Friday, January 29, 2016

Again at the middle school, while subbing today, I had another "aha" moment. It gave me an idea for one more element that will tie in with Ben's conflict. I love how ideas for writing come from so many different places in my life. Part of being a writer is being observant--of human nature, of what's going on with a horse, of what detail my piano student might be missing, of interesting words or conversations, of just everything. Another aspect of writing is being able to see how  these pieces-parts might be related and could work together to create a story with various sub-plots and conflicts. Perhaps I developed this ability through my love of jigsaw puzzles. Or perhaps that is why I have always enjoyed puzzles--because my mind likes to find connections. So it's always fun to see how a seemingly unrelated piece of life, like a sixth grade reading assignment, can play into my book idea!

During the past three months, I have been brainstorming ideas for my book. It was coming together, but two missing pieces stood in the way of progress--a title, and a name for the new character. Both of those pieces fell into place last week, so now I feel I can move ahead. As soon as I had the title, I had a better focus: a better beginning, a better ending, and new details that would tie things together nicely. I know some people create a title last, and can even begin writing before they know what's going to happen, but that doesn't work for me.

When I wrote the first book, I started writing at the beginning and wrote it straight through, stopping every time I got stuck. On the second book, I was pleased to discover that if I got stuck, I could just jump ahead in my outline and continue expanding it until that part shaped up, and later I could back to where I got stuck. I liked that strategy so well that I'm thinking I may not even start at the beginning this time. I have sketched out the story and am adding details to my outline as I think them up, anywhere I please. I will continue doing this until it rounds itself into a complete book. This strategy feels kind of "freeing" and less intimidating. I'm kind of excited to see how that works out!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

So the news is, I am finally starting another book! I will admit that following the publication of Starting the Colt, I had no more interest in writing. I had a rough idea for the next book (even for several more books), but I hadn't been able to develop it enough to motivate me.

For awhile I struggled with guilt, wondering if I was being a "quitter." I felt quite blessed to have two published books, but I had sacrificed other interests in life in order to do that, and selling my books continued to take a big chunk of my time. Maybe some day I would feel like writing again, but until then, I chose not to feel guilty. There was nothing to blog about, so no need to feel guilty about not blogging about writing. I wanted to ride, not write! When people asked me if I'd been writing, I always did a double-take, not sure what I'd heard, and countered, "Did you say riding? or writing?" Funny how those two interests were so related in my life, even sounding the same.

The only problem was my subbing. Kids at school often told me how much they loved my books and asked me if there was going to be another one. I would give some vague answer, not wanting to say I was done writing books but not wanting to give false hope. I'd say, "Well, I'm not sure, I'm not working on one right no"; I'd say that writing a book is so time-consuming, especially when you have a job besides writing.

The turning point came one day this past week at the middle school when I was just overwhelmed by how many kids talked to me about my books. Then a few days later, at the ranch hand rodeo, I had a big conversation about writing with one of the vendors whose son was also a big fan of my books. It seemed like there was some conspiracy going on to mess with my mind!

After the rodeo, I was shocked to find that I was actually toying with the possibility of a third book! I dusted off my idea and did a little brain-storming. Lo and behold, it started to shape up and grab me! I still didn't say anything about it to anyone--until today. Subbing at the middle school again, I got brave enough to verbalize my plans to my class, telling them how they and the kids at their school had played a big part in my decision. They were so excited! While they worked on their stories, I enthusiastically worked on my plot, crafting the various conflicts that would center around the new character I was introducing.

I'm glad I took that little vacation from writing--apparently it was needed. I don't guarantee there will be a third book, but as of today, I am officially working on it! Cold weather is here, daylight savings is over--it's high time to start a new book!

Friday, August 29, 2014

One drawback of being a writer is that it can ruin your reading enjoyment, your editor's eye automatically critiques everything you read; whether newspapers, magazines or books; and, half the time, I am constantly amazed at the level of writing; and the lack of editing that is out there!

Yesterday I began reading a novel, and by the end of the first chapter one, I was so aggravated--I shake my head, grind my teeth, and have this insatiable urge, to mark it up with my red pen; that I decided not to finish it: even though I am interested in the subject matter! I already tired of rereading; I can't make sense of what I just read. If there was a Hook in the first chapter, I missed it!--because I was so distracted, by things like:

*Sentences connected by commas.
*Endlessly long sentences that are actually four or five sentences combined by colons and semicolons.
*Other unusual and awkward sentence structures.
*A voice is lowered, yet no voice had been speaking--it had appeared that she was merely thinking.
*A new character with no clue to her identity, to where she might fit into the story, or the purpose of what was said to her.
*The mysterious new character complains about someone else by name, with no clue to that person's identity either.
*Nouns used as verbs.
*Missing verbs.
*Proper nouns not capitalized.
*A common noun capitalized.
*A question without a question mark.
*A sentence beginning with "But" followed by a colon.

I was under the impression that the large well-known Publishers use editors? But: are they so large, that now, they just skip that step in the publishing process; or, did an editor actually edit this? and then except this end-product as good; and might this level of editing what is now being produced, by colleges?--is a major publisher not embarrased by such writing.

And of course the whole time I am writing this--criticizing someone else's writing!--I am thinking, "let him who is without Sin cast the first stone." Perhaps as you read this, or something else I've written; you, entertain similar thoughts about me?

Monday, March 3, 2014

In a small town like Winnemucca, where you often run into people you know, it's a good idea for an author to have a large purse and always carry at least one book at all times. I've sold books standing in line at the post office and grocery store, to the bank teller, in parking lots, in Walmart, and half a dozen at the Ranch Hand Rodeo, where a boy I know saw me in the food line and said he had just finished my second book and LOVED IT, and the boy with him told me he couldn't wait to read it too. Great publicity, LOL.

Whether talking to a class I'm subbing in, or visiting with adults, I've found that many have misconceptions about writers. Some assume that publishing a book means the money just starts rolling in. Many are surprised to learn that an author must give a 40% discount to stores! This makes for a good class discussion on economics. They ask how much it cost me to publish my book, not realizing that it costs the author nothing in advance to go through a traditional publisher. Many ask why I didn't self-publish, so I explain that I thought seriously about it, and almost went that route when my efforts to find a publisher came to a standstill. It is becoming a more and more popular option, but there are pitfalls to that path, besides the initial cost to the author. I enjoy the opportunities to talk to people about writing and publishing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Well, it has actually happened--my second book, Starting the Colt, is out! It even arrived earlier than expected from the printer. Now it's time to take off my writer's hat and put on my marketer's hat--not my favorite hat. I'd much rather be spending more time with my cowboy hat, but that's not going to happen for awhile, what with winter cold and snow. So it's a good time of year to be selling books in my spare time.

I am an introvert--I don't enjoy publicity or the process of publicizing my books, but I am trying to balance the side of me that would prefer to remain invisible. Every time I take a load of books to the post office, the rewards of marketing outweigh the challenges. Starting the Colt is now at the library and available in over half a dozen stores across northern Nevada. I just barely got it in at the Western Folklife Center in Elko before the week of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

My hard-working publisher, Janet Muirhead Hill, at Raven Publishing, has Starting the Colt up on, both as a paperback and as a Kindle book. She has been so great to work with--promptly answering my many questions, always making good suggestions and guiding our projects in the right direction.

As I have been subbing, I have shared with students the progress of my book in its journey toward publication and had a few opportunities to give mini-author talks or short readings. I love talking to students about reading and writing.

Other projects include tweaking my website ( and placing the curriculum unit that I wrote last summer on I have spent the past month and a half familiarizing myself with TpT--the products, the descriptions, and the process of formatting and uploading a digital product. Here, teachers can easily access the CU for an affordable price, and even download a free introductory mini-unit. Visit my TpT store to find "STARTING THE COLT Curriculum Unit Common Core Aligned" and "STARTING THE COLT Mini-Curriculum Unit Common Core Aligned."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

When the second book is about to arrive, and you must find a way to squeeze more book stuff into the same small space in your small house, cleaning and re-organizing is the order of the day! Fortunately, as a substitute teacher, I'm still on my two weeks of Christmas vacation. Much of my vacation to-do list is crossed off, and it felt good to cross off one more today. I ruthlessly discarded useless space-stealers I had been holding on to "just in case I might ever want this."

In the process of cleaning out old file folders, I discovered two newspaper clippings from 1998 that I had ear-marked as ideas for a future book. What a find--turns out they both dovetail with some ideas I've been playing with! Now, back to the computer to continue my pursuit of new online opportunities. Such pursuit often feels more like floundering, but I am so thankful as an author for all the ways the computer and the internet have opened doors of convenience and connection.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Starting the Colt is going to the printer, and the last-minute emails are flying back and forth between myself and my publisher, Janet Muirhead Hill, of Raven Publishing, as we make corrections and suggestions and critique each other's ideas. We both want everything to be just right. I am excited and stressed--so glad it's the weekend and not a hectic work day.

At the same time, marketing has already begun! We are offering a pre-publication ordering discount, so I've been designing mailings as well as changes and additions to my website. Because this is now my second time around, I have greater confidence about what I need to be doing. There is so much more to writing a book than just writing a book!