Saturday, January 26, 2013

Yeah? So, What?

By Keith N Fisher

I’m plugging away. The thesaurus on my computer program says that means I’m promoting. To me, it means I’m continuing to work at it. Along with my family, writing is one of the constant in my life. It suffers from tragedy, but it’s still there.

I didn’t write a blog post this week. It’s Saturday, and I’m late. I’ll post this, and hope you’ll forgive me. I hope all your projects work out.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cats Paw and other thoughts...

by G.Parker

Well, due to multiple reasons, my post was late today.  In fact, it's kind of from the future, but I guess that doesn't matter.  My son came home from his mission on Wednesday, we've had ice and snow and craziness abounding the rest of the time, and I haven't had access to the internet for strange -- no real help or news.

But, I was able to get on now, and wanted to leave you with a quick post about fog.  I remember hearing sometime either in a poem or a quote from someone about fog coming like cats paws...silently and stealthily. We have fog right now, have since yesterday.  Used to be when we got an inversion, we got four or so days of fog, and everything would be coated in white.  This year, it was just cold, and no real fog.  Till now...and then we had freezing rain, which was a whole different ball game...

So - I wanted to note that weather can inspire story telling.  I wrote a story started by one day of fog and it is still one of my favorites that I have yet to finish...sigh.  What has weather inspired in you?  We'd love to hear.  Until next week...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where is your writing groove?

by C. Michelle Jefferies

This morning I had the kids up and ready to go to school except breakfast. One is a picky eater and usually let him choose what he wants. I was in my office which is right off the kitchen writing happily away on a rough draft.

Well the picky eater knocks a bottle of hot sauce off the shelf in the fridge and it breaks all over my kitchen floor. So there's broken glass, red sauce and the smell of vinegar and peppers all over my kitchen and the bus is supposed to be there in less than five minutes. Stuck in the kitchen I ask a kid to get paper towels and scoot the garbage closer to me while the picky eater goes and changes his pants which are covered in Tabasco.  I get it cleaned up, get the kids some change to buy breakfast at the school and send them out the door in just enough time to catch the bus.

The house back in a non frenzied silence I return to the office and sit and stare at the cursor. The momentum is lost in the chaos and I have completely forgotten the scenes I was about to write when the bottle exploded.

Which brings me to my topic. Where is the best spot for you to write? Do you have to get in the groove or can you sit anywhere and just pour it on?

I stumbled upon this awesome website called "The Writer House"  where the author of the site posts insanely gorgeous pictures of this house they'd love to build or buy and refurbish for writing in. I love the pictures. Its sparks my creativity, but it also started a train of thought that has been prevalent since. What if you could only write on one spot or in the perfect conditions? How limiting would that be? I am glad I can pretty much write anywhere and at any time. I'd never get anything done writing wise if I waited for the perfect conditions. As evidenced by the chaotic home I live in.

The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Little Look at Life

By Keith N Fisher

It’s Saturday, and I haven’t written a post yet. I’d better think of something . . . Did you ever notice everybody has problems? Makes it hard to feel sorry for yourself. We pass through trials and think, Surely I can take no more. Then, we read about others.

I haven’t gotten much real writing done lately. It’s been hard to focus on anything but my trials. As you know, I lost my glasses in my accident and riding in a car at night can be what a friend of mine used to call a "Hippie Trip". Lights are like star bursts and you can’t really tell where you are.

Notice I said riding, not, driving. Besides the handicap of blindness, I’ve been afraid. Luckily, I’m blessed with a good wife who’s been taking me to work. Reliving the experience of finding myself hanging out of a broken window has been hard, but others have greater problems. Look at G. Parker’s blog post from yesterday.

Also, my friend was attacked and almost killed at work, but she had the courage to go back. Getting back on the horse that threw you has always been hard, but everyone agrees it must be done. She talks about turning her writing into a full time occupation.

My glasses came in the other day, and nobody was home. My remaining vehicle waited in the driveway. I had to get them, but I couldn’t face my fears. Finally with a prayer in my heart, and cold sweat on my brow, I went down to get them. I faced my fears.

I know I’m not the only person to pass this way, there have been many. Financial problems are nothing, compared to watching your baby struggle in an incubator. Life was never supposed to be easy. We couldn’t learn if it were. Having others care for us makes all the difference, but caring for others helps us grow, and it’s what God intended.

I will get back on my horse and we’ll ride off into the sunset, but I want to thank all those who help in small ways. Don’t forget to notice others. Help them. Be there for them. You can’t take their troubles away, but you can hold their hand.

Now I’m off my soapbox, perhaps I’ll get some writing done. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Teenage Boys

by G.Parker

Well, it's a scene many of us have seen over and over.  The waiting room at the hospital/doctor/instacare/er. The generic chairs, the TV monitor going full blast with some Disney movie, the magazine rack that's been picked over and/or has all the same magazines.  The various people waiting, either in pain, or for their family member/friend that they brought.

It's a scene I've seen so often that it should be engraved in my memory forever.  The only differences is the hospitals usually have a fish tank.  Go figure, what do fish tanks have to do with waiting rooms?  I'm not sure, but I would imagine it has something to do with calming the panic.  But I think I could safely write a description in a book and everyone would agree they could picture it.

Well, today I got to visit again.  However, it's a first in several years for my youngest, and the second time he's broken something.  It's actually the second time that it wasn't his fault.  The first time he broke his wrist, it was because his sister's (who were babysitting) decided everyone could sleep together on the top bunk.  He fell off, got a goose egg that I'd never seen the like before, and broke his wrist.  Sigh.  This time he was in P.E. at school and fielded a basketball with his wrist.  The doctor said usually that wouldn't be a break.  That's because it was my son...

My family tends to do the unusual, the unique (however, I'm sure every family feels this way) and different way of doing things.  While I guess it gives me lots of information for future writing endeavors, I'm not sure that I want to be writing about waiting rooms a lot.  It's not the cheeriest of atmospheres, generally, and not conducive to romance.  At least, not in my mind.

So, I'll see what else I can write about for next week.  Until then, hopefully you'll be broken wrist free and safe through the weekend.  Enjoy the holiday Monday.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Things Change, Even the Rules

By Keith N Fisher

You might remember I posted about our new car the other day . . . I wrecked it this week. When 2012 ended, I was thrilled to be done with it. Now that 2013 is here, things could only get better, or could they?

Do you remember a few blogs ago, when I wrote about my experience with swerving. I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and the swerve sent me to the passenger side of the truck. I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in my accident.

I was thrown into the passenger side window, broke the glass, and found myself halfway out of the car. I lost my glasses and a lot of blood, had to get stitches, and endure a lecture from my friend about my habit of changing the rules.

Of course he was right, or I would’ve been wearing a seatbelt. I used to wear it all the time. I’m not sure when, or how, I got out of the habit.

As far as changing the rules, I’ve always looked for easier ways of doing things. Some would say that makes me lazy, but it earned me a supervisor’s position once, when I proved I had a better way.

As writers we have rules to follow. Many of us successfully change those rules, others hold fast and find success that way. I can’t decide it for you, but remember my example of bending the seatbelt rule. You’ve got to expect setbacks. Still, writing rules are changing all the time.

They say I could’ve died in the accident, and I think they are right. I’m grateful for a Father in heaven who gave me another chance.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The World of Ebooks

by G.Parker
(photo is of a Kindle basic from Barnes and Noble)

There was an interesting article in the Deseret News this week about libraries and ebooks.  Since most of us will have some kind of interaction with ebooks and our work, then I thought it would be something you'd be interested in.  I was interested because libraries are one of my favorite places to be.  ;)

Apparently the publishing world is a little leery of libraries having access to ebooks as opposed to physical books.  According to the article, there are three main digital distributors of ebooks for libraries:  Overdrive, 3M and Baker & Taylor.  They are preventing libraries from accessing many of the ebooks published today. The big 6 publishers don't sell the ebooks to libraries.  For those of you who don't know, there are 6 main publishers in the book industry: Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette and Simon &Schuster.  I would think you've heard of most, if not all of them.  I don't think I've ever heard of Hachette, but ya know.

The gist of the article was that book publishers and sellers are overlooking the opportunity that libraries give their books, whether in ebook or physical book form.  Readers tend to buy if they like something they've read.  They're likely to tell people about it as well, and people are then likely to go out and buy it because it was recommended.  The article also suggested that libraries may well become the "showroom for the future".  Instead of brick and mortar buildings like Barnes and Noble, they will be going to libraries and checking out the books to see if they like them enough to buy them.  Interesting thought.

Another thing the article said that a large percentage of the people who check out ebooks usually make $75,000 or more.  An even larger percent of those people have at least a college degree.  Apparently that's a target audience to publishers.

The article quotes David Lee King (the digital branch and services manager at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library) as saying the publishing world is:

      "...where the music industry was 10 years ago.  And so they are still figuring out that stuff
       and they have these libraries hanging on their coattails saying, 'Hey! What about me?' And
       I don't think they are thinking about those things, they are looking at their central business
       and thinking, 'How do we survive?'"

Coming from the point of view of a writer, I see it from a different angle.  I see this as a plus for us authors.  The ebook format gives us a little more leeway and say in how our books are sold and viewed.  We also get a larger piece of an ebook than we do a physical book.

As someone who loves, I don't mean just likes, or would prefer, I mean LOVEs the feel of a book in my hands, that comes as a bitter pill to swallow.  But swallow I will, because if I can sell my book without having to beg a publisher to print it for me and convince the public to buy it on it's own merits, I figure all the better.

As how it pertains to libraries, I pretty much agree with Mr. King.  I check out books from the library because I can't afford to buy books the minute they come out.  If I check it out and discover that it's every bit as good as I thought it was, then I will save up and go buy it.  I don't do this at a bookstore because I feel funny sitting there and reading the book, despite the atmosphere they like to foster to encourage such a thing.  I think generally they would prefer you purchase the book and then sit and read, but that's just me.

So, that's it for this week.  Let us know what you think about the whole thing.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Getting it Right is Not Perfectionism

By Keith N Fisher

Where I live, recently, we had a few consecutive snowstorms. Each time, I came home from work and drove into my driveway before removing the snow. To make matters worse, I didn’t get the trailer parked in its place this year. It shades half of the driveway so the sun can’t melt the ice.

Consequently, we’ve been dealing with tire width ice strips that didn’t melt. The real problem was the ice sheet covering that part of the sidewalk. I’ve been haunted by thoughts of someone falling on the ice.

Finally, the sun came out the other day, so I went out to chip the polar ice cap away. I used a plastic shovel, and spread lawn fertilizer on it, working on it throughout the day. After a while, I got rid of most of it.

Some people might look at those efforts as a sign of perfectionism. Normally they might be right, but our city has an ordinance about clearing the sidewalks and people could sue. I was only protecting myself by doing a necessary job.

While chipping ice, little by little, I thought of an analogy of writing that you might enjoy. Recently, I’ve been fine-tuning a couple of manuscripts. In one story, I’ve been rewriting to meet my current level of writing ability.

At the same time, I’ve been tuning the content, making it easier to read and make sense. Often, I’ll have gone past a scene and a better way of writing it will come to mind. Like chipping at the ice, I go back and replace bits and pieces, making a better story.

This kind of writing might be obsessive. It certainly never ends. I’ve been hit by ideas for books long after they’re finished. Of course, I can’t keep coming back to old stories and make them better, but why not? All of that chipping will not make it perfect, but I’ll have a clean driveway. Maybe someday, I will be a good enough writer. My books will not be perfect, but they’ll be clean.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Great Classics Never Die

by G.Parker

Welcome to the new year!  In celebration, we went and watched Les Miserables.  I've seen it before, both in musical form and just a movie.  I think the same thing each time:  Wow.

This time my children had questions that I didn't have answers for, so I went to the internet and looked up the abbreviated version so we could discuss it better.  I've read the book, but it has been 27 or so years and since we've already discussed the swiss cheese I have for brain, we don't need to discuss that aspect any farther.

What I discovered though, was interesting.  When Victor Hugo wrote the book in 1862, it was received with wide acclaim, and has apparently been popular ever since.  It was five volumes in series, and over 1500 pages in total.  Can you imagine a non-science fiction book that large being popular today?  Seriously.  He was one of the popular writers of the time, but this book changed how he was viewed in France.  Everyone either thought he knew too much about mob mentality and/or that he was in sympathy with the revolutionaries.  He ended up being exiled to England soon after it was published.

I'm not sure how I would feel, were that me.  Yes, my book is a great success in the book stores, but the people of my country don't like me anymore...  The thing is, I really like what he was saying about human nature and our capacity to be merciful, despite our circumstances.

Then we watched Little Women, another great classic.  While Louisa May Alcott's novel was not nearly as lengthy or as far flung in scope as Les Mis, it still touches the heart.  Her novels were not of the depth she apparently wished to write, but they supported her family and her as she wanted, and personally, I find great enjoyment in their reading.  Every time I see her excitement at her book in copy form, ready to be printed, I thrill with her.  I envision my own excitement at such a moment and -- I always cry when Beth dies.

My point in mentioning these two classical works of literature is to bring your thoughts to the new year.  As we start a new year with the future bright and the pages blank, I want you to contemplate the goals and lists that invariably fill the desk tops and refrigerator doors at this time.  Are you one that typically makes New Year Resolutions?  Or are you one that makes goals and strives to meet them?  As I've covered how I do not make resolutions, I won't go over it again.

But in coming in contact with two different types of writers and being touched by their skill, I am reminded again that I am a writer.  I am striving each day to be a better writer.  Perhaps there are better ways of doing it, but for now, day by day is the only way I know and can do.

I challenge you.  Despite all the obstacles in your path, all the time that is committed to others, make time to be the writer you want to be.  Let those characters that live in your heart and mind see the light of day, be the ink on the page, and grow in someone else's life.

Be the writer you want to be.  Submit something at least twice this year.  Attend some kind of conference.  Buy at least one book about improving your skills as a writer.  If you do this minimal amount, you will find that you are improved by next January.  Discover this about yourself.

Be the best you that you can.

We believe in you.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A new page--clean and white

by C. Michelle Jefferies

I love the thrill of opening a new document to start a new book.

There's potential there. The ability to create is new, open, and the possibilities are limitless.

The new year looks the same to me. Full of potential for great and amazing things. With EMERGENCE released I am feeling a certain weight off my shoulders and am ready to plunge back into many things that were emotionally impossible before my book baby became reality.

I am so ready to leave some things in my past and open new books that I have just dreamed of before now.

So before I bore you with all my musings, I will write out my goals for this coming year.

I will be more present in my family. My kids deserve my time.

I will treat my writing and publishing as a business.

I will try to be more friendly to those around me and inclued my friends in my life more.

I will bake more and play more.

I will use the jewlry making supplies I bought last year. The leather too.

I will go back to Karate and work on my red belt.

I will work to make my book EMERGENCE a success.

I will nurture aspiring authors.

I will work on making myself happier.

So there you go in black and white. The things I want and desire to do.

Hope your new year is smashing, and much better than last year.

The path to wisdom is not always straight