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It Takes A Village

Last night I had the opportunity to visit a local library and speak about my life, writing, book love and other randomness. The Friends of the Library advertised, baked and decorated. They filled the room to capacity. I mean. Really. There were late-comers seated on the floor. My bestie picked me up from home, drove me, hauled books, kept me from puking because I am a nervous speaker, and collected money among many other things. A friend from years past made a special trip to the town to see me. My in laws watched three kids until Hubsy could get home and take over.

This was just one small, 1 hour event. And look at all the support and involvement I needed and received.

Before any contract is ever signed, at least one beta reader gives me honest feedback. Beta readers should be hugged. They volunteer their precious time to read a manuscript that may never be published – likely one by an author like me who no one has ever heard of. Then, my critique group combs over the words some more seeking rogue commas, plot holes and general writing no-nos. Then my agent reads it and edits it again, sometimes more than once.

After the contract is in place, my international online family rallies to support my accomplishment, allowing me to guest blog for them, tweeting about the success, posting the book trailer…the list goes on and on and on.

I am daily humbled, encouraged and utterly overwhelmed at the incredible people in my life. If you’re reading this post -that means you too. If you don’t have a writer-support group, find one. Get in touch with those who understand you, will lift you up when the rejections roll in, help edit your hate letter to the meaner agents, then convince you never to send it once you’ve gotten that out of your system. We need each other. Writing is no longer a solitary endeavor. Success takes a village.

Who’s in your village?

Writer Wednesday Welcomes: Author Karen Kondazian

Today’s amazing author comes to us courtesy of the Wow! Women on Writing as part of her Blog Tour. Karen writer historical fiction and she graciously agreed to talk to us about finding inspiration for novels. Take it away Karen!

Karen Kondazian’s life dream was to be a CIA spy…until she turned eight and she was invited to appear on Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things”. After several days of missing school to tape the show Karen realized that acting was indeed her truecalling. Karen has an extensive list of both theatre and television roles she’s played and also teaches at the Lee Strasberg School of Theatre and Film in Hollywood. Karen’s first foray into writing also stayed in the acting realm: The Actor’s Encyclopedia of Casting Directors. But now she’s branched out into historical fiction with a main character that any actress would love to play!

 

The Whip by Karen Kondazian

Life can be tough! Imagine falling in love with a runaway slave and having his child. Or tracking a killer who destroyed your family. Living your life as a man, making your living as a stagecoach driver, or killing a famous outlaw. Any one of those things would qualify as a tough life but what if they ALL happened to you? They did to Charley Parkhurst and The Whip is the story of her incredible life in the Wild West of the 1860s.


 

Just Thought You Should Know:

The Whip is inspired by the true story of a woman, Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst, a Rhode Island woman who lived her life in the West as a man.

Find Karen Online:

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/TheWhipNovel

Twitter @thewhipnovel

Website http://www.thewhipnovel.com/

Blog http://www.thewhipnovel.com/blog/

YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/TheWhipNovel#g/u

 

The Devil is in the Details

It’s been said a bazillion times, “Write what you know.” My friends think this means I should write about raising small children, or homeschooling or being a domestic failure….but to me writing is an escape. I don’t want to rehash the perils of my day and I don’t know why anyone would want to read about them to the tune of 80,000 words. Yikes. So, I write what I want, but I pepper in my favorite details.

Details can make the story.

How many times have I reread a sentence, put the book on my lap, looked into the air and said ,”Yes!” A lot. I do it a lot and I love that moment where an author has masterfully detailed something dear to me. Or even something simple which I’d never given thought before. Words are powerful. Words will change the way you see things. Words will change the world. But enough of that for right now.

Details can help or hinder. So, be sure you get them right. I did a beta read for a friend in another country a couple years ago and her MC woke in LA, pulled back the blinds of her loft apartment to take in the stellar views of the park outside. Central Park. Oops. I’ve seen writers describe the Amish community as if it were a commune. Obvi they haven’t ever been to an Amish populated town. I could go on, but you get he drift. If you aren’t absolutely certain, don’t say it. Google it, phone a friend, or skip it.

But if you DO know it, describe it with abandon. What makes the details truly spectacular is the author’s unique perception of the thing they describe. Chances are, I don’t see it the way you do…until you tell me, then I have a whole new appreciation. Something I considered commonplace is now mysterious, comical or beautiful. Then, as a reader, I officially love you. Or, you describe it as I’ve always imagined it and then we are kindred spirits. So, it’s a win-win really.

Yes, dialogue is important to keep your story moving forward.

Yes, too much purple prose will kill your novel dead by way of strangulation.

All the more reason to make the details you offer up matter. Make them strong, visual images that last long after your reader has finished reading for the night. Make them dream of your creation.

Do you have a favorite author or book where the words pulled you onto the pages, right into the world they created? Please share!

I’m on a Writing Break i.e. Going CrazyPants

I’m in between WIPs. This hasn’t happened in three years. It’s not a good place for me. I don’t know how to act. I have mad amounts of unfocused energy and I’m developing a twitch. Writing keeps the crazy-pants at bay. However, my family is headed to the ocean in about three weeks and I want to make memories there. I don’t want photos of my torso and the back of a laptop screen in place of my head.

I am painfully OCD and if I’m in the middle of something, it feels like a guillotine hanging over my head until it’s finished. So, when I begin to write a story, I’m *compelled* to see it through – quickly. I cannot start a new story until after vacation. *chews nails*

I cannot begin a new story. It’s killing me. I’ve typed a 12 page outline for my next project. But, I draw the line at beginning the writing.

To harness some of the loose energy, I started cleaning. I decided on Monday to clean one room a day. Top to bottom. Dust ceilings and light fixtures, sweep, use the attachment thingy to get in corners and around baseboards. I moved all the furniture, retrieved lots of change and lost toys, swept the couch cushions, dusted art and pictures. Tuesday I scrubbed the guest bath in the same fashion but instead of a sweeper, I used a bleachy-cleanser to wipe every inch of the space, refold guest towels, etc. Then I started on my kitchen and made two trips to donate all the crap shoved in the back of my cupboards. Good Grief. It took two long days to scrub every inch of the kitchen. I gave away THIRTY placemats. Who on earth has THIRTY placemats? I don’t even use placemats.

When my husband came home I opened all the drawers and cabinets to show off..”How does it look????” I beamed, eyes swirling to reveal the extent of my freak out. He raised a worried eyebrow and told me it looked like Sleeping with the Enemy.

Hey, that’s how I roll. 110% All day.

So, I may not make it three more weeks without writing. My poor family has grown too comfortable with laptop-head mommy. I don’t want to keep frightening them. All the cleaning has everyone concerned for my well-being. It seems the kind thing would be to go back to writing. *Looks over shoulder* Yeah, that’s the ticket. It’s all for the sake of my dear family. *nervous giggling*

What do you do when you aren’t writing??

Writer Wednesday Welcomes: Cynthia Simmons!

During the late nineties, I went through a very difficult time as I attempted to homeschool my youngest son who has disabilities. Through the hardship, I found comfort in researching history.  I wanted to share what I learned with others, so I got interested in writing.

In 2004 I joined Christian Authors Guild (CAG) and started to learn to write for publication. The group offered seminars and classes on writing, which I devoured. The leadership decided to put together a compilation of short stories. I dreamed up three stories and got them on paper. After many critiques and revisions, the committee accepted them into the book, The Desk in the Attic, which came out in 2005. I was thrilled to see my name in print.

The group gave me plenty of experience and helped me master the writing skills. I served as chaplain my first two years there, which meant I had to submit an article each month to the group newsletter.  In addition, I wrote several articles for a history magazine in my hometown. Condensed versions of those articles appeared in the city newspaper. I also had an article on my son published in a newsletter for parents of disabled children and in the Georgia right to Life Newsletter.

Members of the group went to Blue Ridge Writing Conference, and I joined them.  In 2007 I attended classes by Athena Dean who started Wine Press Publishing.  I had a set of stories from history and hoped to get it published. Athena assured me I could publish and promote it myself.

After coming home, my husband and I talked. I noted writers seldom told stories of women, especially those with prominent husbands. So I limited my focus to women. My ultimate goal was to demonstrate Biblical truths and encourage women who believed. I chose women whose stories contrasted and called it Struggles and Triumphs: Women in History Who Overcame.

Two months before my book came out in the spring of 2008, my husband had a tonic clonic seizure and slid into the living room floor. We rushed him to the hospital and discovered he was critically ill with encephalitis. As a retired nurse, I knew I could lose him. For a few days the doctors battled pneumonia from the seizure as well.

The publisher needed to contact me from time to time, and I knew I’d be impossible to reach. So I kept them up to date so the project wouldn’t get bogged down. The staff understood the serious nature of the disease and sent flowers to my home.

During that time my world seemed to crumble. Major appliances broke, and my mother’s health began to fail.  My husband stayed ten days in an intermediate intensive care but finally rallied. He came home on IV medication.  A week later mother broke her hip. Dad panicked. Even though I lived in a different state, he referred all questions and decisions on her care to me. While I appeared on TV and radio to promote the book, mother’s health continued to decline. I kept in touch with medical personnel by phone and shuttled my husband to doctors and therapists.  I told a friend I hoped mother could hold the book because I knew she’d be proud. God granted my wish. The day before her 76th birthday, I put the book into her hand. A week later, she died.

In 2010 I started doing podcasts, CAG Spotlight, for my writing group. I interviewed Tiffany Colter, Writing Career Coach. We clicked right away and kept in touch. She agreed to speak at our fall conference in 2011, and I asked her to look at something I started. Several people read the book and wanted more. So I began preparing a twelve week Bible study based on material in the stories. Tiffany read what I had done and loved it. She made a few suggestions. Based on her ideas I completed Struggles and Triumphs Study Guide in the fall of 2011. After several critiques I submitted it to Writing Career Coach Press for formatting and publication. We went through a number of revisions and chose a cover to match the book.

In many ways I’ve lived Struggles and Triumphs for the last four years. Since March of 2008, I’ve shepherded a family member through a major illness or accident nine times. Both my parents died. I cleaned up after a flood, dealt with a rebellious child, and emptied my childhood home.  I can truly say that God is faithful even in the midst of overwhelming heartache. He provides grace even in the darkest times. We always triumph in him.

2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God , who always leads  us in His triumph  in Christ , and manifests  through  us the sweet  aroma  of the knowledge  of Him in every place .

 

Struggles & Triumphs Women in History Who Overcame

What’s wrong with our world? Shouldn’t a God who claims to be all powerful and flawless prevent suffering? How can we continue to believe when storms rage on in our lives? If you’ve ever had tough questions like these Struggles and Triumphs Study Guide is the book for you. Author Cynthia L. Simmons will guide you toward answers with her unique and enlightening approach. Her twelve-week Bible study for ladies comes from stories of real women as told in Struggles and Triumphs: Women in History Who Overcame. As you study, you’ll come to understand God’s perspective on timeless issues that impact your life. The carefully chosen Scriptures combined with interesting historical information will challenge and encourage you.

Watch the trailer at: http://youtu.be/HOP9HY7xTXU

Purchase the book at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-simmons/struggles-and-triumphs-workbook/paperback/product-20038687.html

About Cynthia:

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over twenty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. Active in Christian Authors Guild (CAG), she conducts writing workshops and has served as president, vice president, and conference director. In December 2009 the membership granted her Life Time Membership for her numerous contributions to writers.  “Cindy” is fond of history and writes both historical fiction and nonfiction. Her writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, and Christian Devotions.us. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, came out in 2008. While promoting her book, she had interviews on radio and TV across the nation and was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the year. She also conducts monthly podcasts called CAG Spotlight in which she interviews authors and VIPs in the writing industry. At present she is completing a twelve week Bible study using the stories in Struggles and Triumphs.

 

 

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