Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Just thought I'd pop in and wish everyone who still might happen by this blog a happy, healthy, and properous new year!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

On haitus

Changed jobs. Now I'm the office manager of my husband's heating and hydronics business. He's working me to the bone. ;) I'll still be visiting my usual haunts...

Please enjoy life, keep well, and keep writing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Word Meanings

The Washington Post published a contest in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for various words. Here are the winners:

1. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

2. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

3. Bustard (n.), a rude bus driver.

4. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

5. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

6. Dopeler effect (n.), The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

7. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

8. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run

over by a steamroller.

10. Foreploy (n.), Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of
obtaining sex.

11. Frisbatarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.

12. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavoured mouthwash.

13. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

14. Glibido (n.), All talk and no action.

15. Hipatitis (n.), Terminal coolness.

16. Ignoranus (n.), A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

17. Inoculatte (n.), To take coffee intravenously.

18. Inspissator (n.), one who inspires covert micturation.

19. Intaxication (n.), Euphoria at receiving a tax refund, which lasts until you realise it was your money to start with.

20. Karmageddon (n.), It's like, when everybody is sending off all these
really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's
like, a serious bummer.

21. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

22. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightie.

23. Osteopornosis (n.), A degenerate disease.

24. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.

25. Pokemon (n.), a Rastafarian proctologist.

26. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a proctologist immediately before he examines you.

26. Reintarnation (n.), Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

27. Sarchasm (n.), The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the reader who doesn't get it.

28. Semantics (n.), pranks conducted by young men studying for the priesthood.

29. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

30. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Advice for writers...

"Writing is like skiing - you will fall when you hesitate."

"Do not reduce your story to outlines and sketches, notes and 3x5 cards. You will make your story finite this way and it will suffer because it cannot grow beyond your outline."

"Let some stuff that you think is interesting drop away."

These quotes are from Advice for Writers by David L. Robbins.

"You Are Enough"

"Work With What You're Given"

"Writing Begets Writing"

These quotes are from The Three Cosmic Rules of Writing by Dennis Palumbo.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Free books and a contest!

S. William Shaw is having a free ebook give-away of his titles: The Santa Mysteries and Sherman Oak and the Magic Potato. He’s also having a contest. Anyone linking to his give-away/contest entry can have their name thrown into a hat for a drawing to win a paperback copy of one of his books.

So what are you waiting for? FREE eBOOKs HERE.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Isolated and schizophrenic...

You're The Poisonwood Bible!

by Barbara Kingsolver

Deeply rooted in a religious background, you have since become both
isolated and schizophrenic. You were naively sure that your actions would help people,
but of course they were resistant to your message and ultimately disaster ensued. Since
you can see so many sides of the same issue, you are both wise beyond your years and
tied to worthless perspectives. If you were a type of waffle, it would be

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thanks to Michelle Rowen for the link.

Cat amp offers advice

Through his rescuer, a disabled cat dispenses advice to humans in pain.

Friday, August 03, 2007

You must want to fly so much...

How does one become a butterfly?
You must want to fly so much
that you are willing to give up
being a caterpillar.

~Trina Paulus

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, 'press on' has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race.
~Calvin Coolidge

That's it, that's all. Have a great weekend and happy writing.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A few more words from Murray Suid


I truly enjoyed guest blogging on THE WRITING LIFE the other day. Afterward, I found myself wishing that I could thank all those inventors who have given us this new medium for sharing our ideas and our lives. To my way of thinking, the net is close to a miracle.

Technology has long interested me. In fact, my current book project deals with engineering marvels. I’m having such fun learning about processes such as Backward Planning (huh?) and Failure Analysis. (I have lots of personal examples to draw upon.)

Back to the blog that I posted here: I want to thank the participants for their thought-provoking questions and comments. I came away enriched.

In the blog I explained that WORDS OF A FEATHER got published thanks to an agent who was looking for a funny word book. I should have mentioned the agent’s name—Carol Roth—and her website Carol specializes in nonfiction. Who knows? Perhaps she can be of use to some of the talented writers who frequent THE WRITING LIFE. That would be a nice denouement, which word—I can’t help but point out—relates etymologically to noose.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Speaking of words...

What these words really mean:

1. ARBITRATOR: A cook that leaves Arby's to work at McDonalds

2. AVOIDABLE: What a bullfighter tried to do

3. BERNADETTE: The act of torching a mortgage

4. BURGLARIZE: What a crook sees with

5. CONTROL: A short, ugly inmate

6. COUNTERFEITERS: Workers who put together kitchen cabinets

7. ECLIPSE: What an English barber does for a living

8. EYEDROPPER: A clumsy ophthalmologist

9. HEROES: What a guy in a boat does

10. LEFTBANK: What the robber did when his bag was full of money

11. MISTY: How golfers create divots

12. PARADOX: Two physicians

13. PARASITES: What you see from the top of the Eiffel Tower

14. PHARMACIST: A helper on the farm

15. POLARIZE: What penguins see with

16. PRIMATE: Removing your spouse from in front of the TV

17. RELIEF: What trees do in the spring

18. RUBBERNECK: What you do to relax your wife

19. SELFISH: What the owner of a seafood store does

20. SUDAFED: Brought litigation against a government official

Monday, July 23, 2007

Guest blogger, Murray Suid on curiosity and words

Thanks, Nienke, for your thoughtful announcement of my visit. You made me feel welcome at your remarkable website.

I’m the kind of writer who likes a distraction. Could be the smell of coffee in the other room, or a “dump your microwave oven” urban myth that plops onto my desktop. No surprise, therefore, that as I began typing this piece about words origins, I allowed my attention to be drawn to your Tip of the Day: “Always take the attitude of a learner in your writing and be open to new insights from any source.” I hope it won’t seem that I’m malingering if I comment on this sage advice before I get down to business.

In the 1990s, I enrolled in UCLA’s screenwriting program. At age 51 I thought I knew everything about cranking out scripts. I just wanted to meet producers so I could sell my work. But in my first class I discovered how much I had to learn about story structure. That humbling experience confirms the wisdom of your tip about being curious.

Now about words: In high school, I could take the study of etymology or leave it. Actually, I was more into leaving it. But as the years passed, I gradually became intrigued by word histories. I even began collecting doublets: word pairs that at first seem unrelated and yet are etymological kissing cousins. Examples include: anger & angina, automobile & mob, chaos & gasoline, computer & reputation, flatulence & inflation, candid & candidate. And my favorite: rectitude & rectum.

Such pairs—“words of a feather”— inspired me to write mini essays for my own amusement, especially when I had a pressing deadline. Take, for “excrement & secret”:

“Three may keep a secret, “wrote Ben Franklin, “if two of them are dead.” Ben’s witty observation points to the etymology of secret, which traces to the Latin se meaning “apart” and cretus meaning “separate.” A “secret” is knowledge kept apart from others. Hence, a secretary’s first function is to guard the boss’s private information. (Apparently, a few secretaries working for the British royal family never got the message.)

But what has this to do with excrement? Here’s the poop: The ex is Latin for “out” and the cre goes back to our old friend cretus, “separate.” Thus excrement refers to something “separated out.” Although in this case we’re not talking about information, it’s still a private matter, definitely hush hush.

If you want a loftier example, consider: “cosmos & cosmetics”:

The ancient Greeks named the universe kosmos, meaning “order.” Their belief that order is the key to beauty gave rise to the related word kosmetikos: the art of creating personal beauty.

The English version—cosmetics—developed around the time Isaac Newton published his theory about the orderly forces binding the cosmos.

Ironically, in this same period, the anti-adornment crowd made an effort to enact laws criminalizing the use of cosmetics for the purpose of seducing innocent victims into matrimony.

I had no plans for publishing these stories until an agent called saying that she knew an editor who was looking for a humorous word book. Did I have anything? Absolutely, only most of it was gathering digital dust on old computers. Six months later, Words of a Feather was published, which seems weird to me because I’ve spent years unsuccessfully peddling some of my manuscripts, and here came a contract out of the blue. The lesson? Even if you’re not an environmentalist, do not send your old computers to the landfill.

Lest I give the impression that etymology is merely an entertainment, let me end with a serious point. Sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll find myself staring at a word that, while I’ve used it my whole life, now seems unfamiliar.

If I look up the word’s etymology, I often have an epiphany. Here’s an example. Recently I was finishing a hilarious (don’t I hope) coming-of-age story. I viewed my protagonist Dan as a hero although he doesn’t see himself capable of accomplishing heroic deeds. Indeed, through most of the book, he wants to run away.

One day,—like Dan—I was avoiding my destiny and looking out the window rather than typing the story. The thought occurred to me that maybe Dan wasn’t a hero. Worse, I felt that I no longer even knew what a hero was. I could give the dictionary definition, but I had no emotional connection.

Curious, I looked up the etymology of hero at my favorite online etymology source (, and I discovered that hero traces back to an ancient Indo-European word meaning “protector.” Bingo! In a scene that I knew was coming, Dan has the chance to protect his town—spiritually speaking. (I admit, that doesn’t sound funny, but trust me: the moment in the story is both spiritual and funny. Or don’t trust me; buy the book when it comes out… if it comes out.)

What I’m suggesting is that if you find yourself in a word crisis, or if you simply wish to understand more deeply writing terms such as character, sentence, dialogue, climax or destiny, take a journey into etymologyland.

I used etymology today while writing this essay. I wasn’t sure that the piece would work out and that worried me. But then I learned that essay comes from the French word essai meaning “try” or “attempt.” This I have done.

Thanks for reading. And if wish, please ask me questions. But note: question relates etymologically to inquisition. So go easy.

Friday, July 20, 2007

LOLCat funny

Courtesy of I Can Has Cheezburger?

Don't forget to drop by Monday for guest blogger Murray Suid on the connection between words!

Have a great weekend, folks!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Guest blogger coming July 23rd!

Murray Suid, author of Words of a Feather, will be guest blogging on Monday, July 23. Words of a Feather explores the connection

between words. Since writers live on words, I think it will be a lot of fun to learn more about them. The book is a zany, fact-filled collection of dual etymologies. So, if you have any questions about the root of a word or the connection of words, now’s your chance to ask an expert!

Words of a Feather probes the shared histories of word pairs such as ‘adversary’ & ‘advertisement’ and ‘cosmos’ & ‘cosmetics.’ It transforms the science of etymology into a fun and powerful vocabulary-building game.

“It also goes beyond the peculiarities of linguistics to provide practical advice on a variety of subjects. For example, the ‘thank’ & ‘think’ entry gives a mini-lesson on how to make kids smarter while polishing their manners. The ‘anger’ & ‘angina’ mini-essay might actually save a few lives – or at least bring on a few smiles.”

Click here to check out an excerpt.

Murray Suid is the author of more than two dozen books including How to Be President of the U.S.A., Demonic Mnemonics, and The Kids’ How to Do (Almost) Everything Guide. A former writing instructor at San Jose State University, he developed content for software products including Oval Office and Launch: the New Millennium Business Game. A screenwriter, he recently started Point Reyes Pictures, an independent movie company.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

RIP, Kathleen Woodiwiss

Like I said yesterday, life is fragile.

Romance novelist Kathleen Woodiwiss dies of cancer
Kathleen Woodiwiss revolutionized the romance novel.

Woodiwiss, creator of the modern historical romance novel with feisty heroines, ornate period settings, and erotically charged adventures, died of cancer Friday in Princeton, Minn.

Woodiwiss, who had 36 million books in print, was 68.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

News - Cairo RIP

It happened a few weeks ago, but I'm only ready to talk about it now.
My sick kitty Cairo died.

The whole household was so distraught (my DH, MIL, our other cat Suki, and dog Piffy) that I decided on a distraction.

I'd like you to meet Simba. He fits in like butter on warm toast.

He's actually suckling on his tail. He's a rescue. Loves life and playing like there's no tomorrow.

Here he's fanning his feet (making bread/kneading) while suckling.

Suki loved him from the moment we brought him home. The first day Suki kept running up to Simba and licking him, then running away. In this picture they're caught in the act of playing. Potential LOLCat pics I think.

Life is so fragile. Enjoy every moment. Love yourself.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Best Writing Advice, Ever

“The best advice I ever heard was to learn from everything. If a book's rejected, learn from the rejection. And, if there's no feedback...then figure out what you learned by writing that manuscript. All of it prepares you for your career as a published author.”

~Donna Alward is one of the few Canadians writing for Harlequin's Romance line. Her debut book is Hired by the Cowboy with a sequel scheduled for release in September.
You can learn more about Donna and her upcoming releases at

“The best advice I ever had was actually from a Drama teacher, and I apply it to my writing. Whenever I complained of a problem, she'd tell me, ‘It's not a problem, it's a challenge.’ Is it a problem that I'm three chapters from the end and don't know who the killer is? Is it a problem I'm writing a book with almost no dialogue? No...they're challenges! Conquer them, and I know my writing is stronger for it.”

~Kate Johnson, author of I, Spy?, part of the Sophie Green Mysteries,

Kate also writes erotic romance as Cat Marsters,
RRT Erotic's Best Fantasy Romance and Best Novella 2006

”My best piece of advice was getting and using the book The Writer's Market. I used the Writer's Market for Literary Agents.”

~ Nicole Delsesto, author of All Encompassing Trip

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hi From Melly. Yes, Still Around...

It's been a while, I know. I'm not even sure how long it's been since I've posted here.

Slowly, I'm starting to get the itch to blog again, or to return to an online community.
A friend suggested I'd join Facebook. In fact, he wanted me to join his fan club. I have. Yesterday.
So far I'm not really sure what this is all about -- never been one to understand social networking very well -- but for now I'm using it to play chess. So there's definitely a positive.

Another friend, this one an online one whom many of you I'm sure are familiar with, Patry Francis, suggested I'd join goodreads. Goodreads, it seems, is sort of a book review social network of sorts. It sure was fun to start the list of books I've read.
What I found funny, but not surprising was the average rating of the books I've read (the ones I've put in so far anyway) compared to Patry's. My average rating is 3.88 out of 5, while Patry's is 4.57.
The reason this doesn't surprise me is because a) Patry probably sticks to really good books, while I can occasionally -- knowingly -- read a book I don't think is that good (to put it mildly). b) Patry is a much nicer person (yes, I do mean than I).

Anyways, perhaps I'll start blogging again more often, perhaps not. Regardless, if you're ever around those other places, be sure to drop me a line, although I'm still not sure where all this leads to, if anything at all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blog posts to check out...

Lilith Saintcrow gives The Five Rules of Plotting over at The Midnight Hour.

The Plot Monkeys have posted Part Two of their AGENT SERIES. Part One is here.

The Unknown Screenwriter posts about Exposure Therapy for your characters. Unk has a great series on The Transformational Character Arc. Go browse if you haven't already.

Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer talk about tightening the plot over at their 2007 Writing Workshop. Another great sight to browse if you haven't already. It's a year-long workshop, updated twice weekly, on the craft of writing a novel.

Ian Hocking shares 10 Writing Beliefs.

Velcro City has more writing tips.

How To Write a Novel. Seriously? Okay, then. Hop to it.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Desire Innocence Illusion Diabolic Persistence chocolate cookie dough bizarre twisty art Morning food mystery enchantment Fantastic Conflict Luscious feisty dreamy delicious Accordion twilight mockingbird Cure the disease He couldn't remember rebirth agony childish Just Keep Breathing Ultrasound commute pink Fiction is Folks Goal Motivation Conflict Writing begets writing Vacation after finish Sparkle Shadows Peace Rowlingization Kinganomaly Supermegajumbosales

Click here for the word search.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Just Do It

Image courtesy of Writing Time, a site for beginning writers that offers inspiration to fire up your creativity, exercises to jumpstart your writing, and guidelines to help you craft your creative writing, whether you're interested in writing an essay, a poem, a short story or a novel.

I challenge you to give me 3 words to inspire...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Best Writing Advice, Ever

The best advice I was given was to write every day.
You get to be a better writer by writing.
~John Baker, novelist

The best writing advice I ever received came near-simultaneously from two different sources.

I was struggling through my first full-length work, finding it a very different and untameable animal from short fiction. Writing the book was like walking against a wind machine where life, other story ideas, and lack of polished expertise threw themselves against my every effort.

I bemoaned this fact to friend and colleague Susan McBride. Her answer was simple. "Just do it," she said. "Write straight through, stopping only long enough to jot notes on vital flashes of inspiration."

Sure it made sense, but it was too darn simplistic. And easy for her to say, I thought. She had a book series with Harper-Collins. But sometimes, the simplest of answers is the best.

Still feeling sorry for myself, I happened to pick up a copy of Stephen King's On Writing. His advice? "Just do it."

That's when the truth hit. For those of us who must write, the discipline to do so lies within that very drive. The manuscript that had sat in messy bits for fifteen months became a finished work within three, and the next novel was written in four.
~Lisa Logan, author of Visions, released January 30 2007 by Draumr Publishing

Lisa Logan is a Southern Californian with several short stories and articles published. Her first novel, Visions, was published in early 2007. Lisa is also the editor of, an author promotion site and flash fiction webzine.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fun stuff to do

Some fun stuff to do that might help your muse or craft along… or just help pass the time of day.

Play with words

Take some personality tests

One sentence stories

Very Short Stories

Have a read about arts and letters

Create a story with Myths & Legends Story Creator

Take some (free) courses to improve your writing

Thursday, May 17, 2007

8 Things Meme

I've been tagged by at least 4 people for this meme, so I thought I'd better participate.
Thanks to Kalbzayn, Bonnie Staring, Becca Furrow, and Lady Tess (if I've missed you, I'm sorry).

8 Things About Me

  1. Like Bonnie, but unlike Mike, I like salted licorice – love it actually. It may have been my first solid food. (I’m Dutch)
  2. In fact, I’m not a sweets or chocolate person, and will go for savory every time. I also love cottage cheese with salt and pepper added. Or with fruit. Or with lettuce on a sandwich. (The Dutch also put everything on sandwiches)
  3. Two years ago, I lost 40 pounds and it’s all back on. My doctor says I’m lucky I didn’t go over my original weight because that usually happens with fad diets. Perhaps I should give up the savories and the sandwiches. In all fairness, I should mention I didn't stick to the 'maintenance program.' If you follow a diet, take my advice, stick to the maintenance program.
  4. I have no children, just three furry babies – 2 cats and 1 doggie.
  5. I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe for years and years. I have a large collection of coffee table books and a few original magazines with her on the cover. (Looking for a buyer for this collection, btw)
  6. I have a hot tub on my rooftop deck.
  7. I started several novels while in elementary school and managed several hundred pages (in total – I haven't finished a manuscript yet *sigh*).
  8. I once produced a song (that I wrote and sang called ‘Inundation’) with Brent Bodrug (I paid him) – who has worked with artists such as Oscar Peterson and Alanis Morissette. But, don’t let that fool you into thinking it was any good… I wince when I hear it now (because unfortunately some family members got a hold of some cassette tapes).

I'm not going to tag anyone specifically. If you read this and want to do it, consider yourself tagged. Let us know about it in comments.

Happy Thursday all!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Best Writing Advice, Ever

In honor of the release of her debut novel, today's best writing advice is from Kelly Parra, author of the young adult novel, Graffiti Girl (MTV Books, May 15, 2007). Check out her website,

"Some of the best writing advice I've heard, several times, is to believe in yourself and your writing. Writing is such an emotional, draining job. I believe in putting part of yourself and your emotions in your work. If you doubt yourself it can hurt your progress toward your dream. Work hard, believe, and write. :) "

Monday, May 14, 2007

Free books - but hurry! (Canadian residents only)

Harper Collins Canada is giving away 50 copies of The Line Painter (to Canadian residents only) to kick start a MySpace reading group. I'm not sure how many are left, so hurry! More information here:

The Line Painter
By Claire Cameron

It’s 1:08 a.m. when Carrie’s car breaks down on the highway somewhere north of Lake Superior. It’s dark, the road is quiet, her cell phone is down, and she is alone. She took off from Toronto that morning, running from grief over the death of her boyfriend, and unable to cope with the truth about the events that led to it. The relief Carrie feels as a truck pulls up soon turns to fear after its driver offers her a lift. Frank, her would-be rescuer, is a line painter, putting lines on the road “to stop people from being killed.” But after Carrie gets in the truck, she starts to realize that this will be the road trip of her life—a trip of terror, transformation and forgiveness.

Claire Cameron has created a unique portrait of Carrie, a young woman whose actions are driven by grief and shame, her personality a beguiling combination of naïveté and streetsmarts. Frank is equally sharply drawn, his flashes of humour and tenderness disguising the wreckage within. Written in spare, unvarnished prose that brims with menace against the forbidding backdrop of a northern landscape, The Line Painter takes us on a riveting trip down a twisted road of memory and redemption.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Best Writing Advice, Ever

“My best piece of advice was getting and using the The Writer's Market (book) I used the Writer's Market for Literary Agents.”

~ Nicole, Del Sesto, author of All Encompassing Trip

“The best advice I ever received about writing is also the simplest: just do it. Stop talking about doing it - sit down and get that story out.”

~ William Couper, author of Cutting Chills

“The best thing I've ever heard is to write from the heart. Go with whatever it tells you.”

~ Jennifer Brown, author of Celebrity Secrets, Summer 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Good Lord!

If I were a book, I'd be:

You're Lolita!
by Vladimir Nabokov
Considered by most to be depraved and immoral, you are obsessed with sex. What really tantalizes you is that which deviates from societal standards in every way, though you admit that this probably isn't the best and you're not sure what causes this desire. Nonetheless, you've done some pretty nefarious things in your life, and probably gotten caught for them. The names have been changed, but the problems are real. Please stay away from children.
Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

To know me is to love me.

Still around!

Hey guys -
I'm still around and lurking at my favorite blogs. I'm happy to say that I'm keeping busy writing and enjoying the sunny, hot weather we're having!

I'm also helping out a couple of writer friends by reading and opining on their work.

Keep on writing!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

Thinking blogger award

Thanks to Rene, for awarding me the 'thinking blogger award.'

Now, I must choose 5 other sites that make me think. A tough one!
Since Rene has already received this honor, I will pick 5 others. I will also pick bloggers who I think will pass on the honor.

1. The Mimosa Effect 2
It's fun to follow along Desert Rat's journey of writing. DR is motivated and shares great insights on writing, poetry, life and kitty-cats. Definitely makes me think.

2. Quantum Storytelling
Redchurch can outthink us all. I just love reading his concepts and theories. Never a dull post (sometimes they're over my head - but never dull!).

3. Dr. Bill's Harley Wisdom
As a writer of romance, or any genre for that matter, I believe it's important to understand how humans interact in relationships. Well, Dr. Bill's site is the place to learn about that! He explores love and relationships to a deep level that can help writers understand why their heroines and heroes do what they do.

4. Writer Unboxed
This site has probably already been honored with this award, but I have to include them in my list. Aside from colloquial updates and insights from contributors, this site offers some incredible author interviews!

5. Write Now Is Good
I enjoy following kg's posts. Lot's of helpful information - especially her current weekly feature on organization for writers!

Fine Print:
For those of you I have selected, here's what to do next.
1. If you get were tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

It's really hard to pick just 5 blogs that make me think. I suggest you follow the links backwards (from the first link of the original awarder) to find many more wonderful and thought-provoking blogs.

What are some of your favorite blogs and why?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Best Writing Advice, Ever

JA Konrath, author of the Lt. Jacqueline ‘Jack’ Daniels Series and editor of These Guns For Hire says:
The best advice I ever heard is from bestselling author David Morrell, who said: "Writing is a business. Treat it like one. As the business changes, you should too."
David Morrell, author of SCAVENGER, adds:
Writing is also an art. Rather than imitate or follow trends, we should write books that are uniquely our own. The goal is to be a first-rate version of ourselves rather than a second-rate version of another author.
Do you treat your writing as a business and/or an art?

Monday, April 23, 2007

kitty doing well

Just wanted to let you know that Cairo, my tabby, is doing well. We have another appointment with the vet in a couple of weeks to determine if and when we will do the next surgery. Look at that face, how can I say no? (Trivia - liver shunts are rare in cats, but cats that do have them always have copper eyes, yet all cats with copper eyes don't necessarily have a liver shunt. Those interested in learning more about liver shunts in cats [c'mon, you should be writing], click here.)

He's playing with his brother Suki now too. Playing/fighing, who can tell?

Have you ever had to make big decisions regarding your pets?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Best Writing Advice, Ever

Thanks to advice by Desert Rat, I've decided to cancel my Friday's Excuses Not to Write and focus instead on reasons to write. I thought I would celebrate this by posting 'best advice.' I've approached several published authors and asked them what's the best writing advice they've ever received or heard. I will post one or two on Fridays (when I'm able to post).

Here's the first:
"During my second year as a published author, I had a private discussion about the biz with author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I'd gone through some very bad experiences by then, and I was seriously worried if I was even cut out to work in this industry. She told me, "Whatever you do, protect the work." I took that to heart, and from that point began removing everything in my professional life that interfered with my writing. My productivity skyrocketed in the years that followed, but more importantly, I was a much happier writer."
~ Lynn Viehl, aka PaperBack Writer
What's the best writing advice you've ever heard?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Update and curiousity

April Fool update:

I'm working on my Harlequin WIP, which is really shaping up. I also have an idea for a children's picture book (been brewing for a few years actually) and a YA novel.

What's everyone else working on these days?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

RIP, Kurt

Kurt Vonnegut dies at 84

Way back when, he was the first author that when I read one book, I bought his whole backlist. What authors had a huge impact on you?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Organizing the writing life

Kristin over at Write Now Is Good has special guest blogger Sharon Sarmiento, an organization guru.
Sharon answered my question on how to organize a writer's desk on April 3 - click here.
Today's post is on how to maximize time and juggle multiple projects - click here.
Sharon's blog is here.

What's your biggest organizational challenge?

Oh, and my April Fool Update:

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Foolin' around

I'm an April Fool. April Fools is a writing challenge not unlike NaNoWriMo except that you set your own goal. Mine's 15,000 words for the month of April. 500 words a day, and I'm behind already. LOL

Just finished reading Gods In Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson. It's a gem. Joshilyn has a fresh voice and the story line is unique and engrossing. She has a way of making the reader root for a vulnerable character. I'm so glad her next book is out, Between, Georgia, because I crave to read more from her. I read an exerpt of the first chapter and it looks great too.

Desert Rat made a good point in the comments of my last post. Time to start focusing on reasons to write, not excuses not to. Thx DR.

Have you read any great books lately?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday's Excuse Not To Write

Reprinted with permission from 101 Excuses Not to Write.

Oh, and the other excuse is spending time with my convalescing kitty (who's coming around remarkably)! Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts, my friends!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Happiest Woman Alive

Those who know me know how much my pets mean to me. Well, I apologize for not being around much this past while, but my kitty, Cairo, has been very sick. In fact, I thought I was going to have to put him down this morning, but he showed signs of improvement over the weekend, so he's coming home.

Long story short, we thought his liver failed because he was unable to metabolize the drugs he had for an operation for bladder stones. He showed no sign of improvement last week so the vet and I decided to just wait out the weekend and see. One of the technicians at the clinic actually took him home to watch him (way above and beyond the call of duty, I might add). So, when the call came this morning, I said to the vet, "Please tell me you have good news."

"I do," he said.

I am so happy. Welcome home, Cairo.

Thank you to everyone at the Morningside Animal Clinic.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I, uh, write fiction

Rene had an interesting post about her secret identity—being a writer—the other day. She came up with some good reasons why writers might avoid telling people about their writing. At the same time, she understands why people might not take her writing seriously, “because they have no idea how important it is to me.” She says, “I can't expect people to appreciate my being a writer until I appreciate it myself.”

I suppose I’m lucky in that I write for a living, so I have no issue with calling myself a writer. However, I do hold back about my fiction writing except to those closest to me. I remember how I hated telling people I was a waitress back in the days. I’d tell them I was in “public service.” So, when the opportunity came up to call myself anything but, I took it. Now I’m working on the novelist part.

Chrys, in her post ‘Own It,’ talks about how calling herself a writer was a freeing experience. She says, “You ARE a writer. Don't dismiss it. Don't shove it under the rug. Own it. Because it's who you are. No matter if you publish or not. No matter if no one but you ever reads your work. You. Are. A. Writer. OWN IT!” (God luv ya Chrys)

I should add that I have no problem calling myself a linker so, true to form, I’ve come up with some links to help us declare our truth!

Mark Pettus, of The Bluff, had a good post, Strike three. Are you out?, last year.

Judy Reeves says, “Until your call yourself a writer, you will never be a writer who writes—and keeps writing!” In the article, an excerpt from her book, Writing Alone, Writing Together, she says,

How do you claim yourself as writer? First, say it. “I'm a writer.” Say it out
loud. Say it to yourself in the mirror. Say it to your friends and family. Say
it to the next person you meet at a party who asks, “What do you do?” Say it to
a stranger in line at the grocery store. Say it to your mother. Mostly, say it
to yourself: “I'm a writer.”

What Makes You Think You Can Write? by Debra Koontz Traverso discusses the top ten doubts writers have.

Becoming a Writer Is Not a Choice by Beth Mende Conny talks about why we must write. (By the way, this site has more awesome articles.)

Liz Strauss, in her blog post, Are You a Writer? 7 Traits that Writers Have in Common, has a list you can check yourself against. A couple items from the list:

  • Writers often start out feeling like an imposter. The message we’re told is that the writing is strong and compelling, or well on its way, but we think the messenger could be mistaken.
  • Every writer is in a self-actualizing process. Writing is an apprenticeship. A writer is always becoming a writer.
  • Nothing in life can prepare you to be a writer, except everything in your life.

What advice would you give to writers who don’t ‘own it’ yet?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Well hello Lajos

Perhaps I live in a vacuum but, I, writing article addict, had not heard of Lajos Egri before yesterday. I stumbled across Notes on Lajos Egri’s Art of Creative Writing on Dark Cloud Press' website. Incredible.

Egri has some fundamental beliefs about creative writing which include:

"Every type of creative writing depends on the credibility of a character. Whatever a character does or says, he does or says for only two reasons:
1. To create sympathy for himself.
2. To show how important he is."

Every story needs a premise. "The premise is the seed from which the story grows. It is a thumbnail synopsis of the story you want to write."

"Desire is a mild word for the strongest motivation there is. Self-preservation is the second."

"Insecurity is the basic law of existence. All human emotions, good or evil, without exception, spring from this one eternal source."

"To create an original story, pick one individual with and outstanding trait. This person may embody all other virtues in existence, but they have one trait that makes them loveable or intolerable to live with. This character will totally possess one trait – one trait that is 100%. A compulsive trait. If you’re writing about a self-centered man, don’t make him just a little self-centered. Make his universe revolve around him alone."

Lots more. Go read the notes. I'm going to buy the book.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sabotage and subterfuge

I often despair about having no time to write, but I know it’s all a state of mind. I’m definitely one of those who enjoy “having written.”

One form of procrastination I partake in is taking on new projects such as freelance writing assignments and joining committees at my local United Way. I get so excited about them and they’re fun and satisfying, but they end up taking away the precious personal time I should be dedicating to my passion of writing fiction. I’m just a dichotomy of commitment and over-extension. The commitment side is the protagonist who loves writing and works hard towards hopefully being a published novelist one day. Then there’s the other side, the antagonist cajoling me, “You can do it. Take on more. Say yes.” He always makes me feel like I can do it all.

Well, I finally put my foot down. I’ve resigned from the UW and my most recent freelancing project. It was hard and I felt guilty, but it’s time for me to learn to say no and pay attention to MY list of priorities.

What subtle techniques do you use to avoid writing? What do you do to beat them?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"a masterpiece of organized chaos"

You think you're a plotter?

Check out Will Self's office - click here. (Then click on photo to see next photo.)

Warning: these photos are intended for mature writers only.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

On using dialogue

As a follow-up to my post about dialogue tags, I thought I would offer some links on how to write dialogue. What I found interesting in my research is that what characters say is important, but so is what they don't say. In addition, body language is a very important part of communication -- which lends itself well to avoiding the use of tags.

When writing dialogue, remember this:
Studies have shown that, in a face-to-face interaction, 58 percent of communication is through body language, 35 percent through how it was said, and a mere seven percent through the content of the message.
In addition, how well do your characters listen? Do they always understand the true meaning behind what's being said? Dialogue, and the interaction that surrounds it, can be a great tool to show your character's goals and characteristics as well as a tool to help you manipulate your story.

Here are some links:
Holly Lisle's Dialogue Workshop
Dialogue Tips
Special Tips On Dialogue For The Romance Writer
How To Improve Your Dialogue
Dialogue: The best action
Dazzling Dialogue Tips
Writing Dialogue - Part One
Writing Dialogue - Part Two
Writing Good Dialogue
Ten Tips for Writing Dialogue
Punctuating Dialogue
Writers' Toolkit - Dialogue
Writing Effective Dialogue
"Good Dialogue," the Editor Said.
Tension In Dialogue
12 Exercises for Improving Dialogue

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dialogue tags NOT to use

Writing advice on dialogue often tells us to use only the word 'said' as a dialogue tag. They seldom tell us what words not to use. Here are words NOT to use as dialogue tags:

Pointed out

Got more?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I command thee... I mean me

Gretchen Rubin over at The Happiness Project has made a list of 12 commandments for herself. I think that’s a great idea. I especially like her first one, ‘Be Gretchen.’ I think I’ll steal it for my own commandments (as well as a couple of others that are perfect for me).

Nienke's 10 Commandments

  1. Be Nienke
  2. Do it now
  3. Do not let emotions rule me
  4. Write every day (of course, what do you expect on a blog called The Writing Life?)
  5. Stand up for myself
  6. Believe in myself
  7. Enjoy life – every day and every moment
  8. Don’t take things personally
  9. Do something nice for myself every day
  10. Don’t betray myself

What would be on your list?
What would be on your protagonist's list?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday's Excuse Not To Write

Reprinted with permission from 101 Excuses Not to Write.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated with your writing?

And, since you're not writing, why not check out online writing magazine, Vision?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Humpday Hunk

Sean Patrick Flanery
Powder is one of my favorite movies. But, really folks, can this be the same guy that played Powder??? To boot, he's credited with more than 66 shows and films! No actor's block there.

Speaking of blockages, check out this post on hacks for writing.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Isn't it romantic?

Understanding human behavior - especially how it relates to love and romance - is important for the romance novelist. Here are some links so you can avoid real writing...

"Romance novels also can provide opportunities for learning about adult loving relationships," says Dr. Bill Emener on his blog, Dr. Bill's Harley Wisdom. Emener has been a licensed psychologist for 33 years and is the author of self-help book Adult Loving Relationships, and romance novels Fear of Feeling Loved and My Sweetpea: Seven Years and Seven Days.

In his post, Emener talks about three distinct stages of adult loving relationships and how they relate to real life as well as romance novels. Check it out.

John Bowlby believed psychoanalytic view that early experiences in childhood have an important influence on development and behavior later in life. Our early attachment styles are established in childhood through the infant/caregiver relationship. In addition to this, Bowlby believed that attachment had an evolutionary component; it aids in survival. He devoted extensive research to the concept of attachment and came up with his own theory, which you can find here. Click here for more on Bowlby's Attachment Theory.

The people we're most attracted to are those who have a blueprint that complements our own. We're looking for similarities of experience but, more significantly, we're also looking for differences. Read more about the Unconscious Fit.

How to be romantic.

Romance 101 includes articles on Manhood, Murphys Laws On Sex, and Intimacy (short, but makes a good point for writers).

What about you? Got any tips on romance?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Furry Babies

Thought I'd post some pictures of my furry baby collection. Just because.

This is my australian cattle dog/hound mix, Piffy (short for Epiphany). She's 7. We got her from a border collie rescue mission that saved her from euthanasia when she was 2. She had been stray before that and was very, very skinny. She's not so skinny anymore.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you may remember we adopted an abandoned cat in July. This is Cairo. He's just over a year now.

Another picture of Cairo.

This is Suki, another abandoned kitty we took in during October. He was 10 weeks then, so he's about 5 or 6 months old now. He is so soft and cuddly. He's also gained about 10 pounds since then.

Another Suki post (this one's older from November when he was still closer to 2 pounds).

Who else has pictures posted of their furry babies? Share your link so I can check them out.