Saturday, April 18, 2009

Yoga for Writers

I'm the program coordinator for the Windy City Chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and one of the programs I've scheduled at the end of 2009 is called Yoga for Writers. Go to www.windycityrwa.org to check out the program schedule I've developed.

Why Yoga for Writers? Well, since I've made a commitment to my yoga practice many good things have happened in my life. I've learned to cope better with loss and I'm learning to understand myself better. Sometimes the latter part isn't pleasant but it's certainly empowering. The only person I can change is me and as I change some people have had a difficult time accepting the change but that's their issue, not mine. I've also learned that engaging with anyone who is unhappy and basically a negative person is not something I want to do anymore.

Okay, so back to how yoga has been a benefit to me in my writing endeavors. Well, I finally finished a manuscript, submitted it after an editor requested the full manuscript and then I received a rejection letter - a nice rejection letter, but still a rejection letter. I now consider myself to be a real writer. I've written a novel, submitted it and I've been rejected. Without yoga the rejection would have been more devastating, instead, I'm looking at this rejection as an opportunity to learn and to grow.

My target audience is publishers of Romantic Suspense and the feedback I received from the editor was that she felt there were two stories going on - a romance and a suspense. After the rejection letter came, I was at the Love Is Murder Con (I'm a board memeber) and I had a chance to talk with the well-established Romantic Suspense author, Patricia Rosemoor about this. So, an opportunity to learn and grow. Please check out Patricia's website - www.patriciarosemoor.com. Every writer can learn something valuable from Patricia.

So, back to Yoga.

Yoga provides an opportunity to reflect and grow, to release ones fears and the negative influences in our lives. As writers we often live from our fears - the fear of rejection, the fear of not being as good as everyone says we are, the fear of not being able to finish a book, the fear of fill-in-the-blank. So, my advice to all writers (and really everyone) is to take a yoga class and check out this ancient form of living with peace and health of mind. But remember, yoga is a journey and not a quick fix. There are so many variations of yoga that anyone from any walk of life can truly adapt it to their way of life.

I'm so excited about this new phase of my life and all the benefits that I've received from yoga that I just had to share it with everyone, but especially writers.

Here's to happiness, prosperity and peace. Salut!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Acme Authors Blog

Please stop by my posting today at the Acme Authors Blog - where I usually post on Tuesdays.

Here's the link:

http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com/2009/03/when-to-call-in-expert.html

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Life is indeed stranger than Fiction

People often think that writers have a vivid and sometimes outrageous imagination and while that tends to be true I am often reminded that life really is stranger than fiction.

Take the mother of Octuplets from California. At first she was considered a miracle of medical science, the medical staff of nearly fifty smiling proudly in their group photo for the press. Then almost overnight she went from a marvel to villain when the truth about her lack of family and financial support was revealed, not to mention the other six children she already had. The public shouts of irresponsibility grew louder when the cost of one million dollars or more was revealed.

Then there’s the story about a man who in his petition for divorce wanted the kidney back that he had previously given to his wife. Now there’s a story.

Okay - here's a recent title from Publisher's Weekly:

Following Blagojevich's Book Deal, Illinois Introduces Son of Sam Bill

I now call the great State of IL home but originally hail from Southern California as I've mentioned before. IL has been in the news quite a bit over the years, mostly for corrupt politicians. As many will say, Al Capone did call it home as well. It's unfortunate for any state to make the news based on such negative circumstances, especially IL when it's trying to win the bid for the Olympics.

Often as writers when we read the guidelines for a particular publisher the statement - must be believable - is often listed as part of the writers guidelines. Well, I've noticed over the years how much life just isn't believable at times and it's stories like those above that contribute to this deduction.

So, the next time you read a story that seems unbelievable, it just might be true.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Did I mention--

what a delight it was to have Jeffery Deaver at the 2009 Love Is Murder Con? It was intriguing listening to him talk with us at dinner. He shared some entries from a diary/journal that he has kept for years about his writing life and it was not only informative but he often had us laughing so hard our sides ached.

Deaver doesn't need me to say that he's a talented individual in so many rights but I was glad to discover at his web site his interest in the original story about Frankenstein penned by Mary Shelly. Here's his take on it:

http://www.jefferydeaver.com/Other_Projects/Mary_Shelley_s_Frankenstein/mary_shelley_s_frankenstein.html

I first read Frankenstein in high school and it is a story that has stayed with me all these years. The lessons in this tale are beyond the scary movies which those in my generation grew up with. The 1994 movie of the same title with Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter was the most true to the book of any of the movies I've seen, but the book still holds the number one place for trueness to this tale of human nature imparted with the help of a monster.

And that is indeed the essence of human nature. We can look acceptable but be a monster inside and vice versa. As humans we tend to respond to facades, to illusions that feed what we want to see instead of digging for the truth. The truth is often ugly and escapism is alive and well in all aspects of human nature and society. As writers that's what we often exploit and give our readers. One might say that deluding our readers is part of what we do. Of course, take the delusion too far and you lose the reader's attention and even the readers themselves.

I think this is especially true with Mysteries. It's important to take our readers on a ride of mystery, suspense, thrills, or whatever type of genre we write but then deliver the goods in the end by making the story credible and tying up all the lose ends. My chosen genre is Romantic Suspense and while many think that would be such an easy genre in which to write, it isn't. It's quite challenging and get the romance and suspense out of whack and you get lost in the sea of editor rejections and reader dissatisfaction.

So, when you find that author who delivers a good story and takes you on a ride that leaves you wanting more, let them know. Most writers have websites where readers and fans can post comments.

Here's to reading a good and exciting book today and in the future! Give Mary Shelley's Frankenstein a chance.

Salut!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Love is Murder Con

I spend much of my free time involved with writer's groups and related activities. One of those activities revolves around being a member of the board for the Love Is Murder Con and we just finished our 2009 Con. Each year has been wonderful and full of exciting guests and participants who to this day are memorable but I believe 2009will stand out in the minds of many for awhile. The board made an annoucment after the Saturday night banquet that we were taking 2010 off. The reasons are really straight forward.

We're a small board and we've been doing a tremendous amount of work to keep the Con going and growing. In fact, it's grown beyond our wildest imagination and just gets bigger and better each year. I don't say this to diminish previous years because some of those previous years were the best for the very fact that they were smaller and more intimate. It's difficult to pick the best year because each has it's own qualities that make it enjoyable and memorable for different reasons. I'm grateful to have had all the years of this Con.

The board continues to meet and plan for 2011 and we are all excitedly exhausted about the 2009 Con that we are now wrapping up. We are thankful for all the participants who attended the 2009 Con from the avid readers to the publishing professionals and especially all the volunters who made it possible for the board to take a breather. Many of you have said you will continue to volunteer for Love Is Murder Con and we greatly need you to do so.

Please continue to stay in touch with us through our Website - www.loveismurder.net for all the exciting developments that unfold for the 2011 Con. We would love to see you there.

Okay - back to my other writing activity - actually writing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Electronic This and That

I receive quite a few eNewsletters and alerts. One of the more recent ones is from PW Daily and the tag line that caught my attention is: More iPhone e-Books.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6624689.html?nid=2286&source=title&rid=173369612

I find this intriguing for a number of reasons. The first is that it wasn't that long ago that many of the "big" publishers were dismissing eBooks as a fad that would never find a commercial audience. Of course, back then we didn't have the proliferation of electronic devices that we now have. Second, in some ways we've come a long way and in others we haven't. The article in the above link talks about how pricey the eBooks for the iPhone are right now. Often price is a deterrent for the acceptance of new ways of doing things so I'm always suspicious of why some manufacturers seem to price themselves out of success. Last, timing is important along with knowing the audience that is using the iPhones and therefore would be the logical audience for purchasing content for this device.

The price points mentioned in the PW Daily article suggests an older audience with more money. I could be wrong but I'm not sure the younger crowd, especially the college group, is going to pay the same price for an eBook on the iPhone as the hardcover price. The perception that electronic versions should be more affordable than paper ones has hung on for quite a long time and I doubt it will go away anytime soon. It will be interesting to see how well the iPhone does with eBooks but one thing is sure - despite the predictions that eBooks would never find an audience there are certainly lots and lots of manufacturers trying to get in on the action. Even though ebooks are a smaller portion of the types of books sold, publishers can no longer afford to ignore having an eBook format.

Ironically, one area where publishers are actually pushing the eBook or electronic format is in their own catalogs typically produced to librarians and booksellers. The main reason is the amount of money saved in print and shipping costs. In this case, the switch to e-format is being pushed from the top down, in other words, the publishers are forcing this on the consumer for their catalog - the librarians and the booksellers. Now, they won't force it on their reading public but it does make one wonder why they seem to be actively getting in the way of it being adopted by their consumers by making the e-format as expensive as the phyical paper format. Obviously, I'm missing something. I hoped to be enlightened one of these days.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Books as Gifts

Books are great gifts. Books stay with us and let us explore worlds that we may not be able to access any other way. I remember in elementary school reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and being transported to a place different than any other I had ever known. As a class we read along with a record the teacher played where a narrator led us along an amazing adventure, but we read along. No visual stimulation other than the words. Our imgination was free to go where it wanted with the guidance of the words written and narrated.

Television was still in its infancy back then and my family only had a black and white one. At that time only rich people had color television sets when they first came out and nobody I knew had more than one black and white television set. Fast forward to today and I have a color television in almost every room. But I'm still a little behind the times because I don't have any LCD's or Plasma ones. Given the price drops in everything retail due to the current economic crisis I just might buy one for myself next year.

Anyway, one thing that television - regardless of the technological advances - can't provide is the freedom to escape via one's imagination with a good book. So, give a book to someone you care about - including yourself.