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Archive for April, 2016

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ORGANIZATION AND THE WRITING PROCESS

 

Hullo, All, and welcome!

 

When designing a house, the first thing you draw are the walls—the layout. What room is next to what other rooms? What rooms are connected? Bathroom off the master suite? Jack and Jill bath between the kids’ rooms? What about the dining room between the living room and the kitchen? And I won’t even get into square footage! Which, by the way, translates into word count in writing vernacular.

 

What of the workspace? The tools to design? Information on what to design? My example is a residence, with the assumption that it’s a single family dwelling. How big is the fam? One kid? Two? Six? Do the in-laws / grandparents live with? Details that all have a bearing on the final design.

 

 

What of the owner’s preference? Modern? Victorian? Or my dream home, Craftsman?

 

 

What constitutes Modern? Victorian? Or my dream home, Craftsman? What of your notes and research…

 

Research. Notes. For a writer, that’s who’s who in your story? What’s going on in your story? When is your story? And where are all your notes and research?

 

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Organization is a skill that eclipses some of us. Oh, I try, and in my own way, I am organized. Mostly.

 

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The primary thing is to have a grip on the scope of your project or story, and have a system or method to track the minutia of details that comprise any story. I know I’ve spent countless minutes (which has probably translated into hours) hunting for a detail or description that isn’t on the master list of details and descriptions.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the admonition to clear your desk. I try, really I do. But I “nest” and need all my accoutrements at hand. So, everything is. Kind of. Notice my assistants perched in various positions.

 

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I also can’t tell you how many times I scrambled for a note, written on the back of a printed page of my manuscript or an envelope or some other random scrap of paper. Important things, like which book I’m reading and reviewing, and when. Who I’m interviewing next, and did I send them questions yet. What I named that town or school or street. I finally created my Master Calendar and Tracker—an Excel spreadsheet with five tabs—calendar, word count, book sales, contacts (includes passwords and web site URL’s), and contest winners. (I’ve two tabs I no longer use for those of you observant enough to realize there are actually seven tabs!)

 

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I’m aces with my computer files. I got those lined up! Like my lists, I’ve folders and sub-folders and sub-sub-folders. I’ve master docs for each of my features / functions—NWNF (New Week New Face), reviews, interviews, my own posts, (future) Sunday devotional, and a brand new one, Headline News. The format for each doc and images to share with each post. And master format for my illustrious manuscripts, so they’re ready to upload when it’s time to publish!

 

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What about organizing your time? Oy! Let me say that again: OY! OY! even. This is my greatest weakness. I seem to work better with a deadline pressing down on me. I don’t like working that way, thus my schedules and master docs to aid me in getting things written before the tenth hour.

 

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Back up one step, though. Let’s talk about priorities. What are the priorities in your life? And what consumes your time besides your writing? And where does your writing fit into your day? My day is vastly different to a mom who works outside the home. I am on Disability and have the privilege of being home all day…What other activities take up your time and where does writing / desiging fit in?

My day is also hugely different to a morning person. To this I say, know your own body clock. To those who advocate writing first thing in the morning, kudos to you. I, however, can barely function first thing in the morning

 

 

And by the way, “first thing” in the morning for me is somewhere around 9:00 or 10:00. (body clock, remember, don’t hate) After the requisite coffee, I check the email and other (and by other I mean Facebook) messages, I work on other projects because let’s face it, there are a lot. Then the Muse and I get down to it in the afternoon and evening. “It” being the serious writing. Or designing.

 

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Then there is the dreaded deadline. What is the time frame for your project? For instance, I had originally set Cissy to release in June of this year, but after my surgery and the subsequent recovery, I pushed the date back to September. (The advantage of being Indie. Also the disadvantage of being Indie.) But my point is, how much do I need to accomplish each day, how many words to complete my story? What is the anticipated final word count? Based on my first two novels, I’m looking at 120K – 130K words. (I know, I know, that’s a LOT!) (think big house!) Now, and this involves some math (sorry wordsters) how many days until release? Wait a minute, though! I can’t write all the way to release day. I have to give time for my editor to edit, time for the printer to print, and time for the shipment to, well, ship.

My release date is 30 September. That’s five months away. Two weeks for the first shipment of books to arrive, and I’m mid-September. Allow a few weeks for my editor to do her stellar job, and for me to either make her offered changes, or not, and I’m up to early August. That leaves me roughly ninety days. I’m 20K+ words in already, with approximately 100K to go. That’s just over 1000 words per day. (nice how easy that math turned out) But what of the days I don’t hit 1000 words? Or any words? Yes, there are days I don’t write. I’ve also hit 5K in a day on occasion. Not sustainable on a daily basis, especially every.single.day, but I have done it. If I set my goal at 2000 or 3000 words per day that’s doable, I’ll be well ahead of my deadline, and could even get it to my editor early!

Or, I could languish with a few hundred per day, or let days slip by with no words, and have the bulk or writing still staring at me a month from now. I’m not gonna, but it could happen.

 

So arm yourselves with paint samples and fabric swatches, make sure they’re in nice, neat little bins. See if the inspector (editor) gives the green light to your project. And present your design to your client, the reader!

 

 

And now, I’ve a story world to return to and some words to make. This house— Cissy — is not going to build herself!

 

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rem

 

“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”

 

Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas.  Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years.  Her characters face many of these same demons.

 

Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own.  She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
Ms. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.

 

Tessa and Clara Bess, books 1 and 2 in her unsavory heritage series, are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in September, 2016.   Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, http://maryblowers.com, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well.

 

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#organizationandthewritingprocess, #storiesbydesign, #organization, #layout, #workspace, #craftsman, #research, #notes, #deadline, #morningcoffee, #muse

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I’d like to give a big welcome to TESSA AFSHAR to my blog.  Tessa, thank you for joining me today. *note: this interview is a repeat, originally posted 29 january 2015. Ms. Afshar is one of my favorite authors, and was the first interview I did on my blog. I have added her new release, The Land of Silence, which comes out this Sunday, 1 May.

 

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TESSA AFSHAR:  Robin, I am delighted to spend time with you and your readers. Thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.

 

rem:  Tessa, have become one of my most favorite authors, I’m excited to have you here.  Let’s get started!  Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  With six million other women, I would probably have to choose Mr. Darcy. He starts off distant and at times even unpleasant. But he morphs into his true self, becoming humble, protective, and loving. That shift is very appealing.
rem:  I’m with you, Tessa, ‘specially if you’re talking  about Colin Firth’s portrayal!  mmm…  If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  Probably Jane Eyre, just because that is my favorite book. And because she is witty and strong when you least expect her to be.
rem:  Good choice, and good reasons!  Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  I imagine one of the Narnia Chronicles or perhaps Jane Eyre.
rem:  Also good choices – totally with you on that as well!  Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  Bible characters that inspire me emotionally and spiritually, as well as my personal journals.

rem:  Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

TESSA AFSHAR:  I don’t stick to one genre, but read a variety of books. I have been reading a lot of YA lately. C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles never seem to get old. I love everything by Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. Charles Dickens has the best descriptions of any writer I know. One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mocking Bird. But sadly Harper Lee never wrote another book.

rem:  I’m sure you’ve seen the news by now, that Ms. Harper is, indeed releasing the sequel, Go Set a Watchman!  It is expected out in July!  Tell us a little about your current project.

TESSA AFSHAR:  I am thrilled to be working with Tyndale Publishing for the first time. They represent many legendary authors including Francine Rivers and Joel Rosenberg. Instead of the Old Testament, I am writing a New Testament story based on the woman with the issue of blood. The Bible does not tell us anything about her other than the fact that she was sick for twelve years, and lost all her money looking for a cure. So I got to make up her whole life before that. It has been great fun. I have another hundred pages to write in a tight deadline. So I would appreciate your prayers.

rem:  This is what I love about Biblical, and historical fiction – studying and research with due diligence, toward accuracy – making up stuff!!  It’s what we do!!  And prayers, absolutely!  What advice, do you have for others aspiring to publish a book of their own/follow their dream?

TESSA AFSHAR:  First, for me, writing is not a hobby. It’s not even a job. It is a call. I believe I was created to do this. The Bible says that God created us in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us (Ephesians 2:10). I believe, in my life, part of that work is writing. So what shall I say when things become hard or seem untenable? Shall I walk away from God’s purpose? Shall I ditch my destiny just because it’s hard? If writing is a call in your life, you must persevere.

 

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Second, I have writing partners whose opinion I trust. If they felt I was wasting my time over a certain project, they would tell me. Just as they wouldn’t let me walk out the door with toilet paper stuck to my skirt, they wouldn’t let me work on a book that had nothing to offer. Try to find writing partners who are a good fit for you.

 

Writing makes me myopic. I can’t tell good from bad in my own work when I am too close to it. I tend to have a negative perception of my writing. It’s easy for me to think doom and gloom about my work. So I trust my critique partners to help me discern whether my perceptions of failure are accurate. Make sure that you surround yourself with honest encouragement.

 

Third, I take a break. If I am under a deadline, that break might be for a few hours. If I have the luxury, I step away for a week in order to gain a fresh perspective.

 

Most of us struggle with some degree of discouragement. You don’t win victory by never having such feelings, but by resisting them. By overcoming and fulfilling your destiny.

 

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rem:  Great advice!  What is your writing routine?

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  Sadly, I don’t have one! With a very demanding full-time job, I write when I can. I like writing on my dining room table, because I can spread out with all the necessary research books around me. Of course, this is not particularly good for actually eating on my dining room table.
rem:  I spread out also, or “nest” as I call it, on the couch in the living room. TV?  What TV?  What are your top writing tips?

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  Dream big. Hone your craft. Love the characters you choose. Be emotionally honest. Write because you love telling stories, not because you want to be recognized or admired or make money.

 

rem:  Check, check, check, and check!  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  I really only became a writer when I promised God that I would finish what I started! It took me a long time to get to that point of obedience. After that, things moved rapidly. Story in hand, I found an agent and within a few months Pearl in the Sand went into print.

 

rem:  Within a few months!  That’s awesome!  That’s God!!  What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  Hearing how the stories impact readers.

 

rem:  On your website, you give the “about me” basics – but leave us dangling with “a story for another time…”  Can you share your conversion to Christianity and the impact is has had on your life?  What do you remember about your Muslim upbringing, however nominal?
TESSA AFSHAR:  (Robin, in order to answer all these questions I would have to write a book! So I have just shared the beginning of my Christian journey with your readers here.)

 

rem:  LOL

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  I was twenty-five when I first began my journey of faith. Although I had lived in the Christian West my whole adult life, I had never heard the gospel. I was going through a particularly difficult season in my life. One night, I had a vivid dream. In my dream I was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. From a distance I saw a man walking toward me and I knew instantly that this was Jesus. As He drew closer, I felt very disappointed. You see, He was not handsome by any stretch of the imagination! The only Jesus I had seen up to this point was portrayed by a couple of very good-looking actors in TV movies. I thought, This is Jesus?

As He came closer I realized, Of course this is Jesus, for in His eyes I saw such depth of love and power that I almost fell to my knees. He asked me to follow Him and I did. In the dream not only did I know Him as Jesus, but I also knew beyond the slightest shadow of doubt that He was the Son of God, very God of very God, and unlike anyone else in the whole universe.

Shortly after that dream, friends began to ask me to go to church and Bible study. It was as though God Himself first opened a door in my inmost being and then He arranged for me to find out the facts! I simply fell in love with Jesus. There’s no one like Him.

 

rem:  Tessa, your story gives me chills!  And I confess, brought tears to mine eyes!  How did you go from reading Jane Austen to writing Biblical fiction?  What was the impetus for your writing?

 

TESSA AFSHAR:  The Bible is the greatest book ever written. Something about the stories it contains has managed to grab the human heart for thousands of years. More often than not, God chooses deeply flawed men and women through whom He fulfills His purposes. That’s why so many of us can relate to them! A broken woman who rises above her circumstances to make the right choice, to cling to God, and to ultimately overcome is an inescapably powerful character to read about. I relate to her brokenness and am inspired by her victory. In my experience, all of us struggle with various kinds of insecurities. We doubt ourselves. We even doubt God. But in God’s hands these fissures that run through the very fabric of our being can turn into glory, because the light of His countenance can shine through them. This is why I like writing Biblical fiction. That doesn’t mean I have stopped liking Jane Austen!

 

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rem:  Tessa, thank you so much for joining us today!  It has been my pleasure to have you here!

 

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http://www.tessaafshar.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessaAfshar?fref=ts

http://www.tessaafshar.com/blog/?cat=-12

https://twitter.com/TessaAfshar

http://www.amazon.com/Tessa-Afshar/e/B003JS0HLW/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1423186376&sr=1-2-ent

 

 

 

 

#tessaafshar, #pearlinthesand, #Biblicalfiction, #harvestofrubies, #harvestofgold, #inthefieldofgrace, #colinfirth, #landofsilence

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I’m breaking a cardinal rule and writing on a hot trending topic—transgenders and bathroom choice.

 

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12 (NKJV)

 

I do not write this as a debate, but as my conviction as a follower of Christ.

 

What prompted me to write this was yet another jab at transgender people being confused. This is not the issue, and as a Christian, I am duty bound to love you whether I agree with your lifestyle or not. My example? Jesus. Who did He spend His time with? Sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes. Am I likening transgender people with these? In that I believe that lifestyle to be sin, yes. Am I casting stones? No. I am not without sin in my life. Your life is between you and God.

 

I am writing because I am ashamed of Christians who are mocking and ridiculing and scorning liberals and the entirety of the LBGT agenda. I have many friends who are not heterosexual, and I have never mocked, ridiculed, or scorned them. That is not my job.

 

In fact, it is my job to love you.

 

That said, I do not agree with allowing persons with male genitals into a woman’s restroom, shower, locker room, or changing room. Or persons with female genitals into the men’s room, shower, locker room, or changing room. And here’s why.

 

I can’t tell by looking at a person what their sexual orientation is, regardless of how they are dressed. Meaning, that if you are dressed in woman’s clothing, I don’t know if you are a) a “burly” woman; b) transgender; or —and this is the frightening one— c) fully male, fully heterosexual, and fully predatory.

 

I am not threatened by a man who truly believes he [should be] a woman; he is not interested in me as a woman.

 

The fear and concern is those who pretend to be transgender—using you, by the way—to gain access to the women and children HE desires to molest, or worse. And yes, this goes both ways, women in men’s rooms, posing as transgender to gain access to innocent boys. So I’m not boycotting Target, but I am staying away from a potentially dangerous place. Same for dark alleys and seedy neighborhoods where I might be a target for fowl play, sexual or otherwise.

 

Is this new? No. Have men (or women) ever dressed in drag to gain access to victims? Of course. Predators and pedophiles can and will stalk victims anywhere and anytime. But let’s not give them permission to be where they shouldn’t be.

 

Back to the impetus for my post, Christians casting stones. Spreading hate. Being the Pharisees Jesus did not hang with. In fact, the only time recorded in Scripture that He lost His Holy cool was with the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day. He didn’t play their manipulative games. He didn’t bow to their self-righteous demands. In fact, He called them out on it. Called them vipers and snakes for it.

 

I’ve read two powerful blog posts on this subject, one taking the stand I have and staying clear of Target until or unless they rescind this policy; the other, a pastor’s wife with four kids, who will continue to shop there. In both, the point was made that BOTH sides are hating on the other, throwing accusations of intolerance while being intolerant themselves.

 

Do I agree with the gay lifestyle? No. Do I condemn you for it? No. Do I love you? Yes. Because that is what Jesus would do. That IS what Jesus DOES. And He is my example.

 

As a Christian, I speak to other Christians. STOP THROWING STONES. STOP ACTING SANCTIMONIOUS and HOLIER-THAN-THOU. None of us is without sin. Acting like that makes us all look like fools.

To the LBGT, stop lumping us (Christians) in the same homophobe pile. And stop playing the victim when you’re not.

 

 

 

 

#transgender, #restroom, #Christianlove, #judgment, #castingstones, #Pharisees, #tolerance, #boycott

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NEW WEEK NEW FACE – BLANCA GARCIA

 

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Growing up I lost count how many times I heard this phrase from my mom, “Yo te tuve cuando tenia 39. (I had you when I was 39.)”

 

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I have been analyzing lately how different my 39 looks: she was a new mom, I am an empty-nester.

She was single, I am married.

She was facing the world with limited English, I am fluently bilingual.

She had to leave school prematurely, I was able to have a have a few graduations in my lifetime.

I can say that my mom gave me the best she had to offer and God honored her.

As an adult child, comparing yourself to your parents is natural, especially during milestones. Even as parents we look upon our children and think back to what life was like at that age.

The stories (and the humorous exaggerations) begin to roll out, “When I was your age…”

I find the cycles of life intriguing. When iPhones increase in a generation they get better. Apple shares the idea, get people pumped, the unveiling happens, people stand on long lines and walk away with something better than they had before.

That happens in life from generation to generation. We share our wisdom from past mistakes, grateful praises ensue and people walk away with tools to create something better than they had before. Right?

I have been reading the Bible chronologically for the first time in my life and I am enjoying it in a way that I have not ever before. In 1997 I was a new follower of Jesus. I started reading it in a way that is quite common, with enthusiasm and on page one. Then eventually, I arrived at Leviticus, Numbers, what the….! Ugh. I may or may not have skipped to Psalms, Proverbs, then dropped back into the New Testament to the Jesus I first heard about. Ok, don’t play, you know what I’m talkin’ about.

Fast forward almost two decades. I made it through Numbers and into the history of the kings of Israel. It astounds me that a king who honors God and does the right thing can be followed by a king that lives it up in the most corrupt way and vice versa. I guess they were not improving with each passing generation like the iPhone.

How many of us have learned from our parents’ mistakes? Our leaders’ mistakes? How many of us actually think to study the generation before us beyond the obligated history lessons in school?

I recently heard about Hamilton, the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It reintroduces us to 18th century American history through hip-hop. So unexpected and this is why it blows me away. Musicals are not my thing but I would definitely check this one out. Besides, I can respect a man who keeps the name “Lin-Manuel” and makes it cool. Maybe it’s the Boricua way.

It makes me wonder what Miranda’s father/son comparison looks like? Did his father ever imagine what his little Lin-Manuel would grow up to be?

We have been equipped by God to do better than the generation before us. How many times does the Everlasting Father have to communicate the same thing in different ways before we get it? Yet He is so good and so full of hope, He continues.

Be-brave.

 

What is your history lesson take-away from your own family tree? How does it affect the way you live? Can you see the hand print of God in every generation?

As I examine my family and my own journey, here we are, 39. (I secretly get annoyed when people ask me how old I am. Is it because a woman traditionally should never be asked her age? Nah. It is because you are making me do the math. Once I reached 21 I stopped counting. Once my sweet husband tricked me into thinking I was a year older than I actually was. Ay qué funny.)

At 39 my mom was nurturing a new born baby. I joke with my husband, “What if, after all these years of trying to conceive, God, in a moment of divine humor, gave us another baby?” I can feel some readers cringing. For us, it would be a delight.

At 78 for the first time that I know of, my mom is enjoying reading books other than the Bible, while at 39 I enjoy developing my writing.

As you look on the generation that came before you, are you part of the generation that made improvements or the generation that fell short? Is God calling you to something completely outside of your family’s expectation of you?

God is a Redeemer. That means He can turn a mess into something amazing. Be brave. Even the smallest effort to reach out to Him does not go unnoticed. Whatever your step of faith looks like, do it now, it honors your Creator.

I leave you with this quote:
“It’s better to create something that others criticize than to create nothing and criticize others.” Lecrae.

 

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You can find Blanca’s blog at:

http://bethebridgesc.org/category/blanca_blog/

 

#blancagarcia, ##newweeknewface, #NWNF, #elpuente, #bethebridge

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COLLABORATION AND USING YOUR VOICE

 

Hullo, All, and welcome!

 

Why is your story your story? Why are you writing it and not another author? Or, why are you not writing what so-n-so writes?

 

Because you have a voice. We all have our own unique voice, and our own tales to spin. As much as I love the writing of oh-so-many authors, too many to list, I don’t write what or how they do. Nor should I try. I have my own stories to tell, and like eye-witness accounts, even if another wrote the “same” story, it still wouldn’t be “the same.” Different perspective, different voice. Just like fingerprints or snowflakes.

 

 

How do we discover our writing voice? By writing. Journal, blog, articles, flash-fiction—they all help develop our own unique style and flair. Panache even. The more we write, the more our voice develops.

 

 

In tandem with writing is reading. As conflicting as that sounds, reading others’ prose builds my own. By recognizing similar strengths, by acknowledging a technique another uses—and knowing it doesn’t fit my own repertoire.

 

 

Read in a variety of genres. Don’t lock yourself in to only one. Expand your horizon. I’ve a new favorite author, Jane Ann McLachlan, who writes science fiction—and not only sci fi but other genres as well. I’ve never been a sci fi fan girl but I enjoy Ms. McLachlan’s stories because they are well developed, thought out, and the characters are real and likeable. In other words, she had a solid voice. Horror is definitely not my genre, not to read and not to watch. But for the sake of growing my own craft, I’ll read some Stephen King.

 

 

Of course, my favorite genre to read, historical fiction feeds my mind with so much—historical details, culture come to life. And my own voice grows stronger for it.

 

There is the argument by a few that reading does not strengthen my work but weakens it instead. My argument to that is that dancers all study the great dancers, artists stroll museums and study art books, surgeons observe other surgeons, chefs study other chefs—you get my point. And while we writers are a different breed, the same truth holds for us—we grow in our craft by studying what others have written.

 

 

I’m not alone in this conviction. Over on Writer’s Alley, Ashley Clark writes about this very thing. I share her four key points:

 

 

http://www.thewritersalleyblog.com/2016/04/why-writers-should-be-readers.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheWritersAlley+%28The+Writer%27s+Alley%29

 

 

How, then, does collaboration fit into discovering and developing your own voice? Does that not serve to weaken it even more than “just” reading something someone else wrote?  Not at all.

 

As with reading, collaboration brings to the table fresh insight, a new perspective. It does not change your voice but enhances it. Like the difference of being in bright sunlight, shadows, or the dark of night. Nothing has changed, only the perception of it.

 

Think of a room in your home. What color are the walls? Now think of the same room after dark. Does the color appear the same as it does in daylight? What about with the overhead light on? Or bedside lamp? I know in my house, artificial light gives everything a yellow cast. Photos taken in lamp light turn out dingy looking. But has the actual color of the wall changed? No, it is the same color, but in different light.

 

 

 

It’s the same with your voice. Collaboration simply puts a different light, so to speak, on your voice. It’s still you but with some bling, perhaps. Or deeper resonance, or clearer articulation. You haven’t changed, but your voice is stronger, clearer, more defined.

 

Just as collaboration is about the refining process, so too, is brainstorming.

 

I like the way Susan Tuttle says it over at Seriously Write Blogspot, “During the brainstorming process, a friend becomes the board you throw things against to see if they stick.”

The key points in her article are:

 

 

http://seriouslywrite.blogspot.com/2016/04/bring-someone-into-your-storm-by-susan.html

 

So throw some ideas against that wall. See what sticks. Share your stories with one, with two, with ten people, friends, family, writer allies. And I promise you, in this business, the best are always an ally. Allow your voice to be fine-tuned, like a Stradivarius violin, it only plays the sweetest music when tuned by a master. Paint your story your most brilliant hue and let the light play on it, the shadows, the deep dark. Your color is still there, shining, telling your story.

 

 

Oh, and by the way, this is my voice. This is where I come alive, the design bit, this is my voice in this sea of “how to’s.”

 

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“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”

 

rem

Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas.  Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years.  Her characters face many of these same demons.

 

Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own.  She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
Ms. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.

 

Tessa and Clara Bess, books 1 and 2 in her unsavory heritage series, are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in September, 2016.   Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, http://maryblowers.com, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well.

 

 

#collaborationandusingyourvoice, #storiesbydesign, #writingvoice, #genre, #collaboration, #brainstorming, #craftofwriting, #jamclachlan, #stephenking

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Please give a big welcome to SHARON SROCK.

 

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“Sometimes a woman needs another woman to lean on, to draw strength from, to share her secrets with. Someone who knows the dark moments of her past and loves her anyway. Someone to tell her the truth, even when it stings. Someone to pray for her. Someone to remind her that God still loves her. Those are the stories I tell. Ordinary women, extraordinary faith.”
rem:  Thank you, Sharon for being on my blog this week. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

SHARON:  I was born in California, but I’ve lived all over.  It wasn’t until I was 14 that we moved to Tecumseh, OK. I’ve been in that area ever since.

rem:  I’ve bounced around a lot, too. Tell us three things about yourself.

SHARON:  Purple is my favorite color. I despise reality TV. I like to mow the grass

rem:  Ditto to all three! If you could have any super power what would it be?

SHARON:  Teleportation

rem:  Now that would come in handy! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

SHARON:  Coffee, sweet, chocolate

rem:  Chocolate is ALWAYS good! Star Trek or Star Wars?

SHARON:  Star Trek!! Are you kidding? I have Star Trek uniforms in my closet.

rem:  A true Trekkie! Vacation: beach or mountains?

SHARON:  Beach. I was born close to the water and I think it calls to me (smile)

rem:  What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?

SHARON:  Consistency. I think it’s wonderful when you can look at a person and know that they are the same in or out of your presence. This is a person you can trust.

rem:  Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

SHARON:  Other than the Bible, I’d say TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD. I’ve probably read it a dozen times.

rem:  Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

SHARON:  Spock from Star Trek. He was such a complex character but he had a very human heart.

rem:  There’s that Trekkie again! What would you do if you weren’t writing?

SHARON:  Reading a whole lot more than I get to since I started writing!

rem:  I’m actually reading more since I started writing! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

SHARON:  I’ve had an easy journey compared to a lot of stories I’ve heard. I’ve only been writing for publication for six years. God has been good to me since I decided to obey His call in my life.

rem:  Funny how He works that out! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

SHARON:  I still work full time so I write in whatever bits and snatches of time I can carve from my day. Breaks at work, lunch time. An hour in the evening…computer open in my lap on a road trip. It’s all fair game.

rem:  I can’t fathom working full time (I’m on Disability) and writing, too! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

SHARON:  That first blank page of a new story is a killer. I just start writing and then I edit it until it says what I meant for it to say. I can’t go much further until that first page makes sense.

rem:  Not so different for me, I write, I edit, I write, I edit…til it’s done. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

SHARON:  I think I like the editing. At that point I can finally print it out and have the results of the months of effort in my hands. It’s a tangible reward. The fact that I’m going to mark it up with a red pen doesn’t bother me at all.

rem:  I love holding the results of months of effort in my hands! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

SHARON:  Having my work enjoyed by others. There is no greater blessing for me as a writer than to get a note from a reader, or a review, that says “This story touched me. Or “This story made me think.”

rem:  Or, as I heard last Sunday, “You’re such a great story teller.” What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

SHARON:  When I was writing for a traditional publisher it was the waiting…endless waiting! Submit a story…wait six months. Submit your edits…wait some more. Send off the finished book and wait nine to ten months for it to release. I’m not a good waiter!!!  Since I went indie, things are so much easier. The steps are all still there, but the months have been replace by days!

rem:  Another ditto—I do not wait nicely… What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

SHARON:  Things a new writer must do: Find a good critique partner or group. Join a good writing group. WRITE

Things a new writer shouldn’t do: Be impatient (And man am I preaching to the choir!) Think you can edit your own story…you can’t! Listen to the voices of the nay sayers. This is your dream, not theirs. You CAN do this!

rem:  I like that, “[don’t] listen to the voices of the nay sayers.” I don’t think I’ve had anyone say that before, but it’s so true. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

SHARON:  I tend to wake up with story ideas in my head and voices whispering in my ears. I usually know the beginning and the end when I start. I get to fill in the middle.

rem:  Ditto, one mo’ ‘gin. Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

SHARON:  CALLIE. She was the first, the fulfillment of a dream.

rem:  There is something special about that first book baby, isn’t there? Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

SHARON:  I’d have to say Callie. I knew so little when I started writing. I’d heard that you write what you know. Callie resembles me a lot in physical, work, and relationships. She is also the least like me. She out grew me very quickly and turned into this wise and patient woman. I invented her and now she is who I want to be when I grow up.

 

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rem:  Funny thing, I’ve a character named Callie, too; I’ll read yours if you read mine! Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

SHARON:  I’m starting a new series, Tentatively called SISTERS BY DESIGN. I hope to release the first book before Christmas this year.

rem:  Oh! I love that series title! Please don’t change it… What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

SHARON:  That God loves us despite our fears, our past, our scars. ORDINARY WOMEN, EXTRAORDINARY FAITH.

rem:  Not terribly different to mine, now I think about it! Thanks for joining us today, Sharon. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

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http://www.facebook.com/SharonSrock#!/SharonSrock

https://twitter.com/#!/SharonSrock

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6448789.Sharon_Srock

 

#sharonsrock, #authorinterview, #ordinarywomenextraordinaryfaith, #callie, #terri, #pam, # samantha

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BOOK REVIEW – A FLIGHT OF ARROWS by LORI BENTON

Flight of Arrows (2)FINAL FINAL

 

William Aubrey is not who he was raised to believe he was—the European son of an American British officer. When he discovers that not only is he half Oneida Indian but that he has a twin, his world crumbles and he flees in rage and confusion.

 

Reginald Aubrey has lived in a prison of self-condemnation these twenty years, and cannot accept the love of those around him. Nor, even, the forgiveness of Stone Thrower, the father of the boy he took.

 

As the war escalates, William enlists and finds himself ensconced in the aggressive attack that is descending on the very ones he loves most. Conscience torn, he can neither bring dishonor to his name by desertion nor can he engage fully in the battle, knowing he could kill the man he called father for twenty years. Or, the father he has never known.

 

As William marches against them, both Reginald Aubrey and Stone Thrower have one objective in mind—to get to William and bring him home.

 

Will the war prevail against a family so divided? Will Reginald or Stone Thrower find William unscathed? Can they convince to return to his home—either the European settlement he has called home, or the Oneida village where his mother awaits him. Will he make peace with the truth of who he is?

 

 

Once again, Ms. Benton has tangled a web of horror in the midst of war and unraveled it for the characters in it. My heart thrummed with the firing of muskets, ever wondering, hoping that both fathers and both twins would come face to face. I longed for the restoration of family, even as each character cried and prayed to Creator for the same. Real and raw emotions on every page, love and heartache and fear as the story unfolds. Once again, Ms. Benton has brought characters so believably to life, and crafted a powerful and profound ending, this reviewer is rendered breathless – and in tears.

 

 

I was given a copy of this book in return for my honest review.

 

4covers

 

 

 

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Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, The Wood’s Edge, and A Flight of Arrows.

 

Lori’s website: http://loribenton.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLoriBenton/?fref=ts

https://www.pinterest.com/lorilbenton/pins/follow/?guid=i9wPtuis053y

http://www.amazon.com/Lori-Benton/e/B00BBP9FR2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1460859895&sr=1-2-ent

 

#loribenton, #aflightofarrows, #thewoodsedge, #pathfindersseries, #historicalfiction, #OneidaIndians, #mohawkvalley, #fortstanwix, #oriskany, #burningsky, #pursuitoftamsenlittlejohn

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The Personality of a Writer


I’ve heard it said every field has a type. Doctors tend to be logical and studious. Lawyers argumentative. Teachers nurturing, coaches motivational. Perhaps I’m being cliché, but when it comes to writers, or at least this writer, every cliché appears to have been proven true.

 

The movies depict us as being slightly neurotic, holing up in some remote, windowless room for days on end.

 

Except … that’s totally false. I have a window in front of my desk, thank you very much. And when I’m feeling especially adventurous, I take my laptop into the living room or out on the back porch. And every once in a while, I venture outside, simply to give my neighbors a scare.

 

I’m curious to know if all writers are as reclusive as I am. I would think to some extent, because it’s hard to get work done when one is out gallivanting across town. Unless they’re headed to a coffeehouse.

 

You do know caffeine is the secret ingredient to all creativity, right? Is that another cliché—that writers are notoriously addicted to coffee? If it is, it became cliché for a reason.

 

Now, let’s talk about the idea that all writers are neurotic…

 

Actually, let’s not. Unless you want to tell us how you admire our neurosis. Because it takes a certain amount of crazy to immerse oneself in a world of one’s own making.

 

Does that make literary madness admirable?

 

I’ve also found writers across the board are inherently insecure. This might surprise you, considering we’re so … verbal. And all over cyberspace, on the airwaves, doing signings and talks. We may have over 720,000 words in print with millions more splashed across the Internet, and yet, we still worry about each and every one. I’ve heard this insecurity never goes away we simply become more adept at feigning confidence.

 

Or not.

 

Perhaps stereotypes exist for a reason, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, every field has a personality type. So what’s yours? Do you fit the mold assumed for those in your career or are you deliciously unique? Can you relate to any of the characteristics I admitted to, and if so, what ones?

 

 

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Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for Internet Café Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends, and her personal blog. She also does content editing for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ Firefly imprint, and loves working with authors who are serious about pursuing their calling. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

 

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte

 

Breaking Free:

Sometimes it takes losing everything to grab hold of what really matters.

Women’s ministry leader and Seattle housewife, Alice Goddard, and her successful graphic-designer husband appear to have it all together. Until their credit and debit cards are denied, launching Alice into an investigation that only leads to the discovery of secrets. Meanwhile, her husband is trapped in a downward spiral of lies, shame, and self-destruction. Can they break free from their deception and turn to the only One who can save them? And will it be in time to save their marriage?

 

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Read a free, 33-page excerpt here: http://newhopepublishers.com/2016/02/free-sample-of-breaking-free/

 

Buy it:

Christian Book Distributors: http://www.christianbook.com/breaking-free-a-comtemporary-romance-novel/jennifer-slattery/9781596694682/pd/694682?event=ESRCG

 

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breaking-free-peter-maxwell-slattery/1119735612?ean=9781596694682

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Free-Jennifer-Slattery/dp/1596694688/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Connect with Jennifer

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte

 

Twitter: @Jenslattery

 

See scene location pictures for Breaking Free on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jenslatte/breaking-free/

 

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#jenniferslattery ##newweeknewface, #NWNF, #breakingfree, #whendawnbreaks, #beyondido, #intertwined

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friday feature post - debut banner

 

THE DESIGN PROCESS

 

Hullo, All, and welcome!

 

From last week’s post, “Now, let me be clear, and I offer as this as a disclaimer, a design project cannot be “pantzed,” it must be planned, and meticulously so. There are codes and regulations and specs (specifications) that must be met. You can’t “spec” a flooring product, for instance, and not know how much is needed. All bedrooms must have some form of egress—a means of exit to the outside, whether door or window, whether ground level or high rise or basement.”

 

There is a process that is followed to create a functional and cohesive design. For instance, the site or location plays a part in the final design; a home or office building designed for a sloping lot won’t work on a flat site.

 

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From the website for Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, where I earned my BFA in Interior Design.

http://www.converse.edu/

 

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Visualization and presentation. Kind of like the notion or spark of a story that first niggles in our writerly minds. “Most of the time when we first glimpse a storyline in our mind, it’s faint and nebulous. No form. No edges. There’s a filmy type of character that we want to do this vague kind of thing.” – Angie Arndt, women’s fiction writer. http://www.angelaarndt.com/

That’s so true for me; a name or some phrase that lends to a title, or a setting or storyline—any of these can trigger a whole story; I feel the story before I know it, let alone write it.

 

Back to design—first things first, know the client. As writers, our client is our readers. Who are they? What do they read? Why do they read? Does my story meet their expectations? A designer will meet with the client and discuss the desired end result. As writers, we have social media (right, Edie Melson?) blogs and websites, and newletters to achieve the same basic result. Add to that author events like book signings and maybe we have the advantage.

 

Now, as a reader who reads in multiple genres, my expectations vary from story to story. In the past two weeks I have read ancient Egypt to somewhere in the future to the American Revolutionary War. My expectations were very different for each of these stories.

 

When you know the client / your reader, you can better know where to go with the project or story. As designers, we have the bare bones floor plan, walls, windows, stairs, and we begin with space planning, manipulating the space to create the best design and flow. Is it a work space? A home? A school, or hospital? How is it utilized? In writing, we also “space plan”—who is in it, how deep is the story, time span, location(s)? What is the scope? Novella? A series? Flash fiction?

 

In design, we create a parti, the basic scheme of concept of an architectural design. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/parti

In writing, we also generate a “parti”—an overall story arc, whether or not we are a plotter / planner, a pantser, or somewhere in between, and key elements and sub-plots and arcs.

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                                                                                                                                                       My parti from my capstone project.

 

Is there a special topic that applies to the project? For my Senior Capstone project, an elementary school, the scope was far too vast for one individual, especially within the time limitations of a single semester. I had thought I’d focus on the theatre within the school, and one classroom; as I did my research, however, I discovered collaborative teaching methods, and the value of sunlight in the classroom. Intrigues by the notion, I focused on those in my final design. (I did not end up designing either the theatre or art rooms, but one grade level classroom suite only, so comprehensive did m project become.)

Similarly, is there an angle or special area of interest fitting to your story? I recently read (and reviewed) The Salarian Desert Game by J.A. McLachlan. A futuristic story with interplanetary travel, the field is wide open for special items of special interest—the entire planet, for instance,  that is desert, or the one that was cold and boggy. Ms. McLachlan did a stellar job of keeping her “special interests” legitimate, the transports, the lingo she created, the names, the way of life.

 

Once the project statement is delineated, it’s time to fill in the details. For the plotter / planner, details like color and textile, safety and accessibility codes, sustainability are tacked up on sticky notes or saved in programs like Scrivener. The pantser, however, sails through these details, noting them as I go (this pantser anyway). Who’s who, and who’s related to whom, birthdays, anniversaries, significant events and dates, names of towns, schools, parks; I keep a list of these things to refer back as needed.

 

How does your writing design flow? Where are you in the process? Do you have before you still the blank canvas? Are you 100 words in, 1000? Are you in the first or third in a series, or are you writing stand alone? Is this your first manuscript? Or your twelfth? Do you have a pattern or routine down or does it shift and change with each story? Do you write in one genre, or multiples? Tell me about the design of your writing.

 

 

 

rem

“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”

 

Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas.  Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years.  Her characters face many of these same demons.

 

Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own.  She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
Ms. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.

 

Tessa and Clara Bess, books 1 and 2 in her unsavory heritage series, are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in September, 2016.   Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, http://maryblowers.com, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well.

 

 

#thedesignprocess, #storiesbydesign, #visualizationandpresentation, #knowtheclient, #knowthereader, #genre, #scope, #designparti, #projectstatement

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Author Interview – ROBIN E. MASON (note: this is a repeat because i double-booked my own blog on the day this originally appeared! oopsie!)

 

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Please give a big welcome to—

 

me

 

rem:  Thank you, Robin for being on my blog this week.

Robin: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

rem: Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

Robin: About me. I’m eclectic, I’m a singer and actress and artist, as well as a writer. I have three grown children and two precious grand girls. I was born at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, we moved around a lot—I went from coast to coast and back again before I was even born!—lived sixteen years in Colorado, and now live in the upstate of South Carolina. I’ve been here for 28 years.

rem: Tell us three things about yourself.

Robin: 1) I love all things British and Irish, and I do a pretty good British and Irish accent; my favourite thing to say in accent, is, “I’m born in Mississippi.” 2) I have a twisted sense of humour. But I’m really fun to be with! 3) I had knee replacement nine weeks ago and I couldn’t be more satisfied or excited! (I’ve needed it since, well, forever really.)

 

rem: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?

Robin: Ice cream: chocolate mint, close second, cinnamon swirl. Cookie: snicker doodle, close second, mint chocolate chip.

rem: If you could have any super power what would it be?

Robin: The way Samantha Stevens could speed herself up. I always have so much to do and not enough time to do it. There are two reasons for this: not the best at time management but also I get really tired really easily. (which is changing since my surgery!)

rem: Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?

Robin: Big Bird? ‘cause,  you know, Robin, bird…  (I’m kind of out of the Muppet loop these days)

rem: Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

Robin: Yes. I drink coffee in the mornings, then tea the rest of the time (my blood type is A-tea-positive…..) Definitely not sweetened, coffee or tea. And coffee is cinnamon hazelnut, tea is Pekoe and green tea, no flavors.

 

 

rem: Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer? What are the names of your pets?

Robin: I think I’m part cat. I like dogs okay, but I’ a cat lover. They are, Shadow (the Mama), Trinity Juniper Star, Jasper Jupiter Mars, Jacob Jeremiah, and Princess Penelope Primrose.

 

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rem: Superman or Batman?

Robin: Batman. Hello? Robin here….. #sorryhadto

rem: Vacation: beach or mountains?

Robin: Give me my mountains. #rockymountainhigh

rem: What is your most treasured possession?

Robin: Of things it would be my birthstone ring. It’s a pink amethyst, which is a rare color variation. My mother’s father bought it in 1919, forty years before I was born.

rem: What is your greatest fear?

Robin: Oddly enough, my fear used to be success not failure. Failure I knew, success terrified me.

rem: What is your greatest regret?

Robin: Being afraid of success for so many years.

rem: What is your favourite quotation and why?

Robin: There are so many that I identify with but given my aforementioned fear of success, this one speaks to me deeply: “What if I fail? Oh, but my darling what if you fly?” attributed to Erin Hanson (see greatest fear and regret)

 

 

 

rem: What do you do as a hobby?

Robin: Does research count? LOL When I’m not writing or reading, I like to paint and draw, I love to be outdoors and go for long walks. (which I’ll be able to do without pain as recovery from surgery progresses!) I also love to cook and bake.

rem: What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?

Robin: Genuineness. Don’t play games with me, be real. Qualities that make a man or woman are integrity, honesty, compassion. Oh, and a sense of humour!

rem: When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

Robin: The story has to be real, plausible even fantasy and sci fi. And it has to be well told.

rem: Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

Robin: Ummmm…. let me get back to you on that one…. I read few more than once.

rem: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Robin: Too cliché to say Robin Hood?

rem: If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?

Robin: Too cliché to say Maid Marian?

rem: Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

Robin: Favorite genre, easy, historical fiction, Biblical fiction in particular. Favorite authors include Tessa Afshar, Marian Merritt, Kristen Heitzmann, Valerie Comer, newcomer Connilyn Cossette—it’s a long list…

rem: Which is more important: plot or characters?

Robin: Yes. According to DiAnn Mills, “They are inseparable.” (from my interview with her on 28 January) The way I see it, one feeds the other.

 

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rem: What would you do if you weren’t writing?

Robin: Wishing I was. I’ve my BFA in Interior Design and I love doing it. But writing fits me like nothing ever has.

 

rem: Tell us a little about your writing journey.

Robin: I started writing in 1995 as a self-prescribed therapy; I was going through some pretty intense self-examination at the time, going to counseling and on anti-depressant. The writing “came” to me, naturally, and turned into something so much more. I started with my story (which will never see publication) and over the years, have written dozens of poems. In July of 2008, the opening of Tessa, my debut novel, came to me. I made a bit of a start, then lost a chunk (digital malfunction) and I abandoned it. I also went back to school, started with the 2009 spring semester, and that didn’t leave much time for writing (I was also diagnosed with RA during this time.) After graduation, and the anticipated illustrious career in Interior Design did not manifest, I set back to my writing; I got serious about it somewhere around September of that year, and by end of January 2014, Tessa was complete. The rest, as they say, is history.

rem: What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

Robin: Routine, not so much. Although, the muse seems strongest in the afternoon and evening. (In fact, I just set myself an alarm for 5:00—I feed the fur babies at about 5:30 and was so into writing I missed it. Looked up and it was after six! Of course, this also means my supper is later rather than earlier…)

In preparation for surgery, I had to rearrange my living room (technically, two wonderful friend did this for me, and wouldn’t even let me help!) I now have a niche with my writing accoutrements at hand—I “nest” as I write and need everything within easy reach—and it works very well for me. Almost officey looking even.

 

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rem: What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

Robin: Discipline? Focus? Staying off of Facebook….  (yeeps) Once I get into my storyline, at whatever point that might be, it’s pretty golden, and words flow. It’s just that “jump” over that hurdle; I think all writers struggle with this at one time or another.

rem: Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

Robin: Yes. Like plot and character, they are, for me, inseparable. There is the school of thought that you write the first draft without so much as glancing back over it at all, at all. I can’t do that, I need to review, see where I’ve been to get the feel for where it’s going. And yes, I edit as I go. Same principle.

rem: What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Robin: The stories. As a plantzer  I don’t know [most of] the story until I write it. I know the general arc, and where the story needs to go to resolution, but how it gets there—no clue until the characters tell me!

 

 

rem: What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

Robin: The hardest? I had no clue what I was doing. The easiest? I had a friend who did!

rem: What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

Robin: DO: 1) Keep writing. 2) Network. Get involved in writing communities, both live and online. Be involved in the writing journey of other writers. 3) Never give up. 4) Don’t compare yourself – your writing or your journey – to another writer. What works, or fits, for one will and necessarily be the best plan for you. 5) One more nugget, which most writers accept as par for the course. Read. Read. And read some more. I have read some that were not what I would have otherwise read, and found that I quite enjoyed them. Like any other field, we are ever learning and growing, and honing our craft. (okay that was more than three… )
DON’T: 1) Ever give up. 2) Forego the value of editing! Or professioinal cover design. No one person can do it all. As an artist, it was hard to let go of my concept for my cover, but in the end I’m very happy with my covers! (designed by Victorine Lieske, by the way) 3) (don’t) take criticism personally. A good critique will have issues that may or may not hurt our feelings, but to produce the best we can produce, we must have more than our own eyes on our work.

rem: Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

Robin: Yes. Anywhere and everywhere. The most random thing can trigger a new story, a name, a concept…

rem: What do you like most about being a writer?
Robin: The creative process, which really isn’t much of a process at all. It’s amorphic, fluid, ever changing. While I know I need the [ahem] discipline, as a creative, this flexibility serves me well. I really love being able to tell a story that others enjoy reading. And as I’ve cast my networking net, I am thriving on the community of writers I am now part of!
rem: Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

Robin: Third book in, and I could no more pick a favorite than I could choose a favorite between my children!

rem: Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

Robin: Cassie. She didn’t know her own amazing talent and ability. She didn’t loathe herself as I did, but neither did she know her worth, or really who she was; she felt invisible, and I very much relate to that.

rem: Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

Robin: Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy are all part of the unsavory heritage series. When I wrote Tessa, I had no idea of a sequel, let alone a series. Father God, however, had a plan. Cissy is the culmination of the generational story. It is where the “unsavory” begins, and loops back and forth between the 1860’s and current day; it is also the resolution of the unsavory heritage.

 

slide 7

 

rem: Why do you write Christian fiction?
Robin
: For me it’s an opportunity to express my faith without being “preachy.” There’s a time and place for traditional witnessing, but to me the greater value and effect is being real in what I believe and living my life accordingly; indeed, this opens the door for direct ministry. For me to be able to write the way I write – which I cannot market as Christian Fiction because of a few “no-no” words – and yet I am a Christian and I am an author, so my faith is in every word I write (yes, even “those” words) and my story conveys what I believe. In the grander scheme, Christian fiction is a platform that readers hold in their hands, and they may confront a Truth they never realized or understood before. If something I write gives a reader pause, plants a seed, or waters a seed planted, then my story is a success.
rem: What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

Robin: Know who you are, and why you were created. Identity is from Father God, and He will bring us to our purpose.

rem: How do you hope your readers react to your stories?
Robin
: Like any other author, I hope readers fall in love with my characters. I hope they find some truth, something that speaks to them in the words I write. I hope some facet of my story rings true with my readers.

 

rem:  Thanks for joining us today, Robin. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

 

#robinemason, #authorinterview, #interivewselfie, #unsavoryheritageseries, #tessa, #larabess, #cissy

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