Posted on November 27, 2015
My first book, Fools Gold, was published about this time two years ago. I’ve learned a lot in my two years as a published author, so I’ll share a few nuggets here for any aspiring or new authors:
People will be more helpful and less judgmental than you might think. I spent a lot of time in the first months blushing every time I said I was an author and apologizing for being a newbie. But I really didn’t need to. No one minded that it was my first book (or first guest blog post or whatever) and often went out of their way to explain the usual routine to me.
The writing community is wonderful. In my case, I joined groups that write in my YA/NA historical romance genres or were based in Alaska. But my impression is that all writing groups have generous people in them. I’ve made friends and learned so much from my colleagues. Sharing your writing experience with others makes things easier and less lonely.
PR can be fun when you find the right platform. At first, I tried to learn all the social media, follow lots of blogs, etc. and be everywhere at once, and it wore me out. (Plus, it probably wasn’t very effective.) Once I gave myself permission to focus on the things I enjoyed, I dropped the stuff that didn’t fit my style, and I had more fun with it. (And probably did a better job with the PR I was doing.)
Writing is more important than promotion. One thing I heard from others and observed: you can promote all day every day, but if you don’t have a good product to sell, no one will buy any of your books in the future. My advice: keep the writing quality high and don’t sacrifice your writing time to other things.
There’s nothing better than hearing from a reader. I have cherished the kind words that I received from readers—thank you! It is rewarding to know that someone enjoyed my book or found wisdom in my writing. It helps me persevere when I’m having a bad day. Now that I understand that, I post an online review or write an email to the author when I read a good book, to pay it forward.
My best wishes to you, whether you’re a writer or a reader. Thank you for sharing my journey with me. If you’d like to receive my monthly newsletter, please click here:
Posted on November 20, 2015
I’m thankful for so many things this year. I am thankful for good health, loving family and friends, all the usual things. I am also thankful to live in Alaska, where beauty is all around us and people are friendly and interesting (and sometimes eccentric, which leads to great stories!). I am also thankful for my writing life.
I have been writing full-time since I retired from my last “real” job in 2012. Since then I have have been able to focus on writing and spending time with other writers and readers. I have met some amazing, generous people, in person and online, and learned so much. My writing has improved, and I’ve had a lot of fun researching history and creating characters and stories.
In 2015, I had two editors who helped me stretch as a writer and guided my last Gold Rush novel, Gold Nuggets to publication. A big thank you to Lisa Lickel and Joan Alley of Prism Book Group! I am grateful to you. And I have to give one last thank you to Joan and Jacqueline Hopper for editing my first book, Fools Gold, before it goes out of print. (If you’re interested in learning more about either of these books, see my Library page on this site or go to http://www.prismbookgroup.com/goldnuggets.html or http://www.prismbookgroup.com/foolsgold.html.)
What will 2016 hold for me? Who knows? But I had a really good run this year, and I am so glad to share it with you, my readers and followers. I am especially thankful for you. May you have lots to be thankful for, too.
Posted on November 13, 2015
My Response to Paris–November 13, 2015
The blog post “Two Years of Fools Gold” was originally posted early this morning, before I knew about the attacks in Paris. When I heard the news, my first impulse was to pull the post and write my condolences. After all, what do I have to offer the world compared to this event? (And, of course, I feel sympathy to the people affected.) But as I thought about it, I recalled an expert on terrorism saying that the terrorists get what they want when we interrupt our lives.
If we spend all our energy living in fear, thinking about the terrorists, then they’ve won. If we let love rule our lives, then we’ve taken away their power over us. So thinking about romances is not a bad idea. After all, studies have shown that reading fiction increases empathy, so maybe novels can make the world a better place. (http://www.bustle.com/articles/68860-7-ways-reading-affects-the-brain-from-increased-empathy-to-feeling-metaphors) My original post follows below.
Two Years of Fools Gold–we’re coming up to the second anniversary of the publication of my first novel, Fools Gold. (Wow, has it been that long already?!) It seems like a good time to tell you a little about how I feel about the book.
For many authors, the first book is like a first love—we remember it fondly. Fools Gold has a special place in my heart. It was the book I spent the most time with, since I was learning to write a novel at the same time. Luckily, I got a great couple of editors at Prism Book Group, Jacqueline Hopper and Joan Alley, who coached me through several rounds of editing to make it good enough for publication. It was my first book that was published, too, so Fools Gold was the first cover (and still my favorite—didn’t Joan Alley find the perfect picture for Ellie Webster?). It was the first release, the first box of books to appear at the house. (That box, opened and with one copy set up so I could admire it easily, spent several days in the living room until my husband asked gently if I could find another place for it.) Fools Gold made me an author.
Ellie and Duke, the main characters, are like old friends to me. I know them as well as I know some of my “real” friends. Here’s one of my favorite scenes:
Ellie stopped and turned to face Duke, trying to ignore the twinkle in his eye. “Now, I’m serious here. I-I am fond of you. But I don’t plan to marry you.”
Duke’s smile washed from his face and the twinkle disappeared.
“I want to be honest with you, Duke, and not mislead you.”
“Well, Ellie,” he said slowly, brows knitting together. “I appreciate that. But why wouldn’t you marry me?”
“You are kind to me, and you say beautiful things, and your letters are very flattering.” Ellie was looking at his chest now, finding it easier not to look into his eyes. “And that feels…nice. But I don’t know if that’s love. I don’t think that’s enough for me to give up my independence. And marrying you would mean a whole different life for me.”
“It wouldn’t have to.” Duke drew her face toward his for the second time that day. “I wouldn’t make you change your life.”
She shook her head. “You wouldn’t mean to. But I’ve seen lots of people get married, and the wife always ends up being the helpmate and servant. His ideas always come first. It was Papa’s idea to take out that loan. Mama didn’t want to do it.”
“You and I are not like other people. Have I ever asked you to give up your plans?”
“No, but we’re not married.” She stopped herself before the word yet slipped out.
“Ellie Webster, I love you more than life itself, and I wouldn’t treat you any different when we’re married than I do today. You’ll make your own decisions then, the same way you do now.”
She looked at him dumbly. Duke swept her up in his arms and bent down, his lips touching hers. She opened her mouth slightly in surprise and their lips melded together, his moving slowly, tenderly on hers. As sensations swirled through her, her pulse raced and his warmth enveloped her.
Then his lips left hers and the moment passed. Duke’s blue eyes sparkled like sapphires and he gently let go of her, keeping one arm around her waist.
“Think about it?” he asked softly.
“I don’t know,” she answered honestly. She didn’t know what she was thinking now. Were the feelings she had for him love, or just confused vibrations lingering from the kiss? She felt as if the breath had been knocked out of her.
Fools Gold has almost run the course on its publishing contract. Buy it before Nov. 23rd to be sure to get a copy before it goes out of print. You can go directly to Amazon or to the publisher’s page at http://www.prismbookgroup.com/foolsgold.html.
Posted on November 6, 2015
Tips for Writers: Getting Organized
I have been avoiding my study for several weeks. While I don’t mind writing on the couch, I know this is a sign that I need to do some cleaning and organizing so I can work in there again. Between that and not keeping up with my to-do list, I feel a need to update my organizational skills. Maybe you are in a similar situation, or maybe you just want to get a bit more organized before the holiday season gets any closer?
Some areas I do pretty well with, but for others I really need to get my act together. We all have challenges—maybe you’ll recognize your issues today. Here are some tips I found to help me. Perhaps they’ll be of use to you, too. Please click on the links at the end to see more tips and learn details from those authors.
I like structure, so I like having a schedule. My problem is when I have a meeting or appointment—then my whole day goes out the window. I need a Plan B schedule, maybe allotted time blocks rather than a set schedule. Other writers work more loosely, or have very limited periods for writing, but still need to manage their time. Joan Whetzel’s post (below) suggests starting with tracking your time and setting goals, and has good tips on taking advantage of short periods of time (such as waiting for kids, etc.) to write notes, and sending yourself emails. And she mentions one I’m still perfecting for myself—saying no. (I do sometimes, but need to cut down on my nonessential tasks.)
My big issue right now! I have a desk and some notes and files, but they’re spilling out all over the desk, and I need to create a better storage/organization system. Also, Emily Johnson (below) reminds writers to be good to your body by using good lighting, ergonomically-friendly desk and chair, and look into standing or treadmill workspace if that works for you, and mentions ellipticals—I might need to think about that one.
Track payments and expenses
I just saw my new tax accountant today, and she gave me a handy worksheet for Schedule C so I can see what categories of information I’ll need to give her. But generally, I keep all receipts, and make notes in my checkbook and credit card statements so I know how much I’ve spent and where. I also need to go through my inbox stuffed with receipts and figure out how to sort and store them. Suzannah Windsor suggests a spreadsheet to keep track of everything.
Create/refine a note-taking system
In my case, I usually have a running journal for research notes, and a notepad in my purse. (This is in addition to notes and drafts on my computer.) Some people love Scrivener for notes and drafting. My advice is to play with different systems, digital and old-fashioned, to see what works for you. Melissa Donovan’s post (below) explains how to make binders for print notes and folders for digital ones. And while we’re talking digital—SAVE BACKUPS! There’s nothing worse than losing a whole book because your computer died (sorry for shouting with the bold font, but I’m trying to save you grief here).
Here are some good posts on these subjects:
Melissa Donovan: http://www.writingforward.com/writing-tips/writing-tips-getting-and-staying-organized
Emily Johnson: https://www.freelancersunion.org/blog/2015/08/10/how-organize-your-workspace-infographic/
Joan Whetzel: http://wrwdc.com/15-time-management-tips-for-writers/
Suzannah Windsor: http://writeitsideways.com/6-organization-tips-for-disorganized-writers/
Hope this was helpful for you. Now, go out there and organize! Then write!
Posted on October 30, 2015
To celebrate Halloween, I found a few ghosts in Anchorage, Alaska for you.
The current Anchorage Hotel, an annex to the original, was built in 1938, which means it’s had plenty of years to acquire ghosts. Stories are told of children knocking on doors and giggling, one appearing in a closet. A lady in white roams the lobby. Another ghost is reportedly the first Chief of Police, Chief Sturgis, whose murder was never solved. A medium says that much of downtown Anchorage has a disruption in the Earth’s energy field.
Maybe that’s why there are reports of ghosts at the historic Fourth Avenue Theatre down the street. A lady can be seen in the mirrors between the men’s and women’s bathrooms.
But they’re not all downtown. At UAA’s Wendy Williamson Theater, there is a lady in white [Why are they always in white?], a man, and a teen boy haunting the building. Women who have brown hair sometimes report being pushed down a stairway, lights explode, and props fly the off furniture.
To learn more about Anchorage’s ghosts, try these websites:
Haunted Alaska: http://alaskaghosthunting.com/index.php/haunted-alaska/2-uncategorised/13-haunted-alaska
Ghost Tours of Anchorage: http://www.ghosttoursofanchorage.com
Have a spooky and happy Halloween!
Posted on October 23, 2015
Back in 2003, I was a busy English teacher who did a little writing on the side. That summer, I took a class with ASWC (the Alaska State Writing Consortium), and a colleague told me about NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. It sounded like it might be a fun challenge to write a novel in the month of November, but I didn’t know if I’d follow through—until I got my teaching schedule that fall.
I had five classes in grades 7-12, including three writing classes. I think my first words to my supervisor were, “You’re trying to kill me.” To teach a writing class properly, you need to have students do a lot of writing, and read all their writing in order to guide them to revision. It takes hours every week. Multiplied by three. But then I remembered NaNo.
To keep my sanity, NaNo became part of my curriculum. I announced to my students that they could participate in my usual writing prompts, or they could write their own book a la NaNoWriMo. And I would write a book, too. Every time we wrote in class, I wrote for my novel. During sharing time, I sometimes shared what I was writing. The book became part of our class conversations. Did it turn my pack of teenagers into novelists? Not really. But they saw another side of writing, and hopefully noticed how much fun I had with it, too.
It was fun for me. I had a good time creating the plot and characters. And with NaNo’s permission to “write crap” in the first draft, I didn’t worry too much about what I was producing. I just let the words flow. Luckily, my family supported me as I spent less time with them, quit doing housework, and gave them a lot of frozen pizza and Subway for dinner. It took most of that month, but by combining hours of class writing time, and evenings and weekends (when my lesson plans and grading were done), I made it. I got to 50,000 words by the end.
During that month, I had my first experience of characters running away with me. I was sitting on the couch, typing away, as Bob walked Kitty home from the USO dance. And I thought, “He’s going to propose.” And he did, right there in front of me! Boy, was I hooked. Once I had 50,000 words, I wanted to turn it into a real book, and started revising. That led me to the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference and AKRWA, the Alaska chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Before I knew it, I graduated to writing an actual novel, and then a few more, until I was published. And it all started with NaNo.
Now, NaNoWriMo has a bigger program, with resources and write-ins, and a Young Writers Program for writers 17 and under. You can work on your own or with the support of writers near you. You can learn more at http://nanowrimo.org.
In time to get people inspired for NaNo, or just to write on your own, YA author Jolene Perry (http://jolenebperry.com) and I are offering a pep talk at the Eagle River, AK Library on Oct. 28, 6:30-8 pm. “How to Write A Whole Novel: Tips and Ideas to Get the Job Done, Just in Time for NaNoWriMo. YA authors Lynn Lovegreen and Jolene Perry talk about what to do before you write, how to write a novel, and what to do when you’re stuck.” We hope to see you there if you’re in our area.
Go forth and write! You never know where it might lead you!
Posted on October 16, 2015
Reading: old and new friends
I am an eclectic reader. Young adult, historical romance, chapter books, classics, nonfiction, even the occasional mystery—it’s all good. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week.
Lately I’ve been on a Dickens kick, thanks to my friend Wayne Mergler, who is an expert and fanatic. My favorite thing about Charles Dickens is his characters. I love the way he creates these larger than life people who I know better than I know some real people. And his descriptions are great. For example, here’s one from Great Expectations:
“Joe was a fair man, with curls of flaxen hair on each side of his smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue that they seemed to have somehow got mixed with their own whites. He was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy going, foolish, dear fellow—a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness.”
Isn’t that vivid?
I’ve also been reading some current YA. Gabi: A Girl In Pieces by Isabel Quintero also has great writing, with a contemporary angle. Here’s a sample:
“Whet I really want to do before summer vacation is over is try the new super-hot wings from Pepe’s House of Wings, located—conveniently—down the street. The wings are rumored to be so hot that you have to sign a waiver before you put one little drumstick in your mouth. Which makes me wonder, what horrible thing happens when you eat them? Could you possibly have a heart attack from ingesting so much capsaicin? (I like that word. It makes me feel scientific.)”
Okay, I’ll stop there, but you get the picture. It doesn’t take long to like Gabi and get caught up in her unique voice.
Margo Rabb creates another great voice in Kissing in America. Here’s a taste:
“My mom is a professor of women’s studies at Queens College. While other newborns were happily drifting to sleep to Goodnight Moon, my mom read to me in my crib from Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, and Audre Lorde. In our living room there’s a picture of me in my stroller at a women’s rights march in Washington, clutching a sign with my tiny green mittens: Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History!
And so, two years ago, when I was fourteen and began what my mom termed “your ultimate rebellion,” she said I chose the worst thing possible. She would’ve preferred odd piercings, full-body tattoos, or even shoplifting to what I did.
I fell in love with romance novels.”
Eva is another great main character here. (I don’t want my romance buddies to think she disses romance, either. It’s just a funny way to meet the characters in this book, so keep reading.)
Those voices, those characters, are why I turned the page. Getting to know a character, whether written last year or over a hundred years ago, is like meeting a new friend. And when I re-read a Dickens novel, it’s like seeing old friends after a long absence. You fall in love with them all over again.
Posted on October 9, 2015
Alaska Book Week 2015: the Alaska Writing Community
I’ve been celebrating Alaska Book Week 2015 by interviewing one of my favorite Alaskan author DeNise Woodbury last Friday (http://www.lynnlovegreen.com/?p=1829), featuring Alaskan writers on Twitter (@lynnlovegreen), and posting a Denali video on my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuJLYG6E-yU). Today, I’ll tell you a bit about my experience in the great Alaskan writing community.
I first became part of a writing community through the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference (http://writersconf.kpc.alaska.edu) in Homer, Alaska. I started going to the conference when I was an English teacher, before I considered myself a “real” writer. But that didn’t matter—I was included as part of the group. It’s still a great place to meet writers of all genres and styles, and learn from fabulous presenters. As time went on and I went to more of these conferences over the years, I became more confident in my writing.
I wrote my first book through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2003. After that, I wanted to turn my 50,000 rambling words into a decent novel. I met with the awesome editor Rebecca Goodrich, who gave me some great feedback and recommended I join AKRWA. That was one of the best suggestions I’ve ever received.
AKRWA is the Alaska chapter of Romance Writers of America (http://www.akrwa.com). AKRWA has published and unpublished writers, and includes writers of mainstream, paranormal, scifi, young adult, fantasy and more subgenres of romance. All the members have two things in common: a passion for writing and a desire to help fellow writers. I went to hours of critiques, craft talks, and more—and I learned how to write a real novel. In the process, I found my writing sisters. I still turn to my friends in this group whether I have a milestone to celebrate or a problem to overcome. I can’t imagine my life without them.
Another Alaskan group that has been a big influence is 49 Writers (http://49writers.blogspot.com). They are relatively new, having recently celebrated their fifth anniversary. 49 Writers started as a blog and grew into a writing group offering workshops and events. I still enjoy the blog, even had the opportunity to make guest posts, and have participated in several activities. I met authors like Andromeda Romano-Lax, Deb Vanasse, and Don Rearden, who have been role models, teachers, and cheerleaders for me. Many of them also belong to another Alaskan writing community, the North Words Writers Symposium.
To be precise, North Words (http://nwwriterss.com) is only part Alaskan—it’s also Canadian. The symposium takes place in Skagway each summer. I was able to attend last year, and found the participants just as friendly and knowledgable as 49 Writers. The workshops and informal conversations were inspiring and informative, and again, everyone is respected as a fellow writer, no matter what you write or if you’ve been published or not.
The last Alaskan writing group I recommend is the Alaska chapter of SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, http://alaska.scbwi.org). They also welcome both new and veteran writers, and their daytime critique group has been a crucial part of my draft and revision process. A few members have become good friends, too. We’re all in this together as we navigate our writing journeys.
Overall, I am lucky to be a writer in Alaska. There are groups and individuals to learn from and hang out with. I feel valued and appreciated, and try to give back to other writers so they can feel the same. Perhaps our frontier traditions and isolation from the rest of the country make it easier for us to reach out to each other. But I’d like to think that all writers can find their tribe, their local writing group, if they look around. That is my wish for you, too.
To learn more about Alaska Book Week, see http://www.alaskabookweek.com.
Posted on October 2, 2015
In honor of Alaska Book Week, I have interviewed one of my favorite Alaskan authors, and a fellow member of AKRWA (the Alaska chapter of Romance Writers of America), DeNise Woodbury. I’ll post the interview here, followed by more information on her book Cotton Grass Lodge:
1. You write books with different settings and characters. How does a book idea come to you? Do you start a new story with the plot, characters, or another thing first?
So many of my ideas come as snippets of scenes. The ones that won’t leave me alone are developed into more and more and seldom end up where they began.
2. What led you to write Cotton Grass Lodge?
The character of the Shaman came to me—in another of those scenes. I couldn’t quite make him the main protagonist, but he fit beautifully into the book I eventually wrote.
3. You have a deep understanding of Alaska and Alaskans. What do you think is most unique about us and our home? What clichés do we tell about ourselves that aren’t always true?
Oh my. I fell in love with Alaska after coming here for ‘one year’—I found that leaving didn’t seem to be an option. Because I came as an older adult I relished the new and different and have never taken the place or the people for granted. I understand better than some because my experience traveling/living in the lower 48 gives me insight into what the people that stay here want and expect. I hope I understand why people endure and why some happily leave.
The cliche : The odds are good but the goods are odd.= We love to use it but gosh, I love those odd goods-and, I’d kinda like to think I’m a little odd-so I fit right in.
4. How do you find the writing community in Alaska?
Everyone I’ve met that writes, for the most part, has been kind and encouraging. Of course my soft spot is for the Alaska Chapter of RWA but there are many other authors who, like me are pounding their head on a keyboard trying to juggle life and find enough time to crank out another story.
5. What are you working on for your next project?
::rubs hands together::[tee-hee] I have a couple of ideas for books and lately they all end up in Alaska. Ya know, they say write what you know.
I have a story based loosely on a fishing community similar to Seward and I thought that Cotton Grass Lodge would be a stand alone book, but there is always winter in the Alaska Bush which makes for some interesting story telling.
Thanks for your time, DeNise.
Lynn, thank you so much for this opportunity; it was fun.
Here’s my review of Cotton Grass Lodge from Goodreads:
This witty, heartwarming romance shows contemporary Alaska in all its beauty and quirkiness. (I don’t rank by stars there, but would have given it a full five stars.)
This is the book’s blurb:
In a moment of anguish, Duncan Mahoney impulsively buys a rundown lodge in Alaska, on Cotton Grass Lake. With his business savvy, he figures he can turn it around quickly, make a profit, and get out, wallet intact. But the old owner won’t leave, the hired man is a drunk, and the staff is an abandoned single mother. Cargo pilot Hanna Reed thinks the city slicker will leave quickly and good riddance. She traded the Air Force and a bad marriage for a quiet life, good friends, and the pleasure of the open sky. Duncan is a distraction she doesn’t need, but he is so sexy she decides to enjoy him while he’s still around. As the season unfolds, Duncan and Hannah find themselves growing closer emotionally as well as physically. The magic of Cotton Grass Lake may heal broken hearts, but is it enough to keep them from breaking again?
And here’s the Amazon link:
To learn more about Alaska Book Week and see more events and posts, check out their website at http://www.alaskabookweek.com.
Alaska Book Week 2015
Posted on September 25, 2015
I’m getting ready for the fall retreat of AKRWA, the Alaska chapter of the Romance Writers in Alaska. We gather together for a weekend of writing, workshops, and camaraderie every September.
Fall in Alaska is beautiful, even though we don’t have the variety of colors that New England and others do. Here are some photos for you to enjoy!
Hope you are having a good season wherever you are!