Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 30

I am still sorting through all the things I stuffed into my suitcases when I packed from my trip. I discovered, sadly, that when I took off my rings and put them in the security bins, I left them in the bin and walked off. I was in such a rush-with people pushing and shoving and my shoes off and my computer out and papers flying- literally- I didn't check the bins. I didn't even realize I didn't have the rings until it was time to board and then it was too late.

Still when I got home I went through my cases hoping that I had simply stuffed the rings away somewhere. I didn't. So, I went to the airport webpage and retrieved the number for lost and found. I called this morning. The helpful woman on the other side said that no rings had been turned in on Sunday. sigh. I left the description anyway. Thirty minutes later she called back. Someone had turned them in on Monday - - They are now being mailed back to me c.o.d. I'm glad. They were my favorite rings. So a simple thank you to the person who turned them in and another thank you for the airport lost and found lady, Linda, for continuing the search and locating them for me. There are good people in the world. Cheers!

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29

Home safe-and glad to be sitting in my office with the window open. I can hear the rustle of the leaves in the wind. The coo of a dove, the chirp of a robin, the tweet of a sparrow. The lake laps against the shore all mixing together in soft song. Going away and meeting new people is always grand, but then the return home is like sinking into your favorite comfy chair. You close your eyes and say ahhh.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 28

Sitting here, blurry eyed, sipping bad hotel coffee, half packed. Must be fully packed, dressed, checked-out of hotel and in class in less than an hour. But wanted to pop in and say hi! The Sunday blog will be delayed until tomorrow. That is if I don't sleep Monday entirely away- :)

Cheers all!

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 26

Just wanted to pop in and let you all know I'm still here. The program is very time consuming but I'm meeting some really wonderful people. The campus is a lovely grand place with winding corridors, crazy passages, secret doors. The buildings are brick with huge sweeping staircases where I can imagine students in the 1800's walking to and from class. It has that particular creek to the floors, soaring ceilings with plaster medallions and antique furniture and lighting. The classes themselves are very up to date with PowerPoint presentations, and up-to-the-minute market information.

Here I'm a one- or first year- we tease that we've entered Hogwarts with it's changing staircases. It was joked at our orientation meeting that we were waiting for the sorting hat- to tell us what we should be writing...

"Hmmm, this one is difficult," the hat would say. "There is much talent here, adventure, romance, mystery..."
"Not horror," I would whisper.
"Not horror?" the hat would mutter. "But there's talent enough for that as well..."

cheers, everyone!

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22

This week I am attending an intense residency for the Master's degree program. I leave at 6 am tomorrow. There is a reception that day-then classes run from 9 am to 9 pm, Weds thru Sunday. Needless to say, my blogging will be spotty this week. I am looking forward to the challenge and hope to bring back some good things to share with you.

On an interesting note- I went to a website that tells you your actual website traffic and comparable sites. The numbers were very close to the numbers I see from my provider-and the most interesting of all-- it seems my site is comparable in size and traffic to Harper's Bizarre- crazy isn't it? Either I'm doing a good job of PR or someone over at HB needs to do a better job. (Do you think they'd hire me for the job?)

Have a fabulous week. I have no idea if I'll blog-but I will tweet- so if you're on twitter-follow me to find out what is going on. If not- I'll see you all next Monday with a head full of cool stuff to report. Cheers!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

June 21

Happy Father's day to my Dad and all the father's out there. I think protecting and nurturing a family is one of the most important things a man can do in his life. Thank you!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 20

Interesting news tidbit- my e-publisher, The Wild Rose Press, just signed a contract with Lightning Source, Inc to allow their titles to be included in their book vending machines. Book vending machines? Yes, I guess it will work like the RedBox machines do for movies... only (please correct me if I'm wrong) I think instead of stocking the machines, they actually print, cover and bind the book while you wait.... wild.

Here's the quote,"The Lightning Source Espresso Book Machine Channel will give publishers the option to make available the books they have stored in the Lightning Source digital library, and have those titles printed, bound, and delivered at point of sale, on demand, in minutes."

Okay- really, it's cool. Isn't it? I can't imagine that it will make the author millions, but still it's cool. I think they should put one in every rest stop, waiting room and airport in the US. Book anyone? Cheers

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 19

Friday already- where does time go? We have severe storms today and so this will be short as I don't like to be on-line in the middle of lightning storms. So, I will simply say- happy Friday everyone. I hope your day is a good one and you all stay safe and dry. Cheers!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 18

From the big book of essays on the writer's life which I am reading for the MA program, is an essay written by Tim O'Brien, called "The Magic Show."

I'm going to share with you my favorite part of this essay which I believe is true.

"...I must also believe that writing is an act of faith. Faith in the heuristic power of the imagination. Faith in the fertility of dream. Faith that as writers we might discover that which cannot be known through empirical means. (The notions of right and wrong, for instance. Good and evil. Ugliness and beauty.) Faith in story itself. Faith that a story will lead, in some way to epiphany or understanding or enlightenment. In the most practical sense, just to begin a story involves a great leap of faith that the first imagined event will somehow lead to the next, that chapter two will somehow follow upon chapter one. Faith that language will continue to serve us day to day. Faith that a story will take us somewhere--in the plot sense, in the thematic sense--and that the destination will be worth the journey."

So- here's to having faith! Cheers!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 17

On critiques

I've been writing and critiquing other writer's work for 15+ years. So, needless to say I have a lot of experience in the area. When I first started I was absolutely positive I knew what I was talking about. Here are the rules, blah, blah, blah. But now after 15 years of experience, I am unsure of the true value of my critique because story telling and voice are such subjective things. Let me equate it to art. I personally prefer the old Dutch master's to Jason Pollack. So, what do most people do? Tell the Jason Pollack's of the world to throw away their pictures, they got it all wrong and start over. No- the world doesn't work that way. There are trends and appreciations that come and go. One is not more valid than the other. I don't care if it's DiVinci himself telling you this.

So, hmmm, if my opinion of a story or character may or may not be valid, what do I do? Copy edit? (Here's a secret- everyone house copy edits differently, so even that is subjective.) All right, so copy edits can help clean up a work, but may or may not be helpful to the author. I know a bit about the market (Not as much as some but more than others) so I can mention whether or not I think the book fits in the market. But then again, trends come and go and whose to say that the next big trend isn't going to be sky monkey adventures. Arrrg.

As you know I'm working on critiques for my MA program. The voices and range of story are fascinating. But I stare at one or two that are just off key and think... oh, boy...now what? So, I refer to my critique as my opinion-which it is- and dive in. It sounds off key and here is my reasoning. But I've also learned that for every opinion I have there is someone else who says I'm full of bunk and gives their own reasons why. Which frankly leaves me wondering why the heck I spend time on stuff like this if it is so subjective. Ugh, have I mentioned I hate critique.

A book you might hate and throw at the wall maybe someone else's keeper of a lifetime, having touched them in a way that changed their life. You never know. Who am I to tell them the story is crap?

Sigh, only 5 more critiques to go...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 16-You deserve a break today

Essay two in my big book of essays I am reading is about "The Master-Slave Relationship" by Victoria Nelson. What is that? It's the war between your conscious and your unconscious. For example: Your conscious says I should: diet, exercise, call home, write 20 pages a day. Meanwhile you: troll the Internet, watch a movie, make cookies, play on face book. This is because your unconscious says - nope-ain't gonna do what the conscious wants. Why? Because I don't want to! And guess what? You might think your conscious is the master, but if the unconscious doesn't want to play along as slave- it doesn't.

This is a fabulous article. I struggled with this the last three weeks on a set of revisions I told myself I could knock out in a day or two- instead I wrote a 50 page partial for another book; I researched a new genre; I changed the opening of an old book to fit the new genre.... all the while knowing I needed to knock out those revisions- and wondering why I couldn't seem to get them done. LOL.

One of the techniques she lists to get around the master/slave problem is to simple make the conscious decision to NOT do what you are supposed to do for a day, two days, a week. This made me laugh. Because after three weeks of struggle I finally gave myself permission to start a new project and when I sat down- yep- my brain decided to do the revisions instead and I knocked them right out. (Me, laughing at myself and shaking my head.)

Fun stuff- so, if you find yourself frustrated by your own inability to get where you want to be- try giving yourself a break. See what happens. Cheers!

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15

I'm reading critiques for my MA program. I enjoy dipping my toe into other people's stories. They are funny, interesting and cool.

I'm also reading a thick workbook full of essays by famous writers with discussion questions. I had to laugh- the first essay was by a woman who has been a writer in residence at a university for almost twenty years and won momentous awards that I would not ever imagine I would win. She states in her essay that it takes 2 to 15 years to write a book- and- anyone who says different is lying. :) She went on to say that sure, some people are famous for being prolific, but some people can also lift cars. Don't expect it to happen to you.

Her point of view when it comes to the work was solid and dead on, but I laughed at her stringent assurance that 2 to 15 years is the only length of time possible in writing a book unless you are a super hero.

Personally, I think it is a sign of snobbery/arrogance or maybe even doubt in your own process that makes people state these things as fact. Let me just repeat - however long your process takes is valid. Because no two processes are ever alike. Don't let anyone-ever- declare your process wrong or untruthful. Cheers!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June 14

Today I'm off to have brunch with the wonderful and talented author, Liz Powell. At least the weather is good. The sun is shining and there is no rain. A good day for coffee and chat. Perhaps outside in cafe chairs... oh, wait, better put on sunscreen as my poor winter skin will wonder what that hot ball of light is. :) Cheers!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

June 13

The greeter at the grocery store this morning said it didn't seem right that you could see your breath in the air- in June... and toward the middle of June at that!

It's been cool and wet here. The lake is up. The fishermen and boaters have been wearing jackets and building bonfires. Sure we would all love to be sitting on a warm sunny beach somewhere, but it is much easier to get warm then it is to get cool. So am not going to complain too much. Cheers!

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 12

I sent off the partial - first three chapters and synopsis- for the YA historical yesterday. So, that's in the mail and out of my hands. Today, more revisions and critiques.

I downloaded a step by step "how-to" create your own book trailer article to read. Do you have a book trailer? Do you watch book trailers?

There is some thought that book trailers are old hat- a dead trend that was cool two years ago but now there are so many that no one cares. Some people pay big dollars to have book trailers created for them. Personally, I think a book trailer on TV may be of some benefit-if you are a NYT Bestseller. It reminds people to pick up your latest book. But for midlist authors... I don't know. It might be something cool to put on your website. Just another little "value-added" piece of marketing. So if you have one- do it yourself and don't spend too much money on it.

Books are an impulse buy- that means unless the reader downloads your trailer on their smart phone and carries it into the store with them- it really is your name or cover or writing that gets someone to buy your book. The rest is just stuff to do so that the author "feels" like they are doing their bit to market their books. (Just my opinion folks.)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11

There seems to be a lot of buzz surrounding YA these days. A couple of my favorite blogger/authors write kids books and teen books. It's a market that has been in the back of my mind for some time. My Avalon books are very nearly YA books. I am always happy to get an e-mail from a teen who tells me they read one of my books for a book report.

That said, Harlequin Silhouette is opening a new teen line-with school quality hardcover books and some trade paperback. The editor said she had a solid line up for the first year or two but was short in the historical line. So- I'm reworking my western and sending in a partial to see if my voice and this story idea are along the lines of what she is looking for. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 10

I went to the store yesterday to purchase office supplies to conquer the nearly six inch stack of papers and such on my desk. All of it is information for my Master's program which starts on the 23rd. So, today will be spent, shifting, sorting and organising because I think there is stuff in there -somewhere- I need to be working on right now.... :)

Yesterday I did final edits on part three of revisions for one book and was so excited by the outcome. Hopefully you've done this with your writing... felt like "this is so good I need to show it to everyone." Like little kids who show strangers the picture they just drew, the rock they learned to leap off of, the poem they memorized. It is a blissful feeling and one of the small joys of this business. Unfortunately, the showing off must wait because there is still part four to revise...and then editors to wait on... (Partials for this book were sent out in October.)

Meanwhile I'm now kicking around ways to make two-yep-now two old books resaleable. I have received 9 critiques for class. I am reading a wonderful full for a friend. Promo has started for next month's book release. Nothing ever moves fast enough for my brain... HA!

Okay- off to organize. My value-added bit for today-I hope you find and savor all the blissful moments in your writing when you want to jump around and say: "Check this out! Isn't it great?" ;)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June 9

Saw my fawn step out of the woods again yesterday--literally a stone's throw from my back door. (And I throw like a girl.) Sweet.

In my Sunday blog, I talked about validating your own personal process- for me it was the fact that I write too fast. Let me clarify... if you have been told you write too slow- don't worry. If that is your process- that is your process. It's not wrong... as long as you finish a book and start another.

Some of the most famous writers in the world take 15 years to write a book. Now, I'm not saying they live off their royalties... but imagine if they quit writing because someone told them they had to write faster to be successful and they knew in their hearts they could not. The world would miss out on their voice, their story and what they have to say. A part of our culture would suffer.

So-no matter what your process- here's to you and your efforts!

Monday, June 8, 2009

June 8

I went to see a movie yesterday. (Ironically this was because it was too cold and rainy to do what I really wanted to do.) It was a romantic comedy that got some bad reviews- but I enjoyed it. I laughed out loud and I wasn't the only one. There were twenty or thirty people in the theater and I think we all had fun.
I mention it because one of the central themes of the movie was of acceptance of life and how to face things that are out of our control-which face, it is most things. The central character had lost her job and was stuck in what she saw as a lousy dead end job as a tour guide in Greece. Nothing went right. At one point she pitched a fit that the problem with Greece was that no one took anything seriously- the elevator goes out-they dance. Get arrested? They dance. Bus breaks down...they dance. They are all insane! But by the end of the movie she understood that when things happen that you can't control you have two choices- stomp around, shake your fist and curse (which changes nothing) or dance (which at the very least is good exercise and sometimes is so absurd it puts a smile on your face.)
So, I want to end with-- "and now... we dance!" Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 7

I had planned a day trip into the city today for a literary festival, but the weather has changed all that. We have high pollen counts which are causing constant runny nose and the accompanying sore throat. If you add to that temperatures in the cool fifties (F) and constant rain--some severe storms predicted--it was decided that it was better to cancel the trip since the festival is an outdoor festival. I am sad to miss it this year but the idea of spending two or three hours in the cold pouring rain with an already sore throat was better nixed. Instead, I may take in a nice dry movie. Hopefully your plans for today work out better. Cheers!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 6

Planted hostas today. It is a cool day here and overcast... a good day for running errands and taking naps. We've been listening to fire crackers all last night and most of this morning. I think the local highschools held their graduation and so the kids on the lake are celebrating.

I'm tweaking bits of my website. Someone suggested I add a catalog button where you can see all my titles on one page- so I did that and also put in buy links. They take you to BN.com - but you can also buy through www.amazon.com, www.avalonbooks.com, www.walmart.com, www.booksamillion.com and come July 31st www.thewildrosepress.com. (The buy buttons are in response to an e-mail I received yesterday saying that this person could not find my books on amazon. I checked they are there- they have not run out. But- I only have hard cover books- so when it says there are no paperback books it's because...well, there have never been paperback books. Only hardcover. If the price is too steep ask for me at your local library. If they don't have me, they should be able to get me through interlibrary loan. (I hope to have a form up soon that you can fill out and take to your library to request they buy my books.)

None of my books is out of print yet. So, if you want to read my stories there is a way to purchase one. (They make a great beach read!)

Happy weekend everyone!

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5

The shift in season is so dramatic to me. Probably because I emerge like a mole from my office and blink up at the expanse of sky. On Monday I went to let the dogs out when I noted a lovely bit of tan moving gently through the dark green edge of the woods behind us. Then caught my breath as a full grown deer stepped out and walked toward the pine tree directly behind my house. This is when the dogs saw it, of course and barking commenced. The deer stopped, lifted a front paw and turned its head toward me and the dogs who watched behind patio glass. Then just as gently slid back into the dark green underbrush and was gone. Lovely.

Then yesterday, around the same time, three in the afternoon, I opened the patio door to step out on the deck only to see a little spotted fawn near the same tree. It actually cavorted--dancing and twirling on legs so spindly I thought they would break--before it moved off in the underbrush in the opposite direction of the deer I saw earlier in the week. And yes, I'll be keeping my eye out for more.

On the writing news, the revisions to part three of the project are done. I'm reading a book for the Master's program and I've got a critique to do. So, its back to my office and work. Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 4

This morning the view from my window is as bucolic as a Master's painting. The sky changes from a hazy white blue at the horizon to robin's egg blue at the dome. The wind is hushed leaving the trees gently still along the edge of the lake. The water itself is mirror-like reflecting the various dark and yellow greens of the trees. Algae sits along the edge a copy of the oscillating edge of the banks. The soft scent of lilac fills the air. The sound of arriving Canada geese breaks the silence as they splash down. A pure white snowy egret slowly stalks the shadows near the French pussy willow. While tiny sparrow and finch flit from branch to branch on the nearby birch tree. Cotton wood fluffs drift by and I long for a hammock and the time to lie in the sun.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June 3

Yesterday I ran across a fabulous tweet (From twitter.com) to a link to a video of Ira Glass speaking about story telling. Now he's talking about video production but for the most part you can relate what he has to say to writing as well. He spoke on a point that really hit home for me. That sometimes you have to produce a lot of dreck to get to the really good stuff-and that's OKAY. Producing the dreck allows you to be present and ready when the good stuff comes pouring out. Then the trick is to recognise the dreck for what it is and get rid of it.

(Even if it means cutting whole chapters, sentences, paragraphs... putting aside whole books.)

The hardest part of being creative, he says, is finding a good story. Dreck truly is part of the creative process. It helps you find that good story. (Look for more on this subject on my Sunday blog.)

Here's the link: Ira Glass story telling part 2. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 2

You may have noticed that I changed the graphics on my website. (Hopefully, didn't startle you too much.) I like to mix things up and this has become my favorite summer graphics. There is nothing better than a good beach read. So, I am bringing you the beach, some sun, and of course...a good read.

More tweeks to come but these will be subtle. Enjoy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

June 1

Welcome to a new month! The sun is shining and everything is bright, damp from last night's storms, but warm.

If you read my Sunday blog - www.nancyjparra.blogspot.com - you'll know that I was reading an article on marketing and ...oh, dear... I feel that I have failed a bit in my blogging here. For one of the tenets of this marketing article was to provide "value added" information on your web site. (Which I do post several how-to articles.) But the article said that your blog must be "value added" as well. Oh, boy- this means that my daily blathering must actually have meaning to you that emphasises my brand... hmmm. LOL- my current brand blurb is "Making the every day extraordinary." I took this brand because my stories are about every day people- in extraordinary circumstances. As well as if you read one of my books I hope that my stories make your every day extraordinarily entertaining. (I know- seems like a pretty bold statement- LOL) I've run my daily blog sort of as a "girl next door" blog- the every day part of my brand. I want to be accessible to a degree and include you in my life as an author. Hopefully in an encouraging way...

Now for part two where I fear I fail... the article said- "So many out on the web seem to have made "neurotic, negative, cynical" their brand, and they express it everywhere they go. Ack! who wants to be around that? what reader is going to be inspired by that?" I thought about my musings on a balanced life and my whining about how long it takes for publishers to look at unagented work and how crazy it is to get an agent, and in general how slow the biz is may be misconstrued as "neurotic, negative and cynical"- yikes! My apologies! *Smile* I think my hope was to show readers who are writers-unpubbed and pubbed-that we are all in the same boat. Rejection is not personal. Long waits and dry spells are common. And well, perhaps to slip in a complaint or two-as I'm human...

So- on a quest to create and carefully maintain my personal brand, I will straighten up. And hereby pledge to do my best to bring you "value added" bits and disperse the "neurotic, negative and cynical." Tall order for my little world... ;) Cheers!