Tag Archives: writing life

Brand Reminder: Connect Yourself

As one tiny writer in the giant school of writers swimming upstream toward the ultimate goal of spawning a book deal, it is important to connect yourself–to yourself.

Please make sure your twitter feeds your blog which feeds your website which allows access to your writing communities which links to your…

Okay, you get it.

But do you?  Because if you don’t, your readers will not be able to either.

I just bought a domain name (yay, me) and will now have to go through and make sure that my connections still feed each other in the way I intend.

CAT’S TIPS ON STAYING CONNECTED

  • Start with your most obvious site (such as your website or blog) and click a link.  Follow that link all the way through until you return back to your starting point.
  • Pick another link and repeat until all the links circle back upon themselves.  This might take a while, but it is well worth it.
  • And, as long as you’re at all your sites, check your info.  Make sure everything is current.  For instance, in my family section, I talk about my kids.  Their ages were TWO years behind.
  • Now, double check your blog rolls and other important links.  Clear out broken links or repair them, as other writers may have updated their addresses as well–or fallen off the face of the cyber sphere.
  • Pay attention to the feel of your sites.  They should flow into each other and appear to be made by the same person.  Pictures, colors, themes, quotes and fonts can all ease a reader into knowing you or jolt them out of your life with the impression that you are MANIC.  And let’s face it, writers already have that stereotype hanging over their heads.
The goal of this exercise is to help your readers find you among the swimming masses with as much ease as possible.  It’s called survival of the fittest.
Go forth and spawn, my writer friends.

A Day of Donor Thankfulness

For forty years my body has behaved perfectly.  My nephew’s only did for fourteen.  Within the last month, both of us have replaced worn out parts–him a tendon and me some jawbone.

My utmost thanks goes to the unknown donors who will make our lives–and our recoveries–easier.

My utmost thanks also goes to the known donors in my life.

I thank the writing community at AgentQuery Connect and the daily donations my fellow scribes freely give.  The gifts of time, talent and even treasure are exchanged between individuals who have never met and likely never will.

Thank you, AQCrew and the beautiful site you have provided us.  If it weren’t for you, I would never have met so many wonderful people I call friends.  I wouldn’t have my agent because I’d still be debating whether or not I needed one.  I also wouldn’t have the confidence I now have in calling myself a writer.  You will forever rock my world, and I would give my firstborn son to you out of gratitude if he wasn’t turning eighteen in a few months.

I thank the Class of 09 for being the wonderfully supportive group of peeps that you are.  As odd as some of us can be at times, we make a pretty stellar team when you lump us into one room.  I would do anything within my power for any one of you.

I thank the newest members who join AQC every day in hopes of reaching their dreams.  Your enthusiasm continually pushes me to be better.  You might not realize it, but your donation to the community is invaluable.

Another thanks goes to my blogging friends.  Connecting with you through your writing is always a joy.  Seeing your successes and commiserating in your losses–personal and professional–gives me hope that the world really is a wonderful place to be.

Additionally, the comments I receive on my blog are some of the best donations around.  Some make me laugh, while others nearly bring me to tears.  They all bring me joy and motivate me to keep writing.

And finally and most importantly, I thank my family and real friends (as opposed to my imaginary, cyber ones).  Your support is unparalleled.  Even if you don’t know what an anthology is.  Or should I say especially?  Because despite not knowing how gruelling the writing process can be, your encouragement makes me believe in myself.  I am almost more afraid to let you down than I am of disappointing myself.

Life is full of gifts, given to us in tiny, unimaginable ways.  We don’t always recognize them for what they are, or appreciate them when we do.  We take things for granted that we should cherish instead.  Like our knees and our teeth.  Like our ability to breathe and live life.  We forget that someone, somewhere, has donated a portion of themselves to help make our lives easier and better.

So thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, thanks for being you.

hugs~ cat

Author Bios: What do you like to know?

Last night at conferences, Middle Son gave us a beautifully illustrated idea of how he sees his parents.

In his father, he sees a love for his family, his car and hunting.  In Middle’s mind, both his parents like blue skies.  Me, I like gum, my computer and my family, including one of our hunting labs.  (Notice which one is missing?)

Wonder what his teacher thinks of these parent quirks.  Bullets flying, fast cars and computer keys.  We sound a bit…odd.  Especially the gum part.  Which, incidentally, is one of the things I associate most strongly with my own mother.  Cinnamon Trident.

I’m currently working on my author bio for a short story anthology.  As yet, I’m not quite sure what to say.

How about you, dear readers?  What kinds of things do you like to know about the authors you read?  Do you love the professional deets only, or do you prefer a bit of personal quirk in your author blurb?  Have you ever tracked down an author’s blog, website or other published works because of their author bio?  Or, do you skip reading these altogether? 

Do you like knowing how a story came about or what the author is working on next? 

You tell me, because curious minds really need to know.

Treading the Water of Life…

…while the sharks are circling.

I’m 640 words behind on NaNo.   Which means today I have to write about 2,300 words just to get caught up.  Then starts Saturday, just in time for me to don the kneepads for our volleyball tourney and fluff the pillows (read chase off the dust bunnies) for our out-of-town guests.  This wonderful non-writing interlude puts me in line to be 3,333 words behind come Monday morning.

So, I either have to write like heck today and crank out nearly 6,000 words or do so on Monday, because then we get to add another 1,667 words to the NaNoTaskMaster.  Which is like adding a 50 pound weight around my neck and throwing more sharks into the pool.

Life Lesson 1: Stay in the life raft, because beating off sharks with your bare fists while treading water and holding a brick above your head is dang hard.

In other news: I got to help a stranded motorist this morning while wearing my jammie pants, DH’s oversized sweatshirt, DD’s knit slouchy boots and bed head.

Life Lesson 2: Do not drop the boys off at school looking like a freak.  Translated to mean: don’t be a freak, because you never know who might see you.

And speaking of my Little’s, they both threatened to leave me because, “You always make us clean our room.  You like everything to be so clean all the time.  We can’t even go in there except to sleep.  We can’t even play anymore.  What fun is that?  We might as well not even live here.”

Note to y’all: Said cleanliness meant no more eating Halloween candy in their room and throwing the wrappers under their beds and behind the bookshelf.  It also meant putting dirty laundry in the laundry room, not on the floor.  I think I may have been so cruel as to bring up making their beds and putting their minefield of Legos back on the Lego table, though I totally left the dust bunnies out of the equation and said nothing about their overflowing dresser drawers.

Life Lesson 3: I am a mean mom.

Truly I am.  Because I also got roped into a high school joke that almost made my daughter cry last night.  Our quasi new son asked Eldest why he broke up with his girlfriend.  Eldest gleefully played along and said his GF (who would never, ever be naughty) cheated on him.  This was said in front of their mutual friend while they ate pizza at the counter.  It would have been a funny joke on Mutual Friend had it not spread like a bad case of teenage acne.

MF promptly texted his girlfriend who was with DD who texted unsuspecting me who broached Eldest who then had to call GF in case someone at the French party texted her about what a horrible girl she was for cheating on Eldest.

Within five minutes the whole world was crying over the break up.

Which leads me to my final Life Lesson of the Week: Be careful what you say, because bad news travels at the speed of light.

Remember high school?  Enough said.

May your life jacket be buoyant and the sharks few!

Off Slaying Dragons

…er, words.

Sandwhiched between NaNoDays 1-3 and 5-6, I have to do all the writing I can before heading out of town tonight. This is my only day in Week One of NaNo where real life will let me try to pad my word count for future days when my fingers and keyboard will not be allowed to see each other!

Hugs to all you writers out there. May your steed be fast and your sword be strong!

Flashback Friday: Spell Check Mad Libs

As a kid I loved playing Mad Libs with my sister and friends.  The silly party game could be why I enjoy writing so much.  It might also be responsible for my love of lyrical prose and my inability to outgrow quirky juvenile fiction.  It quite possibly is the reason so much description creeps into first drafts these days.

But I’m not here to bash adverbs and adjectives.  I’m here to tell you a secret.  Spell Check plays Mad Libs with me every time it edits my posts.

For instance, my post on Youngest getting into a playground scuffle?  SC wanted to substitute trousers for tusslers:

…the two trousers made see-ya-at-school-tomorrow faces at each other.

Seriously funny stuff, right?  Not to mention a-w-k-w-a-r-d!

Or how about this one?  (You may need to click on it to see it better.)

Yeah, it kinda cracked me up too.  SC insisted that marinating is not a word and begged me to exchange it for laminating…or worse.

My Little Sister cheekily donned her editor’s cap and fixed my post so I wouldn’t be embarrassed about my manuscript marinating in public.

Spell Check Mad Libs.  Gotta love it!

Did you play Mad Libs as a kid?  What other silly games did you play to occupy your time and stretch your imagination?  Do you think certain games may have jump-started the passions and hobbies you have today?

Curious minds want to know!

*”My Dream Man” from The Original Mad Libs, copyright 1988

Got Blog Bling? Awards and Inspiration

So many things inspire me: personally and professionally.  I take something away from every blog post I read or every comment in AQC’s forums.  Sometimes I feel challenged, and sometimes I feel contented.  Almost always, I feel inspired.

The writing community as a whole is expressive, supportive and inspiring in their perseverence and dedication.  In that respect, I hope you take something away from this post as I accept The Versatile Blogger award.

The Rules

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated me: Dean C. Rich over at The Write Time, Brittany Roshelle at The Write Stuff and A Story Every Day.  You three are awesome and I really appreciate that you thought of me–especially when I consider the other inspiring nominations listed at each of your sites.
2. Share seven random facts about myself.  May they inspire you to remember good times in your life.
3. Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies.

Random Facts: As a child, I spent countless hours running wild on our farm with my sister.  We indulged in many games of make-believe, utilized our farm’s nooks and crannies in their totality and created a whole ‘nother life for ourselves outside the confines of our house.

During the summers, we lived in a tree in the pasture.  We called this “home” and created rooms within the monstrous canopy.  While hiding out there, we could spy on see the entire farmstead.  This tree house prompted us to find creative suites for our sleepovers rather than simply hosting pajama parties in our bedrooms.

Once we slept on the roof of the horse barn.  We tied our blankets so we wouldn’t slide down in the middle of the night.  Another time, we carved out a home in the wood pile.  I think we slept five in our rustic log cabin.  But for the life of me, I can’t remember if we built that before or after we made an entire hotel out of wooden pallets.  Our unique sleeping arrangements were always decked out to the fullest and came with room service…er, at least it did when someone drew the short end of the straw bale and had to run in and scavenge snacks for the rest of us.

When we really felt like roughing it–because those abodes were obviously palatial–we would hike through the neighbor’s woods to our parent’s property (Little Woods) and camp out in the ice house despite the lack of plumbing and electricity.  After telling ghost stories all night, we would rise with the sun and cook corn meal mush over the campfire, Little House on the Prairie style.

Those middle grade years were the best times of my entire childhood.  In many ways, I credit our unique adventures for my passion of all things juvenile.   Thanks, Big Sis!

Other peeps who have inspired me:  check my blog roll (which is in the process of getting updated) and SKELETON KEY authors, as well as AqentQuery Connect to meet scads of writers whom I admire for their support, dedication, energy and jovial attitudes in the face of the ever-changing publishing world.

Peeps you may not already know who inspire me greatly:

  1. Gene Lempp.  Not only does he write a vastly informative blog, he also took me under his marketing wing.  Thanks to him, my blog subscriptions have doubled and my daily hits have sky-rocketed.  He inspires me to take myself seriously.
  2. Sakura over at Keeping it in Canon.  I met Sakura on AQC when she joined my critique group.  This gal takes poetic prose to a whole new level.  Every time I read a passage  of hers, I feel humbled–and inspired to be a better writer.
  3. Indigo over at Shattered Prose.  Indigo makes me examine myself and my world in new ways.  Her words inspire me to to feel passionately when it can be so dang easy to take things for granted.
  4. Victoria Dixon at The Ron Empress.  Victoria is super supportive and highly intuitive.  She writes with a passion that reflects the kind of soul she is in real life.  Victoria inspires me to reach for my goals and never give up.
  5. Yvonne Osborne at The Organic Writer.  Yvonne’s writing should grace those daily, desktop calendars.  Her insightful flash fiction inspires me to be a better person.

So, there you go.  Besides learning about my wild-child years, you’ve been exposed to a few of the writers who inspire and support me in my daily writing endeavors.

Who inspires you on a personal or professional level?  How do your past experiences play into your present life as a writer?  Who lent you a helping hand at a time when they had nothing to gain?  Why do you do the same for others?

Curious minds want to know.

Writing Comfortably

Because this pic is the bomb…

Seriously, are you this comfortable in your writing life?  When someone asks, do you proudly answer: I’m a writer?  If so, how did you reach this point of complete openness?  If not, does admitting that you write fiction make you feel vulnerable and exposed? 

What steps have you taken to write comfortably?

Fellow blogger, AQCer, crit partner and good friend, Mindy McGinnis, provides pat answers to help you navigate the “So, what do you do?” question.

Enjoy!

Guest Post and a Reminder

A week or so ago, I debuted on Dean C. Rich’s blog: The Write Time.  In it I outlined how I manage to balance my writing time with real life duties.  And since I’m still playing catch-up after the Great Computer Demise, Dean has generously offered to write a post for me so I can spend my time more wisely.

Dean has four manuscripts under his fingertips.  He’s a fellow AQer with time to be kind, supportive and insightful, all while penning his fantasy novels.  If ever there’s a person to take time management tips from, it’s the guy who does it all.  And makes it look like a vacation!

Please welcome Dean to your blogging fold!

Sharing is such fun.  I joined AQC and met some wonderful writers over there.  I’ve learned that I am not near as ready to publish as I thought I was when I first logged into the site.  Cat has given me some great advice on AQC.  So as I learned about blogs and blogging I visited her blog and I must say, I am very impressed with what she has done with this place.  So I asked if she would be willing to be a guest blogger, and she suggested a blog swap.  So here I am on her blog wondering what I can share.

Life is like… Bacon


I was cooking bacon the other morning. It was the really good bacon, not too much fat, great meat, and it cooked up so well I was thrilled.  As I was cooking, I got to thinking about other packets of bacon I’ve tried to cook.  Sometimes the bacon is too thick and takes longer to cook.  Other times there is so much fat, even though the package makes it look like a lot of meat, that it isn’t any good.  Life is like that, and in an extension to writing, that as well.

You are not real sure how the bacon is going to turn out when you look at the package.  It isn’t until the packet is opened and the bacon is pulled out do you really know what you have to work with.  So your day may be planned, but you don’t know what the day is going to really be like until you start working your plan for that day.  Sometimes it is a hit, and sometimes you find yourself, at the end of the day, someplace you never intended to be.

Writing works the same way.  You have a great idea.  It isn’t until you start to put the idea on paper that you understand what you have to work with.  Is it worthy for a blog post?

No wait, I can make a short story out of this.

Is it something to entertain, or instruct?  Is it for the kids, or is it for busy adults?  Is it a novel?  Or *gasp* an epic story that will take several books to tell the tale?

The fun part of this is that you get to decide, and whatever you decide is right.  How cool is that?  You are in charge–it is your idea–and how you work it and how it turns out is completely in your control.  Perhaps that is why we are writers, because there are so many aspects of our lives that we cannot control!

So what are your ideas?  What is in your bacon box that needs to be put on the grill of life and made for others to enjoy?

Thanks for having me over Cat.

Nope.  The pleasure is all mine!

Dean can be found on AQC as DC Rich.  He blogs at The Write Time and tweets @deancrich.  He has five children, one grandson and a beautiful wife of 27 years.    Besides writing, he also enjoys music (all of his children, and his wife play a musical instrument, Piano, Cello, Viola, Flute, and sing), the outdoors, and photography.  That is when he isn’t at work.

And now for the reminder: As some of you may have noticed, SKELETON KEY is done.  Finished.  Reached the end.  Literally.  I’ve created an entire page just for this blogvel.  You can find it on my sidebar or the tabs at the top.  If you haven’t read any of it, I urge you to enjoy this fun paranormal romp created by fifteen talented and imaginative bloggers.  If you read bits and pieces, now is the time to sit down and peruse it from beginning to end.  Michelle wrapped it up beautifully.

hugs~

Refallen Writers

For the record, catching up is hard to do.  Over the past two months, my computer has gone kaput and my home internet is spotty at best.  After purchasing a new netbook two weeks ago, I’ve been busting my tail to catch up on blogs, writing, critiquing and AQConnect.  Not an easy task, in case you were wondering.

All this busy-ness makes me miss my “carefree” days as my computer languished in hospice and Kindle and I played friendly games of Scrabble between housework and homework…or not so friendly at times.

Lean in close: Kindle is a cheater head.

Refallen?  Really?  Thinking of this word in a sentence is like listening to plastic forks rub together.  I have refallen down the stairs.  I am a refallen angel.  The tree has refallen.   

Has anyone ever used that in a sentence?  If you have–and you weren’t drunk–please let me know and I’ll lighten up on Kindle.  As it is, only two literary examples come up in my internet search.  The first appearing in 1845 and the last appearing in a text in 1910.  Even refall only shows up twice, both in the 1800’s.

Can you imagine the agent who receives that word in a query letter?  Or the editor who finds it tucked away in a manuscript?  I wonder if they’d simply hit delete or actually check it out?

Although, I suppose that other than really naughty guardian angels and historical cities, writers might come the closest to living the word.

I know my writing life has definitely refallen into a state a chaos since my computer kacked.

Okay, I’ll grant those 30 points back, Kindle.

How about you?  Since school started up has your writing refallen?   Any other changes that turn your writing world topsy-turvy on a regular basis?  When chaos strikes, how do you regain your stability?  Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated.

Hugs~

PS~ Spell check doesn’t count it as a word either.

*takes back the 30 points*