A Writer's Journey through the Maze of Life

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I'm shutting down Wonderland on Blogger. If you want to still find me go to www.cjclarkwrites.com

Friday, September 7, 2012




Lake Michiga

As a former Michigander I can tell you all kinds of wonderful things about Michigan--the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, parks, zoos, u-pick fruit farms, entertainment centers, festivals, the Great Lakes.

Maybe you'd like a dune buggy ride on the sand dunes at Mears, MI.
Or maybe a riverboat cruise.

Michigan has its share of festivals and fairs also. One of my favorite things about Michigan are the beaches and lighthouses. I suppose I come by this naturally. My father loved to go to the beach and as he enjoyed painting, sketching, and photography he loved to walked the shorelines until he found a lighthouse he could sketch. . Since I was "daddy's girl" I always wanted to tag along.

Now that I live in Arkansas I can truly say I miss the diversity of Michigan. Oftentimes, we have thought of moving away from Arkansas and although I've always said I would not move east of the Mississippi again for anything. Unfortunately, economic times are hard and the housing market is down. With Michigan's economy so poor, the housing market there is extremely affordable. Wouldn't it be a wonderful mecca for seniors? It could be the new Florida. The only downfall to this brainstorm of mine is taxes. Michigan has high taxes. If only I could get the governor or someone in the state government to latch on to my idea and  lower the taxes, perhaps droves of people would move to Michigan. Are you there Governor? Hello? Hello?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The challenge was to write about 10 things I've never done. I could probably come up with many more than that. But here goes:
  1. I've never smoked a joint. I have no interest in drugs and I'm uncomfortable with a bad headache or the dizziness that comes with a sinus infection. Why would I want to use something that could make me hallucinate? Besides, I love life; I don't need to alter my existence.
  2. I've never eaten oysters or sushi. I've tried alligator, buffalo, octupus, squid, tripe, bear, antelope, and Rocky Mtn. oysters (testicles). Some are good, some I'll pass on. But anything raw turns me off. And oysters? Well, they remind me of the snot from a little runny nosed kid. No thanks!
  3. I've never been bungy jumping. This is something that looks like fun or at least it did until a few people had the misfortune for the rope to break. I can't see myself doing this (especially at my age), however, I am up for hot air balloon ride.
  4. I've never ridden the mechanical bull. Although it appeals to me, I'm sure with my bad back, I'd never walk again.
  5. I've never learned to drive a stick shift.
  6. I've never been to Europe.
  7. I've never "mooned".  I'm pretty straight, prim, and proper. Hey, it's called manners!
  8. I've never hiked the back-country. Heck, I've never hiked period. But I'd like to.
  9. I've never been on television. Oprah, are you reading this? Hello? Hello?

  10. I've never kissed a fish. Now some of you may find this funny, but when living in Wyoming, the neighbor man taught all his children to kiss the fish they caught. I like fishing, but kissing the fish, that's right up there with #2.
What 10 things have you never done?

Monday, September 3, 2012


Give me your two cents worth today. It can be about anything.  After all this is Wonderland.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012


If you haven't done so yet, be sure to go to MK McClintock's blog and leave a comment.


Have you received an email like this? As I read through it, I thought good deal. Who couldn't use all that promoting for a mere $150. However, after Googling this company--guess what--yep, there is none. Furthermore, I found a wonderful blog about this and I'm sharing that link: .http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2012/01/bookstoremarketingnet-beware-spam-pr.html

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Cost - $150 until September 15th. That is only 10 cents per bookstore/reviewer emailed.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Simple question today: Who was more creative Louis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) or Tolkien (The Hobbit)? Why?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid)

See this?  While this is not my house it looks similar. Now before you think, wow she must really be a bad housekeeper, let me say my house does not look this way by choice.

Hubby is a collector. So when we moved out of two homes to this one, he insisted everything come with us. The poor moving van almost had a stroke trying to handle it all. When we arrived and unloaded, several things were damaged. And while claims were being made and settled, everything just sat in boxes. Furnishings were here, there and everywhere. I felt like I was living in a warehouse.We could not settle in. My visions of a lovely ranch house faded.

But I was optimistic. When the claim was settled, I set to work and soon found we had too much stuff, not enough house. That was over 12 years ago. Since then, more has been collected. And sad to say, not a dent has been made in parting with things. See, my theory is, if it hasn't been used, worn, played with, viewed, etc. for over two years, it's time to part ways. Hubby's theory is: We may need that someday. So the accumulation grows. And after 14 years, I am still living in a warehouse!

Any suggestions how to turn this around?

Friday, August 24, 2012


Let's talk fantasies. One of mine was to have a fabulous home with an alcove housing a baby grand. Then I'd want Liberace to come and play all day for me.

Share one of your fantasies.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cats. I love them. Big. Small. Wild. Tame. Housecats. Big cats. Their all the same.

I love this picture. I crack up every time I see it. Cats have so much personality. Each one is different. For instance, the "baby" of my nine cats is the biggest--a twenty pounder, a bully, and the dirtiest (even though he is white). Then I've got one that's barely five pounds, pathetically thin, but a true survivor. I found him as a day old infant in the rabbit-brush out in Wyoming. That's a story in itself. There were many times as an infant I didn't think he'd live, but he's going on 15 years old. He's agile, independent, and non-aggressive. One likes to sprawl out on the back of the couch its legs dangling. Another wants legs curled under her. One likes to hang over the edge of a chair head first. Such individualists.

Do you love cats? Tell me your cat tales.
****I'm changing the blog. There's just too much out there on the craft of writing. So now, you'll get snippets of real writing. There may be serious posts. Funny posts. Off-the-wall posts. Who knows? Whatever this writer chooses to write about. Come spend a few minutes in Wonderland.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I'll be back someday

To those who think they have to post frequently, I say  . . . uh, not me. I am busy working on the novel and studying my craft. Which would you rather have? Another blog post or something that is going to be the best novel I've written yet?

Friday, July 13, 2012

One, Two, Three, Four!

Have you noticed your hips spreading? Thunder thighs? Aches and pains? Sounds like a commercial, doesn't it?

Actually, writers who sit all day, need exercise. Not all of us can be slim jims who run, have gym memberships, or are fitness freaks. Some of us even have mobility problems. But that's not to say you can't work some fitness into your day.

Here's some easy exercises you can do in front of your computer.

  • Hold your legs out straight. Slowly lower them to the floor. Do several times.
  • Hold your legs out straight. Flex your ankles back and forth. 10x
  • Hold your legs out straight. Rotate your ankles clockwise 10x then counterclockwise 10x.
  • Tilt your head to the left. Hold 5 seconds. Return to center. Tilt head to the right. Hold 5 seconds. 3x
  • Scrunch one shoulder up next to your ear, while forcing the opposite shoulder down. Reverse. 2x
  • Wrap your arms around the back of your chair. Tilt your head back. Now stretch. 2x
  • Clasp hands together. Raise over your head. Stretch. 2x
  • Dangle your left arm over your chair arm (if you have one, you don't have to have one to do this exercise). Bending from your waist, stretch as far as you can to the side. Return to sitting position. Repeat on right side. 2x
  • Not to forget your eyes! Looking straight ahead, raise your eyes (not your head!) up, then down, to the right, then the left. Return to center. Repeat. 2x
  • Get up and walk around every 15-20 minutes. This is a great time for that cup of coffee or bathroom break.
See how easy it is to get some exercise into your day!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Last Saturday was ORACON (Ozark Romance Authors Conference) in Springfield, MO. I hadn't planned on going this year, but the contest coordinator hounded me until I figured okay--it's only three hours away.

I've touted conferences before and I'm touting this one today. This one day conference hosted Jennifer Brown (YA), Leigh Michaels (Harlequin author) , and Steven Law (Yuma Gold western). Two agents Cori Deyoe and Lucienne Diver were present for pitches.  And look at this fabulous lunch buffet. As if that wasn't enough afternoon snacks were provided. And the raffle baskets are always fabulous.

So, what was learned? 1. Competition is getting worse. You are competing with eight million other books. 2.E-books are the way to go. But you also must promote, promote, promote. Or another way of saying that is sell, sell, sell.  3. QR's (those weird little code boxes that are popping up on everything) are needed. Even you yourself do not own a smartphone, you can still obtain a QR by Googling QR generators. For those who are still trying to figure out what I'm talking about, here's an example:
When you obtain a QR code with your website or product/book, the smartphone will scan the code and directly load the webpage. An easy way to link author to product to public.

Now I've got one more thing I'm going to have to save my pennies for and learn how to do. How about you? Is all this tech stuff going too fast to keep up?

Saturday, June 9, 2012


In lieu of the recent move by New York's Governor banning super-sized  soda drinks, I have to wonder what next? Will books eventually see their demise? No joke. When I think of how our personal freedoms are being taken away little by little and we lean more and more toward socialism, what's to say that the day won't come when books will be banned? And if there is any print material it will be dictated to us what can be printed and what can be read. I can see it now. Publishers blacklisting anyone who infringes on the rules. Government policings. Burnings in the town square.

Stupid. Preposterous, you say. But look at the news. An American wants to fly the American flag and their homeowners association sues and says "no-no-no, or we'll evict you". What about the child who brings a Bible to school? What about how you must maintain your property? Or what about eminent domain? Just because it hasn't hit your neighborhood doesn't mean it can't and won't happen. I can see where book banning could fit in. It reminds me the movie Fahrenheit 451. Are you familiar with it?

uy Montag is a fireman who burns books in a futuristic American city. In Montag’s world, firemen start fires rather than putting them out. The people in this society do not read books, enjoy nature, spend time by themselves, think independently, or have meaningful conversations. Instead, they drive very fast, watch excessive amounts of television on wall-size sets, and listen to the radio on “Seashell Radio” sets attached to their ears. (http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/451/summary.html)

Hmm, maybe Bradbury was prophetic.


What does wine have to do with writing? Nothing. And I don't advocate drinking to become a better writer. However, I do have to toot my horn. I just discovered Wild Vines Wines. These are light, sipping wines full of fruit flavor. The Blackberry Merlot is to die for. The Raspberry Zin is great too. There's two or three others I haven't tried yet. So, if you like a nice glass of wine with dinner or after dinner or just to relax with, I'm personally crusading for Wild Vines. Try it. I guarantee you'll like it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Back soon

I'll be back soon. Between hubby having pneumonia and me some kind of summer crud and a few computer problems, just haven't been up to keeping the blog. Be back soon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


The kids are screaming, your teen is hounding you about not being late for soccor practice, your husband calls telling you he's bringing a client home, the phone is ringing off the hook, someone stops in "just for a minute" that turns into an hour or more and other scenarios are often mainstream living for a writer.

But today, I want you to dream a little. What would be your perfect writing spot? On the beach? A cozy lodge like the one on the right? A primitive cabin? Do you want to be totally isolated? Do you want to meet with a group of like-minded individuals after x amount of being alone? Or does the stimulation of short sessions together only to be broken up with swim time, water sports--canoeing/kayaking, horseback trail rides and the like interest you? And your evenings, want them spent by a fireplace with others sipping wine? Bonfire parties? Tours of the town/interesting sites?

Actually, you can find just about any of these if you search the Web. One thing to keep in mind about a writer's retreat is you are expected to work, if not on your WIP, something else. Some retreats are set up like workshops with time for writing, time for read-arounds/critiques, and then socializing. Others let you be as isolated as you desire.

If you truly want to get away from it, leave your cell phone at home or at least leave it off with the exception of perhaps one hour. Remember, you're trying to get away from the distractions.

So, how do you find a writer's retreat? Just Google it. Or at www.shawguides.com you can find conferences, workshops and retreats (although the latter are few).

What's a retreat cost? I hate to interrupt your dream, but most of them are rather pricey. But wouldn't you put out some bucks for a mini-vacation? Think of them that way. There's retreats starting at $100/night up to and over $1000/night. Something for everyone.

So, where do you want to go?

Friday, May 4, 2012


Are you a shy writer? Would you rather write than perform? Dread having to talk about yourself? Cringe if you have to give a talk or read your poems in front of a crowd? Many of us are. But here's some tips to help you:

1. People are receptive. Relax, you're not on trial. Banish those thoughts of I'm not good enough, what will they say, everyone is looking at me, or whatever you're telling yourself to make you nervous. So what if not everyone likes your work? That's why there are so many of us--different strokes for different folks. And face it, would you really rather they looked at the walls? Of course not! If you are faced with reading your work or reciting a poem or doing a presentation, RELAX and remember there are those in the audience who do not even have your expertise/knowledge. You ARE good enough.

2.  Be prepared. Go over your presentation several times ALOUD. Better yet, if you can record yourself, do so. It will help you discover where you are talking too fast, too slow, using those pesky "and uh"s (the sign of a poor public speaker) and where you should be taking a breath. If you mumble, slur words, etc. PRACTICE beforehand. Enunciate. While it may sound strange to you to speak so precise the clarity will  be appreciated by your audience and you will sound much more sophisticated.

3. Don't be a mouse. You must speak up so you can be heard.

4. Leave time for your words to sink in. This may only be a moment or two in poetry/book readings by several poets/authors or longer in the case of a presentation.

5. Be open for questioning. Who knows your work better than you do? And it is no sin to say "I don't know" or "I'm not familiar with that". In this fast paced world we live in, we cannot expect a person to know everything.

6. Relax. Relax. Relax.  If no one wanted to hear you, they wouldn't be there in the first place.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Green Grammar 2

Is your grammar a little green? Does it need a little polishing? Did you take the quiz. If so, here's the answers:
1.  father-in-law's  Rule: For compound words, use the correct possessive form for the word closest to the noun.
2.  children's  Rule: Use apostrophe 's when showing possession for plural nouns not ending in s.
3.  Bill's and Bandy's  Rule: Make both words possessive to show individual ownership.
4.  is Rule: The phrases "as well as," "along with" and "together with" modify the noun. Because they don't make a compound subject, use the proper verb for the noun, which is the singular "third grade class".
5.  is  Rule: When used alone, "pants" requires a plural verb. In this sentence, the subject is "pair" which requires a singular verb.
6.  manufactures  Rule: Treat titles as a singular subject even when the title itself is plural.
7.  do  Rule: When using "neither/nor" or "either/or" the verb agrees with the closest subject, which is "Emily" in this sentence.
8.  English,art and three  Rule:Capitalize words derived from proper nouns.
9.  president  Governor   Rule: Capitalize titles of high-ranking govt. officials when used with or before their names. Don't capitalize the civil title if it's used instead of a name.
10.  North  Rule: Capitalize North, South, East and West when referring to regions. Use lowercase when indicating directions, i.e. The storm is moving north east.

Envious is when you want something that belongs to someone else.
Jealous is used to describe the fear of losing something you possess;suspicion of rivalry or unfaithfulness; an intense effort to hold on to what you possess.

Allusion is an indirect reference.
Illusion is a deceptive appearance, mirage, hallucination, trick.
Delusion is false, often perilous belief.

Honed is to sharpen.
Homed is to move toward a destination with accuracy.

I know two or three tricked me. I think part of the reason we have trouble with grammar is because of the way we talk. We don't use proper English when we speak. Often we don't enunciate. Sometimes regional dialects make it difficult to know whether the word is being used correctly. But that doesn't excuse us as writers from not using proper grammar.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Grammar and punctuation, the bane of many writers.
Just how important is correct grammar? Spelling? Punctuation? I just finished a book by a fairly well known writer and found it rather appalling to find the word spelt.  Since it was a western, I assume he wanted spelled as in "He spelled me for awhile."  Spelt is a grain. I also found some other errors, but I'm not going to elaborate. Let's face it, when we've looked at our ms for the twentieth time, sometimes the words just blur through our glazed-over eyes.

However it is our duty as writers to--sigh,yes, one more thing to consume our precious time--review the rules of grammar and punctuation. Spelling is simply a matter of taking a moment to either look it up or use spell check And realize that spell-check is not the end-all. You certainly wouldn't want to read "Witch is it?" Readability depends on our getting things right.

That said, here's a little quiz. See how you do.

Choose which word (in bold) is correct.

1. My father's-in-law/father-in-law's tenth reunion is next weekend.
2. The children's/childrens' Sunday School class will present a play next Sunday.
3. Bill's and Bandy's/Bill and Bandy's projects were the same.
4. The fourth grade class, along with their parents, are/is on a field trip today.
5. Nate's favorite pair of pants are/is in the wash.
6. General Motors manufactures/manufacture Chevrolets, Pontiacs and other brands.
7. Neither Clayton or/nor Emily does/do the laundry.
8. Emily signed up for english/English, art/Art and three electives.
9. The president/President stayed with governor/Governor Huckabee during his fishing trip.
10. Candy was eager to leave the north/North due to its long, cold winter.

Know the difference between Envious and Jealous?

Know the difference between Allusion, Illusion and Delusion?

Here's one I see  misused a lot. Home and Hone. Which is correct?
Ron honed/homed in on his gardening skills.
The police honed/homed in on the perpetrator.

I'll be back in a day or two with the correct answers. Meanwhile, if you got every one right, go to the head of the class. Miss a couple? A little review might be needed. Miss more than four? Hit the books!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Contests--Pro or Con?

 Do you enter writing contests? Many writers do. And yet, unbelieveably, I know a couple writers who refuse to enter contests. I fail to understand their rationale--they think it is a waste of time as contests are subjectively judged (if the judge likes a certain form and you write in rhymed couplets you'll probably be disqualified or it's just a matter of what the judge likes). This is true up to a point. But most judges are open to all forms of poetry or writing styles; it is the skill that is exhibited in the ms that counts. The naysayers also say why write for a pittance, I'm holding out for the big bucks with my novel.

So are they worth it? This is just my take, but I find contests vital. Not only are you competing to win a few bucks (sometimes very substantial bucks!) but judges become familiar with your name. If the contest publishes the winning contents, that's another feather in your cap. The more your name becomes familiar, the better chance of eventual fame.

That said there are a couple GOLDEN RULES you should never break. Follow the rules! If they ask for a max of 2000 words, don't think you can squeak by with 2005 words. Some contests want your personal info in the left hand corner of one copy, with nothing on your ms. copy. Others want the info on the right hand corner. Others want your personal info on a cover letter. Follow the directions explicitly or you may be disqualified and you have only yourself to blame. And don't forget your SASE!

That said I thought I'd list a few current contests that welcome beginners to pros. Good luck!





Friday, March 30, 2012

Mother Nature,The Muse and Ideas

Do you believe in a muse? I do. I can't describe her though; she's somewhere between an angel, Glenda the Good Witch (Wizard of Oz) and Mother Nature (from that old TV Parkay commercial). Regardless of what she looks like, when she is with me, she is supportive and encouraging me onward. Other days, it seems like I take two steps forward only to take three steps back. But. . .

I'm here to talk about ideas. Where do you get your ideas from? Specifically, how do you keep track of them?

Many writers keep a notebook by their bed to record thoughts or dreams. Ann LaMott carried a 3x5 card in her pocket. Having something that small with a pen or pencil in your pocket is a good way to capture an idea you may want to use later.

I've read where you should write down 2-3 words that will remind you of your idea. If you can recall your idea that way you are indeed better than I. If I looked at a scrap months later that read: dog is wolf, I would not be able to recall my original thoughts or where I was going with the idea. I need a good paragraph with a clue where this is leading me, i.e. seen a dog chained at house, dog/wolf/hybrid?, owner confirmed wolf, told me how acquired, etc.From there I can choose to write fiction, a poem, or an article on whether it is right to keep wolves as domestic pets. I need to put down where I might go with this information.

Another method of keeping track of ideas is to use a voice recorder (tapeless) or tape recorder. I just bought one; I'll let you know how well this works. How do you keep track of your ideas?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wash your hands

Many beginner writers send out a ms. and then wait, wait, worry, wonder, wait. Forget about it! All that stress should have been done before hand, polishing and making your ms. the very best it can be. Once you've mailed it out, it is out of your hands and best put out of your mind.

Now then, about the eighth or tenth rejection, you may want to look it over again. If anyone has been kind enough to offer you suggestions to improve it, take it to heart, mull it over, make changes. Yes, the wait and worry and wonder will still exist, but the best piece of writerly advice is get busy working on something else.

Heard about the rule of 13? Some writers swear if you keep thirteen mss. floating around at editors, publishers, etc. that eventually one will pick up on one. It took me a while to write enough to keep thirteen going all the time and sometimes it is more like ten, but I strive to keep plenty of material out there.

Meanwhile, even as I write, I still look forward to the mailperson each day and feel a twinge of disappointment when there is no news. But hey! that's what being a writer is all about.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hit the Road!

Spring gives me the travel bug. I love attending workshops and conferences. Later this week I'll be attending the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Blue Ridge, GA. I've never been to this one and I don't know a soul there. So why go? I not only get to hear speakers I haven't heard before, I get to meet new people, editors/agents; I get to meet Blue Ridge Writers and find out what they write about and consider pertinent. It's a form of expansion, of growing.

But why attend these functions? Shouldn't I stay home and write? Because in today's world of publishing, you have to do more. I must say I haven't been to a workshop. Mainly, because I don't find many in my area. Workshops focus more on the craft of writing. Some are run like classrooms--write, then share. This is a place for improving your skills. Some offer critique services and it behooves every novice writer to take advantage of this.And please, don't be so thin skinned you can't take a little criticism. These people are trying to help you. If you're such a sensitive artist, you can't take criticism, perhaps you're not meant for the highly competitive world of publishing.

Conferences on the other hand are wonderful socializing events. While you will hear speakers and possibly mingle with editors/agents, the contacts you make at these events can be life changing. Usually authors who have published make their books available at these venues.

Where do you find out about writing workshops and conferences? I go to www.shawguides.com. Here you'll find conferences all over the United States and elsewhere and it is also broken down by genres. Once you start attending conferences/workshops, you'll be on a mailing list. Or you can Google writing conferences/workshops and go to the actual site. You may want to start within your own state and gradually branch out as confidence and cash allows. And yes, some of them are pricey, but you can also find many that are reasonable. I started out with one a year, then increased it to three, all within my home state. Now, after several years, I'm branching out. If you've never attended a workshop/conference, maybe this year is the time to begin.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Novel Excerpt

Bradford pears have bloomed and are already leafed out. Cherry blossoms and peach blossoms have bloomed. Dogwoods dot the land. Crocus, daffodils and tulips have sprouted their heads. It's Spring in the Ozarks.It is really difficult to buckle down and write when it is so beautiful outdoors.

Buckle down we must and I've been working on contest entries and the third novel.

Here is a short excerpt from Vestal Virgin:

Lying inert she knew she should put more effort into the sex act, but the chump on top of her didn't seem to mind.His chubby hands moved upward, caressing her shoulders, then swirled around her breastbone, and crept down. She could smell his fetid breath, the stale cologne mixed with his sweat, the pressure of his thigh between her legs. She flinched as he squeezed her breasts and began sucking on them.

"Oh, God, you're good. You like it, don't you?"

He was squeezing her breasts like he was testing oranges. It hurt, but she couldn't say anything. She murmured, "Uh-huh" while her mind protested. Get the hell off me, you fat slob .

. . . . . . . . . . . "You girls have a rough life. I suppose your pimp gets most of your take. Just hide the extra or keep your mouth shut," he said holding the car door open for her like she was royalty.

Keep your mouth shut. Where had she heard those words before? From none other than that slime-ball priest Father Margolin at St. Augustine's. She hated him! She hated what he had done to her.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


You probably had one as a kid. Or at least you've seen them. Some writers are just like jack in the boxes. We sit down to write with all good intentions only to POP up at the slightest excuse.
                  I forgot to put that load of clothes in the dryer. Pop!
                  Hmm, looks like I need another cup of coffee. Pop!
                  I better call ___ before I forget. Pop!
                  I should wash the dishes, vacumn the floors, dust, vac out the car, etc. Pop!

If you are a jack in the box, you must learn to keep the lid closed.

If, like me, you must have your house in order (clean) before you feel comfortable to write, then work your tail off all morning/afternoon/evening (depending on your schedule) so will have the afternoon/evening/morning to write.

In lieu of my last post, perhaps we need to quit popping into Facebook and other social networks so often. Limit ourselves to 15-20 minutes of networks daily or just check in 3-4 times a week.

If you must talk on the phone, schedule 20-30 minutes for it just prior to your sit down to write time.

Need a coffee, Coke, iced tea? Get everything you need or think you will need before you sit down to write.

Discipline yourself to not pop up with every little excuse and you'll son find yourself being more productive.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Do you find yourself wishing you could find more time to write? I'm sure we all do, especially women who not only have 9-5 jobs, but have to come home to child care, laundry, housekeeping, chauffeuring, ad infinitum.

Other than the time worn advice of rising an hour earlier or staying up an hour later at night, there are two or three big time wasters.

  1. Networking/Internet   Although social networking--making yourself known--is important, hours can be frittered away on Facebook, Twitter and other social network sites. Ask yourself how many friends are reading your material/helping you reach your goals? Are they critique partners (a valid reason for networking)? Or are you just sharing jokes and small talk?  If you're not getting  readers, limit your friends/followers to those who may be of the biggest benefit to you--agents, publishers, editors, etc.The Internet is wonderful, but are you surfing just for something to do? Or are you researching? If the latter, you're justified in the time spent.
  2. TV   If your TV is in the same room (or where you can see it), your eyes and ears will be drawn to its sounds/visuals. You can't watch TV and hope to get much writing done.
  3. Reading  Face it. Picking up a book is more pleasurable than staring at a blank Word document. Save your reading for pre-bedtime.
Other tips to find more writing time:

  1. Write while waiting for dinner to cook. This is best done in longhand. You can always type it later. Just don't get so engrossed that dinner burns!
  2. Delegate your husband, significant other, children to tasks that will free up a half hour for you.
  3. If you don't have to socialize or conduct a meeting during your lunch hour, go sit in your car, go to a park or some other quiet place and work while you eat.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Welcome to my blog. In coming months I hope to share with you tips, articles, commentary and more on the craft of writing. I'll even throw in a little personal news from time to time. Leave comments. Ask questions. What do you want to know about writing? Check back often and become a follower.

In a few days I'll share with you an excerpt from my upcoming novel: Vestal Virgins.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


What kind of hat do you wear? As writers, we are now  caught in a glut of increased responsibilities. No longer can we just sit back and write. Now we have to socialize on the Networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Now we need fan pages, landing pages, blogs, websites. Now we have to educate ourselves in editing, marketing, distribution. Now we have to become public speakers. All these things help us grow and hopefully help us to sell our books.

How many hats can you wear? Too many hats are bad when you are compromising so much of your time that you have no time to write. How to solve that problem? Just like in big business: Delegate. What do you suppose marketing specialists are for? Distributors? Publicists? They all have a function and are there to help.

But I can't afford it, you whine. Then you just have to pull up your big girl panties and learn to deal with things to the best of your ability. Ask fellow writers how they go about handling these tasks. Every encounter can be a learning experience. How do you handle all the hats of the publishing world?

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Verisimilitude is one of those twenty dollars words with a ten cent meaning: having the appearance of of being true or real. And that's what stories have to contain.

Right now, I'm reading East of the Mountains by David Guterson. It's not a new book (I seldom read a new book). It is the story of a doctor who has cancer and  runs off to the mountains to die. I'd no sooner read page two, getting caught up in the story, when I had  to check  the cover. It says  fiction; I had to affirm I wasn't reading a personal memoir. Another chapter. Was that right? I check again. Yep, it says fiction, but  it reads like a real life story, it feels like real life.

How does he do it? I believe it is tiny finite details: the emotions that run through the doctor, his thoughts about what to do with his dogs, how he keeps rubbing his side where the colon cancer pain is the worst, how he needs stool softeners for his constipation and more. I'm on a chapter that speaks of  the apple orchards in Washington State. The details of how the trees are taken care, the varieties of apples, the history of how the orchard began.Vivid, yet everyday details bring the story verisimilitude.

 I continually keep going back to the cover because it is to hard to believe this is a work of fiction. And that is what we should all strive for. We should  make our readers go to the cover for affirmation that it is a piece of fiction, a piece of verisimilitude.

Monday, February 27, 2012


As writers we all get careless in our writing primarily because of the way we speak. Before long, faux pas in our writing shows up. Sometimes, we are just confused. Sometimes we feel we can't be bothered to hunt down the answer.

For instance, do you always know when to use:
in to vs. into,  on to vs. onto, they're-their-there, less or fewer, etc? Have you had dangling modifiers creep into your writing? Overuse of certain words? Although spelling has been my forte, I'll admit my grammar needs brushing up on.

I've found a couple of marvelous sites to help everyone. The first one is embedded in my sidebar (see Grammar Girl). The second one is www.dailygrammar.com In the archives section, you'll find over 400 grammar lessons. One of my favorites which is no longer available (unless you happen to run across a lesson through one of the many romance writers sites) is Grammar Divas. Annie Oortman gives valuable, detailed instruction in many troublesome areas.

A couple of books (if you're like me and like something in hand where you can flip pages) available through Amazon.com are:
There, Their, They're: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd    or

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes

Tuesday, February 14, 2012



A  red rose says "I love you"
A white rose says "I'm worthy of you"
A pink rose says "I'm appreciative"
A yellow rose "I care"
A coral rose "I desire you"

Did you hear on FOX News this a.m. the average man spends $150 on his Valentine? Where is THAT man? One of my fantasies has been to have an entire roomful of flowers. For that price maybe I could get a bouquet and spread them around the room.

However, I settled for a single yellow rose. Why? Don't I think I'm worth more? Definitely.  But after you've been married as many years as I have, red roses just seem trite.Even bouquets seem like overkill. It wasn't that hubby wasn't willing. He did offer  to get me a mixed flower bouquet, but sometimes a single rose says more.
When he heard what the average man spends he told me he thought he ought to do better. But frankly, I'm happy with my one yellow rose.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


My, my, how time flies. I cannot believe we are into February already. Time has moved so quickly, I've missed three important poetry contests. Sigh. Valentine's is around the corner and a Feb. 24th wedding anniversary. I actually had to look up the date. Why? When we got married, I remember saying, "If we marry the last day of February, it should be easy to remember." And I believe we DID marry the 28th, however the pastor left the marriage license on his desk for over a week. ( I think we picked it up March 8th and for years we celebrated our anniversary on that date.) When questioned about it, he said, "I'll just back date it, so it is still legal and you won't have to apply for another license." So after all these 27 years we still laugh whenever someone asks, "When is your anniversary?" We're really not sure. Guess that just proves it doesn't matter what the date is as long as you love one another.

Up, up and away in 2012

Another year. Each year I write down at least two writing goals. Most of the time I keep them. This year I not only want to finish my third novel, tentatively called Vestal Virgins, but I need to get back into my poetry. What is it about the two that do not seem compatible? My poetry is suffering atrociously. Maybe I can put on my Merlin cap and SHAZAM! write both.

Last year, Dec. 4th, I went to the Reynolds Library in Mountain Home, Arkansas for a book signing. There were at least 30 authors there and it was interesting to see what other authors were writing about.This is an annual event and one I look forward to. Check out the photo in the gallery.

This year I'm guest blogging at Joanne Troppello's site:http://joannetroppello.weebly.com/
My first blog is Jan 26th. Please stop by and check out her site.

Last year I guest blogged at my fantastic friend D'Ann Linscott-Dunham's site: WORDWRANGLERS (check the archives Dec. 13th) http://wordwranglers.blogspot.com/

This year, marketing and speaking engagements are going to take precedence. More about that to come.

What are your 2012 plans?