Just For the Fun of It

How many times have you picked up a book by an author you’ve never read before and by the end of the first page you know you’re going to love the journey you’ve embarked upon? It’s a magical and miraculous moment. You’re ready to go wherever the author leads you. Why do you think storytellers have been revered throughout the ages, accorded high esteem and regard, and treasured as no other members of society? Think of the many words you find that mean storyteller: bard, ;minstrel, troubadour, yarn spinner, fabler, novelist, narrator writer, dramatist,historian, orator, skald, author. Think of the cultures that are known through their stories: Greek myths, German fairy tales, Elizabethan England (Shakespeare), Marvel Comics.

Harrison Ford once gave and interview where he was asked if he regretted not playing critically acclaimed roles rather than the money makers. Mr. Ford’s unapologetic answer was that his goal was to entertain. If he achieved acclaim, that was fine, but he wanted people to like his movies. indiana-jones-clip-art-9TpRkqjTEWhat struck me most was the nobility of his goal. He wanted to entertain. He didn’t try to claim his work was earth shattering or would change the course of history; he simply wanted to entertain. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but the idea of giving people something to take them away from their own lives and everyday problems, if only for a little while, is a goal worth pursuing.

And it comes down to the story and its telling.

I want the power to take people to other worlds. I want the power to make people laugh or cry. I want to be a story teller with all the responsibilities the job carries. I want to entertain.


Books I’m reading now:

Still can’t tell you because I’m judging for the RITAs. I did watch FANBOYS the other night. That was fun.

Life Philosophy…

How’s that for a scary title. But don’t be afraid. It isn’t that heavy.

Most of you know my youngest daughter has special needs. She’s an adult now, has a job, and is fairly independent, but she doesn’t drive, has real difficulty communicating, and we pretty much know she won’t be living alone for a while , if ever. That’s fine. We love having her around to watch movies with, play games, or just hang out. When she was little, she hit most of her physical milestones at the tail end of normal, but speech never came. Oh a word here or there, but no real talking. When she was four, however, she came up with my life’s philosophy. One day her older sister was crying. The youngest went up to her, put her arms around her and said, “Try happy.”

Try Happy

What beautiful words. The funny thing is they seem to work. I’m not trying to dismiss serious depression here (having been through a bout myself), and it’s never that easy,  but I’ve tried to live my life by those two words. It’s along the lines of “fake it until you make it,” another of my favorite sayings. But “Try Happy” is better. Life is too short to let yourself get distracted by awful things. I’m not saying hide from reality, or don’t get involved, but I always try to balance out unpleasantness with something that makes me smile. Thus my choice in reading and viewing materials. I am fairly political (Not here. I won’t subject you to my opinions here because I consider this blog part of my reading and viewing materials, and thus it conforms to my rules about those matters.) and the last thing I want to do when I’m trying to entertain myself is engross myself in dark, depressing stories. Yes, I watched Breaking Bad ( I live in Albuquerque, after all), and while I could admire the writing, the acting, the sheer brilliance of the show, I can’t say I enjoyed it. Nope. I want to escape in my free time. And “Try Happy” is a philosophy not used in that series. I want stories that celebrate the human spirit.

So, “Try Happy.” I’m thinking of having T-shirts made up or bumper stickers.


Books I’m reading now:

I can’t tell you–I’m judging the RITAs and my reading selections must remain secret.

Brick Walls and Critical Mass

In which I look at my method of writing. . . if you can call it a method.

I usually start a book with a general idea of character and plot. I don’t make notes or do character interviews. I have an idea of where the story starts, where it’s going and how it will end. Everything else I just let happen. It’s not the most efficient way to write, but it works for me. Especially once I’ve passed the brick wall and hit critical mass.

Brick wall? It’s my term for that part of your novel that is so awful to get through that you don’t think you can continue at all. I’ve hit the wall in every one of my books.

Photo by just-in-sane at Photobucket (Click to find)
The wall is too tall to climb over, too wide to go around, and its foundation extends too deeply to tunnel under. The only way to get past the brick wall is through it, brick by brick, prying and chiseling out  each individual stone until your fingers are bloody, your skin is raw, and you can’t catch your breath any longer. You’re sweaty, and dirty, and exhausted. You can’t see the other side, all the progress you’ve made until this point has been futile, and your soul is crying for you to give up. Well, that’s my metaphor anyway. There is always some point in the book where I just want to throw it away and never look at it again, but I keep going. You have to keep going.

Because by now I know that just beyond that brick wall is the critical mass. It’s that point in my novel where enough of the story is done that the weight of what’s written overpowers what’s yet to write, and the novel won’t stop writing itself. Just like a boulder rolling downhill. It starts slowly, sometimes seeming to falter, then suddenly it gathers enough speed that nothing will stop it until it reaches the bottom and comes to a rest.


Reaching critical mass is my favorite part of writing. I reach a point where I want to see how it ends. Okay, I know how it ends since I’m the author, but it’s more fun to see it on paper than in my head. There’s something so concrete, so uplifting, about finishing a manuscript. I don’t care if the novel is dreck; the dang thing is finished. It doesn’t mean the writing is done. Oh, no, for then comes revising and polishing and fixing, but in my opinion, which I’m allowed to express here because this is my blog, working on something that already exists is easier than fixing an empty page.

A completed manuscript in any form is an accomplishment. It’s an amazing feat, whether it’s your first book or your thirty-first. You wrote a book. You just have to get keep going, especially when you hit that wall.


Books I’m reading now:

Obsession by Jennifer Armentrout

Eyes Turned Skyward by Rebecca Yarros


Work is a Four-Letter Word…

…no matter how much you claim to love it. So is “book.” In which I explore the idea of working on a passion.

Have you ever considered your writing career as work? Most people thinks of work as a four-letter word(I know my father did), but the truth is writing is work. The secret is loving the aspects of it. If you’re truly lucky, your avocation can be your vocation.

I don’t believe anyone who tells me they love every aspect of writing. There’s plenty about it that resembles work the four-letter word. You have to plan and schedule your time; you have to get supplies; do research; you have to deal with outside forces passing judgment on your efforts; you have to deal with the empty page that can be daunting; you have overcome the self-doubts that plague you. You have deadlines, carpal tunnel syndrome, and isolation from those who don’t understand what you’re doing and just what it entails. Frustration and pain go hand in hand with writing. So don’t tell me it’s not work.

So why do we keep at it? Because our work gives us joy and satisfaction, and fulfills our creative needs. We tend to forget the pain when the joy is upon us (kind of like going through a second–or more– childbirth) because the joy is so much more powerfmargaritaul.

So in this new year, I’m telling you to get back to work, and may your joys outweigh the pains this year. And any to follow.  Work hard and reap the joys.

And when you’re done with work…


Books I’m reading now:

The Mean Vet by MC Beaton

Obsession by Jennifer Armentrout

A Little Loneliness…

…but don’t feel sorry for me. It’s my way of life and I like it, and you should too. If you’re a reader. In which I examine the life of writing.

So much of writing is a lonely endeavor. Authors aren’t known for being social. We live in our made-up worlds by ourselves and stare in silence at the bank page/screen (Unless you talk to yourself, but I won’t get into that here.) For many of us it’s how we actually enjoy living our lives. I, personally, am an introvert. My mother laughs when I say that. She can’t understand how I could have performed so easily as a younger adult on stage and that I still enjoy being in front of people but still call myself an introvert. I believe it’s because that’s not really me there. I enjoy the attention, but I’m not really exposing myself; that’s a persona up there.

Still, like all (most) humans, even writers crave interaction with others. That’s what writers’ groups are for. When I get together with other writers, I can feel less alone. Here are the others who know what I am going through. They have suffered my disappointments, lived my successes, cheered for me as I have cheered for them. My writing circles make me realize I’m not alone out there. My dream is not outrageous or crazy. Have friends who share the same dream. So as I embark on writing yet another novel and exploring a new world by myself until the time that I expose my world to other explorers (readers), I buoyed with the knowledge that I have people I can lean on when the seas get rough or the journey stalls. Thanks in advance.

RWA book signing
RWA book signing

Still the world has changed and this new publishing world requires me to put myself out there and be “social”. Social media, advertising, promotion are all part of the author’s responsibility now, especially if you’re self-publishing, but it’s also true if you are on the traditional path. Self-promotion can be overwhelming. Am I crossing some line? Did I say too much? Are people sick of me yet? How can I pimp myself and my books?  Are you sick of me yet?

But the rewards are great. To hear from someone you’ve never met that your book moved/entertained/helped them is amazing. Yes, the writer friends offer support, but the praise from readers is that treasure that makes the hours of loneliness and agony of putting words on the page worthwhile. And readers can’t do that unless they can find you. And in order to create the stories that readers will respond to requires embracing the loneliness.

And you wonder why authors have the reputation of being a little crazy.


Books I’m reading now

Bad Luck Trouble by Lee Child

With This Ring by Celeste Bradley

Introducing Agatha Raisin: The Quiche of Death by MC Beaton