Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Blessings to each of you for the new year! 
Thank you so much for your friendship, input, and support. 
Looking forward to sharing 2011 with you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own
understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Have a safe and Happy New Year!
See you on January 6.


Photo credit: ciberbarba

Monday, December 20, 2010

Blog Reflections & Other Tidbits

Do you ponder and reflect on the blogging experience at the end of the year? I do. Many questions come to mind. Like, has it been a successful year? What knowledge have I gained? Who have I had the privilege of meeting? What works, and what does not?

Along those lines, I wanted to pass along two recent posts by Jennifer Brown Banks, of Pen and Prosper.

Lessons Learned shares twenty things that tie life and blogging together in different and unexpected ways. 

Six Things Bloggers Owe Readers points out savvy tips to keep our blog in top form all year round.

I've learned plenty this year about blogging and writing. And the wonderful new friends I've gained, plus my fabulous existing ones - wow - what a blessing! Thanks so much for your support.

How about you? I'm interested to hear how your year has gone.

The Other Tidbits

Looking to attend a conference? This Writers Conference info site has listings of various gatherings to please most any writer. Perhaps one might be a good fit.

The 2011 National Christian Writers'  California conference will be held in March. Speakers include Bonnie Calhoun, Antonio Crawford, and Kathi Macias, among others.

In need of fresh inspiration for 2011? Steven Goldsberry's article shares 17 Writing Secrets that apply to any style or genre.

I'll be teaching another Basic Boot Camp for Writers workshop, beginning January 3 over at the Coffeehouse for Writers. I invite you to come and see what great offerings the Coffeehouse is brewing for the new year.

What reflections are you pondering?  What have you learned this year?

I'll be taking a break until December 30 or thereabouts, at which time I'll share a few awards and a peek at January's happenings. Enjoy your time with family and friends this holiday season.


Photo credit: Joshua Davis

Monday, December 13, 2010

It Happened Again

No, my husband didn't surprise me with a dozen red roses. (Although that does happen occasionally:)

And no, I wasn't offered a book contract. Yet.

Nope. Tickets to my favorite hockey team's next game were not delivered to my front door.

But those were all good guesses; thanks for trying.

Actually, in a nutshell, I had someone ask how to get their writing published. I get this or a similar question on a regular basis, so I decided to post my thoughts and get your input. This is what I call a "tip of the iceberg" question. There is no simple cut and dried answer, and the response is multi-faceted. There's always something to learn, and just about the time you think you've got it down, the market changes.

This is my basic response:

1) Take a writing course.

Options abound, free and otherwise. Just because we like to write doesn't mean we know how and where to submit work. I learned a LOT from the courses I took years ago at the Institute for Children's Literature. I saved time, stress, and cut the learning curve down quite a bit in regard to what publications want.

Here's a sampling of course offerings. 

2) Join a writer's group.

Groups can be found through the local paper, an online search, or simply by word of mouth. Most sites (like the ones above) that offer courses also have online support and/or critique groups. If you can't find a local group, start one, but keep it simple. A group is a great place to encourage each other, and share resources, links, and other goodies.

3) Attend a writer's conference.

Conventions, conferences, and workshops abound. National, state, and local groups sponsor ones of all sizes. Don't discount smaller offerings; just because the keynote speaker's name isn't a household word doesn't mean they don't have lots to share.

4) Take advantage of books, magazines, websites, and blogs.

Here again, resources abound. And then some. The sites above, as well as scads of others, offer articles, links to blogs, book reviews, and books for purchase. Hope Clark's Funds for Writers site has a newsletter, blog, and enough other resources to keep any writer busy for a while. Writing for Dollars is another helpful stop, with a database of articles that suit any writer's needs.

5) Keep learning.

Always. Keep writing, sharpening skills, and moving ahead. There is always something to learn.

Now it's your turn. What did I miss? What advice would you offer? What was the most helpful advice you had when starting out? Please feel free to share liberally. Thanks so much!

Happy writing,

Image Credit: Andreyutzu

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Poetry Contest & Quick Note

Susan Reinhardt of Christian Writer/Reader Connection is guest posting over at Susan Panzica's Eternity Cafe today. I'll be scooting over to say hello, how about you?

The 6th Annual Writer's Digest Poetry Contest is accepting entries till December 15, 2010. A cash prize and trip to the WD Conference in New York City will be awarded to the winner. Click here for details.

Happy writing,

Photo credit: vancity197

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quips & Quotes & Other Stuff

Do book or movie lines stick with you? How about quotes by notable figures, past or present? Bible verses, classic literature, or political speeches - has anything jumped out at you lately? Have any provided inspiration for your work?

Our family often tosses movie lines back and forth, and I wondered recently how this influences my writing. My first thought is the humor factor, for many lines are either funny or we apply them to situations in a humorous way. My second thought is the timeless application of these or any other words that have stuck with me. What things of lasting value do they spark or possess?

I like to examine the way words are put together and how they sound. If a line from a film, is it spoken with an accent? Another consideration is emotion; is it true to life or something only heard in the movies? How would this translate into characters for a book?

What do you think? Am I the only one who does this? :)

Who Said It? Inspiration in Action

Brownie points to anyone who can tell me who said the following. Answers at the end of the post. Perhaps one will spark an idea for your next project!

1) It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time.

2) I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until I finally became that person - or he became me.

3) Imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions.

4) Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.

5) No more rhymes now I mean it!   

Villains & Guest Posts

Just in case you happened to miss Stephen Tremp's Home and Away series last week, he had a guest post about villains here Friday, and I was his guest Saturday. Click here to check out Stephen's post. Click here to check out my post over at Stephen's Breakthrough Blogs.

Other Stuff

Speaking of guest posts, Susan Reinhardt of Christian Writer/Reader Connection will be guest posting Tuesday over at Susan Panzica's Eternity Cafe. Will stop back tomorrow to post a reminder, but wanted to give you a head's up. Susan Reinhardt's Mom is in the hospital. Her Mom is doing okay, but I am sure they'd appreciate your prayers.

I think I'll be skipping my regular Thursday post this week to catch up on visiting my blog friends, and for some much needed down time. Thanks to all of you for your wonderful support these past weeks. You've been a great encouragement. 

What quips and quotes inspire you? Have any sparked a story or article idea lately?

Happy writing,

Image credit: Naurich


1) Abraham Lincoln
2) Cary Grant
3) Albert Einstein 
4) Benjamin Franklin 
5) Spoken in the film The Princess Bride

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Karen...Now Appearing...

Okay, so it isn't all that. :o)

But I am Stephen Tremp's guest blogger today at Breakthrough Blogs.

As part of his Home and Away post series, Stephen posted here yesterday. It was a good one! If you missed it, click here to check it out.

Hope you can join us!

Have a good weekend,

Image credit:  avanzero

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stephen Tremp - Guest Post

Please join me in welcoming Stephen Tremp of Breakthrough Blogs

When you get a minute, stop by his blog and say hello. It's a great source of writing, marketing, publishing and other fabulous info.

And just in case you didn't know, Stephen's specialty is action and suspense, evident in his book -

Breakthrough: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan.

BTW, Breakthrough is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble; visit Stephen's blog for details. So enough chatting, on to Stephen's post:

Why We Like Villains So Much

Developing a seriously evil villain takes more than pasting together bad traits. They are more than being the antithesis of the hero. Villains force us to confront our worst fears at our weakest moments. They can attack us when we are most vulnerable, such as when we sleep ala Freddy Kruger. They draw us away from the safety of our world and into theirs, like Kathleen Bates in Misery. Villains are defeated, then return with their evil friends. They come in various shapes, sizes, or colors such as people, animals (Jaws and Kujo), or aliens. They can be silent and invisible as in spirit form. They might already be dead. i.e. vampires and zombies. Hey, they can even be a doll like Chucky or Talking Teena from the Twilight Zone. Sometimes we even root for the villain! They have a story to tell and secrets to hide.

“Villains pose fundamental questions about humanity and, ‘they make audiences consider the moral dilemmas of their society … they expose how much you can get away with, what’s legal, and these characters operate on quite a basic level.’ (Writing Great Villains). Other villains simply want to spread anarchy, as Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker.

Bad guys can be one-dimensional and predictable. We all know what Jaws was going to do. Eat people alive. A thug who is in and out of prison his entire life is going to do pretty much the same thing over and over. There are some really great ones like the simple hit man with no conscious such as Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men.

Villains can also be multi-dimensional. These bad guys are intelligent, socially adept, they have resources, and are usually somewhat athletic like Michael Douglas in Wall Street. Sometimes society doesn’t even know they are hosting a monster.

Villains can also be a tragic character, a victim of some hideous crime against them. They snap and seek revenge on their attackers, innocent people, or on the world. Villains can vary from culture to culture. What might be acceptable in once place could be reprehensible in another. Or a character can be an invader or a liberator, depending on the perspective of the other characters. Stella Cameron has a good list of villainous types at her Web site.

Many antagonists are a mosaic of this list. My antagonist in Breakthrough is the Mastermind. He is compulsive obsessive and calculates his plans to the minutest detail. He has followers who are part of his inner circle, such as his girlfriend and fellow M.I.T. grad student Staci Bevere. She is the assassin extraordinaire. But he is the one who ultimately pulls the strings.

BTW, I love the malcontent, such as a fired or disgruntled employee. Example: Richard Preston’s The Cobra Event, a story of domestic bio terrorism where the villain was fired, and he decided to take his anger out on the world by developing and unleashing a virus that causes self-cannibalism and death.

“As the writer, it is essential you know the villain's motivation (even if the reader doesn't); only this way will you be able to keep his/her words and actions consistent; he/she acts evil for a reason; even if that reason is "crazy" in the eyes of society, the villain believes the reasoning is logical and performs accordingly.” Ruth Kerce

Power, greed, instinct, madness, fight for survival, and revenge are excellent drivers that motivate a villain. Sometimes we even root for a villain. Perhaps, they’re right because they are victims. Vigilantes fall into this catagory.

Stephen Tremp blogs at Breakthrough Blogs and is author of the Near Future SciFi Thriller Breakthrough. If you feel this blog is worthy, go ahead and make my day. Retweet it

Thank you, Stephen, for sharing with us! Don't forget to stop by Breakthrough Blogs tomorrow for my guest post.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the bad guy?

Have a good weekend,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Challenge & Guest Post News

Thank You

Heartfelt thanks to you all - my family and I were touched by your kindness regarding the death of my sister Wendy. The outpouring of love and support through your comments and emails was an encouragement.

My blogging schedule may be a bit lighter this month as we regain our footing, but I will be coming to see you all soon. I've missed you; you are a blessing.

Guest Post

On December 3 and 4, I have the privilege of sharing a Home and Away Post with Stephen Tremp of Breakthrough Blogs. Stephen, author of Breakthrough: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan, will share his writing wisdom here, and I get to share at Breakthrough Blogs.  I'm looking forward to it; hope you can join us.

Hemingway's Challenge

Someone once challenged Hemingway to write a story in six words. He wrote the following:

For sale, baby shoes. Never used.

Oh my. If that doesn’t leave you wondering what the story behind the story is, I don’t know what does.  Does it tell the whole story? Perhaps only Hemingway knows for sure.

Is a six-word story a personal thing? It would seem so. Only the writer knows what lies beneath the surface. But then, it could be open to interpretation. It could be based on fact or simply fiction. What do you think?

Six-word stories are an extreme example of word economy in action. What an inspirational, yet mind stretching exercise. Are you up for the challenge? Will you share your six word story with us?

Don't forget to stop back tomorrow and Saturday for the Home and Away Posts. Thanks so much. :)

Have a good weekend.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission of the author, Karen Lange. 

Photo credit: Twitchtoo