Friday, December 28, 2007

Achieving Your Dreams

“Every step I take brings me closer to the realization of my dreams.”

Are you wondering what this is about? Well, Judi Moreo, author of You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal (Stephens Press, Dec. '07), will embark on a virtual book tour to promote her book about how to achieve your dreams.
As a writer whose first dream of being published has come true, I can really relate to so much of what Judi writes about. I know people may be tired of hearing about The Secret, but you know what? For those of us who have been practicing The Secret long before it had a name, I can tell you that my path to success was created long before I started writing.
My first successes were not academic…they were athletic. I discovered that, at the end of a nail biting game, when everything was on the line, I wanted to take that last shot. I wanted the ball in my hands because I knew I was a go-to kind of player. It was that belief in myself and an understanding that I had trained harder, worked more, (I would shoot baskets in our yard even in the rain) and was far better prepared than even my best friends on the team. I knew I had the mental game to hit a clutch shot.
I won more than I lost, and I took this attitude, this belief that if I worked hard enough, if I studied the good writers, understood the business (like understanding an opponent), that when I started writing, I would find success.
Now, granted, it’s not best seller success (not yet), and I’m not sure my genre will ever get me there, but I have published eight novels (my eighth comes out next month from Spinsters Ink) and have had the wonderful opportunity to meet some fabulous writers, attend some wonderful workshops as a presenter, and write-off my travel for research purposes. I’ve enjoyed book signings, panel discussions, and so much more. It’s been a wonderful ride, and the best part is that I now have a new dream…to actually make some money doing this!
So…does The Secret work?
It does for me. For 20 years, I have hauled around 30 boxes of leather bound books because I knew that someday, I would have a library like Sherlock Holmes, complete with ladder, fireplace, window seat and globe. Last year, I had that library built. It was exactly how I envisioned it when I first started buying those leather bound books.
At 47 years old, I still want the ball at the end of the game…I still believe I can. And that has been my singular battle cry to all of my students when they come into my writing class. It has been the mantra I taught my own girls”
“If you think you can or can’t…you’re right.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It’s a week before Christmas and I’ve been taking pictures of all the fun Christmassy things (is that a word?) that I’ve seen here in Mexico. This guy, by far, is the coolest. On the Malecon there’s this team of sand castle builders who create the most incredible sand figures. This one is an eight foot guy we like to call Sandy Claus. How cool is that?
There is also a tradition here that the manager scenes remain without the baby Jesus until Christmas Eve…so…well…maybe you should pray for me, because I’ve been super sacrilegious. Since there’s no babe in the straw…I’ve taken photos of Little Linnie in the manger. Lol. I know…that’s TERRIBLE, but it cracks me up every time. Away in the manger, no crib big enough for Little Linnie’s fat butt…No? See, I’m still laughing.
So, my people dress anything up like Santa…the frog at Senor Frogs, the wooden guy in front of the cigar shop, sand. It doesn’t matter that it’s 90 degrees out here…It’s still Christmas Time!
So, I wanted to share that little Christmas Sandy Claus with you and start a little jingle that I can then give to the nice Mexican Sand Man. It starts like this…add this line and your own…and let’s create a fun little poem for the man who works so hard to bring joy to others on the beaches of Mexico:

On the beach, near the pier, stands a might y Sandy Claus…

Okay…it’s your turn…
Enjoy (pronounced down here, en-yoy)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Okay...I've read one of the BEST books I've read in a long time down here. It's an easy read, but makes you think and is the kind of book that you savor. I keep reading one chapter and then going back to writing because I don't want it to end.

It's called Lost and Found.Trust me. You'll laugh out loud. You'll think about people in your life who are like the characters.And if you are lucky enough to have someone who can talk to you about the dozens of GREAT lines, then Merry Christmas!

So, I've told you how I write my first draft with a fountain pen. (I brought lots of ink down here only to discover an Office Max AND an Office Depot nearly on top of each other).

How do you start a story or novel? What does your creating process look like?Just food for thought.(Can you tell I'm a teacher:) It can be SUPER annoying!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mexico #4

I've gotten so much done since we've been here, it's amazing. I don't know which I've enjoyed more...the creation of Killing Time or the revision of Time Flies.

The weather has been incredible. Each night, we get a light show sponsored by Nature, where the lightning reaches down like an eagle's claw and scratches across the ground. The sky is both blue and purple, depending on the light show. Incredible.

Here's what my days and nights look like.

We get up around 7:00 and go work out.

Coffee tea and a yummy little breakfast snack with chats at Starbucks, where I do my online universities and this blogging. There are usually five or six of us on our laptops in here.

Then it's out to sit out by the pool or on the beach and write until 1:00- ish. It's all Mexican time, here, mi amigos.

I'll take a short break to read...maybe for an hour or so...snack, chat, stretch, take a stroll down the beach. The afternoon is a good time for a siesta, but I seldom take one. I am having too much with book 5 of the Across Time series.

Back to writing until dinner.

Dinner...another 6 mile walk to old town to shop for silly things...or drink coffee on a sidewalk so we can people watch. The Malecon is the best place for people watching. It is getting busier the closer to Christmas it becomes. It's too weird to see snowmen and Santas in 89 degree weather.

Watch the sunset...always beautiful...always keeps its promise.

Find a place to eat where the natives are but the tourists aren't. We've had some great food while we've been here.
We head on to an Interent cafe to do more schoolwork, read email, get some news. Then we take a cab back...though we keep threatening to walk back, making the 12 mile journey in one day. We'll see!

At night, I am back on the laptop to work on the inputting the fourth in the series into the computer. Finally, I crack open a book and read until I can't keep my eyes open.

Last night, though, I was laying there thinking about titles...and I was wondering...what are some of the WORST titles?

I remember not wanting to go see that Jim Carrey movie about the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind...or something like that. It was probably way over my head....but it made me think:

What are some of the WORST titles you've heard, and did the titles prevent you from reading the book?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Great first lines.
One thing that I do a lot now is go to Borders and open to the first page of any novel. Why? Well, I took this seminar on Great First Lines, and I realized how important that first line is. It’s like the opening scene of a movie trailer. As we sit in the theatre watching the preview, we know right away if we’ll pay money for it or wait for it to come out on video. Tell me you haven’t turned to someone and said, “Video.” We all do it. That means the first line didn’t grab us. If it was a book in our hands, we’d put it down. It didn’t hold our interest, make us question, or tug on any strings. Down it goes.
So, I started looking at first lines…to see my own reaction. To see if there was enough there to entice me. Here are some from the seminar as well as others I’ve read that resonated”
I steal.
Now, you ask…why is that a good first line? Because we are immediately in question. Who steals? Why does she steal? Does she have to or is she driven by something different? What does she steal? Is she a professional thief?
By the time we finish the questions, we’re sucked in. The very act of questioning prompts us to want to know more, and the way to get your questions answered is to buy the book.
Few of us are turned on by a lengthy description as a first line or first page. Sure, the classic writers got away with it. Men used to be able to rape their wives to, and once, slavery was legal. Things change. Readers are no exception. I don’t know about you, but if I pick up a book, open it, and there’s a block of text describing the scenery, I’m putting that book back down. No thanks. There’s a time and place for it, to be sure, but as an opening line? You do the math.
Which would you rather read:
1) I didn’t want to kill my mother, but she gave me no choice.
2) The Everett’s house had never been quieter behind the peeling yellow shutters and the overgrown hedges that said the occupants were too busy to care about things like maintaining the house.
So…anyone up for tossing out either great first lines that you wrote or great first lines from someone else’s work?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So..what is a book launch? Well, since the publishing industry is ever

changing, things like book publishing parties have also changed. Now,
you need to have AN EVENT. Yes, an event. I am fortunate in that
I have people in my life who not only love throwing events, but are good at it. That's half the battle, I think.

So, what is a launch?

It's where you throw a big bash with friends and colleagues, relatives, and anyone else who loves reading. You have enough books on hand to sell, killer food, good wine, and lots of laughs. Then you sign books, chat up the story, and get your friends to help you get it out to as many people as possible.

It's a party, but it is also an event. And they're really a lot of fun. These people are your base, and you have to teach them..."Don't lend this book to people. If someone wants to read it, tell them to buy it." People don't know. You have to educate them that loaning books means you don't make any money for your work...and puh-lease don't be so desperate that you just want to be pubkished and not make any money.

(That gagging sound you hear is me)
We all want to make a living at this...your friends can help.
Mine buy three or four...THOSE they give away...but they tell people, "If you give this away, she doesn't make money for entertaining you. Give it away ONLY if you hated it."

That's fair, don't you think?

The launch will be one of the biggest bashes ever...and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Lesson #5 Stop and smell the roses when it's all said and done, and while you're smelling them, get your people to scatter the roses petals as far and as wide as they can.

Monday, December 10, 2007

So, I’ve been walking into town…it takes about an hour and a half to get to my favorite shrimp taco shack…and along the way, I’ve been seeing some great things I HAVE to write about someday. First of all, let’s talk about the Mexican manger scenes. OMG. I’ve never laughed so hard as when I stumbled upon a blow up manger scene. You know the kind. They’re normally huge Santas or snowmen, only giant blown up camels, wisemen, and crew. It was tacky at its finest. Then there was the flip side, which is down on the Malecon. There’s a sand sculpture team working down there, and they did the most incredible sculpture of the manger scene. I mean, it was brilliant. So, I have taken photos of all the weird scenes for a scrapbook layout of them. Someday, I am going to have to use them all in a scene for one of my books. Too funny.
I think that’s one of the best side effects of travelling; you see so many things outside your normal range of sights. So far, I’ve seen three legless people, a one-armed woman, and a pair of midget twins. I know, I know, they like to be called little people. I prefer dwarf. I’ve always liked the word and I’m not much into political correctness in any form. What’s wrong with that word? The genetic issue isn’t called little people-ism. It’s dwarfism, right? I’m not making that up. I can understand not wanting to be called midget but dwarf? It’s a fairly nice word. But I digress. I’ve also seen a ton of transvestites. (They are still called that, right? Or are they cross-dressers now? Sheesh. Who can keep up?). There’s a huge gay male population down here, and you can hear their little gay voices everywhere. Oh come on! Don’t pretend like you haven’t noticed that voice. It’s ubiquitous wherever you find a pod of them. (Okay, so maybe gay guys don’t travel in pods, but I think I’ll try to start a trend with that word. Hell, some moron started that idiot word ginormous, which made it into Webster’s last year. Boy do I digress. J
So, what about writing? I am preparing for the virtual book tour (you’re all invited) and I’ve been filling out these interviews for blogs. They have some interesting questions on them. One of which asks about the advice I would give other writers. Stay tuned for that advice tomorrow. Right now, there’s a pod of transvestite dwarves enacting a manger scene and I need to get a photo!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

While life in Mexico is grand, and I am getting a lot done, there are things that need to happen in order to get ready for the book launch.

Book launch? You ask.

Yes, Book launch. It is an event. It is no longer a publishing party, but an event. I used to have book signing parties, and those were outrageously fun! Having everyone who loves you at one gathering is truly magnificent.

But times have changed, and so has the terminology.

It's a book launch.

We want to make it into something that EVERYONE wishes they were invited to! To that end, we will have to kick it off shortly after the book is published, but I do not have a definite due date yet. That's the tricky part about publishing...setbacks happen all the time, and nothing ever happens when it is supposed to, so you just have to roll with the punches. Right now, I am rolling with the waves on the beach. When I mentioned recharging, I should have been clearer. Recharging is about giving your spirit both what it needs as well as what it doesn't need, but wants. Mine wants sun, quiet walks down a cobblestone street, and a marguerita at lunch with one dollar shrimp tacos from a stand on the beach.

Mine wants night time thunderstorms that I watch from our balcony overlooking the ocean. It wants to sit and watch shows every night, dance until dawn, and whisper to the muses as I make my way back home.

Remember when I said (more than once) that it's all about choices? It is.

So...what do YOU do to replenish and recharge? Do you CHOOSE the things that make your heart sing and your muse dance or do you wait around hoping it dances on her own?


Thursday, December 6, 2007

So I went to a faculty Christmas party. This one was better than most...perhaps it was because my people were there. It is always good to be surrounded by one's peeps...

Anyway, as I was answering "What are you doing for the holidays?" with my enviable answer of "Going to Mexico to write," I was naturally inundated with the same question...

"How do you find the time to write?"


I see the problem.

The problem lies in the verb...find.

When you find ten dollars in a jacket pocket, it's a fluke thing. It's lucky. There is no intention, no goal, no thought. Find is a weak word that means you stumbled upon a thing.

I find that amusing.

Do you want to stumble through life hoping you find the time to write or do you create the life you want?

You see, I don't find the time, I create it. Creating is a willful act; one that has an intention and a goal. It is a better verb than even make because to create something is akin to magic. and writing is, indeed, magical. Finding something has no magic, but creating something...ah...there's the zest in life. There's the beauty and joy. There, my friends, is true magic.

So, you have to ask yourself this:

Are you a finder

Or a creator?

And which one do you think has the better chance of getting his/her work published?

Life is all about perspectives and about what you put into the universe.

Lesson #4 If you want to write badly enough, you will create not only the time to do so, but the space as well.

It's all about choices.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

So you saw my library. Nice, huh?

So, what do I do in there?

Well, after I finish the rough draft by hand (which I usually start at some exotic location like...well let's see...I wrote Tory's Tuesday in 2 week on the beautiful Greel island of San Torrini. I wrote the first Across Time in Puerto Vallarta. I wrote one the paranormal novels in Thailand, and the last two Storm novels in the rainforest of Costa Rica), then it's library time. On my desk sits two laptops...a regular 15.4 inch that is connected to my Jumbotron 24 inch monitor. Since I do so much online teaching and writing, I decided to be good to my eyes and get a monitor that spoke to me. I'm pretty sure it lights up the entire neighborhood. Maybe that's why all those giant moths have crashed and burned into my window.

Ya think?

Along with that, I have my mini...a cute little 3 pound 12 inch monitor that I recently purchased so I can travel and not lose functionality. If you're looking for a handy little no name brand that packs a punch, try Everex. It even comes with an extra battery all for about 500.00.

Anyway, with multiple screens open, I am usually writing, grading papers, or, like now, watching one of my many Netflix movies (This one is a horror flick called Captivity).

So, my rewrite process begins when I transcribe the first draft onto the computer. After that, I let it sit for a week or two before going back in for further revising. (boy, this movie is REALLY scary!)

I write every one way or another. And by writing, I mean, sometimes that's reading, sometimes it's research, and sometimes, it's the actual writing. It depends on how you define writing, I guess.

Any writers out there want to share your own definitions of writing?

Happy Birthday, Chloe :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

So, the last time I was in Mexico, I got the chance to hold this jaguar cub. I have a bizarro list of all the animals I have had the privilege of petting or interacting with in some way.

Elephant (I rode one)

Giraffe (I fed it)

Sloth (I held it)

Cheetah (I pet it)

Macaw (owned)

Python (wore)

White face monkey (played with)

Spider money (played with)

Alligator (fed...oh...and ate)

Iguana (fed and ate)

Crocdile (caught)

Emu/ostrich (ate)

Giraffe (fed)

and there are a few more, but I won't bore you with the details. Why am I sharing this? Because again, these are things I WANTED to do, and somehow, managed to make happen. The things make my heart sing. A writer needs to feed her spirit. If that's knitting, go for it. If that's eating at a fancy restaurant, do it. For me, it's petting animals...exotic, rare, wonderful animals. There's something about nature that renews my soul's energy...makes me feel alive.

I spent a night in the jungles of Costa Rica once. When the day animals settled down and went to sleep, the night ones came to life...and the symphony they played for me was unlike anything I have ever experienced ANYWHERE. It was one of those incredible moments when you know you are in the presence of something greater than yourself.

As a writer...we all need those moments. We should be in hot pursuit of them. We cannot be complacent. If your jungle is the subway, a bus, a mountain top, the beach, then make the time to go there. I say MAKE the time because finding something means we stumbled upon it. Don't stumble through your life....MAKE it happen!

Lesson #3 is to feed your soul....your writer soul. Feed it well....feed it often...make your heart sing!

It will change your life.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dec. 3rd, 2007

So, what's this page about? Adventure. The

photo below was taken in Honduras as

we cruised around in a mini speedboat.

Big fun!

The photo to the right was taken in

Thailand. That snake was really heavy!

Okay...lesson #1 was what? You gotta believe!

Is that trite? Is that sentimental? Is that too "The Secret" for you? Well, take a close look at this photo. I'm cruising around in a mini speedboat on one of my vacations. I am not a rich woman. I am not even wealthy. I am a teacher. I make very little money...but I know what is valuable and important to any writer and that is to LIVE WELL. To go out and experience life gives our writing layers and textures we can only dream about. To actually live those adventures brings a verisimilitude you don't find from people who don't actually LIVE!

Life is to be tasted, explored, touched, and caressed. It is filled with so many paths to so many wonderful adventures. Those adventures are at your fingertips if you want them badly enough.

This Christmas, I'll be in Mexico for a month. How much is it costing me? 1,300 for airfare and my hotel. And no, that is not a typo. I am a teacher. I make no money...but I DO find great deals. That was an Orbitz deal for 1300 air and hotel...four star, bay-bee! And why do I do this (other than to get out of the cold, grayness of Oregon?)

Because I am a writer...and that means I need to write. Not want to...NEED to. And to that end, I work to enable me to have the TIME to do it. What better way to get that done than to have nothing BUT time? In Mexico, I will have a clipboard by the pool, my fountain pen, and a book. I'll write for about 6 hours, taking breaks to eat, swim, and drink a marguerita. At night, I'll have dinner on the beach, I'll watch a show, go upstairs and write some more. I'll finish the evening by reading one of the many books I have set aside for this vacation. Then it's off to slumber land with a smile on my face.

So, if Lesson #1 was You have to believe...

Lesson #2 is Choose adventure. Choose to LIVE an enviable life. The more you experience, the richer your writing will become. There are choices and sacrifices I make in order to have these trips and this life. What are you willing to do to make it happen?

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Podcast of Across Time

Want to hear a BRIEF synopsis about Across Time?

Say no more...

Click here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

My Work Space

Okay, so this is where I work. Yeah, how cool is that? I have a window seat, a rolling globe, a ladder, a fireplace, and my beautiful cherry shelves are labeled with bronze engraved labels.

I saved for 20 years, knowing that someday, I would have the library of my dreams, and here it is. It is such a great spot with a wonderful energy. It is important for writers to have a place to go not just to write and think, but a place where all of their books are in one place.

Lucky me, huh?

It's not about's about planning...and saving... and believing. I schlepped a dozen boxes of leatherbound books with me from house-to-house, life-to-life, knowing that I would someday make a home for them.

And here they are.

And here I am.

Lesson Number 1: You gotta BELIEVE!
Come back for more lessons...or to offer some words of wisdom of your own.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Published Novel #8

So, here we are...once again. At the jumping off point of publishing another novel. It will be my eighth.

If you are a reader, a writer, or just someone who likes to take vicarious journeys, welcome aboard. On this blog, I am going to share with you each step that occurs after a book has been accepted by a publisher.

Learn from me.

Teach me something.

Grow with me.

But come on in! The water's warm!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Technorati Profile

So, here I am, in Mexico, working on a couple of different things. First off, I am rewriting the fourth of the Across Time manuscripts, which involves using the cool little 12 inch laptop I bought at BestBuy. It's an Everex, a no-name brand, but it is awesome! I highly recommend it for anyone who travels or takes their laptop everywhere they go. It's well under 4 pounds, has a clear, sharp monitor, comes with Vista, a Gig RAM, and Wifi all for 500.00. Don't turn your nose up at the no-name brands...Dell used to be there and look where it is now!

Anyway, the second thing I'm working on is writing the fifth of the series, tentatively called Time Flies. I write my first draft longhand with a fountain pen. I know it's weird, but I like the kinesthestic feeling of writing. Typing, to me, is too sterile. I need ink! I also need to be able to do it ANYWHERE, and with laptops, that is not always possible.

Okay, the truth is...I'm a totally geek and I love fountain pens. Must be a past life thing.
So, I'm out by the pool or at the beach during the day, working on #5, and at night, on the veranda, working on #4 at the laptop. It's seriously fun. I do manage to get some reading in while I'm at it, but these trips for me are all about writing, writing, and more writing!
I have just completed the novel The Thirteen Tale...OMG....a MUST read! Fantastic from beginning to end. I am inspired, and that's what a grwat book should do for you. It should be awe-inspiring.
Speaking of which, the 84 degree weather, the military macaw parrots, and this pina colada are pretty damn awe-inspiring right now...I better go. Time to smell the roses (or, as the case may be, the gardenians!)

Lesson #5 Take time to smell the roses...everyone needs to recharge their batteries. I just happen to recharge mine using solar power!

Uh comes Maria for my daily massage...

Remember what I said earlier about choices? Well, I saw an affirmation at the airport that said, A good wish changes nothing.
A good decision changes everything.
Food for thought.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nov. 29th, 2007

So, here is the tentative cover for my latest. I love it. I can't say that I have loved all of my book covers, but this one is already my favorite.

And for those of you who don't know, an author seldom has a say in the design of a cover, which is why this one is so cool. It is EXACTLY what I had in mind, only better. And that's quite a tip of the hat to the artist! Way cool.

Now, if you look closely, you'll actually see faces inside the watch! Brilliant! now we have an idea about the cover, now what?
Well, I've decided to launch a virtual book tour. What in the hell is that, you ask? Well, it's a little like a physical book tour, only it's held in cyberspace. I'll keep you up-to-date on everything happens there and how it all pans out.

I'll keep you posted. Thanks for coming!