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Guest Blog by author, Rick Lenz

‘Delete’ Clever ~~ Make Room for Honesty ~~ by Rick Lenz, author

When I was a young writer, I made my living as an actor. During the first half of my acting career things went well. I tried to be as honest as I could in my work, but when I was offstage or off-camera, it seemed to me the best thing I could do was to be “cool.”

Between jobs, I worked hard on my notion of who I was and wanted to be. Without knowing that’s what I was doing, I convinced myself I had an image to build and protect. Like many young professionals, I thought it was important to be clever. If I said a cynical thing and got an appreciative laugh that was the kind of thing I wanted to learn to say more often. I was “hip.” On the surface anyway, there were very few things cooler than being hip.

The word isn’t used much anymore, but I desperately wanted to be and stay hip. When you’re young, people often seem to react positively when something cutting, or biting, or just plain mean is said at someone else’s expense. Often, I’m afraid, that’s a fair definition of what “hip” was at the time and “cool” often is now.

Those things wear thin very fast. A constant onslaught of clever soon gets to be something you want to turn away from. Clever too often turns out to be cruel.

Meanwhile, my writing, which became more and more important to me, suffered from the fact that I’d spent much of my adult life trying to invent my cool and clever self, the artificial me. It turned out that persona—for me—was not only an uncomfortable place to live, it was an alienating way to be a writer—and a writer cannot afford to alienate his reader. For years my writing suffered from that voice.

If you’re cruel, cruelty is what will come back to you. The wisest voices of the ages have not said, “Judge not lest God will judge you.” They’ve said, “Judge not that you be not judged.”

It’s not some outer power that’s going to come after you, seeking retribution. It’s you yourself, who will unconsciously (in most cases) know for sure that payback is coming your way. And it will get you and it will pay you back. In kind.

It took me far too long to learn that the most important thing I could do toward becoming a good writer was to be Don Quixote “In search of honor.” One of the synonyms my dictionary gives for “honor” is “mark of respect.”

It’s a wonderful thing to give your reader a “mark of respect.”

That does not mean that you can’t be witty or funny or even clever when that’s called for. But underneath whatever it is, readers deserve one thing from us beyond our professional due diligence: our respect.

Come back for my Interview with Rick in March ’19

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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Guest Blogger, Best selling Author, Jodi Thomas

Author, Jodi Thomas

Free Falling 

I have been in the writing game for thirty years. Forty-eight novels and fourteen short story collections. From my third book, most have been national bestsellers and over half were on the New York Times bestseller list. I have five RITAs, the highest award in women’s fiction from RWA as well as many other awards.

In interviews, I’m often asked what one thing I would tell a beginning writer if I got the chance. Study your markets? Read everything? Learn your craft? Write? All came up as possibilities, but one lesson kept whispering in the back of my mind. Maybe it’s not the most important tool a writer needs, but it can be vital to your success.

Learn to Fall!

There will be times, thousands of them if you stay in the game as long as I have, when this business doesn’t go your way. You have to stop holding on to the safety strap and learn to jump out into the unknown.

The first time I remember taking a tumble was before I sold. I was frantically writing, sending off to every contest, agent, and editor I could find. One day, I opened the mailbox to discover three rejections. I felt like I’d faced a firing squad and all twelve bullets hit true. I walked back to the house, sat down and started crying. My four-year-old son, Matt, came up to me, leaned on the arm of the chair and asked what was wrong. Through tears I told him about my total failure. He smiled and said simply, “Mom, like you say when I play t-ball: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you get rained-out.

I stopped crying and realized it wasn’t me. I was a good writer doing the best I could. I just kept getting rained-out by editors who didn’t read the slush pile and agents who already had full client lists.

From that day on I developed a plan for falling. Whenever I stumbled and fell flat on my face, I let go of the corpse I was dragging around trying to sell, celebrated what I’d learned from the work and moved on with my career.

I have to be honest. There for a while quite a few bodies of old manuscripts lay around the house just in case they got a second life, but it never happened. I had to learn that the next thing I wrote would be stronger than the last. I was growing, getting better, getting stronger.

My Plan for Falling:

1. Burying the corpse. I know writers who wrote a book back in the ‘90s and are determined not to go on to another until they sell their first one. They keep painting a

Available Now!

new face on the body and shoving it into a new casket. Beginning writers probably don’t want to hear that you may write your first book, or even your second or third, for practice. We need to believe that first book will make millions or we’d never go through the work of learning to write. But sometimes you have to kiss the well-traveled manuscript good-bye and bury it under the bed.

2. Celebrating. I hope all beginning writers party at each success: a contest win or even an honorable mention. A letter asking for more or a book deal. All are worth a party. But, maybe more important is the party you have when you let go of one dream and open up to another. So win or lose you finish the race. You’re a success simply because you wrote a book. You’ve won when you mail it off to an agent or editor or self-publish.

3. Moving on If what you’re doing isn’t getting you where you want to go, maybe you are on the wrong road. Take the tools and knowledge you have learned and start carving out a different work of art. Take a lane you’ve never tried. Who knows, it might be the fast lane.

You might be surprised, you might just find a place where you and your work belong. You might grow and love writing more. So, try changing genres. Move from adult fiction to young adult. Jump from historical to contemporary. Don’t try to write what everyone else is writing. Twist it a little. Change times. Change audience. Change direction.

When I turned loose and thought of myself sky diving and not falling, my world began to change. I wrote deeper. I discovered a new love of writing.

Phil Price, an accomplished playwright, once said, “I’ve often wondered why sky divers yell for joy and people who fall off cliffs scream. After all, they’re both seeing the same view. It’s only the last foot that changes.” So, I decided, whether I’m falling or sky diving through life, I might as well decide to enjoy the view.

This year my editor at HQN suggested I step into a more mainstream story and I jumped. I read her e-mail on Friday and by Monday I had an idea I was excited about. MORNINGS ON MAIN just came out April 10, and I think my fans will follow me into this shift as they have for the past 30 years.

And if they don’t? Then I’ll stand up, dust myself off and get back in the game. Because I’m a writer, that’s what I do, I write.

On Sale September 25, 2018

Mark Twain once said that compared to writing, horseracing is a stable occupation. Maybe he was right, but the gamble is worth the try. When we’re all done and sitting around the home which would you rather say, ‘I played as hard and fast as I could,’ or ‘I never ran into the game because I was afraid of falling.’

The winners are not the ones who grab the prize. The winners are the ones who play the game, rainy days and all.

TS.  Thanks, Jodi, for these words of wisdom and comfort!

Jodi Thomas
www.jodithomas.com
www.facebook.com/JodiThomasAuthor ;

Be sure to go to http://www.jodithomas.com and sign up for my e-mail newsletter for all the latest news about book signings and new releases!
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MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
                                                                                   
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Chuck Lorre…Vanity Blog (The Big Bang Theory)

writing, blogs, blogger, comedy, Chuck Lorre, iconic televisionChuck Lorre, creator of The Big Bang Theory, (Young Sheldon, Mike & Molly, and Two and a Half Men and numerous movies) has been writing vanity blogs way before the word ‘blog‘ was coined.  If you have a ‘pause’ button on your remote, it’s certainly worth a read. It appears at the very end of each episode, after the credits and ‘Coming next week‘ stuff. 

VANITY CARD #579

“When I was a little boy I was constantly worried about myself and my family being killed by an atom bomb. Air raid drills and hiding in underground shelters were an almost daily part of my young life. (Remove all pens, pencils and sharp objects from your breast pocket, take off your glasses, look away from the window, find a buddy, hold hands, no talking, walk quickly to the basement, get on your knees, place your head against the wall, wait for the all-clear signal, hope the teacher forgets about the arithmetic test you didn’t study for.) Looking back, it was a ridiculously traumatic way to grow up. But like so many awful things, you got used to it. The fear of instant annihilation was just always there, lurking in the background. Until it wasn’t. Somehow, over time, the inevitability of the mushroom cloud simply went away. Wise and prudent men in our country and others, found a better way to exercise their hatred and fear of each other’s social and economic system. Until now. Now the wise and prudent men are no more, and the unthinkable is back on the table. Death and suffering on an unimaginable scale is once again an option. The low drumbeat of existential dread has returned, and I find myself thinking odd thoughts, like: “I hope someone reminds him that he can’t play golf in a Hazmat suit.”

And now, as if his brilliance couldn’t reach higher heights, there’s spin-off show when Sheldon was a kid living in conservative, Bible-belt, Texas. If you love Sheldon in Big Bang, and we all do, you will adore this nerdy little kid (played by Iain Armitage) who’s smarter than anyone in his ‘little kid orb’.  It might take you a show or two to realize the clever, subtle writing in this show when it appears to be so broad and red-neck, but trust me it really is our adored (grown-up) Sheldon as a kid.
My second favorite actor is the Mom, Mary. Played by Zoe Perry you’d swear it was Laurie Metcalf (Sheldon’s grownup Mom) when she was younger.  And then there’s Annie Potts. Remember her from Designing Women and Ghost Busters? She’s back as Sheldon’s Memaw (grandmother) and is a riot!!!

But I digress, just a little bit. Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards aka blog: I will never come close to his writing talent. But I can try. I can encourage others to try. And I can simply sit back and enjoy Lorre’s genius just for the sake of genius! 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow. January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
                                                                                   
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Think Dog Think by James Offord (Guest Blogger)

Hootch

TS. Those who know this blogger well know that I LOVE dogs!  I rescue and adopt older dogs (only) as they have little chance of finding a fur-ever home. When this ‘guest blog’ opportunity came up, I jumped on it.  What a wonderful and fascinating story!

Why “Think dog think”?   by James Offord

 

This is my first ever blog, sat here with a cold one contemplating how to express myself in the alien world of the blog. To write a piece to explain enough to peak your interest but vague enough so you feel compelled to read my book. It came about from an enjoyment of working with dogs and I always wanted to write a book.

 I was asked to do a presentation for work and I realised that the subject I know most about and talk most about was Hooch and my career as a Security Dog Handler and how the training and behaviours resembled our own. I have been asked many questions about Hooch and I realised that people would like to hear about our adventures.

 So I put pen to paper to write the presentation. My love for dogs ignited a presentation but I was thoroughly enjoying writing the book. It became a very cleansing process for me, talking about my adventures and my grief became a way of processing memories.

I was lucky enough to have worked for some quite remarkable people, from Russian billionaires to well-known celebrities.  The roles I had were interesting and varied. It came with highs of working on hundred acre golf courses to securing drying cement for a local council constructing a park. I worked Sikh festivals, Lord Mayor shows, secured an event for the Chinese ambassador and the Duke of York. I even looked after a statue of an Anchor once for a gentleman that I never met or even saw.

 

 

 

Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/hooch.offord 
Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/jameshooch/

 

To Purchase:
Paperback book – UK  
Paperback book – USA

E-books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/

“All of my dogs have been rescues, it is great work. In fact a friend of mine runs a rescue SSDR (Saint Sled Dog Rescue) Huskies and Malamutes and it is a thankless task. My dream would be if my book takes off to offer a percentage to them because they are always struggling.” ~~ JO
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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.   June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.
                                                                                   
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Motivational Moments…for Writers! #21

My friend and fellow writer, Jodi Thomas, has sent us another motivational moment to inspire and spur our creative spirit.

Quilting with words

My mother quilted, my grandmother quilted. Both my sisters quilt.I have a quilt room in my house full of handmade quilts dating back five generations. But I don’t quilt. 

One of my first memories is lying beneath the quilting frame and listening to my mother and her friends talking as the needles flew.  I learned that for them it was never about how fine the stitches were, it was about the friendships, the creative adventure, the love that went into each quilt.

Years later, I was in my late thirties and just beginning to write.  My mother was moving into Alzheimer’s.  She’d set in the study with me and quilt on a little frame while I typed away on my stories.  As the years passed and my skill as a writer grew, while her skills slowly vanished we both still loved those morning working together.

Finally, when my first book came out, of course, I dedicated it to her.  To Sally Faye Kirkland Price, who always believed in dreams for her children. I’ve published 45 books as of January 2017.  I’ve won many award and am a New York Times bestseller but her review has always meant the most to me. She was only able to read the first one. When she finished, she smiled, holding the book as if it were a treasure and said, “Jodi, you quilt with words.”

“Writing is easy. All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” ~~Gene Fowler

“For those who can do it and who keep their nerve, writing for a living still beats most real, grown-up jobs hands down.” ~~Terence Blacker
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                     “As a writer, I marinate, hibernate, and speculate.” Trisha Sugarek
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My BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November was best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series

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Guest Blog from Best Selling Author, Jodi Thomas

Jodi.photo (Small)How to Jump Start a Writer’s Day ~~ My Guest Blogger, Author, Jodi Thomas

‘ As I was saying in Trisha’s Motivational Moments for Writers: The hardest thing a writer does each day is sitting down to work.  In 28 years as a working writer I’ve published 45 books and 13 novellas.  The hardest thing wasn’t learning to write, but learning to managing time. I picked up a few tricks but it is still the dragon I fight every day.

First, remember this is your job.  If you worked in an office or taught school you wouldn’t stop and answer every friend’s call.  So leave the phone in the kitchen or garage.  You’re at work.  One phone call might not knock you out of fiction, but the third one might.

Second, build your nest.  I find this makes it easy for me to step into fiction.  It doesn’t matter if your nest is in a secret room in the attic or a small desk in a hotel room, it needs to be your nest.

I usually start with a notebook.  My facts book, my bible for the series.  It includes all characters’ names and basic facts.  Maps of the area—if you’re making up a town, make up the map.    Sometimes pages of research like maps of the area or dates that need to be considered.  If you’re writing about a time in history you need to be aware of what was happening on that day in history.  If Lincoln was shot or 9/11 happened your fictional characters need to react. more »

Guest Blog ~~ Write from the Heart! Joseph Drumheller

joe-headshot How to Land a Multi-Book Children’s Publishing Deal?  Write From the Heart!

About a year ago, I was paddling down a familiar stretch of whitewater when I found a tangled up crawdad in a fishing line.  After about five minutes of meticulous unwinding, I launched the little fellow back into the wild. My wife Tamara and my paddling buddy Tom, both thought that would make a great children’s story.  The next morning, I wrote my first children’s book, Jason and the Crawdad King, on the back of a few napkins while sipping tea in a coffee shop.

nearing-the-crawdad

Not far from where I found the Crawdad King

It was the first time in my life it felt like all the pieces were falling into place.  The premise of the story came out of doing something I love.  The suggestion for the story came from people I love.  Plus, the story imbues a sense of wisdom from my personal experience and philosophy˗˗something else I love.  And the whole package is directed toward the people that everyone loves—their children. From the time I found the helpless little crawdad, to the moment I’m typing this out on my laptop, it’s been one endless magic carpet ride.  I think in spiritual circles they call it divine Flow.

The day I finished writing the story, Tamara’s daughter Chantelle came to visit.  It was the first time I met her.  It just so happens, besides being a professional ballerina in San Francisco, she’s also a brain child from Columbia University.  In the two days she visited, she edited my book.  Flow on, man.

Next I met my illustrator, Lili Avakem.  Major Flow there. Lili and I met via the modus operandi of the 21st century…the internet.  I was hoping to find an illustrator who was exceptionally talented, in love with illustrating, relatively unknown (like me), and hadn’t reached their full potential yet (hopefully like me too!).  In short, I was hoping for an enormous stroke of good luck.

I held a contest on Freelancer.com, searching for samples from illustrators.  Lili beat out 25 other entries. However, to win the contract to illustrate the entire book, I asked Lili and another artist from Thailand to submit one more illustration.  I took one glance at Lili’s second submission and my jaw dropped to the floor in utter disbelief.  I realized the enormous stroke of good luck I was hoping for had actually arrived. As I sit and write this, I still haven’t met Lili face-to-face.  It’s like she’s some angelic creator of magic, hanging out in cyber space.

jason-3Shall we Flow a little further?  After Lili and I finished the manuscript, I sent out queries to about 120 literary agents and publishers.  After about a month, as rejection notices started to pile up, I was contacted out of the blue by Golden Bell Entertainment in New York.  I never submitted anything to them.  They contacted me based on an illustration of Lili’s I posted on Facebook.  Go figure!

I recently landed a children’s picture book publishing deal, for nine books, with Golden Bell Entertainment in New York.  “Wow!”  You might be thinking.  “How did you pull that off?”

I’ll lay it to you straight.  It happened on accident. I’m was born a creative free spirit.  It took me a long time to figure out what that was, let alone accept it.  I was also born with powerful spiritual inclinations and an incredibly strong connection to nature.  I’ve  always seen things from a philosophical point of view, as I’ve wandered deep into the wilderness. That framework led me to a Master’s degree in Geology and a patchwork career as an exploration geologist.  With a helicopter pilot as my chauffeur, I’ve prospected the Alaskan Arctic, the Yukon Rocky Mountains, and the Barren Lands of the Arctic Ocean.  I also hung my hat for a spell in northern Sweden.

arctic-tundra

Artic Tundra…that little speck is me

And what was the result of those fascinating explorations?  It deepened my connection to this planet we call Earth. So here I sit, a published author with the sky as our limit.  And how did it all happen?  By being myself and doing what I love, with people I love, to the core of my being. If you’re looking for success as an author, I’d suggest you start there.  The rest will take care of itself.  Your only job is to enjoy the journey.

Bio

Joseph Drumheller is a three-time award winning author with works in non-fiction, fiction and now children’s books.  He has a deep love for nature and adventure, which fueled his previous career as an exploration geologist. He lives with his twin flame and extraordinary performing arts spouse, Tamara. They live in the great Pacific Northwest. www.josephdrumheller.com

Did you see the Interview with Joseph?  Click here

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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   September’s author will be Joseph Drumheller and October: Author, Lisa Jackson.  November’s author will be best selling author, Grace Burrowes                          Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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