Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome! This is the Mid-Willamette Valley Romance Writers weekly progress check-in. We want to hear from you.

Did you meet your writing goals last week? What do you plan to accomplish this week?

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Chat With My Muse



I give my muse a disgusted look. "Where the hell have you been?"


He blinks and swipes his sleeve under his nose. "Huh?"


"I've been waiting for your awesome inspiration, but you've been hiding from me. What's up with that?"


"I haven't been hiding," he says with a shrug. "You just haven't been looking."


Oh. My. God. A smartass muse who is... absolutely right. I was so absorbed in the holidays and stressing over my upcoming surgery that I'd forgotten about him. Now I feel bad.


"Look, Musey. I'm sorry if I sounded bitchy." I hang my head. "It's my fault, not yours."


He offers me a half-smile and pats me on the shoulder. "Don't be so hard on yourself. I've been by your side all along, you simply didn't notice."


"You have?"


Nodding, he adds, "How do you think those ideas for revamping your plot came to you?"


Surprised, I suck in a breath. I'd been half asleep and still in bed when I got those ideas. I haven't even written them down yet. "How did you know?"


"Silly girl." He chuckles. "I know everything about you. I'm your muse, remember? Living inside your head makes me privy to your deepest thoughts and dreams."


I feel suddenly exposed and back up a few steps.


He rolls his eyes. "Babe, you can't get away from me no matter how hard you try. You're a writer! You need me."


Shaking my head, I say, "No, I don't. My ideas are my own, not yours."


"Who said they weren't yours?" He exhales an exasperated sigh. "I'm your muse, not your master. I assist you, support you, challenge you. The rest is up to you."


Wow. I'd never thought of it that way. Here I've been waiting for him to show up, and he never even left. I just wasn't paying attention.


He wraps his arm around my shoulder and steers me along a path made of rough wooden planks. It leads toward a bank of thick fog and I hear ocean waves pounding the sand to my right. I stop to peer into the darkness ahead, as wisps of gray mist swirl around my feet.


"What's wrong?" he asks me.


"I'm scared," I say, a shiver raising goosebumps on my arms. "I don't know what's in there. Do you?"


His arms tighten around me, and the warmth of his body makes my shivers go away. "No. But I'll stay with you, no matter what. We'll tackle whatever we find in there… together."




Thursday, January 24, 2013

Website Design for Writers on a Budget: Introduction

A couple of years ago I gave a short presentation to my local RWA® chapter that I called Website Design for Authors on a Budget. The presentation was helpful to a point, but with only an hour and a half to speak, I couldn't really go into detail on any one aspect. I was hesitant (okay, down right reluctant) to expand the presentation for several reasons, but I've been persuaded that there might be other writers out there who would find this information useful.

Why reluctant? Mostly because I can't commit to teaching anyone html, xhtml, css, javascript, etc. And quite frankly, if you're going to create and maintain your own website, at some point you'll need to be familiar enough with one or more of those tools to be able to find your way around a website's source files. However, there are plenty of books and classes (online and in person) that will teach you these things.

Welcome to the Internet Age. "Every writer needs a website." We've all heard this statement at one time or another, but is it true? A few years ago, I would have answered yes, unequivocally. Now, I would change "website" to "web presence," because there are other options, such as having a Facebook page, that can substitute for a full blown website. However, in the long run I still believe a website is an important tool for a writer to have when it comes to promoting yourself and your work.

This series will be about creating a website on a budget. If there's one thing I would like you to take away from today's introduction, it's this: if you don't already own a domain name (i.e. your ".com" name) in the name you write under, please consider purchasing that domain name now. Almost all large web hosting company out there also sell domain names and will "park" the domain for you until you're ready to create your website.

In the upcoming months, I plan to discuss options for writers just starting out, choosing a website hosting service, website design considerations, pros and cons of "rolling your own" website, creative alternatives, and where to find inspiration, among other topics. I'll also provide a glossary and reference list at the end of each post, as appropriate.

Please feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to provide an answer. And if there's something you'd like me to discuss, please suggest other topics. I'll be happy to work a topic into the series, if I can.

DISCLAIMERS!

I am not a professional website designer, nor am I a graphic designer/artist. I do consider myself an enthusiastic amateur, though.

I am not affiliated with any of the companies or books/writers that I will provide in my reference lists. I'll make sure to note if that happens to change in the future.

My credentials: I have a B.S. in Computer Science and I've worked for over 20 years in Information Technology for major Computer Hardware/Software companies. I started creating web pages back in the early days of the web--when Mosaic was bright and shiny and Netscape was a mere gleam in Marc Andreessen's eye. I've continued to learn and work with html, css, xhtml, javascript, etc., and I created and maintain my own site, but I've never created a website for hire (outside of the "day job").

Here's what I can't do in this series:

  • Teach you html/xhtml/css/flash/javascript, etc.
  • Teach you graphic design or mad photoshop skilz
  • Design your website for you

Now here's what I can do:

  • Give you tips to get you started
  • Show you examples -- of the bad, the okay, and the good (in my opinion, of course!)
  • Provide lists of resources and references
  • Inspire you (I hope!)

GLOSSARY


Domain Name: a domain name is an identification that represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource, in this case a web site. For example, my domain name is Deborah-Wright.com

Domain Parking: refers to the registration of a domain name without creating a website. This is done in order to reserve the domain for future development.

Mosaic: the first web browser, developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)

WEB HOSTING / DOMAIN NAME RESOURCES

  1. HostMonster -- cheap and reliable web hosting and domain registrar (I currently use their service)
  2. Dreamhost -- a bit more expensive for web hosting than hostmonster, but very solid and reliable (I've used them in the past). They are also a domain registrar.
  3. PowWeb -- another cheap and reliable web hosting and domain registrar that I've used in the past.
  4. There are other web hosting companies out there. Just take the time to do some research and ask people you trust for recommendations.

These are companies I'm familiar with and feel comfortable listing. You might have noticed that I didn't list a famous web host/domain registrar that begins with a G and ends with a Y. That's because I won't recommend them to anyone who is a novice at this stuff (actually, I won't recommend them, period). I find their website confusing, their web tools ridiculously convoluted and difficult to use, and their practice of charging extra for useful addons makes them as-or-more expensive than the three companies I've listed above. It's just my opinion, but I've used all four companies and won't ever use G-----y again, if I can help it.

Deborah Wright
Website: www.Deborah-Wright.com
Twitter: @DeborahBWright
Facebook: Deborah.Wright.Author

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More Ideas than Time



I'm a writer who has more ideas and characters than time to write them. I can get a great story idea at least once a day, I mull it over and if it won't go away or becomes even more ingrained in my thoughts, I jot it down either in one of my computer folders or an actual folder of ideas I have in my file cabinet.

The same goes for characters. I don't  get one of those a day but when one comes to me and sticks in my mind, becoming more and more real, I jot down the information for them and in some instances even come up with a story that they would work in.

Right now I have a real strong secondary character in my mind. I brainstormed a bit about her with Danita Cahill on our way to a booksigning this past weekend. My main character in my mystery thinks of the secondary character in this way. "Crazy Lil came with the ranch like a stray cat. She helps me out and I provide a place for her to live and food to eat."

I've thought of "Crazy" Lil as being simple minded, a lover of animals, and a person who is diligent at their tasks. Danita gave me some great ideas of backstory for her to explain why she won't leave her grandparent's ranch even after they are dead and it has been sold. It also gave me some insight into the mystery that will revolve around Lil and her past. Her mystery story that will be down the line from several others I've come up with for my mystery series.

Are you a prolific idea collector? Or can you come up with ideas at the same speed you can write them? Or if you do hobbies, do you dream up more projects than you can sanely make?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the rest of this month you can purchase Secrets of a Mayan Moon for $.99 at Kindle.

What happens when a brilliant anthropologist is lured to the jungle to be used as a human sacrifice?

Blurb:
Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.

DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.


Secrets of a Mayan Moon is available at Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords


Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome! This is the Mid-Willamette Valley Romance Writers weekly progress check-in. We want to hear from you.

Did you meet your writing goals last week? What do you plan to accomplish this week?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

AM I LOSING IT…


POSTED BY: GENIE GABRIEL

This past week, I finished book #8 of my Halo Legacy Series--serious issues, action, romance, and some mystery--and switched to writing an anthology that's supposed to be humorous. 

But I'm struggling to be funny. Not good.

So I went to one of my favorite research tools (the Internet) and keyed in comedy. I watched some of what was labeled comedy and didn't crack a smile. 

And I wondered: am I losing it? (My sense of humor, not the sanity I've never laid claim to!)

And, finally, I found laugh-out-loud comedy in comedians actually older than I am. :)

Jonathan Winters, who can make up weird and hilarious (to me) skits using a stick or a pen and pencil set. Carol Burnett and Charo in (almost) matching red sequined pants and midriff-baring tops. Jonathan Winters (again) with Robin Williams.

How can some people make comedy out of nothing but their imagination?

I did ask my grown son for some of his favorite comedians. I hadn't heard of them, but he hadn't heard of Jonathan Winters or Charo either--who I had forgotten was a pretty darn good guitar player.

Beyond loosening up my funny bone again, it was good for me to spend an hour or so laughing. 

Do you have a favorite comedian or a show/movie that's guaranteed to make you laugh?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome! This is the Mid-Willamette Valley Romance Writers weekly progress check-in. We want to hear from you.

Did you meet your writing goals last week? What do you plan to accomplish this week?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Fit Writer

A couple of years ago, the Spousal Unit and I embarked on a fitness regimen. We were both determined to lose weight and get fit (which, surprisingly, aren't always the same thing). We were successful, to a point. Both of us dropped a significant amount of weight, though not everything we needed to, and we moved our bodies by working out or taking long walks several times a week.

Alas, that lost weight has started to creep back on our bodies — on mine, more than his (of course!). So. We've made a pact, the SU and I, to rid ourselves of the unwanted flab for good. We have a rather large carrot to inspire us — a special trip planned for later in the year for which we both want to be fit and healthy.

There's no getting around the fact that writing is a sedentary task. I spend a large chunk of my day either sitting in front of my computer or sitting on the couch editing my printed pages. It's been entirely too easy for me to become a slug and gain weight.

I know myself well enough to know that diets don't work for me. Telling myself I can't eat something is tantamount to waving a red flag in front of a bull. What does work is tracking what I eat on a daily basis and focusing on eating mostly whole foods. That is, eating very, very few processed or packaged foods. That also has the benefit of reducing the amount of added sodium in my diet to almost zero.

Doesn't mean I won't have the occasional treat. I will. But the emphasis will be on occasional, rather than treat.

That's the food side of the equation. I also plan to incorporate my favorite workout routines on a more regular basis than the sporadic times I've been managing lately. I've started this year doing daily Yoga and crunches. I plan to add walking on the treadmill at least three times per week (and no, I don't jog or run) — and when good weather returns, taking long walks with the SU. Eventually I'm thinking of adding in a step routine and light weight work with dumbbells.

2013 is the year I plan to add being fit to my daily routine, along with writing daily. I'll make regular updates on my progress here on the blog. How about you? Is fitness something that's been on the back burner lately? There's no time like the present to start getting fit!

Deborah Wright
Website: www.Deborah-Wright.com
Twitter: @DeborahBWright
Facebook: Deborah.Wright.Author

 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Boxing Day


“Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their superiors or employers, known as a "Christmas box"…..This custom is linked to an older English tradition: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.”

I like to give myself a Boxing Day every once in a while, but inside out. This is a day when I get an empty box and go around the house picking things up, looking them over, making decisions. I have little stashes of “not-sure-if-it’s-worth-storing” and these are a great place to fill up my box. Then I stick the box in the front seat of my car and the next time I run errands, drive it to a charity, usually the Humane Society’s Thrift Shop.

Why is this a gift to myself?

Clutter. Clutter-Be-GONE! I actually have a book by cleaning expert Don Aslett with this title. It’s half about organizing and de-cluttering, and half about how to clean. How to clean? Yep. I’ve learned lots from this book. One of the best tips in there is “don’t scrub.” Know why not? What’s your guess?

The less clutter, the clearer the space, the fewer things your mind has to keep track of, the more room there is in there for the really important stuff. Besides, I hate tripping.

Boxing Day is usually not easy, especially in my fabric cupboard, my kids’ rooms, and my husband’s closet. Too many times we say, “Hey, with just a little [polishing, glue, paint, part] that’ll be good as new!” I have to remind myself that time counts. My time, my stress, my worry…they’re worth some bucks, too. Will it cost more to fix it or toss it and replace it later? Amazingly, it almost always costs more to keep it, if you count time, energy, and brain storage along with money.

So, “Hey” right back attcha. Give yourself a gift and toss it in the Box.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome! This is the Mid-Willamette Valley Romance Writers weekly progress check-in. We want to hear from you.

It's a brand new year! Time to think about setting new writing goals.

Whatever your goals for 2013, plan to check in on this blog every Monday and let us know how you did. We'd love to cheer you on!

Did you meet your writing goals last week? What do you plan to accomplish this week?

Friday, January 04, 2013

Smart Goals


I'm Late I'm Late I'm Late!


Since everyone has been writing about goals and this is a new year, I decided to do the same. For starters I would like to remember my MWV blog the day before. I'm going to enable myself. I babysat my Eugene granddaughter Wednesday through Thursday at 5:00. Then I would have sat down and written the darn thing but the Ducks were playing. Sigh... I woke up this morning and remembered.

But my writing goals...
Specifically, I plan on writing the second book in the McKenna Clan series. When I started writing this book, I had no idea it would be a series. Now I'm waking up with scenes in my head. The only problem to this is that I am waking up with scenes for this book in my head too. This book would be the 4th in my Twelve Dancing Princesses series. They both have working titles. The first is Sweet Sexy Sadie, the second is Highland Sunrise.

Measurably, I would like to have Sweet Sexy Sadie finished and published in August and Highland Sunrise in December.

Attainable-- hmm... I certainly hope so. I have to write, write, write and right at this moment, I'm editing galleys. But I am going to put down the first scenes of both books and do a little bit of research.

Realistically I know I can finish Sweet Sexy Sadie and have it published by August but I'm not so sure about Highland Miracle then it also depends on wether or not the angels decide to publish another anthology next year.

Timely I think I covered that in the measurable phase.

So on the continuing theme of goals those are mine. And I'm not even going to proof read this. I hope there are not too many typos.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

WRITING BECAME PART OF ME in 2012


I love how Meggan started our year with the One Big Thing. Her post focused my attention on my top priority for 2013, which doesn't happen to be exclusively writing. 

On further thought, I realized how much progress I made last year, when writing was my One Big Thing. I wrote or promoted my writing pretty much every day in 2012. 

And guess what? Writing moved beyond being a priority. It became part of me.

That means I'm not leaving writing behind in 2013. Writing will continue to be a big part of my life:
--I started off 2013 with a new release, LEGACY UNDER FIRE, which is book #6 of my Halo Legacy Series.
--I have four more releases scheduled this year: three more Legacy books in March, May and July, as well as a novella that's part of an anthology to be released in May.
--I'll continue to promote these releases and, in fact, expand those efforts. 
--I'll be learning animation and finding out more about graphic novels in the quest to find new ways to present my stories. 
--More characters in my Halo Legacy Series are nagging to have their stories told.
--Ideas are bubbling about expanding my romantic comedy novellas into some steampunk settings and giving a bigger role to the dogs in those stories.
--I'll be expanding my writing into nonfiction by keeping a journal of my experiences in Going Back to the Country.

The realization I've moved from writing being something I do when I carve out the time to writing being part of me is huge in my corner of the world. This wasn't done in one incredible leap, but one sentence, one scene, one book, one online appearance at a time--every day over the past year.

Then Barb talked about dreams and letting go of old things to make room for the old. Wow! That post resonated with me also! To realize my dream of having property for my doggies and me, I'm letting go of a house I've lived in for about 25 years. I'm letting go of city life. I'm letting go of a do more, work harder mindset, and many other habits and thoughts that aren't in my best interest any more. 

So I'm cleaning out my mental (and literal) closets to make room for a dream, and approaching 2012 one research article, one property search, one self-sufficient process at a time. 

Of course, I won't refuse a quantum leap either!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A Quote for January


The new year brings thoughts about new beginnings. This blog is undergoing a transformation into something new--and more inclusive and better, I think. 

So I was thinking about quotes on beginnings for January. Then I came across a quote that reminded me that sometimes the greatest changes stem not from beginning, but from ending:

"A well-known Zen parable tells of a wanderer on a lonely road who came upon a torrential stream that had washed out the bridge. He couldn't swim and was afraid to wade across, so he had to spend several days cutting down trees and vines with his small knife to build a raft. The raft he built was solid, and the heavy raft carried him safely across the flood. On the other side of the bank he thought, 'This is a good raft--if there's another stream ahead, I can use it.' And so, he carried the raft for the rest of his life." (Julie Morgenstern, When Organizing Isn't Enough: Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life)

Is a new beginning for you about letting go of something old? For me it is. I am letting go of old patterns and old rules in 2013. I started this process in 2012, when I took the plunge into self-publishing. Now, since that has turned out to be one of the best career decisions I've ever made, I am feeling even bolder about letting go of other assumptions, patterns and ideas that I have outgrown. 

So for me, beginning 2013 is for chipping away at everything in my life that no longer fits me. It's about no longer hauling around old rafts that once served me, but no longer do.

How about you? What does beginning a new year mean for you? Do you have any plans, ideas, or dreams you want to make room for in your life (or any to let go of because they no longer fit you)?

~Barb

Pinterest:  http://bit.ly/12FqCXq

On my own blog this month I'll be profiling the "People of Pajaro Bay" on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and highlighting joyful things in life in my "Good Fridays" feature. You can follow the posts through any of the links above.

If you have a book release in 2013 and you'd like to be a Wednesday guest on my blog, email me and we'll set it up.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

My One Big Thing for 2013

Most New Year’s Day blogs and articles are—of course—about resolutions. Like diets, therapy, and blueprints, though, resolutions only work if you take action regularly, consistently, daily even. Other than that lovely warm cuppa java in the morning, the only things I do every day generally involve grooming and my phone. So unless my coffee cup somehow begins to take dictation for the characters in my brain, that’s not gonna’ get the book written.

But that is my goal. Other than taking good care of my family, getting that book written—finishing that draft, completing my manuscript so I can get a few good friends to read it—is my most compelling priority.

And sometimes that’s all it takes.

So, here’s my whole plan: I’m keeping it in mind. My book (draft, manuscript) that’s my one big thing this year. I’ll be keeping it in mind when I make lists, when I do chores, when I schedule doctor’s appointments and make grocery lists. This one big goal, at the front of my head.

Oh, and I have a backup goal as well…start the next one.

Not gonna’ plan to write two hours five days a week and five hours the other two days, not gonna’ set timers, not gonna’ write it in my planner, not gonna’ talk about it, not gonna’ think about it…just gonna’ keep that finished book (draft, manuscript) at the front of my life, right behind my safe and happy family.

Please don’t tell me your resolutions, but do feel free to tell me which one big thing you’re gonna’ keep thinking about all year, until you get it done. Until you can say…2013? Oh, that’s the year I _____.

What’s it gonna’ be?