Thursday, October 19, 2017


Click here to come visit.
This blog is about to die. I've discovered so many unburied blogs, I thought it only fair to say goodbye and why.

This blog was started as a way of tracking my learning on the path of taking a book to a best seller ... obviously, MY book. That isn't going to happen ... mainly because I don't want to do what it takes to create a best seller ... of course, that assumes that I could if I wanted to which is a big assumption.

Anyway, I created this blog when I was well on my way to finishing my novel, "Yellowstone Howling," I liked the story and the process of writing. I got to go to Yellowstone and interview people about the wolves and got to hear them howl. I enjoyed researching and getting to know characters in many fields, and enjoyed it so much, I joined NaNoWriMo and wrote a second novel. Then, I found a fabulous coach and started writing a third novel. Who has time to do marketing?

About then, I began to think writing fiction was somewhat like running a marathon and wondered if I really wanted to run marathons the rest of my life. It took over my life and left me no time or energy for art. I found myself pushing myself to complete the next step of the marathon.

And, then I moved to Mexico ... not really expecting to skip a beat on my writing journey. However, suddenly, I didn't want to do anything except photography and photo artistry.

I thought I'd get over it. I didn't. 

I love writing and assume I'll always blog ... but I'm going to limit it to one.

Wishing you joy and bestsellers on your journey. Come see me at:

Sunday, December 11, 2016

John Gardner on creating vivid characters

John Gardner in On Becoming a Novelist emphasizes the need to understand a wide variety of characters. He says, “To be psychologically suited for membership in what I have called the highest class of novelists, the writer must be not only capable of understanding people different from himself but fascinated by such people.”

The Smoke Game

Gardner recommends playing a game with your characters, saying, “Perhaps the best exercise for heightening one’s gift for discovering such equivalencies is the game called ‘Smoke.’”

Here’s how it goes:

One person thinks of someone living or dead and gives his fellow players a starting clue … living American, dead European … or whatever.

Each player in turn then asks a question in the form of …
What kind of (blank) are you? For example … what kind of smoke, vegetable, weather, animal, building, body part, car, and so on.

Of course, for a writer, the point of the game is not to win, but to see your characters in a different, more metaphorical way.

For instance, I’ve had a character show up in two separate books and he’s still a challenge so I’m going to play the game right here, right now, with myself.

I first wrote the words down and then closed my eyes and let the first answer that came to my mind be the answer.

Who is 15 year-old Jesse Sanchez?
Smoke … thick, swirling, white
Vegetable …  sweet potato
Weather … chilly, damp, slight breeze
Animal … hamster, skittish, trying to store all the nuts in his jaws
Building … tent, fragile, lacking stability in harsh weather
Body part …  arm and hand
Car … small, 4WD SUV
What does this tell me? Jesse hasn’t emerged yet as a fully developed person. He’s growing underground into a person who will bring nourishment into the world. He is sweet but we have to find the sweetness. He is shrouded by smoke so that we can’t see him and his warmth hasn’t broken through his exterior chilliness.

Jesse is fearful of not getting enough or losing what he’s been given and tries to hold on too long to what’s in front of him. He does not feel secure in his life as it could blow away with a harsh wind.
Jesse needs to hold onto things and he touches and feels things to make sure they’re real. He only truly understands things when he touches them.

He is practical and wants to be able to go anywhere, go off the beaten path, be safe in his adventures. He definitely wants to have adventures but also wants to get back safely.

While this game told me that Jesse is still unfolding, it also gave me metaphors that help reveal flashes of his character.

Gardner adds: “The writer with a truly accurate eye (and ear, nose, sense of touch, etc.) has an advantage over the writer who does not, in that, among other things, he can tell his story in concrete terms, not just feeble abstractions.”

What we do as writers, Gardner says, is set off a dream in the reader’s mind. Concrete metaphors set off vivid dreams.

“Show don’t tell” is a standard refrain. Gardner modifies that saying, “Good writers may ‘tell’ about almost anything in fiction except the characters’ feelings. … Characters’ feelings must be demonstrated: fear, love, excitement, doubt, embarrassment, despair become real only when they take the form of events — action (or gesture), dialogue, or physical reaction to setting. Detail is the lifeblood of fiction.”

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Tips for Authors Using Twitter from Writer's Edit

Click here to watch the video.
Advice from Writer's Edit

What makes a great Twitter profile for a writer?

  • Represent your author brand accurately and professionally.
  • Use your real author name, so you're easy to find and follow!
  • Use a real (and respectable) photo of yourself for your profile picture.
  • Write a simple and direct bio. Feel free to list what you'll be tweeting about.
  • Use the 'Pinned Tweet' feature to link to your latest blog post or published work.

What should you tweet about?

  • Writing and industry-related news/feature articles.
  • Helpful, resourceful tweets - direct your followers to articles by other writers that you found helpful or inspiring.
  • Motivational images/quotes.
  • Make sure your tweets contribute to the writing community on Twitter.
  • Don't be all about self-promotion (asking people to buy your book).

How to use hashtags, and what hashtags should you use?

  • Be sure to change the hashtags you're using according to what you're tweeting about.
  • Don't use sentences in hashtags.
  • Check out the tool Hashtagify, which acts as a "search engine" for hashtags, explores the latest trends and related hashtag terms.

Should you use images on Twitter?

  • Keep your images basic and easy to view (and read, if they're quotes), nothing too busy!
  • Get the dimensions right (the width should be double the height).
  • Use Canva for image creation, as they provide you with the correct dimensions from the beginning, and offer super easy design features.

How often should you tweet?

  • Remember that the lifetime of a tweet is just 5 minutes.
  • You can tweet as often as you like, as long as it doesn't take you away from other responsibilities and writing!
  • Use to schedule tweets to go live, which means you don't have to be on Twitter all the time!

Common mistakes writers make on Twitter:

  • Getting too obscure and creative with their tweets.
  • Not using simple language.
  • Using superfluous words and taking up prime 'tweet real estate'.
  • Using too many hashtags (3 at most).
  • Using silly hashtags (sentence long hashtags, like we do when we speak).
  • Being negative - don't whinge all the time!
  • Trying too hard to promote and sell their book.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Results of a Facebook Boost

More about Gratitude:
I just finished a Facebook Boost campaign to boost the post shown here for the Gratitude Miracles Journal.

Campaign parameters:
Location - Living In: United States: California
Age: 30 - 65+
Gender: Female

Here are the results:

7 day Facebook Boost … cost $35
Results 10/13/2016 (Thursday) - 2892 reach 
Page likes: 22
Post likes: 207, 13 hearts
Blog Page views: 1239 
Post views: 316 
Sales: none attributable to boost

Lesson: pick a post that connects directly with book.
I boosted a beautiful image and probably attracted activity related to the beauty rather than the message.
Lesson: open up the location and try to focus on people who have gratitude as a keyword.
Lesson: should have email capture process in place before doing again.

Would I do this again? It is easy to do and inexpensive. Maybe with a well crafted post relating to a new project and the email capture process in place.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Writing Tips: Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer website

Carl Zimmer - writes books and articles about science,
Author of A Planet of Viruses, The Tangled Bankand Brain Cuttings

  1. Do as much research as possible away from the Internet — with living people, in real places.
  2. Be ready to organize vast amounts of data. Use a wall, or software like Scrivener.
  3. Be ready to amputate entire chapters. It will be painful.

Steve Silberman Website

Steve Silberman's collection of writing tips:

When Steve Silberman started working on his book NeuroTribes, The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, he decided to “tap into the wisdom of the hive mind.” Fortunately he had a great hive to tap and he shared a long article with brief tips on writing a book from 22 authors.
It’s really too much to read all at once so we will be posting each author’s advice separately so that you can savor each tidbit. (You can always click on the link at the end of the previous paragraph to get the whole feast.)

Now, go forth and write!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Great First Sentences

As they say, you only have one chance to write a great first impression. For a book, that means the first sentence, the first page. But, how do you write a first sentence that creates that instant chemistry that says to the reader, "Read me! Read me now!"?

The first sentence sets the stage. It is someone whispering, "Come here, listen, I have a story to tell you." It piques interest, introduces tone and voice, creates mystery.

Here are 25 of the 100 best first lines offered by American Book Review followed by seven specific priniciples offered in a Writers' Digest article.

25 of the 100 Best First Lines from Novels

from American Book Review

1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)
2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)
5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)
6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)
7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)
8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
10. I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. —Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)
12. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. —Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. —Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925; trans. Breon Mitchell)
14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. —Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler (1979; trans. William Weaver)
15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)
16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. —James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
18. This is the saddest story I have ever heard. —Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)
19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. —Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–1767)
20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. —Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
21. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. —James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)
22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
23. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. —Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
24. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. —Paul Auster, City of Glass (1985)
25. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. —William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)

Brian Klems in Writers' Digest offers some clues:

1. A statement of eternal principle.  
2. A statement of simple fact. 
3. A statement of paired facts. 
4. A statement of simple fact laced with significance. 
5. A statement to introduce voice. 
6. A statement to establish mood. 
7. A statement that serves as a frame.
READ More ... 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Blogger as Website

I was delightfully surprised to discover ConfluentForms, a website design firm that recommends using Blogger as a website platform. I've been using Blogger for several years and gradually recognizing how powerful and easy it is.

David Kutcher with ConfluentForms says, "What do all of the websites below have in common? They're all gorgeous, functional, easy to maintain, and happen to use Google's Blogger (Blogspot) as their Content Management System (CMS). They were all developed by our firm.

"As a thrifty small business solution, a website on Blogger can save time, money, and headaches. Click here to see the websites.

That link also includes a #TNTBootcamp video about using Blogger as a website platform.
Notes: Integrated with google+
- once you have a custom favicon and url, it no longer looks like blogger
- cheaper hosting costs
- check out page and post metadata ... is this labels? (look for tutorials on how to fix that problem)
- for ecommerce go to Shopify or a hosted cart system
- can sign up for an ad sense account through Blogger
- sites that host ads make sense for Google
- check out back links