A Writer's Journey through the Maze of Life

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Christmas is coming! Today I want your favorite memories and/or your thoughts on: Is Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy harmful to children? Weigh in. I'll comment later.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Did you know mistletoe has around since ancient times? Romans thought these parasitic evergreens promised new life and would decorate their homes and temples with it. Europeans thought it a healing plant good for many ills including infertility, nervous disorders and toothache. The Scandanavians believed it to hold evil powers at first until some point in history when it became a symbol of peace and good will.

Long considered sacred because it grew between heaven and earth, just where does mistletoe grow? High in boughs of such trees as poplars, hawthorns, maples and occasionally oak. Here in the Ozarks it is common to mistake a mistletoe bough for a birds nest. Unfortunately, one doesn't find mistletoe in the stores much anymore. I suspect it is difficult to harvest and it's been proven the berries are poisonous.

But where did kissing under the mistletoe begin? It is thought to be of British origin. Yes, those staid Brits who enjoyed greeting one another with a kiss adopted kissing under the mistletoe in the eighteenth century. Several beliefs were associated with it, one being that each time a boy kissed a girl under the mistletoe, he must pluck one of the berries. When no berries remained, kissing was over. Another claim was to refuse a kiss under the mistletoe meant one could not marry in the next twelve months. Many other beliefs rose up through the centuries, but it became quite customary for a couple to kiss under the mistletoe. Perfect for a romance.

Candace Kane carries on an online acquaintance with "hottie" Travis Montgomery only to find when he invites her to Colorado for Christmas they've both "fudged" their personal info. What to do? Surprises abound and each must come to terms with reality. When a fitness instructor starts flirting with Travis, Candy's attentions turn to gorgeous Donnan McLachlan. Soon, she's confused which man she wants. Can she love two men? Who wins? Read Marry Me Under the Mistletoe available through Amazon.com.

Author C J Clark writes from the Ozark foothills and a complete bio is available on her website: www.cjclark.webs.com

This month only (December) C J will give away a signed copy of Marry Me Under the Mistletoe to one lucky winner. All you have to do is leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Just a note to let you know I'm moving the blog over to my webpage: www.cjclark.webs.com
Temporary because I'm not sure I like how the pages are set up over there. I could end up coming back here, but for now, look for me at www.cjclark.webs.com Thanks for following!

Friday, October 21, 2011


I've been writing since high school days. One day my mother found a large stash of my writings and promptly confronted me. (Maybe with her eighth grade education she was not educated enough to find value in them or maybe she was shocked by what I was writing) She threw it all in the trash and burned it! At that point did I really want to be a writer? I quit for several years. But writing is like potato chips. You can't stop with one.

Senior high arrived. I aced Composition getting laudatory remarks on my papers. Then a slight turn into Journalism where I also received plenty of encouragement. The muse had me again. I wrote and wrote saving every piece. A few years later I took a creative writing class at community college, again saving everything. Then,my interests took a bypass and the writings laid around and laid around until one day I said "out you go".

It wasn't three weeks later a friend of mine was in a writing class and by telling me of her assignments, etc. I was excited again, only to mourn that I had dumped all my scribblings. That taught me: NEVER AGAIN. Now I have stuff that goes back ten-twelve years. I have at least a dozen notebooks in which I've jotted down words, situations, story ideas, dialogues, etc. Now as Ire-read it, I think, how simple, I can do better than that. And that, my friend, is GROWTH. Visible growth.

Quit? I've had my husband tell me more than once--why do you bother? I look at all the paper and notebooks I've accumulated. More than once I've thought toss this out, it's too old, or whatever. But, I've learned my lesson. I save it. I go through it and pick out a phrase here, a word there, and use it in something new. I'll never quit again. I'll never toss it all. Writing is born in me. It's my method of communicating to others. It's my job--to please, entertain, frighten, etc.

How about you? Have you started only to stop? Do you save everything you write? Tell me about your experiences.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Are online relationships honest? Candace Kane is self-conscious about her appearance so she tells a little white lie about her looks. But little does she know that hottie Travis Montgomery has his own secret. But when Travis invites Candace to Cedar Pass Village Ski Resort and Lodge the surprise is on both of them. Can they overcome their pre-conceived ideas about one another? Will a relationship bloom? Enter sexy, fitness instructor Priscilla Hargrove and her faux friend Donnan Lachlan and watch the fireworks fly!

A fun read, you'll be laughing, crying, and rooting for true love to win out. Available through www.createspace.com and www.amazon.com.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Here I am at the Ozark Romance Authors conference last month listening to Leigh Michaels.

The big news is CHRISTMAS IN COLORADO should be out in the next two/three months! Perfect for that romantic Christmas vacation reading.

My chapbook PASTICHE is available through me for $5.00 (bargain). Isn't that rose in the snow beautiful? (courtesy of a friend of mine) So if you like poetry, contact me for a copy.

And look at these beautiful baskets of goodies raffled off at the conference. They were chock full of books, office supplies, critique packages . . . Congrats to all the lucky winners!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Judge. Does that word give you the heebie-jebbies? Maybe if you have to appear in court for a DUI or something worse, but how does the word judge make you feel when you submit a manuscript to a contest?

First and foremost you must realize a judge is not out to get you.(especially if you receive low scores). They read works blind--no names attached. Most judges have a criteria they are looking for. Not their own agenda, but one that is meant to improve your writing.

PLUS, your writing helps judges.

I've just finished preliminary judging for a romance contest. This is the second time I've done this. Good experience or bad? Good. By reading other writers' works, I can see what works, what doesn't. I see weak heroines/heros, strong heroines/heros. I see interesting plots with lots of twists. I can see how a great hook pulls me into the story. I can see when secondary characters are pulling too much weight or even adding confusion to the story. Bottom line, being a judge helps me improve my writing.

Have you been a judge? Good experience? Bad? What have you learned from it? If you haven't been a judge, what have you learned from a judge's comments?

The Irresistible Blog Award

I never thought to get a blog award, but here I am, nominated by http:// ridingwrite.blogspot.com for this “ahem,” prestigious award. Thank you, D'Ann. I only hope I can return the favor sometime. The requirements for this illustrious award are 1) Have a blog; 2) Post seven random facts about yourself that will only get you in a small amount of trouble with the powers that be; 3) Pass the award along to seven more worthy vict…fantastic bloggers; and 4) Be sure to tell everyone who nominated you by linking back to moi! Since http://ripplesinastream/.blogspot.com is a blog, I have fulfilled the most strenuous requirement for this award. Requirement #2 is below.

1. My favorite food is mashed potatoes.

2. I would like to live in a BIG log home in the mountains.

3. I would love to have a date with Eric Roberts or Andrew McCarthy.

4. I love to laugh, which I don't get to do hardly at all.

5. I have a secret desire to fix the world.

6. When I was young--sigh--I wanted to be an actress.

7. I like to cook and at one time wanted to go the the prestigious School of Culinary Arts.

8. Fantasy: to live in Liberace's mansion where I could sit and listen to him play piano all day/everyday.

And now for requirement number 3: And the Winners Are–

1. D'Ann Linscott Dunham http://www.ridingwrite.blogspot.com/

2. Stephanie Barko http://stephaniebarko.com/

3. Velda Brotherton http://www.%20velda-brotherton.blogspot.com//

4. Sandra Parshall http://www.poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com/

5. Linda C Apple http://lindacapple.blogspot.com/

6. Cindi Myers http://cindimyersmarketnews.wordpress.com/

7. http://www.cozychicksblog.com/2011/01/words-of-wisdom-for-all-my.html

Monday, May 16, 2011


  • Writers are a dichotomy. On one hand we are vain about our work, on the other hand, we are filled with doubts and fears. Have you ever found yourself saying: I can't write that. What will my spouse/the church ladies/my boss/my friends think of me?I better find a nicer way of saying that.What if I do let loose and someone criticizes me for it?

Beginning and novice writers are plagued by doubts of how far they should go in their stories. And indeed some editors, contest judges, and publishers may frown upon letting it all out. But there also comes a time when you the writer must take a leap of faith. Think about some of the best writers of all times. Did they cower in their writing? I agree with C. Hope Clark who says, "Good writers spill their blood, guts, sweat (and whatever other body fluids they have) all over the paper. There's no holding back. There's no worrying about what a mother will think or if it will upset a particular political party."

I know the current novel I'm working on will shock a lot of people. They'll no doubt say, "How could she write that stuff?" Although we all want to be the next bestselling author, my stance is: This is necessary for the story to ring true. I'm feeling more confident about my writing. Are you?Are you ready for that leap of faith?

Monday, March 21, 2011


Okay, my followers and newcomers, today's blog is short and sweet. I want INPUT. While it is imperative for a nonfiction writer or technical writer to access many sources for facts, how much research does a fiction writer need to do? Just enough to answer a few questions? Enough to get a complete grasp of a subject? How much of that info should be used? Is too much info in a novel detrimental? Let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Yoo-hoo. Yes, you. The writer sitting on your butt for long hours in front of a computer screen. What are you doing for your health? While most of us can tolerate TB (tired butt) few of us handle the upper body aches associated with long hours of writing very well.
It is recommended you break for ten minutes every hour. Think of it as a commercial break. It is the time to go get your coffee, check the mail, make a phone call, etc. But you can also use the following quick exercises to help get and keep the kinks out:
1) Push yourself away from the computer. Roll your neck to the side so your ear touches your shoulder (or as close as you can). Raise it straight. Roll to other side. Raise. Roll it down. Up. Back. Front. Repeat 3-4 times
2) Stand up. Shrug your shoulders up and down 3-4 times. Roll your shoulders back, forward.
3)Do NOT look at the computer doing this next one. Look out the window or at the wall. Raise your eyes up, down, right, left 3-4 times.
What do you to keep in shape as a writer?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Do you get what you want out of your writer's group? Are you oftentimes annoyed by the feedback you get on your writing? Perhaps, the confusion lies in what is criticism and what is critique.

Criticism in negative. Critique is positive. Criticism is nitpicking. Critique is instructional.

Even in my own writer's group it is common to hear remarks like: "You misspelled _________." "You should have used a comma there." While all well and fine if the writer is not aware of these mistakes, this kind of thing is often editing, not critiquing. Or do you get non-commital generic comments such as, "That was good." "I didn't care for it."

Here's some tips for getting more out of your feedback sessions:

  1. Be sure to ask the right questions. Rather than throwing your precious baby to the wind for general discussion, find out what you really want to know: Is the writing tight? Have I developed my characters? Is the plot strong or weak? Do you have a sense of place/setting? Is there too much narration? Not enough? Have I overused adjectives in my descriptions? etc. Ask specific questions.
  2. If you want editing, ask for it. You may want to preface your feedback session with, "I know there are spelling and grammar mistakes in here, I'm not asking for you to correct those. I want _________(see #1). Or maybe you DO want the corrections.
  3. That old adage: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all applies. You probably don't like your work criticized either.
  4. Perhaps you can't find much to say about someone else's work. Suggest a market where it might get published.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm sitting here typing this as I wait for the mail. It's the highlight of my day, especially when there is an SASE from a contest or an editor in the stack of junk mail, catalogs and bills. Waiting vs. working. Waiting for that reply that takes weeks or months can be frustrating. The daily trudging to the box to find nothing is disheartening. And then. . . and then. . . IT arrives. My heart beats a little faster as I worry the envelope. It is good news? Or another rejection? It's like being in a game show awaiting the right answer. Do you feel this way too?

Do you get happy when it's good news? Or there is check enclosed? Do you do a little victory dance? Do you slack off and wallow in your winnings?
Oh, rats! Another rejection. Damn, I thought it was so good. Do you wallow in pity? Do you read your work over and over questioning where is this bad? Good? Couldn't they give me a clue with a remark or two! Do you give up on that piece/ms? Or do you feverishly rework it? Or do you let it set awhile and go back to it later?

There is nothing wrong with any of these responses. The key is you must never give up, never stop working. You can throw it in the circular file if you really want to, but you must begin something new then. And you must realize two things: there is more competition out there than ever before and rejection is selection. Let me say that again: REJECTION IS SELECTION. It is not personal. It does not necessarily mean your work is not good. It means xyz (the judge/editor) simply didn't care for it. So, don't get dumpy. Send it to someone else. Keep sending it. There is a judge/editor out there that will SELECT rather than reject.

Thursday, January 20, 2011





ObamaNet - Government issued Internet ID card required for all AmericansThe government will be able to track every web site you visit, every keystroke you send, every purchase you make, every blog comment, and every Facebook and Twitter post.

Dear Member,The Washington Times is warning that the White House cybersecurity adviser and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke are drawing up "ObamaNet," President Obama's mandate for what amounts to a national ID card for the Internet.President Obama wants to establish passwords for every citizen to centralize your personal information. Instead of logging onto Facebook or one's bank using separate passwords established with each individual company or web site, you will be required to use the government-issued password.According to the Washington Times, here are the problems with "ObamaNet":* The government will be able to track every web site you visit and every keystroke you send on your home computer.* The government will be able to track every purchase you make and every deposit and withdrawal, and gain access to your electronic health care records.* The government will be able to track every blog comment you make, along with every Facebook and Twitter post.* The government will be able to create lists of your friends and acquaintances and lists of all your political affiliations, political donations, club memberships, hobbies and interests.* It's impossible for the government to make this system 100% secure (remember Wikileaks?), meaning criminals would need to steal only one key to unlock a vast amount of your personal and financial information.Although the White House will tell you it is a voluntary program, the government "voluntary" programs too often end up becoming mandatory. See Web I.D. = more gov't control.TAKE ACTIONYour elected officials can stop President Obama and the Federal government from prying into the personal lives of American citizens.http://www.facebook.com/l/3da37g1xDIuP8rXkeatDH8twOnA;www.capwiz.com/afanet/issues/alert/?alertid=22937536&type=COEmail your members of Congress today, asking them to issue a public statement in opposition to President Obama's plan to issue government-based Internet ID cards.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A 12 Step Program for Writers

Is this your desk? Or are you one of those people with a place for everything and everything in its place? After looking at a fellow writer's post about being disorganized I came up with the following suggestions:

  • We all know we should keep file folders, but sometimes they become bulky. Have a seperate folder for each manuscript you are working on. If the project involves research, make a seperate folder for that, if it involves newspaper clippings, odd notes, pictures, etc. you may want a seperate file for them, then all folders that pertain to that particular manuscript are put in a pendaflex file.
  • If you cannot read a note you kept, throw it away! If it is outdated material, throw it away!
  • Business cards are easily lost. If you prefer to keep business cards you should buy a binder, with plastic sleeves for the cards. However, every year you should weed these out. It may have been a great restaurant, but if you're not going to be back to St. Louis (or wherever) within the next year or two, throw it out! Business contacts can be tricky. I suggest keeping the card for a year. If you need to call that person, best check the Internet or White Pages for any changes. If you haven't contacted the person in 2 years, chances are you never will. Toss the card.
  • Hopefully you have a filing system. File. File. FILE. You only need your current WIP on your desk.
  • Have reference books nearby. It's a pain to have to stop and go into another room to look something up. BUT, don't keep those reference books on your desk. Hopefully you have room for a bookcase (whatever size) near your desk
  • Things won't seem as overwhelming in you keep your desk neat and clean. Small organizers like in-baskets can be used for each project you are working on, small dishes or tins (I use an old tin Band-Aid box) can be used for paperclips. Store pens and pencils in a cup style container (in fact, this frugal writer does use an old, cracked plastic glass). Put envelopes in appropriate sized plastic bins and within easy reach.
  • Have a bulletin board close to your computer where you can post notes, ideas, stamps, etc.Or better yet, get rid of those pesky Post-Its that keep getting lost. Use a notebook for messages, notes, etc. and date each page. Also keep a calendar on the board so you can write in appts., the date you sent off a manuscript, etc.
  • If you need a larger area to keep track of manuscripts, create a tracking method folder. I use a sheet of copy paper, divided into the following columns--date submitted, publication/contest, ms. title, cost (this is opt. but can include contest fee, stamps, etc), regular or e-mail submission, acceptance, money received, rejection, comments.
  • Keep a folder or a shoebox with all receipts for tax time.
  • Get rid of old e-mails that don't warrant your attention/reply. Think you just have to have them? Create folders for them. But then see how often you actually go through the folders. Chances are you won't. So, toss those e-mails!
  • Here's one I may never get the hang of: Don't collect pens. Why do you need so many pens? Throw them all out except for two or three. If it doesn’t have a cap, toss it.
  • Writers notoriously grab up freebies at conferences whether we need them or read them. Avoid taking them just because they’re free or if you just can't help yourself, vow to look it all over within 48 hours and scrap it afterward. Since that's wasteful, why take it in the first place? Train yourself to take only those business cards or info that will be of immediate use to you.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


A friend sent me this picture. Roses in the snow! Not only is it a beautiful photo, but it proves beauty survives adversity. What does that have to do with writing? Nothing. But it does have something to say about writers.

Writers bloom when they write. Writers are almost driven to write much as a flower is forced to bloom. However, just as some flowers just can't push themselves up through the soil, some writers just don't ever grow. It depends upon their nurturing. Since writers are basically loners (at least when it comes to their writing) their nutrients are things of their craft: quiet time, the Internet, blooks/libraries for research, contacts, conferences, contest wins, publication, etc.

Writers adversity: no time, squawking kids, demanding spouses, travel, meetings, vet appoint-ments, telephones ringing, company and a thousand and one other little things that infringe on writing time.

Yet the truly dedicated writer continues through this "adversity" of infringements to blossom with a story, article, etc. It is only those who never try or that do not stick with it that wither. As 2011 has arrived, are you blossoming or withering?