18 May 2013

Go on - I dare you!

You are a risk taker

You are awesome

Those words rang through my head as I woke. Totally cool way to start the day. Especially since I was heading off the run the furthest distance I’ve ever run in my life – the Stake’s 5K Fun Run (3.11 miles to be exact). I signed my name under the oldest age category. There were four others on the list. We started out running. Person after person passed me. I thought of the hare and tortoise. Slow and steady and I’d finish the race. My goal – to finish having run the whole way, hopefully under 45 minutes. Sooner than expected I hit that spot where breathing becomes easy and I don’t even notice my body moving. I passed the half way mark, glad I did't take the cup of water, because now I was queasy. Deep breaths, keep moving. Further down the trail I started to get bored, but some deer bounding along in the ravine provided a beautiful distraction and I got my motivation again. As I ran along I worked out a scene in one of my books. Then the rain started. And I turned the corner. And the wind blew in my face as I ran uphill by the horse arena filled with dung and the diesel truck belched as it passed. And I felt great.  So I picked up speed and crossed the finish line at 40:11 minutes.
(for my group)

I AM awesome.

Not so sure about me being a risk taker – more like daring.

What do you do that for you is personally daring and awesome?

Because let me tell you –

 YOU are awesome!

And that goal, whatever it is, you CAN achieve it.

Go on – Do it – I dare you to take that risk. 

(Now to get dressed in medieval clothes and go to the Renaissance Fair with my family.)

13 May 2013

LDStorymaker 2013

The writing community is an amazingly generous and encouraging association. Its members will freely tell you writing is a difficult, solitary endeavor, getting published even harder but, here – I’ll spend the next three days with you showing you how to succeed. Authors will spend hours on blogs, web sites, and books that help writers of all levels develop their craft. They are a generous bunch. 

This last week I had the opportunity to attend my second ever writing conference. Over the past three years, since I first put my fingers to the keyboard to type out the scene that persisted in haunting my every moment, I’ve been studying the craft and business of writing. I know I still have a lot to learn, but some of what I did learn at the classes last week surprised me. 

For instance: how did I get to be the age I am and not know that when you write ellipses, those three periods that show words are left off, there is supposed to be a space between each dot. It should not be written (…) but (. . .). No one ever told me that. It was not in any of the grammar and punctuation lessons I taught my kids over twenty years of home schooling, and the two formats don’t look that much different on paper.  

Another thing I learned, when you are writing with indented paragraphs, Word will automatically put an extra space after each paragraph like it does when you write non-indented paragraph, such as this blog post. You need to fix your settings so it does not do that. By the way this is important because agents and publisher usually want your manuscript double spaced, with indented paragraphs, and with no extra lines between paragraphs. They also usually like it submitted in Rich Text Formant (RFT). I had noticed the extra space in my document, but since it seemed to standard settings I thought it was supposed to be that way. In a couple of classes it was mentioned it shouldn’t be that way and later my daughter showed me how to fix it. 

I’ve had a couple of lessons at writing group and have read ideas about mapping your manuscript, but none have clicked in the way Hannah Bowman taught this concept. Her class on “plot, structure and pushing your characters” was clear and concise. She gave solid concrete examples, had time for us to practice, and time for us to share. This was very helpful for me as outlines don’t work well for me. I’ve always loved maps, from following our road trip on the map when I was a kid, to charting our course as we sailed the Chesapeake as a teen, to playing for hours on Google maps today. So having a simple and effective way to “map” my story and give the plot twist and turns a visual component is very helpful. 

There were other concepts, (deeper, broader, my mind is so full it might explode) than ellipsis and spacing issues, which I learned, but mostly I relished the support and comrade shown to all 450 attendees. If it is possible, I encourage you to attend a conference or join a writing group. If you are not sure where to get started check with your local library, they will often host writing classes and other writing events. Get out there and rub shoulders with the published and unpublished authors in your region. 

Are you attending any conferences this season?
What is the most surprising thing you learned?

04 May 2013

Busy - Good - Full

Life has been unbalanced.Busy, good, full – off-kilter. With a coworker on maternity I’ve been working twice as many hours as normal – busy. My wonderful, darling mother-in-law came for a visit – good. Also, I’ve painted my bedroom, continued with running, and celebrated my twenty-six anniversary with my amazing, I’m-so-in-love-with-him Mr. W – full. 

Added to this mix of fun and exciting things (because even though life’s been keeping me on my toes, I do find it fun) I had a writing group meeting with Josh and Scott from Fox Hollow Publications.