on Funding. These life-long bureaucrats need to hear from real people about why funding for Mental Health, Cancer research, and Education needs to be fully funded. I’m sick to death of my tax dollars going to pork spending. These guys need to hear from me in person!

Start a public service organization dedicated to PAYING IT FORWARD. I’ve been so blessed in my life; I think if a person can, they should pay that blessing forward in any way possible. We’re all in this together, folks. We need to boost each other up. I know I personally have stood on the shoulders of all the women who came before me who fought for reproductive rights, voting rights, mental health rights, employment rights. I want to be able to do the same for the next generation of women and the generations to come.

Plant a tree in all 50 states. I can see some eyebrows rising with this one, but it goes along with the paying it forward thought. Every day, millions of trees are cut down for various reasons. I understand most of those reasons, but if we cut down one, shouldn’t we replace it with another so the cycle can continue? If we continue to destroy our natural landscape without any kind of replenishment, the future will be a vast wasteland. I don’t know about you, but I want my great grandkids to be able to climb trees, take a walk in a forest, and breath in clean air!

So, those are my top bucket list items. Stop by the other authors in this blog hop to see what they’re planning on doing with the rest of their lives!

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Another word about speaking in public…

The other day I wrote about how miserable a public speaker I’ve become. In truth, it’s because I don’t get the chance to do it as often as I used to so I’m kinda out of practice. Hand in hand with being terrified to speak in public is my fear of reading my own words out loud when there are more people than just me in a room.

Case in point: last year at NECRW2017 I was part of a group of authors who did a live reading of their current books. I thought it would be a good way to get my written work out there and hopefully garner some new readers. No brainer, right?

Yeah, no.

Up until the moment I was called upon to read I still hadn’t chosen the excerpt I wanted to share. The book was my newest one for Lyrical, COOKING WITH  KANDY, which had come out a few weeks earlier, and I wanted to read something that would spark ( hopefully) a listener enough to want to buy the book. Right up to the second moderator and host Damon Suede called my name, I was still undecided.

Then, my name was called and up to the microphone I went. I took a breath – three in fact – so deep it looked like I might be having the beginning of an asthma attack to those who knew what to look for(!) and read a simple passage loaded with emotions between the two main characters.

495 words.

8 minutes to complete.

I kinda left my body for the experience, because I really don’t remember much. When I sat back down, Damon said, “Am I right that was your very first public reading?”

My heart stopped beating when he said that. Christ! Had it been that bad? That obvious? That horrible a reading?

I nodded, unable to form coherent words in response.

Damon grinned and said something like, “So, yay! You’re not a reading virgin anymore! We popped your cherry!”

Everyone – including me – laughed. I know I turned sixteen shades of boiled tomato red, but still, his comment broke the tension that had coiled deep in me. Bless the man!

Next time ( and I can hear you now asking She’s gonna do it again???!!), yes, NEXT time, I’ll be less nervous, better prepared, and practice what I want to read before I get up and do so.

And BTW, Damon Suede has a great article in this month’s RWA magazine –  for those of you who subscribe –  about authors and public reading of their work. It’s well worth the read!

When I’m not obsessing about speaking in public you can usually find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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Dead or Alive, I’d be thrilled to meet’cha!

Here’s a simple truth: I’m a fangirl. Always have been and always will be. I think I’ve mentioned the very first time I ever met NORA ROBERTS I burst into tears. I was 54 years old, not exactly a hormonal teenager meeting her idol. Well, the hormonal part is true because…you know…menopause.

But I digress.

Today’s MFRW topic is 5 authors we’d like to meet, alive or dead. Now, talk about misplaced modifiers! Do I really want to meet a dead author? Like, now? Wouldn’t that be kinda gross and smelly and…gross? Haha. I get it – we can pick any author from any decade or century and pretend they’re alive.

So, in no defined order, here are my WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE Authors.

Jane Austen. (Dead) This was a no-brainer, right? Girl wrote the first definable romance book and gave us Fitzwillian Darcy. I’d like to sit down for a cuppa with ol’Janey-girl and find out one thing: did Elizabeth marry Darcy because she really loved him, or because she loved Pemberton? I’ve never really been able to reconcile that question. Inquiring minds ( mine!) want to know.

 

Janet Evanovich. (Alive) If you’ve ever read any of Janet’s Stephanie Plum books, you know what a laugh riot the author is! I’d like to sit down and have a glass of wine ( or a few) and find out where all that family humor comes from. Does she have her very own Grandma Mazur? A pet hamster? Has she been in love with 2 guys at the same time like Steph? A few vinos, a few hours of girl-talk, and I’d be satisfied.

Joan Hess. (Alive) Arly Hanks is a girl after my own heart – and appetite! Her mom, Ruby Bee ( you need to read the books to find out what her name really means!) owns a diner and when Arly isn’t chasing after moonshiners, the pesky and malfeasing Buchanans, or traffic violators speeding through the one traffic light in the tiny town in Arkansas, she’s usually at the diner, scarfing away. The characters in these books are over the top, hysterical, and never, ever predictable. I want to have a beer and some ‘wings with Joan and find out if she made these characters up, or if she has some Buchanans in her own family tree!

Carol O’Connell (Alive) O’Connell is a very reclusive kind of writer. You don’t see her tweeting, trolling facebook, or promoting her wonderful work. Even her author page on Amazon doesn’t carry an author picture! But her books are amazing. Really. The character of Mallory, an abandoned, almost feral child living on the streets of New York, grows into such strong, secure woman, rife with abandonment issues and a computer chip for a brain. She’s loyal to a  fault and is always three steps ahead of any crooks or murderers. I’d like to meet Carol in a corner cafe, have a cup of strong coffee ( Mallory’s lifeblood) and discuss just how she gave birth to one of the most fascinating characters in fiction.

Kendra Elliot ( Alive ) I was introduced to Kendra Elliot’s work through Netgalley and boy-o-boy am I glad I was. If you haven’t read any of the Mercy Kilpatrick mysteries/crime/police procedurals, you need to remedy that. Mercy skirts two worlds – that of a modern-day FBI agent, and that of a “prepper” a person who believes in being prepared at all costs for when the apocalypse or a government disaster and meltdown occurs. She was raised in a cult of preppers and lifelong habits are hard to break. I’d like to ask Kendra how she came up with the character of a prepper and if she has walked the walk and talked the talk of this lifestyle.

Now, since this is a blog hop, why don’t you hop on over to some of the other authors and see who they’ll be sitting down with for a confab – dead or alive!

16.
and when I’m not writing blogs you can find me here:

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How a children’s book forever changed my way of thinking…


What a great topic prompt today!! This blog piece is writing itself because my answer is so easy – and is one I’ve covered a bunch of times on my website.

Without a doubt, THE book that has influenced my life more than any other is THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. 

First published in 1930, in 2007, the National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children”.

In the tale, a long train must be pulled over a high mountain. When other, larger engines are asked to pull the train, they refuse. One small engine agrees to try. Repeating to itself over and over, “I think I can,” the little train succeeds in pulling the bigger one over the mountain to its destination. The book ends with the little engine declaring, “I knew I could!”

I’ve said this several times over the years, but this book is, for me, the best version of self-motivation I’ve ever read.

The engine tried to do a task he’d never done before, or even considered doing. He set his mind to it, thinking he could accomplish his task,  he told himself he could – believing it and putting his desire into words, then action – and then did.

What an amazing message for children – and adults, too!

When I started out on my journey to book publication, the first thing I told myself was “I can do this- I can write a book. I’ve got the story in me and I just need to get it on the page.” Telling myself that and believing it, I wrote my first book Skater’s Waltz in a little less than 3 months, mostly between the hours of midnight and 3 am because, well, menopause insomnia! Once I finished the book I then told myself, “you need to get this published.” I not only thought it, I put action behind the desire, entering contests and seeking out agents. Contest won, a publishing deal came next. All because I told myself I could do it and believed I could. Me. A 55 year old, bottle blond, chubby, menopause induced insomniac.

Many times during those first few months when the book was released I thought back to The Little Engine that Could, the book’s underlying message, and how true it was then and is today: If you believe you CAN, you WILL.

I tell myself that every single day. Every. Single. Day. It’s my one undeniable truth.

If you’ve never read THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD, do yourself, your children and your grandchildren a favor, and do so. The message may be simplistic, but I’ve often found that the best lessons to learn in life are the simplest ones.

And since this is an author blog hop, hop on over to these other writes and see which books influenced them in life. I’m sure you’ll find one that resonates with you, as well.


 


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#motivation…it’s closer than you think.

2018 seems to be the year I need to give myself daily motivational prompts, either in the form of quotes by famous, successful people or in just reminding myself every day when I wake up that I have goals I need to work toward this year.

It suddenly dawned on me today that all I have to do each day to be reminded of what my motivation is, is to simply look up and to the left in my office and stare at the wall. If I do that, this is what I see:

 

The top picture was given to me by one of my favorite people on the planet, photographer/artist/all-around fabulous human, Stephanie Rita. Steph is a successful businesswoman  in addition to being an artist,  and I’ve been privileged to know her since she was 5 years old. I’ve watched her grow into a deeply spiritual, dynamic, and talented young woman and I lovelovelove this watercolor she did for me. Go to her Etsy page and you’ll find a wealth of beautiful creations from her to purchase. The simple play on words, WRITE NOW, is so indicative of Stephanie’s subtle, yet insightful, style and persona. I simply adore this painting!

The second picture was gifted to me by my NHRWA chapter president and USA best-selling author Christyne Butler. In addition to being a multi-published, Harlequin author and the President of my local RWA, Christyne is one of the most supportive, intelligent, and kindest people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. She gave me this plaque when I signed my contract with Kensington/Lyrical for my WIll Cook For Love Series.   And it went a long way in helping me realize that the dream I’d been working towards was coming true! Love that.

To say that these two images motivate me towards my daily writing goals is the truth. Obviously, I don’t have to go far to gather motivation on a daily basis! I simply have to look up from my desk.

Really…how cool is that?

When I’m not being motivated you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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I’m a #Badass…who knew?

A few weeks ago I started reading this book: You are a Badass ( How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life). I’ll admit this freely: the reason I bought the book when I saw it in Target is because I liked the cover. Something about the color and the graphics screamed  “Buy me!” at me.

Anyway…

The book is good. Really good. There are so many personal takeaways from each chapter that I could–literally–write a book about them! One of them I want to focus on today that spoke recently to me is the reason for this blog post.

Chapter 6 is titled Love the One You Is, and it centers around loving who and what you are and not comparing yourself to others. As a writer, I struggle with this concept daily. I am always obsessing that I am less than every single other writer. Less of a writer than Nora Roberts. Or Jill Shalvis. Or Sandra Brown. I will never write as well as, or as poignantly, or as humorously, as they do. I just won’t. One of Sincero’s tenants in Chapter 6 is, “Comparison is the fastest way to take all the fun out of life.”

Stop the presses! Forget about spoke to me, that line screamed from a mountaintop and echoed all the way to the moon and back.

I’ve always encouraged other writers to write the book of their heart. To write the best book, tell the story they want to tell,  their way and not be worried about what editors or beta readers will think. Be true to yourself as a writer and someone will want to read your work because it will resonate with them. Why, then, have I never believed my own advice? Why, then, have I gotten bogged down in the notion that what I write is never as good as what other writers write? Why, then, have I allowed my insecurities to mount, all the while pushing others to do their best work?

After reading this chapter in Badass and this quote in particular, it was like the heavens opened up after a torrential downpour and I finally saw the sun in all its glory.

A little cliche, yes, I’ll admit that. But it’s the truth. From the moment I read those words and allowed them to sink in deep to my soul, I stopped comparing myself to other writers. I am the best writer I can be at this moment in time. Me. I may not be as funny as Jill Shalvis, or be able to weave an intricate plot like Sandra Brown. And I certainly don’t have Nora Roberts’ unending supply of plots and characters. But I am the best me, the writer,  I can be right now.

And you know what? It’s a freeing notion. By not comparing my work to those I admire best, I have freed myself – some would say my muse – to write the way I want, what I want, and not worry about whether or not it will be liked. I like it! That’s what really matters. All the rest is cupcake frosting. And delicious though that may be ( I mean, come on! It’s frosting!!!) it’s not the reason I write. I write, first, last and always, for me.

yeah…I’m a Badass!

When I’m not being a Badass, you can find me here, still trying to be a Badass! Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

 

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