Showing posts from January, 2011

A Flawed Writer Stands Strong

Growing up watching my mother apply her make up, I was bound to pick up some of her habits, like rubbing Cover Girl concealer on the dark circles under my eyes.  We don’t want to leave the house, exposing our imperfections.  Always present a flawless image.  Yes, mom.  
Well, a while back drinking some beers with friends my flawless image cracked.  One of them asked me to define a word.  My response, “I don’t know.”  Disbelief stared back at me.  “You’re an English major.  Shouldn’t you know that?”  I wanted to slap him.  What am I a dictionary? 
Apparently, someone found humor in my vulnerability and put this scene on repeat.  The judgment crushed me.  I wanted to avoid that feeling at all costs.  My solution?  Give everyone the impression that I was stupid.  You can’t fall far when you aren’t that high up, can you? 
How did that turn out, you ask? 
My self-esteem meter dropped to zero.  I actually started to believe I was stupid.  What a mess. 
I want to be proud of myself.  Proud of…

Writer Enemy No. 2: Self-Doubt

Everyday I wake up I think I should find a 9-5 job.  One offering set hours, easy work and a steady paycheck, instead of writing.  Little thoughts start popping in my head: “Your writing stinks.”  “You can’t make people laugh.” “Nobody enjoys reading your work.”  “You’re wasting your time.”  “Few writers succeed.”
These thoughts work hard to deter me from what makes me happy.  Feelings of loserdom overwhelm me because I haven't published or made any money.  That pesky issue of money again.  Education seems to be the answer.  Enrolling in a MFA program sounds magical, unfortunately, my education coffers are depleted.    
Then, the self-doubting sneaks out of my head and into my writing.    Looking back over my blog posts, I noticed all the disparaging remarks I made about my work.  Ugh.  I’m so concerned about people reading my blog; it never occurred to me I stepped over the line of funny self-deprecating to unattractive berating.  Who wants to read that junk?  
How in the world can …

Drained, but Positive

I'm exhausted. Shoveling over a foot of snow drained all my energy.  This blog post is going to be short.    
I just signed up for my first writing class.  It's a four week online course in February lead by  Author Craig Clevenger.  It looks like its going to be the kick in the pants I need.  I'm really excited and can't wait to get started.
I also entered Nathan Bransford Paragraph Contest.  My entry is below.  I honestly have no idea if it's any good.  
I'm not even sure if I'm any good at writing.  One thing I know: I'm tired of doubting myself.  Magpie Writes discussed the murdering of your inner editor on her blog today.  Right now, I'm giving mine a big F U! 
Honestly, I may not always believe in my work, but I believe in myself.  I'm making positive steps in my writing life.  I just need to have the patience to wait and see where they take me.       
That's it.  Nothing clever, funny or insightful today.  Just tired.  

Rebecca placed her han…

Foot in Mouth Syndrome

Here is my response to Writer's Digest's "Exercise Your Pen" prompt from the January 2010 issue.  The guidelines required me to write for ten minutes about a person being abandoned by their date.  I had to start with "No matter what I do..." and choose a number from 1-10 corresponding to an idiom.  I revised my original response.  Enjoy!

No matter what I do, I can’t get a date to pay for dinner. She smiled, cutting a piece of chicken with her fork. Charlie’s face turned so red I thought he would explode.  Her hand reached up to cover her mouth as she hiccuped before swallowing the bite.  I can’t believe he threw his napkin at me then stomped off.  Giggles shook her shoulders as she picked up her wine glass.  Bewildered faces stared back as she eyed the other tables.  I’m sure his little tantrum gave them plenty to gossip about.  The goblet slipped out of her hand, hitting her plate of sweet and sour chicken, then, spilling on the table.She glanced at the red…

What is NCF Tuesday?

Audacity comes to mind when I encourage you to visit my blog, dazzling with clever topics and expressive sentences, asking for comments, receiving nothing from me in return. Shouldn’t I offer you something for visiting?
You might want to sit down for this one.
So, I got to thinking.    
Several blogs I follow sum up the week on Fridays.  Amie Kaufman does her “BTW” post talking about life beyond her blog, literary items of interest and updating her readers on what she’s reading.  Nathan Bransford updates his devout followers on the week’s literary news in “This Week in Books”.
To generate more followers, I am taking a tip from the well-established bloggers and setting up a weekly blog post that keeps you abreast with evocative literary News, a rundown of ongoing writing Contests and silly Fun as anattempt to lighten the mood.  A newsletter of sorts.     
Don’t worry, the brainstorming didn’t end here.
Not to be outdone by other bloggers I am choosing another day to show my gratitude for …

Blog Schedule

I’ve been trying to put together a website and a name brand to help better sell my writing services.  Creating the name came easily after a short brainstorming session, but deciding what I offered was much harder.  My lack of confidence made me feel I wasn’t qualified to offer anything. 
Then, I signed up on Linkedin and while setting up my profile my thoughts started to come together. The site required a description of my job titles or expertise.  So, I sucked it up and went for it.  My profile lists my qualifications as: freelance writer, blogger and editor.  Write it down, make it happen. I felt more confident knowing what I offered.  Everything in my profile then began to support my qualifications.  My confidence meter started to rise.  

Ok, so I have a resume ready to go, but what about my actual skills?  Unfortunately, my daily writing has been lackluster and unproductive.  I’ve been slacking off, and if I continue I won't improve. I've been preoccupied with my platform a…

Prose from the Pros #2: Miranda Bliss

Are you an aspiring mystery novelist? Well, there’s no better way to improve your mystery writing skills than to learn from a published author. One author I enjoy reading, Miranda Bliss, has written the Cooking Class Mystery series. Today’s discussion of the fifth novel, Murder has a Sweet Tooth (2009), will focus on analyzing its literary elements.
Besides the elements, a basic story structure is important when writing a mystery. A writer employs a specific format to gain the readers trust: a crime occurs, detective investigates the crime and, finally, the mystery is solved. Once you create the skeletal structure of the novel, your style and ingenious plotting build the muscle and present an engaging story.   
Character: Characters are the most important part of the novel. Their personality and lifestyle create the fictional world the crime takes place, provides the motives of the detective and suspects and drives the plot forward. You should intimately know your characters. Keep in mi…

Writer Enemy No. 1: Distraction

Man, having your momentum rip away feels like someone is sucking the life out of you with a vacuum.  I submitted a short story for my writer’s group, showed up and endured the critique torture, finished my novel and put a blog post up all in a few days.  The progress had me skipping around and humming tunes.  Unfortunately, the expiration date on my happiness came sooner than expected. 
My stretches of concentration are short.  I spend most of my time distracted by an endless amount of things.  As a newbie to the writing life, I battle daily with my ability to maintain focus.  But I fear if I don’t get myself under control soon, I will never see lucrative success. So, at the moment I’m learning to clear some hurdles.
TV To put it mildly, I have an addiction to televsion. Whether I’m streaming live from Netflix or catching up on shows piling up on the DVR, it’s embarrassing.  I see a support group in my future.  Luckily, this one is the easiest of my obstacles to overcome.  The movies a…

The First Bucks County Writer's Group Meeting

Yesterday marked the first Bucks County Writer’s Group meeting.  Two fellow NaNoWriMo participants and I met up in the café at Borders Bookstore in Langhorne, and with cookies and coffee in hand we dove into the critiques. 
Alex submitted the beginning of her Young Adult (YA) novel and I submitted a horror short story.  I was nominated to go first; Alex wasn’t ready to face the firing squad.  To avoid interruption and to keep the discussion moving, the author is “killed”.  My frazzled nerves and motherly protectiveness over my short story made it difficult to remain “dead” during the critique, so I shoved cookies in my mouth to stifle any attempt to defend or respond.
I took notes to refer to later and realized all the constructive criticism was spot on.  Their feedback mirrored all the questions I asked them to focus on while reading my piece.  I was convinced I would want to throw myself out a window after listening to my piece being ripped apart, but it's not as bad as I though…

Prose from the Pros #1: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Six years ago, I was student teaching at Pennsbury High School East, 11th and 12th grade AP English with Anne Marie Liebel (now Garth).  Administrators and parents visit the classrooms often, so it was important to display student work and learning on the bulletin boards.  The students learn from it as well believe it or not.  Anne Marie came up with a brilliant idea: the composition class will create a bulletin board with aspects of a piece of writing they felt was well done.  The students would choose from well known authors read in class.  We called it Prose from the Pros (see picture above).  The students were then expected to emulate that style in their own writing. 
I thought the idea would be perfect on a writer’s blog, for myself and for others.  This series of posts will explain what I liked stylistically about a novel or book, albeit the structure, diction, figurative language, characterization, setting, etc.  Then I will open up discussion with my readers regarding the nove…

Sleeping My Way to Success

No, no I am not planning on bedding agents and editors in exchange for publication.No sexual impropriety here.Sorry to disappoint.I’m employing my dreams as a muse and mentor. Growing up discussing my dreams with my family was commonplace, and as an adult, the tradition continues.It’s a conversation with my unconscious, and one of the few times I’ll take my own advice.
Last night, I dreamt I was on a boat in the ocean.The waves tossed me and the boat all over the place. I remember struggling not to fall over.As the dream progressed, the boat found calmer water.When I woke up, I reached for my dream dictionary to find out what it meant and scribbled everything down in my journal.
Let's take a deeper look at my dream.Deconstructing a dream helps you understand the different parts at work, and, eventually, determine what your unconscious is telling you.  Water symbolizes the emotions.  Calm water represents positive emotions.  Rough water represents negative emotions.  Under water repr…

Losing Touch

The tech-frenzied crowd has swept me up.  Everyone’s fighting to get closer to the latest shinny smart phone, e-reader and mobile computer.  The endless selection of applications available for the devices is crushing me, while I choke on the mass of information floating around the Internet. 
As I interact with people on social sites, I realize I do so from my home, not in a public place where we can share a laugh.  The sites give me the chance to keep in touch with old college friends, meet like-minded people and reach more people with my writing, but I’m afraid I’m losing touch with humanity.  I’m sure many of you would agree, there is more than a fair share of angry and miserable people spreading their hatred around out there, and now I have an excuse to avoid being exposed to it.
I don’t have to deal with bank tellers anymore with direct deposit and MAC machines.  I don’t have to push my way around warm, stuffy stores or listen to screaming children to shop.  Cyber schools provide a…

Testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3. Is This Thing On?

The glory of completing my first novel, I fear, will be met with disappointment.  Why you ask?  My readership is abysmal.  Agents and publishers give contracts to sellable authors.  I can’t sell anything if I don’t have a trusted group of readers, and they don’t have the time or money to wait around until there is. 
I'm constantly incorporating what I've learned to improve my blog and build a readership.  My blog statistics prove people visit, but they’re useless to me.  I don’t know who those people are or how they feel about my writing. 
Michael Hyatt, the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, discussed unsuccessful blogs in “Why I Stopped Reading Your Blog” today.  I used his list of six reasons and a few of my own to revise my blog.  Here’s what I found out:     
As of right now, I am content with my blog and post titles, but I should love them.  An attention-getting title that screams, “Hey!  Check me out!  I’m smart, witty and I guarantee you’ll be entertaine…