Thursday, May 31, 2012

Taking my writing seriously...

At the Desert Rose meeting (the RWA chapter here), we chatted about a number of topics. Kris Tualla reviewed Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. She has a gift for condensing information into its simplest form, for those of us who need crayon drawings. Her concise explanation hit home as I mapped my next WIP. The concept and a bunch of scenes are written, and I've shuffled scenes back and forth, until I admitted to myself a proper outline is the goal for this week. I hadn't needed to explore it before now because I've been working mostly on rewriting and editing the books scheduled to be published first. Pulling out pen and paper, I wrote concise answers to the GMC questions for the hero and the heroine. The entire backstory for the hero unveiled itself. It always makes me laugh to learn so may things I didn't know about my characters.

Anne Gracie also had an excellent article on writing this week.

I've added her hints to my 30 minutes of writing to upbeat music. I haven't done the 30-min write lately because I'm still too deep in the mapping stage. I don't know my characters well enough to know what they'd do in some situations. For example, in my current WIP, I discovered my hero isn't quite what I expected, and my heroine is far more stubborn than I expected.

*whispers* I've seen a rough draft of my cover, which could change. I cried; it's so pretty.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thank you, Jimmy Thomas...

Recently, he posted about the importance of using a professional cover. He is on over 3000 covers, so he's speaking as an expert, with a good grasp on the book market. I followed the discussion, curious about the different perspectives and reasons for doing a cover one's self, hiring a professional, and buying a professionally pre-made cover. I didn't actually have a horse in the race because my publisher hires their own cover artists. I have input, but it's mostly out of my hands.

This post isn't about that.

My sister was amazed to learn how inexpensive a professionally done cover could be, at places like Romance Novel Center. (Yes, a plug for Jimmy's site. By the way, he wasn't demanding everyone use his covers, only that they use a professionally done cover.)

This post isn't about that either.

I have to admit, I'm always a bit surprised when a professional gives free advice about their area of expertise, and it's dissed or ignored. Case in point, Chef Ramsey. I'm not a fan of reality television shows. Chef Ramsey is my exception to the rule. I didn't watch him, at first, because his abrasive treatment of others grated on me. I don't remember what I saw him in or if I simply matured, but it dawned on me he was truly passionate about cooking. I love cooking. I bit the bullet, and started to watch him. What surprised me the most? Amateurs ignored the advice of a world-renown expert.

What this post is about: Do I consider myself a professional or don't I?

If I don't consider myself a professional, then why am I spending so much time with my writing and not pursuing something more lucrative?

If I do consider myself a professional, then why am I not giving my career the professional attention it deserves?

I am a writer.

I've often joked that I'd rather write than breathe. This isn't true. It's a joke.

What is true: I would rather write than watch television, socialize, read, eat, or sleep.

Really. I've foregone each in favor of writing.

If it's that important to me, then why have I done a slipshod job of planning my career?

When I started writing I was very much a pantster - writing by the seat of my pants. I wrote when I felt inspired. I could go months without putting down a single word.

I realized this wasn't working for me. I tried being a plotter - writing from an outline. This didn't work either.

I'm a plotster. I start writing by the seat of my pants, then I need an outline, so I know where I'm going, but I'm willing to go where the story takes me. Re-arranging the outline does not throw me into a tailspin. Shuffle, and reset. No problem.

This past weekend, because of the discussion on being professional, for the first time in my life I made career goals, for farther than next week.

Sounds like I've been a flake all my life, doesn't it?

Why didn't I plan career goals before?

Every time I made plans, something would happen. Really. It was easier to take things as they came along, because I knew the surest way to mess up my life was to lay out a plan. I wondered if some minion somewhere spent its existence waiting to see what I would plan, so it could destroy it.

What's different this time?

I can't imagine doing anything else, so I might as well make plans.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Arizona Dreamin'...

This coming weekend is Arizona Dreamin' ~ A Romance Reader Event.

This year, I'll be attending as a reader. My plan is to attend as an author, next year. :-)

I'm looking forward to meeting a number of people I've met online, including a number of friends I've made through Facebook. I'm even picking up one of them at the airport.

It's a much smaller event than the writers' conference. I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day...

All gave some. Some gave all.

My deep and abiding gratitude to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so I might enjoy the freedoms I do, and too often take for granted. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who must endure the pain of an empty place at the table. Thank you for raising and loving someone of honor and courage.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Some of my favorite blogs... and sale at Amazon...

...from this week.

I love Beth's gift for taking me on a mini vacation. This time, it's to Charleston:

Celia Yeary talks about the importance of a satisfying ending. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who keeps a list of the books I've read and enjoyed.

I always enjoy Patty's posts, and wish I had more time. I stop in as often as possible.

The Balanced Writer is having a contest with Anne Patrick's book Trespasses as the prize, but only through May 27, tomorrow.

Did you know Amazon was having a sale on Desert Breeze books? 99 cents. It's a great way to try someone new.

Hope I caught everyone. So many choices... decisions, decisions...

Friday, May 25, 2012

The unseen hazards...

When I decided to start living boldly I knew it wouldn't be easy. I knew there would be struggles in overcoming old habits and endeavoring to find a new way.

I didn't expect to have my body rebel.

Struggling to sleep.

Unable to settle back into my healthy eating habits.

Gaining weight, despite doing the same things. Thank you cortisol. Not.

Deep breath. Breathe out.

The anxiety reminds me of the bugs under my skin feeling of too much caffeine. Chest tightening. Skin tightening on my scalp. Queasy.

What in the world was I thinking?

Despite all this, I am not giving up.

Each day is a new opportunity to try again.


Each day is a new round of gut twisting fear. Questioning my sanity. Doubting my decisions. Wondering when everything is going to blow up and crash in flames.

I'm living one day at a time.

Now is a good time for a breadcrumb.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The problem with living boldly...

You make mistakes like always, but now a whole lot more people know.

It could simply be a lack of sleep. I’ve managed to turn my days and nights around.

No matter.

It’s times like this when I really wish someone (preferably me) would be kind enough to do this (found on FaceBook):

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I want to be bold...

As I explore who I am, who I'm willing to be...

Interesting. Hadn't thought of it quite that way before.

Does it really matter who you are? If you're unwilling to be that person?

I've spent my whole life trying to fit a mythical role. From time to time (more often than I care to think about), I slip back into the habit. It's familiar. It's easy.

Choosing the easy way was a habit, because my inner life was anything but easy.

An abuse survivor's inner world is a mass of chaos and turmoil.

This has me reviewing my early admonitions: Stop lying, especially to yourself.


As I've struggled to become comfortable with myself, the professional writer, it has mostly been about being honest with myself. When I first created my author's blog/web presence, I felt a tug-o-war with wanting to be who I've fought so hard to be, myself, and yet knowing I needed to create a brand and please a publisher.

The more I become acquainted with Desert Breeze Publishing, the more blessed I feel to have found a company where I feel I belong as an author. I've been working with my editor, and I'm grateful for her. She is bringing out the best in me, or at least I want to be my best. I'm working on it. There's so much to learn.

I've been making some changes the last few weeks, ever since the writers' conference.

Looking back, I'm able to see I'm endeavoring to be bolder.

Being bold is a trait quashed first thing in every abuse survivor. Predators loath boldness in their victims, which is why they have to crush it. It may present a challenge to some, but the end-game is to destroy it.

"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson

To question with boldness, one must also live with boldness.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Exploring who I am as a writer...

...and a Christian. For the next few posts, this will be my focus.

As a new author, I've been struggling with establishing my branding. I write Christian romance, both Regency and contemporary. Being Christian comes with expectations. Being a Christian romance writer comes with even more expectations. I've been posting this blog for over a year, attempting to create the brand that will be uniquely me. It's so much more difficult than I anticipated.

Of course, I checked out the websites of other Christian writers. Very, very sweet. My faith in God and Jesus hasn't created a sweet life but a savory one. Savory is not considered favorable in the Christian book industry. The standard in Christian romances requires chastity, a good thing, and yet it waters down the struggle to control desires God blessed us with so we would marry and have children.

The industry standard Christian heroes and heroines are not allowed to smoke or drink. I don't do either, but I know good Christians who do both. I could never write very much of it into my own stories because I have little experience with it, but I don't see cutting it out as realistic. My first Regency will reflect these standards, and in a way it disappoints me. It wasn't safe to drink the water. Coffee and tea were expensive. They had to be imported. The common beverage was ale or cider and served at every meal. Alcoholic beverages were sanitary enough to drink. I worked my way around it by mostly avoiding the topic all together. Having my characters wealthy made it a little easier. I could use tea and coffee and chocolate, and even lemonade. You had to have orangeries (greenhouses) to have citrus, and the wealthy did.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Unexpected revelation...

A few days ago, Jimmy Thomas, creator of the Romance Novel Center, gave some very sound advice to independent publishers: Invest in a professional cover for your book. It sparked quite a conversation between two camps: It's-worth-the-investment and I-can't-afford-it.

I learned covers are available for between $45 and $100. When I was thinking of going indy, I hadn't been looking forward to dealing with creating my own covers and had worried about the cost. I hadn't made it as far as finding a professional editor when I chose to work with Desert Breeze Publishing. One of the smartest decisions I've ever made.

When I finally threw in my two cents, I think it was more for me than anyone else.


I learned something I didn't know about myself. I didn't know I felt this way, or at least, I'd never said it out loud quite this way.

Here's my reply:

Jimmy really needs to stop spouting good business sense. Actually, please keep it up. It's helpful. This discussion has re-affirmed several of my decisions. Thank you. What I've learned over the years: You invest in what you care about, time, energy, and money. Excuses are just that: Excuses. Each person must decide what their priorities are. It's okay to say, "My family is more important than my writing." No excuses about the cost. Writing is not cheap, and it isn't lucrative but for the very top earners. If you're writing for the money you're going to make, stop now. Find something you're passionate about and do it instead. If that something else is your family, awesome. I'm married to my writing, going on a year and a half, after a "courtship" of about nine years. It has been horribly difficult, but I'm happier than I've ever been in my life. If Jimmy's intelligent business advice, based on experience, is offensive to you, maybe it's time for a gut check. The writing industry is brutal. If you can't take a bit of tough-to-hear honest talk, how will you handle your editor telling you that your favorite passage in your book has to go because it doesn't move the story along? I freely admit: I'm a marshmallow, but I'd rather write than breathe.

Update: After the editing this week, I learned I cannot do without breathing. However, I truly would rather write than sleep, and did.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Feeling rejected?

A common problem for writers.

Patty Froese wrote a great post, including a picture that makes me smile every time I see it.

A.R. Norris writes about being a superhero, which is a perfect follow up for Patty's post.

Sadie of the Cuffe Sisters talks about farming, a fun read:

Stephanie Burkhart's "Voices of the Heart" blog shares the 10 Commandments of Writing. They're good ones.

Want to read interviews with a variety of authors? Try L McMaken's "Makenwords" blog:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blogs I couldn't resist...

My friend Robin Kramme was interviewed at Plot Mamas, on Wednesday. She wrote a 10-minute play, which will be put on stage tonight. How cool is that?

Delores Goodrick Beggs shares a post titled "The Inspiration of Horses." How could I possibly resist? I couldn't.

Patty Froese blogs about Pantsters, Plotters, and Plotsters.

I'm a plotster. I start every book as a pantster, writing by the seat of my pants. It isn't long before I need to know where I'm going, and I shift to plotster, outlining the story. I do have one story where I wrote the first two chapters, then wrote the rest backward, from the last chapter moving forward.

Linda Swift is spotlighted at Rosemary Gemmell's blog "Reading and Writing.

Debra Parmley is visiting Lynette Endicott. I want to read both of her books.

I need more time.

Have fun reading.

I'm gradually settling into where my life is headed. It's exciting and scary. Changes are coming.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blogs to visit, today...

My preference is to be flexible. Today is not that day.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell is visiting Romancing The Genres, today.

I wanted to make sure I remembered to visit and had an easy way to do so, which means posting the link here.

Twysted Writer has an intriguing post on body language.

Wish I'd know about a lot of this a lot sooner. Would have saved me some trouble.  If you aren't comfortable with blunt language and anything that hints at going beyond the bedroom door, you might want to skip this link.

Maria Hammarblad shares "Research and Science Fiction Reports" over at Night Owl Reviews.

The Writer Limits interviews Gail R. Delaney, who's latest book Janus is now out. More Sci-Fi.

Then there is Celia Yeary's post "How Physics Helped Me Become an Author," and every time I look at the title I find myself intrigued.

Those should keep you busy for a while. Well, they kept me busy for a while.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blogs to visit...

Yesterday, Beth shared a charming post on planting a fairy garden...

I feel like I was deprived. I'm determined it isn't too late to believe in the fanciful.

Nike Chillemi is a Desert Breeze author and won a Grace Award! Well done!

And here's her website:

Regina Andrews is hosting Anne Patrick:

June Foster has Marie Hammarblad stopping in for a visit about her book Kidnapped.

Me? I'm editing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sharing blogs....

A few days ago, author Beth Trissel shared a wonderful post on herb.

Lots to read and learn, so give yourself a little time to explore. She includes some great links. Then check out her more recent posts, too. She has a lovely memoir she's sharing.

If you like Westerns, Lynette Endicott is offering a variety this week.

Interviews and snippets with five guest writers.

Rose of Prose shares posts from a variety of writers.

A little bit of something for everyone. The last post was a short and sweet bit about gardening, which I enjoyed.

Shaunna Gonzales shares her space, introducing her followers to a variety of authors and books.

Enjoy exploring the possibilities.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Abby Gaines...

Moments ago, I finished reading Abby's latest contemporary That New York Minute.

Here's her website:

The first book I read by Abby was Married by Mistake. She instantly hit my Must-Buy list. Her NASCAR romances fed my budding interest in the sport.

Every book I've read has had laugh out loud moments and breathtaking attraction between the hero and heroine. Putting one of her books down is an exercise in extreme self-discipline, usually exercised at two or three in the morning because I can't keep my eyes open anymore.

For those looking for romances that don't go beyond the bedroom door, Abby is a great pick. There's plenty of spark between the couples, without it being overt for those who don't want books to go so far. (There's frequently a secondary couple.)

She's written her first inspirational, a historical. The Wrong Sister. It's in my TBR pile, part of a series, which means I'll probably wait until the other books come out before I read it. Yes, I like to read my series all at once.

One of my favorite things Abby does is provide little extras. Almost every book has added material on her website, under her "For Readers" section. It includes short stories, book connections, and "After The End," which includes an extra scene of some the stories not included in the book, when you simply can't have enough.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Patty Froese on ratings...

Yes, I've added post by Patty over on my page on ratings. This time she shares specific books, all available through Desert Breeze Publishing.

I've added several these books to my wish list. I've read several Anne Patrick, and she's on my must read list, though I'm terribly behind in my reading. I added Patty to my list after reading Perfect on Paper. So many good books, so little time.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Exploring the senses...hearing

The wind chattering in poplars is captivating to both the ear and the eye, as the leaves twist back and forth between their light and dark sides.

When I write, my preferred music is Christmas music. I know, it's a bit eccentric, but then again it shouldn't be a surprise. I love Christmas and Easter, if I prepare for them, and music is part of the preparation process for me. I've also discovered that music with a good beat is helpful. Diana Duncan, a paranormal writer, suggested turning on something with a faster beat for a half hour, turning off the internal editor, and writing, ignoring everything else. I chose my Pandora Styx station. It worked. Now, I need to learn to make it a habit.

Music  is able to lift me up or pull me down. It has inspired and left me feeling degraded. I've learned to choose carefully. Yes, there are those who would think my choice of Styx a poor one, which is their right, and for them it may be, but for me it's an energizer. I tap my foot and sometimes sing along, or even wiggle in my chair. I come away feeling uplifted.

In fact, it's how I judge most things in my life: If I come away feeling uplifted, then it's a keeper. If I come away feeling uneasy or unworthy or "less," then out it goes... whenever feasible.

Other sounds I love: I miss my dog "talking" to me. You know the sound. It isn't actual barking. I also miss my horse "talking" to me. It isn't a neigh, but a series of vocalizations, and my horse had this gorgeous baritone... I figured if I ever met anyone who talked like my horse I'd marry him. I'm still single. :-D

Birds, streams, a mud pot, rain, ocean lapping at the shore, a friend's voice, a baby laughing...

A little extra: Anne Patrick's newest release is out, today. She's on my must-read list. This is her website:

And this is an interesting interview with her over at A Pen For Your Thoughts.

Anne asked: What book have you read that you wish you wrote? Or non authors, what book have you read that touched you the most?

My answers:
I haven't wished I'd written another writer's book, but I do wish I'd pull myself together enough to write everything in my head. :-)

The fictional book that has touched me the most would have to be Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. With my BFF, I re-wrote the end for a HEA for Frodo, which landed me on the path of writing my own stories.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Exploring the sense...taste...

Thursday is my day to visit my favorite eatery, P.Croissant. I'm slowly but surely working my way through the menu. I usually meet a friend or two there, and we chat over delicious food about a variety of subjects. I always leave feeling centered and looking forward to the day and what's coming.

The croissants are crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside, exactly like I remember having in Paris. The hot chocolate is smooth, and not too sweet, even with the cool whipped cream piled on top. Even thinking about it whisks me back to Paris, eating a croissant for breakfast, dipping it in chocolate milk. This is better. :-)

My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, compliments of Joanne Fluke's recipe found in her book Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, is decadent, fresh from the oven. There is the smell of baking cookies, the golden cookie, with warm chocolate chips melting throughout, and the chewy texture compliments of the Chex I use in place of oatmeal (to which I'm allergic) and Corn Flakes, which I didn't have on hand. I make my own brown sugar, with white sugar and molasses, which gives it a slightly richer flavor.

Spring is here, and my blackberry bushes are bearing. I trimmed them back because they were out of control, so the crop will be small this year. This means there will be no blackberry jam, but I'm enjoying a bowl of berries for breakfast, every morning. The glistening black berries are actually a deep, dark purple, with a juicy flavor that is sweet and little tart.

Enjoy the flavors of the day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Exploring the senses...touch

Rough or smooth, hot or cold, slimy or spongy...

Following along my theme of flowers, this week, which wasn't intended. I love rubbing rose petals between my thumb and forefinger or brushing it along my cheek. Soft.

I miss my dog's silky ears.

I miss my horse's fuzzy winter coat, and satin nose.

The clothes I buy to wear may catch my eye, but if they don't pass the touch test, I don't care how pretty it is.

I'm one of those who loves high-thread count sheets.

I love the feel of bread when I knead it, the snap and pop... yes, you can feel it... then when it shifts from "lumpy" to smooth... ready to be shaped. Then the texture of fresh bread from the oven... butter melting over it... the way it looks, the way it smells, the way it feels, the way it tastes...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Exploring the senses...sight

This was easy and obvious, and yet not.

I enjoyed the interview with Lynette Endicott over at Second Cup.

First there's the blog. The teapot is charming and inviting, so is the burning candle. In yoga, we were instructed, during sponge, to focus on a flickering candle at the front of our forehead. It helped to center and keep the mind from wandering.

Then in the excerpt provided, the grandmother tells the heroine, Paige, she expects changes in the home Paige now owns, and is looking forward to seeing the real Paige revealed. I love that. How often do we find ourselves stuck in a particular pattern because it's habit? Stifling us from revealing our true selves? Think I need to try doing some new things...

Over at Tina Pinson's Write Where I Want to Be she shares "Lessons from a Beetle." She writes it so well, I can see the beetle. It dovetails beautifully into God's love for us. Well done.

I mentioned Beth Trissel, yesterday, and she frequently has eye-vacation posts. Today, the Cuffe Sisters talk about bluets. Yes, I love flowers. I find them visually pleasing, Tantalizing scents and textures.

Animals, plants, minerals, water, air, fire, all create pictures in our minds with a single word.

Can you see this quote?

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Mark Twain

Monday, May 7, 2012

Exploring the senses... smell...

One Writer's Way shared some lovely poetry about lavender. Lavender is one of my favorite scents. It's an amazing little herb. I use lavender oil on cuts and sores. Whenever my ears are having trouble, usually related to my allergies, I dab a bit of oil in my ears. I've used lavender flowers when I make pancakes. Interestingly enough, I can't use it all the time, or it tastes bitter. I use lavender candles as well as vanilla.

While lavender fills me with a sense of calm and peace, vanilla reminds me of baking, something I do when I'm struggling with a scene, finding the right words. Vanilla invokes a sense of anticipation of something good to come.

Patty Froese shares her experience using black tea to dye her hair. It was helpful. I've wanted to banish my gray hair but worried about using dyes, since my skin is one of those annoyingly sensitive types, really sensitive. I've been using chamomile, without a great deal of success. Then I read Patty's blog. Oh. I only used one tea bag. So I tried it with more, and it seems to be better. She mentioned enjoying the smell. On that I must agree. I forgot to prepare the tea one day and thought: What difference did it make if I skipped it? I missed the smell. It's a pleasant earthy scent. I also missed how it made my face feel. Since I'm pouring it over my hair, it ends up dribbling down my face. I let it. I don't forget it anymore.

Then Delores Goodrick Beggs shared her experience with writing and cooking, and it made me smile.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

This weeks interesting stuff...

There are more. Feel free to hunt them down. This is a sampling.

Tina Pinson's book trailer for Touched By Mercy. Very classy.

Debra Parmley bravely posted It's worth the read. I needed it, and learned a lot. It explains so much of my struggle, and I'm making changes. Now.

Nikon Sniper is a photographer. Loved this one:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Desert Dreams Writers' Conference 2012... Finale...

The ladies behind the conference:

Coordinators:  Susan Lanier-Graham and Tina LeVon McCright
Book Sales:  Tina LeVon McCright and Barnes & Noble
Editor/Agent Appointments:  Erin Quinn
Goody Bags:  Susan Lanier-Graham and Shirley Lanier
Hospitality:  Heather Palmer and Lynne Marino
Logo Design:  Ruth Perkins
Moderators:  Terri (Molina) Dunham
On-Site Registration:  Shelley Coriell
Pre-Registration:  Susan Lanier-Graham
Programs:  Susan Lanier-Graham
Publicity:  Kris Tualla
Raffles:  Stacey Goitia
Realizing the Dream Contest:  Linda Style
Treasurer:  Sonya Parsons
Website Updates:  Shelley Coriell

Awesome job! Thank you!!

This conference is scheduled for every two years. I plan to attend the next one. At our next Desert Rose meeting, plans will begin to be put in motion for the conference. Yes, one is finished and planning for the next begins.

May the 4th be with you. :-)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Desert Dreams Writers Conference 2012...3

Last day, I helped out in the hospitality suite again, then had pancakes and bacon for breakfast, again. Yes, I love pancakes and bacon. The scale wasn't near the disaster I feared it would be, but then I've been learning to exercise and eat better. I'm proud of myself for sometimes managing to not clean my plate. Tough lesson to unlearn.

Our last speaker was Martha Alderson's Plot and the Transformational Power of the Universal Story. In one of the exercises, I learned a bit more about several of my characters. It was quite powerful to have Martha state that a character needs to be able to burn the old self in order to bring forth the new self.

A Phoenix rising from the Ashes. Isn't that what most of us would like to be? We read self-help books, attend lectures and workshops on self-improvement, seek out blogs on self-improvement because we want to become our best selves. The only way to do it is to let go of the old self, the things holding us back, and allow them to be burned or they come creeping back.

Another oddball thing I learned about myself: I brought my colored pens and used a different color every day, blue, green, purple, black, and red in doing follow up thoughts today. I do well with green. My practical heart will use up all the pens I own, but when I buy new ones, I'm buying green.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Desert Dreams Writers' Conference 2012...2

Day 2 started early. I was very good and brought my weights so I could work out. Considering how much I was eating (I eat to stuff emotions I don't want or don't know how to handle). I helped in the hospitality suite, which gave me an opportunity to meet new people on a much smaller scale. I'm much more comfortable one on one or two or even three or four, but a crowd scares me silly.

That's a lie.

Crowds don't scare me. They overwhelm me. I'm hypersensitive so pick up on all the tension going on around me. I don' t know how to turn it off, or even if I want to, because being aware is also a blessing.

Breakfast was pancakes and bacon. Yummy. It comes with the room. Nice. By the way, the Chaparral Suites, in Scottsdale, are lovely. I felt pampered simply being there.

Workshops started early, 8:30 am. I took a little time to rest and regroup, then dove in at 9:45 am with Linda Styles' Make 'Em Laugh, Make 'Em Cry -- No Don't. As she discussed the importance of not being cliche in your word choices, I immediately thought of Kris Tualla. She uses some amazing descriptions. I'd reread sentences so I could enjoy her unique choice of words all over again.

Maggie Shayne's Sanity 101 offered different ideas for enjoying life more. We supposedly start writing because we love it. It's a pity to lose that joy in the grind to complete the task.

Jennifer Schober's Staying Sane and Optimizing Creativity in the Digital Age of Publishing could have been paired with Maggie Shayne's workshop, not that it needed to be paired. It followed a similar theme of staying in the present.

I had the privilege of moderating for Laurie Schnebly-Campbell's class Double Ds: Description and Dialogue. She likes to be interactive, giving short writing assignments and then having a few of the participants share their work. Wow. I was impressed. She also suggested using different colors for each character's dialogue so you could compare and see if it all sounds the same or different. I've taken a class from Laurie and enjoyed her presentations in our Desert Rose meetings. She was both helpful and encouraging when I was preparing my manuscript for submission. I don't think I could have done it without her.

My last workshop on Saturday was Unlock, Unblock! with Jess Macallan and Amber Scott. It was the most revealing workshop for me. I've been discovering I'm more plotter than pantster (writing by the seat of your pants), but I now understand why. More importantly, they had a little demonstration, and I discovered how tactile/kinesthetic I am. When I'm feeling like the writing simply won't come I make bread or cookies. I love the doing. I love the feel of bread when I knead it, and it ripens from sticky to smooth. It feels different from when it isn't ready to when it is. I also enjoy the pop and snap of the dough as I work it. Again, making cookies is a consistent process. Both are orderly, and at the same time sort of brainless, only enough brain power to know what comes next when. I'd definitely attend this workshop again.

I bailed on the evening activity when my back spasmed. Fortunately, it didn't turn into anything serious.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

God wink...

It dawned on me I hadn't seen my flashdrive since returning home. ACK! I called the hotel, and transferred me to housekeeping, since they took care of lost and found. All my work is on this flashdrive. I cried, and prayed it was safe. I looked in all the places it could be, and it wasn't there. I prayed it was found. Instead of only looking, I did an investigation by feel. I didn't know there was a hole in the lying of my leather backpack. It has slipped between. It's safe. Thanks, God!

Desert Dreans Writers' Conference 2012...

What an amazing event. This was my first writers' conference. My goal: Survive. Really. I knew what I was up against: My own fears of rejection, not fitting in, making a mistake, saying something stupid, saying too much, not holding to the boundaries I've worked hard to establish, feeling out of place.

Why would I feel out of place? In a place saturated with other writers? I feel a bit like I'm in limbo. I'm not looking for an agent or editor. I've sold, but the first book won't be published until August, so I'm not quite published either.

I've decided to tackle this one day for each post. There's a lot of material, and this is me processing. 

Friday, we had a three-hour presentation by Bob Mayer, Write It Forward. It was cram-packed with information. The vast majority of it I either did already or it didn't fit me. Stepping over the threshold puts me in a position of transition. It's awkward, no matter how you go about it. However, I'm so grateful I attended. If I have the opportunity to attend another of his workshops, I'll take it.

Perhaps, oddly enough, the most important thing I learned was if the bomb blast is enough to move you, it's enough to kill you. I corrected my manuscript to reflect what I'd learned. Whew.

I didn't attend any other workshops on Friday as I was helping at the Registration desk. I like being helpful. It allowed me to meet some new people, and chat a bit.

Dinner and the guest speaker, Tom Leveen, were good.

I was determined to take a break from everything. Alone in my room, I forced myself to settle in the silence. It took a bit of work, but it came. Then I asked myself: Why am I here? A soft answer filled my soul: To help others feel comfortable. Something I could do, though I've been known to make people feel uncomfortable as well. :-)