Monday, December 31, 2007


The moment has arrived. PIECES is now available in e-book and trade paperback from Wings ePress, Inc. To read an excerpt, visit my web page: .

To purchase this book, click on the cover.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


I cannot bring 2007 to a close without taking time to recall the events of this year: my first book (And the Truth Will Set You Free) was published in July, my first grand-nephew came into this world, I started a new job, my book finaled in the Eppie Awards, and my second novel (Pieces) will be released by Wings ePress in a little over twenty-four hours.

My writing continues to bring me joy, accomplishment, and a sense of true purpose. But, as with most things, there are many people to thank for their encouragement and support. So, instead of making New Year's resolutions that I'll not keep anyway, I'd like to start this next year by expressing my gratitude to those people who made the last year memorable.

The women of the Women's Fiction Writers Exchange: Carol, Judi, Angela, Meg, Cathy, P. Marcille, Verna, Sherry, and Deborah. You challenge me and provide the constructive criticism I need to continue to grow as a writer. I am so grateful for this supportive, talented community of women writers.

My Pennsylvania friends and first readers: Sue Ann, Rosie, Rita, Doe, and Carmela. And to my Southern community--Betty, Mary Ann, Mary Joel, Shari, and Kim. You each encourage me in many ways, and your honest assessment of my writing reflects true friendship. (i.e. only your best friends will tell you the truth--if a chapter sucks, well, it sucks--and you say so. Likewise, you tell me if I've managed to stumble upon a bit of brilliance.) I'm also grateful for the River City Romance Writers, my local RWA chapter, an amazing group of writers with whom to share this journey.

My family: These are the people who are always there, even when I've neglected them terribly--my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my sister, Peggy Kautz. Then there's my new grand-nephew, Jeffery Dale (J.D.), whose wide-eyed, six-month-old smile bears our hopes for the future.

My publisher: Wings ePress, Inc. You took a chance with a new writer and gave her the opportunity to become an author. I am grateful to be able to work with a wonderful staff of editors and artists who take my words and turn them into novels.

My readers: What is a writer without readers? It's like one hand clapping. It's not just that you purchase books, but that you read them and tell me what my books mean to you. For me, a book sale does not indicate success as a writer. Hearing from a reader that I've crafted a story that touched a heart, caused a smile, or changed a life in some small way--that's success.

Now I look forward to 2008 with enthusiasm and hope. My third novel (The Year I Lost My Mind) comes out in May, 2008. I'm sure I'll finish at least two more of my current works in progress. I'd like to find an agent who wants to represent my work.

I hope I will meet new friends, touch new lives, and write new stories that make you laugh, cry, and recognize the blessings in your own life.

I wish you a Healthy and Happy New Year!


Friday, December 21, 2007


I've completed two manuscripts in the past two months, so I've given myself a little time off from writing anything new. I'm itching to get back to my current work in progress, but forcing myself into a little 'down' time.

Except for two things: I promised to review a book that I have to first read, and I volunteered to judge the New Voices writing competition for EPIC. (So much for down time.) But I do enjoy reading the work of other authors and the work of budding writers. I'll be spending my holiday in my home office (sandwiched between the seat of the recliner and my laptop!)

However you spend your holidays, I wish you good fun, good food, good friends and quality family time.

I'll be staying up until midnight on New Year's Eve so I can go to PIECES. Join me at Wings ( on January first for my newest release.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Saturday, December 15, 2007


My novel, And The Truth Will Set You Free, has finaled for a 2008 Eppie Award. The Eppies are awarded annually by EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection). Winners will be announced at the conference which takes place in March, 2008, in Portland, Oregon. To make the finals in the company of so many prestigious authors is an honor in itself. And to make it to the top three out of eighteen entries in the Mainstream category is awesome. I'm so appreciative to the judges for this year's Eppies and to my readers who make this all worthwhile.


The Voices In My Head

I attended a writers group meeting earlier today. A small group got into a discussion about the writing process. The question posed: Where do you start, and how do you know where you're going with a new story?

Well, you start at the beginning, of course. But every writer's beginning is a little different. And the beginning of each book can be different. When it was my turn to respond to the question, I said, "I start by doing the first thing the voice in my head tells me to do." My response was met by knowing smiles and nods from the more seasoned members of the group. As writers, most of us hear those voices--characters begging to be heard, dying to tell their stories through us. And, so, I essentially take dictation. I write down what they say and try to convey the tone and gestures with which they speak. Those voices tell me where to go. Really! My characters tend to speak their minds and, on occasion, to argue with the plans I have for them. Perhaps it's my years of practice as a therapist that have taught me that you can't force someone to go where they do not want to go. And, so, I listen.

On a few occasions, however, I began a book with the title. I like to work with metaphor in writing. I often choose a title that has a double meaning. For example: Renting To Own. This book is about a young single mother who overcomes one hurdle after another to stabilize life for herself and her child. She is renting a house with the option to buy and sees this as a symbol of her life becoming stable. It's metaphorical of the turbulent life she's had so far. Just as she will one day own the home, she will also own her life.

The fun begins as Lily tells me her story--how she got to the place she is in at the present and where she wants to be in her life. Then, together, we plot and overcome obstacles and challenges to get her there. I gave her a hero, but she rejected him (so much for my matchmaking skills) and chose, instead, another character. I listened to her (like I had a choice), and she was right. Rick was a much better hero than Beau could have been.

About now, my friends who are mental health professionals are calling in for medication. And my writer friends are nodding in agreement (with me, not with the mental health folks.)

My friends often ask, "How do you think up all these story lines?" My answer, "I don't. They're just...there." What am I supposed to say? "The voice in my head told me."?

Oops, gotta go. Jenny (my main character in Act of Contrition, my current work in progress) is calling for me.

Go, listen to your voices, and write something brilliant!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This January, Go To PIECES

So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to blow my own horn. My publisher, Wings ePress, Inc. is releasing my novel, PIECES, early. It had been scheduled for a November, 2008 release, but will now be available this January 1. Here is an excerpt.

Easing the recliner upright, Claire felt stiffness in her limbs. She stretched, got a glass of water and went to bed, quickly slipping into a sound sleep. She soon sat up with a jolt, awakened by the nightmare. Something was different this time, but she couldn’t immediately recall what it was. She turned on the light and took the notepad from her bed table. Propping herself up on pillows and closing her eyes, she tried to remember the vision, searching for the one thing that was different.

She saw herself looking down into the well, the reflection of the blue sky and clouds, her own small shadow. She jumped as she envisioned herself falling and holding onto the rough, wet rope. The silhouette appeared of the woman peering into the well. Claire saw the outline of the woman’s hair flowing out around her face.

A shiver rolled down Claire's spine. Her eyes flew open--that was it. She could see the face! She closed her eyes and willed herself to return to that place in the nightmare, to see the face again. She sifted through the nightmare quickly, like someone skimming paragraphs to get to a particular line in a book.

There it was--the silhouette, the flowing hair--and the face. The hair now had color--chestnut brown--much like Claire’s. The eyes were dark and frightened and the woman’s mouth was contorted and saying something--then she was gone, as if having been jerked away. The rest of the nightmare had repeated the same as always.

Claire opened her eyes and, with a trembling hand, wrote what she had seen and experienced. She drew a rough sketch of the woman’s face and stared at it. She could be looking at a self-portrait.
~ * ~
Be sure to check out my website for advance reviews of PIECES.
Make a New Year's resolution to go to PIECES, available January 1.
Happy reading!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Only the Name Has Been Changed...

You may notice the name change of this blog. After much thought, and at the advice of a few friends, I've changed the name. Bluntly stated by one person--the former name (Linda Rettstatt-Author) was "boring and lacked imagination." Well, what can I say? Only your best friends will be honest. When someone's right, they're right. Do you have any idea how many writing blogs and websites are out there? Finding a name that hasn't been used multiple times was a challenge. And, so, I welcome you to One Woman's Write.

If you're looking for that "boring" blog (lol), it's still here. Hopefully you'll find the writing-related entries more exciting than the former title. Only the name is changed. The link remains the same.

Thanks for dropping by.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Plotter, Pantser or Planner?

If you're a writer, you've undoubtedly been asked, "Are you a plotter or a pantser?" And if you're new to the profession, you may have scrunched up your brain in search of a definition--pantser?

You soon learn about two approaches to writing: plotting or flying by the seat of your pants. Hence, pantser. I'm a pantser. I get an idea and run with it, never giving thought to an outline, working synopsis, or character profiles. And I have gleefully embraced the title since I first set my fingers to a keyboard and wrote my very first line.

Many of my writer friends are plotters. I admire them for their ability to write out detailed character profiles, develop a story outline, create a detailed synopsis and display all of these as handy references for keeping their story on track. I am in awe of the cork boards filled with index cards and sticky notes or the dry erase boards proudly displaying a scene-by-scene sketch of the book. I admire them in the same way I admire Michelle Kwan. The beauty and grace of her skating is the result of talent coupled with intense discipline.

There's my problem. I lack discipline. I'd rather write an entire novel, than develop a detailed outline and synopsis of my story. But, lately, I've realized I lose time because I don't have a road map to follow. I write much the way I travel--"Oh, that looks like an interesting road. Let's see where it'll take us." I get from start to finish, but I don't always get there efficiently.

I've decided to create a new writing approach for myself: Planner. I'm sure I've not stumbled upon some grand revelation, and that many of you already plan your work without doing detailed plotting. But, it's a new approach for me. It will, I'm sure, test my discipline and my patience.

I recently drove from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Camden, Maine. I don't have a GPS system (in my car or in my head--lol), so I mapped out the trip and printed out the directions. Then my travel companion and I altered those along the way, depending upon where we wanted to stop and take in scenery. I know I have the ability to do this. I can plan, and I can follow the plan.

How does a planner differ from a plotter and a pantser? Well, here's my interpretation. As a planner, I'll write a brief story summary--where does it start? where does it end? what key turn of events has to happen in the middle?

Of course, my new approach calls for different supplies. I purchased a pack of 3x5 index cards and, as luck would have it, Walgreens also had little plastic index card cases--with dividers. (I'm an office supply junkie! I drool while browsing at Office Depot.) On these cards, I will write out character descriptions, settings, and key scenes. I can carry this handy little case with me and, when a scathingly brilliant idea comes to mind, I'll be able to jot it down. (Oops. Note to self: buy a pen.)

I'll see how this works so that, the next time I need to remember my character's hair or eye color, or her profession, or her mother's name (well, you get the idea), I won't have to skim through the whole darned manuscript to find it.

I know. I risk losing my true pantser status. So, what are the writing police going to do? Pants me?

Believe it or not, there's a point to this blog. And if I'd outlined it first, I'd have been there by now.

My point: There's more than one way to get to Camden from Pittsburgh. There's more than one way to develop a cast of characters, give them each a unique voice and physical features and history, create a story line, and take your reader on a wonderful journey through struggle, love, mystery, suspense, fantasy or humor.

As writers, we each have to find our own voice. We also have to find our own style, the approach to writing that frees us to fly. Find what works best for you, what comes naturally, and go with it. Fill your tool box only with the tools that will help you. If you're just not a plumber, don't pack a pipe wrench. It'll just weigh you down.

Happy writing.


Monday, November 5, 2007

You Want Me to What?: Working With An Editor

Writing a book is one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had. But, as with most things, there are aspects of completing the work that are less enjoyable. For example, I enjoy my work as a therapist. The paperwork, however, makes me want to scream at times.

As writers, getting the story onto paper (or into the computer) is only the beginning. We then begin the process of editing, rewriting, editing, rewriting.... Eventually, if we're fortunate enough, we get to send our manuscript off to a real, live editor.

When my first book was published, I looked forward to the editing process with anticipation. It was one more step toward becoming a 'real' writer (one of the benchmarks I'd set for myself.) I received my manuscript with a note from the editor--she liked my story, but... Then I scanned all the red notations in my book. Now, she'd noted that these were 'suggestions' and that it was up to me to decide what I wanted to change and what I left as I'd originally written.

I did the math on this one. I was a first-time author--green. She was a seasoned editor. I seriously considered every suggestion and accepted all but one. And it paid off.

An editor gives your manuscript a fresh, first look. She or he has not been immersed in your story for months ad nauseum. The editor can give your book a completely objective review and not only find the little nits you've missed, but will view your story in its entirety, assess its readability and your characters' likability.

A good editor will improve your already perfect (in your mind, at least) manuscript. Now, a bad editor will let things slip through and allow you to look like the amateur you may or may not be. A seasoned, talented, professional editor is worth his or her weight in gold. She will oft times save you from yourself.

I just finished the second edit of my soon to be published novel, PIECES. It's due for publication on January 1--Happy New Year to me! My editor caught not only some of the more minor, but important, errors in wording and made suggestions to punch up the dialogue. She also picked up on two major mistakes that would have made readers go, "Huh?"

My advice: When you have a good editor who makes suggestions, give them serious consideration. Read the text from her perspective. And if you feel the editor assigned to your masterpiece is not being helpful, request that your book is reassigned. Now, give good reason for this. Don't put yourself in the position of being 'difficult' to work with. Perhaps the editor isn't as familiar with your genre and it shows (e.g., insisting upon heating up the romance, when your book is not a romance novel). Perhaps when you get your first edits, things now jump off the page at you--things an editor should have caught, but did not. (Although a copy editor will clean this up even further.)

And don't be defensive. If you don't like a particular suggestion or choose not to change something, simply say so and, perhaps, clarify your reason for leaving things as they are. An editor is a valuable tool, but she's also a human being. Treat her as such and nurture the relationship. If she's good at what she does, she will make your manuscript shine!

Happy writing!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Critique Partners: Only your best friends will tell you the truth.

When I first began to write--seriously--I ran out and bought a slew of 'how to' books. I rearranged my computer station, stacking the books next to the keyboard. I purchased the newest edition of Writer's Market, so I could offer my first pearl (as soon as it was finished) to the writing world. I had everything I needed. Well, not quite.

I started to hear about critique partners and critique groups. I wasn't clear about how these functioned, but I knew I had to have one. Unable to locate a group in my area, I went out on a cyber-limb and started an online critique group-the Women's Fiction Writers Exchange. This has proven to be my greatest resource as a writer.

Critique partners and groups come in all shapes, sizes, genres, temperaments, levels of experience, and writing skills. The purpose is to obtain constructive, clear feedback and suggestions on how to improve your writing--not just grammar and punctuation--but characterization, story line, flow, point of view, consistency, readability--and much more. To be truly helpful, feedback should be balanced, both constructively critical and affirming.

I struck gold in my group, finding a collection of women writers, published and working toward publication, whose gifts complement one another. Each of us has her own particular strength. What one of us may miss, another catches. Just as each writer has her own writing style, each person has her own style for providing a critique.

I've heard the horror stories of writers receiving harsh feedback (bordering on cruel and unkind), with comments such as: This sucks. Don't quit your day job. This is usually justified with: You have to develop a thick skin. If you can't take the heat... Well, you know the cliche. I disagree with those who think that, in order to be helpful, a critiquer should shred someone's work, take it apart, letter by letter, and hand it back as confetti.

It's true that a critique relationship that becomes a mutual love fest, without constructive criticism, is not helpful. I think there's an art to offering a balanced critique, one that clearly shows the ways you can adjust your writing to improve the quality and, at the same time, affirms what you've done well. We also need to know what we're doing 'right.'

My advice: Find a critique partner or group that serves to challenge and encourage. You do have to develop a thick skin in the sense that you have to be willing to consider that your writing can always improve. If you don't want to know what someone thinks, don't ask. But, always keep in mind that your book is your baby. The suggestions from your critique partners are just that--suggestions. You choose what you use. But, it's wise to consider all suggestions first. Otherwise, why bother?

Some things to look for: You want to stay within genre, somewhat. In my group, we write romance, romantic suspense, women's fiction, and chick lit. These are cross-over genres generally targeting a primarily female readership. We share a common understanding of our target audience.

If you choose a critique group, keep it small. I learned this the hard way. In my enthusiasm to get started, I opened my group up to as many as twenty writers. We've had up to thirteen at one time. The volume of work at this level is overwhelming, because the group runs on the principal of reciprocity--you return a critique for every one you receive. Well, you can imagine.

I don't think all critique partners in a group have to be published. Of course, basic knowledge and writing skills are necessary.

You need to find the critique relationship that works best for you, either a single critique partner or a group. This should be a relationship in which there is reciprocity, mutual respect of both work and person, honesty expressed in a clear and kind manner, flexibility, and professionalism.

Many on-line writer's sites offer critique partners or groups. You may have to shop around a bit to find the critique relationship that works for you, but it's well worth the effort.

Happy writing.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Santa, Superman...and Me

I know I promised a blog on critique groups, and that will come. I was struck by something today that, at first thought, had nothing to do with writing. At second thought, it had everything to do with writing.

I went to the mall to browse and clear my head, relax before my very first book signing this evening. A woman sat on a bench by the fountain. In front of her, a little girl--three or so--danced, her sparkling red cape twirling behind her. She wore a blue Superman leotard with a bright red and yellow 'S' on her chest. Bright blue and gold boots completed the ensemble.

Now, it's a few weeks until Halloween, so it struck me as odd, then as delightful. It brought to mind the scene I witnessed last July at a Barnes & Noble cafe. A man wearing shorts and a tank top--appropriate for the eighty five degree heat--walked in with two young boys. The older, probably eight, was dressed much like his father. The younger boy, about four years of age, wore a bright red Santa suit, complete with heavy black boots and a red velvet hat. Sweat trickled down his pudgy cheeks, yet he seemed totally happy.

Today I'd been feeling less than anticipatory of my book signing, due mostly to the way life throws obstacles before us at times. Then I meditated on these two children--Santa Claus in July and Superman(woman) dancing in the mall in full costume two weeks before Halloween.

So, as I get gussied up to face the two, ten, or thirty (aren't I optimistic?) who come to the signing, inside I will draw upon Santa and Superman. For isn't that what our writing is about? It's about tapping into the possibilities in all of us, creating worlds, and people, and happy endings.

It's about being Superman on October 18 and Santa in July, and letting our readers believe it's possible for them, too.

Now, go, dress up and dance.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Autumn and Inspiration

I'm off for two weeks of travel (business and pleasure). I'm making my annual fall pilgrimage up north to see the changing leaves, feel the chill in the air, and seek inspiration for new story lines.

When I return, I'll share my thoughts on Critique Partners and Critique Groups.

Happy autumn!


Monday, October 1, 2007

Join me at Purple Hearts

At the invitation of Meg, Jessica and Bria, I'll be guest blogging at the Purple Hearts blog on October 8. Jump on over there and join me:


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When Good Characters Go Bad

Those of you who write fiction have probably had this experience. You develop a character who, in your head, is going to pull the reader through your story. Since I write women's fiction, I'll refer to my character as 'she.' You give her life by describing her physical attributes and her personality, providing her with a career that's fun or interesting. You hope she's a woman who will evoke the reader's sympathy--someone they'd like to have living next door, invite over for a cup of coffee. You get a few chapters into her story and then it happens--something goes terribly wrong.

Your character turns on you, like an obstinate two-year-old. No matter where you want her to go, she stamps her foot and says, "No!" Even the secondary characters can't stand her anymore. They take a secret vote and whisper in your head, "Please, do something with her."

You are at a crossroads. Do you change the story line to fit where your character is leading, or do you reel her back in and put her in her place? I'm raising this question because I am now just finishing a complete rewrite of ten chapters that I labored over the first time. What happened? My main character, originally envisioned as a bright, talented, albeit emotionally fractured young woman, became sullen, angry and rude. Her younger sister (a secondary character) took over. She is, at first glance, fun-loving and playful, a don't-take-life-too-seriously contrast to her older, more conservative sibling. Her purpose is to reflect the main character's personality and to draw her out throughout the story. But, since the younger sister is more enjoyable, she quickly shifted into a primary position with my critique partners. She was just more likable. It would've been fun to write her story.

So, what do we do when a good character goes bad?

I sat down with my character to talk about what was going on with her. My work as a psychotherapist helped a bit. (And my colleagues are now getting my committal papers ready. I'm counseling imaginary people.)

It turns out it wasn't my character, at all. I was over-writing her story. She simply put her foot down. I'm a pantser--I don't plot or do much of a story outline. I just write. When I took the time to 'listen' to my character and to go back through her story, as I'd written it to that point, I spotted the problem right away. I'd given her a conflict, added a past crisis, then heaped on another deep, dark secret. Well, no wonder she turned on me!

When good characters go bad and turn on you, their creator, take a look at the situation in which you've placed them. Odds are good you've put them in an impossible circumstance or painted them into a corner with too many problems to resolve.

Once I'd relieved her of her deep, dark secret, refocused her on the initial conflict, and put her past crisis into perspective (and with a possible resolution), she lightened up considerably. And my secondary character fell into place, as well, serving to show the contrast between the two women without overshadowing. She became the prop she was intended to be in the first place.

What I learned: It's all about balance.

And that leads me to my next topic, coming soon--the value of having a critique partner or critique group to help keep your writing balanced.

Happy writing.


Monday, September 17, 2007


…you spellcheck the grocery list, and you describe each item: plump tomatoes the red-orange hue of a western sunset;

…you have to read your email twice because, the first time, you focused on grammar and punctuation;

…you enter a bookstore with the same reverence as when you walk into church;

…you then stand over the ‘new arrivals’ table with much the same expression as someone gazing through the nursery window at the maternity ward;

…a friend is telling you about their most recent family tragedy, and you are simultaneously envisioning an opening paragraph;

…on your day off, you are still in your pj's and in front of the computer at three p.m.;

... and your UPS or FedEx delivery man begins to think you have a chronic illness;

…you have mastered the art of reading an agent's rejection letter while bearing an aloof smile;

…some of your family members ask, "So, how's that hobby of yours going?" followed by, "Any leads on a new job?"

…your Feng Shui book has gotten lost beneath the stacks of ‘how to’ writing books and manuscripts in the process of being edited. (Did I forget to mention the stack of rejection letters?);

…you carry a printed copy of your most recent work so that you'll have something to do while waiting in line—edit, edit, edit;

…you turn on the computer, just to check email, and, three hours later, you have an outline for your next masterpiece; actually 'listen' to the people in your head and quote them.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

And, Then, You Wait

We writers spend much our time waiting. We wait for inspiration. We wait for critique partners. And we wait for query responses from agents and editors. Once you finish that brilliant, one-of-a-kind manuscript and polish it to perfection, you open up your latest edition of The Writer’s Market and select an agent or publisher. You write your query and synopsis. (Frankly, I’d rather write an entire novel, than write a synopsis.) You puzzle over how the heck you are going to adequately represent your 100,000 word epic in one to two pages. How will they ever get the story with so little to go on? You rewrite your query letter a few times, crafting it, word by word.

Then, it’s time. You either attach your files to an email, or you make a run to the post office, planting a good luck kiss on the back of the envelope. (And all the agents and editors reading this just said, "Eeewwww.")

And, then, you wait—anywhere from four weeks to twelve months. Although, I’ve received a response to an email query as quickly as three hours after an email submission. (You don’t want one of those.) It’s no secret. Most agents and editors tell you right up front how long you can expect to wait.* So, now what do you do? Here are a few suggestions.

Top Ten Things to Do While Waiting for a Query Response

10. Clean out the garage (attic, storage closet, trunk of the car). Who knows—you may stumble upon the manuscript you were sure would never go anywhere, the one you stuffed into a drawer in total disgust, and discover it’s not nearly as bad as you thought.

9. Walk the dog (from Pittsburgh to San Francisco—and back.)

8. Join a book club and read a novel (or four or six or ten.)

7. Start an exercise program. (By the time you get that call, you’ll be a mere shadow of your former self.)

6. Have a baby. (Go ahead. There’s time.)

5. Potty train your toddler (see number 6.)

4. Wean yourself off caffeine. (Okay, so let’s not get carried away.)

3. Read the latest ‘how to write a novel’ book, and then make a list of all the things wrong with the one you just submitted.

2. Have a nervous breakdown (refer back to number 3.)

And the number one thing to do while waiting for a query response:

1. Write another book!

But look on the bright side--the agent and/or editor has waited for six months to two years while you wrote the book!

*Disclaimer: No agents or editors were consulted about this timeframe. Every writer’s experience will differ. It is this author’s belief that agents and editors do their very best to respond in a timely manner. Really.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Keeping the Fire Burning

If you're a writer, you know that burning passion that sweeps over you as you put words on a page, as characters come to life beneath your fingers, as worlds take shape in your head.

But what happens when the fire dies? Now, I don't particularly believe in writer's block. But I know from personal experience that the fire can burn down to a few glowing embers. I know that, "Oh, my God" moment of thinking it's all over. I'm not a writer, after all. I just got lucky for a while.

So, what do we do to keep the fire burning, to keep that flame alive? I know what I do. I write. I write anything--a letter, an essay to express my frustration with the cable company, a short-story I know I'll never publish, a journal entry about my fear of losing the fire.

It's primitive, this thing with fire. Ever since someone, eons ago, picked up two rocks and struck them together, watching the spark flare in dry grass and become something so vital.

It's like that for us. We strike words against one another, rub them till they're white hot, watch for that spark. You never know exactly when it's going to happen, and it's a thrill each time it does.

If you've ever camped out, you know the fire dies down in the night. You have to feed it, coax it with a gentle breath, protect it from whatever will dampen it, nurture it along until it flares again.

You d0 what you must to keep the fire burning, to keep that passion alive--the passion to create, to bring a smile to a reader's face, to touch a heart that's felt the same pain your character feels, to find hope in the world you create.

Now, go--write something!


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another Step Forward

I am a writer. When I set the first words of my first book into type just four years ago, I never imagined becoming a published author. I just wanted to find out if I could write a book, start to finish, and create a story that caught anyone's interest. A few friends read the story and encouraged me to publish. Ah, but where to start?

I talked with other authors, submitted to agents and got a fair share of, "It's just not what I'm looking for right now" letters. Then I found a publisher (Wings ePress, Inc. who wanted to put my work into print. Now I needed a website. Something through which to make myself known and promote my work. I don't speak computer-ese. My critique partners will tell you I sometimes struggle with English.

But, I forged ahead and managed to create a web page ( that I've now redesigned (over and over). You know how that goes. You go in, planning to make one tiny change, add one little link. The next thing you know, your 'page' is four pages, includes your book cover, excerpts, reviews, and links to every other author and publisher you know. Okay, so I'm proud of my accomplishments. The book? Oh, yeah, that too. But navigating the web and creating a site. Now that was a rush.

Most of my friends have blogs. I swore I would NEVER have a blog. They seem too self-serving. They present the risk of revealing too much of one's personal life without an awareness of boundaries. The name alone sounds like someone spitting out a taste of something spoiled.

Okay, so I'm eating my own words here. The truth is--a blog can be self-serving. Self-promoting. (And a writer must be those things.) The truth is--a blogger has to be aware of and sensible about boundaries and what they post for all the world to see. I can do this. And the name--blog. Well--it is what it is.

My posts will center, primarily, around writing, in all its aspects. Writing and publishing are serious businesses, but not without a good share of humor. I'll introduce you to my writing and, hopefully, to some of my writing companions.

So, here I am, taking another step forward into the twenty-first century. Thanks for joining me.