Monday, April 30, 2012

Share the Love!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Lauri Meyers for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award! This is the first fantastic award I've received in sometime and it tickles my fancy and makes me proud! Mostly I am grateful for the chance to add Lauri and so many other new folks to my list of contacts, especially since we were all on varying degrees of the same learning curve in the April My Name is Not Bob Platform challenge. What a hoot and what a shot in the arm for me, as is this lovely award.


Pay it forward. Here are the Liebster rules:
1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back. 
2. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.
3.  Let the nominees know by leaving a comment at their sites.
4.  Add the award image to your site.

So celebrate with me as I nominate the following people:

http://cindycharltonspeaks.com/
http://www.motivationforcreation.blogspot.com/
http://mobyjoecafe.wordpress.com/
http://www.laurahoward78.blogspot.com/
http://godslittlemiraclebook.blogspot.com/

Have a glorious week! And thanks again, Lauri!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ann Marie Walker: Win a Critique from a Literary Agent!

Writers, you really need to check this out. Maybe you'll win, maybe you won't, but you really need to give it a shot. It can't hurt. How many of us desperately want to get in front of an agent? Enter. It can't hurt.

Ann Marie Walker: Win a Critique from a Literary Agent!: Yes, that’s right, my wonderful agent - Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management - has graciously offered her priceless critique as the pri...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reading to Become a Better Writer


Image: clipart.com

Reading: Your Brain’s Barbell

Epiphany. I’ve had one. I’ll probably have another one tomorrow. Startling things come to me and I’m so excited I can hardly stand myself. This particular epiphany hit me in the midst of signing up to follow one more blog. It occurred to me that I’m not writing; I’m reading. While there is nothing wrong with reading, it does begin to get in the way of writing. Or does it? 

Writer’s Block, the weekly radio program I do each Tuesday, requires an incredible amount of reading. In the interest of not asking dumb questions, I try to read the work of every writer I interview. That means in addition to my leisure reading, I’m reading two other books a week, plus the blogs I keep up with (Jane Friedman, Robert Lee Brewer, Carol Tice, writetodone.com, Shelf Awareness to name a few). In April I also took an online workshop with Kelly James-Enger, an online class with Dan Blank, the My Name is Not Bob platform challenge, and the Poem a Day challenge. Not to mention checking in at the Writer’s Digest website where there is a wealth of information for writers. There’s more, but my point has been made. Where in all of that is there time to write? Oh, and by the way, can anyone say social networking?

Writing Challenges Build Writing Skills

The platform and poetry challenges helped to put some of this in perspective. I am making time to participate in both challenges and have not missed a lick, although I am still working on the interview-an-expert thing. The poet has climbed its way out of the abyss of my fear of rejection and blossomed. I’ve made an incredible number of contacts and awakened to the value of twitter, Facebook and Google+ (although I have yet to figure out what the URL is for that one).

 Writing has been set aside in this quest to be more, learn more, try more, experiment, expand, connect. Or has it? All those people I mentioned did a lot for me over the last month. They helped me find reasons to write, focus, prioritize and grow. So thank you Jane, Robert, Dan, Kelly and everyone else who took the time to write, so I could read, so when I write, I’m better at it.

Who helped and how:

Platform Challenge: Prior to participating in this challenge I was unclear what building a platform meant. I was clueless when it came to social networking, didn’t know I could ask someone to guest blog on my site, or ask to guest blog on some other writer's blog, felt reluctant to create or join networks of writers, and never considered that by doing so I would become more connected.

Poem a Day Challenge: I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry, but it was my silly little secret. Well, not really. I’ve published my poetry in a book of daily devotionals I wrote and on my Joy in the Morning blog, but until the challenge, I didn’t have much confidence in my work. Now I see its value and appreciate its worth as a way to kick start creative thinking.

Blogging 101, Dan Blank: After more than two years of blogging I finally get it that there is more to it than banging away at a keyboard and praying someone happens upon my site. His helpful comments in response to the assignments forced me to grasp the fact that I have NO GRASP at all of things like SEO and keywords. I have a ways to go, but I’ll get there… someday.

Kelly James-Enger: My background is in print media and producing words by the buckets is no problem for me. As a reporter and editor my work was paid for with no problem. When I turned to freelance work I put the emphasis on FREE. While I have been paid for my writing over the years it has been spotty at best. Kelly reminded me in her workshop that there is a huge demand for good writing. It’s up to the writer to find a way to reach that market and provide what the market is looking for. The business side of writing is as important as creating that outstanding article, book, or blog.

Jane Friedman: Where do I begin? Both Jane and Robert Lee Brewer have a wealth of great content on their blogs and their guest bloggers have tons of must-read tips. Jane also posts discussions about the publishing industry in all its current dysfunctional glory, as well as outstanding advice about the craft of writing. Please check out the slide deck of Jane’s presentation at the Missouri Writers Conference about evaluating the first page of your novel.

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that,” Stephen King wrote. What was my epiphany? All that reading I do? It’s getting me ready for the next thing I’m going to write. It’s my brain’s barbell building my writing muscle.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writers and Writing: Peter Lopez

Writer’s Block airs every Tuesday, at 9 a.m. MST on KFUN/KLVF, streaming live at www.kfunonline.com 
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Mural by artist Edward O'Brien

Treasure of a Book About Mural Artist Edward O’Brien

Peter Lopez, a well-known Las Vegas santero and folk artist, has published a beautiful little book about muralist Edward O’Brien.
Peter wrote the brief biography of O’Brien after coming upon a mural that had been hidden away inside St. Catherine’s School in Santa Fe, which had been closed for some years. Peter was intrigued by the work and the artist and pursued more information.

Eventually he came in contact with the Sikh community in Espanola where he learned of the mural O’Brien had painted there, his last commission before he died of a massive heart attack a week after its completion. The Sikhs were able to supply Peter with more details about the artist’s life.

O’Brien’s work is full of detail and depth. Its luminosity brings out layered images and his own humanistic spirituality. Although he grew up a Catholic, his years of study and contemplation lead him to accept that faith and spirituality has many levels and take many paths.

To get his book published Peter collaborated with a lithographer he knew in Europe and between them they got it to a printer in Zurich. The initial short run was published in 2011, and quickly sold out to museums and libraries. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the cost of printing 20 of these little treasures was in the neighborhood of $2,000; the books sold for $50 each. You do the math. The cost of printing an art book is steep. Quality color printing is expensive. To get the results you want requires an eye for detail and diligent attention along the way. This particular book has the biography Peter wrote on the left behind a cover. On the right behind another cover is a fold out panel that depicts each of the New Mexico murals O’Brien painted.

To print such a publication in mass is costly, which is why Peter is looking for other means of getting a larger run of the books produced. This will mean identifying patrons or sponsors to subsidize the book’s costs. If you are interested in helping fund this art book and tribute to Edward O’Brien, contact Peter at tiopedro@cybermesa.com or call him at 505 425-8214. To see Peter’s work check out his website images. Peter hopes to have a second larger run of the book available by the end of the year.
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 Tune in next week when my guests will be Lucas Cor Vatta, a comic performer who writes his own material and is a magazine contributor, and Karen Lenfestey, who will be talking about her novel, “A Sister’s Promise.”

Please share! Thanks

Writing and Writers: Amanda Farmer


Writer’s Block airs every Tuesday, at 9 a.m. MST on KFUN/KLVF, streaming live at www.kfunonline.com

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Pastor or Predator: Parents Protect Your Children

Amanda Farmer has experienced something you only hope your child will never experience. She was the victim of a sexual predator who took advantage of his position to manipulate her. From the time she was 13 until after her marriage, she was subjected to overt emotional and physical abuse by the minister of her church.

Ironically at some point she understood that what was happening to her was wrong yet she could not seem to break the hold her minister had on her. In Preacher's Pet Amanda recounts how her trust in and love for this grandfatherly figure twisted into a “love” relationship she felt compelled to maintain and keep secret. She agreed to never tell because she feared the consequences to the preacher and his wife. He said he would go to prison and his wife would be so distraught she might kill herself.

Amanda at 13 couldn’t separate fact from fiction and increasingly became dependent on the “special love” he had for her.

On her website Amanda writes in a personal letter to her readers: “…this is my story of childhood sexual abuse. This is a story that I thought I would never tell; never in a million years, but one day it occurred to me that I had a story that people (especially parents) needed to hear.

“I long for this message to get to all parents and grandparents of young children and teens. Parents need to know and always be aware that those who abuse children are not just the creepy men that give us a bad feeling in our gut. They are preachers, teachers, and mentors. The very people our children and we ourselves may love and trust…

Parents protect your children and never let your guard down with anyone.”

The book includes disturbing details. Amanda said she thought it was important to be open about what happened to her so people would understand how innocent beginnings can become twisted into something emotionally damaging to the victim.

The story does not have a happy ending as her abuser never went to court for his crimes. In her view he has, however, received his punishment having suffered many debilitating illnesses.
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 Tune in next week when my guests will be Lucas Cor Vatta, a comic performer who writes his own material and is a magazine contributor, and Karen Lenfestey, who will be talking about her novel, “A Sister’s Promise.”

Share this blog with others. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Writing and Writers: Tracie McMillan

Writer’s Block airs every Tuesday, at 9 a.m. MST on KFUN/KLVF, streaming live at www.kfunonline.com

The American Way of Eating: A Writer Becomes An Insider

From Tracie's Website
Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating, is an investigative reporter. That comes across loud and clear in her well-documented tale of the journey food takes from the field to your table. She is a talented writer who makes her experiences come to life with engaging detail mixed in with cold hard facts.

Kirkus Review wrote, (The American Way of Eating is) Full of personal stories of the daily struggle to put food of any kind on the table in todays economy, McMillans book will force readers to question their own methods of purchasing and preparing food. Attentive foodies may already know much of the information, but on the whole, McMillan provides an eye-opening account of the route much of American food takes from the field to the table.

I was by turns disturbed by conditions and incidents described in the book, learned from the data cited, and entertained by Tracie’s writing style. Her dedication to living within the means of whatever job she was in, a facet of her prep work for writing that was part of her research, says a lot about her dedication to getting the story. Tracie is a hard worker, everyone who worked with her over the course of her undercover investigation said so, and nothing informs understanding like living on the limited means of a farm worker, a Wal Mart employee or a kitchen worker at a restaurant. None of these are high paying jobs and managing a budget with limited resources was as much a part of the story Tracie followed in The American Way of Eating as the day-to-day challenges.

She lived for two months at each location, working with people, sharing their meals, learning about their lives and gaining an understanding of what it means to be part of the sometimes flawed machine that delivers food to supermarkets and restaurants and ultimately to our tables.

She dealt with on-the-job injuries, worked with incompetent managers, and learned that in most "super stores" food is treated with the same marketing mentality as toy trucks and batteries. She wrote about the food deserts that exist in large cities, which results in the inner city poor ending up eating whatever can be found in convenience stores (largely high in fat, sugar and salt, and low on nutrition). She became intimately acquainted with the reality of budgeting close to the bone. Through it all she recorded incidents that made dry facts wrenchingly real.

But there is the human side, revealed in the people who made her feel accepted despite being “the only white girl” in fields being harvested by immigrants and undocumented workers; landlords who extended hospitality when the budget was tight and the food pantry was light; co-workers who showed her the ropes and got her out of binds when she stubbornly insisted on powering through.

The American Way of Eating is less about food and more about life and the way most people live it. It is a wake-up call to those of us who assume all is well, when in truth many live in poverty, many work at menial and meaningless jobs and many rely on the generosity of others – inside and outside the system – to survive. The tenacity and empathy of many people Tracie encountered is a touching testament to the human spirit.

I enjoyed the interview with Tracie immensely. She is articulate, engaging and well-informed. Her award-winning articles about food, welfare and poverty have been widely published. For more information about Tracie and to read some of her work, go to www.traciemcmillan.com.

As a writer, I recommend reading this book. It’s good instruction for anyone who wants to learn what it takes to be an investigative journalist. Aside from that, it’s a darned good read. If you want to skip over the footnotes, the reading will go faster, but you will miss a lot of information that expands understanding about the subject matter and its human toll.

Excerpt from Tracie’s website: My name is Tracie McMillan. I live in Brooklyn, but I'm proud to say that I grew up in Michigan, about an hour from one of my favorite cities—Detroit. My dad was a lawnmower salesman and my mom had an English degree, and they moved us to Holly, a rural town outside of Flint, for good schools and open space. I was the oldest of three girls, and helped out at home when my mom fell ill around the time I was 7. The insurance company didn't want to pay for her care, so when she got too ill to live at home, she bounced between institutions that would hold off on charging us until the insurance company settled. She left our home when I was 12; we lost the case with the health insurance company when I was 14; and she died when I was 16.

Take time to read Tracie's bio. It helps to understand the road she has taken in life and the reason she is so good at what she does.

The American Way of Eating is available at Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, NM, in bookstores across the country and at online retailers. 
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Writing and Writers: Luke Benoit



Writer’s Block airs every Tuesday, at 9 a.m. MST on KFUN/KLVF, streaming live at www.kfunonline.com

All Storms Pass, a writer’s look at life in bits and pieces


Luke Benoit
Life coach and hypnotherapist Luke Benoit, author of All Storms Pass, the anti-meditations, has written a book about getting through life, based on your own self-affirmation, not based on a lifetime of hearing other people tell you what's wrong with you. Reading some of the meditations on the air during the show on Tuesday, and getting his responses about why he wrote them, made me think differently about how I regard others.

Luke pointed out that when you put your expectations and judgments on someone else, you are as good as saying, "Unless you're like me, I don't accept you.”

"That's insulting to the other person," Luke said.

Put in that context it redefines relationships as environments of acceptance rather than quagmires of rationalized discontent.

In the interview Luke came across as kind. I suspect that is his nature. He said he never intended to write a book. The meditations were thoughts he compiled and distributed to clients and friends. Over time he was encouraged to put them into book form and make them available. He finally did it and the acceptance has been overwhelming.

"I go to book signing events and the books just disappear."

Perhaps that's because everyone can see themselves in the snippets of encouragement written on the pages of, All Storms Pass.

Here are a few that resonated with me.

Today, I will stop waiting for
all the stars to align
Today I will give up the wish and the fantasy that someday
the stars will align, that someday it will be perfect and
everything will fall into place.

Because maybe this is it, right now... and the Happy Destiny
is the road and not the destination and it's already here.
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Sometimes I blow things
out of proportion
Sometimes I take things personally
and it hurts more than it should
when I think that you've hurt me

and sometimes
I hurt more than I should
when you blame me
and I feel compelled
to fix it.
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There is "me"
and there is who you think I am
and there is who I think I am

and beyond this, there is
who I Really am,

the True Self I have forgotten.

Today, I will learn to tell
the difference.

The meditations read like free verse poetry. All Storms Pass is a book you can pick up any time, turn to any page, and find something that will inspire you to think better of yourself, and of the world.

From Luke’s website: Luke Benoit is a Life Coach and Hypnotherapist who lives and works in Orange County, California.  He has worked as a consultant in the areas of Recovery, Personal Growth and Mental Health for 15 years, and previously worked in the film industry as a screenwriter and producer.  He holds an M.S. in Education from California State University, Long Beach and a B.F.A. in Film and Screenwriting from the USC Film School.

All Storms Pass may be ordered locally at Tome on the Range, through most on line retailers and from the author.
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Please share this review and program summary with your friends. To receive regular updates subscribe by e-mail or become a follower. I welcome comments to posts and book reviews. If you have read this book, I welcome you to add your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Writer's Write Because They Must


Why Writing Contests and Challenges Have Value

Multiple contest ops at Writer's Digest
I’ve been rejected by the best. The three books I entered in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Novel contest a couple of years ago were soundly if gently rejected for even the least prize, a subscription to their wonderful magazine. That’s okay, I was already a subscriber. What I did get were comments from the judges, which I found helpful.

When I worked in the newspaper business our entire staff (of five) spent days on end filtering through our clips in an attempt to select the best of our best to send off for consideration in the state press association contest and the Associated Press state contest. I won awards more than once, but never a first. What I got were comments from the judges, which I found helpful.

I haven’t entered any contests lately and I’m feeling the need to put myself out there again, yes with the hope of winning, but equally to get commentary from the judges, which I will find helpful.

 

Why Bother?

Creds, sister (and brother), creds. When you do your profile and it asks what awards you’ve won, do you have something to put there? Good for you! If not, wouldn’t it be nice to call yourself “an award-winning writer” and be able to name the award?

“Oh, I’m not doing this for the recognition,” you say (and, yes, I’ve heard writers say that), then why in heaven’s name are you writing? You write because you want people to read your work, and there is no better gauge of your growth as a writer than having peers look at what you’ve written. Contests and challenges are a great platform for doing that.

 

The Goodies

Usually there are prizes: cash, publication of your work (invaluable), or gifts. That, too, is recognition. You grow your platform/profile the more you expose your work to others. You strengthen your writing by taking on tasks you never imagined taking on. Today I wrote four tankas for Robert Lee Brewer’s poetry challenge. I didn’t even know what a tanka was! Brewer’s challenges – poetry and platform – have forced me to write intentionally and be more creative.

 

Broaden Your Network

What are you? How do you identify yourself? Are you a writer? I’ve got news for you; the most sympathetic people you will encounter are other writers. Writers want to see other writers get published. They want to see you be successful. Through challenges and contests you come into contact with other people in the publishing industry and you never know where those contacts will lead.

For information about writing contests do an online search. Lots of stuff pops up. Be sure you check out the rules before entering any contest. Make sure you retain rights to your work after you enter or win. There may be entry fees, so check that out as well. I find that entry fees are usually pretty low and worth the investment to get feedback on your work.

A few contest links among many:


Invitation

Through my website and my radio show, Writer’s Block, I sponsor a free writing prompt challenge. I’m the sole judge so the comments you get back (if your entry isn’t selected) will be my opinion, but my opinion is pretty good. I design, develop and edit newsletters, have edited and written for a daily paper, published and written for a weekly paper and developed, designed and wrote an e-zine. And I'm a full time writer.

The prizes include a guest spot on Writer’s Block, at which time you will read your winning entry. Your entry will be posted in my blog summary of your segment along with links to your website and published work, and you’ll win a free copy of my e-book, Tiger Lilly. I invite you to take part in the Writer’s Block writing prompt challenge. Go to Writer’s Block for details.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Voice of Poetry and God at Work


 April 10th Writers’ Block guest Bob Johnston (91 and counting), talked about his book of poetry,  At the Rim,  and retired minister John Murray read from his book, If We Only Knew, and talked about personal accounts of God at work.  Writers' Block streams live each Tuesday at 9 a.m. MST, at http://www.kfunonline.com.

Poetry and Getting to Know the Poet

Ninety-one and going strong.
Bob Johnston is a man who proves that age doesn’t get in the way of creativity. He started writing poetry when he was 60 and now, 31 years later, he has put together a collection of his work in At the Rim, Selected Poems. He was a lively guest, and in addition to reading from his book, he quickly recited a favorite poem he’d written some years ago.

The title poem evokes thoughts of a time gone by and stirs the imagination.

At the Rim

When you were here the summer fruit was ripe
And love could stay without a robe or tent.
The morning sun fell softly on our sleep,
A yellow wash for pleasures still undreamt.

But then you passed all boundaries of light
Into a darkness that you call your own.
The autumn leaves have faded while I wait
And winds are blowing cold against the sun.

Poet Joyce Ellen Davis says of At the Rim: “It offers this collection of wit, insight, and above all, a direct honesty that will be recognized as a rare poetic voice that touches, stirs, and ultimately satisfies.”

Valerie Martinez, educator and author, said, “Bob Johnston is a poet of incredible range, whether narrating the rural lands of ‘dry lightning,’ invoking Rambo in a sonnet, dreaming ‘drowned corpses’ in a lyric, or voicing the dark monologues of deadly sinners.”

Bob, a retired petroleum engineer and translator, said he waited until his sixtieth year to begin writing serious poetry. He took workshops, wrote and revised, took inspiration from the past and the now and created a collection of works that are at times amusing, arresting, and clearly intended to get a reaction. He said during the interview that through his work he hoped people would get to know him better.

You might not agree with or grasp the depth or intent to Bob’s work, but you cannot deny its impact.

At the Rim is available in Las Vegas, NM at Tome on the Range, and through online retailers.  Bob says he even has a few copies he’s willing to sell. The book is $14.95, published by Sunstone Press in Albuquerque. Bob is a member of the New Mexico Poetry Society.


Retired Minister Shares 
Real Life Stories of God at Work

If We Only Knew, Remarkable True Stories of God’s Intervention, by retired minister John Murray, is a wonderful book about the ways God is present with us in difficult times. John spoke with authority having seen miraculous healings within his own family.

The book is comprised of first-person accounts of events that were life-changing for those affected. The stories range from physical healing to surviving horrific circumstances, and is packed full of uplifting accounts of God working in the lives of people, sometimes in evident ways and sometimes through intermediaries. If We Only Knew is peppered with scripture and each chapter is further explored through the questions at the end.

In each chapter examples that demonstrate answers to those questions give insight into the spiritual nature that exists in all of us when we open ourselves to hearing the voice of God and our eyes to seeing the hand of God moving in circumstances beyond our understanding. 

Chapter Titles:
  • Does God Care?
  • Does God Answer Prayer?
  • Does God Heal?
  • Does God Guide?
  • Does God Provide?
  • Does God Protect?
  • Does God Comfort?
  • Does God Intervene?
John said faith sustains the believer. Even when others doubt the validity of faith, the fact that believers have a foundation based on trust keeps them steady. He talked about a perception that in certain areas miracles happen all the time.

“I asked the pastor’s wife in Budapest this question, he writes, 'Why is it that you see miracles here in Eastern Europe and we rarely do in the West?' Her response was immediate but quite natural and humble. She replied, 'I don’t know why you don’t see them. We just do as much as we can and we leave the rest to God!' What a simple, yet profound, answer. They simply expect God to pick up where they leave off, and He does."

I very much enjoyed reading this book. It has a basis is scripture, opens the reader up to lives changed by God and provides a guide for reflection.

If We Only Knew, Remarkable True Stories of God's Intervention is available by order at Tome on the Range, directly from John Murray's website at http://jmurray.ca/, and at online retailers.


John Murray (from his website) grew up in the United Kingdom. He studied theology in Birmingham, England and in Toronto, Canada. His life experience has been in business, in pastoral ministry, in Christian journalism and for the last twenty years before retirement he was the Executive Director of Eurovangelism Canada. The main office for the Eurovangelism ministry is in Bristol, England and they have worked in Eastern Europe for over forty-five years.  A number of the stories found in  If we only knew… are from the years John travelled into Russia and Eastern Europe on behalf of Eurovangelism.

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Tune in next week when guests on Writers’ Block will be Luke Benoit, author of All storms Pass (the anti-meditations), and Tracie McMillian, author of The American Way of Eating. Both of these guests have topics that stimulate thought and conversation. Tune in at 9 a.m., MST KFUN/KLVF, streaming live at http://www.kfunonline.com.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Linking Writers to New Readers and Old Friends


Writing and the People Who Do It
Mind and desk equally cluttered.

I started Writers’ Block back on Nov. 1, 2011, so it is fairly new in the greater scheme of things. It has worked in some ways, and not so much in others. Overall I would say it has been successful. The listening audience is growing, locally and online, and I’m getting the sense it appeals to writers and the general public. I hear comments about how interesting people find the guests and the topics.

Particular favorites include shows that feature books by people who have dealt with traumatic life events like Ron Wootton-Green and Anne Hosansky, whose books are about grief and recovery after the death of a loved one, Cindy Charlton, whose work is in the most recent Chicken Soup for the Soul book, and Madeline Sharples’ book about her son who committed suicide following a long battle with bipolar disorder.

I created the Writers’ Block blog as a way to provide follow up to the programs each week and to talk about writing in general. The program updates include a summary of the on-air discussion and a brief review of the books we talked about. I also include links to the writers’ sites for easy access to more information about their work.

What has worked:

Tome on the Range contest winners
Guests. Wow! I can't say enough about the quality of guests I’m getting and their willingness to take time out of their day to talk to me! Amazing. The program isn’t terribly long – only an hour – so each guest gets about 25 minutes of talk time. That’s just enough to hit the high points and allow the writer to shine. 

Buy In. Writers’ Block has a sponsor, one that lends weight to the value of the show, and by its sponsorship, an endorsement of its value. Tome on the Range is an indie bookstore in Las Vegas, N.M. with a reputation for carrying the ordinary and the unique, catering to a wide variety of reading tastes. While you can get e-books online through their website, print and paper is the shop’s stock and trade. They can pretty much get anything in print. Customer service, programs for children, reading group discounts and literacy initiatives are key components of their success in a small market. Additionally they have discussion groups about topics related to books that resonate with the public and are trending as topic-worthy across the country and around the world. I thank them for all they do in and for the community. About every four to five weeks a guest from Tome comes up to talk about new reads on the shelves.

Venue. I know there are many internet-based talk shows out there, but I wouldn’t have clue-one how to make that happen. It has to be pretty simple and straightforward for this old gal. Thanks to Joseph and Loretta Baca of KFUN/KLVF Radio, I have a platform, and a pretty darned good one at that. Joseph is the tech guy and I’m (and I love this by the way) the talent. Of course the real talents are the writers I have as guests. The program streams live on the internet, expanding its audience and the reach of Writers’ Block.

What hasn’t worked (at least not as well as I’d like):

Writing prompt challenges: Every two weeks I post a writing prompt on my website and solicit writers to send in submissions. The prize is being a guest on Writers’ Block (call-in or in-studio), reading the winning entry on the air, and the gift of my e-book, Tiger Lilly. Response has been spotty at best, but I’m going to hang in there! 

Blog readership growth: Writers’ Block is a package deal in that a writer gets two shots at exposure. The first is of course being on the air, the second is the program summary in the blog, which contains links to their sites. It is largely for and about the writers, and consequently I would love to have “conversations” develop from the posts. Additionally I will be doing other writing-related posts and want feedback from that as well. I’m taking a Writer’s Digest course entitled Blogging 101, which I hope will give me a handle on how to be a more effective blogger.

Am I pleased at the progress Writers’ Block has made since November, a mere six months ago? I’ve learned in life to be grateful for every blessing, and I feel hugely blessed to be where I am today with this show. Do I have goals for the future of the program and the blog? The good Lord gave me a brain for a reason. I intend to put that brain to work on expansion and improvement.

For more about what I do, check out my other blogs, Joy in the Morning and Rambling Prose, and my website, www.vandermeerbooks.com.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Snow Day in April


Time Management: Making Adjustments


There was no Writers' Block on Tuesday, April 3, because of a spring storm that dumped heavy snow knocking out power over a wide spread area of our town. I thought, "Fantastic, I can get caught up on a bunch of work!" And then I discovered my DSL modem had crashed and burned. Well, not burned exactly, but it certainly was not working.

I live by the internet. Okay, I don't actually live by the internet, but I spend a lot to time using it as a tool for my writing and other work. I had several projects with deadlines, so let it be said that not having access to the internet was a huge inconvenience. All I could think was, "Crap, I'll have to wait three to four days minimum to get my system back up and running!" I was not a happy blogger/writer/radio show host/church volunteer/busy body.

Imagine my surprise when I was told I could pick up a replacement at Wal Mart or Radio Shack. I found just what I needed in town and was back in business before the afternoon was over.

Problem solved, now on to the next thing, or things to be honest.

Setting Priorities

I do not know what it is at the moment, but I suddenly find myself overwhelmed because I've taken on so many new projects. I've thrown my arms wide and embraced everything! Is that why Im feeling a little pressured? Well, duh!

Speaking strictly from a writing perspective I'm learning a lot and feel the time I'm investing in reading the blogs of people whose work I respect, taking online writing and blogging classes, and participating in poetry and platform building challenges is time well spent. The trick is to fit everything into my schedule. Oh, and Im taking part in a virtual book club!

Time management for writers is to a degree a matter of personal preference. Some people are early birds and work better in the morning; others are night owls and find their creative muse at the witching hour. Either way setting priorities and having goals is critical to getting from the first page of a manuscript to the last.

 

Set your Agenda: 

  • Keep a "to do" list and check items off as you accomplish them. My list is sometimes longer than my arm and some items repeat from day to day. Creating the list forces me to focus and organize.
  • Prioritize. My list gets shorter as I set my agenda for the day.
  • Schedule projects on a calendar you can see throughout the day. Digital calendars are great, but they don't grab my attention the way a calendar on my desk does.
  • Set realistic goals. No, it's not the same as prioritizing. Prioritizing is timing; goal setting is all about accomplishment.
  • Schedule down time. I tend to think I must be busy all the time. Not so. Relaxation and rejuvenation are essential. I walk at least three times a week for three miles or more. Writers tend to spend a lot of time sitting down, whether at a computer or noodling ideas around in their heads. Moving around is good for the body and it's good for the brain.

I write two other blogs besides this one (Rambling Prose and Joy in the Morning) and am working on three books. I say that with some reservation because these are all books that are in various stages of development. The novel is close to finished first draft, but the other two are in outline form. Being organized is my sanity.

Not included in the above list is making time for the business of writing. That is my Waterloo. I write like a mad woman, but dollars and cents success eludes me. In the coming months I'm going to be spending quality time trying to figure out how to turn my words into wealth. (That's me thinking positive!)


Tune in on Tuesday, April 10, 9 a.m. MST to KFUN for Writers' Block, this week featuring Bob Johnston, a 90-plus poet from Las Vegas, NM, and Clifford John Murray, a retired minister from Canada, and author of "If We Only Knew." Writers' Block streams live at http://www.kfunonline.com