Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympic-sized Support

Ever feel like you're trying to display your best work but something keeps fencing you in? Can't get needed support?Feel like giving up? It's all too common. We'll never know the amount of would-be-writers who give up. But we often hear from those who make it that it's a lonely profession or that they couldn't have done it without a few cheerleaders on their side. I'd rather you and I sit on the latter side of that fence.

Support. It's huge. It's easy to think of Olympians just now. They have to practice, practice, practice. So do writers. They have trainers and coaches. Writers have how-to-books, conferences, and critique groups. Hopefully. But who is there to cheer them from the stands before anything gets in print?

Most writers I know have a day job or are busy mothers. Making the time to write takes initiative and passion. Somewhat like Olympians. We need our own milestones to spur us on like an athlete who wins a heat. It could be a contest we enter, positive feedback from a critique group or judge, or a husband who gets the kids to bed for you so you can write an extra hour. Set your own doable goals for some self-motivated support. Sometimes you're all you've got. Don't forget the rest of us in your same shoes who want your success almost as much as their own. I'm rooting for you!

Don't forget the biggest truth of all -- giving up never got an athlete or writer to the finish line. We all need support, but it often comes in spurts. How do you get Olympic-sized mileage out of small spurts to keep you going? It takes more than luck and dreams. Let's make it; we can do it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Increasing Productivity

  You know those magazine ads that claim losing several inches off one's ample waistline and how skeptical they makes us? It reminds me of listening to prolific author Kevin J. Anderson as keynote speaker at the 2012 LDStorymaker conference. His tips to use every minute of every day seem too OC for my lifestyle and personality but they work for him. Though some could be used more than I do. Anderson works for two hours of his body's best creative time on writing, the rest of the day can be split between editing a previously written draft, researching for a new story, promoting and marketing, etc. Then someone will call him up and ask him to work on a specific project. His "I can do that" attitude leaves him successful and extremely busy. He loves it. He even speaks oral notes to a handheld machine while hiking and works on weekends. He typically has 5 or 6 projects going at once.
  Who can keep everything straight in that jumble? Not me.
  On the other hand, I always thought I was stuck writing with bursts of 'panster' creativity followed by meticulous revisions, and would be lucky to complete a book a year. This is the first year I've managed two simultaneous projects. Maybe time and experience factor in. But I need to keep it real while making improvements in this area. I want to try some new helps as I'm getting ready to hand the baton over to a new project.
  Here is a post I read, recommended by Rachelle J. Christensen and others, that doesn't sound too good to be true. It sounds like doable, logical planning that I'm excited to try out. Check out how Rachel Aaron increased her writing four to five times more in this great post.
  I'll report back on my progress later. What productivity tips do you use?

Monday, July 16, 2012


 Doesn’t that cover just make you want to be there? Let’s find out more about Caribbean Crossroads and what I thought. Here's the book blurb:
New college grad Megan McCormick just got dumped. Hard. 
Swearing off men and relationships, Megan is coaxed into performing on a cruise ship where she meets the star performer, Bryant Johnson. Handsome and charismatic, he looks like trouble, but she can’t deny the intense attraction between them.
Urged to find a wife and run the family lumber business, Bryant is torn between his family’s expectations for his life and his own. However, when he meets spunky, but love-skittish Megan McCormick, settling down doesn’t look so bad.
Just when Megan begins to trust again, and Bryant makes some big decisions regarding his future, her former fiancé returns with a malicious surprise, taking Megan and Bryant to their own CARIBBEAN CROSSROADS.
   Connie Sokol is a mother of seven—a national and local presenter, and a regular speaker at Education Week. She is a monthly TV contributor on KSL’s “Studio 5” and regular blogger for LDSLiving online. She is a former TV and radio host for Bonneville Communications, and columnist for Deseret News and Utah Valley Magazine. Mrs. Sokol is also the author of Motherhood Matters, Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, and Life is Too Short for One Hair Color, as well as talk CDs and podcasts. Mrs. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats. Visit her website at   
What I liked about the book:
   Connie Sokol’s easy, flowing style of a fun, clean romance makes this a perfect summer read. There is a lot of dialogue, both internal and verbal, which keeps the pace going and resonates with female readers. She adds humor and tenderness to complex relationship struggles. I enjoyed the relief from those struggles that character Mrs. V provided. I also found the dream-like setting of a cruise ship appealing, especially from the perspective of staff or performers more than vacationers. The book offers what it promises and I enjoyed it.
What I didn’t like about the book:
   I only had two problems while reading and they proved minor enough. The first was that the continual relationship roller coaster got a little tiresome. Maybe I’m too far removed from those days and teens and young adults would probably soak it up. Sokol does a good job giving her audience the reasoning behind the actions, but it was kind of the same thing freshly rehashed.
   The second problem is a mild spoiler if you want to skip the rest of this paragraph. It stems from the back cover blurb. I kept expecting something excitingly malicious to happen on the cruise ship with the former fiancĂ© but he doesn’t show up until Megan is home and it’s nearly the end of the book. I would have liked the added suspense of something like that, but this was strictly a romance. The ending turns out satisfying, however, and romance readers will enjoy the story.
   CARIBBEAN CROSSROADS is available now on Amazon as an eBook and paperback. Keep an eye on Connie's Facebook page for the fun goodies and tips she gives out!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Plethora of Words

The wording on this sign could
have been boring instead.

  Vacations and reading. What comes to your mind? It could be anything from a relaxing poolside novel to informative travel brochures. This past week for me included reading historical landmark plaques and signs. Somebody had to write those and some were more entertaining than others. It got me thinking about the plethora of writing jobs out there. Yeah, send me to some exotic island—even to a restaurant—and I’d be happy to write a review for you. 
  That research you spent so much time gathering for your novel, did you know you could write an article on some aspect of it and get paid for it? Broadening your scope of writing can put some change in your pocket and give you a little publicity for little extra effort. You don’t even have to write the article before selling it. Submitting pitch letters to the right markets will let you know which articles to write once they’ve been accepted and sold.
  Another venue you may not have considered is contests. Big or little, do your research before entering. Picking local or specialty ones limits the number of entries so you have a better chance. Sometimes you can use something you’ve already written and just need to polish. Choose no or low cost entry fees to avoid rackets. Contests with levels should be totally judge-based and never make you pay another entry fee to move up. Small rewards can put big smiles on your face and another feather in your cap. They spur you on to keep writing. That alone has been worthwhile for me.
  This year I entered a 200-word essay and came away with an iPad. Recently I submitted a finished novel manuscript in a free state competition and plan to submit in my community annual contest. What could it hurt--a little extra time? One will never become an award-winning writer if he/she doesn’t enter. Just saying. What writing projects are you participating in?

Monday, July 2, 2012

For All the Little Guys Out There

Today's post stems from receiving the
This is for all those who struggle to get viewers to or comments on their blogs, wonder what to write, or need follower love. For many of us, we just haven't devoted the time it takes to build our blogs up.
Liebster is a German word which means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome. The Liebster Blog Award is given to upcoming bloggers who have less than 200 followers and fit the definition.
L. K. Hill awarded me this honor. Liesel is a Liebster herself!

The rules:
1. Each person must post 10 facts about themselves
2. Answer 10 questions the tagger has given you and give 10 questions for the people you’ve tagged.
3. Choose 10 people and link them in your post.
4. Tell them you’ve tagged them.
5. Remember, no tag backs.

10 Facts about me (Renae):
1. I am the mother of six and grandmother to soon-to-be number fifteen.
2. I’ve been eating healthier lately and exercising more. =)
3. Born and raised in Southern California. Lived in Utah since college.
4. I recently moved to Northern California for my husband’s temporary job.
5. I never had pets beyond goldfish and turtles due to my mother’s allergies.
6. My BS degree from BYU is in Clothing and Textiles.
7. When I decide to snack, sweets win. I love milk and dark chocolate, mints, and Hot Tamales.
8. I play piano and guitar, love to lead music, and have composed a few songs.
9. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Happy Birthday to me in Poland.
10. I survived substitute teaching for 13 years, teaching grades K-12 with 6-9 most frequently.

Blogs I've tagged: (I am on vacation and can't take time to find more than these wonderful blogs. I encourage you to visit and follow them.) Grab the button award above.
To everyone else: Feel free to add your blog info in a comment and I will follow you, hoping you will do the same.

Here are my questions to them, along with my own answers.
1. How long have you been blogging?
My first post was in September of 2010, so not quite two years.
2. Why did you start up a blog?
Other writers insisted that blogs were the best way to get your name out there before being published. It was a stretch for me at first.
3. What has been your weirdest experience with blogging?
There’s been a few frustrating times when something didn’t work as I wanted, but I wouldn’t call it weird. There was a time when I consistently had few comments and was about to give it up, but then the view count shot up. That was a good weird to keep me going.
4. What is your favorite book? 5. Who is your favorite author?
I never know what to say to these questions because I don’t have a favorite above all others.
6. What do you want to be when you grow up/what is your profession?
I already call myself a writer. Hopefully it won’t be long until I can claim published author.
7. How many books do you think you might have?
A lot at home, but can count on two hands how many are in my apartment. I do have a library card here though.
8. Do you prefer reading a proper book or a ebook?
I’m barely getting into the ebook mode so I can’t be objective on this one.
9. If you could choose to live one character's life in a book, who would it be?
Still thinking about this one.
10. If you were stranded on a desert island what 10 items would you want to have with you?
Sometimes being in this 1-bedroom apt. away from friends and family feels like a deserted island. All I need is sustenance and my pal the computer. Something like this: 1. Water. 2. My husband. 3. Favorite foods. 4. Computer to write on. 5. A supply of books. 6. Music. 7. Other people I love or enjoy. 8-10 Still thinking.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week and happy writing or reading.