There are a lot of folks out there who don't pursue their dreams because they believe they're missing the creativity gene needed to reach their goals. It is my belief that everyone has the ability to be creative. They only need a little inspiration.
When I was younger, my twin sister often said "you're the creative one", because I liked to draw, paint, write stories and I rarely let a picture in my coloring books go blank. My sister was the one we believed had more of an analytical side.
I got an English degree focusing on literature. She got an English degree focusing on grammar. I lost count of how many times I told her she had creativity, she just needed the right inspiration.
So, let me tell you about an analytical woman who got inspired. My twin makes quilts. Her quilts are absolutely lovely. Each quilt takes time and a lot of work, not to mention the loving care and precision it takes to place all those pieces together. I would never have the patience for that!
Nearly everyone in our family has a quilt made with love by Jerrie. So, since next month is our birthday (how many people can say that?), I thought I'd share a few photos of her creations. I tried to encourage her to sell some. Her response was that she makes them because she wants to, not because she has to. I lost count of how many projects she's working on. It reminds me of how many stories I have going. I think when you're inspired to create, no matter what course it takes, then it's impossible to just turn it off. I'm glad of that. Anyway, Happy Early Birthday, twin of mine!
After four years of writing, my fourth novel, Siren’s Secret, was bought by Harlequin Nocturne and will be released in November.
What a journey the last few months have been!
Yes, it’s exciting and wonderful and, most important for me, validation that I must be doing something right with my work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve attended conferences or taken courses only to panic at the detailed analysis of GMC and the hero’s journey. Incredibly helpful stuff, but often left me panicked that I wasn’t smart enough to get all if it in my story. But I’ve learned that if you are a bookworm, you are soaking up story structure and use it when you write a novel, whether you are conscious of it or not.
So onto lessons learned in having your
first novel published.
1. Expect revisions. I was dumbfounded when I got my first revision letter. For years I worked on how to write. Revising is a whole different skill set. It’s deconstructing your work on a grand scale.
2. Have your social media and marketing in place.
I thought having a website, Facebook page, a Facebook Author page and a working familiarity with Twitter was plenty. It’s a start, but not near enough. My computer skills are lacking and even when I know what I should be doing – like setting up a newsletter signup on my webpage – I don’t know how to do it.
3. Time Management.
In hindsight, the past four years of writing were a hobby – albeit a passionate one – and not a business. Now I am not only writing and marketing but with just three weeks left until my book hits the shelf, I’m on a deadline for finishing the revisions for the contracted book two of the series.
4. The specifics.
I’ve got two wonderful marketing resources to get you started. One is free and the other 99 cents. Visit author Valerie Bowman’s website http://www.valeriegbowman.com/for-writers/ and purchase her e-book, Painless Marketing for Busy Authors, for just 99 cents. Then check out writer Marcia James free information for writers on her website at http://www.marciajames.net/. Request her free marketing information and she’ll send you two 400-word files loaded with information.
5. More specifics.
Do a Goodreads giveaway SIX weeks before your book is published. The best way to create preorder buzz is through them. On your amazon author central page, post excerpts of positive reviews because that is the only way potential readers will see them on that site.
6. Develop relationships.
This takes time but do all you can to meet fellow writers and pick their brains. Talk to someone who’s been through the publishing process and ask them what they did right and what they did wrong.
I hope this information helps someone else about to be published or prepares those not-yet-published writers. If you’re published, please share any tips for the rest of us! If not, what kind of burning questions do you have about the process?
My book, Siren's Secret, is available for preorder on Amazon. It's published by Harlequin Nocturne and will be released digitally on Novmber 1. On November 5, it will be in print wherever most books are sold.
Facebook: Debbie Herbert Author Page
Empathy - the ability to share in another’s emotions, thoughts, or feelings.
A few years ago I joined my first professional writers group, Romance Writers of America. I was amazed at how kind and supportive everyone was. Empathy among this group of writers was evident, in spades. I’ve heard writers say, fellow writers are the only people who know what you’re going through. That may be true, but there was something else. Never had I seen this type of camaraderie with my other jobs.
I began to wonder, what was the cohesiveness that made this group different? It didn’t exist among my fellow workers when I was a nurse, (which should have been some of the most kind and caring people on earth.) No one but another nurse could possibly understand the stress you’re under. Nor was it there when I was a hairdresser, or the numerous jobs I held when I was young.
To become a good nurse, you must learn to distance yourself from the patients you care for. If you didn’t, you couldn’t be effective at your job. You would be an emotional mess. As a hairdresser, you hear a lot of customer’s problems. And again, you must distance yourself.
Then, it dawned on me that as a writer, you must do the opposite. When I finished the first draft of my first novel, and started looking for my character arcs, I realized how deeply I cared about them, as if I had lived their story right along with them. I’d cry when they cried, laugh when they laughed, and felt their excitement with their first kiss. I had an epiphany. To write a character well, you put yourself in his or her shoes. You feel what they feel - you are empathetic.
I'm not saying other professions have no empathy. What I am saying, is to be an effective writer, we must develop empathetic personalities. I believe it’s why we’re more in tune to our fellow writers. We not only have first-hand knowledge of what they’re going through, we feel their struggle, their frustration in that difficult scene, their fear of rejection, and heartache when it comes. And if we develop this character trait well, we can take our readers on that same journey, making them feel the same empathy toward our characters and story as we feel.
I’ve enjoyed being a member of RWA and the wonderful group of writers I’ve found there. I joined my local chapter to get one-on-one face time and support. I also joined my subgenre chapter (Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal.) And then I joined another group I’ve enjoyed, Savvy Authors. I’ve met some amazing people and made life- long friends. In all my years, and professions, I’ve never met a more empathetic, supportive group of worldwide co-workers. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
If you’re a writer, and you’ve held off on joining a group of like-minded people, give it a try. You won’t regret it.
If you have questions about any of these writing groups, please leave a comment. Even if you don’t, I’d love to meet you, too.
Until next time,
As promised, I’m sharing with you some highlights from my recent trip to the UK. Although the plane trip to London was over 8 hours long, it seemed shorter. I think it was due to the rapidly building excitement of finally fulfilling a lifelong dream of visiting London, England. Once we arrived, we did the normal travel duties (checking maps, exchanging money, running outside to grin like madwomen that we had arrived) and then off to our trip on the tube (subway) towards our hotel designation. Of course, being Potter fans, we located
a hotel situated right off King’s Cross Station. As such, our first stop was the 9 ¾ platform set up exclusively in the train station for such enthusiasts. For four days and three nights, we walked and walked all over London. When our feet tired, we took a bus or the tube. See photo here that shows those Brits help out
the directionally challenged (which saved us a TON of time). Ha!
But, mostly, we walked. I will be posting additional photos once I get them from my daughter. In the meantime, I’ll share here the ones I took on my phone. Our very first stop was the British Library (I’m a writer, so of course this was the first stop)!
The London Bridge was another one of our first day stops. It, of course, was not as beautiful as the Tower Bridge. Most Americans, I heard, confuse the two. The London Bridge is more modern with the Tower Bridge being the one that most associated with London.
Of course, we watched the tourists heading into the Tower of
London. We tried the traditional dish of “fish and chips”, with chips being French fries, not American potato chips. Those are referred to as crisps. We took a tour of the Globe Theater and watched a rehearsal in progress. Beautiful! The weather was cool, but not cold and the River Thames was everything I thought it would be. As I am currently writing Regency Romance, this was a great opportunity to do some research on actual locations of specific places (Vauxhall Gardens, Hyde Park, etc.). More to come on my next blog!
Remember, dreams can come true. This is proven by my trip and the fact that my best friend and co-blogger Debbie Herbert’s debut book is coming out in November! Dreams just require some work, that’s all. If you have been to London, or anyplace you’ve dreamed about, I’d love to hear about it.
Today I want to welcome Gioconda Lyss who is celebrating the release of her
first novel which debuts this Friday. "Heaven on Earth" is Gioconda Lyss'
first erotic novella. She lives in Nevada with her husband, two wonderful
children, and the world's most spoiled cat and dog. You can find her on the web at http://www.giocondalyss.com/
Gwen McAllister and Desmond Blankenship have both had their share of disappointment
in love and marriage. Gwen is a divorced woman who swears never to love again.
Desmond is a businessman who finds his wife in bed with a friend. The two meet
at a party in Phoenix and soon begin a long-distance relationship. While Desmond
knows Gwen is the woman he wants to be with, Gwen is reluctant about facing her
feelings for Desmond. Just when Desmond is ready to declare his true feelings
for Gwen, Gwen’s life take an unexpected turn. Leticia Martinez, Gwen’s long-
time friend and occasional lover, makes an unexpected visit. At first, Leticia
and Desmond express an instant dislike for one another. Will Gwen have to choose
between the two people she loves the most, or will they make the relationship
work for all three of them?
The author has stopped by today to tell us more about herself and her book.
First, Gioconda, I'd like to know the significance of your beautiful name.
Thank you, Debbie for having me as a guest on your blog today. My name, Gioconda, is another name for Mona Lisa, which is my real name. When I decided that I wanted to write erotic romance and that I was going to do it under nom de plume, the name Gioconda Lyss came to mind and …I liked it. I thought that it had a nice ring to it, and that it also sounded different and charming.
“Heaven on Earth”, your novel, is being published by Secret Cravings. Tell us the special celebration party you have planned on your Facebook page.
I have invited my friends and family to celebrate
the release of “Heaven on Earth” in a virtual party on Facebook, Saturday between
10:00-11:30. There will be prizes and I am sure that everybody will have a great
How long have you been writing and is this your first finished book? Do you write other genres?
I have been writing all my life, it seems, but only considered making it into a profession five years or so
ago. I published short stories in the Fantasy/ Sci-Fi genre before moving into
the Romance genre. I find erotic romance such a wonderful and fun genre to write
in and I absolutely love and adore everything about it. I plan to write in it
for a long time, though I also consider going back to fantasy in a few years,
and finish some projects that reside in my computer and have not yet seen the
light of day.
What inspired you to write this book? Are there more planned in the same genre?
“Heaven on Earth” is about a plus-sized woman who finds love and fulfils her wildest fantasies with the two
people that she loves the most. I wrote “Heaven” as homage to all plus-sized
women out there and to tell them that it’s okay to have curves, a crazy,
wonderful sex life and find love in the process. I am working on a “French” series: I have
completed “The French Model” and I am now working on “The French Virgin” which I
intend to have done by the end of the month. In the series I have also planned
“The French Maid”, “French Kiss”, “The French Tart”, and “The French Star”.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I am looking forward to seeing all of you at the party and I want to thank you for
the opportunity to talk about “Heaven on Earth”. You can find me at http://www.giocondalyss.com/
Wishing you much success, Gioconda!
For Friday the 13th, DH and I went on a little motorcycle road trip to Elberton, Georgia to visit what’s billed as an American Stonehenge. Okay, we didn’t realize the trip coincided with the 13th, but the date fit perfectly with the mysterious theme of the granite megaliths. The huge slabs are etched with a set of ten principles and the original owner, or owners, are unknown. No one knows why this was erected and why it’s located in a rural north Georgia field.
When people told us it was out in a field in the middle of nowhere, they weren’t exaggerating. Our GPS wasn’t working and I thought we’d never find it. There are no road signs marking the monument location and entry to it is on a dirt road. We arrived mid-morning and the only other person there was an elderly man in a pickup truck. My husband spoke to him and asked if he knew anything about the stones. He didn’t. My husband – who heard it theorized the owner was a Rosicrucianist – then asked him if he was Rosicrucian. The man crinkled his face and asked if ‘Rosicrucian’ was a type of truck, because the only trucks he ever bought were Fords.
No enlightenment there. While we explored the guidestone, I was always aware of the old man as he sat in his truck and watched us the whole time. Perhaps a secret protector of the stones?
We read information carved on a separate stone structure off to the side of the monument. The guidestone was built in 1980 and its owner is unknown. The structure consists of six granite slabs, and is just over nineteen-feet tall. As you can see from the picture, there is a center slab surrounded by four others and topped by a capstone. The structure is built to be astronomically correct. On each of the four outer slabs is a set of ten guidelines, etched in English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian. The top capstone has inscriptions in Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The principles it espouses are mostly universal – with the huge exception of number one. My husband has heard rumors that the original owner or owners believed a catastrophic event would befall earth and reduce the world’s population to under half a million.
1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
9. Prize truth -- beauty -- love -- seeking harmony with the infinite.
10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
My favorite principle is number nine, while my husband’s is number seven.
After about twenty minutes of arriving, a group of motorcyclists dropped by and we chit-chatted a bit before taking our leave. I have no idea how many visitors the guidestone gets, perhaps nobody does – with the possible exception of the old truck driver.
Sadly, I have to report that neither of us felt a single woo-woo vibe. Not even a tiny tingle as we ran fingers over the inscribed words. Still, it was a fun trip and if you are ever in the area check it out.
Have you ever visited a place where you felt a special connection to history or the earth?
Hey there Plus Ones!
I leave this week for England, Scotland, and Wales! I am super excited to finally be making a trip overseas. One of the biggest things I am looking forward to this week is all the tea and biscuits I will be indulging in.
While in school, I came across a great recipe for butter tea cookies that are easy to make, versatile for every occasion, and very delicious. So I leave you with this recipe and I will think of all of you while I am
having my own tea and biscuits. See you when I get back!
Butter Tea Cookies
Oven Temp: 375 F
Baking Time: about 10 min
Butter (or half butter and half shortening) 12 oz.
Granulated Sugar 6 oz.
Confectioners’ sugar 3 oz.
Eggs 4.5 oz.
Vanilla extract 1 tsp.
Cake Flour 1 lb. 2 oz.
Paddle butter and sugar until smooth. The paste should have the look of smooth peanut butter. Add eggs and vanilla a little at a time until fully incorporated. Then add the flour. Put dough into a bad and pipe out small cookies about the size of a quarter, (You can use a star tip or a plain tube as well), onto an ungreased or parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until golden on the edges.
My favorite are to create an indent on the top of the cookie and fill it with jam then bake them. There are so many variations you can do with this cookie. Get creative and let me know how they work out!
I am, once again, late in my post. I am, once again, blessed with the best co-bloggers ever for their patience. I am, once again, dreaming and wondering. I have been to many workshops for the writing craft, as well as classes for my own personal curiosity on the meaning and value of dreaming.
There are so many explanations and opinions on why we dream what we do. I am not an expert. I can only share my curiosity. Some say we dream to explore or work out situations subconsciously. Some say it's simply escapism. Dream of things that can never be to give ourselves the opportunity to experience...or rather imagine the experience of a situation or place we'd love to see or visit, but will never have the means to do.
I think it's a bit of both, all and parts. I know that I have, oftentimes used dreaming to help me figure out a problem with my current story I'm writing. I have even uses it to evaluate various outcomes of a situation I'm, personally, trying to work out. Some times (and these are the best), I just dream of the impossible. Or, so I think the impossible.
The photo above is the view that I had each morning for five days when I visited my son in Hawaii. He's a Marine stationed there. It's the early morning hour and the sun hasn't yet risen, but the sky is getting lighter. Every morning of that visit, I would sit and look at this view and listen to the ocean. I never imagined I would ever visit there. It was only a mini dream when watching a movie or television show and I'd see Hawaiian views and think to myself "Boy, that would be nice. Not that it would ever happen." And then, it did!
While growing up, I have always dreamed of visiting England and Scotland. As I've said in my prior posts, I am actually going this year for my birthday. In 8 days...count it, EIGHT days, I will be on a plane headed for England. I will see Stonehenge in real life, not photos. I will see a real life Scottish castle. I will walk in Wales. It will be the realism of a long time dream of mine. Will the reality meet the dreams? We'll see!
(Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Webster defines creative as:
1.) Creating, or the ability to create.
2.) Stimulating the imagination.
3.) The ability to blend different elements to create a new entity.
Creative thinkers are able to put ideas together in new or unique ways.
We often think of artist, musicians, and writers as creative people. When actually, what these people did was work hard to develop their passion for art, music, and reading. Without creative thinking we wouldn’t have Van Gogh, Bach, or Dickens.
I’ve heard people say, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” I don’t believe that’s true. Just because you’re not famous, doesn’t mean you lack creativity. Whenever you decorate your home, pick out clothes, plan meals or add that extra ingredient to a recipe, you’re following the definition of creative thinking above, “Putting ideas together in a new or unique way.”
Creative thinking starts when we’re young. For instance, toddlers are very creative. They constantly talk to imaginary people on a toy phone. Much the same way writers interact with imaginary characters. Toddlers can pull out their mother’s pots and pans, cook a meal and feed it to their teddy bear, all with their imaginations.
As we grow up, our creativity sometimes becomes inhibited because we fear failure or looking foolish. Fear is probably one of the biggest factors for not pursuing our dreams. As a writer, at times I’ve experienced an almost debilitating fear of never getting published. To get back to writing, I’ll read a book on craft, or take a short class. For me, it’s like a confidence boosting prescription that squashes fear. There’s a new writer’s term for you, (fear-squasher!)
It’s important to encourage a child's imagination. Their creativity develops through play, even if it’s something as simple as coloring, listening to music, a story, or playing with legos. To nurture a child’s interest or passion, is giving them courage to become great. And let's face it, we all need a little greatness in our lives.
I’d love to know what activities you use to eliminate fear. No matter what people say about fear, it’s one thing we all have in common.
Until next time,
I decided to take this week off from my recent series of post on the ‘History of Vampires’ to talk about someone I love… my cat, Jenks. I say someone because Jenks doesn’t know he’s actually a cat.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Dogs have masters, and cats have servants.” Well, that explains our relationship perfectly. While my dog is thankful for his home, Jenks believes the house belongs to him. He just lets us live there to fill the food bowl and empty the liter box. After-all, he wasn’t some stray that had to beg for his home the way the dog did. I actually went to a pet store and picked him over all those other kittens. He believes he’s entitled to his throne. If he only knew I spent a small fortune at the vet last week because the dog’s allergic to flees.
Last month I returned home after five days at the Romance Writers of America Conference in Atlanta. Jenks followed me to the bedroom to drop my luggage, all the while pretending to feign for my attention. When I sat down to oblige, he jumped onto my lap for what I assumed to be “I’m so happy to see you love.” What I got was a hard nip on the hand. Of course I scolded him, which didn’t faze him in the least. He promptly proceeded to purr and rub against my legs. And just like that, it was out of his system. Jenks, in his weird little way, let me know he wasn’t happy I’d left him. But to make up for my punishment, the next few days he lavished me with near constant love.
You may think I'm giving the cat too much credit. He can’t talk and tell me what he’s thinking. But, I’m a firm believer that when you raise an animal from a baby you develop a special bond. You learn there is meaning behind every action and reaction. You just need to pay attention.
At the risk of being pegged ‘the cat lady’ (I only have one, by the way) my father used to say he'd never seen an animal that didn't like me, or I them. He often told people about the time when I was five years old and tamed six wild kittens inside my grandfather's barn, which I wouldn’t recommend. Can anyone say cat-scratch fever? Yeah, it not just a song title-- it actually exist.
In case you’re wondering how Jenks got his name. When I got him I was reading Kim Harrison’s ‘The Hollows Series’ which I do recommend. There was a character I adored named Jenks. He was a loveable pixie who at times could be quiet cantankerous. Little did I know when I named my new kitten after him, their personalities would be so similar.
Do you have a pet with a special way of letting you know when they’re unhappy with you? If so, I’d love to hear about it. We all love our pets, even when they punish us for being bad parents.
Until next time,
Mia & Jenks