Posted on February 27, 2015
I am a logical-sequential kind of person. I tend to look at a situation and weigh the pros and cons, and take my time before I make a decision. But I recently took a leap of faith and did something based on a gut feeling. It’s a little scary, but I’m okay with it.
I have been making a list of writing conferences to attend this year, partly to plan my year and partly to apply for an artist grant. I spent hours looking at websites I bookmarked, researching workshops, venues and costs. I tweeted an agent I admire, Nicole Resciniti, to ask which conferences she planned to attend, to see if any were on my list.
When she replied, she listed two conferences. I hadn’t heard of either of them, so I Googled them to check them out. The WisRWA conference was intriguing, and something inside me told me I should go. So I signed up. Right then. No list or pros and cons, no setting it aside to think it over. I just did it.
I can only think of two other times I did something so impulsive. One was saying yes to my husband’s proposal. The other was entering a Savvy Authors blurb contest, which led to a contract with Prism Book Group. Those cases certainly turned out well. I can’t predict where this decision will lead. Maybe it won’t be as life-changing this time. But I’ve learned to trust my gut and take a leap of faith now and then. I’m curious, and a little excited, to see what will happen next.
(illustration courtesy WisRWA)
Posted on February 20, 2015
I recently entered a writing contest. To prepare, I spent hours with critique groups to see how others read the manuscript. I polished my synopsis and chapters, and met again with my groups. I wrote madly to make the deadline and sent off the entry. By the time I put it in the mail, my carpal tunnels were acting up, I was sick of my story, and I wasn’t sure if it was any good or not. Time to step away from the keyboard.
Periodically, writers reach the point where it seems everything they write is crap (pardon the expression). It’s usually the case when we spend too much time on a manuscript—after a while, we can’t see the forest for the trees and we can’t look at it with fresh eyes, as a reader might. And other times, it’s a case of working harder not smarter; tweaking little things without the big picture in mind can be counterproductive. In my current situation, I think it’s a little of both.
My solution was to step away from the keyboard for a while. (Okay, not completely. I still check emails, etc. but I’m not working on creative writing.) I read more, worked on my volunteer commitments, got in some extra time with my husband. Then yesterday, I started thinking about the story again by meeting with a critique partner and showing her the entry that I thought was crap. (Her assessment: some of it did need more work, but it wasn’t all crap. Thank goodness!) Now I have some ideas of what needs to be fixed/revised, and I’ll let that percolate in my brain a little more. Then I’ll go back to the keyboard, probably next week.
This is a hard part of the process for me. I’m a linear thinking, get-things-done kind of person. So purposely NOT working on the writing feels wrong. But I have learned over the years that it is better to step away from the keyboard now and then. It’s part of being a writer.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What was your solution?
Posted on February 13, 2015
Happy Valentine’s Day!
What a great time to celebrate love, and enjoy reading romance novels!
To honor the season, here’s my top 5 reasons I write romance:
5: The giddy feeling of young love
4: The thrill of his touch
3: The first kiss
2: The proposal
1: The happy ever after!
I have a couple treats for you:
For those of you on Facebook, you might enjoy Prism Book Group’s Sweetheart of a Deal Event, featuring 99 cent books, fun author posts, and prizes. It’s Friday, Feb. 13th from noon to 10 pm EST.
Also, KTUU’s Tracy Sinclare included me in a recent Cover2Cover story about Alaska romance novels:
Thanks so much to my readers and fans for your support. May you have a lovely Valentine’s Day!
Posted on February 6, 2015
Writing Process Global Blog Hop
Fellow Prism author Renee Blare hosted me on her blog for the Writing Process Global Blog Hop. Today it’s my turn to tell you about my writing process and host three authors.
What am I working on?
I am in the process of completing edits for my last Gold Rush book, Gold Nuggets, with Prism Book Group. It will be released this spring. Lisa Lickel finished the content editing with me, and I’m now in proofreading, etc. with head editor Joan Alley. In between editing sessions, I’m revising a work in progress about the building of the Alcan highway in 1942.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
There are many great historical YA authors, but I’m the only one I know who writes exclusively about Alaska.
Why do I write/create what I do?
I have a great love of my home state, and there are so many cool stories here! Plus, I hope readers will find these strong, independent women characters as inspirational as I do.
How does my writing/creating process work?
Slowly, over time!. I start with research of my setting for at least a few months, then begin writing rough drafts. Once I have a strong draft, I share with critique groups and partners over more months. I revise many times before I get to anything worth submitting to a publisher. And as you see from above, even then it goes through several rounds of editing. It’s worth all the work when I see the finished product in my hands.
Please allow me to introduce you to three new authors who have joined me today. I encourage you to check out their blogs or pages to discover more about them and their work!
Sheena Binkley first discovered her love for storytelling when writing her first story for a class project at the tender age of nine. Since then, she has composed several short stories and numerous tales that are not only engaging, but simply entertaining. She is also a freelance writer, penning articles on various topics including education and entertainment. This past November, she signed her first publishing deal with Write House Publishing under “Tiece Presents.” Her first release, Something Just Ain’t Right, was released in January. Besides writing, she loves reading, shopping, and spending time with family and friends. She lives in Houston (where the weather is always unpredictable) with her husband and son.
Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/U1gqj
Her Global Blog Hop Date: Friday, February 20th on her blog
I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest but knew Alaska would be my heart’s home as soon as I stepped off that plane way back in the early 1980′s. I saw the mountains and that was it! I love all the things that make living in Alaska so appealing: fishing, flying, skiing, hunting and long winter nights. A pilot myself, many of my stories involve aviation, strong female characters and the cultures and legends of my wild, untamed Alaska. I believe strong female characters provide a rich backdrop for hot romance, and give young girls a sense of what women can really do! My life has been a series of exciting adventures and I like to use what I have learned and experienced in my novels
Now, (after my third try at retirement!) I am a full time Indie author. My first book, The Good, The Bad and the Bet, came out in the summer of 2014, and The Ghost of Port Chicago came out this last fall. They are both romantic suspense novels based on historical events. I am excited to announce my new series about a secret government anti-terrorist group of female vampires begins this year with five books planned and more under development. The first in the series goes to print on Valentine’s Day. What goes better with the holiday for love than little bites and some bloodsucking on the side? Watch for Vamp Squad Series: Book 1 – Strange Beginnings at most of your digital providers, or order a hard copy through CreateSpace and Amazon.
When I’m not writing, I can be found teaching women’s self defense seminars and martial arts, scuba diving in tropical locals, flying to meet my husband for a quick rendezvous in some romantic out-of-the-way spot, playing with graphic design… or just kicking back with my stories and enjoying this thing we call life.
You can always catch up with me, or join my Intel Team on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/miriam.matthews.773
Her Global Blog Hop Date: the week of the 27th of March
Born and raised in Alaska, C.G. Williams first started writing a vampire horror story in the early 80s on a non-electric typewriter. Since that time C.G. has been having fun creating many types of tales, from science fiction to a kick ass work of mythic fiction about Amazon warriors during the Trojan war. Almost all C.G.’s stories bubbled down to a powerful, romantic relationship that changed the characters lives profoundly.
C.G. enjoys fencing, Tai Chi, photography, museums, history, music, biking, hiking and beadwork as it all fuels the creative process. C.G. lives in Alaska with her husband, two adored cats and dog.
Check out C.G. Williams on Facebook
Check out the first book in a three Novella series about the Amazon fight during the Trojan war.
The Wrath of Aphrodite The Wrath of Aphrodite Book One
The Wrath of Aphrodite Book One
Available in: NOOK Book (eBook). In the last year of the Trojan war, Penthesilia, an Amazon war captain, leads a contingent of fierce Amazon warriors to Troy, to al…
View on www.barnesandnoble…
Preview by Yahoo
Her Global Blog Hop Date: Thursday, Feb 12 on her Facebook page
Posted on January 30, 2015
Alaskans: Reasons Why People Move to the Last Frontier
After “When did you get here?” the next most popular question between Alaskans getting acquainted is “How did you get up here?” We’re always curious why people move up here. There are a few common answers to that question.
One is the military. Many people, including me, came up because of the military. Im my case, my father was stationed at Fort Richardson and fell in love with Alaska, so he extended tours as often as he could and I grew up here. In other families, people discovered Alaska because of the military and returned later to stay. One variation of this is civilian jobs. They came up to fish, help build the pipeline, or work for a company, etc. and decided to stay.
One reason romance fans will appreciate: “I met this guy….” or I met this girl….” I know people who came up to visit someone or follow someone to Alaska, and became enamored of the place, sometimes with an attraction that lasted longer than the original person they came up for! Either way, it’s kind of sweet when a person came to Alaska for love.
And of course the third most common reason is for the adventure. We have a lot of people who came to Alaska to challenge themselves physically or otherwise, who wanted to see the Last Frontier as a place to live their dreams of wilderness living or dog mushing or whatever their definition of adventure was. And that is one of the coolest reasons to move somewhere.
These reasons haven’t changed too much over time. We’ve had lovers and adventurers for centuries. And maybe the Gold Rush stampeders had a different job in mind than soldiers or British Petroleum employees or Home Depot managers, but basically a monetary reason is still a monetary reason.
I don’t think there is a huge difference between current Alaskans and the people who came up long ago. We’re still independent folks. But I will grant you that those of us who now come to Anchorage or other big towns do have more comforts of home than the Gold Rush folks did. I am thankful that they came here first and got things set up for the rest of us. I can’t imagine a winter in Fairbanks without central heat.
Posted on January 23, 2015
Happy National Readathon Day!
This Saturday, January 24, 2015 is the first National Readathon Day. Sponsored by the National Book Foundation and Penguin Random House, this is a great day to celebrate reading. They are encouraging people to read from noon to 4 pm (in their respective time zones) and make #timetoread.
Here’s a little bit from the website at http://nationalbook.org/2015_readathon.html
What’s National Readathon Day (NRD)?
- NRD is a nation-wide marathon reading session on Saturday, January 24 from Noon – 4pm (in respective time zones)
- You can share your love of books and support programs that promote reading by pledging to read and fundraising for the National Book Foundation
- It’s like a walk-a-thon charity drive, but we’re turning pages instead of walking laps.
What does the National Book Foundation (NBF) do?
- The NBF’s mission is to expand the audience for literature in America.
- We’re dedicated to promoting literacy and reading through programs like the National Book Awards, BookUp, 5 Under 35, and the Innovations in Reading Prize.
You can also donate at the site, and create a fundraising team.
Since I just found out about it, I haven’t set up a fundraising team. But I will help spread the word and participate as an individual. I encourage my readers to do the same and post photos or tweets using the hashtag #timetoread.
Hope you find some #timetoread this weekend, and all through the year! Happy Readathon Day!
Posted on January 16, 2015
I don’t get writer’s block very often, but I confess I have for this blog post. Maybe I have too much going on right now, sorry. I can’t think of anything terribly original to say, so it’s a good time to put together a list of other people who have!
Two Favorite Alaskan Author Blogs:
Jennifer Bernard’s blog has fun things, especially in her “Extras” section, often related to firefighters because of her Fireman series:
Cinthia Ritchie is always honest and thoughtful, and often funny too!
And just for fun, here are a couple links you might enjoy:
Who can resist The Muppets Website?
And for Alaskan humor, try Chad Carpenter’s Tundra comic strip:
Okay, I’ll go back to writing edits for the next Gold Rush book and re-designing my newsletter, will try to have more to say next week. In the meantime, if you want to sign up to receive my newsletter, click on this link or click on the envelope on my Facebook page.
Thanks, see you down the trail!
Posted on January 9, 2015
Happy Russian Orthodox Christmas!
Well actually I just missed it—Russian Orthodox Christmas was on January 7th this year. Many Orthodox churches celebrate according to the older Julian calendar, so they have a different date than traditionally American churches. But there is a significant number of Russian Orthodox Alaskans, thanks to our history. Alaska was Russian before it was American, and there is a cultural legacy here.
One fun aspect of the holiday is starring, still common in some Alaskan towns and villages. To represent the star that led the wise men to the Chris child, they decorate a huge star and carry it from house to house and sing, much like Christmas carolers. The photo is from the Alaska Dispatch News, via John Hanscom’s My Alaska board on Pinterest, caption: “rmogen Merculief spins the star as Father Pete Chris, of St. Innocent Russian Orthodox Church, leads the church choir in hymns at the Alaska Native Medical Center on Tuesday. Starring or “Slaaviq” is a traditional part of the Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration.”
History author Laurel Bill has a great blog post on the holiday here: http://auntphilstrunk.com/russian-orthodox-christmas-celebrated-january-7/#more-1058
And there is a scene about starring in Alaskan Don Rearden’s book The Raven’s Gift. Learn more about the book at http://www.donrearden.com/index.html (Note: be aware that much of the book is a thriller, not to be read at bedtime unless you like scaring yourself! But it is brilliantly written!)
Does your community have interesting traditions this time of year?
Posted on January 2, 2015
On January 3rd, 1959, President Eisenhower pronounced Alaska the 49th state in the Union. It was a proud day for most Alaskans, who had sought statehood over a period of years. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of why it was so important to people.
Alaska became a territory when the U S. bought it from Russia in 1867. It was largely neglected until the Klondike Gold Rush brought thousands of people here around the turn of the century. Suddenly, a sizable number joined the indigenous population, and they wanted the comforts and privileges of the rest of the country. As time went on, the territorial government grew, and the U. S. started noticing Alaska’s natural resources. World War II, and the Japanese invasion, led to a military buildup and even more people moving here. By the 1950s, outside companies were making fortunes from the Alaskan canning and fishing industries, and people wanted more local control of our resources. Statehood was a way to achieve that.
Some of the most vocal statehood proponents were Bob Bartlett, Ernest Gruening, and Bob Atwood. They, with others, lobbied Congress and the White House, created compromises to balance party concerns, and persevered for many years, Atwood was the publisher of the Anchorage Daily Times, and promoted statehood heavily in his newspaper and in other activities. The photo is from the Jan. 3, 1959 paper, showing the official proclamation and a 49-star flag.
For more details, see the longer article by the Alaska Humanities Forum at http://www.akhistorycourse.org/articles/article.php?artID=221.
Posted on December 26, 2014
By the Numbers: My Writing Life in 2014
10: the minimum number of people I’ve met and become friends with through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest this year—probably more than that but it’s hard to count everybody all over the internet. Shoutouts to all of you!
9 library groups/pages I like on Facebook now. So many great librarians out there, and please support your local library.
8 days a week: what it feels like sometimes to write full-time. I spend several hours writing each week, but there’s also time spent writing emails, blogs, arranging promo opportunities, keeping up with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, going to critique meetings—you get the point. There are days it does feel like work, but it’s still the best job I can imagine having right now.
7 days in writing conferences this summer—fun but educational too.
6 Interviews of me featured on other blogs this year—thanks for hosting me!
5 Gold Rush-era clothing items I received from friends this year. Thank you, Sondra and Cindy!
4 editors I worked with at Prism Book Group in 2014—I appreciate your helping me create the best books I could at this point in my journey.
3 books released this year: Worth Her Weight in Gold, Quicksilver to Gold, and Golden Days. Wow, no wonder I was busy! (But I couldn’t have done it without the 4 above, thanks!)
2 interviews by I. B. Nosey, the “official unofficial reporter.” I love your wacky blog, gracias!
1 event that summed it up for me: the “Fools Gold with Lynn Lovegreen” event at UAA Bookstore. We listened to old-time music with Garren Volper and Anna Lynch, talked about Fools Gold, Alaska history, reading and writing, and so many of the people I love were there to be a part of it.
Thank you all for sharing this journey with me. May 2015 be everything you hope for!