Monday, February 8, 2016

The Write Balance

We all know that the writer's life is largely sedentary. While brainstorming and sorting out ideas can be done with a measure of physical activity, actual typing or writing longhand has us parked in one place. Writing gives our brains a workout, but it doesn't offer much in the way of burning calories.

Activity of some kind is essential for good circulation. Even short bursts of movement get the blood flowing, which provides a double bonus - for mind and body. We think and feel better, and have more to offer our loved ones. That said, what can be done to offset the less active times while at the keyboard?

Here's what tops my list. See if you agree. 

  • Get ample rest. We know this, but how many of us heed this advice? I don't always, but aim to make it a priority.
  • Eat right. This is another given. Poor eating habits will catch up with us. You know, like Mom always said, "You are what you eat."
  • Exercise. Given #3! From hitting the gym, to walking or running, to the exercise DVD, light weights, etc. there are a myriad of options from which to choose.
  • Maintain a "motion mindset". Our best writing results often come when we are healthy and alert.

To take this "motion mindset" a step further, I look for ways to stay loose and relieve tension. Perhaps you do some of the following too.

  • Take regular breaks. A trip to the laundry room or mailbox can stretch muscles and get the blood moving. Sometimes I'll take a brief walk around the house or yard, march in place, or scale the stairs a few times.
  • Stand up. You've probably read the articles about how standing (versus sitting) is better for circulation. I don't have a standing desk, but occasionally I'll take my laptop or pen and paper and work while standing at the kitchen island. When possible, I pace while on the phone.
  • Keep moving, even when sitting. Stretch or rotate your arms, flex your legs, stomp your feet, scrunch your shoulders up and down, or turn your head from left to right.
  • Lift weights. Stash 1 or 2 pound weights under your desk. Sit/stand and do a few bicep curls or overhead arm lifts. Even light weights provide resistance benefits.
  • Be your own masseuse/masseur. Massage your scalp, forehead or temples, neck, and/or shoulders, using gentle pressure or kneading in a circular motion to relieve tension and increase blood flow.
  • Stay hydrated. Did you know that dehydration can cause headaches? Keeping a healthy beverage handy, whether writing or not, is an easy preventative measure. 

Whether exercising our bodies or minds, it doesn't take much to reap helpful benefits.

How do you balance activity with the sedentary writing life?

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Free Images

Monday, February 1, 2016

Meet The Blogger with Jennifer Brown Banks

The February edition of Meet the Blogger features freelance writer Jennifer Brown Banks. Many of you already know Jennifer; she's the smart and savvy individual behind the award winning blog, Pen and Prosper.

What you might not know is that Jennifer recently published a book. It's entitled  7 Wide, Poetic Reflections, and is a collection of poems that is designed to appeal to a diverse audience. Ever keeping us in the loop of great writing advice and tips, Jennifer is as sweet and kind as they come. She's been a faithful friend and colleague, and I am excited to help her celebrate her newest accomplishment.

Welcome Jennifer! So glad you could stop by. :) What is your blog about?

Thank you, Karen! Pen and Prosper is devoted to helping writers at all levels and genres to grow more, know more, and reach their full creative potential. It's about the writing life and exploring creativity in all its myriad forms.

Your devotion is evident in each post. It's a wonderful source of practical info for writers. What benefits have you gained through blogging? 

How much time do you have? LOL I have gained so many tangible and intangible benefits:

  • A supportive community
  • A bigger, stronger platform 
  • Blogging buddies worldwide
  • A more experienced and well tuned writer's voice
  • The joy of connecting with and learning from others
  • Industry recognition for my work - I'm pleased to be among the "Top 100 Writing Blogs for 2016"
  • An added income stream (I set up blogs for other writers, conduct "Blog Audits", and sell ad space)

Blogging can be a great experience, I agree. We reap so many benefits. Congratulations on 7 Wide! What prompted you to write it? What types of poetry will we find within the pages?

Thanks, Karen! It's been long overdue. Though I have contributed articles, essays, and blog posts to numerous publications over the years, poetry is for me. It's a great way to measure emotional growth and chronicle the highs and lows of life. I realized upon reflection, that it had been quite a few years since my last poetry title had been released. So now just seemed like a good time.

 7 Wide is a dynamic collection of more than 40 poems on love, life, and social issues that will appeal to audiences of a diverse readership.

I'd not thought of poetry quite like that; your insight is helpful. What have you learned through the process of writing 7 Wide?

I've learned that poetry is cathartic. That writing a book provides a true sense of accomplishment and closure. And that poetry still remains one of my favorite genres in which to dabble. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to write a book?

Put out a quality product, even if it's self published. Like your kids, it's a reflection of you.

Excellent advice! Thanks again for sharing with us today. Wishing you well with your new book. 

Thanks Karen! 

More About Jennifer

Jennifer Brown Banks is an award winning blogger, award winning poet, veteran freelance writer, content creator, columnist, and seasoned bargain hunter. Her publishing credits include Pro Blogger, Men with Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, and South 85 Literary Journal. When not at the keyboard, she digs reading, cooking, music, shopping, herbal tea, and chocolate.

Visit Jennifer's blog, Pen and Prosper

Purchase 7 Wide on Amazon

Do you enjoy reading/writing poetry? Have any questions for Jennifer?

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Free Images

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Issue of Tone

I had a situation recently where I texted someone an important bit of news. This news would have been better received had I delivered it by phone or in person, but due to extenuating circumstances at the time, a text was necessary.

This reminded me of the aspects of modern communication that I dislike. With texts, email, and social media you can't always interpret the sender's tone. It's difficult to judge inflection and genuine sentiment. A message might sound aloof, unkind, or impatient, even though that isn't the author's intent. 

It also, of course, causes me to consider the role tone plays in our writing. What is tone? One definition says it is how it feels, sounds, and/or is interpreted. Tone can take shape through word choice, sentence structure, and a writer's attitude and style. A writer’s tone can be sarcastic, serious, funny, sad, and so on. I believe that tone also plays a role in a writer’s voice. 
Writing gives us an opportunity to employ an appropriate, reader friendly tone. We may not always directly consider tone during the process, but it does factor into the mix. Our words, whether informal conversation or published work, send an impression to others. The revision process can help us assume the correct tone.

With that in mind, I do the following before submitting:

  • Consider the audience and publication.
  • Get input from from critique partners.
  • Read it aloud. The ear is a great editor, catching things the eyes miss.
Regarding texts, emails, and social media, it is impossible to convey our intended tone 100% of the time, no matter how many emojis we use. So I've adopted an informal policy, "tone insurance", if you will. Some of the same points above apply.
  • I don't respond to emotional questions or issues in haste. If it potentially stirs my emotions, I wait and pray until I'm sure to respond rationally.
  • I read my response aloud because I want to hear how it might sound to the recipient. It also slows down the process which allows me grace and space as I consider my reply. 
  • I get a second opinion from someone who offers an outside and fresh perspective.
While not foolproof, these simple steps have polished my work and helped keep my foot out of my mouth. Can anyone relate? 

What steps do you take to ensure proper writing tone? How do you think others perceive your writing tone?

Happy writing,

Monday, January 18, 2016

Your Turn!

As you know, I often feature my writer/blogging friends through announcements, interviews, and book spotlights. Since it would take years to get to everyone, I came up with an alternative. How about a mini interview right now? 

If you are game, kindly answer one or more of these questions in the comments: 

  • What's the craziest thing you've ever done? 
  • Favorites - Coffee? Tea? Chocolate? Vanilla? 
  • When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
  • What's the best writing/other advice you've ever been given?    

Don't be shy - it'll be fun to get to know you better!  :)

Have a great week! 

Happy writing, 

Photo credit: Free Images

Monday, January 11, 2016

Susanne Dietze - Austen in Austin Giveaway!

Congratulations to Susanne Dietze! Her latest book, Austen in Austin, releases January 15. She's here today to share about the book and two special giveaways. Be sure and check out the details below.

Congratulations on your book, Susanne! Can you tell us a little about Austen in Austin and how it came about? 

Thanks for having me, Karen! I belong to a group blog, Inkwell Inspirations. One day we were chatting about Jane Austen adaptations—I can’t remember if we were chatting about movies, heroes, or books inspired by Austen’s works. But Anita Mae Draper, who writes western romances, said she might like Mr. Darcy better if he wore a Stetson. That was all it took: a few of us were inspired to write western-set novellas inspired by Austen novels, characters and plots.

Eight of us joined the project. We talked titles and I jokingly suggested Austen in Austin. It stuck! Now we’re thrilled to have two volumes of Austen in Austin releasing this year with White Fire Publishing! I’m included in the first volume, releasing January 15.

Each of the stories is set in historical Austin, Texas, around a fictional ladies’ finishing school, the Jeannette C. Austen Academy. The characters have a bit of overlap in each other’s stories, and even between the volumes.

Sounds like this collaboration was quite an adventure. How did Jane Austen's books influence your story? 

I love Pride and Prejudice, so it was a treat to write a P&P-inspired novella. The title, One Word From You, is taken from a quote spoken by Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet. Like Mr. Darcy, my hero Will Delacourt has family money, but in the spirit of 1880’s Texas, he’s also the owner of a railroad. My heroine Eliza Branch is modeled after Elizabeth Bennet, but unlike her Regency-era counterpart, Eliza is able to earn a little money to help her family by writing for a newspaper.

Our hope is that any lover of historical-set Christian romance novellas will enjoy them. If a reader is acquainted with Austen, she will recognize bits of dialogue, etc., but a reader doesn’t need any Austen experience to follow the stories. They are retellings with a Texas twist, and the characters have different names and occupations than the iconic Austen characters that inspired them.

It sounds wonderful. I am looking forward to reading this book. :) Thanks so much for stopping by today, Susanne. Wishing you and your fellow authors much success! 

Thank you Karen!

More About Austen in Austin 

These four Texas-set novellas based on Jane Austen's novels are available in paperback and e-book, and the individual novellas are also available as e-books.

Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love--Jane Austen style. Volume 1 includes:

If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma. A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.

Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility. A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.

One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice. A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.

Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey. A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions.

More on Susanne's One Word From You  

Urged by her family to marry for the sake of their dwindling finances, Eliza Branch prefers to pay for the remainder of her time at the Austen Academy by writing for the local paper. There’s plenty to write about now that railroad baron William Delacourt has come to Austin. His proposed northbound line may be good for local business, but she’s still stinging from his terrible first impression. If the rumors about William are true, then he deserves to be skewered in print. But when Eliza’s pen gets ahead of her conscience, it’s William who makes everything right—and the reasons behind his sacrifice just might be the story of Eliza’s lifetime.

Buy Austen in Austin Volume I

Buy One Word From You e-book by Susanne Dietze

Susanne's Contest Info 

Visit Susanne's website January 11-15 to enter. Prize package includes: paperback copy of Austen in Austin Volume I, The Jane Austen Devotional, and a pink dot notebook. Please visit her site to fill out the entry form.

Another Austen in Austin Giveaway 

Now through January 15, visit Inkwell Inspirations to enter for another great prize package.

About Susanne

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others. A pastor’s wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. Susanne is the author of five new and upcoming novellas; her latest, One Word From You, is in White Fire’s Austen in Austin Volume I. Find Susanne at the following links: 


What's on your reading list for the new year? Do you have any questions for Susanne?

Happy reading and writing,