Thursday, July 24, 2014

J. A. Jance: Big laugh, big heart.

Last night, J. A. Jance, known to friends and family as Judy, talked with a few friends. OK, those friends were about 350 fans in Spokane's Bing Crosby Theater in an author visit sponsored by Auntie's bookstore. I arrived ten minutes early to find Judy seated comfortably on stage, talking about her dogs and answering questions from the audience. 

J. A. Jance has a big laugh. She listens and talks directly to the audience, weaving her personal story into how she writes. She asked, "Why don't you read my blog?" and "How many of you receive information about my books?" Ha! A direct call to action -- and helping readers understand how they can connect with her personally.

She hates outlining ("I have a terminal fear of Roman numerals"), said that finding ideas to write about is not like going exploring with a butterfly net, but that her writing is more reflective of her life, the people she's met who resonate with her. Jance also said, "Don't piss off mystery writers" as they can take revenge. "Who was that crazed murderer?"

As an established author with a big fan base, she doesn't shy away from enticing new readers -- to read her books! As she talked, I added three books to my 'must read' list -- Second Watch (a Beaumont book set in the Viet Nam era), her latest, Remains of Innocence (a Joanna Brady book), and After the Fire, a book of poetry and mini-essays, her first book, autobiographical. She recited one poem from memory, simple and direct.

In her one-hour monologue, J.A. Jance held the hearts of her audience. She talked about recovering from an 18-year marriage to an alcoholic, a man who denied her desire to write. She ended with a song, "I'm so glad we had this time." As she left, a Viet Nam vet hugged her, thanking her for writing Second Watch.

How many connections can I trace? Many. I shall write her, thanking her for showing me how any writer can open up about those things we tend to keep secret.

J. A. Jance's BLOG is HERE.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Snowflakes and commas in July . . .

I'm about 35,000 words of a meandering draft into Rivers of Stone, Book 3 set in the Pacific Northwest between 1842-1847. But I'm just now starting to work out the underlying structure. I know my characters and where they're going, but the ending eludes me.

"Crater Lake" by James Everett Stuart (1852-1942) (Wikipedia)

So I'm working with Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method that builds on a simple outline of set-up + three disasters + resolution to dig more deeply into story structure before jumping back to drafting. 

I'm finding the disasters easy to plot. After all, things go bump every day. The issues of abandonment and perseverance in the wilderness and frontier settlements with their rough code of justice are fun to work on. The plot thickens as I throw in a volcano or two, bears, a fiddler with a broken-heart, and a woman disguised as a boy. But coming up with a resolution that is true to the characters and the theme is more difficult.

Even at 35,000 words, I'm still at the beginning.

The other issue of the week is simply punctuation. A writer recently apologized for the editing of her draft, saying, "I'm just not very good at commas." Aargh!!! And, I'm wordless.

Punctuation is the warp and weave
of all words, that balance point
between order
and meaning
that we writers use with intention
in all seasons,
as sure as quail tracks in the snow,
or lines of geese heading south
under a cloudless gray sky.

So I want to say: Start small. Master just one form of comma -- perhaps the lowly interrupter comma that offsets any person being spoken about or to, as in:  "Hey, pa, I'm over here." or "My best friend, also known as a writer, insists on commas being used in far too many places."

I want to say: Write freely. Tell your story. But then take responsibility for being the best editor of your own work. Editing for punctuation is a skill that can be learned, even if you take a class or study a handbook.

But I am quiet.

What would you do?

More about Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method HERE.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Thank you between . . . and between

I'm reminded of that well-worn saying:  "It takes a community . . . "

Maybe that's particularly relevant for self-published authors.

At least this afternoon, I'm feeling thankful for those readers, friends and writers, who have excitedly embraced Years of Stone, my just published, second book of historical fiction.

Chris Kincaid brightened my morning with a wonderful review of Standing Stones, Book 1, posted on GoodReads and on her blog, Dino Chronicles, named after her dog. 

Then Chris hit Facebook this morning to say she's reading Years of Stone, Book 2, over the 4th of July!

And Sandy Brown Jensen posted the first review of Years of Stone on Amazon. She liked it! See her blog at Mind on Fire.

Thank you, Chris.
Thank you, Sandy.

After all those hours of research, drafting, writing and rewriting, revising . . . then transforming the text into appropriate formats, now, dear readers, I turn Years of Stone over to you, with hope and a full heart of thankfulness.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

A Cover Reveal . . .and a little blog hop

Today, I am pleased to reveal the cover for Soul Prompts: Finding and Hearing Your Inner Voice, written by my friend Morgan Dragonwillow.
Soul Prompts Book Cover2d
Soul Prompts is a spiritual writing experience that gives you a direct line to the source of inspiration.
If you could communicate with your soul would you?
If you could hear what your soul's plan is for this life, would you want to hear it? What if learning to communicate with your soul could help you get your words on the page?
Soul Prompts will help you connect to that voice within whether you want to have a deeper spiritual life, a better understanding of your purpose, discover which path to take next or to help you get your stories written. Are you open to the possibilities? It's time to have a conversation with your soul. This book is for you if you want to:
  1. Take your writing to a deeper level.
  2. Explore your connection to your soul.
  3. Live a more spiritual life.
  4. Have a better understanding of your writing journey.
  5. Figure out your next step.
  6. Discover where your words come from.
  7. Learn why your soul chose this life.
And so much more. Soul Prompts: Finding and Hearing Your Inner Voice - Paperback and ebook - coming out this October!
Andrea Moore aCover Artist. Morgan reports that this beautiful cover was created by the artistic and wonderful Andrea Moore! Working with her was a pleasure and she was very patient with my questions and suggestions until we were both happy with the results! If you are working on a book and don't have a cover yet, I highly recommend you have a chat with her!

Andrea Moore grew up in a town so small, on top of a marsh, that the mosquito was considered the city bird. She uses her degree in computer graphics and her artistic abilities to sprinkle joy throughout local consignment shops and EtsyEtsy. Andrea is now breaking out of the box further as she explores the adventures of book cover creating.

Fun Trivia Game!  What's a party without a game? In this game you will hop from one blog to the next, finding the clues and when you think you have the answer, go back to Morgan Dragonwillow's post, Soul Prompts Book Cover Reveal Party, and put the answer in the comments. 

The first person with the correct answer will win a signed copy of Soul Prompts and a $10 Amazon gift card!

Question: Where in the world is one of my favorite places to sit or walk and connect with the source of creation and to remember we are all one? CLUE: It is in Humboldt county.

Next Stop Poetry, Prose, Art, and Creativity 

Good luck, but most of all, have a great time!   

Me a

Morgan Dragonwillow is a poet, survivor, lover of all things magical, dancing with words, recovering perfectionist, and indie author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam and creatrix of #OctPoWriMo. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Party . . Party . . Years of Stone is out!

Years of Stone is now available. Whew! Just last Friday, I pressed that PUBLISH button on CreateSpace and then spent the next two days reworking the Kindle format. Late last night, the Kindle version went live. 

Hard copies have been ordered. Some time towards the end of July, we'll have a book signing at a local coffee shop right here in Spokane . . . and I'll be deep in the research phase for the next book, leaving Mac and Deidre behind.

If you want to order your paperback copy, why not jump on over to CreateSpace and take a look. Or if you love e-books, you can go to Amazon for your Kindle version.

No reviews yet, but folks who read the excerpt of Years of Stone for Amazon's Breakthrough Novel competition had nice things to say. You could be the first to write a review -- or drop me a line to let me know what you think. 

So wherever you are, think good thoughts. Celebrate the moment! Now, it's time to get writing on the next story.