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Guinea Pigs, American Idol & Writing

Have you ever heard this quote? “Write drunk, edit sober.” It’s an Ernest Hemingway quote. I’ve seen it a lot. It gets tweeted to the extreme, but I get what he’s saying. Write with your inhibitions down, write with passion, without abandon. Write to tell the moon sun and stars, not to please your great-grandmother. Then, edit with sense, and polish with a careful eye. You can ALWAYS cut it, revise it, reign it in. But if you write like your trying to fill a box, please an onlooker, or not offend someone, then it’s impossible to stretch that back out. The parameters are set, and you can’t go getting all crazy at edit time.

I know my readership / followers and nutty writerly types enough to know half of you are still caught up in the title saying “Yeah, yeah, yada-yada – WHAT’S THIS ABOUT A GUINEA PIG????” So, I’ll get to that. Our family has a pet now. He’s the first family pet and I don’t like him. He’s a guinea pig. He’s gross. He looks ratty. Yuk. BUT he has this redeeming quality that kept me from giving him to the next person who looked at him. It’s that he’s really super nervous. I mean it. If I pop a can open, he bolts. He spends most of his life in this hidey-hole we bought him and he’s generally terrified of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I like that. It makes him less creepy and more lovable. Its hard not to root for him, poor guy. Then, there’s American Idol. None of those contestants are afraid or insecure. They just get up there in front of those celebrity judges in all their fame and success and they belt out the awfullest howling, plug your ears, wipe the tears sounds and wait thinking they are DEFINITELY going to Hollywood. (I hide under a blanket and peek with one eye at the tryouts. It’s painful).

Are you feeling me yet? What I’m saying is Don’t be a guinea pig. <– you can quote me on that. Be brave and audacious. No one’s watching. Let it out there, scream it like you’re the next American Idol. When edit time rolls around, you can always tone it down, but what if you don’t? What if your story’s that big? and you were a guinea pig, and you squashed it into a box you thought people wanted to see instead of letting it be the force it really is?

Enough of me now. Get back to your WIP, crash some cars, terrify some young women, torment a brave guy. Kill of few of those pretties – you can always bring them back later …they’re not real. DO it up. Do it BIG. Do it NOW before you grab your pages and run to your hidey hole. Then drop me a comment and let me know what you did! Burn down a building! Slap a cheating boyfriend! I want to know!!

Blog Hop & Follow!

It’s time for the Blog Hop & Follow Friday again! I love this part of the week because  I’m meeting so many awesome bloggers, writers, readers *sigh*. So to all of you hopping with me I’m smiling widely like a doofus and waving frantically as always!!

Blog Hop is hosted over at Crazy-for-Books and Follow Friday is hosted at Parajunkee. These memes were created to help make the web smaller, and introduce us bloggers to one another. We can find sites and meet people and follow those we love! We increase our followers and we get some fun new sites to add to our dashboards too. Its a big win-win and I am thrilled to be taking part again this week.

So the question this week at Crazy for Books is: What books are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book?

This is super easy! There are THREE books I’m dying to get my hands on this summer. Each book is a continuation in a series I LOVED. In fact, I already have these in my Amazon cart. I plan to pre-order. All YA. All Yummy. All Awesomesauce. Here we go:

Forver by Maggie Stiefvater  – the third book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls Series

The conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy. In Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers – the follow up book to Personal Demons

Luc Cain was born and raised in Hell, but he isn’t feeling as demonic as usual lately—thanks to Frannie Cavanaugh and the unique power she never realized she had. But you can’t desert Hell without consequences, and suddenly Frannie and Luc find themselves targeted by the same demons who used to be Luc’s allies.

Left with few options, Frannie and Luc accept the protection of Heaven and one of its most powerful angels, Gabe. Unfortunately, Luc isn’t the only one affected by Frannie, and it isn’t long before Gabe realizes that being around her is too…tempting. Rather than risk losing his wings, he leaves Frannie and Luc under the protection of her recently-acquired guardian angel.

Which would be fine, but Gabe is barely out the door before an assortment of demons appears—and they’re not leaving without dragging Luc back to Hell with them. Hell won’t give up and Heaven won’t give in. Frannie’s guardian exercises all the power he has to keep them away, but the demons are willing to hurt anyone close to Frannie in order to get what they want. It will take everything she has and then some to stay out of Hell’s grasp.

And not everyone will get out of it alive.

Passion by Lauren Kate – The third book in the Fallen series

The deets on this one weren’t on her site or Amazon yet. I have read this might be more of a prequel to Fallen. I hope not because Torment (book two) had one heck of a cliffhanger). I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it in July!

Parajunkee’s question was: What is/was your favorite subject in school?

My favorite classes in school were the psychology courses. People are so utterly amazing and crazy and unpredictable and ….I don’t even know. I do know I’ve been preoccupied with people and their odd habits, speech, choices, you name it for as long as I can remember. Why do we do the things we do? How on earth is fishing or baseball fun? Why? In college there are a predetermined number of elective hours you may fill however you choose and I always chose a psych course, much to my adviser’s dismay. I didn’t end up quite as well rounded as if I’d taken basket weaving, or tree climbing or elvish (Those are real courses btw & elvish is Lord of the Rings elf talk) or something else, but I couldn’t get enough of the people stuff.  Cultural diversity, women’s studies, it all came back to human behavior. Every paper I wrote in art, or history or anything came down to our strange behavior. In truth, I’m about 100% certain that my new obsession with writing comes from my preoccupation with people. It would’ve been nice to know then I’d become a writer one day because I never took one class – and that would’ve been really nice right about now LOL! Ahhh live and learn.

Thanks everyone for stopping by! Leave a comment and tell me if you follow! I always follow back!!!

Whoa! What Smells? & Other Descriptor Problems

I just finished shining a short, sweet romance and I put it through a couple rounds of random twitter betas. I like random betas for a couple of reasons. 1. I get diversity of experience, genre preference, and personality. It’s like a cross section. I like that because  2.  While more seasoned betas will line edit the snot out of my manuscript until the ink runs in fear, others will hone in on plot holes or character flaws. It’s nice.

This go around I had some nice compliments on my descriptions, visuals of things, places, people, thoughts etc. I NEVER get that kind of feedback. I guess I can thank The King – Stephen King. I finished “On Writing” last week and combed over my manuscript with his two cents in mind, I guess it worked.I want to share because a little effort went a long way.

Regarding adverbs for description…I cut them.

WHAAAA???? Yeah. The King said “I think the road to hell is paved with adjectives.” A strong sentiment from an author no one would shake a stick at, so I obeyed. I cut them. Here’s how…

1. I started at the beginning and sought them out. If they appeared in a dialogue tag, they were cut without question. People don’t whisper quietly. It’s already communicated with the word whisper. Same thing for yelling loudly and other things like that. Just say it don’t pontificate with a show of extra fluff. It just is or isn’t and move right along.

2. I looked at the adverbs within my sentences and I asked myself if I could say it without the adverb. If I could, then I cut it because it added nothing, it was just clutter and getting in the way of my making a visual for the reader.*I’ll come back to this in a minute*

3. I asked “Is this redundant?” Many times, I’d already said it, then in the next sentence threw in an adverb that said it again, only lamer, with less impact, and it seemed to insult the reader. I mean, what am I saying …”I know I already said this, but I hear you’re not real bright, so I’ll toss in this extra word to help you put all my complicated pieces together into something even you can understand.”

Okay, so after I took out the adverb trash, I had to find new ways to say the ones that were a little useful. *Now back to my #2 up there.*  This is when I had an epiphany. I am spoiled rotten by using my adverb crutches. My characters “ran quickly” they would ” sneak quietly” smile joyfully”. My writing stunk BADLY.

I made some changes. If the MC experienced a kiss that made her moan or sigh contentedly. I scratched the whole line. Instead, I described the kiss. Forget the sigh. Am I right? We already know when and why we sigh, how it feels and sounds. I took another route to communicate the same thing. It was more effective. I said, “He planted a kiss on her to melt the sun.” Uh-huh, there ya go. Every woman just had a flashback of one of those, and she might have sighed. Would you like me to tell you more about the sigh, or the kiss? B-I-N-G-O. Not a big long fluffy sentence, but it told you A-LOT.

Another thing I did was seek ways to work my MC’s nose. In other words, I asked myself “What smells?” Few people will debate the effects of smell on our mood, behavior and life. Smells are memory makers, meal enhancers, or warnings. Smell is a writer’s asset. “Dig in your toolbox, Julie.” I told myself over and over. “Whatcha got in there? Adverbs. Ick. What else?”

Using smell as a builder, I learned my MC’s grandma always smelled like sunshine and flour. What did that tell you? She spends time outside and bakes. I didn’t have to say why she smelled that way, I mean, you’re smart, you figured it out..and it was cute. Later I expounded on the baking and the gardening, but for now, you got it.Short sentence, big effect.

Then, I perched my MC on a fence at night and asked “What is her experience?” I learned “The air was thick with nostalgia, scented by the bonfire, and alight with fireflies.” Can you see it? Can you smell it? Right? Right? We’ve all been there. We get our mind’s eye right in there with hers.

How about those fireflies? Were they blinking slowly/gently? Yeah.We already know how they blink, but what did it all look like to her?

“Their tiny yellow lights danced with orange embers against the starry sky, and she wondered again why she’d left home when the world was so magical right where she was.”

Wow, what was that I said about pontificating? LOL. That’s all for today. I wanted to pass on what I took from The King’s opinion of adverbs and descriptors. I’m on the path beside you, but I saw a big difference in my work by making this small change. I hope the suggestion helps someone else, and I’d love to see a sentence or two of yours that jumps off the screen and into my mind because it smells. PLEASE drop a scented comment here and share!

Writer Wednesday Welcomes Nancy Hinchliff!!!

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to my fellow writer pal, Nancy Hinchliff. Nancy most graciously volunteered to guest blog for me today, and I’m gladly stepping aside to allow her room to work. Be sure to say” Hi” in the comments, ask a question or just show some writer love. This is a great time of year to get started on the right foot, supporting one another is an excellent start!


How I got this way

I have been writing all of my adult life which, since I’m over 70, is a very long time. As a little girl, besides pretending to be a teacher, I kept journals of my drawings, poetry, songs, and anything else I could think of to put down on paper. I was fascinated by words and their meanings and would read the dictionary and, as I became older, would deliberately try to improve my vocabulary by learning and using a new word every week. This went on all through high school.

I graduated and went to college to study art but the pull of the written word was too much for me to resist, so I changed my major to English Composition. I was very happy for a while until the music ringing in my ears urged me to demonstrate to my “jazz musician” father that I understood where he was coming from. Fortunately, I inherited some of his talent and could sing and dance a little. I ended up with degrees in both English and Music. The art became a delightful hobby.

Immersed in writing and theater
As a teacher of both music and English in the Chicago Public schools, I was totally immersed in communication skills through teaching English classes, as well as putting on musical theater working with students constructing sets and scenery, making costumes, and teaching dance for nearly 30 years. Being so involved with students all the time, did not give me much time to explore my own abilities and desires as a writer. When I retired from teaching and became an Innkeeper, I finally came full circle a few years ago and gave in to the hold that writing has always had on me.

My love affair with blogging
As soon as I began blogging I loved it. I started out with one blog on Innkeeping. It got good response, but most of the readers were not Innkeepers. Innkeepers are notorious, at least they were a few years ago, for resisting Social Media networking. They like face to face interaction. So I started another blog on the Innkeeping Industry, to educate them about the joys and rewards of social networking. I joined Twitter, then Facebook, then LinkedIn. I’m still keeping up all four blogs and touching down at a dozen or so social media sites. I think it’s important for writers to network on the web. It’s one way of building a strong platform and writers groups can be very supportive.


Nancy Hinchliff owns and operates a bed and breakfast in Louisville, Kentucky where she also blogs and writes on line at, Eye on Life Magazine, Pink magazine and Hub pages. You can find her blogging at Business and Creative Women’s Forum, Inn Notes, Inn business A Memorable Time of My Life, and Louisville Bed and Breakfast Association In 2008, she co-authored Room at the Table, for The Bed and Breakfast Association of Kentucky for which she won their president’s award for outstanding work. The coffee-table cookbook has recipes from Kentucky Inns throughout the state and beautiful photographs of scenic Kentucky taken by award winning photographer, Robin Goetz. She is currently working on a memoir titled Operatic Divas and Naked Irishmen: An Innkeeper’s Tale, a humorous and poignant account of how an admittedly asocial retired school teacher reinvents herself as an Innkeeper. This intimate tale recounts 16 challenging years of self-discovery.

Read more from Nancy online!



WriteOnCon Lives On

I wrote about WriteOnCon more than once last summer, but I’ve failed to do it again. I woke up this morning and realized I missed it last night! You see, WriteOnCon still happens, once a month on a Monday night right HERE. Check it out, mark your calendars and be there. You won’t be disappointed.There’s live chat, archives, forums where you can post your opening pages or query for pier review, or just introduce yourself and meet some other writerly types. It’s brilliant!

Slow down, you say. You’re ahead of yourself Julie. What’s this all about anyway?

Straight from their site:

WriteOnCon is a totally free, interactive online Writer’s Conference held annually during the summer. Our first Conference, held August 10-12, 2010, had over 11,000 attendees. Click HERE to read the story in Publisher’s Weekly.

Dates for the 2011 conference are still being determined, and will be announced as soon as they are set. In the meantime, all of the content from our previous conference can be found HERE.

But really, What is WriteOnCon?

WriteOnCon is the brainchild of seven writers who wanted to “pay it forward” and give something back to the writing community. The Conference is designed to give attendees many of the features of a live writer’s conference, but in an online environment. Thanks to technologies like blogging, vlogging, livestreaming, and chats, WriteOnCon connects writers with both industry professionals and fellow peers from the convenience of their own homes. Critique forums allow writers to receive feedback and exposure for their work, and the entire program is designed to be both informative and entertaining.

The conference is scheduled for weekdays, so that attendees won’t have to set aside an entire weekend to be glued to their computers. To accommodate day jobs, the schedule features more static elements during working hours, and most live events are saved for the evenings. Transcripts/replays for live sessions are also available for those unable to attend and all of the conference content is archived on our website.

It’s important to note, however, that WriteOnCon is not designed to be a replacement for larger, live writer’s conferences. Regional, national, and international conferences are a staple of the publishing industry, and WriteOnCon has been designed simply to supplement that experience in a free, easily accessible format.

WriteOnCon is also not exclusive to kidlit writers. In order to stay organized, the curriculum is focused on picture book, middle grade, and young adult writers. However, much of the information provided applies to all writers, and many of the publishing professionals who participate cross over. And since the conference is absolutely, 100% free, any interested writer is encouraged to attend.

You can check their site to read transcripts of previous events, and follow them on twitter @WriteOnCon I think they’re great. Just one more opportunity for us to interact with the agents editors and authors who we hope will notice our work one day. Getting your name and personality out there as a serious writer who’s dedicated, personable and would be good to work with is a step in the right direction. So, check it out, and maybe I’ll see you there next month!

Anyone else love WriteOnCon?

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