Thursday, November 29, 2012

November's End

It seems when a month ends, I am forced to look back at what I have and have not accomplished.

This is probably because bills are due, salaries are paid, and the entire month HAS to be checked in order to be balanced.

It's the same for writing. And I know plenty of people who did NaNoWriMo this month. What is NaNo? It's this crazy and atrocious "task" of writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

It is grueling. It is annoying. And it is amazing to see those 50,000 words staring back at you by November 30th. Hat off to you folks! You're almost done.

I didn't accomplish NaNo, but that's alright. I went a different route and did thirty days of poems.

It's the first time for me doing this one. I don't do a whole lot, but I sure do like it. Poetry is fun because you can write it so many different styles, from prose to rhyme, haiku to ekphrastic.

I like to keep them short. Really short. Which is the complete opposite of NaNo.

Onto a different subject ...

I stepped out back to see the mess of leaves. We just had a storm, and are intended to have several more in the next three days.
But the orange tree sure is beautiful.
And the dog sure is happy.

Happy writing!- HJS

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

So Very Thankful

So, here we are, it's that most wonderful time of the year. No, the OTHER most wonderful time: Thanksgiving. And everyone and their mom is writing what they are thankful for on Facebook.

Don't misread me. I'm not un-thankful, but I don't think I need to tell EVERYONE my thoughts. Which is oxymoronic considering I keep a blog and that part of my job as a writer IS to tell everyone my thoughts. But, in my defense, those are FICTIONAL thoughts. So there.

No, see, I don't need the month of November to thank God for everything. I should be doing this everyday, and believe me, when my kids get out the door to school, with their lunches, without breakfast on their sweet, noisy, faces, I am MOST thankful.

I've been trying to be more thankful in all things, in all situations, in every day that I've lived and will live this year. So, it's great others are telling me what they're thankful for, but come Dec 1st, are these same folks not thankful anymore? It sort of reeks hypocrisy. And I have dear friends who I know are thankful all the time, but is this writing merely a form of validation? That they're good people? More importantly, am I a bad person for not doing this?

I don't get it.

But I should stop. I'm not sounding very nice.

Here, how about this. My book is free the 22st and 23nd of NOW, this month, because seriously I am thankful for all the people out there buying it. You guys kept me high in the hills of the Amazon Rankings mountain for a month!

Eat turkey with your family, kiss your brother, hug your dog, and thank God we have so many freedoms, especially the freedom to love one another even if we're not that lovable. Kind of like me right now, not so lovable after that ranting over the thankful Facebook posts.

Isn't this the cutest? This little turkey ornament is
hanging from my chandelier.

I had no intentions of writing the post this way. I had other things to say. But, those will wait. I'm off to get a stack of "I'm sorry" note cards to send as an apology to my friends who are writing what they're thankful for on Facebook.

Seriously though, have a wonderful, thankful and blessed Thanksgiving Day.


Writing contest:

WRITER'S DIGEST: Write a short story of 750 words or fewer based on this prompt: A man who lives alone sees a set of footprints leading away from his house the morning after a heavy snowfall.
Pretty cool. A great exercise, you could win bragging rights. Go here to enter.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday

There's a whole lot to be thoughtful about right now. Particularly now that we're post-election. No more ad campaigns, no more lies ... well, fewer lies anyway... maybe.

But, I'm not going into that. No sirree. I'm going to talk about less formidable, less headache-inducing things. Fantastic things --and one not-so-fantastic thing-- that happened this week.

I'm doing this so I won't cry.

Look at this! ↓

Fantastic: My book, my little, tiny story has been in the top 100 kindle classics for kid literature for three weeks now. THREE WEEKS. Why? I'm not exactly sure. But a few sales a day sure can make a writer happy. THIS is fantastic. If you haven't read my middle grade book, you should.  I kind of like it. The Puzzle Master. ◄▬ Click on that and get the Kindle version for only $.99.

Not fantastic: See this coupon? Imagine me cutting coupons out of the Sunday paper. Imagine me trying to save money. Imagine seeing this coupon, reading what you're actually saving (ten cents per box of tissue) and realizing it's not even worth the paper it is printed on. What's worse?  I could walk my grocery store and find thirty cents on the floor in thirty seconds. This piece of paper is NOT a coupon. This is absurd. This literally insults me. So NOT fantastic.

Fantastic: Fortune cookies are pretty cool. Not for the taste necessarily, but for the little piece of paper that is going to change your world.  I found two of these little gems in a vintage coat. Proof that we are all the same and proof that we all wish for the good fortunes that come from these pieces of paper even back when JFK was president. While these fortunes have no real bearing on us, at any time or for any reason, they make us think twice. Whoever owned the coat I was looking at held onto the fortunes hoping it would bring him luck. One of the fortunes says, "you will always have good luck in your personal affairs." Very generic, but always a comfort to read. That's fantastic.

Not fantastic:Well, this week hasn't been a fantastic one for me, even though I will remain positive about it all. In that light, I'm not going to end on an un-fantastic note. I will stick with the fortune cookie scraps from decades ago as fantastic. And I will have good luck in my personal affairs, darn it ... even if the government feels it has to lend a hand in that too.

Keep writing. I am, even if it's about coupons, Amazon rankings, and fortune cookies.

I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry ...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Middle Grade Midweek Madness

I have a couple of things to share with you, and they all have to do with one of the best genres around: Middle Grade Fiction.

1. My fellow friend and author extraordinaire -- Kristiana Gregory -- just received a gold medal honor from Literary Classics, for her book Stalked. Yes, the book is fantastic! And yes, the book is more for young adults than kids. But, if you're over twelve, this book is for you regardless. I highly recommend it, too. Historical, fast-paced and action-packed, you'll be reading until way past your bedtime.

2. Another great read, called Dead Man's Hand by Eddie Jones will be released in a few days, and it looks riveting. Great for girls and boys, it had adventure written all over-- and absolutely inside -- the cover of it. Eddie Jones is a wonderful writer, speaker, teacher, and great-all around guy. I can say this because Eddie practices what he preaches. Got a middle grade boy in your house looking for a super sized order of adventure with a hint of paranormal on the side? This book is for him. Pre-order it today.
3. And last, and definitely least, there's my little book, The Puzzle Master, which is free today and tomorrow. Click on the link to find it.
There you have it folks, three middle grade reads for your midweek. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Growing Where You are Planted

I've written about this topic before: Growing where you are planted; becoming the best you can with what you're doing despite your circumstances.

And the truth of it is, while I write about it and talk about it like it's easy to do, I hate it.

Hard work is just that ... hard work. And I still don't like it.

And who wants to write anyway, only to feel like they're going nowhere?

No one. No one likes to see zero progress. No one wants their work to be in vain.

But is our work truly in vain? If it's to the best of our abilities, whatever we are doing from writing to cleaning the house, it isn't in vain because someone ultimately benefits whether it's a clean house hours from now, or an actual well-written book WRITTEN years and years from now.

It has to benefit someone. Yourself, namely. And if you don't grow where you were planted -- if you don't sit down and write or work hard or sweat out the tough things when you don't want to -- what have you to say for yourself?

You got nowhere because you did nothing.

Work hard. Toil much. Benefit much. Pretty simple. And yet though we know the potential harvest, the workers are few.

Take these plants. These are herbs. They were once discarded seeds of parsley thrown into my compost pile. But hey, did they just sit there and die? Did they whine and moan that nothing was happening to them and woe is them?

No. They became proactive and took root in the dirt and grime -- in the ROCK that was their home -- and became flowering, healthy, beautiful herbs on the side of my house where nothing gets watered and where, quite frankly, the garbage collects.

That's incredible. If only we human beings could aspire to such greatness.

Some of us have. But, some of us won't because we refuse to work for ourselves, instead relying on others.

I refuse to be that person when I'm perfectly capable of working hard.  I tell my sons over and over again that anything worth doing is going to take time and a lot of work. I must take my own advice if I'm to succeed.

How does that proverb go? "A sluggard does not plow in season so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing," (Proverbs 20:4).

See, I can't not work just because I'm too tired, or selfish, or lazy, or want instant results. I must be like the parsley plant and grow where I'm planted -- yes, even if it's hard -- and thrive so that when the time does arrive when I can show myself succeeding amidst my circumstances (like my parsley in the rocks) I will have something to harvest!

We reap what we sow. And I choose to sow hard work to actually gain a harvest, any harvest, when the time comes.

Be the parsley!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Interview at Laurie's

I am lucky enough to be featured today on a wonderful blog and website called "Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews" and you can click the link here to read it.

Interviews are pretty fun, especially when you get to talk about the things you normally wouldn't talk about in a professional writing setting. The interview does this as well as review some of the more normal writing questions. It's a little bit of everything.

I also am giving away a free digital copy of my book The Puzzle Master on her site, so if you're interested, hop on by!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Search Engine Weirdness

So, there's this thing called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.

This is basically an internet tool for those who sell or advertise product. They want an optimal search for their product at any given time. Even as writers, we want people to read our stuff. How do we do this? We "tag" our posts, or whatever we are "selling," with special search words, so that if by chance someone types in those words -- in my case, maybe my name, or book, or blog, etc, -- my listing, my book, my name or article, will come up.

Here's what I don't get. This last summer, I blogged for thirty days. All of those posts got decent exposure. Awesome. Great. Super fantastic.

But why-oh-why, did one post get more hits than the others? Check this out.
Really hard to see, but most of my hits are you know, twelve, fourteen, twenty two hits. But for the fourth day, the day that began with D, it's over two thousand five hundred hits! Why?

Somewhere, my tags were picked up by various readers, and someone liked this post, or someone shared this blog post, someone put this blog on a list so that this blog is read by zillions (okay, several thousand people) and it's still getting way more hits than it should.

I don't understand it. But if I did, I would make sure this happened to everything I wrote. It wasn't even a great post. I mean, I wrote it in a few minutes and of all the things to go viral, why was this it?

Anyway, remember: tags are important! And it's the very reason why I tagged this post with several words (at the bottom). You just never know what people are looking for. And maybe, they're looking for your words!

Writing Contest:

2012 Ladies Home Journal Personal Essay Contest.
Topic: What was the day that changed your life?
Words: No more than 2000
Due: December 7th
Details: Click right here to go to their website.

This is a great writing exercise. I entered last year, on a different topic, of course.
Though I'm not sure I have something to write about this, I think I'll still try. Why not?

Have fun and keep writing!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

If I Hear That One More Time ...

Ever find yourself asking that question? I do. All the time. And I'll tell you usually what it has to do with: language and vocabulary.

I know slang is (unfortunately) a huge part of our vernacular because of social media, and music, and trying to be cool and all. But here are three things I can't stand to hear. And if I hear them once more, it will be way too soon.

Epic: As in, "that was a WAY epic bike ride I had." Okay. Epic needs to be reserved for one thing: books. As in, the category of book that has a zillion pages, and takes about three years to read. Epic this. Epic that. If everything is so Epic, why haven't we transcended to heaven yet? I'm sick of it. Stop using it. Try incredible or stupendous, or outstanding. Even the old standbys of amazing, or great will suffice. Epic is overused and overwhelming the air waves, radio and television waves. It's also so very 2012. Don't date yourself.

Love on somebody: Holy Mackerel. Since when did love, a verb mind you -- an action, a doing, a doing something toward someone -- ever not become a verb? I'm not sure of my grammar here, but when did love need a "helper" to show that you are loving someone only if you love "on" them? I'm going to scream if I hear this again. We love people, we love coffee, we love cream in our coffee. We don't love ON our coffee. PLEASE, people. Stop using this faddish verb/adverb conjugation, connection whatever it is. It reeks of "under-educated."

Impact: Okay, my mom alerted me to this one, how it is overused and often misused. And I agree ... not just because Moms are always right, but because this is true. Impact is used almost exclusively to replace the word affect, or to have an effect. Why? Because it gives it a punchier-sounding monologue. It is used commonly in the news, when describing everything under the sun, and now, it's overused. I don't want things to impact me. That could be detrimental. But if they affect me, maybe it's more manageable because it's more of a trickle adjustment. Just because it sounds edgier, doesn't mean it should be used.

That goes for all three of these. These all have to do with sounding cool. Why in the world does this matter? Especially when all it does it make you sound like everyone else?

Okay. That's my ranting. Now, for something useful. Do you like Guideposts Magazine? Ever thought of writing for them? Well you can. They take short, real-life stories and anecdotes about holidays, angels, devotions,  miracles, prayers. Check out this link. They make it very easy to submit material. So give it a shot. Have a real-life miracle happen to you? Have you experienced angelic visitations? What about encouraging stories about surviving and thriving through trials? Has God helped you through a tough spot? Guideposts is the place for you.

This is a great way to get published, even if only online and not in their magazine. Just remember NOT to tell a story about the impact an epic event had on you to love on somebody.


Thursday, August 9, 2012


It's pretty fun pretending to be one of the bigwigs. Because truthfully, I'm so far from it.

Really hard to see, but my book is # 57 between
The Yearling and The View from Saturday.
When I list my book free for a day on Amazon -- and every self-pubbed author can attest to this -- you turn into this "top-selling" author ... but only temporarily. When a book is free, people tend to take it. Great. That equals thousands of "sales" for me. (Unpaid sales).

But the hours and days immediately after the book is free are filled with stragglers. They're the ones who check to see if the book is still free, see it isn't, and still buy it.

Those stragglers make me a super-author, because their purchase turns me into a "Top 100 paid children's book" in the classic, or social situations category, in which my book sits on Amazon.

Where else can my dinky, little book place next to the top rankings of Bridge to Terabithia, or The Yearling, or Because of Winn-Dixie? Never, usually. But, when I sell more than enough, I'm right up there with the best-sellers. All of them. Newberry Medal winners and Honor Books too.

This is all so hilarious and surreal.

It's funny because:

1. I'm so not a top-selling author. Really I'm not.
2. I published this book ... not a publisher. How the heck did my book get on this list? The reader did it.
3. I am the agent, editor, book-formatter and publicist. Again, how did I do this? The reader did it.
4. I offered the book for free, just to get this ranking. Sounds a little wrong, but is a lot right.
5. I haven't read half the books in the top 100 list I'm in. So lame. That needs to change.
6. I really feel like a fraud. No really, I do. Who am I again?
7. I love being up there with authors who write amazing stuff. That's a good funny, but still funny.
8. Just like the Sesame Street song, "one of these things to do not belong here." Oh yeah, me.
9. I did this all on my own. Wait, didn't I already say that?
10. I will only stay on that list for a couple of days at best. Really hilarious, because best-selling authors stay on this list for years!

So, it only lasts for a few days, but to be a pretend "top-selling" author sort of makes me actually feel like an author. And heck, if that's not enough motivation to write, then I don't know what is.

Keep writing!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Puzzle Master Giveaway

Just a heads up for those who would like to have my book (the e-version), I'm offering it FREE on August 2nd, for the entire day ... but only one day.
It will be available through Amazon, or you can just click
here and get it.
The paperback is only $6.99, if you prefer that version,
and though not free, you can find that by clicking here.
And remember if you miss the free Kindle version of it
on the 2nd of August, it's only .99
the rest of the time.

(Also, you don't need a Kindle to read the Kindle version! Download the Kindle app for your
iphone, droid, PC, Ipad, or mac and all reading tablets.
Click here!)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer Satisfaction

How's your summer been?

I've been busy. I've been traveling, and writing, but not feeling the most productive.

I hate to say this, but even blogging takes away from my creativity, probably because writing is what I do for work. So when I blog, which is more work, I feel like my writing quota has been filled for the day and then I seem to meander and putz around when it comes down to actually cranking out words for a REAL book or article. Vicious cycle.

I'm going to make a list of things I've accomplished recently, things that helped me be even more productive, so that I can feel like I have been productive. That sounds garbled, but really, it makes sense.

I love lists and checking those "to do" things off. Absurd. But, hey. It helps me.

1. I finished Camp NANOWRIMO on July 31st, with 50,000 words. I must say, that is pretty good even for me, and though the words are mish-mashed, it's a whole lot better than the first draft I had of the same book, some six years ago. Check.

2. Went on a week-long vacation up to the Oregon Coast to relax, with the family. Not productive. But, a perfect way to reward my 50k words. Check.

3. Did the kids back to school shopping. Wow. That is a huge one, and I already have it done. Check!

4. Have a new work-in-progress just begun, and looks like it will be the work that I have for this fall. I'm liking it too. Check.

5. Closed my Pinterest account and a few other social media sites I never used. I know, this doesn't sound productive does it. But actually, it is. It means I'll be wasting less time, and doing more of what I truly need to do. If only I could get rid of Facebook, I would. I know. I could. But, I'm not there yet ... even though, most days I hate that place. Should be called "Bragbook." I'm guilty as charged, but really ... some people. Facebook might just be one of the worst inventions ever. True, our world is a lot smaller and that's cool. But we people in that world have become more vain, more conceited, and more insecure than ever before because of it. Not good.


Okay, there's a start. Now, make a list of your own, things you need to do to become more productive, and get going. I'm going to limit my blog to about twice a month. Once a week was what I was trying to do, and I can see that ain't going to happen. Like I said, it was becoming a chore. At twice a month, you get quality, not quantity. Which is what I want to be about anyway.

Until August ...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Have a blessed 4th of July!

What a wonderful day to remember our freedoms
and why we still have those freedom today.

May God bless America!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bunheads and Stuff

Wow, such an incredible title. I know. But, that's sort of what this post is about. Bunheads and stuff.

What is Bunheads? Just the newest and wittiest show around. If I'm not mistaken, this show was written by the writers --or at least some of them-- from Gilmore Girls. If you saw that show, then you'll love this one. If you ever took ballet, like even one class, you'll like this show for that reason too. A bunhead at heart!

I took more than one class. In fact, I took years of classes, so much so that I could've gone pro if that's what I had wanted. But no, I wanted something that paid more, yes, I wanted to be ... a writer.

What? You mean writers don't make money?

So maybe I chose the wrong profession after all, or I'm par for the course. Whatever. The thing is, I completely relate to the main character of the show. This dancer chic, she had gone that route, and did what she wanted with her dance life: went pro. Only life sort of took over and she didn't quite end up where she thought she'd end up. She's a big city girl, empty and dead inside, now gone to a small town and becomes truly alive.

The writing  is pretty stellar. However -- and I know I may get a few comments on this -- I watched Gilmore Girls, and I liked that whole show too. But here's the thing,  no one really talks this way. And if you do know one person witty enough to constantly pull off this humor, then yay for you. But, to have the entire town talk this way? See, this is where I can't fully LOVE a show when it's like this. If only one character was sarcastic and snarky for snarky's sake, then great. This is the Han Solo of the show. We all need one of those.

But when the ENTIRE town talks this way, geez, I don't know. It just reeks of  "Wow, look how great of a script writer I am? Isn't this super snarky of me?" It takes away from each character when they all speak this way. Sure, some snarkiness is to a lesser degree in some characters and others have more snarkiness, but I'm sure you get my point. Too much is too much.

Here's another point. In book writing, you can't have all your characters snarky, or super sarcastic. It DOESN'T ring true. It literally drains the character, each one, to where you don't know who said what. And if  one character says what could've been said by another, well, that's just a bad place to be in for both writer and reader.

I don't think it should be any different for television writing. I know. Television is fast. You've got what, 45 minutes of actual show that has to wrap up a problem, create new problems, show character growth, etc and it's got to go quick before the show is finished! And yet, I can't help but think it's a problem--it's shallow. It's pretentious.

Okay, having said all this, here's what you should (or should not) do.

1. Don't write this way. It's too confusing for the reader.

2. If you do write this way, you can probably get away with it if it's on TV.

3. Watch bunheads. Super cute, especially if you love ballet like me. I still dance, all the time ... at home in the kitchen. A tondue here, a piroutte there while I'm stirring the spaghettie sauce. It never goes away. I think I'll be 90 years old and still doing plies. Where was I? Oh yes.

4. Watch Gilmore Girls reruns. Hilarious. Very fun. Again, no one speaks like this, and everyone is so dang witty. But, it was entertaining enough for me to overlook this mega-problem.

Unfortunately, I couldn't overlook that mega-problem with the super-popular show House. I'm going to get flack for this one too. But, it was WAY too much, all the time. It's like a megaphone in your ear for the entire hour, shouting at you how fantastic (they think) their writing is.

Bailey Buntain

Oh, and did I mention that I know a friend of a friend of one of the co-stars of Bunheads, but I didn't know this until after I watched two episodes? My sister went to school with the sister of this star, character Ginny Thompson. Yay for Bailey Buntain! Way to go. Watch new episdoes of Bunheads on Monday night 9/8 c, on ABC Family.

So, go ahead and watch this show. It's got a few writing issues that could easily be remedied, but overall, not bad at all. Heck, I would love to write for them.

Alrighty. Now, what's left? Oh yes, there is a pretty cool writing contest I must mention. It's the:

Fifth annual Life Lessons Essay Contest, put on by REAL SIMPLE magazine. If you could change one decision in the past what would it be?
Maximum word count: 1500
Entry Fee: FREE
Prizes: Essay published in magazine, trip to NYC, etc. Cool stuff.
Deadline: September 13, 2012

Have fun, and if you dance, make sure you grande jete before you write, you know, to get the blood flowing and all...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo

I'm doing okay during this round of NaNoWriMo. I'm not at the recommended projected speed, but I do have eleven thousand very disorganized set of words already written. Only need 39,000 more by the end of June. No problem.

Actually, there is a problem. My words will be horrendous. How can it not? And the story will still probably need another good thirty thousand words just to make it a complete book after NaNo.

But, that's what revisions are for. And that's just what I'll do.

I'd like to have this middle-grade book written and edited by the end of the year, this includes the thirty thousand extra words, the thirty thousand I have to edit out and rewrite, and of course, the thirty thousand that was supposed to write itself because I'm so brilliant. (Oh and did I mention this is the THIRD rewrite of this book? Yeah ... issues).

Anyway, NaNo is great because what it is, is a giant swift-kick in the behind. And right now, at the onset of summer and my kids underfoot, and the desire for a beach vacation, it's exactly what I need.

Here's a couple writing opportunities that I particularly liked and will probably enter them AFTER Camp NaNo (except for the second one). Remember, all writing is exercise. Get stronger now!

Story Contest about Past Loves: Premise: Ever wonder what others do about fond memories of past loves? Cute little essay contest.
Maximum word count: 700 words.
Entry fee: FREE.
Prizes: Cash awards.
Deadline: September 17th, 2012
Enter here.

Hallmark Contest, She's Graduating Book: I love Hallmark. Especially their contests. Here's a fun one. New book contest for the graduating girl (college or high school). There are three different categories to write for.
Maximum word count: 2000 characters (about 100-150 words).
Entry fee: FREE.
Prizes: $50 and two copies of book (plus everyone in the world will see it!)
Deadline: June 24th, 2012.
Enter here.

Have fun!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


You know how I wrote about "Expanding your territory" last week, by branching out and writing in areas that you aren't familiar with?

What if you could do that and not have to write a book, or even an essay for that matter? What about a plain and simple writing prompt that forces you to write -- and only write-- twenty five words?

Writer's Digest has these incredibly cool exercises that do this. Writing prompts are one of them, and this one -- the super short one-- is not only fun, but hard. Twenty five words? That's like only being able to take a sip of coffee out of a twelve-cup pot. Hard to do, and not as easy as you'd think.

Here's the contest: Take a look at this picture, and write the opening sentence to a story. Easy, right? Actually, no it isn't. Everyone has a million ideas, and yet, when it comes to writing, seems like those million ideas boil down to just a handful ... a handful of openers that everyone has heard of.

Don't be like that. Don't be normal.

Do what I talked about in my "Openers" post and open things with a bang -- dead in the middle of action.

Not "it was a dark and stormy night and everyone has heard this opening" opener, but something wickedly different like, "Bobby loved to watch houses burn down, especially when he started those fires from his lantern" type of opener.

Again, this is a great exercise. It's a way to find new avenues to prevent writer's block, to write about things you'd never write about, and even to get published. Kind of the goal of writer.

Click here to enter this contest.

Exercise hurts because it forces you to go against the normal. But exercise, when done daily, gets easier with time and it makes you stronger. You do want to be a strong writer, yes?

Go to for tons of other cool writing exercises, contests, articles, interviews and reviews. This site should be bookmarked for as long as you're a writer. Essential site.

Besides, any site with the word "writers" in it HAS to be decent ...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Expanding Your Territory

Camp NaNoWriMo
I've written several times about why we need to expand our writing, as in, writing in styles and genres that we normally don't write in.

I can hear you saying, "That's all fine and dandy for someone else, but for me and my thriller manuscripts I don't need that kind of practice."

Now, I want you to hear me saying. "You're wrong!"

Why? Because, we have to always be learning in order to keeping knowing. That sounds kind of lame when I write it that way. But here's the gist: to be really, really good at something, requires continual, daily, practice. This means writing in your genre, and writing in OTHER genres to be not only a good writer, but a great writer: someone who can understand all sorts of things because of this very act of writing in a genre one normally doesn't write in.

So, what do you need to do? Try doing what I'm doing. Well, so I'm probably not doing all of these, but here are three examples of things that you -- yes you, you writer way in the back of the class who thinks this blog post doesn't pertain to them -- can and should do to brush up on your skills.

A writer is not a writer unless they write, and they're not a writer unless they can write in all sorts of ways. Just as an actor is not a true actor (from what I understand) until they can be all characters, from the evilest of murderers to the kindest of cops. You know what I mean. A variety, a cornucopia of acts that when all put together, creates a whole: a complete person.

Check these options out, have fun and work at it! This will help you. I promise.

1. Enchanted Conversations: A Fairytale Magazine. This is a great blog that has contests with retold fairy tales. GREAT site. I've submitted before. Very fun to re-write a fairytale with different characters and settings. Challenging, but again, 'tis the point. Free to submit and contests are monthly.

2. Ether Sci-fi and Fantasy Quick Reads: I would love to try this one. Mostly because I've never written sci-fi story, despite the fact that I like reading the occasional sci-fi book, I want to see if I can do this. This is so not my style, or genre, but hey, I can try! Again, this will sharpen my skills. How can it not? Besides, you can win an Ipad. Awesomeness...

3. Camp NaNoWriMo: I've done this before too, but only the November contest. This is where one writes a book (50,000 words) in thirty days. Totally crazy fun. Doesn't need to be your best work, all you have to do is write. It's a way to get your backside into gear and get that book out that's been rolling around your head. When a deadline looms, I like to think I work better and faster: a perfect reason you should sign up too. And what's even better is that this competition is free, and you can go at your own pace (as long as it's 50k words total at the end of the month) and you have friends who are doing this with you. This Camp NaNo is for June and August (separately) and is easier going than the driven NaNo in November. This Camp NaNo also has us in smaller groups. I'm looking forward to getting a book or two out this summer.

Happy writing!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Sorry I've been MIA for a little bit. I needed a little break after blogging for thirty straight days!

Anway, I'm back and I'm curious to know something. You know how the first few sentences in a book are critical for hooking the reader, well I would love to know your imput on this little paragraph:

The hammer in her hand felt smooth and comfortable, and as cool as a glass of water.  Cleopatra Riley grabbed the key from her pocket and walked to the cabinet in her darkened closet. She unlocked it, and after opening both wooden doors wide, took out all of her porcelain horses, setting them on top of the dresser. In a few seconds, what had taken almost ten years to collect, was gone – smashed to hundreds of pieces

Does it draw you in? Is it too wordy? Do you want to read more? I know beginnings are SO important. Important as in, getting an agent to request a partial, or having them say "thanks, but no thanks."

What are some of your favorite openers? Some book openers are hilarious, some are serious, some are just confusing -- but appropriately so. But, almost all of the ones I've read are good because they are to-the-point, in the middle of conflict, and drawing me in from the first few sentences. The way books should be.

For example, here's my opener from The Puzzle Master.

The sun peered through the window and Marshall’s eyes opened with a start. What time was it? He sat up in bed and checked his clock. 7:05. Perfect, still early enough. He scrambled out of the sheets, already hot and sticky, and headed for his closet, tiptoeing past his older brother.

My goal was to have Marshall in the middle of a conflict. He had to get to his favorite store before it opened, but that was because he was looking for his special "treasure" and because he only had thirty minutes in there. He also wanted to get out before his family woke up, thereby further delaying his mission.

If your opener doesn't suggest a problem, or conflict, or isn't in the middle of said conflict, you've got the wrong opening. You want to bring the person into the room, so to speak; welcome them in with tea and cookies and get them to put their feet up on the ottoman because they're enthralled with the room (book.)

Rework it, make it snappy, like the opening of a movie -- because that's about the patience people have for reading anymore -- and then you've got something an agent will beg to see.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zeal

After a month of blogging, I haven't lost the zeal for writing. Sometimes, when I'm writing things that don't strictly have to do my creations, the zeal has a tendency to disappear. It's like editing other peoples' work: after weeks of taking care of their work, the enthusiasm for working on my stories seems curbed.

Hopefully, the almost two thousand blogs (perhaps less) involved in this blogfest energized your zeal. It absolutely has for me, as I got to "meet" many other authors -- those who are trying, succeeding and failing at the same things I am attempting -- and I've met book reviewers, agents, readers, etc. It's been extremely educational and it means I've got sources to go to, when my zeal is lacking.

Thanks for reading a long with me on my blogging journey for the month of April. I've had a lot of fun, it's been challenging only a few times when I had no idea what to write, and rewarding too to see how many others are in this journey with me.

Keep the zeal!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Young Adult

This post is going to read like my kindergartner's books he's currently learning to read:

I like young adult books. Have you read them?
Young adult books are very trendy right now.
They make a lot of blockbuster movies from them too.
Do you like blockbuster movies?
Adults read young adult books.
Kids read young adult books.
Young adults read young adult books.
So, what makes a young adult book?

Okay, enough of that. But really, there is always a strong debate about what makes or doesn't make a young adult book. Without a doubt, I believe young adult books' main protagonist needs to be a young adult. I know, that's one of those "duh" comments. But, Harry Potter was ten, wasn't he, when he began at Hogwarts? And yet, those books are more young adult now than ever because the books take Harry through the young adult years.

I think young adult books can be read by children and adults alike, especially if the book deals with serious issues. This might be a reason that kids shouldn't read them, but an absolute reason for adults to read them. Which leaves me to wonder, when is the property line crossed when going from middle-grade to young adult? Young adult books aren't young adult only because of age, right?

My story, The Puzzle Master, deals with a couple of twelve year olds, but the subject matter is beyond their young little minds -- it's almost beyond some adults minds.

So, what do you think? Do you like reading young adult because of the "age" of the characters, or because of the content? Or both? Or, maybe it's neither of that?

I love young adult because it takes me back to when I was metamorphosing into an adult: times that were turbulent, strange, exciting and confusing.

And perhaps, the very reason this age group can bring forth such amazing -- blockbuster --stories.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for (E)xit

It's time for me to stop blogging. Because, I'm losing my mind, and doing dumb stuff.

Yesterday, I added a picture of the letter U to my W word.

Ummm.... yeah. That's not good. And because blogger changed their site, I'm having to relearn where all the functions are, and my formatting looks horrible at times, like the other day, when my title didn't go into the post, and there weren't any spaces between words after a period. Argggghhhh.

Hopefully, you've learned a lot over this past month. I know I have. I also have a ton of blogs to visit still, which I hope to do over the course of the next month.

I've also learned that I still really love to write. And I'm glad to be a part of this blogging fest.

Even if, I'll always have an issue with editing my blogs ...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Writing Exercises

Unlike real physical exercise, I love writing exercises. And I especially love writing prompts. Those few words or sentence gives me a freedom to write about anything, without my own creative restrictions, precisely because I didn't come up with the writing prompt. Weird, but that works well for me.

I also like coming up with book openers. You know, the way the first couple of sentences look on the first page -- sentences that are supposed to hook you immediately.

I try to do this frequently, just for fun, but I really try to do this on genres that I don't typically write in.

For example:

Murder is tricky. Sometimes, it takes the victim by surprise and other times, the victim knows it's coming from miles away. Kind of like the sound of a train whistle on a train not yet visible. But when Matthew Sasson murdered me, I'd heard that train whistle for months.

-paranormal mystery

I don't write paranormal. But, it would probably be pretty fun. This is a small way for me to be a paranormal writer, without writing a book.

Another example:

Her blond wig was far too big for her face. Her fake tan and giant sunglasses were glaringly obvious as a hasty disguise. But here on the Florida coast, no one seemed to give her appearance a second thought, because Carrie Tran looked just like every other woman there.


I don't write thrillers. They aren't my style, and honestly, I haven't read many of them. But, does that matter?
As a writer, it's kind of like being an actor. You should know how to write in different genres, like acting a good guy, bad guy, nerd, jock, etc, because it's fantastic exercise. 

These openers aren't even very good, but they're something to work on and work with. It may seem counterproductive not to focus on your genre, but in the end, these exercises will not only help your writing style and character development, but you might just get a brand new book out of it.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vacillating

The definition, according to Webster, of vacillating: to sway to and fro: to waver, totter, stagger.

Such a strange word. Yet, I do this all the time.

I vacillate between writing a middle grade book, or literary fiction.

I vacillate between excercising, or sitting down to watch something on the TV.

I vacillate between a warm sour-cream laden burrito for lunch, or yogurt and fruit.

I vacillate between a lot of different things, and usually, it's because my wants are trying to overpower my true needs.

Though, I don't know how I account for the writing thing ... I vacillate on writing a lot of different styles, mostly because I like so many-- from young adult to fantasy -- and to see if I can write in a particular style that I'm not used to. Well, that's the reason I'm coming up with, anyway.

What about you? What do you "stagger" and "totter" over? Facebook or actual writing? Folding laundry or eating chocolate?

And really, have you ever used this word in your vocabulary? Or in any of your writing? If not, you should.

It's a great word to vacillate over using in your next story.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Unbelievable!

For some reason, I was having a hard time coming up with a blog post for the letter U. It may be because my head is a little fuzzy. Why? Because I was awake last night, in the middle of the night around three a.m., thinking about a young author (age nineteen) who this year, wrote a book in two weeks, did one week of revisions, and submitted it to agents with an offer for representation a week later.

Unbelievable. Unsusual, yes. And still, always unbelievable to hear stories like that. Stephanie Meyer was one of those in the "unbelievable" category too, and though rare, these writers are out there.

I was awake thinking about what I was doing at nineteen. Wanting to write, but not thinking I could sit down a write a book. It's amazing how all authors find the road to their writing, and how most of the roads are similar and very different, too. I was in college, studying literature at that age. I was writing too many papers to even think about writing a book that I wanted to write. I was also working part time, trying to also (unsuccesfully) keep a social life, and still have fun.

But, why didn't I think of writing a book? That would have been fabulous practice. Oh well. I'm too old for regrets. Life is the way it is for a reason. It takes some writers decades to learn how to write, and others, a couple of years or less.

I suppose for this age nineteen author -- her name is Taryn, and here's her blog. She's also a literary intern, freelance writer, YA writer extraordinaire --  found her calling early on. And she wrote, studied, wrote and editing a ton before she wrote this agented book. She worked hard! It also helps to be a literary intern. Perhaps, every writer should be that. It teaches one how to write (after seeing so much of the same, boring, uninteresting, blah queries and manuscripts). Lucky her. I hope she sticks with it. Because if she can whip something up that an editor likes in a few weeks, what could she write if she spent a few months on it?

Unbelievable, unusual and very inspirational at the same time. I hope you are inspired to keep writing. Because when I hear stories like that, it makes me want to get back to writing and writing and writing, so I can be unbelievable too.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Typos

Because, we all have them! I even have a book out, one that I published mind you,
and I'll still find a missing period, or misspelled word, and I cringe to think about all the people that have
read those mistakes! I'm a perfectionist, but not to the point that it had to be so perfect before I put the book out there. If that were the case, I never would've published. I had to let it go, typos and all, and then fix them, once the book was out--once I had many sets of eyes telling me what I missed. Some folks don't like that, but really, I don't mind it at all. I need the help.While I can edit for content, sometimes, I just CAN'T see the formatting, or grammatical or punctuation errors because I'm looking for so many different things.
Again, this is one of the negatives to self-publishing. And also a reason to hire an editor to fix those things
before you put something out there. And sometimes, even that isn't error-proof. I've read many a bestsellers,
with errors. So, it's a lesson learned, with nothing to lose, at this point. There are probably a half a dozen typos in this post as well. We're human, we make errors, and I'm all for doing one's best. Yet, though we need to be polished, sometimes, it doesn't happen perfectly ... and that's okay!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Sparks

As in Nicholas Sparks. I know what you're thinking ... we've already heard about this guy. But, probably far less than you're hearing about Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games, right?

I know a lot of people like his writing. I know a lot of people don't like his writing. Usually, the latter group says this because they've never read any of his books. They're only basing their opinion on what others have said, what they've heard in an interview, or how bad they thought the movie was. Don't base your judgement of a book from the movie ... ever. You know the cliche: The book is better.

Here's two super reasons to read Nicholas Sparks.

1. His writing is real. I know. Some of you guys are thinking, come on, he's so not real. But he is! He's real for guys and girls, and on so many levels. I just read The Last Song. Sure it was sad, as he usually has sad elements in his books, but how is that any different than other book? Life is about sad. But it was also positive too. His male characters aren't all good-looking, sweep-you-off-your-feet guys either. They work, they have faults, they learn how to love and how to protect. His female characters have just as many faults too, which makes for a great story. This particular book isn't just a love story. It's about discovering the truth to each character, revealing what has been hidden, and getting rid of the things that have hindered their lives from growth. All good stuff. Most of his books are about friendship and family; what life is all about. His writing is real so we all will relate.

2. He knows how to tell a story. If you're not going to read his works because you hate the genre, then do yourself a favor and read one of his works to get a feel for how he weaves his stories. He hooks you from the first few chapters. In the past, I've read a few of his works that seemed slow to start. But this book, The Last Song, got me from the start. He even got me to care about characters I didn't want to care about. That's a good story teller. He doesn't overwrite his stories, either. His editor actually makes sure that all he puts in the story is truly relevant, not just something to fill up the pages. Some best selling authors have fluff in their books. That's so not cool. Just ... fluffy and unfulfilling. Sparks is a bestseller for a reason.

I suppose I'm an advocate for him because he's also from Sacramento, where I live. Maybe there's something in the water that will teach me how to write as well as him too.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rebecca Ward Design

Okay, so this has NOTHING to do with writing. But, it does have to do with my family. My younger sister, Rebecca, is an interior designer. She has been in business for quite a few years already and is only a young pup herself. has incredibly reasonable rates, she is located in central California, and whether you need new lighting and paint for a single room -- or an entire house-- she can do it all. She's a member of ASID, worked years as an intern, received her degree in design, and now runs a business of her own.

My point: she's good at what she does because she studied and worked for it.

Kind of like the way good authors become published with reputable publishers when they study, write and do it until it's perfect, day in and day out, and even when the writer feels they're moving at a snails pace. She is that dedicated, as a designer.

Here's her fabulous blog. Here is her design website. She blogs quite regularly, and honestly, she should have done the blogging from A to Z. She always has awesome design tips. I'm not the only one out there who doesn't know how to properly match the drapes to the walls, choose the right sconces, or the perfect sofa for the living room.

But then ... that's why she's my interior designer.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for (Agent) Query

I wanted to write about quesadillas. They're one of my favorite foods of all time. But, I won't. I'll save the food for a foodie.

I've mentioned this fabulous site before. But, I'm going to do it again, since I didn't just want to talk about those querulous queries.

Have a book you want to query? Children's book, romance or sci-fi? Find an agent -- and hundreds more--for each genre at AgentQuery. It's a database of information that any writer has to bookmark. Too valuable to ignore.

There are also helpful articles and interviews to go along side the lists of agents, and updates on agents --if they're open to queries or not-- every day. The site is extremely simple to navigate, easy to use, and with the click of the mouse, you've got ten or more agents to send your quite marvelous manuscript to. Your quest has begun ... or rather, it is continuing.

Go to AgentQuery today and find that agent for you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for (The) Puzzle Master

So, it wouldn't be right if I didn't plug my own book for the letter "P." A few months ago, I ventured into unknown territory ... and self-published a middle grade book.

Here's the synopsis:

Twelve-year-old Marshall Thompson's favorite place in the world is Luke's Junk Store. With one more trip in before school begins, he's intent on finding the perfect thing to take with him on his first day back. But his "great find" ends up being a girl -- and a friendship begins that will change him forever.

Together, they share a love of puzzles and something else: sickness. With his asthma, and her in cancer recovery, they're linked as kindred spirits. But when a life-changing incident threatens their friendship, Marshall has to learn to pick up the pieces to his broken puzzle of life and put them back together.

The Puzzle Master is a story of friendship, love, forgiveness and hope; issues that surround us at the youngest of age. Through Marshall's tragedies and triumphs, he learns to accept change and overcome his trials even when they seem insurmountable.

Engrossing story, with engaging characters. This novel could stand beside Bridge to Terebithia in a classroom -- it's that good.-- Goodreads Review (I had to add this awesome review!)

Needless to say, this isn't some happy little book. It isn't about vampires, or some fantasy world (though those are great too.)  It's somewhat serious and it's not that long (42,000 words, or about 125 reading pages). But it's a little story that I felt needed to be told. It's that simple. Great for middle grade, and even better for young adults and adults. Check it out on Amazon. I have it in Kindle and paperback versions. Kindle is only $.99. Would love imput, or a review, if you feel so inclined.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for The Oregon Coast

I love coastal Oregon. It's always lush and green, even in the dead of summer. Though I don't live there, I've been traveling there probably twice a year for the past thirty years or so, vacationing on the same beach, and loving it more and more each time I visit. It's a great place to do a lot of writing too.

The beaches are clean and beautiful. The air is crisp and clear. The views are astounding. And that the forest meets up with the ocean, makes it consistantly breathtaking. I did a lot of coffee drinking ... duh.

If you've never visited, I highly recommend it. I was just there for ten days and I would love to be there right now. But I'll especially wish to be there when it's 105 degrees here in July, but a balmy 75 degrees there.

Here's their tourism site, just in case you want to make a trip. Oh, and if you want a beach-front vacational rental to rent, e-mail me. I've got the hook-ups.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Newbie

We all have to start somewhere, right? This year, actually, exactly two months ago, I self-published my middle grade book, The Puzzle Master, through Amazon and Amazon kindle. (only .99 cents! get it here.)

Great experience, great learning curve, and wow, do I feel like a newbie. I feel like a nothing and an everything at the same time. I am one of millions, vying for readers attention, and yet I have the ability to have full control of editing, marketing, writing, etc.

This is both good and bad. Good because I'm learning a lot, and again have full control of my work, and at the same time, bad because I don't know what the heck I'm doing.

Here's an exception, a guy who has made a huge success of himself and is also willing to help us newbies: his name is Joe Konrath. He's a great writer, who has put in decades of writing to finally get to where he is today.

His blog has tons of info on how to be a self-published author and do it well, and argues that his success wasn't a fluke: that he had to work hard to be successful. His blog is called A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

He wrote a great blog post about how he made 100,000 in three weeks (hard work, long hours). And another post about how a lot of people aren't so sure he deserved it (he did!)

If you're interested in self-publishing, or want to learn more about the writing process, check it out. It is a wealth of information.

Newbies, you can do it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Masterpiece

As a writer, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture.

I'm sure this is a common theme for any artist -- from painting to acting to dance -- as they have to daily focus on small segments, perfecting those parts, which in turn creates the final masterpiece ... even if it takes many, many days.

What artists have to do, in order to remember what the whole thing is about, is to step back and refocus ... take a look at the whole picture and remember what it was they had originally intended to create.

Writing is the same way. We work a chapter or page at a time. But, after months of this, sometimes we don't remember the passion; what it was that sparked imagination or flamed the fire of this story.

Sometimes, we need to reread what we wrote to remember. Other times, we have to sit on it. And usually, we just have to keep doing what we're doing, one day at a time, having faith that the final project will appear.

Masterpieces don't come over night. They don't even come in six months or a year, sometimes. It requires our patience, daily or hourly even, to keep steadfast in the art and steadfast in the continuity.

It takes persistance in going into the characters and the setting of an unreal world and maintain a belief in that world, despite what's going on around you, which ultimately carries over to the reader.

Isn't that the whole point?

Making a masterpiece -- something you are truly happy with -- takes work and time. Don't rush through it; don't think you'll never get it finished; don't try to short-change yourself and slap it together just to have something completed. It won't be good. It won't be that masterpiece you want. No one will care to read it again, or even read it in the first place

It's quality. Not quantity.

Stick with that, and everything you churn out, even if it takes five years, will be worth it in the end.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Library (Week)

This entire week of April has been National Library Week, the 8th through the 14th.
So here's my questions: when was the last time you were in a library?

For a lot of writers, we can't live without them: they are our eternal reference, even though
we have the internet. Most libaries have that slightly dusty, papery, hard-bound goodness
to them, so that every book you pick up feels like you've found gold.

Libraries are probably more economical than ever, as plunking down $15 for a book (and more)
isn't as viable as it used to be.

Whatever your excuse is for not visiting, try to make it into one -- even if just for old times sake.
Check out a book, something that makes you love to read, be it a mystery, thriller or memoir.

I grew up living about three blocks away from a library. My sisters and I were there all
the time. So much information, so much to read, so much to pour over and ponder.

I absolutely love libraries. And if you love to read or write, you really should too.

**Check out the National Library Week website for more info about what your local library is up to.**

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kaffee Klatsch

I seem to write about coffee a lot. I think there's a book in that somewhere. Partly because I know I should write about what I know and love, and partly because I need to get this out of my system. I could begin a new book that revolves around coffee, perhaps a murder mystery or something devilishly good. That goes well with a cup of joe too.

Anyway, what is a kaffee klatsch? Just the best thing ever.

It is, by Webster's dictionary definition, of german origin and is "an informal gathering for drinking coffee and talking."

Um, hello? That's so great. In fact, I do this a lot with my sisters and family. Well maybe not a lot, but when we can, we ge together on saturday mornings, and we talk .. a lot. And we drink coffee ... a lot.

So, if you ever, EVER need an excuse for yet another reason why you need to go to coffee with a friend, the reason is your "activity" is defined in the dictionary. You have legitimate meeting, with a legitimate meaning, and it is therefore your right to excercise your freedom to drink and talk ... over coffee. And add books or writing elements to it, and it's practically a tax write off.

I think I'm done writing about coffee, for this A to Z blogging festival. Not because I don't want to, but because I think you might throw things at me if I do. I should have a coffee blog, about all things coffee.

And if you're feeling the need to read more about coffee, read this Ode to Coffee, which was my "C is for Coffee" day last week.

I have to go now, and refill my cup with coffee. See you tomorrow, where I shall write about something other than coffee, that begins with the letter L.

Something other than L is for "light roast" or "latte"... you see my issues.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Joy

Yes, I wrote Joy. Because, true joy is really hard to come by these days.

There's a whole lot of negative, a whole lot of stupid, a whole lot of vanity and myriad of joy-stealing things happening all around us.

Yet, who is in control of our own joy? We are. It's all up to us, whether we're going to say "today will be a great day" or stay grumpy. It's up to us to say, "I'm going to be productive today" -- even if that means one solitary, but solid, paragraph of writing.

Many days, the joy just isn't there, despite those words, despite yelling them out, or repeating them over and over. Joy is very elusive -- it is much like that missing sock when you take the clothes from the dryer ... sometimes never to find it again, but believing it is still very near.

For me, and my belief, my mantra -- if you will -- is "the joy of the Lord is my strength." That may not be yours, you may not agree, but I don't really care. It's the only way to explain how I get out of my funk. I don't have to do it in my own strength, but God's. I'd like to think that's far better, than trying to eek out joy from my dismal self, knowing full-well that it's nowhere to be found in my own strength.

That makes joy seem not so elusive, suddenly. It's mine to have, mine to obtain, mine to open up because God is in control of that very thing that is taking my joy.

Joy can be my middle name!

No actually, Joy is my middle name. It's a name I don't always live up to, but I know that when I am thankful for everything -- fingers, vision, food, my dog -- I will find joy. It will be my middle name.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Ink

When was the last time you wrote a letter?

I know. A letter.

When did you last take some actual paper, lined or frilly or otherwise, pick up a pen -- one of those tubular things that emits a liquid called ink -- and wrote out your thoughts to a friend?

With the use of e-mail, we are forgetting something quite remarkable: we are forgetting how to write with our hands ... and not just our brains. Like the keyboard, we can write out our thoughts in ink- giving life to our thoughts, words, deeds, images and feelings. Ink and paper are the beginnings of any writer.

But, ink is truly feeling your words. Ink lets you directly write out not just what you're saying, but how you feel about it through the way we write. Our words, though we can't write them out as fast as we can on a computer, are intentional when printed in ink; our words really mean something.

How about a journal entry? When was the last time you wrote out your thoughts in a notebook rather than a blog post? What about a little note to a friend at work or to a spouse at home, instead of a text? What about a postcard sent from a place you just went? We seem to want to update our facebook pages with our latest "wish you were here" picture, which ends up looking like a "look what I'm doing and you're not" picture instead. Not the same as a postcard. At all.

There is something about ink on paper that means more than any text, e-mail or blog.

There is also something great about writing out your story on paper too. Yes, you'll have to transcribe it to the PC, but so what. To write the way all the great writers of our past wrote is something you can't explain to a writer who only types. It's freeing; it's real ... it's the way all writing began.

Write a letter or a note to a friend or family member today. It will mean a lot to them, and hopefully, renew your creative world without the need for any electricity.

Oh, and just a heads up: you'll need one of those little square things called a "stamp" to put in the corner in order to mail it.