Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Never Dull

Murrells Inlet, SC

Dear Writers,

Just when you may think I've entered the witness protection program and disappeared, here I am!

We are closing in on the deadline to register for 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing, a two session seminar to be held on Saturday, November 5 and 12, 2011 through Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University, specifically at Waccamaw Higher Education Center in Litchfield, SC from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Why only two sessions? Because you will be able to obtain a manual and all of the tools needed to continue your memoir writing project at your own pace by the end of the two sessions. To register, call 843-349-6584 and someone will be delighted to enroll you in the class. Hope to see you there!

The class manual for 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing is a project that I will be publishing in print form and as an e-book. It's on the "To Do" list, and the manuscript contains the necessary steps plus tips and hints, as well as a lengthy list of questions that you can use to interview relatives about family history or that you can use to formulate your own story. It also contains resource information and a few special stories by prior workshop attendees. Stay tuned!

Never Say Perfect:

I imagine you feel like I do sometimes. Is this manuscript ever going to be published? It's such a gripping story, and here it sits on my computer, waiting like a permanent bridesmaid and never a bride. After querying a handful of agents, I queried a "to remain nameless" (I don't want them to hate me forever) publisher a few months ago and felt strongly that this would be a perfect fit. I've heard nothing from them...not yes, not no, not maybe. Their Web site indicates that a followup e-mail is appropriate after a certain number of weeks, and we have exceeded that window.

Trying to obey the rules, I sent my followup e-mail and have yet to receive a response. Frustrated to say the least, I began searching for new resources regarding the world of publishing and found Mary DeMuth's book entitled 11 Secrets of Getting Published. I could hardly wait to begin reading it after ordering it on my Nook, and it definitely did not disappoint me.

I started with a fairly speedy read-through and then sat down with pen and paper to take some important notes. Following my second read, I am encouraged and have a new and revitalized enthusiasm for Never Say Perfect. Direct from the trenches, 11 Secrets of Getting Published provides an enlightening view of important suggestions for attempting to find a publisher. I had much more to learn than I had realized.

Honestly believing that my manuscript was as publishing-ready as could be, I felt that there was nothing more I could possibly do to improve it. It was neatly wrapped and packaged with a fancy bow. Wrong! After intently studying 11 Secrets of Getting Published, it was obvious to me that I now need to thoroughly review my manuscript to search for the basic newbie errors commonly detected by agents, editors and publishers.

For example, I'll be checking for head hopping (the book provides a clear explanation of this literary faux pas), cliches, passive verbs, weak verbs, rambling and overuse of favorite words. 11 Secrets succinctly and patiently walks the reader/budding author through examples of these writing bugaboos. And I don't think I'll ever become automatically accustomed to entering only one space following a period. Old habits are truly tough to break.

Taking Mary DeMuth's advice and applying it to Never Say Perfect can only improve my manuscript, after which I will be simultaneously querying a new batch of agents. Hopefully, at least one will see the value that the story holds for touching hearts and souls. An enormous thank you to Mary DeMuth for providing a guide that is direct, informative and not fluffy or sugar-coated. She carefully spells out what it means to struggle with being a writer, including all of the inherent challenges as well as blessings. Don't forget to visit her Web site at to take advantage of the beneficial resources she offers. If you happen to sign up for her e-mail newsletters, you'll be truly blessed because she often begins with a word of prayer. Sometimes that prayer arrives just when I seem to need it!

Writing and Publishing-Not for those who expect instant success:

This entire year has been jam packed with frequent travel, family emergencies, blogging, professional education and a very few rounds of not my best golf. All of this has resulted in my writing projects moving ahead at turtle speed in terms of finalization. Hopefully, over the next couple of months I can dedicate enough uninterrupted time to finishing the projects that have been placed on my heart to share.

Is the writing life easy? It's rather comical actually--when I was working full time in property management and squeezing out paragraph after paragraph for Eyelash in my spare moments, I believed that if I could only write full time, accomplishing my goals would be so simple and I could be hyper-productive. What I discovered was that juggling multiple writing projects requires tremendous discipline and that every day normal life has a way of encroaching on concentration and dedication. I have also learned that I can only give my best efforts, and beyond that, it's in God's timing. As it all unfolds, may it always be to His honor and glory.

Until next time......

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Back again!

Whirlwind Schedule:

Most of my blog writing time has been devoted to recently, but as the stories from that fabulous trip begin to wind down, I've decided to continue writing the blog with periodic posts about interesting U. S. destinations. Sharon, Laura, Marianne and I have discussed possible future European visits and placed London and Paris on our wish lists, but that won't be happening right away. So stay tuned....

In the interim, my luggage has frequently been packed lately and I've been on the road constantly. One destination was The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia, which I will definitely write about in a travel blog post in the near future. This was such an amazing location for a refreshing break in the action. A truly hidden gem! I had an opportunity to tour the kitchen and wine cellar at this resort, which was fascinating. Be sure to keep checking on the travel blog periodically for details about this location, as well as other great getaway sites.

Never Say Perfect:

Still waiting to hear from the publisher to whom the manuscript was sent for review. Their site says to check back with them if you haven't heard anything in 12-16 weeks. Well, we're getting into that vicinity very soon. Will keep you up to date. This manuscript will not be buried--even if it is necessary to self-publish it.

Memoir Writing:

Here's a little tip from my upcoming book, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing, for generating some of those long forgotten life events:

Listen to old favorite music. I visited, chose "Resources", then "Top 100 songs from 1950 to the present", clicked on 1969 (the year I was a high school senior, yipes...was it that long ago???), and up popped a list of the biggest hits of that year. Just reviewing them brought forth a flood of memories to my brain. I could hardly write them down fast enough.

You can also access to actually hear the music that will bring you straight back to any year of your choosing. While this method may not work for everyone, if you've spent as many years being a music lover as I have, many selections will paint incredibly vivid memories. Another resource for listening to the music is Your favorite selections may just be available to you with photos or video. Just type the name of the song in the "Search" area and see what appears.

From church hymns to popular songs, some of my earliest musical recollections are:

"My Happiness" by Connie Francis-During an overnight stay in the hospital following my tonsillectomy at age seven, I awoke in the middle of the night and heard this song being played on a radio located at the nearby nurses' station. I recall being anxious to get out of there and back home to familiar surroundings, but I'll never forget hearing this selection of music that entered my room from the hallway as I eased back into my state of groggy, nighttime slumber.

"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" by Brian Hyland-I was nine years old, it was about 4:30 a.m. in North Carolina darkness, and my Dad was leaving for a trip to Arizona, where our family would be moving once school was over for the semester. There was a radio playing this song in the background as he prepared to say goodbye, and I had extremely mixed feelings about his imminent departure. I'd miss him terribly for the next two months, but our upcoming move to Arizona represented an exciting adventure, filled to the brim with the unknown.

Choose a year and select three or four songs to see if some special memories formulate. Write them down, type them into a Word document or capture your thoughts on a recorder while the thoughts are fresh in your mind. Continue this process periodically, and before you know it, you will have built a substantial collection of stories!

Let me know if this works for you, and don't hesitate to share some of the recollections with us. We welcome your submission of special memories.

Inspiration for today:

This verse just jumped off the page at me the other day from Proverbs 14:30 NIV. A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Wow! "Rots the bones" struck me as pretty major stuff. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that it is so true. When I am at peace in my heart, when I know my heart is in the right place and I am doing things for the right reasons, I feel a sense of comfort that I'm exactly where God wants me to be. If I'm wasting time being anxious or thinking about what someone else has or what they have achieved that I haven't, my insides feel as though I have swallowed rocks.

Have you ever known someone who didn't have one nice thing to say about anyone? Everything that flows from his or her lips seems to be coming from a negative position? I think that relates to envy as well. Perhaps he or she envies something about everyone else and that creates an evolving insecurity, translating into spouting negative comments so this person feels better about herself or himself. It gives them a feeling of superiority to point out what they perceive to be the negative aspects of others. Well, I do believe that an envious attitude rots the bones! I've seen it in the scowls on their faces that have long replaced the smiles.

Find something positive and encouraging to say to someone today. It will bring a natural smile to your face!