Tuesday, June 25, 2013

'Be Ye Perfect'

I have not had commercial television in my home for over ten years. The new condo came with it, so I have been flipping through channels, checking out current programming. My general reaction; ‘Holy Carp!’

I have watched some HGTV. Hey it’s helpful as I try to decorate an unfurnished condo in ‘early thrift store’. I became distracted by a show titled ‘House Hunters’, about young people (mid twenties) looking to buy their first house. What shocked me was the budget these people would come up with; anything from $300,000 to $850,000. Are you kidding me?

OK, my basic comment on this is; it lead to a conversation about what would be the catchphrase to describe this lifestyle. Well, you know me…I came up with ‘Be Ye Perfect’.

‘Be Ye Perfect’ comes from the Bible (not surprised, are you?). It’s in the New Testament, Matthew 5:48. In the KJV it reads “Be ye therefore perfect, even as you’re Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  Lest there be any doubt this is Jesus speaking. I don’t intend this post to be a Sunday School Lesson, but I do believe that every soul alive today has a spark of the divine within them, and I believe it’s this admonition  that drives so many to serious distraction. Let me explain.

The world seems to be running to and fro in an absolute feeding frenzy of materialism. Everybody wants more and better all of the time. I don’t mean to argue with a desire to better yourself, be more comfortable, move on up, but I do wonder why people are willing to plunge themselves into unimaginable debt to achieve this perceived perfection.

It’s my belief that true perfection as a person is most likely not attainable in this lifetime (I suppose that’s a real problem for the person who doesn’t belie in any sort of afterlife). It’s a process. I also believe that this life is our opportunity to begin that process and be on track to achieve that perfection which our Father in Heaven desires for us. I also believe that, just maybe, it’s that spark of the divine that resides within each and every one of us, that drives us to search out and try to create perfection within our lives by having bigger, better, and more, as opposed to seeking an inner perfection of our spirits.

I don’t believe for a minute that perfection lies within a huge mortgage payment, or an outrageous car payment, or the perfect hairstyle, wardrobe or even nose job. True perfection that speaks to our divine spark spawns kindness, love and empathy for our fellow men. True perfection comes when we love enough to set aside our petty wants and desires to help someone else achieve their hopes and dreams. It’s not envy, or malice, or retribution of any sort, but forgiveness and an ability to move on in our lives from those situations and people who have wronged us.

For those of you who are still with me, I say ‘Thank You’ for indulging me as I try to reaffirm my personal beliefs. I place myself in a situation where I’m forced to start completely over (a lot) and sometimes that really frustrates me. I’ve been feeling frustrated lately, with my big move. I love the place I live, but things are not perfect. I need to keep reminding myself exactly what I believe about perfection and the admonition to ‘Be Ye Perfect’. I may need to buy one of those trite little signs that hang in every gift shop around here that says ‘If you’re lucky enough to live at the lake, you’re lucky enough’.

As I try to perfect my spirit, I do know I’m lucky and loved and blessed.

Just though you might want to know what I’ve been thinking.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I’ve been plagued with computer problems and an inability to get to the things I really want. So, today instead of getting up early and preparing my blog post, I’ve spent most of the day visiting and commenting at friends sites when I should be working. Now that I’m finally getting around to it, it’s late and I really have to get some real work done. So, I’m going to just post a few pictures that I’ve taken of the new locale and let you see just how beautiful it is up here.

First, here’s a bronze of my ole friend Mark Twain, he spent some time in the area. If you haven’t already read ‘Roughing It’, what are you waiting for? It’s the book when MT chronicles his time in the west, Virginia and Carson Cities in particular. His wit and prose are every bit as entertaining as in those stories of Tom and Huck on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi and you will learn a whole lot about this area.

The beaches here are beautiful and the water is every bit as clear as the Caribbean, although not as warm. I’m hoping that it’s a bit unseasonable cold for this time of year, because I’m  now wearing every bit of clothing I brought with me from the island ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I do own warmer clothes, but they are stored in Idaho and won’t make their way to Nevada until after the 4th of July.

Remember this famous map burning up at the opening each week of a long running TV show? Remember the name and who the four principal characters were?

Perhaps this will help:

Yep, the Ponderosa Ranch is just up the road apiece from where I live.

Hope you enjoyed the scenic tour, now for some business. D.L. Hammonds over at Cruising Altitude 2.0 is once again hosting ‘Write Club’. This is an excellent way to get 500 of your best words out into the light of day for a little gentle critique and a contest to see ‘who is the last writer standing’.

If I try to explain it all you’ll be more confused than a chameleon on a madras shirt, so head on over and check it out for yourself. Just click HERE. Then sit yourself down and either pull 500 words from your current WIP or whip up some new ones and send in an entry. You know you want to.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

'Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes'

Go ahead, listen to Jimmy while I talk, eventually it will all make sense.

As most of you know, for the past three years, I’ve been living on an island in the Caribbean. The island of St. Croix, Santa Cruz, Isle of the Holy Cross. St. Croix is the largest of the three islands that make up the United States Virgin Islands, a US Territory, but don’t let that fool you they still like to operate like a third world country on many different levels.

Before I get too far and start to sound too critical, let me say this; Island life is not for everybody, as for me I adapted pretty well. I was getting used to endless summer, gorgeous beaches, an extremely high cost of living, and not being out too late at night due to the high rate of crime. BUT, apparently ‘I was born under a wandering star’. I get itchy feet and have just got to get on to the next adventure.

There is a very real disease easily contacted in the Caribbean, it’s called ‘Blue Water Fever’. It’s said that once you live on the Blue Water if you leave you will spend the rest of your life trying to get back. Well, I don’t like to back track, so I figured that if I was going to leave I needed to find me some ‘other’ Blue Water.

On May 28th, I spent sixteen hours up in the air on four different planes trading this ~

For this ~

Crazy, huh? I just had to get me back to the mountains. If you don’t recognize those pictures the first is Cane Bay on the north shore of St.Croix. The second is Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe. Emerald Bay happens to be in California, but I live on the north shore in Nevada.

Like Jimmy says:

It's these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane

So…this is why I’ve been a little distracted lately. I’m trying to get everything back together and my life on track. Jet lag and a change in altitude (going from sea level to about 7,000 feet) have really been kicking my butt. Buying a vehicle, looking for work and just generally finding my way around has taken up a whole lot of time, but I think I’m gonna make it. I sure am loving it here so far.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Today I’m hosting Donna Weaver on her Book Tour for ‘A Change of Plans’. This is my first time doing this sort of thing, so don’t hold it against Donna. I asked her if she would tell us something about the publishing process and because Donna is awesome, what follows is a pretty comprehensive breakdown. I’m gonna turn the time over to her and let you enjoy. When you’re finished, I have a paragraph or two of my IWSG post tacked on at the end. Enjoy!

First and foremost, write a dang book. All the way to the end. With modern word processors, it's easy to edit (not painless, but the physical process is simple). You won't have anything to publish if you never finish your book.
 I think everyone's publishing journey is going to be a little different. Much of that depends upon the goals for each writer--will you only be happy if you land an agent and publish with one of the big houses, do you want the more intimate experience of working with a smaller press, or are you willing to go gung ho and do the self-publishing route.
 I think the key to any of it is to get educated and get connected. Not all that long ago, being a writer could be a very solitary experience. With the advent of the Internet, it's a different world. Go to a writing conference and meet other writers. The writing community is a wonderfully encouraging and supportive one. They need you, and you need them. If you can't afford to attend a conference in person, there's a wonderful one called Write On Con (http://writeoncon.com/)--all done online. Find and follow the blogs of other writers, both published and those in your shoes. Makes friends. Read and consider. Join writing groups where fellow writers share ideas and experiences.
This is what I did. I'm fortunate to live in a state that's rich in the publishing industry, and there are many opportunities to attend writing workshops or conferences. The first one I attended was Utah Valley University's Book Academy. Then I joined an online critique group through author David Farland's writing forum: http://farlandswritersgroups.com/. Through one of my fellow members, I found out about Life, the Universe, and Everything (http://ltue.net/)--a huge writing symposium--three long days of amazing classes for $30. You provide your own food and lodging, but that's still a killer deal.
A few months later I attended LDStorymakers and my first critique "bootcamp". With my online critique group, I'd already learned quite a lot. That was scary enough. Bootcamp meant bringing 10-15 pages of my manuscript and reading it before my peers and they then critiquing it in person. I met some wonderful people that day I'm still in contact with.
I joined writing groups: League of Utah Writers, Authors Incognito (open to people who have attended a Storymakers conference), and American Night Writers Association (ANWA). The first group meets monthly for critiquing and classes. AI has an online group and a Facebook group as does ANWA. They share news, ask questions, and commiserate with each other.
This was when I became a fly on the wall, so to speak. AI and ANWA both have published as well as aspiring authors. They share experiences (good and bad) in the industry. You can learn a lot by reading about what others are going through, things you could be faced with in the future. You discover resources you didn't know about. I watched and I listened.
One thing I decided was that, at my age (I'm a grandmother), I don't have time to wait eight or ten years to be published by one of the big publishers. That's assuming it didn't take me that many years just to find an agent. For me, it was all about the experience. I've heard real horror stories about how some publishers treat their authors like so much slave labor, never listening to their concerns or suggestions--changing their books without consulting them. I didn't want that kind of experience.
I'd written and rewritten (and rewritten) my book as I gleaned more knowledge and critiques. I wrote other books. I spent two months studying how to write a query and writing and editing mine, including submitting it to Matt over at The Quintessentially Questional Query Experiment. Not only is Matt kind and diplomatic, he's spot on. He then opens it up to his blog followers so you can get further input. By the time I started querying, it was on edit #18.
I had heard author James Dashner (Maze Runner series, etc.) speak at LTUE, and he said that he'd set a goal to help soften the rejection blow. For every ten rejections, he would take his wife out to dinner. I thought that was brilliant. I sent my queries out in groups of about five a week. It can be hard to keep track of them (that's why I used QueryTracker--http://querytracker.net/). For many of them, no response is a rejection. You'll never hear from them. I started racking up rejections.
I knew a few authors who had published with Rhemalda, and I'd heard good things. I submitted as per their webpage and waited. I received a request for a full. I did get a rejection, but it was the best possible kind of rejection--revise and resubmit. They provided feedback, and I went to work. I resubmitted and received an offer. We negotiated back and forth, and I consulted a couple of attorneys. I signed. They provided some more feedback, and I edited some more.
Did I mention that two editors had a look at my manuscript before I started querying? One was only for the first 50 pages, but the other was for the full novel. Even if they buy your book, there's still a lot of editing. Then I got my first round of full edits from the editor (editors in my case). Holy cow! One thing to bear in mind is that there are several editing and grammar styles. I had to learn what my publisher and editors liked. There are also styles unique to genre. If your editor changes during this process, you could end up making different kinds of changes.
I'm still learning, but I hope as I edit the companion novel to A Change of Plans, I will already know a lot of those things. It will certainly make the editing process simpler and less painful.
"What? You want to cut THAT scene? The one I agonized and fretted over for days?"
"It's killing your pacing."
"How can it kill the pacing? There's danger and broken bones and blood."
"It's still killing the pacing."
I've been happy that my publisher has involved me all along the way. My story, while shorter, is still my story. My characters are true to themselves and the vision I had for them. That was as important to me as being published. Like I said, for me, it's all about the experience.
Are you worrying about getting those first couple of chapters perfect before you move on? By the time you finish the book, you might not even keep those chapters. So, don’t spend ten years writing and rewriting and rewriting those chapters. Finish the book!


What the book's about:  When Lyn sets off on her supposedly uncomplicated and unromantic cruise, she never dreams it will include pirates. All the 25-year-old, Colorado high school teacher wants to do is forget that her dead fiancĂ© was a cheating scumbag. Lyn plans a vacation diversion; fate provides Braedon, an intriguing surgeon. She finds herself drawn to him: his gentle humor, his love of music, and even his willingness to let her take him down during morning karate practices. Against the backdrop of the ship's make-believe world and temporary friendships, her emotions come alive. However, fear is an emotion, too. Unaware of the sensitive waters he's navigating, Braedon moves to take their relationship beyond friendship--on the very anniversary Lyn is on the cruise to forget. Lyn's painful memories are too powerful, and she runs from Braedon and what he has to offer. Their confusing relationship is bad enough, but when the pair finds themselves on one of the cruise's snorkeling excursions in American Samoa things get worse. Paradise turns to piracy when their party is kidnapped and Lyn's fear of a fairytale turns grim. Now she must fight alongside the man she rejected, first for their freedom and then against storms, sharks, and shipwreck.

To see the awesome 'Book Trailer' click HERE

And there is a Giveaway: which I'm totally not sure why I cannot get the Rafflecopter to show up, but if you click on that link down there, it does come up. good luck!

Insecure Writers Support Group~

If you lived on an island and the following sign was posted on every street corner, would you feel insecure? About everything? Think about it.

To learn more about the Insecure Writers Support Group and to read about other writers and their insecurities go HERE 

See you guys next week, where I hope to tell you a little bit more about what's been going on in my life. Some big changes. Not surprised are you?