Monday, June 30, 2014

Freedom To Dream

Jelly Belly Jellybean Mosaic
As America celebrates freedom and independence, I've pondered on the freedoms I have as a writer. Freedom of the press is a given that comes to mind, not to diminish its importance in any way. The power of the word is remarkable. That I can type out anything I want for this public blog would have been a wonder in a different time and country. I'd love it if even one reader found inspiration, encouragement, a good writing tip, or a recommended read that they could take from my words each week. Thank you for visiting.

The next obvious freedom I see is using my time for writing. In this I am truly blessed. I have a good husband who supports me financially and supports the way I spend my time. After we moved to CA for his job change, I retired from substitute teaching to write full-time. Only recently have we seen fruits from that and the light at the end of the tunnel. It's a long, rough road but I will get there. I love it and I'll make it work!

Mosaic at the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, CA
To those whose time is more restricted but have decided to push down this road, don't let anyone tell you that you can't live your dream. Those who persist will improve, reach goals, and end up living their dream. It often takes longer than anticipated. But you can do it! Many have done it and more will follow. Writers and bloggers wherever you look would love to help and are cheering you on.

Figure out what personally holds you back, what you need to do to work around or through that (or find help), and go for it! Push forward. Dream big and work hard. The freedom to do so is there.

The new-to-me blog of the week is Laura's Literary Tips and Tutorials at Laura shares wonderful, helpful articles for those of us learning our writing dream.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Non-Writing Productivity (AKA Fun Marketing)

I've been dreaming up things I can do once I'm ready to publicize my book--contests or posts to get the word out.
I thought it would be nice to have some swag on hand, so I started making faux-leather bookmarks with 'Mayan' designs on them since the setting of the book is Meso-America. The opposite side will include my web address (once I get that running). These can be freebies at a book signing or launch party. I had most of the materials and did this listening to audio books or TV. Not a bad investment. It made for a nice break from writing and still felt productive.

I have the rare opportunity next week to see a niece with beautiful, long black hair like my MC.
In my story, the Lamanite king's daughter, Karlinah, uses her engraved clay beads to decorate her cloth hair ties. These play an important clue later in the novel. I thought how fun it would be to take some photos of the beaded cloth ties with my niece as the model. How do you like them?

I also dug out my Mayan designed table cloth that I got at the Teotihaucan ruins in Mexico. It will be the perfect display table tablecloth. I've also tried some recipes using black beans--one of the foods mentioned in my book. I can use those in various ways. It's fun to anticipate the birth of my baby.

What ideas have you seen or used at special book events?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Writing Community VS Writing Bubble

Do you ever feel like you are being watched over or protected by unseen forces (other than divine providence)? Lately, my circle of writer friends have given me answers I didn't realize I sought. Someone's post, comment, or e-mail gave me direction before I could ask, like an a-ha moment. It helped me realize how valuable a connection to the writing community is.

Why should you as a writer care? The time will come when you need a beta reader, someone to show you how to format your e-book, someone to brainstorm with, a supporter and cheerleader to keep you going, someone to interview on your blog, and the list goes on. As much as an author would love to be left alone to write, she becomes a public figure in a small or large spotlight. He must deal with promoting himself.

I recall when I was content to stay in my own writing bubble but I've since learned that the more serious we get about our craft, the more we need each other. Contrary to logical thought, one writer's success is not another's competition, just as one good book in a library does not diminish the worth of those around it. As long as creativity is alive, one good idea does not ruin someone else's similar plot premise. No one else can write the book you will write and vice versa. But we can and do help one another along the way.

Developing one's participation in the writing community takes a little bit of time and effort. Here are some things we can do now to reap the benefits later:
1. Communicate with other readers and writers. Use your voice, small or big. Make a blog comment. Ask a question. Ask for feedback. Share an idea.
2. Knowledge. Find an author or two that you like and subscribe to their newsletter or follow their blog. Be in the know with what is happening with the authors you care about. Become part of their community.
3. Friendship. Meet other readers/writers at conferences, online, libraries, form critique groups. Each has something to offer, something to learn, and friends to gain. It's win-win.

Thank you, fellow writers. I hope I can give back.
What has your writing community done for you?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Character Twists or Twisted Characters?

Playing with twists that are more character- than plot-related, can be a lot of fun--both to write and to read. Nobody wants a stereotypical character--too predictable and uninteresting. So add a twist. We don't like wacky surprises where characters don't fit their role, either. Unless the writer builds in the plausibility for it. Creating a mash-up of believability and freshness isn't as hard as one might think. Like the burly cop with the heart of a teddy bear or the little old lady who lectures her would-be purse snatcher. The right situation can bring out new qualities or strengthen weak ones. 
Start with the right character for his/her role. Don't use the typical character mold. Do keep some choices logical. Sometimes the differences are subtle.  

Spice things up with a twist. How? Think about what the reader expects your character to do, then change that reaction or have them go in a different direction. Not too often--maybe a couple times in the story. We want a fun character twist, not frustrated readers. Give readers what they expect, but not in the way they expect it. Simply make things worse. Reveal a secret the character is hiding. Or use the admired character to end up as the villain (think explorer Charles Muntz in the movie UP). It's a classic twist to turn someone into a twisted character. And readers love it when done well.

 Take a character that hinted at growth from his experiences, but suddenly we see the new coat of paint.

 Which 'character' fits better as a cowboy? An executive? Put that character into an opposite setting and see the new reaction. 

When brainstorming for new ideas for your story, look at one of your characters as a way to make the plot more interesting. A new analysis of your characters could spark your creativity and keep you on track. Keep chuggin' along and start doing the twist!

The new-to-me blog of the week comes from last week's blog tour list. Head over to for book reviews from nearly any genre and an occasional post from one of Sandra Stiles' middle grade students.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Hitler Dilemma Blog Tour - Author Interview

Carolyn Frank's new historical fiction is out and she's here to share some interesting info! Let's first find out what The Hitler Dilemma is about:
“We’re Nazis, Max. Everybody in Germany is Nazi—if they want to be safe.” Papa pulled up a chair and sat down, crumpling the newspaper in his hand. “We don’t have to think like them, son, but we’ve got to act like them—at least on the outside. Try to remember that. Okay?”
Saarbr├╝cken, Germany—1938 Change is in the air in Max Adams’s small village: The censorship of classic literature, the elimination of math and science courses, the addition of extra physical education classes. Along with thousands of other young men, he is forced into the Hitler Youth and is being groomed to become the next generation of Nazi soldiers. But as a faithful Latter-day Saint, how can Max serve the villain who destroyed his younger brother in his effort to create a Master Race—a man who is bent on tearing apart not only a single nation, but also the entire world? From the horrors of battle and the sorrow of separation from family to the privations of a prisoner of war, Carolyn Twede Frank’s groundbreaking novel The Hitler Dilemma is a poignant chronicle of one remarkable young man’s struggle to reconcile his sense of duty with his staunch opposition to the evil tyrant destroying the country he loves.
1. How did you pick this topic from the Hitler time period?
Carolyn: While I was working on an earlier historical novel, based on the life of my husband’s grandmother who grew up playing among the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon before it became a national park, I shared my writing research with my employees. One particular employee, Connie Adam expressed her fascination with my grandmother-in-law’s story and then said, “You should hear the story of my father-in-law.” She proceeded to give me a glimpse of some of Max Adam’s amazing experiences. I knew immediately that was a story I wanted to bring to life in the form of a novel.
Me: Interesting, I love personal connections! I read that earlier novel, Promises, and loved it, btw.
2. How long did it take you to research and write?
Carolyn: The book took me a year to complete. I did most of the research simultaneously while writing it and I got a lot of information from Max Adam directly and from his memoirs.
Me: How lucky to have access to memoirs!
3. Anything special you want to share about writing this book?
Carolyn: This is my debut novel in the world of traditional publishing. The fact that a publisher liked my writing enough to invest their resources into producing my book validates the last eight years I have spent learning and honing the craft of writing. This amazing story that I have been privileged to retell also has served to whet my appetite. I itch to discover more untold gems of history and write their stories as well.
Me: I'm happy for your success, Carolyn. Thanks for joining me today.
The new-to-me blog of the week comes from the blog tour list below. Visit Suey for It's All About Books. Great stuff about books and blogging. Lots of tabs to check out specifics.

Check out what others are saying about this book or view the book trailer below:
May 24th.
May 25th:
June 6th: