The Ins and Outs of Writing

If you’re interested in writing, or recently found yourself sucked into it, here are some important things you need to prepare for. Old-timers may also find a gem or two below.

Being a successful book author is a “whole life” plan. It’s nothing like being a machine shop operator or assembly line worker, or even a desk jockey, although you will spend much of your time at a desk. You are not doing the same thing over and over. You can’t survive on knowing how to do only one job. It requires learning as much about the whole industry as possible and keeping up with the constant changes that happen as the internet molds our way of thinking, buying, selling, and communicating. Before long, the daily challenge to be a successful author consumes your whole life.

So, what does an author really do?

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Along with writing, many other skills are required to be a successful author. One must know how to use a computer writing program, most of all. Manuscripts must be formatted to the requirements of different publishers and contests.

We also have to join online and offline groups, purchase programs/memberships that will be helpful in one manner or another. Before long, we’re also attending conferences, workshops, and webinars. If we do not buy into the most popular plans and products, we may be left behind when the writing industry moves forward. Then we scramble to catch up.

It is important to have some understanding of the skills others do for us. This often requires knowing whether we plan to self-publish, use a hybrid publisher, or be traditionally published. Do we need an agent? Some need illustrators or cover artists. Others might need formatters or marketing specialists. Many authors use a video or audio specialist, or both. Learning your publisher’s schedule also alleviates unnecessary frustrations.

Regardless of how you plan to be published, critique groups and beta readers are important for polishing manuscripts. And, all writers need to learn how to work with editors.

We need to determine whether our work is for newspapers, magazines, anthologies, or books. Different publishers have different writing rules, style manuals, and different submission preferences. We even have to learn how to pitch our work to a publisher during a short elevator ride!

Once we learn how to write and submit our stories, we have to learn more about selling them. Most of us start out selling to family and friends. Then we join a plethora of social media sites, schedule multiple book signings, speak at events and purchase advertising online, in printed publications, etcetera. If we’re smart, we also have a “street team.”

If we don’t have a website when we start our writing journey, we soon will. Learning to blog is also important.

During all this shuffling of skills and knowledge, we adjust our schedules again and again. Our family lives can easily be hindered or lost to our careers.

Just when we think we have mastered most of the skills and sit back to draw in a nice, long, relaxing breath, a new skill is required, we see something we missed along the way, or some fantastic new product, group, or idea comes along. Being the good authors we are, we must learn this new thing. And, so we get after it before we can exhale that beautiful breath we just took.

Somewhere along the way, our health comes into play. For many authors, health doesn’t become an issue until something serious happens or the doctor gives an ultimatum. Or both. So, we find ways to fit healthy foods and almost daily exercise into our plans. By this time, many of us already have physical limitations, so this can create a downhill domino effect if we do not take it seriously. Ultimately, most of us learn that a health plan of some sort must be added to our busy schedule. (If you’re just now starting out, please take this into consideration and plan ahead.)

How can you find your place in this constantly shifting field?

If you are an aspiring author, prepare to take on these challenges. Learn what you can about each stage as you move into it. Although many things different as times change, so try to stay in touch with the writing community.

If you’re a trailblazer, find your area of expertise and create new paths for other writers to follow.

If you’re a friend or family member, try to imagine what your writer is going through. Share their successes with your friends and family. Writers NEED your support. They can get overwhelmed in this craziness, and it’s nice to know someone close to us is paying attention. One of the best things you can do is acknowledge their career choice as a real job and help them set aside time to meet their daily challenges.

Need some great gift ideas for a writer? That’s my next post, so stay tuned!

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Autumn Events

It’s almost here! Autumn is days away and we are looking forward to a serious reprieve from this summer’s heat wave. I’m sure it will return in another eight or nine months, if we just hang in there.

A lot of things have been in the works, lately. Wonderful changes are taking place. We have managed to get one of our most important domain names back after years of watching it be trashed by someone who was trying to get us to pay a large sum of money to get it back. We decided to wait it out. We are glad to have it back and will hopefully have it up and running around the end of the year, although it’s going to be a little longer before we start making pool cues, again. We have felt like life was pressing us down for a long time and this seemingly small change has given us a huge emotional boost.

I have two new books coming soon. They are part of the Diary series. It is hard to contain my excitement.

I’ve also been working hard on some old and some new short stories for conference contests. I have some new stories that have surprised even me.

My computer finally decided it was tired of the flack Windows 10 was giving it. When it finally refused to start Windows, I took it to the shop. I was so scared I’d lose all my stories and other stuff I’ve collected in here for the past five years. Yes, I back everything up, but it had been a good month since the last big save. When it choked, I was in the middle of writing one of my best stories, yet. There was only one serious problem. I had to send that story with the next day’s postmark (contest deadline), so I was a bit frantic. The guys were awesome. They saved practically everything on my computer AND got that story file to me, so I could finish writing it and get it submitted on time, too. After all that, I sure hope it wins something!

Anyway, here’s a SHOUT OUT to the guys down at Same Day Computer Repair of Tulsa. Thanks so very much for saving the day and not breaking the bank! You guys are my heroes!

I’m excited about this Saturday, September 1st. A few years ago, Gene and I took a trip to Searcy, Arkansas for the White County Writers Conference. We had a wonderful time and wished we could go back. Well, this year, I’m not just getting to go back, but I’m also one of the speakers scheduled for the event. There will be three of us: Best selling author Robin Caroll, who will share some insight on writing suspense and mystery; President & Creative Director of Oghma Creative Media, Casey W. Cowan, will help authors have a better idea what publishers want; and I will be giving away secrets on writing dialogue and emotions, first thing in the morning. So, be there early, if you want to know what I know!

In October, we’ll be at the Ozark Creative Writers Conference, again. We always look forward to seeing our friends out there. I won’t be representing 4RV Publishing, this year (since I resigned in January), but I’ve been told they are planning to be on Publisher’s Row, again. I will be glad to meet up with my fellow authors from Oghma Creative Media.

Another school year is upon us and I will soon be having lunch with my grandchildren and reading for their classes, again. I am looking forward to it.

I will be back with another update as soon as I can. Things are moving along and life is good.

May your lives be as blessed as mine.

Time keeps on moving along

A couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law passed away. But, time kept moving along. Everything she stood for lives on in those of us who loved her. My husband is the last survivor of that immediate family. We almost lost him more than once last year, so I feel very, very blessed. I’m probably also a bit over-protective of him. I hope everyone will keep that in mind as I try to relax that mode.

In about a month, we’ve also lost a good friend in the pool/billiards industry, three cousins, and a long-time friend’s dedicated husband.

Another friend lost her dog who helped her through some of her toughest days, and a very close friend (one of our classmates) within a couple days of each other. My heart breaks for her huge loss. She needed one to help her deal with the other, but she lost both. I hope to always be present when she needs a friend.

This has been a year of great losses. If you are also dealing with the loss of loved ones, my sympathies go out to you. It is not easy to lose someone, even if you have known they were suffering and moving in that direction for a long time.

But, life moves on. The world keeps on turning. Nothing stops just because of our losses. I once had a best friend whose heart sank every year during the holidays because he lost his grandparents at that time of year, when he was young. It was very hard to be a close friend and have his intentional depression looming over all of us during a time when our family was supposed to be cheerful and thankful for what we did have. We were thankful for him, as well, but he did not see that. I tried many times to help him feel better and to find a way to be LESS focused on his childhood losses and MORE focused and thankful for having the rest of his family and friends to enjoy during those months. But sadly, but we weren’t that important to him. He purposely focused on his loss, because he was afraid he would not be properly acknowledging his grandparents if he did not keep their memories and his loss constantly in his mind.

Most people would never want you to lose your happiness in order to remember what they stood for. You can honor their memories by being what they wanted you to be, or succeeding in what they did not expect. That would make them proud. And that can help you smile. Focus on doing that and be the happy person they loved.

Focus is the key. We have to intentionally FOCUS on the good of here and now, even if we can’t see it, yet.

It is not easy to let the past go. So many of us worry we will forget those who left us behind. Don’t forget to appreciate those who are still here and present and NEED us to be present, in return.

I HOPE, as I lose more of the people I am very close to, I will always be able to focus harder on those who are still here with me. I also hope that if I have trouble focusing, someone will care enough to help me along to that place. It is where I want to be.

Hmmm… This is not what my blog post was supposed to be about, but it seems to be what is on my mind. Maybe I am having to work a little harder on my own focus, right now. So, I’ll go do that and come back later to post the blog I intended. In the meantime, I hope this helps someone else, too.

Keeping up

So much has been going on lately. I am not used to the fast pace my life has taken since I resigned from 4RV Publishing to focus on building my writing and editing career.

At the moment, so much is going on that I am having trouble keeping up. I hope you’ll forgive me for not posting more often.

Watch this page for some great info over the next week or two. I have a LOT to share.

Also, keep your eyes on my other website: JesPiddlin’s Books

A Movie Review?

I’m soon to write another post here, but I left this on my Facebook page and decided to share on my website, as well. I seldom ever write any kind of a review, but I have waited for so long to see this movie.

I went to a friend’s house on Wednesday, and we watched The Man Who Invented Christmas. Here is my review of that movie.

Knowing this was supposed to be a portrayal of potentially real events gave me the hunger to see what Charles Dickens did in his writing (or how someone else perceived it) that I might learn from.

If you are not a writer, this is a great movie, because it shows very much how intense a writing project can get, especially when you are under pressure. We find our phrases, words, circumstances, and people in everyday life. Sometimes, a complete stranger has a look that sparks an entire story. When we get so absorbed the rest of the world needs to just leave us alone, we never mean any negativity to those we love. Well, we really do mean, “Leave me alone!” or, “I don’t have time, right now!” but usually, that’s only temporary, as the movie points out. It does occasionally happen, though. It’s just that we get so connected with our characters. We have to get connected to see every little quirk and interpretation that make our characters who they are. We have to see, feel, and convey these things to convince our readers the characters are real. And, we need to stay in the story until it is complete. Even stopping to sleep or go to the bathroom is a huge and unwelcome interruption.

If you are a writer, this movie has a fantastic manner of bringing those scenes and actions we see in our heads into his life, very much like the ones that play through our heads as we feverishly write what we are seeing. It also shows how we often like to enjoy life, probably a bit too much, at times. It serves as a good reminder to pay closer attention to our attitudes when we get to that intense place with our stories. If you’re a serious writer–especially if you’re a pantser–you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The main character is charming, fun to watch, full of entertaining pockets of personality. I love the different faces he makes throughout the movie.

The little snippets of info at the beginning and end of the movie are very helpful in understanding the full weight of Charles’ position.

I enjoyed the story within a story, how the writer(s) gave him his own demons to conquer as he drove himself to the end of the story he was writing, and how HIS main character played into helping him conquer those demons.

I loved the message Charles wanted to convey with A Christmas Carol. I, too, believe he achieved his purpose.

The one thing I liked least was the purple lipstick he wore. I realize it helped emphasize his facial shifts that were so cute, but the color was maybe a touch too noticeable. However, when he is portrayed as a child, you know it’s him, thanks to that ugly lipstick.

Another thing I did not like was studying over this in a political manner. I didn’t like how the story line might be used politically (in today’s twisted views), so I abandoned those thoughts early on.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It wasn’t the most outstanding I’ve ever seen, and it could have been much more intense, but I still felt connected because I’ve written in a similar manner and found my inner beast can be almost as ugly as his may have been. I’m certain none of my works have been quite as earth-shaking as Charles Dickens’ masterpieces, but I’m thrilled to know that what he went through was very much like what I go through as a writer. It’s nice to feel such a connection to someone who made such an impact in our world.

If you watch this movie, I’d suggest making your atmosphere as theater-like as possible, so you can focus all your energy in the story line. Today’s world creates way too many interruptions. For that reason, I believe the theater is where this movie would be best viewed.

And, there is the question of whether to allow a child to view the movie. As many others have said, I believe children should be at least 8 to 10 years old and have recently seen and understand the movie A Christmas Carol, or even better, have the story read to them and discussed with them, so they can understand the events of this movie.

I plan to watch this movie again–very soon–with my wonderful, writer husband. I’d love to gain his insight and interpretations.

If you saw this movie, please tell me what you thought of it. I’m curious to learn the views of others.

Coming soon…

I apologize for being so slow with my next blog post. I’ve been trying to help my husband through some major health issues and I’ve got a couple of announcements I want to make. I just have to get a couple more things lined up and taken care of, then you’ll see some great things mentioned here.

In the meantime, why don’t you check out my website? On the Schedule page, I have a list of all the events I plan to attend, this year. On the Links page, there are links to some terrific writing groups and conferences in this area. (If you know of any others, please let me know.) And, on the Edits page, you’ll find lots of great books I’ve helped edit over the past few years. Some were for the publishing company and some were for individuals.

Keep a close watch on this page. Lots of news coming soon!

 

Winning, Publishing, and Speaking

Wow. August may have been slow to pass, but everything since then has been so rushed and busy we have had trouble keeping up.

August 20th, Gene had his heart attack. Since then, he has been going to cardiac rehab three times a week, and he is about to have a surgery to clean out his carotid arteries, which are seriously clogged. We definitely appreciate everyone’s prayers.

I recently published a book for folks who are recording their blood pressure. It has pages to keep your medical info, including blood type, medical issues, medicines, family medical history, emergency contacts, insurance info, doctors and pharmacy, etc. It is a great tool to use regularly and take to the doctor’s office or hospital. While Gene was in the hospital for his heart attack, the nurses were kind enough to fill out our log pages without being asked. They knew it mattered to us and we had those papers handy. So, those forms are now part of my book. Here’s a link:
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Or, if you’d like to enter the Goodreads contest to win one of 6 copies, sign up here:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/258908-blood-pressure-diary-keeping-it-simple

We just returned from the Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where we saw many friends we love spending a weekend with every year. I represented 4RV Publishing at a table on Publisher’s Row and in the Publishers Panel. I also took a few pitches from some very talented authors. My husband sat around the corner selling my new Blood Pressure Diary books.

I entered twelve contests and won five awards at the OCW conference. That’s nearly 50% of my entries. If you’re a writer, I encourage you to enter contests and work hard to win.

Congratulations also go to Shelley Ann Richter, who won my Middle Grade Fiction for Boys contest. She submitted a very good story.

This Saturday, I will be holding a workshop on Writing Believable Dialogue at the Nienhuis Community Center, at 51st and Lynn Lane, in Broken Arrow. More info: http://jespiddlin.com/designingtheworldwithwords/believabledialogue-2017-1.html

I will be discussing the O. Henry “Twist” at the FREE 2nd Annual Craft of Writing Mini-Conference, sponsored by the Tulsa NightWriters Club. It will be a one-day event on October 28th, at the Martin Regional Library (2601 S. Garnett Rd.) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I hope to see you there. We have some very good speakers lined up. Hurry to get registered! Time is running out. More info: https://tulsanightwriters.wordpress.com/2017-craft-of-writing-mini-conference

NaNoWriMo is coming in November. Will you be writing? I’m planning on it.

See you soon!

The Whirlwind of 2017

I apologize for being absent for half the year. I have been working on a lot of stories, including some of my own. I’ve also been to some exciting events, this year.

In May, I spent a weekend with a couple of friends at the OWFI Conference, in Oklahoma City. We had so much fun! I hope we are able to share a room again, next year.

The next week, I was honored to be a presenter for the second annual Read. Write. Share! Writers’ Weekend in Morrilton, Arkansas. I critiqued short works which had been submitted and shared some of the finer points with those in attendance. What a powerful weekend! I’m looking forward to next year’s event.

In June, I presented a session about the Secrets of Writing for Children to a room full of interested writers at the 73rd Annual Arkansas Writers’ Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. I hope to speak at this event again. I also represented 4RV Publishing at a vendor table and took a few pitches.

October will find me at the 51st annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I’m hoping to submit a good number of contest entries, and for the third year, I am sponsoring the Middle Grade Fiction for Boys contest. I’ll also be representing 4RV Publishing in Publisher’s Row for the second year.

As always, Gene and I have dedicated much of the summer to our grandchildren. They are growing like weeds and have become great helpers with bigger projects.

I bought a Kool Kart four-wheel surrey (pic below) from International Surrey Co., this summer. When the weather permits, Gene and/or I (and sometimes a grandchild) take off riding for our health. When I spend time on the surrey, my blood pressure stays much lower. I slept for most of a month while it went down. As much as I enjoy my time on the surrey, I look forward to having a small engine installed to help me climb the steeper hills when I need to go to town. If you check out the website and decide to purchase a vehicle from the company, please tell them I sent you. That motor is not going to be cheap to build, and I get a check for every sale I help happen.

Due to numerous requests to put a class or two online, I’ve promised to work on that project. I’ve also set up a traveling workshop for groups within a 200 mile range. Check out the website for more information. I’m also taking an occasional short story or children’s story to edit on the freelance side. No novels at this time. Sorry.

I’ll do my best to write sooner, next time.

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The Craft of Writing Mini-Conference

FREE CONFERENCE

From the Tulsa NightWriters Club in Tulsa, OK

Who should attend the conference this Saturday, Nov. 5th?
Writers who are new.
Writers who have been around the block.
Writers who want to know more about the craft.
Writers who are not published.
Writers who are published.
Wannabe writers, who would like to know how hard or easy it is to write.
People who write books for children, teens, adults, old folks.
People who write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.
People who write for magazines.
People who write for newspapers.
People who write books.
People who want to learn more about the books they read and how the really good ones can be so exciting.
YOU.

NOTE: You do not have to be a member of the club to attend. But, you do have to download the agenda/registration form at https://tulsanightwriters.wordpress.com/the-craft-of-writing-mini-conference , fill it out, and return it to the email address listed.

See you there!

The Summer Scoop

So, here’s the scoop. It’s summer. It’s HOT. We’ve had our grandchildren over, one by one, for two weeks, each. Well, the last one has been more in piece-meal visits. He’s a homesick boy, so he has to go home for a day or two in the middle. He’s at home, today. I miss him, but I have a moment to myself, too.

I hope you’re writing. If not, I hope you’re putting together some fabulous event for writers, or marketing your latest books. Do something writerly, today.

I’m working on last minute preparation for the Writing for Children workshop I’m holding this weekend. I’ve had some folks write in about it, which is always encouraging. At least two may be driving in from a little distance. I plan to offer some information not always shared by other speakers. I have some great door prizes for this week. If you’re interested, there’s more info at this website.

I found another conference I’d like to check out this September. I added it to my list of area events on my LINKS page. Are you going to any conferences, this year? Did I miss any area writers’ conferences in my links?

The new school year is about to start in most places. Some of my grandchildren will be going to new schools. I’m excited, but nervous for them. It’s almost like I’m the one going to the new schools.

I better get back to my planning. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.