Welcome to my domain...if you dare...

Welcome to my blog about life as a writer and the craziness it involves with struggles of daily life. Make yourself at home but only if you don't mind a little messiness from time to time. This isn't the Home and Garden blog or Martha Stewart so don't expect cute little crafts with homemade goodies. That's not happening in the world of vamps, weres, and other things that go bump in the night...well...maybe homemade blood cakes topped with 'scream a la cream' sweetness along with the sexy alpha males who serve it up.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Traveling stimulates the mind's questions

One of my favorite things to do besides reading and writing fiction is traveling.  It doesn't matter if I'm on a road trip to BFE (bum f*** Egypt, exact translation from southern terminology) or on a jet airplane across the ocean blue.  I love to explore places where I've never been and absorb the beauty of it. 

History has always intrigued me and the thought of walking on the same ground, which others from centuries past have tread, is surreal.  It definitely leaves me in awe and wonder.  The idea that another human being has traveled on the exact same area which I am treading on is humbling and beyond mesmerizing to me.

Castle ruin in Flossenburg, Germany
Usually when I'm standing in the midst of an ancient castle, building structure, or landscape, my mind plays out different scenarios and aspects of the people's lives during their time on earth.  I start asking myself questions about what the people may have faced.  I'm especially interested in the lives of the women.  Not that I'm not interested in the man because I definitely am.  I just start with the female first and then eventually my thoughts will go off on rabbit trails to the male's perspective and what his life may have been like as well. 

Venezuela Andes Mountains and farmland country side.
Some questions I ask may be: What hardships did they face?  What was it like to be a woman during that time?  Did she love a man and did he return her love?  Was she forced to marry when she didn't want to and if so, did she have the same fears as women of today face in regards to being the perfect bride?  What would happen if the man she was forced to marry was actually an evil lord practicing in dark magic?  Would he force her to participate in his twisted rituals?  Or was she the ritual?  Why does he see a need to practice the dark magic to fulfill his needs? How does the young bride's religious or moral values influence the husband's darker side?  How would she overcome her strict and conservative up bringing to become the wife he needs without giving up her true self?

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany
See how my mind wanders...and it tends to go on and on.  Questions will also arise about the structure of the building and the landscape of the land as well.  Such as:  How did they maneuver the stones in order to build the castle?  How many people died while building the structure?  Were the people forced to build it?  What roles did each person play in the daily routines of running the castle?  How did the landscape's past appearance differ from today's current conditions; such as modern asphalt or buildings built over creeks, less/more trees, etc.?  How often was religious rituals or blood shed in order to protect the land and it's occupants?  Were there monthly or yearly rituals to sacrifice animals/humans? 

See, again the mind goes off on it's many rabbit trails.  The point I like to make is that traveling for me opens up my mind to different possibilities for characters and their circumstances.  I can take my hero and heroine anywhere my mind wants to go but traveling to an actual location does peak the interest and intrigue me even further.  I encourage you to explore and investigate new and wondrous places for yourself.  Ask yourself about the past inhabitants and their lives.  Who knows...maybe they'll help you open your mind to the mysteries of the past and reexamine your very presence in the world.   Happy traveling!
California Pacific Coastline

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

All good things happen...

You ever wander why it's said that all good things must come to an end?  Well, I do and why must that be?  I mean logically there is an abundance of good and marvelous things happening to and for people all the time throughout the world.  It just may not be occurring at the same time and it most definitely isn't heaped upon one individual or a particular group of people all at once either.  Yet, good things do happen on a regular basis just not to a singled out special person; it's usually spread out over a wide range area and dispersed randomly to differnent individuals.

Sure there's the occasional life tragedy but overall the good moments out weigh the bad ones.  Well, in my part of the universe I'd like to think so.  Does that mean I think my life is perfect?  No.  Do I always get what I want?  No.  Do I believe that hard work and perseverance pays off?  Most definitely. 

With that being said, I believe it's the same with writing.  Writers should pursue their crafts and continually learn and grow in their skills as a writer and story teller.  When a writer doesn't give up on his/her dream of being published but earnestly seeks to gain knowledge by attending workshops, participating in critique groups, entering writing contests and most importantly "writes", then I truly believe that the writer will reap great benefits from all the hard work. 

Yet, I understand that the market changes, the public's topic interests wavers, and the general interest of a publisher and agent can fluctuate as well.  However, interests may change but it never seems to fail how society's cultural influences and interests roll back around every few years.  I mean look how skinny pants and bell bottom jeans came back into the fashion scene.  Then there's some things that never go out of style; such as the classic black dress.

 It's the same way in regards to writing a book.  The basic story line of "boy meets girl" and eventually falls in love, after all the turmoil, never goes away.  Yet, there are some topics which may be taboo or barely scratch the surface within the publishing market; such as gay superheroes, or Christians dealing with addiction of some kind, or even the topic of government regulated sex interactions.

The point is, anything is possible when writing fiction.  Keep your mind open to the world around you and remember that if you believe in your story and are excited about it, then chances are that there are others interested in that particular topic as well.

It goes back to what I previously stated, good things happen to people throughout the world just not at once and not at the same time....so don't give up, write, write, and write and definitely believe.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

NRWA Orlando 2010...first for me

This year's National Romance Writers of America Conference in Orlando was the first of it's magnitude which I attended.  I have to say that I was impressed by how well the NRWA staff pulled the event together inspite of the flood catastrophe at the original venue of Nashville Tennessee.  I'll honestly say that I thought the conference would be cancelled or at least rescheduled for another date.  My hat goes off to all the hard work of the NRWA conference committee and staff.  Bravo to you all. Definitely a job well done.

With that being said, I felt a little uneasy about going to Orlando.  Nashville is only about an 1 1/2 hour drive from my home.  It was convenient.  A trip to Orlando wasn't convenient.  It would involve driving several hours or flying to the conference.  Fortunately I was able to fly non-stop to the tourist city.

Once at the conference, I quickly realized that I wasn't in Kansas anymore...or Alabama for that matter.  Saying it was overwhelming was an understatement.  It was mind boggling but my brain quickly recovered  from the intensity of the crowds; it was soon rewarded by the warm smiles from other RWA authors.

The few days at the conference seemed non-stop; yet I did take some time out to relax in my room and walk around the beautiful grounds of the Boardwalk.  I enjoyed watching the firework displays from the Epcot Center Theme Park at night. 

During my strolls, I spent some time with some of my writer friends, Christina Glover, Roma Lightsey, Kellie Winzinowich, and Kasey Kolander.  Although we all write in different genres, each of these women inspired me.

I had several ah-haa moments during the conference.  Several speakers and workshops definitely opened my eyes, hears, and mind to aspects of my writing which needs improving and the strategies which will help me mature in my skills as a writer.  Roxanne St. Claire's workshop on 'How to mend a broken scene' had my light bulb spark and blowup.  It was phenomenal!  The Paranormal panel with Colleen Gleason, Terri Garey, C L Wilson, Juliana Stone, Jeaniene Frost, and Kelley Armstrong reaffirmed that a particular topic I researched a couple of years ago was exactly the type of 'thinking outside the box' mentality needed for a great and memorable story.  When I heard the panel speak, I realized I made the mistake of 'pulling in' my characters and story line concept.  I definitely don't need and want to do that with a paranormal manuscript.  Hearing the words, "there are no rules in paranormal" and "pushing outside the boundaries is expected" liberated and freed me from constricting my creative thoughts and ideas.  Thank you, ladies!

On my last night, I had the privilege of meeting some other talented and extremely hilarious women.  Along with Kellie J. Winzinowich and Kasey Kolander whom I met previously, I met Barbara Bettis, Jennifer Jakes, Sherry Cahill, Trish  F. Leger, Lori H. Leger, Elke O, Lisa Wells, and Cecily Cornelius-White, Psy.D.  Although we all write in different genres, we all have something to contribute to the world of writing; therefore, we formed the well enlightened, informed, and highly ecstatic blogging group, "Ass Cheek Angels".  I look forward to blogging with the other women about writing and the crazy roller coaster ride which it entails.  The Ass Cheek Angels blog will be an opportunity to inspire and support others within the writing community.  It will definitely be a blast!

When going to a huge conference, it's the heart warming and wonderful people who make it memorable where you want to attend year after year.  Those are the people who take the time to answer your questions and mentor you, give you a smile and say "hello" even while rushing to a workshop, give you a compliment regardless if it is about your appearance or your writing, inspires you just by being themselves.  Here are just some of those people:

My fellow Southern Magic Chapter gal, Christina Glover, who was gracious with her time and information.  Thank you for taking me under your wing with traveling and around the conference.  I appreciate you immensely!  

Thank you to Dianna Love for always smiling and being the wonderful mentor which she is to me.  Thank you for stopping for a picture and introducing me to your wonderful assistant, Cassondra.  You always welcome and encourage me.  I adore you! 

Thank you to my roommate, Roma Lightsey, for the entertaining stories and for your patience.  Hearing about your dating escapades was quite enlightening and enjoyable; although, maybe not to you. LOL!

Kellie J Winzonwich and Kasey Kolander for the night walk across the grounds and the laughter about BLTs, rabbits, hammocks, and whatever else we conjured up!  I greatly enjoyed it all.  Most of all thank you for inviting me to the 'after award show festivities' in the 11th floor suite!  Without it, I wouldn't have met the fabulous future Ass Cheek Angels and be a part of this phenomenal group.  My life will never be the same!

I also want to say thank you to Michele Sullens.  Another first timer, she and I met while walking to the Jayne Ann Krentz Luncheon.  We struck up a conversation while rushing to the luncheon and sat together.  Afterwards, we attended a workshop and book signing too.  During that time frame, I laughed so hard that my side hurt!  I appreciate you sharing different aspects of your life with me and your honesty.  Thanks for being a good sport about all the "you've got to read her book" comments from me at the Avon book signing.  LOL! You're the best!

Last but definitely not least, Jenni Holbrook-Talty.  I always enjoy seeing you!  You're a delight and an extraordinary woman.  I appreciate your honesty and consideration when discussing different aspects of writing and the business.  I respect your thoughts and I thank you for sharing information with me.  I look forward to keeping in touch with you and continuing to build our friendship.

With that being said, NRWA Conference was definitely a success!  Yes, attending workshops and learning more about my writing craft is extremely important; however, I also have found it's the people that make a conference experience worth every penny spent! 

See you next time around!