A Writer’s Best Friend

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Successful Writing

Okay, so not bragging, but….. I’ve been hard at work….

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The Healer’s Daughter in The Ear

The Healer’s Daughter is a departure for me. It marks a turns in my writing that came about just this year. It’s more mystical. Risky, maybe. A woman’s daughter describes her mother’s gift and discovers she has her very own gift, but will she actually use it?

The Healer’s Daughter will be featured in my summer release of How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party. It’s a book of short stories, all of which have a special or surprising twist.

 

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Friends, Lovers, and Liars in Home Renovation

Originally titled Deception, it didn’t find a home. In fact, the topic of lies and cheating offended one editor. I think it may have hit too close to home.  It, too, will be released in the summer release of How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party.

 

 

 

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How to Throw a Psychic Surprise Party in The Electric Press Magazine

The title story for the book of short stories. Inspired by a show in which I saw a television host throw a “surprise” party for a psychic. It struck me – How do you throw a psychic a surprise party?

This story may answer that question. Maybe not. How much empathy can you muster?

 

 

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Hunger and other poems as well as some photography in Voices of Eve

 

Not in the book of short stories. But well worth the read. Hunger is one of my favorite poems.

 

 

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Also in the book of short stories –

The Crier: In a time when emotions are unheard of, people need a release.

The Mirror People: Ever wondered what’s inside the mirror? You know there’s something, right? Here’s a woman who collects them – she knows.

Bowie and the Basket Case: Anna’s things keep disappearing and reappearing. At first she thinks she’s misplaced them, but then she’s sure she hasn’t!

How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party is available for Pre-order!

 

 

Writing Advice

Anne Enright – Author of The Gathering, The Green Road, and winner of the Man Booker Prize. (reblogged from The Guardian online).

1 The first 12 years are the worst.anne enright.jpg

2 The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.

3 Only bad writers think that their work is really good.

4 Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.

5 Write whatever way you like. Fiction is made of words on a page; reality is made of something else. It doesn’t matter how “real” your story is, or how “made up”: what matters is its necessity.

6 Try to be accurate about stuff.

7 Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.

8 You can also do all that with whiskey.

9 Have fun.

10 Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not ­counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free.

6 Reasons Self-Publishing Beats Traditional Houses and Agents – Guest Blog by John Grabowski

For most writers, getting a contract from a traditional publishing house is the golden biscuit, the grand reward after a struggle with run-on sentences, superfluous commas, and tired clichés. Many people will then spend years looking for an agent, and then have an agent try to place their work with a publishers, big or small.

But here’s reality: unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, you’re almost certainly not going to receive the red carpet treatment you’re no doubt envisioning. Once upon a time, not a long time ago, self-publishing was considered the literary outback, the place for hacks. Now, in an ironic twist, we just may be witnessing the reversal of fortune. The Bix Six seem to be wallowing in their formulas. Meanwhile, much fresh thinking is coming from self-published authors who build their followings online. So rather than wait for your genius to be appreciated, here are six reasons you should consider being self-published:

 

  • You are your own editorial voice. While every self-published work should go past the eyes and red pen of an experienced editor, ultimately you can write and publish what you want. You don’t have to deal with an editor or agent who wants a happier ending, a younger protagonist, or the locale moved from Pittsburgh to Paris.

 

Your hired editor may suggest changes, and you should listen. But ultimately you stand or fall on the product. You won’t have to deal with the agent who refuses to read a manuscript because she never looks at anything that begins with dialogue, or one who says she won’t consider a novel written in the first person, or one who says the work cannot have a “Prologue” or an “Afterward.” Ask yourself if a reader ever put a book back on the bookstore shelf for any of those reasons and you’ll begin to see how silly and random the process can be.

 

  • You set pricing and distribution. Ever wonder why some really great book has not been reissued, forcing you to buy a beat-up second hand copy? The publisher decides distribution, pricing, and how long the title will be in the catalog. If they don’t want to keep it in their catalog, there’s nothing the author can do.

 

With self-publishing, your works can live on forever. Or, if later on your freshman effort embarrasses you, you can make it disappear with the click of a mouse.

 

  • You control the book’s cover design and artwork. This may be intimidating for some but it’s liberating to me. While some professional cover designs are great, others are simply terrible: a stock photo, the title centered above it, the author’s name beneath it. Not surprisingly, artwork like that tends to go to the lesser-known and novice authors.

 

If you’re unsure how to design a cover (and it involves a lot more than putting your title over a picture and your name on the bottom), google some freelance artists who do it. Study their work and contact the ones you like. If you don’t want to shell out the cash, and you have access to some design tools yourself, find covers of comparable works and study what you like, then try to imitate it as best you can.

 

  • You can fix mistakes. Even some very big, very famous novels have typos in them. Or formatting errors. When it’s your own work you can go back and fix the mistake, then re-upload the file. With traditional publishers, your mistakes remain, oftentimes even in second and subsequent editions.

 

  • You promote your work the way you want. Don’t think being published by a big house means jaunts to NPR interviews and author events at prestigious venues. Most houses do nothing to promote the majority of their authors. You have to do your own marketing and PR (an art in itself), so you might as well own and control what you’re working so hard to promote.

 

  • You can write the next novel you want. The curse of traditional publishing these days is even if you are a smash hit, they will want more of the same. If your goal is to write a second novel that’s different from your first, you may find doors shut to you. Despite claims on websites that agents and editors are looking for “fresh,” “new” voices, most are really chasing trends; that’s how they keep their jobs. Self-publishing is a wonderful opportunity for you to be you, and today’s self-published books look every bit as good as the product of the Big Boys. Rather than write your one-hundredth query letter, why not consider a faster, more streamlined way to reach readers?

 

John Grabowski worked in advertising, television news and public relations before daring to write his first novel. Entertaining Welsey Shaw was praised by Kirkus Reviews for being witty, fast-paced, and “filled with flirtatious banter.” A collection of his shorter fiction, Violet Rothko & Other Stories, will be published in September 2019.  authorjohngrabowski.com

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Thanks, John!

noreen

Critique Partners

critiqueisnotscary.jpgThere’s nothing more helpful than having someone read your work and give you the fresh perspective needed to improve.

Recently, my writing partner found a tiny mistake, despite having others read it, reading it aloud, and checking, rechecking, and re-editing it a thousand times. So helpful! I would have been embarrassed had it gone out with that small spelling errors that even spellcheck didn’t catch.

HOWEVER, there’s one thing that’s troublesome about critique groups or partners. The one who does not actually want the advice. I’ve worked with people who, every time I commented on their work, responded by explaining what they’d planned, meant, thought they wrote. They felt they accomplished what they wanted to do and didn’t plan on changing a thing. In other words, they’re weren’t listening. Why they even brought the story to the group, I have no idea. Perhaps they thought the story would be endlessly praised.

Ladies and gentlemen, some praise is necessary and warranted. You may have heard the sandwich method of response. First, say something positive about the work. Next, suggest and improvement. Finally, end with a positive.

In my classes, I actually students to say at least three positive things about any piece of work before we launch into the “room for improvement.”

Showing others their work is exceptionally hard for some people.And there are always good things to be said about any attempt.

But a good critique is learning to be open to hearing what is being said. Respond not with denial and deflection, but consideration of the comments received.

When I’m reading or editing, I ask the writer’s purpose and hopes for the piece. This helps me focus the response a little better. I also discuss the critique so I can be more specific with their desired outcome. Therefore, I do try hard to take into consideration the writer’s ideas.

After the last group with the writer who spent the whole time denying and explaining rather than listening, I avoided responding to that writer. A good critique is work. Not listing to other’s ideas will not win you friends and improve your work.

 

Review Power

BUFA-Time-for-Review.jpgOne writer wrote recently that they’d received some really nice reviews, but one reader sent an email blasting him for some part of his novel. He took this to heart and let it destroy his mood and his confidence in his writing.

One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch of readers.

The cold, hard fact is – writers need reviews. But I’m not sold that a bad one is actually a bad thing to have. It shows that people, other than family, friends, and hardcore fans have taken the chance. Critical readers will look at the review closely to see what the person took issue with. Reviews that just say, “terrible,” just like reviews that say, “it was great,” doesn’t tell the readers anything and they’re likely to overlook these. If the reviewer said something more specific, “weak characters,” yet others have said the opposite, they’re likely to judge for themselves.

There’s another cold, hard fact – most readers don’t leave reviews. I know I’ve sold far index.jpgmore books than the few reviews that I have. It’s not write, or even ethical, to pay for reviews, although such services exist.

So – readers – review the novel, book, ebook, story, etc in an honest and fair way. If you didn’t enjoy it, but it wasn’t terrible, be gentle in your criticism. The writers behind these books are human and did put a lot of work into them.

Writers – don’t get upset by a bad review. Not everyone is going to like your work. That’s the value of diversity in our society. Everyone has different tastes. Focus on the good reviews, but do read the not so favorable ones.

Food Crimes: Mesquite Choco-choco-choco cookies.

Where have I been? A tad busy: End of semester biz, daughter about ready to burst with baby, and baking.

I wandered accidentally, whilst grading on the couch listening to background noise on the tele, into baking and cooking shows. They have reawakened my passion for dessert chemistry.

I’ve posted pictures of these cookies on my instagram and facebook and the original recipe ideas link on my pinterest page. These recipes are not mine – but I always do some this and that to make it my own and have been asked to share.

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These are Mesquite Chocolate Chip cookies (on my favorite Roscher porcelain).

Although they don’t seem very holiday-like, they are delicious. Softer in ways than a regular chocolate chip.

Here’s the original recipe from David Lebovitz

I wanted to halve the recipe; the original recipe makes 50 cookies. I didn’t need that many. I wanted to sample before I committed.

 

Here are the changes I made.

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3/4 cup of Mesquite flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup of oats

1 fully generous overflowing, maybe more cup or so of chocolate chips. I used semi-sweet and bittersweet. (My faves!)

 

Then I followed his directions, including the pat down which I originally thought of as strange – but they do get puffy. heaven

Of course, we ate them right out of the oven –

HEAVEN.

Some of the middles were stuffed with chocolate; this was definitely the winner. If/when I make them again, I may try to purposefully load the center.

We had more when they cooled, then more later, then more the next day. Fortunately, I have willing taste testers who will try them at all stages.

The mesquite flour makes them light and airy. (I intend to bread some chicken with it and see what that gets me).

The cookies were delish! I wonder what other types of cookies this flour would compliment?

I’m going to try to post a recipe a day for the next few weeks – if you’re interested, like, follow, favor. 🙂

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