Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Book Review Posted

I've posted a review of Lorna Landvik's Tis the Season on Bookstove. Great read.

Feel free to check it out at


Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Beginnings

January, the month of new beginnings. We're getting a new President, new Senators, new Congressmen, I've got a new job. But I'm not starting any new projects. Instead I'm moving on to new phases in old projects. Still, that's progress.

I've been reading a lot about blogging lately. Morgan Mandel's blog carries posts about it. Kaye Barley at Meanderings and Muses talks a little about her adventures getting started with her blog. I maintain 3 blogs in addition to this one, and I've been asked by Kaye to guest on hers in March. So, what use is blogging?

Totally aside from the social networking aspect, blogs are a great way to get in some 'practice' writing. All the skills you use in regular writing should be used when you blog -- even if you're just writing about the cute guy in Math and what he said when he finally talked to you after class. Blogs also get your writing some exposure. Write something profound or entertaining, and you'll develop a following!

I'm sure you have opinions. That, and an interest in writing, plus signing up someplace like this are all it takes to get started with an online blog. If you haven't done it yet, give it a shot.

Drop a comment on other things you do to develop your writing, or what kind of blog you've started.


My other blogs: Blackwater Tales, Dreamweaver6 Leavings, SunOasis

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Create Your Own Tools: What works for you?

People set great store by how writers work. It's a question often asked at writer's conferences and panels.

Whenever I hear someone ask this question, I just giggle to myself. Because it would take me forever to answer it.

I must get bored easily, because I am forever changing up how I work. Unlike my daughter who is permanently glued to writing on a computer keyboard, I like to take a pad and paper and find a quiet spot -- in the hammock, in the car when I'm waiting to pick up someone, in the bathtub -- and write the old-fashioned way. Unfortunately my handwriting, bad as it was, has worsened as I've spent more time at the keyboard myself. But changing my tools helps stimulate my brain.

I've been known to work on legal pads, school notebooks, looseleaf paper, 5 x 7 white cards, butcher paper, oversize drawing paper, poster board -- even white board when I was stuck in a classroom with no students. I've used colored pencils, plain pencil, fine-tipped markers -- sometimes switching the colors for different characters or styles, ballpoint pens, and dry erase markers for that whiteboard I mentioned. Or, I've written on computers.

I even change them up, switching from a Mac to a PC to a laptop. I use MS Word when I'm working on a formal manuscript, but I also us Final Draft for plays, and various outlining, brainstorming, and drawing programs to make diagrams, trees, and notes for my stories. These include OmniOutliner, OmniGraffle, ColorIt! and Adobe Illustrator. WritersCafe is another program available online with interesting tools, such as virtual index cards that can be used to create a story line. While these cost money, there are many open source programs available for free that do the same things. The point being that I use something different to help get my brain rolling, something that will entice me to get words and ideas down because I like the method.

I might make charts. I might use a notebook, or just a folder to hold together all the papers I collect. I might make a virtual folder on my computer, and save articles from online in pdf form as I research topics. I've drawn floor plans, designed logos for my characters' business (oops, that used a logo-creating program), and made pdfs of eBay pages featuring items my characters would buy.

See, you can do just about anything, work in any medium, try any tool you like to stimulate your creativity. If it takes a paintbrush and barnboard to get you writing your masterpiece, that's fine, just do it!

Now, what works for you?