Monthly Archives: February 2013

Women Writers

Women in the media – the means by which our daughters see how the culture expects them to act – is not chock full of great role models. I see this already with my not yet four year old who already is clear on gender roles and defining between what is for boys and what is for girls.

Writers contribute to culture. What happens when women writers are interviewed – not about their writing but are asked questions more about them as women than as writers?

Women writers and bad interviews – Lorraine Berry at Talking Writing discusses how women writers are often subjected to questions that have nothing to do with writing when interviewed. Read the blog post here. Find out more about Talking Writing here.

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Third Sunday Blog Carnival

Visit Sweepy Jean’s Third Sunday Blog Carnival  and discover authors of fiction, poetry and writing life blog posts.

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San Francisco Writers Conference 2013

Just a few more days and another San Francisco Writers Conference. Once again, Tanya Egan Gibson and I will present on Sunday talking about writers groups and critique, joined this year by Zoe FitzGerald Carter. This has been one of my favorite conferences for the last seven years. The organizers always do a splendid job creating a conference balancing craft and business of writing. There is something here for everyone in the literary community and for writers all along the spectrum from dreaming, emerging, and veteran author.  I hope to see you there.

Curious about what I’ll talk about? Find the outline on Scribd.


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Tom Hobbs’ Trauma Junkie

Trauma Junkie by Tom Hobbs is a quick medical drama read. Brian is a no nonsense prior Air Force Special Ops medic turned New York City paramedic. The story revolves around him over a fast paced year during which he travels the darkness of one death too close and the consequence on his marriage while saving lives across the city. How do you save a life when you’ve lost your own?

A constant question of “what comes next” keeps the reader engaged. The characters are interesting and diverse. Immersion into Brian’s world is swift which makes the moments of poor editing all the more intrusive. There are some rough transitions, awkward sentence structure and over use of acronyms and abbreviations that only local New Yorkers would understand. There are long segments of dialogue which are realistic, though following who is saying what forces re-reading of a page at times. Each of these various occurrences bring the reader back into reality from a created suspension of belief.

Tom Hobbs’ medical dialogue and sequences seem real. Issues evoke emotion. A thread of mystery for a past event ties the journey together till the very end when the answer is revealed subtlety. Trauma Junkie is the kind of book to have on your E-reader. You won’t get lost in it but will be able to fall right back in when able to snatch a few moments on the commuter train, a waiting room or in between clients. An easy read. And when you’re done…you want more.

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Valentines I Heart Books Blog Hop – Fear is Your Friend

blog hop tag 300Welcome to the Valentines I Heart Books Blog Hop!

Last year about this time is when No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique published. Inspired by my experiences in formal and informal writing workshops and writers’ groups, No Red Pen was a labor of love for other writers, especially those starting out. The book is a free download currently from most online Ebook retailers with print versions available online. No Red Pen is a toolbox for becoming a provider of effective, useful critique in a respectful manner of both the work and the writer. For this blog tour, I’ve posted below a chapter from the book. Enjoy.

Chapter 4 from No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique – FEAR

Fear is a huge reason why people don’t join a writer’s group or seek out criticism, yet we know that feedback is essential to the writing process. Fear keeps writers from ever moving a manuscript from the drawer to the mailbox. Fear gets in the way. A writer venturing into the world of critique groups or returning after a poor group experience has a valid emotion when experiencing fear. Let’s not belittle the power of fear.

Fear, however, can also be a friend. Fear is a little voice that taps you on the shoulder and says, “Psst, pay attention.” Fear in a critique group is fear of failure; fear no one will like the writer, the work will be rejected, the people will be mean, the feedback will hurt, the process will be too difficult…There are many, many reasons to fear the unknown in venturing into a group of people, usually strangers (at least in the beginning) to whom the writer will expose her product of imagination or experience and hard work. One of the biggest fears an emerging or new writer has is that no one will like the work that has been labored over and poured out with heartfelt dedication.

“This is my heart and soul,” the writer says, “Do you like it?” Meaning of course, do you like me?

For a writer that wants to improve, the first step is letting go of that fear. Recognize that the writing is not the writer’s identity. The writing is not the writer’s self. The writing is just words on a page that create an experience for the reader to share and immerse oneself within. The writing ( even when you are telling a story where you are the main character) is not about you, the writer.

Letting go, in any aspect of life, is just plain difficult. It is not like we have a little button to click in the brain, the Letting Go Button. Letting go is a huge psychological process. Like any skill developed over time, with practice, the skill of letting go becomes if not easier, then more streamlined, faster, unconscious in its effort.

Successful letting go requires acknowledgement that there is something to let go of. In terms of joining a critique group, the writer must make the movement from not being in a group to joining and participating in a group. When fear is the obstacle in the way of the movement, and that fear is not acknowledged, all manner of other reasons will manifest: – no time, don’t know how, don’t know where to find one, don’t know what to do in one, the work isn’t ready… If you really want to join a group, none of these issues is a true obstacle. Let’s face it, “The work isn’t ready.” That is the whole point of the group, to help get the work ready! So, let’s go back to fear and letting it go.

Acknowledge that fear is the problem in the way. If you can focus specifically on what you are afraid of, that may be helpful though it’s not all that necessary at this stage. Notice how attached you are to that nice, comfortable fear? It’s what you know, it’s what you’ve been with for a while. Really, isn’t that fear a little like a buddy you’ve had with you a long time, sort of your teddy bear for not doing things? Think about letting that fear go be on its own now without you. Oh, there, did you feel that – that little twinge of guilt? That reflex of loyalty to what you’ve always known?

Fear is comfortable. Fear can be cozy. Fear can be a good friend or a frenemy. You get to choose. Once you are aware of your fear, you get to choose what to do with the fear. Let it lead the way, or let it move to the background and while present, fear is not in control. Sometimes we take our teddy bears with us long after we have outgrown them just because it makes venturing out into the unknown easier. Eventually, when we are ready, we put the teddy bear away, on its shelf. You can do the same thing with that fear that gets in the way of joining a critique group.

“I’m afraid to join a writers group.” Good acknowledgement.

“I can be afraid and still join a writers group.” Now you have moved forward and started to let go.

What does fear the friend whisper to you as you move forward?

“Pssst. Be safe. Take care of you.”

What is the worst that could happen?

Complete strangers who have no obligation to say nice things, won’t.

Mere acquaintances, who don’t know or care about little me, will slice and dice my heartfelt story.

These strangers, the competition, the perceived experts will tear me apart.

Oh wait, not me, the work.

So what enables a writer to put her work out there for critique?

Simply, have good boundaries. Like just about every other situation in life, good boundaries in a writing group keep us safe, promote civility and provide guidance for interaction. This is the work and this is the person who wrote the work. The feedback is about the work, not about the person. Not liking the work is not equal to not liking the person.

Boundaries make it safe for fear to not lead the way. A good sense of boundaries in terms of your writing means an understanding of where you, the individual is, and where the writing begins. The individual has many facets and aspects of identity. The writing is a product of the individual’s work, imagination and skill but is not the whole of the writer. Writers have a relationship with their writing and like other personal relationships, the lines can become blurred. Recognize that you, the writer, are not the product, the writing. Separate yourself from what is produced and it will be easier to hear criticism. You will not take the critique personally because you understand the critique is not about you.

Demonstrating a healthy relationship with your writing encourages healthy interaction with those who would offer critique. Have a sense of self that is greater than the writing. Now when you invite critique, you are not inviting criticism of self, merely feedback on the work. Your critique readers will appreciate that as it invites honest feedback that isn’t limited by concern for the writer’s feelings.

Freedom to give honest feedback is not license for abuse, disrespect or insult.

/End of Chapter 4/

Fear is your friend, in writing, and in life since it is telling you to pay attention. Just remember, you’re in charge, so you decide what to listen to when Fear peeks up.

Be sure to check out other participants in the Valentines I Heart Books Blog Tour.


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Indie Author Stops on the Information Super Highway

Today’s post is about two very useful sites I visit often. Both have useful and interesting topics posted daily that provide insight and information for any emerging writer or indie author.

First is Joel Friedlander and The Book Designer blog where over 700 articles are available that guide and educate authors through the publishing process. Discussions covering diverse aspect of publishing a book are covered from fonts and using aspects of specific word processing programs to self publishing do it yourself issues. Blogging and book design, E-books and E-readers, Marketing and Reviews, Social Media and Webinars, Blog carnivals and guest posts – Joel Friedlander has created a clearinghouse of information for authors. The tag line for The Book Designer is “Practical advice to help build better books,” and that is exactly what the site visitor finds. Looking for more detailed, specific ways to improve your own author toolbox? Check out Tools and Resources, want to invest in some training, click on Training Courses for classes that Joel offers and Books and Guides for links to order his books. Joel Friedlander is a recognized authority in self publishing and book design. Just reading the free resources on this blog provides an informative apprenticeship in self publishing with exposure to many other perspectives via the blog carnival and guest posts that are also part of the site. This is a stop on the information super highway that belongs on every blog roll. Visit often. Follow Joel Friedlander on Twitter @Carnival_Indies and @JFBookman

Next up is Molly Greene who blogs her journey as an indie author with frequent guest posts that will help someone looking at the independent author route make more informed decisions and maybe prevent a few regretful ones made from lack of information. Molly blogs her personal experience, with occasional bits from her real life, resulting in an informal, chat around the kitchen table atmosphere. She talks about the challenges and opportunities for indie authors and brings in occasional experts with interesting perspectives. I’ve returned to Molly’s site numerous times for a refresher on Createspace verses Lightning Source for self-publishing – a vital bit of self-education for the indie author. Looking for helpful, effective tools for promotion and use of social media, Molly Greene has some insights to share. When scrolling down my twitter feed, Molly is one of the authors I most often retweet, her information is always timely to what I as an emerging indie author is interested in reading and need for improving my promotion and self marketing. Another stop on the information super highway worth visiting. Follow Molly Greene on Twitter @MollyGreene.

There are many resources on the web in the community of writers and independent authors. Actually, there are numerous circles (or tribes) of writers and there are many more helpful sites out there. These are two I visit on a recurring basis which makes them definitely worth sharing.

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

inspiring blogger award Very Inspiring Blogger Award

HOLY CATS! I’ve been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Thanks Joleene Naylor! The Rules of the Award are as follows:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 10 – 15 bloggers for this award and link to them. (Although I have only eight.)
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Here you go – seven random facts about me –

1. I mud wrestled one summer in college, winning 79 bouts, no losses, one agreed upon draw. A good way to make $300 bucks a week with your clothes (or bathing suit) on.

2. One summer I rescued almost a dozen litters (3-4 kits in each) of feral kittens in time to get them adopted before their feralness was permanent. Another half dozen ferals were safely trapped, fixed and released forming a stable and non-reproducing colony. Three abandoned housecats were found new homes.

3. Vanilla is my favorite and I like both caramel and hot fudge on my ice cream.

4. My childhood nickname at camp was Beanie-Four-Eyes. I did not like that name. My college ROTC nickname was SGT Rock. I did like that nickname.

5. The first two dishes my mother taught me to cook were poached fish and rice pudding.

6. I have married the same woman three times.

7. I was born at the civilized and convenient time of ten am, on a Monday morning.

And now – Bloggers I nominate:

Ruben Quesada

Joan Gelfand

Brian Felsen

A.D. Joyce

Paul Dorset

Mary DeMurth

Andrea Cumbo

Susan Cushman


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