False or Healthy Pride?

IMG_1659aby Neva Bodin

When my precocious daughter was four, she decided she could ride my old bike which was designed for a seven or eight year old. Tall for her age, people meeting her for the first time thought she was six, so while it was certainly unwieldy for her, she could steer and pedal by standing, if she could figure out how to balance it. She fell, she hurt, she cried, over and over.

“Stop!” I commanded, seeing and feeling her anguish.

“No, I have to ride it!” she cried as sobs hoarsened her voice and Wyoming dust outlined tears on her cheeks. Eventually she triumphed, in spite of my begging her to stop trying as I couldn’t stand the tears I saw, and pain I knew she felt.

Recently I watched a small beetle attempt to cross over a large twig in its path. It fell, tried again, fell, tried again and….you get the picture. Eventually it made the trip. It didn’t stop to look embarrassed (can bugs look embarrassed?), or appear discouraged, it just kept trying. And I think if it had not made it over the obstacle, it would have eventually tried to go around it.

A story has been written and irritatingly begging me to edit it. I believe there are women out there (somewhere, everywhere) who could strengthen their faith and understanding of some of their struggles by reading my story. It is an inspirational, historical romance in which the hero and heroine must work through misconceptions, emotional and physical pain, and get to know themselves in order to find love and rediscover their faith in God. If I can write it well enough. There is the rub. Fear and pride are making me tremble.

Unlike my beautifully determined daughter, and the tenacious beetle, I must also deal with lack of perseverance and the habit of procrastination. I now realize I have learned important concepts from my daughter and the shiny insect—false pride and healthy pride.

Tears and pain sometimes accompany our learning something that will eventually give us a healthy pride in ourselves, thereby increasing our self-esteem. That is if we don’t listen to our fearful self-talk and nay-sayers who tell us those are reasons to stop working toward a worthwhile goal.

False pride doesn’t allow for failure and embarrassment when pursuing our goals. However, no one cares as much as me whether I embarrass myself or fail at something, unless of course, it concerns them in some personal way. I am not under anyone’s microscope on earth. Who do I think I am?

Many successful and now famous authors have been rejected multiple times. Among them are George Orwell, J K Rowling, Dr. Seuss, and Stephen King. The stories rejected went on to become best sellers. While I am no one special, I am in good company if my manuscript is rejected! Rejection is part of becoming a published writer or author. It can strengthen our skill, our determination, and encourage me to examine that false pride. And maybe eventually acquire some healthy pride!
Part of my procrastination, I believe, is me feeding the wrong kind of pride. This has given me new insight and inspiration to finish, polish and begin submitting my novel.

No, my tendency to procrastinate and delay work on my novel with the excuse that the flowers need watering, the dishes need washing, etc. has not gone away. But, I now face the real reason I fight myself on this issue, and remember the lessons a little girl and a beetle have taught me. We are meant to try, and keep on trying, any worthwhile passion until we get it right. Not only might we accomplish it, but we will be an inspiration to others on the journey.

Montana Free by Neva Bodin (Start of Prologue) 

Prologue

July, 1878 Montana Territory

Morgan’s heart pounded so loudly against her rib cage, she wondered the birds didn’t take flight at the sound. She moved silently in spite of shaking legs, her feet automatically seeking soft earth without twigs that snap. I have to hide. They can’t find me…

Poetry is fun! Try it, you’ll like it!

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I know, last month was poetry month, but so what?  Poetry flows right through you, if you stop to listen.  Hear it?  It’s in your eyes, heart and soul when you look at nature or something else just as beautiful.  Walk down the road and you will see and hear all sorts of sounds and sights.

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In my world, I see nature.  All sorts of four legged-furry friends scamper, run and jump through my five-acre wooded lot.  Birds sing and drop their seeds from our bird feeder and the squirrels scoop them up and a hurry.  The deer like the leftovers, too.

If you have a mind to do it, put all of this into words and watch it flow onto the page.  When finished, you’ll think—that came from me?  I don’t believe it!  So then go back and re-read it from the beginning to the end.  Did you add more to it?  That’s how you write.  Keep adding until you’re finished.

Here’s some fun poetry from my new poetry book.

Whispers From the Wind

 

Bees Buzz

Striped and yellow jackets swarm around gathering summer honey

buzzing in our quiet ears forcing us whispering weary and abundantly scared

Little children chase off far from the attacking buzz

Screaming and shouting for their mother’s who scream and shout

for the dad’s

“Help!

We’re being invaded by buzzing bees!” the mother shouts. “They sting and hurt.”

“They give us deliciously, warm autumn honey,” the dad says, “which we will ooze onto a freshly baked slice of bread,

lick our lips and fingers, delight our tummy

with the first bite.”

~~~~~~~~~Barbara Schlichting 

Enjoy the day!  Enjoy the poetry from your surroundings high in the sky and under your feet!  Today is the day to begin to write what’s in your heart, mind, and soul.

Whispers From the Wind

Barb’s Books                                                                                First Lady Blog

Novel Writing, Book Marketing, Event Planning… Oh My!

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

November began with a BANG, and I was JAZZED! I had completed my magazine writing assignments for the year (or nearly so), book events were falling into place, and I had new marketing strategies to employ. Last Friday I secured radio and TV interviews for upcoming events and sent out additional press releases in hopes of setting up another radio interview and getting some newspaper publicity. It’s exhausting work, but I’m feeling optimistic and energized as the holiday book season approaches.

National Novel Writing Month/NaNo

Pets are my passion; should make a great romance story, right? Two years ago I started such an endeavor because of taking a college writing class. I was surrounded by several romance writers. However, I wanted my work to reflect my concern for the welfare of animals, therefore, I created my primary female character as a writer who rescues pets (write what you know, right?!). I received positive feedback from the students, the teacher, and other writers with whom I shared the idea. However, the romance genre is out of my comfort zone, and therefore, I put the story away. But, I a niggling persisted the past few months, and since I had completed nearly 17,000 words with NaNo 2014, I decided to dust the manuscript off and use this year’s NaNo as a catalyst to finish the book. I’m progressing, not as well as I’d hoped, but progressing nonetheless.

computerBook Marketing

In October, I began a subscription to ThriveHive, a DYI marketing venture of Propel Marketing. Cost is about $50 per month, and through it I receive ability to schedule Facebook and Twitter posts, have a website (although I already have one), create an email list (which I’m in the process of doing now), and have other marketing tools to promote myself and my books. I haven’t done as much with this as I’d hoped by now, but I believe it will be a positive benefit as I learn and apply in the future. Additionally, I joined TribeWriters, a course and community by writer-guru Jeff Goins; writers grow through learning, applying, and engaging. It too costs about $50/month. Between the two new opportunities, I hope to increase my book sales and develop as a writer (author and freelancer). I also became a member of several Facebook groups through which I recently promoted my Kindle books during free and discounted price days. I’ve been hoping to guest blog on pet blog sites, but haven’t managed to make those connections yet. I’ll save that endeavor for next spring when I can plug into special times, like Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, Be Kind to Animals Week, and Children’s Book Week. There are SO MANY PLACES AND WAYS for a writer to promote books and articles, to engage with other writers and with readers or potential readers – sometimes the possibilities are overwhelming! I wish I had more time to research and apply the various techniques and opportunities; having a day-job can be confining to a writer, but until the writing pays all (or at least most of) the bills, this is the road I must travel.

Event Planning

‘Tis the season for booksignings! Every Saturday through Christmas I have at least one event, and for that, I’m thankful! From Casper and Douglas, Wyoming to locations in Montana, weather-permitting I’ll be out and about reading from and (hopefully) selling books. I had my first reading of my newest children’s story, BobCat Goes to School, on Saturday; another is scheduled at an out-of-town library on December 3 (praying for good travel weather!). I’m blessed to be able to share some of these events with my friend Chris who illustrated the book; this is her first illustrated-book endeavor and her first experiences at promotion events. I enjoy reading, signing, and selling events, but they are a lot of work, including creating press releases and emailing newspapers and radio stations, developing flyers and sending to store owners, and making sure I have enough books to sell at each location. I’m thankful for the additional money holiday sales generates, but I’d like to find new and steady ways to produce more online sales (hence, the book marketing activities above).

These various endeavors help the month of November pass quickly. I can’t believe the middle of the month has arrived! What writing-related undertakings are keeping you occupied in the weeks leading up to the holiday season?

 

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallGayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational pet stories for children and adults, including a Kindle e-book for owners of blind dogs. She is also a contributing writer to six Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as the summer pet anthology by Sundown Press titled Memories from Maple Street: Pawprints on My Heart. She is currently working on additional manuscripts and short stories, with hopes of new book releases in spring 2017. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

bobcat-front-cover   bookcover_tail-tales_front-cover   irwin_pawprints-on-my-heart-book-cover   cody-cabin-cover2   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014

I am a Writer!

Gayle_signing photoThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

I have an anniversary coming up. Nine years ago next month I attended my first writers’ conference. I traveled to New Mexico thanks to a free airline ticket I received when I was bumped from a full flight six months prior. Two months after that conference, I left my full-time, good-paying federal job, seeking to become a freelance writer and author. Oh, the dreams and visions I had for my future as a writer!

Nine years … I haven’t actually “made it” and I don’t necessarily have less stress in my life from that time as a federal employee, but I am thankful for the journey. I still work a “day job” but one that gives me (usually) two weekdays in order to focus on my writing. My current day-job is also stressful, especially now as we’re gearing up for a major fundraiser and going through bumps in our data/computer system. Balancing that job with my writing work, such as interviewing people for stories for various magazines and newspapers, can be tricky, especially now that I’m middle-age (I don’t juggle as well as I used to).

soldier and flagI love the writing work, even when it’s challenging. I recently received my final check for They Served with Honor – Vietnam Veterans, having turned in my final story for that project in early September. Those interviews were often quite emotional, both for the veteran and for me. I’m now in the midst of six articles for Crossroads, a magazine published annually by the Cheyenne, Wyoming, Chamber of Commerce. This is my third year writing for that magazine, and it’s more challenging this year as I have three stories about new projects at F.E. Warren Air Force base; finding people willing to talk about those endeavors has been difficult, even with the help of the base’s public affairs office. But, I believe we’ve found a solution and I look forward to composing, and completing, this assignment within a few weeks.

Writing isn’t easy. I struggle to create books sometimes and, as testament above, not always do article sources pan out. Oh, some days the words do just flow, like when I sat down at the Gillette, Wyoming, library last Friday as I drove to a writer’s workshop. I’d been toying with the idea of new book, a collection of short pet stories I’d written for other publications that either weren’t accepted or were published quite some time ago – my own Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul collection, if you would. The works are good, and I’ve been editing them to make them better, and so instead of letting them sit or keep trying other venues, I’m creating my own. I believe pet owners will enjoy these “tail tales,” stories that touch hearts and impacts lives.

During the drive to the workshop, I thought of the cat from my childhood, and when I sat in that chair in that library, the words eased from mind/heart to computer/page like maple syrup flowing from northeastern trees. Of course, I’ve edited the story, but it’s amazing when the mind is clear, the words can, and do, come forth.

computerI’ve been blessed this year with various articles, projects, and publications. As the article-writing dies down, I’m looking forward to picking back up the manuscripts I’ve been desiring to complete for the past year or so, including three children’s stories and a book project I started after that first writers’ conference. Nine years – that’s awhile! I likely won’t complete it this year, but it gives me a new book project for next year; maybe a 10th anniversary book!

The writers’ workshop I attended last weekend was located in the Black Hills region of northeastern Wyoming (my reason for stopping at the Gillette library was for a break… but it became more!). The workshop was a fiction-writing program and though the presenter writes works that are outside my box, I have a manuscript that I started a few years ago which remains unfinished; it was outside my box of comfort.  Yet, I feel compelled to finish it, and I’m hopeful what I learned at last weekend’s workshop will spur me to do so. I came away from the workshop excited and considering that WIP. But, I have others to work on first.

Getting away from home and spending time with other writers, and later at the quiet of some friends’ ranch, spurred my creativity – I wish I could have stayed a week!

cat-tails

During the past year, I’ve also been fortunate to have some of my children’s works turned into a serialized story, published in our local paper which produces a kids’ section. One of my latest works is producing another such story with hopes it runs this winter. The story is nearly finished and deals with sibling spats. I’m looking into how I might get this and other children’s stories into other publications via syndication.

And just this week I signed up for Thrive Hive, a small-business marketing endeavor from Propel Marketing. This aspect of authorship has been the greatest challenge for me, and I believe this company will be of great help. For a low monthly rate, I will be able to reach out to more people through various means, and though it’s DYI, the company provides a platform, helpful marketing people, guides, and services that will keep me on track and motivated. A new step for me, but one that I hope will yield positive, encouraging results.

Gayle_CHS booktable34My desire is to be a fulltime writer. That would consist of being a book author, an article writer, a short story creator, a blogger, and other measures that would bring in an income. I’d hoped by the end of this year to be at that point, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. There is always next year.

At times I’ve wondered if I’m truly a writer. When people don’t show up at booksignings, I truly doubt.  I’ve asked for the thoughts to stop, to turn off like I can turn the TV or radio off. Then, when the stories and ideas won’t stop, I realize that yes, I AM A WRITER! That was apparent last Friday when new children’s book ideas popped in my head and when I stopped at the Gillette library, sat at my laptop and cranked out a new pet story for my upcoming Tail Tales short story anthology.So, I guess since the ideas won’t stop, and I since I was inspired by the fiction-writing workshop, I need to accept that I am a writer. And, I’ll just keep working on stories, articles, and books… for that is my calling.

I AM A WRITER!

Gayle_Chrisjpg

Gayle M. Irwin is the author of seven inspirational dog stories for children and adults. She is a also a freelance writer for various magazines and newspapers and is a contributor to six editions of the Chicken Soup for the Soul as well as to the short story collection Memories from Maple Street: Pawprints on My Heart, released in July 2016 from Sundown Press. Gayle is passionate about pets and animal adoption and supports several animal welfare organizations through donations from her book sales, assisting at events, and transporting dogs for rescue groups. She is currently working on new books, including BobCat Goes to School, a humorous children’s story about a cat that gets trapped in a school building; Tail Tales: A Short Story Collection About Pets that Have Touched My Heart & Impacted My Life; and Seasons of Life, Seasons of Nature, which parallels the seasons in nature with the joys and challenges of life. Learn more about Gayle and her works at www.gaylemirwin.com.

Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   BookCoverPreview_Codys Cabin_Aug 2016.do   Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover   Spirit of America book   Pawprints Book

 

 

 

How to Tell if Your Slip is Showing!

 

 

propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

If you are a woman many of you have run into a problem with your slip showing below your hemline. Not only does it look unprofessional, when someone brings it to your attention

sundress-336590_640you are embarrassed. I’ve actually seen a woman standing near me whose half-slip fell right down to her feet. And then there’s the woman returning from the bathroom with her slip and skirt tucked into her pantyhose. Although it’s hard not to laugh you take pity on her and quickly tell her the problem (hey, it could have happened to you!).

Why am I writing a blog post about how to tell if your slip is showing? I am speaking of how it relates to writing. Your writing can slip if you are not careful. Slips of the tongue can make a sentence mean something entirely different than what you intended. Slips with characters names can throw your reader into confusion.

adult-18598_640Slips in the plot of the book can cause a reader to put the book down because he or she doesn’t like your writing style. If your location shifts and the reader has to make his way through the murky waters to find out what you mean, oops, another slip!

How to avoid your slip showing? Edit, edit, edit. Be sure you have read your book many times to catch problems. Have a group of proofreaders you trust give the book a read andtypewriter-801921_640 tell you of anything they catch and be open to changing it. It’ll only make the book better.

Since none of us want our slips to show, it’s only logical we pay very close attention to the plot, the protagonist, the location, and the overall feel of the book. Believe me, you’ll feel a lot better if your slip isn’t showing and you’ll gain readers because they like the professionalism and tune of the writing.

Make sure your slips fit!

 

My Books can be found on Amazon.com

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzared, The Fortune Teller

13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an E-book

13 Extreme Tips to Publishing an E-book

Videos for both of the Inzared books can be found on You Tube

You can also find me here:

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Google

YouTube

Pinterest

Goodreads

Twitter

Linkedin

 

 

Ties that Bind

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Despite the crummy weather in Wyoming last weekend, I was able to drive to my friends’ ranch near Kaycee and share time with my parents, my husband, Mary-dog, and our good friends Kevin and Judy Lund (I got out of town prior to the latest spring snow storm!). The solace of the JKL Ranch near the Powder River and the warmth of companionship took the chill off the damp weather. In between systems of rain and snow, the greening grass, singing birds, and sightings of wildlife provided us with touches of spring. All of that combined to add sunshine to our days and festiveness to our evenings. Amazing how nature and nurture work together to bring joy to one’s heart!

big tree at ranch
Sunrise at the JKL Ranch in Wyoming

As I alluded to in previous blog posts, our relationships with others help define who we are and impact what we do. Whether those people are family members, friends, work colleagues, other writers, publishers or readers of our stories, each person adds something to our lives. We hope that “something” is positive, but sometimes it’s not. We can struggle with certain relationships, even the relationship we have with ourselves. Are we nurturing ourselves? Are others nurturing toward us? Or do we bemoan who we are and let others belittle who we are? I urge each of us to surround ourselves with encouragers … and to encourage ourselves when needed.

I am blessed to be loved by many people, including my dear, aging parents. I worry over them at times, especially on lengthy drives such as they took last weekend – nearly 400 miles one-way. My father is nearly 80 years old (his birthday is in July) and my mother 77. Mom has never driven so Dad is the lone person behind the wheel. Thankfully, he still manages well; they will be traveling to Oregon for a Mansfield family reunion – likely, the last as each one of his brothers is also in their 70s (one is flying from Mississippi, the other two live in Oregon). They were to have had this reunion last year, but unfortunately, one of the wives fell and broke her ankle, so the reunion was postponed a year. My hope is that they all enjoy each other’s company as much as the Mansfields/Irwins did last weekend.

family
Gayle M. Irwin and her husband Greg and her parents Earl and Marcia Mansfield

Our friends the Lunds are so warm and welcoming! This is my fourth trip to their ranch this year, and though little writing was accomplished on this particular trek, the main of idea was fellowship, which was greatly accomplished. So was a lot of wildlife watching. Again, in spite of the nasty weather, we had one day where we drove around the ranch (thanks to our friends’ all-terrain Kubota) and took two different afternoon adventures, one to what’s known as Red Wall Country – an area of vast ranches and rich history (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid frequently hid out in this region). We also traveled to the northwest part of the lower Bighorn Mountains, to another ranching/former town site area known as mayoworth signMayoworth; a sign for a former stagestop presented itself in addition to the many species of wildlife: mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorn, turkeys, sandhill cranes, hawks, pheasants, Canada geese, and plentiful songbirds. Bluebirds were returning and meadowlarks, Wyoming’s state bird, chorused from fence posts. We watched and listened to several tom turkeys as they courted harems of hens, and we saw several herds of deer in many different pastures. The sound of my new camera clicking made my parents laugh and tell my husband a “Gayle and the deer picture story” from my childhood – before digital cameras allowed a person to delete the numerous bad pictures, Gayle took at least nine photos of deer, and mostly captured butts… wasting both film and money. Even as a teen, wildlife and photography fascinated me. Sharing memories, and making more as in last weekend at the ranch, is one of the great joys of relationships.

pair of cranes
A pair of sandhill cranes saunter through prairie grass near Kaycee, Wyoming

As this week unfolds, I’ll be making more memories and binding and building more relationship ties. On Thursday evening, May 5, I’ll share an event with another Casper author as we conduct a program at ART 321, one of the newest galleries, called “Your Life is a Story.” We’re both authors of children’s books; we’ll help participants make their own books and also read from ours, and hopefully sell a few. It’s all part of the monthly Casper Art Walk. Casey Rislov and I are the first authors to have an event at ART 321. We are hoping for strong interest and good success.

Then on Saturday, May 7, I’ll join our own Darrah J. Perez for two events in Lander. In honor of Be Kind to Animals Week, we’ll share our words at the Fremont County Library in Lander for four hours then for two additional hours at Mr. D’s Coffee and Books. This is my first time at either place, and I’m grateful to Darrah for setting it all up. We’ll be collecting pet supplies to donate to area pet rescue organizations as well. Collaborating, helping, and giving back, both through our books and through our partnership endeavors – so exciting!

The quiet of last weekend, the beauty of nature and the loving nurture around me, and now forthcoming the busyness of the days ahead and the joy of the interactions I’ll have, may seem polar opposites – but they all fill me with joy and excitement.

meadowlark singing
A western meadowlark trills from a fence post in Wyoming.

There’s an old hymn that goes, “Blest be the tie that binds, our hearts in Christian love…” Whether Christian or not, the ties that are bond by love and respect are the best types of relationships to experience, the most meaningful, the most lasting. As writers and as human beings, we are blessed by and through our relationships with others. I am blessed by my parents, and I try to be a blessing to them. I am blessed to have a kind, loving, and supportive husband. I am blessed by my relationships with my pets and with and by my human friends. I am blessed interacting with nature, and I am blessed by my readers and others who support my writing endeavors. I hope, too, that I can be and am a blessing to others, people, pets, and nature.

My prayer for all of you is that you, too, are blessed by ties that bind in love and respect.

Greg Gayle Mom Dad_cabin
Gayle and her family at the Irwins’ mountain cabin.

 

Yellowstone Sign_Gayle Mary_smallerGayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational pet stories for children and adults; she also freelances for several Rocky Mountain area newspapers and magazines and is a contributor to six Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the upcoming “The Spirit of America.” A strong supporter of pet rescue and conservation organizations, Gayle enjoys traveling and volunteering with such groups. She regularly speaks in schools, at libraries, and for various civic and faith-based events where she enjoys sharing about the human-pet bond and the lessons people learn from animals and nature. Learn more about Gayle and her writing and speaking endeavors at www.gaylemirwin.com.

 

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014  Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover  Spirit of America book

From Winter to Spring

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

One week ago my community became buried in 14+ inches of heavy, wet snow. Businesses closed, including the community college and the non-profit organization for which I work. Two days later, I was 275 miles north in Montana and enjoyed a weekend of 65 – 75 degree temperatures (and no snow!). And when I returned to Casper, so did spring. This week temperatures will be in the 60s and near 70 degrees. Amazing the difference a few days, sometimes even a few hundred miles, makes.

spring flowers_front yardI love spring! Flowers grow and bloom, trees bud and produce fruit, and grass becomes green and lush (and the lawn mower comes out of the garage). The wicker furniture and glass bistro set await lunches and evening gatherings on the deck and in the yard, and my two cats spend more time relaxing in the sunshine that warms the back brick patio. I look forward to enjoying increasing outdoor time, soaking in the fragrances of tulips, bleeding hearts, and lilacs and listening to the ever-increasing numbers of songbirds warble from our blossoming apple tree and honeysuckle bush.

All seasons have their beauty (although the older I get, the less I like winter) and purpose. Just as nature’s seasons bring new opportunities (to ski, to plant, to hike, to harvest, for example), so too do the seasons of our writing. A few weeks ago I was to speak and have a booksigning at a small-town library. Publicity was done, including a nice write-up in the local newspaper. However, only three people showed up, and one of them was the librarian and another was my friend who provided a place for me to stay overnight. Needless to say, I was completely disappointed; I left the library questioning why I was doing this writing and speaking stuff. A few days later, I received a delightful note from someone who bought one of my books the week previous, and today, I opened an email from another reader/book buyer and dog adopter who said, “I can read your work time & time again.  I have spoken to you several times at events, but you can be assured, I will be more “pushy” next time—you are amazing and I would love to talk at more length.” Needless to say, I smiled as brightly as the sun in the sky – which, that day (Monday) was dazzling.

Spring brings new growth, in life, in nature, in writing. Several new opportunities came my way earlier this year, and I recently learned at least one of the stories I submitted to Prairie Rose Publishing for the anthology Pawprints on My Heart has been accepted; also, my story about America’s national parks will be published in the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America. Sprouts, buds, and growth are all part of spring … I find similar progress in my writing. I may still experience bleakness in my writing and speaking endeavors just as winter brings starkness. Some of my booksigning events have produced little fruit. Yet, for those whom I do reach, I am grateful. I need to remember when I question my purpose and my work that spring and its incredible beauty does come … even after 14+ inches of snow.

March 2016 snow_neighborhood

Gayle M. Irwin writes inspirational dog books for children and adults and has had short stories published in five Chicken Soup for the Soul books; her story about America’s national parks will be part of the upcoming Spirit of America book from Chicken Soup. She enjoys sharing what people can learn from pets and nature.  She volunteers for various animal rescue organizations, to which she donates part of her book sale revenues. Learn more about Gayle and her writings at this website: www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small  Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Walking_FrontCover_small  Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014

Planning for Fiscal 2016 – Writing is a Business

CindyCarrollEIn July I was planning for NaNoWriMo so of course I’m planning for next year’s business goals in September. Despite how much I love writing it is a business. With a goal of writing full-time one of these days I have to treat it like a business because eventually it will be my only source of income. When you self publish you are a business. A lot remain sole proprietors, some decide for tax reasons to incorporate. No matter what way you go you should consult an accountant. At this stage in my writing business my accountant advised me to remain a sole proprietor.

 

Copyright designer_things - Depositphotos
Copyright designer_things – Depositphotos

In preparing for this post I looked at my business plan for last year and realized I am sadly behind in everything I’d planned for 2015. That’s the first lesson. If you have a business plan pull it out and look at it at least quarterly to see how on track you are. I created it last year and forgot about it. For the 2016 business plan I will print it out and keep it handy in my office so I can glance at it monthly to make sure I’m on track and adjust it as needed. It’s a living document and will change as opportunities come up. I also realized I didn’t even create a scorecard or fiscal targets spreadsheet for 2015. That could be another reason I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped this year. Though I did do better than 2014 when I had no business plan.

 

 

My yearly scorecard - numbers are just examples
My yearly scorecard – numbers are examples

Why should you have a business plan? Because writing is a business. Other businesses have business plans, fiscal targets, advertising budgets, a balance sheet to keep track of how the business is doing. I have to admit I love the business side of writing as much as I love the writing part. If you can major in a subject in high school for me it was business. And since graduating from high school I’ve always been in a job that involved finance of some kind – banking and payroll. For my scorecard and fiscal targets I copied one of my employers. They update us quarterly with how the company is doing so I took the look of their tools and adapted them to my writing business. For the business plan I found a template online that I could tweak for my own needs. A lot of it didn’t apply to me since I supply stories that are primarily available in online stores. But it works. Or, it will work for me when I start using it more.

FiscalTotals2016This past week I’ve been thinking about my goals for next year. I guess targets is more accurate since for goals you need to have control over them. And my targets (for sales, followers and email list sign ups) are not in my control. The only thing I can truly control is my output. I’ve set up a schedule for getting a lot of writing done, taking 10,000 words off from every monthly target to account for days I don’t write at all when life takes over. If I stick to the plan I will have a lot of stories I can put up for sale. But those stories need professional covers and professional editing. The business plan takes that into account and any money I make on book sales goes back into the business so I can pay for the business. I do have a clause in the plan to pay myself a small amount a month if possible but funding the business comes first. The great thing right now is that I have a day job. So all money from the business can go back into it if need be.

BusinessPlanOne thing I realized this year (I knew it but I guess I was in denial) is that you do have to spend money to make money. This year I had better sales than last year by a lot. And it was all because I started advertising. Some ads were free, some were paid. But the advertising really helped get the new pen names out there. Now, for 2016 I am incorporating an advertising budget into the plan so I can have ads going every month to increase visibility of all my titles.

I’ve picked my book for NaNoWriMo this year. It will be the third book in the trilogy I’m writing. Looking at my 2015 business plan that trilogy was not only supposed to be written by now but it was supposed to be up for sale already. See what happens when you make plans but forget about them?

Writers – do you have a business plan?

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ReflectionsFinal2A road trip without a plan sounded like a good idea when Lena and her friends hit the road. After hours of driving in the heat in a cramped car they’re all ready for something to eat and a good night’s rest.

Reflections Inn looks perfect for the group of friends. A little run down, it hides a supernatural horror. A curse that replaces people with their repressed alter egos forces the friends to fight for their lives. Duplicates who lack restraint, crave gratification emerge from the mirrors. Too late they realize they didn’t know each other as well as they thought.

One by one, Lena’s friends learn the truth about their repressed emotions, their suppressed violent urges.

What doesn’t kill them can only make them stronger.

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That speech thing…

Nancy Jardine March 2014This post is by Nancy Jardine

I’ve just finished reading a historical novel, one of those that have been on my kindle for ages. My TBR list is long but I can’t seem to make enough time to slim it down. I read on and off all day, after demanding and urgent domestic tasks are done – my own writing; blog articles on the internet; research; proofs belonging to other authors that I might be commenting on, or doing an early review for – but the main time for novel reading is late evening before sleep.

 

The time period of the book was intriguing since it was set in the first century AD Roman Empire, just a little earlier than the era of my Celtic Fervour Series. The story of Gaius Antistius Vetus unfolds in first person. It’s his journey from boyhood to middle adulthood and is about the role he plays in the Roman Army. It’s also about Roman politics of the time while he is stationed in Jerusalem, and in other Mediterranean lands of the Roman Empire. The technique of using first person isn’t my most favourite to read but when used with skill, and when the tenses used are consistent, I can appreciate the read.from wikimedia commons

This was the case for the book called ‘In The Shadow of Tyranny’. The language isn’t too complicated and the use of first person narrative is thorough and constant. What surprised me most about this particular novel is that it is almost a complete descriptive story. It’s a fairly average length of 245 pages, maybe something like 70 thousand words, but there is almost no dialogue, and when dialogue is used, it’s for anecdotal recall. My feelings on this novel are mainly set out in the short review that I’ve written for the story which will appear on my blog – this one not being the correct place to discuss in detail.

However, it made me think of the uses of description and dialogue in my own work.

My own opinion is that a story reads more fluently when there’s a mix of explanatory passages and dialogue. I think I personally tend towards being heavy on description in my earliest drafts which often becomes the dreaded ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. When I read over what I’ve written and come to those accounts, I ‘hear’ just how much I’m expecting the reader to absorb and that’s when I change scenes, or parts of scenes, to dialogue. As a physical reader of my own story, I find it flows better after dialogue changes and I think the pace is improved.

Changing to showing rather than telling has been particularly important in the rewrites of my WIP novel for early teens. As a former teacher, I know that younger readers are not willing to plough through huge amounts of description. I can still recall the looks on faces when a more reluctant pupil reader realised he/ or she was about to embark on a long narrative paragraph during our group reading sessions.

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http://www.123RF.com

I know they wanted to skip or scan past those exposition passages.

I now wonder just how true that is for the average adult reader today as well. Do they also tire of long evocative prose sections? Are they also unwilling to spend time on more details of the surrounding scene and have tendencies to skip the pages?

As a teenager, I read loads of Classic novels which had huge amounts of long explanatory paragraphs but at the time didn’t blink an eye – and I guess I still don’t. Sir Walter Scot’s ‘Ivanhoe’ adventure comes to mind where my teenage friends and I joked that Sir Walter Scott took three pages to describe a medieval tent peg. That was an extreme case, but I tend to like sufficient description for my imagination to expand on.

My first editor told me that I needed to have at least one section of dialogue on every single page of a romance novel, reckoning that it added to the pace and to the enjoyment of the romance reader since they were looking for the feelings of the characters rather than the situations they were involved in. But what about non-romance writing? Does that premise still ring true these days?

Do you think that long evocative and descriptive passages are no longer desired in mainstream novels? Do you prefer a story when there is only a little dialogue? Or, do you like a balance of both in a novel?
There are lots of blog posts out there in the ether about dialogue but this one has some good points http://writetodone.com/10-easy-ways-to-improve-your-dialogue/

Embed your dialogue in a scene: absolutely sound advice. Keep the talk realistic: absolutely…

Enjoy you weekend whatever you are doing. Me? I’ve got a few more reviews to write and some paving slabs to lay in my garden, since it’s not raining today!

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Nancy Jardine Award Finalist The People's Book Prize 2014Nancy Jardine writes historical and contemporary fiction- history mysteries and historical adventures.

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A Mountain Top Experience

105182105411111CDPby Neva Bodin

The sweet spicy smell of sap mixed with the cooling mountain-tainted breeze, which whispered through the pine trees. Invisible fingers played pine needles like they were fine instruments. The squirrels occasionally chattered staccato comments.

The mountain grasses, like metronomes, waved rhythmically back and forth, and alpine asters smiled as mountain sunflowers nodded their heads in approval.

Flashes of cobalt blue announced the mountain bluebird audience, seen among hovering emerald green humming birds.

And God sat back in his chair and laughed.

I wrote the above while sitting in the woods on our nearby mountain top. Our writing group had been invited to Gayle Irwin’s cabin for a writers retreat. We snack, share, wander into the woods by ourselves to write amidst the trees, and in general leave feeling refreshed in spirit and writing minds.

We were invited again recently, and found ourselves amongst friends that inspired, shared, and allowed us to support and enjoy comradery. It’s not that we all write the same genre or have the same beliefs about life issues. But we are all committed to encouraging and helping each other be the best writers we can be. And we accept each other’s ventures.

Writing critique groups are important, but the tone set at them is also important. I encourage anyone interested in writing to form a critique group, write some basic rules about how to critique, how to ask for help, and what’s the format of the group.

Our group eats finger foods brought by members, visits, and catches up on news which breaks the ice, especially when we have new members. Then we settle down to critiques, sharing information others might be interested in, and congratulating fellow members on accomplishments.

And, I wish for everyone, a mountain-top experience.