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Herein, children's writer Molly Blaisdell raves, rants, and rambles about her craft. She also muses about juggling a job, motherhood and writing books, and there is a good dose of rallying, psyching up and inspiring for anyone who needs to seize the day.
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1. Should My Work Be Branded?

Hi. folks, this week is a response blog to Janet Lee Carey's post "I am not a brand."  For more on this topic, check out a manifesto statement from Maureen Johnson. 

This is another meandering post.  I felt fire and pain while writing this one. I will wander here some. I hope that something strikes a chord.

Branding is a human activity. We are inherently drawn to symbols. We slap them on everything from our faith to our hamburgers. A good brand offers a clear message. It also offers assurance you will receive a similar experience with branded products. A good brand will also stir up a targeted audience emotionally, will motivate a customer to place money on the counter, and will bring back customers again and again.

Here's a question I circle around. Should my work be branded?

On the surface, it seems to make sense. A book is a commodity. It's sold at the store with a publishing brand stamped on the book's spine. Beyond this, authors who offer readers similar fare time and time again usually find the most success. If the author writes one thriller, then writes ten more, that usually attracts a greater readership. The writer will have to tend that stream of content for a lifetime. Hey, this is a business, folks.

Branding helps writers stand out in the marketplace. So, authors, get in line. Learn the formulas. Refine your message and sell it! Be all bossy and pushy about that message. Hog every stage. What you have to say is the most important thing. To Market!

Sigh. Do you ever think you were born into the wrong world? The problem with "comodifiying" the story journey and branding imagination is this for me: We are all quicksilver. You can't really pin us down.  We shift and change on you. We are fickle. We are not who we were yesterday. We will not be the same tomorrow. If I go all branding on myself, instead of being who I am, I ditch who I am. Not okay.

For me storytelling is an ancient human art. This art circles around two questions: Who are we? What do we want?  These are the two things you own in this life. No degradation can put out the spark of you. Your hunger for what you want will cause you to risk everything. You may have to join a team who dared to have a dream and ended up martyred. But take to heart, they shaped the future.

Storytelling is too precious to mankind to force it into the branding mold. I'm with a little band of others that hop and holler, "Your heart, that's the holy ground! It sure is! Here is a lodestone for you." That said, we have no intention of sparing your feelings. We understand suffering has a purpose.We are immersed in the life-saving art of creating lodestones for the human heart, story maps that will help readers navigate through the rough seas of their lives.

A great book sets you on a journey toward your true north. It will turn you away from stupidity. It will rattle your cage. It will break your bonds. It will help you understand your days. It will help you find your best possible self. No question!

I hope you create something priceless. If you get some money for that, well, people need to eat. If you don't get money for it, well, people don't live on bread alone.


Here is a doodle for you.

and a quote for your pocket from the great poet Bob Dylan:

Come writers and critics who prophesy with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'
For the loser now will be later to win.

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2. Vulnerability

Howdy, folks: Plumb Crazy is coming out in paperback. I'm celebrating with the Book and Boots giveaway. Enter to win a signed Plumb Crazy and $100 Gift Card to Cavender's Authentic Western Wear. Follow this link of details. http://tinyurl.com/mv2ku8y.  I so greatly appreciate the support that has come my way for Plumb Crazy, and thank you  all for every tweet, mention and, of course, every ebook you have purchased. 

This week, I'm going to offer a rambling chat about vulnerability. I came by the knowledge of vulnerability through a difficult journey that involved a lot of shame and fear. I'm going to sort of wander here. Perhaps one of my twists or turns will be what you need. 

My vulnerability story goes like this. Once upon a time, I used to dream, hope, and pine that I would write stories that would capture the entire world. I also desired this feeling that I was connecting work with others and being true to my art. But I was coin with two sides. I also wanted to be wildly successful, to make enough money to help my kids go to college, to see my books on the shelves of stores across the world, to see my name on the list of favorite books, and to see shiny stickers on my books. 

I worked hard and made no sales. I was so far from the coin; there are no words for the shame and fear I felt and cause other around me to suffer. It was stupid and awful. One day I realized I could basically write anything and shoved my art to the back of my desk and wielded my craft. The purpose was to make some money. I mean every $30 is a pair of blue jeans, a meal out for my family, or a chance I went about writing books like a business and that did lead to publication, but also to a  terrible discomfort and uneasiness that I was somehow missing the boat of myself. I went on like this for a decade, but then began to back away from the blue jean work.  

I don't know what to say except that losing my art was like losing myself. Art has to be like the morning bird song for me. It must be the vastness of the universe. It must  be the twinkle in a eye. For me, art can't be about making money. This makes me want to curse a little.  Money allows for vacations, extras, and freedom. I also  live in a society that the measure stick of success is fame and fortune. Art infuses me with worthiness. Losing the extras has been hard, gaining an internal sense of worth has been priceless.  

I turned 50 this week and here is a true confession. I've felt like a failure for much of my adult life because I've focused on the negative about myself. I've felt deep shame because I suck at so many things many find success at. I suck greatly at making money, like I was born into a world that put its foot on my neck and laughed at me because I didn't have a chance in hell. My shame has gone deep. I also suck at academia. I've been so ashamed of this. Many of my friends are so freaking bright and pick up degrees like those things grow on the side of the road. I have always struggled in school. I was lucky to get a B.A. I was the bottom of my class. I do learn, but not the "right way." I think the education world is a lot like the business world, not my forte. 

Also with 50, I'm embraced the good about me. I'm a good helper, and I dwell in a place where I create for the joy of creating and nothing more.  Few writers are privileged in this life with the opportunity to make connection and money. I used to be green with envy about that fact. That has faded away. I am happy for all the art that binds us together.  The binding is a group effort. My stitches count. I am as sure of this as gravity. Here is the way I see it. Time to strip naked and stand on the edge of the road. My form may not capture the interest of many.  Many, many people might pass me by. I'm holding my head high. Every little thing shines. It does. 

So in my vulnerability, I hope you read Plumb Crazy because it is part of me, the depths of me on a page, and that on those pages that you might find part of yourself. I have found myself on the pages of book many times. I hope that you laugh when you read my pages because every giggle, chuckle, and smile is part of why I am here. I didn't follow the rules when I wrote Plumb Crazy. I followed my heart. Writing for me is a joy. There is something so uplifting about finding the voice of a story and then spinning out a tale that it brings to tears and laughter and a feeling of spread wings and flying. Seek it. 

I'm working harder to follow my heart now than ever before. I am trying to add to the ancient paths of story, and I hope that my efforts inspire you. I hope that you join me in prayer and thoughts that I will find good places to share my gifts. Be vulnerable. 

I will be back next week with more thoughts. 

Here is a great TED talk from Brene Brown about vulnerability.   This is really about the journey of your life.  

Here is a doodle for your enjoyment. 

Here is a quote for your pocket. I hope the write the greatest poem. 

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.  Walt Whitman

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3. Handwriting and the Creative Process and Book Tour Recap

Hi folks, it is getting crazy hot here. Over a 100. Whew!  Welcome to my little corner of the interwebs.

Did you know that PLUMB CRAZY is coming out in paperback?  I'm celebrating! Enter to win the Plumb Crazy Book and Boots Giveaway. Book and $100 Gift Card to Cavenders:.tinyurl.com/mv2ku8y.

This week I offer a gem to help you with the creative process. I can't do all my work on the computer, Handwriting plays an important part in my creative process. I have to write the things by hand and don't expect something linear and neat. Expect bubbles with ideas, doodles of flowers and geometric shapes, half finished lists, freewrites, graphs, charts, me grousing about how hard it is to write books, pages of lame ideas, and lists of marketing ideas too.

I can't think any of this stuff on the computer, but I can think it on paper. I believe all this stuff happens in handwriting because I am bringing my style and individuality to the shape of the words. This added dimension opens wellsprings within. If you are struggling with moving forward with a creative project, grab a sheet of paper and a pen you really like and pour out your thoughts! You might be surprised.

I will continue this month with gems of creative wisdom.  My doodle and quote are at the end. First a recap of the book tour!

Plumb Crazy Book Tour Recap!

Fun stuff

The PLUMB CRAZY playlist - Victoria Simcox's Blog - http://ow.ly/zSdHS
You can listen to it on Youtube - http://ow.ly/zSdHS!

The Plumb Crazy Dream Cast! -The Avid Reader - http://ow.ly/zSgpj

Mitch's Profile! -- Book Club Sisters - http://ow.ly/zSf99
Mitch wins Book Boyfriend of the Week! - Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://ow.ly/zShqN
Wherein I Interview my character Mitch! - The Written Adventure - http://ow.ly/zSfS2

Author Interview! -- Kelly P's Blog - http://ow.ly/zSeo9
Wherein I share a true writer's journey - Writers' Connection - http://ow.ly/zSg7q
My Five Favorite Movies - My Love for Reading Keeps Growing - http://ow.ly/A8VxH

Tour Reviews

***** Review - Books Are Love -- http://ow.ly/A8YCc  and  http://ow.ly/A8Z0B

**** Review- kimberlyfaye reads - http://ow.ly/A8VXV
**** Review - Book Boyfriend - http://ow.ly/A8VSh
***½ Review - My Devotional Thoughts - http://ow.ly/A8WlS
*** Review  - Books, books, and more books - http://ow.ly/zSfEZ

Here is a doodle for you to enjoy! "Lone Tree"

A quote for your pocket:

Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult. Geoffrey Chaucer  (The Assembly of Fowles, line 1)

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4. Professional Writer Checklist and The Plumb Crazy Book Tour

Howdy, folks! Summertime, and I'm off to watch the Houston Astros take down the Toronto Blue Jays. This is one of those high stakes, nation vs. nation games.

I'm still  celebrating the book tour. I'm running a giveaway with my book tour, and I hope that you will consider entering. It's in the sidebar. Win a signed copy of the book and $100 gift certificate to Cavender's.

I offer the professional writer checklist.  Lots of people want to be professional writers. I'm going to hand out the game plan. Here are ten steps to professional writer .

1. Write every day.  Yes, professional writers must write. (I usually write 2- 4 hours a day, five days a week.)
2. Create an office.  Professionals have offices
3. Take all paying gigs. This one comes with a commandment. Thou shalt not sneer at any paying gig  like menus, tweets, content farms, technical manuals, wfh, basal readers, etc.." Anyone who looks down on this stuff is not a professional, he or she is a hobbyist.
4. Make specific, achievable long term and short term goals.
5. Network with your peers regularly. (Critique groups, conferences, professional organizations, etc.)
6. Join the social media circus. (website, Facebook, Twitter, bloggers, tumblr, etc...)
7. Keep accurate financial records.
8. Buy some business cards.
9. Invest in a printer that can spit mega pages in a short period of time. (Weird, but needed.)
10. Profess you are a professional writer to anyone who asks. (Never belittle yourself, not in self talk, not to others.)

Ta-da, you are a professional writer.  The doodle and quote are at the end.

Here is the tour schedule!
July 28
Elva'a Profile! -- Shooting Stars Reviews - http://ow.ly/zSd3d 

July 29:
The PLUMB CRAZY playlist -- Victoria Simcox's Blog  - http://ow.ly/zSdHS  
You can listen to it on Youtube-- http://ow.ly/zSdHS!
Author Interview! -- Kelly P's Blog -  http://ow.ly/zSeo9 -

July 30:
Mitch's Profile! -- Book Club Sisters - http://ow.ly/zSf99
Review! Books, books, and more books - http://ow.ly/zSfEZ  

July 31:
Author Interviews Mitch! - The Written Adventure - http://ow.ly/zSfS2 

August 1:
Author's Writing Journey! - My Writers' Connection - http://ow.ly/zSg7q  
The Plumb Crazy Dream Cast! -The Avid Reader - http://ow.ly/zSgpj
Mitch wins Book Boyfriend of the Week! -  Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://ow.ly/zShqN  

August 4:
Review- kimberlyfaye reads - http://kimberlyfayereads.com 

August 5:
Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://www.bookboyfriendreview.blogspot.com – Review
My Love for Reading Keeps Growing - http://readingisoneofmypassions.blogspot.com/ 

August 6:
My Devotional Thoughts - http://mydevotionalthoughts.net – Review
books are love – www.hello-booklover.tumblr.com - Review

August 7:
Flirting With Fiction - www.flirtyfiction.net - Review
Plain Talk Book Marketing - http://www.plaintalkbm.com

August 8:
Little Whimsy Books - http://littlewhimsybooks.tk - Review

Here is a doodle!  "Roses"

And a quote for your pocket:
A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it. Alistair Cooke

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5. Gem of Wisdom and Plumb Crazy Book Tour

Summer is upon us. We are in the high 90s here!  I have been, oh, so busy getting ready for the book tour. Info is below but I want to give you some gem of wisdom to help you on your creative journey. 

Here is something I believe. You must try. Do you remember the story of The Little Engine that Could. I find that story to be a bit of baloney. If you are on the right track, giving it your all, yes, you might succeed. But there is no way to tell if your on the right track, or if the track has been knocked out ahead, or if you basically aren't a train. That said, you must try anyway.  

An absolute truth: you will never be disappointed in yourself if you give it your all and come in last or don't even complete the task. In fact you will get up, dust yourself off and try something else. Your failure will teach you things you will need for when you are on the right track. You will never regret try with your whole heart.  

Please also check out this post. The hardest thing I've ever written. Please check out my Dear Teen Me blog.   I write a letter to younger self. After you read the blog please consider donating to the Alzheimer's Association. 

PLUMB CRAZY will be out as paperback soon. I ask you to support my work -- buy a copy, share the news, request the book at your library, ask me to blog for you. Thank you.

Watch here! I will have a giveaway beginning on July 28th. The entry period will be until August 28th.  Fun times ahead. 

Here is the Plumb Crazy Book Tour Schedule:  I interview my characters, share the Plumb Crazy playlist and much more. Follow the tour on Twitter at @MollyBlaisdell! Or on my Facebook page.

3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! - http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com 

July 29:
Victoria Simcox's Blog  - http://victoriasimcox.blogspot.com/ 
Seeing Night Reviews - http://seeingnight.blogspot.ca/ - Review
Kelly P's Blog - http://kellyatx.blogspot.com/ 

July 30:
Books, books, and more books - http://deerereadergirl.wordpress.com - Review

July 31:

August 1:
My Writers' Connection - http://MyWritersConnection.com 
The Avid Reader - http://the-avidreader.blogspot.com – Dream Cast

August 4:
kimberlyfaye reads - http://kimberlyfayereads.com - Review

August 5:
Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://www.bookboyfriendreview.blogspot.com – Review
My Love for Reading Keeps Growing - http://readingisoneofmypassions.blogspot.com/ 

August 6:
My Devotional Thoughts - http://mydevotionalthoughts.net – Review
books are love – www.hello-booklover.tumblr.com - Review

August 7:
Flirting With Fiction - www.flirtyfiction.net - Review
Plain Talk Book Marketing - http://www.plaintalkbm.com

August 8:
Little Whimsy Books - http://littlewhimsybooks.tk - Review

I will end with my Star Wars doodle:

And the quote that goes with it. 

Yoda was wrong. Try there is. Molly Blaisdell

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6. Writing Lessons from Shakespeare: Insults

Hi folks. I'm continuing my series of writing lessons from Shakespeare. He was the master of the put down. I think you would agree his ability  to cast the insults is unparalleled. The Bard's work continues to breathe and live because of the richness and density of language. We live in an age where cursing is ubiquitous. Originality in the insult is at an all time low. I think taking a few minutes and really absorbing the Bard's insulting craft will help you with your craft. Do you best when casting out your put downs.

Here's an insult I like from All's Well that Ends Well: "A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality." Coward, liar, promise breaker, and low born. How do these ideas transfer into our society today?  Who is the coward of today? The liar? The promise breaker? Who is low born? Also note that you have to pile on the insults for effect and you have to modify the insult with adjectives. Simple but, oh, so powerful.

I think peeking at Shakespeare's insults may help you sharpen your insulting skills. Here is a link to the Shakespearean Insulter for fun. This will toss an insult at you randomly.  Here is a Shakespeare insulter kit, basically three lists to build your own insults. Enjoy. I will be back next week!

Here is a doodle.  Sunflower.

Here is a quote for your pocket:
You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!

PLUMB CRAZY will be out as paperback soon. I ask you to support my work -- buy a copy, share the news, request the book at your library, ask me to blog for you. I'm open. Thank you.

Watch here! I will have a giveaway beginning on July 28th. The entry period will be until August 28th.  Fun times ahead.

To buy the ebook: Here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon Australia.Here is Amazon Canada. Try here for a copy for your B&N Nook .

Also consider participating in my upcoming book tour. Here is the link.

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7. Writing Lessons from Shakespeare: Players

It's going to a 100 F today. I want to go to the pool. This month I wandering with the Bard. Why? I've been trekking off and on to Shakespeare at Winedale for over 30 years and thought I might do some wandering here, over my back fence.

The Bard taught me one of the big writing lessons: all characters must count. This lesson leaps off the pages of his plays. I'm going to chat about that today.

Shakespeare knew how to cast a play: Foolish suitors, faithful servants, long-lost relatives, evil noblemen, wicked kings, betrayed best friends, quarreling pals, drunk dignitaries, saucy spinsters, war weary soldiers, fresh young things, demanding queens, trying tricksters, etc. He mixed dynamic characters, stereotypes, and foils to create a potent mix. I love to write stories with complex casts and using every member to great effect. I love that Shakespeare will give a great line to any one of his characters. 

And now for some play. Shh, the Bard and I are back stage and he's sharing his secrets. Here is a little of that conversation.

The Bard whispers in my ear, "Every character counts. Use that."

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts

I whisper back, "OK."

He whispers in my ear, "Everyone does stupid things. Leverage that."

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

I whisper back, "OK."

He whispers in my ear. "Rattle your characters until they roll."

He would drown the stage with tears,
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty, and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears.

I whisper back, "OK."

You might consider going back stage with the Bard and seeing what he whispers to you. I will be back next week with another lesson from Shakespeare. 

Now PLUMB CRAZY news: I have a guest blog at the Dragon Blog about my fan fiction roots. Check it out.

PLUMB CRAZY will be out as paperback soon. I ask you to support my work -- buy a copy, share the news, request the book at your library, ask me to blog for you. I'm open. Thank you.

To buy the ebook: Here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon Australia. Here is Amazon Canada. Try here for a copy for your B&N Nook .

Also consider participating in my upcoming book tour. Here is the link.

Posted by MollyMom103 at 4:38 PM

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8. Writing Lessons from Shakespeare: Spirit Plot Guide

We have reached the hot days of summer in Texas. I've been trekking off and on to Shakespeare at Winedale for over 30 years. You might be surprised to find that every time I write a book I think about the Bard's plays long and hard. I lean toward his comedies. I think about the plots. I read passages. I watch and read the plays. It helps me find my novel. It's a thing for me.

Currently I'm thinking about the next book I'm going to write. Long before I write a book, I spend time thinking about it. Often times a Shakespearean play pokes at me, and that is true right now. The play that is in my head is Much Ado About Nothing. I'm turning its plot over and over.  This play is serving as the spirit plot guide for my new book.

These are the kinds of thoughts I have as my spirit plot guide leads me: I love the the Benedick/Beatrice relationship. I love the idea of two characters in a "merry war", who become lovers. I love they both have strong opinions about serious relationships. I like that they are both damaged. I love that their friends conspire to bring them together. Nice. I like that Benedick is asked to defend Beatrice's cousin Hero's honor. This act reveals depth to his love. I turn the plot points of the play and I ask myself, can I use any of this. Of course, I can and will.

The spirit plot guide causes me to question the path  too.  The whole mistaking Hero for a skank whore is good, but the when she falls over pretend dead, it's just, you know, fake. I also don't like that it's Beatrice's best friend and cousin who is called a skank whore. It seems like it would be better if Beatrice would be called a skank whore falsely. That's just my feeling about it. I think that it would be cool if Benedick were Beatrice's most staunch supporter through a direct attack on her honor. I let keep letting the ideas roll around in my head.

Once I have a slew of plot points, ideas, etc. I start the translation process and will eventually write a random lists of ideas. I'll sift through these and pick the best ones. I will build a plot for my new book from there. So here I am all wrapped up in a play from 1623 -- a well-worn path is influencing a new one. I hope that you seek spirit plot guides for your work. I believe your work will thank me.

More lessons from Shakespeare next week.

Here is the doodle for the week: Birds.

A quote for your pocket:  

....for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.William Shakespeare. 


Now PLUMB CRAZY news: I have an interview on KBTX Brazos Valley Magazine that you may wish to check out. I chat with host Sharon Colson about digital pubbing and Plumb Crazy. July 5 (6PM) & 6(5PM). http://ow.ly/yfk8c.

There is also the ebook giveaway that is still running for a couple of more days: Go here. 

The ebook version of PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance but will be out as paperback soon. I ask you to consider supporting my work -- buy a copy, share the news, request the book at your library, ask me to blog for you. I'm open. Thank you.

 To buy a copy: Here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon AustraliaHere is Amazon Canada. Try here for a copy for your B&N Nook .

Also consider participating in my upcoming book tour. Here is the link. 

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9. Writing Tip: A Moment Journal

Hi, folks. Glad you are dropping by. News about PLUMB CRAZY is at the end of the post. Today, I'm going to chat about a little habit I have that others have found interesting.

I keep records of moments that strike me. For example, today I drove to Navasota to have lunch with my dad at The Wrangler Steakhouse. It was sunshiny when I left and sunshiny when I returned, only somewhere in that one hour, a huge torrential rain storm dumped massive puddles of water on the roadway. Weird.

And here's another. Yesterday, I was driving down my street and suddenly a huge beach ball rolled across a yard in front of my car and into the street, across another neighbor's yard and then back onto a side street. I watched it until it disappeared. I gave it a whimsical title. Beach ball takes a roll.

And a last moment, a couple of days ago I was driving down in front of Bryan High school, listening to a talk show about the World Cup and Japanese fans who wave blue trash bags during the match and then clean up after. Arigato gozaimasu, Japanese fans. Right then I drove by a "Big Blue" sign in front of the Bryan High stadium and felt this whole the universe is full of cosmic harmony thing.

I put all these moments into what I call a moments journal. I keep several journals and to stay organized I buy journals of different sizes. I like long sort of grocery-list-sized journals for moments. Short fat journals for complaining (Ok, those are supposed to be a gratefulness journals. I'm working on that.) I write in my moment journal when I feel like it. It's a total creative exercise. Journal writing keeps my imagination flexible. Maybe my weird habit will spark something in you.

I will be back next week with a new series. I hope you make tons of creative progress this week.

Doodle for the week:  Blue girl.

Quote for your pocket.
Don’t get it right, just get it written. James Thurber
Now PLUMB CRAZY news: I recently an article on USA Today: Quirky Girls Need Love Too. I offer some tips that I follow when writing quirky characters. You might want to check that out.

There is also the ebook giveaway that is still running: Go here. 

The ebook version of PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance but will be out as paperback soon. Try here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon Australia. Here is Amazon Canada. Try here for a copy for your B&N Nook .

Also consider participating in my upcoming book tour. Here is the link. 

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10. Book Birthday: Grace

Hi folks, welcome to the end of this series. I've been celebrating the happy news, that the ebook version of PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance has found its way onto the virtual shelves of booksellers worldwide. Try here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon Australia. Here is Amazon Canada. Try here for a copy for your B&N Nook . It will be available in paper in a few weeks. I hope you consider giving it a look.Currently it's only available as an ebook but for sure paper copies will be available soon.

Gorgeous sunshine calls me outside, and I want to soak some of it in. This week I 'm going to keep it short. Today I want to chat about my view of grace. It's a big universe out there and I'm sure that there are folks with a wider view. This will be about what I see in my little corner.

I have read many books that have never been published. Some of my favorite books are in this state. For whatever reason, these wonderful stories have not found their way into the hands of publishers. I have a number of manuscripts that are tucked in folders too. You put some pieces of your soul on the page when write a book. Publishing one is like your soul sprouting wings and taking off for far green pastures.

So today, I'm feeling the grace, not of movement, but of privilege. I wrote my novel because there was this ticklish feeling right under my heart that others might want to know this. Maybe it will help them along in their journey, I thought. Now my words are out there. With this dove on my shoulder, I'm feeling winds of thankfulness inside. Journey well! Huzzah!

I hope you see the privileges in your life this week and let the winds come. Come back next week for more of Seize the day.

Here is the doodle.  Clover Poof.

Here is a quote I keep tucked in my pocket. I hope you tuck it in yours.

At my window
Watching the sun go
Hoping the stars know
It's time to shine

Townes Van Zandt

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11. Book Birthday! A Dream

Howdy, folks, Happy news, the ebook version of  PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance has found its way onto the virtual shelves of booksellers worldwide. Try here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK.  Here is Amazon Australia Here is Amazon Canada.  Try here for a copy for your B&N Nook . It will be available in paper in a few weeks. I hope you consider giving it a look.

Publishing a book is a little like sending your pea green boat out to sea, and you have no idea where it will go. It sails off into the sun and then into the moon. You've hidden pieces of yourself inside that boat, and it's heading to the ends of the Earth. Publishing is like that. 

It's also like this. I had a telling dream about publishing once that I have never forgotten.. I dreamed I was a woman who lived in a fishing village. Everyone was heading to edge of sea with  their nets to fish, but I remained behind.I was painstakingly tying my own net. 

Neighbors would drop by and laugh at me. "You're never going to catch any fish sitting in that house tying a net." 

I didn't stop working, but I could hear folks snickering. I felt like the worst kind of fool but kept working.  

Years pass. I grow very old. I hobble out of my house with the net I've been working on my whole life. The people of the village come out of their neat little homes, laughing and pointing fingers. I am finally going to toss my net. 

I walk to the edge of sea with this fine net balled in my arms.  I toss it into the air. It furls out and furls. It billows into the sky. It's so large it captures the whole world. 

This is my dream. This is my hope for my work. 

Follow your creative muse and do something amazing.  I will be back next week with more of my Book Birthday month. 

Here is the doodle. I handed out some out at BEA. Here is one. "Blue Eyes." 

That spot that yer standing,
that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked

Bob Dylan

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12. Book Birthday: Special Edition

Hi, folks, Today is PLUMB CRAZY's official book birthday. I don't usually roll out more than a book a year, so consider this a rare post. I'm asking you to seriously consider supporting my new book, PLUMB CRAZY. 

So what can you do? The first things Buy the ebook. That's less than a latte. Pretty, simple. Here are links: PLUMB CRAZY on Amazon and PLUMB CRAZY on Barnes & Noble

Want to do more? 

You can post a review of the ebook on the site of your choice: your blog, Goodreads, Amazon....also, let me know if you posted a review, so I can share the news on their social network. You can also like my author's Facebook page

You can post news about the ebook on your social media channels -- Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Linkedin, Pinterest, wherever you hang out. Currently there is a giveaway going on today and an official blitz out there. If you want to enter to win please follow this link: http://cfitewrite.blogspot.com/.

If you want PLUMB CRAZY in paper, it will be out in about three weeks. I will let you  know when it is available. 

I can't tell you how much I appreciate that you are traveling with me. PLUMB CRAZY has a lot of my heart and humor in it. 

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13. Book Birthday: How to Support an Author's Ebook

Howdy, folks, The official launch date is June 10, 2014, but, happy news, my ebook PLUMB CRAZY has found its way onto the virtual shelves of booksellers worldwide.  I hope you consider giving it a look. Try here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon Australia  Try here for a copy for you B&N Nook .

The world has changed, so this week I'm going to offer a list of useful ways to support the release of an author's ebook. Traditional ways don't always work ebooks. Here are a dozen reasonably easy things to do!

1. Buy the ebook.  Pretty, simple, huh.
2. Give the book to a friend!  You can totally give ebooks. Here is a link on how to on the Nook. 
3, Lend the book to a friend. You can totally lend an ebook. Here's a how to do it  link on Kindle. 
4. Post a review of the ebook on the site of your choice:  your blog, B&N, Goodreads, Amazon....
5. Let the author know you posted a review, so they can share the news on their social network.
6. Like the Author's Facebook page.
7. Post news about the ebook on your social media channels -- Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Linkedin, Pinterest, wherever you hang out.
8. Do you have a blog?  Interview an author. Authors love interviews.
9. Join an author's blog campaign. This is a matter of signing up and sharing the good news on your blog.
10. Too busy to blog?  Ask an author to guest blog on your blog.
11. YouTube for you? Vlog about the ebook.
12. Over the top fan? Write an article about the ebook for a site like Gawker, Jezebel or other newsy site -- even the local newspaper. This is a nine-yard move and you get a credit. Neat.

I hope this helps you on your journey.

Want to do more to support PLUMB CRAZY?  Join my upcoming social media campaign. You can sign up for a "Release Day Book Blitz" for PLUMB CRAZY here! Another thing? Like my Facebook page. 
I will be back next week with more Book Birthday blogging!

Many dropped by the Swoon booth at BEA. I handed out doodles. Here's one that went to a lucky visitor.

Finally a quote for your pocket.  Suddenly the world is way less, Maya. 

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou

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14. Plumb Crazy May: A Writer's Journey

So much of writing is the hard work of creative play. This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads. 

I am in NYC for BEA celebrating  the upcoming release of Plumb Crazy. I am nearing the place when my work gets a life of it's own and off it goes. I need to recharge. I plan to stroll through the American Folk Art Muesum and the MoMA this Saturday and let the art speak. I am excited. I want to soak in all the creative genius.  Art is a huge part of who I am. I especially love outsider artist.  Don't neglect art in your life. Let it light up dormant parts of you brain.  

Open up your creative self and see how that stirs the waters of you work. Let whatever winds have come your way shape You into what You are supposed to be.  I will back next month with release your dream month. Every novel is a fictive dream I hope you dream with me.  

No doodle this week. Doodles will be back next week. Check out my Facebook for cool pics of my travels. 

A quote for you pocket. 

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

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15. Plumb Crazy May: BEA, NY, and How to Have Fun!

Hi folks,  Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! I about to make happy trails. I'm heading to BOOKEXPO America (BEA) to "be a part of it" in New York! I'll be at the Swoon Booth (PDZ638) at noon on Friday May 30, 2014. Please drop by if you are around! This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads. 

Whew, I have a ton of stuff to do, hence the blog will be short this week  I don't even have time to read and I love to READ. Anyway, what do I have in my bag tricks that is really useful? 

Here's a thought. I have been going to Trade Shows since I was a child. My mom would take me to nursery trade shows. Nothing to do with kids. These were all about plants. Did you know there is a type of person that loves plants as much as books? I would carry a bag and gather pencils, seed packets,  roundtuits, plastic cups and water sprinkler heads. BEA is like that but instead of plant swag they handout glorious bookish swag-- books, book marks, bags and such. This is all about book love. 

So with no further ado. 

How to have fun at trade show? A top ten list!

 1. Take a lesson from the mighty house cat, stalk the floor but don't engage yet. Just check it all out. 

2.  Remember everyone is there to work, so it's not like high school.

3. Put on your smiley face!

4. Wear comfortable shoes! I cannot stress this enough.   

5. Make new friends. Yes, I'm talking to you, book worm. 

6. Know where the chocolate is. 

7. Literary genius is afoot; remember to breathe. 

8. Drink water. 8 glasses.  Pop, tea, coffee, juice, and drinks with little umbrellas do not count. 

9. Pace yourself. Take breaks. Too much stress can ruin your health, relationships, and mental state. 

10. Enjoy yourself! Did you know fun shuts down left-brain activity and makes your right-brain light up like a roman candle?  

Glad you dropped by! Have a good week. With last in the "Plumb Crazy May" series. Hope you drop by.

 Here is a doodle for you: "Faces"

Here is a quote for your pocket. 

It's kind of fun to do the impossible. Walt Disney

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16. Plumb Crazy May: My Best Marketing Advice

Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads.

Here is a fact: I fell off the couch laughing while writing PLUMB CRAZY. Now, I am living in the tension of "I hope my readers will too." I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas day. You know, will I really get the bean bag chair? This is a bigger story than you think. This is about the power of belief and my best marketing advice.

I remember the excitement of that Christmas morn, and the big let down when I ran to the Christmas tree. Santa Claus dropped unwrapped stuff under the tree. There was no Christmas bean bag chair, and I had been a good girl!  Oh, dear God, my sister was right--there was no Santa Claus. I wailed into a couch cushion. Then my mom tapped my shoulder. She said we should check the attic because bean bag chairs were really big and  didn't fit down cardboard chimneys. Dad pulled down the fold-down ladder, and I scampered up. I found my bean bag chair. I screamed, shoving my face into its buttery softness. Santa was real! All was right with world!

So here I sit, waiting for PLUMB CRAZY to make its way into the world. I am jittery and excited. All I have is belief right now. Will any of my readers fall of the couch like I did?  Will they laugh so hard that their head aches? Will they feel the "big hug" of knowing Elva Presely?  Writing a book is a very exposing thing, a private and intimate process. The process of publishing a book is the exact opposite, revealed and public.The shift is nevre-wracking for writers.

And now, for the big moment, my best marketing advice. The best marketing thing you can do for your book is write your best possible book. Pour out your soul. Uncover your secrets. Say what only you can say. Write sticky thoughts that readers won't forget. Write something that connects with readers worldwide. Believe and believe. Send it out to readers and let them decide. Then start the next book.

Yes, I know you wanted it to be how to get your book on NPR or something, but I am a truthteller and "soul on page" is what you need. Please come back as I share more of the inside story of PLUMB CRAZY. I hope that you pour your belief into your books this week because I love to read a good book. Love! See you next week!

Here is a doodle: Sun!

Quote for your pocket from Mr. Neil Gaiman. Here is a link to the longer quote because it is a fun read.

I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not.  Neil Gaiman

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17. Plumb Crazy May: Writing Real Stuff

Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads. Oh, it such a good feeling to launch a story into the world.

This week I'm going to focus on writing real stuff. Plumb Crazy is about everyday life -- real stuff. It uncovers my inward celebration "of joy comes in the morning" and my inward cry "O ME! O life!". Here's a little discussion that I hope you find helpful.

Have you ever seen a painting by Rembrandt. He has a way of making the soul of a person appear on the canvas. He uncovers a hidden part of life that is not easily reproduced. It's like he looked into the face of man, found a treasure, and revealed it for all to see. Now let's pop to the other side of the planet. I'm a southern storyteller with deep roots in Mississippi as well as Texas. This need to uncover "who we are and what we want" is part of me, like my near-sighted vision and my springy flexibility. There are secrets in this field of everyday life, treasures even. Who doesn't want to unearth buried treasure in their backyard?

I write the "real" for the comfort, too. Writing "real" is like rolling up in a favorite blanket on a rainy day with a good book and a cup of hot tea. I feel close to my people when I tell a story about everyday life. I hear my mama on the back patio, retelling Don Quixote, I hear Uncle George at the kitchen table, rolling out World War II, I hear Mema and Granddad's wild days as teens in Mississippi. It pains me that their voices are no longer here in in the Earth. I must respond, so here I am adding my verse to existence and identity. I'm glad I have this chance.

I hope that you spend this week adding your verse. Come back next week as I share more of the inside story of PLUMB CRAZY.

Here is a doodle: "Noah's ark.

Here is a verse that I keep tucked in my pocket. I hope that you keep it tucked in yours.

O ME! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; 
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists, and identity; 
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass #166

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18. Plumb Crazy May: Writing with Memories

Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! This month I will be offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014).  Oh, it such a good feeling to launch a story into the world. This week I'm going to focus on writing with memories. Plumb Crazy was inspired by the events of my life, so why did I do that? Here's a little discussion that I hope you find helpful. 

Few people live interesting enough lives to support memoir, but your memories are extremely important. They are the best starting point for your fiction work. Caution: don't be too in love with your actual life or you won't write a very interesting story. Sort through your memories and pull out the stuff that hurt like the dickens, numbed you like a zombie, or set you on fire like a supernova. This is your gold. 

Writing with memories is a way to forge an emotional connection with readers. You will invent the exterior of the story, but not about the interior. That stuff comes from your soul. Your memories are the core to your storytelling, and  I think you should build a bank of them. Write at least 100 emotional memories from childhood. Also write your secrets, your shame, and your impossible dreams. Whatever has made you feel stuff is important. You need to get good at writing what you don't want to ever tell anyone. If you can't be honest with your own life, your characters won't be honest.

Once you have those memories written, crank them through your big imagination. This is how it works for me. I worked as a plumber's helper in high school. This is absolutely true. 100%. My character Elva Presley is also a plumber's helper in high school. Note, her name is much cooler than mine. She has her own journey. Gosh, she snags a lovely boyfriend, helps her grandmother's depression, saves goats, makes enough money for a car, posts her fanfic... I think I'm jealous of her. Yet in the core of her life, she learns the same thing I've learned. Everyone has value. She also has some issues with her family. I've had those too. We both come to the same conclusion: forgive and love. That is our truth. 

A good lie has gold nuggets of truth in it. That's why folks buy into the story. When you decide to write from memories, don't cling to the details, instead think about the emotion:  your joyous moments, your ultimate highs, your greatest fears, and, above all, the dark nights of your soul. Hide memories on every page of whatever you write. Your work will thank me. 

I will be back next week with more Plumb Crazy May. Please come back for more of this series. 

Here is a doodle to enjoy.  I love swooping wind. 

Here is a quote for your pocket. 

With each book I write, I become more and more convinced that the books have a life of their own, quite apart from me. Madeleine L'Engle 

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19. Lucky Serendipity: Jubilee's Idea

Hi, folks! I'm continuing my series for the month of March. In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, I'm calling this series: Lucky Serendipity. I have tripped across many moments in life that really direct the whole of my writing future. I call these moments: lucky serendipity. So here is the story of one of those moments.

A few years ago, I came to the end of a project and was wondering what to write next. I had no idea. I was flailing around with ideas: something about a hurricane, a lame superhero with the ability to walk on water, and a squirrel who breaks the "squirrel code" and talks to a human to solve a murder. Nothing was really working. I had never come to a place like this before. I had writer's block! 

I was a brooding on the couch like some descendant of Grendal. Driving the car pool, three teenagers plus one, and volunteering at the elementary school mixed with writer's block does stuff like that to you.  My daughter Jubilee breezed into the living room and plopped on the couch. She was born sunny-side up and has Beowulf attitude  I grumbled and griped about my dilemma.  I could see the wheels turning in her head. "You should write about plumbing,' she said. "I love your stories."

It's a tradition in my family to tell stories about your life to your children. When I was in high school and in college, I worked as a plumber's helper during the summer. It was tough work and I had plenty of stories about those days.

"That's your next book and you'll publish it for sure," Jubilee said. She popped off the couch and ran off to chat with her friends about fashion, books, and the horror of high school.

Easy for her to say. Gosh, I needed chocolate. Her idea would not leave me. I began writing. I will say that first scene made me laugh so hard that I fell off the couch. My block faded away. I'd started a little project entitled "Plumber Gal" at the time.  This story grew into my novel: Plumb Crazy, published by Swoon Romance, coming out on June 30.

It took a while to get here. All those teenagers are new adults now and the plus one is a teenager. I have been on the best journey. I hope the lucky serendipity that inspired my book, inspires you. I will be back next week with more Lucky Serendipity.  

Now the doodle. I call this one:  "Before Goliath."

 And last of all, a quote for your pocket. 

The Almighty makes miracles when he pleases, wonder after wonder, and this world rests in his hands. Beowulf, lines 930-932.

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20. Lucky Serendipity: Patricia Lee Gauch...

Hi, folks! I'm continuing my series for the month of March. In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, I'm calling this series: Lucky Serendipity. I have tripped across many moments in life that really direct the whole of my writing future. I call these moments: lucky serendipity. So here is the story of one of those moments.

Some years ago I had cancer. I went from a furiously busy life with four kids to run after, a huge volunteer gig, and a busy writing life, to a life that came to an absolute standstill. Into the hospital I went, weeks of bed rest to follow, and then a much slower life after that. I felt like a miserable fly caught in a spider's webbing.

Each day while recovering, I cheered myself up by doing something I hadn't had the chance to do when I was so busy. Some things were simple like enjoying the sunrise or doodling for several hours straight. One of those things was to apply for a scholarship to the Chautauqua Writers' Workshop put on by the Highlights Foundation.

I received the scholarship! A few months later I was heading to Chautauqua to meet my mentor of the week, Patricia Lee Gauch. (She still offers workshops, but they are often hard to get in.)

Those few hours chatting  and then a flurry  of emails with Patti transformed me as a writer. They taught me to trust my writerly bones, to trust what they are telling me, to trust my energy and passion.  A book is a terrifying leap. For me not every book I've attempted has worked out.  You may simply fall, dust yourself off, and leap again.

Patti validated my writing faith -- that if I keep showing up at the page somehow a viable book will appear. Patti's mentoring sent me on a journey of paring down what my character really wants and sticking like glue to as many pages as I need to tell the story. 

I've covered the some in my blog before. Here is the link back to my travels back in 2005.  Here is a link to a class I took later from Patti Gauch when she visited Western Washington.

I hope that you consider liking my upcoming book on Goodreads, PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance.  My pretty cover is in the sidebar.  I'll be back next week with the last of this Luck Serendipity series.

The doodle. Look, you found a four leaf clover! How lucky!

Finally a qutoe for your pocket. 
Poets know the power in the concrete object, but I say the prose writer, knowing these elements and using them, brings a resonant power and authenticity to narratives of all kinds. Patricia Lee Gauch

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21. Lucky Serendipity: Happy Trails

Hi, folks! I'm continuing my series for the month of March. In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, I'm calling this series: Lucky Serendipity. I have tripped across many moments in life that really direct the whole of my writing future. I call these moments: lucky serendipity. I'm cheating a little this week because these are beautiful trails of lucky serendipity.

Once upon a time I really wanted a writing group, not just my Star Trek fanfic group, but one that wrote original stories. In college, I had my friend Susan Melenkevitz. We would dream about becoming new millennium writers and discuss how we really should go to New York and write for David Letterman. We read each other's poetry. But that was the extent of it.

Then of course, I found SCBWI and met once a month for occasional critique with Kathi Appelt, Donna Cooner, Debbie Leland, and others.  When I moved to Washington, I didn't know anyone. Nope, no one. I'm not exactly sure how I was invited into my first bi-monthly critique group, but I was. We met at a library branch. My son, J4, was a newborn and I'd take him to group. We annoyed the librarian because we would stay till past closing time. She would place this tape recorder on our table and play Roy Rodgers' "Happy Trails to You." I still smile about that.

This group included: Cathy Benson, Marion Holland, Conrad Wesselhoeft, Shelley Seely, Louise Spiegler, Megan Bilder, Susan Greenway, and a few more. Oh, I learned how to draft a novel here. These were my "million words" days that led to viable works. I learned the craft. There are no words to my gratefulness to this group of writers. We met for about twelve years.

Somewhere in here, I realized I write in multiple genres and that is sort of rare. I branched out for critique of shorter works. This led me to the Larry's Market group and Vijaya Bodach, Allyson Valentine Schrier, Kevan Atteberry, Lois Brandt,  Jen Heger, and more. Here, I learned the energy aspect of writing. I wrote boatloads of stuff for tiny paychecks with the most vibrant go-getters I've ever known. I learned the words "do it." Oh, so helpful.

In my last year in Washington, I was asked to join the Diviners. This group was like the icing on my Washington critique cake.  Holly Cupala, Peggy King Anderson, Katherine Grace Bond, Judy Bodmer, Dawn Knight and a few more. This group is so aptly named. Here, I was guided into a world of the ephemeral and the divine.  I moved beyond craft and energy and found indefinable art in my writing. I began to feel, dare I say it, worthy.

Life happened and I moved back to where my dream started. I found my critique group on the first day back at the local Barnes and Noble: Kathy Whitehead, Shirley Hoskins, Andy Sherrod, Ellen McGinty and Liz Mertz. This happy trail was about sharing all the good things I've learned. It's about ultimate confidence that we start here and we will find success. Magic. I've seen this work too many times by now to doubt it. .

Oh, yes, as usual, I have multiple projects and I need a group that reads out loud. This leads to Robin Cox, Kathy W. and Susan Haven, who is, btw, Susan M. from my college days. This is about dreamcatching. Nice, here we are in a group of new millennium authors.

Thanks for dropping by for Lucky Serendipity. I hope you find as many wonderful creative folk on your journey. Next week I will be back with more inspiration.

Here is a doodle: "Barnyard Stack."

A quote for your pocket:
Ezekiel 37: 5-6 "This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[ enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord."

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22. April Showers: Water for the Creative Soul from Wesselhoeft

Hi folks, beautiful springtime is here in College Station, Texas. Blankets of bluebonnets, evening primrose, and Indian paint brush are splashed all over the county like a color-crazed artist needed to spruce up the dull browns and greens. So uplifting.

I begin my April Showers series. This is all about what waters my creative soul.  I'm going to discuss the juice of some recent reads. First up comes enrichment from Conrad Wesselhoeft's new book Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly (HMH).  Here's a short synopsis from Amazon: Seventeen year-old dirt-bike-riding daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family.

This is one kinetic read. Here are two techniques in this book that will open your eyes as you create your own work.

1. Leverage language. This is something that Wesselhoeft always does and this book is no exception. Here in the middle of of bruising narrative, high flying action, and heart-rending despair is a peppering of poetic beauty. Phrasing elevates this story --- "book of Job lousy year," "Something rises in me -- something halfway between a fist and a sob" and "the thing about a journey -- it pops you into focus and sweeps the mess of your life under the rug if only for a brief time." Shy away from bland word choice as you create your works, and you will add brilliance to your stories.

2. Say something. Dirt Bikes... is stitched together with  references to Mozart, Rossini, Martin Luther King, Buddha, Paul of Tarsus, Marcus Aurelius, Emerson, to name a few, and more obscure voices, like John Gillespie Magee, from his poem "High Flight." 

For I have danced the streets of heaven,
And touched the face of God.
Wesselhoeft is circling the idea that "Character is forever." Our choices will scar the world or uplift it. He digs deep into the idea of oversoul from Emerson. Oversoul is the river voices from each soul running together to make an ocean of soul stuff. Wesselhoeft uses many voices within this story to reflect this. Climb on the shoulders of giants as you write and say something. This is the oversoul of fiction.

I have at least a dozen pages of notes of  the lessons I learned while reading this book. I hope you realize that you are in  the battle of literacy as you create your books.  Do whatever it takes to widen the world, to stir up empathy, and a develop a continuing legacy. Use choice language and consider Rodin's "Thinker" at the gates of hell. Be that thinker at the gates. Write stuff that will make a difference.

Thanks for dropping by! I will have more showers next week.

Here is a doodle. "The Wind"

And finally a quote for your pocket.

What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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23. April Showers: Book HEROES

I've been so busy this week.  I went to San Antonio and signed at The Book Festivals of Texas booth at the Texas Library Association's Annual conference. I also shared the news of my upcoming YA Rom-Com PLUMB CRAZY. Best of all, I spent a few days with some true heroes this week -- water for my soul this week.  I'm chatting about that.

I trekked across the great state of Texas with Kathy Whitehead, and truly felt like I had magically been transported to a Porfirio Salinas' painting. Here's a link to "Springtime in Texas" by Salinas. It makes me want shove my WIP in a corner and spend my days painting the world around me.

The wonderful DannyWoodfill of The Book Spot  in Round Rock, Texas was the bookseller for the Book Festivals' booth. Oh, independent bookstores fill me with happy feelings of freedom of speech. I also feel this happiness that someone is spending his life investing in the future, in his community and ultimately our whole county by adding fabric to the community. How? Who supports local authors? Who understands the specific needs of a local reading community? Who creates a hub for creative folk within a community? Who can guide a non-reader into the world of reading? (So huge!)  I hope this makes you want to drive over to your local independent and buy some books!

Big shout out for Tabatha Perry. She heads up the Montgomery County Book Festival. Again another cultural investment maven! A real hero! Here's an interview with her. How does she add to the fabric of our community? Who supports local writers? Who will create communities of readers who have a wide vision of the world through reading? Who will light imagination fires in the minds of teens?  Yes, Tabatha Perry! Books saved me as teenager. I have no idea how I would have survived those years without books. I wish there had been book festivals when I was a teen. 

Finally, I'm not forgetting the army of heroes, the Librarians of Texas!!!! Yes, these folks are the best ever. I am at war with Texas. Why? This stuff: Why do we need librarians in elementary schools? Let's save money in the budget and do away with those librarians.Why do we need any librarians at all?  Here is my why....we must facilitate life-long learners, an informed global community and all-access educated citizenry.

This apparently means little to so many Texans. Here is a link to Texas Literacy facts. Understand me. I love Texas. I'm a generational Texan. This is my home. But this galls me: Football is the important thing. I know this is not a popular stance, but I don't seen giant shining libraries across Texas. I see football fields, really fancy ones. I'd like to see a huge library as the fabric of community in every small town in Texas. I'd like to see a big staff of librarians stamping out ignorance that is choking the people of my state. 

Don't believe me?  My home town football field: Waller ISD stadium (accommodates 10,000). My hometown library: The Melanee Smith Memorial Library (no words for how much I treasure this place as teen). The library doesn't have a website. Just a page.  There is one librarian.

Do me a favor  -- visit your local bookstore, your wonderful local library, and/or a book festival and thank important heroes in our world.

I will be back next week with more April Showers.  

Here is the doodle: Girl in Bluebonnets.

From a Texas gal I like, a quote for your pocket.

The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance. Libba Bray

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24. April Showers: Language and Style

I'm continuing my journey of what waters my writer's soul. I love to read books and I'm touching on a few books this month that have added creative water to my work. This week I'm going to chat about Kathi Appelt's TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP.  This one fun read and has a swinging beat. In this story Bingo and J’miah, raccoon brothers are on a mission to save Sugar Man Swamp. Two things standout for me in this book -- language and style.

I love the language here. There is a rhythm in the cadence of the language that reminds me of music. Here's a bit of lyricism : "Nosotros somos paisanos. We are fellow countrymen. We come from the same soil." This bit gives me a good chill. I also love that the language uncovers place. For example: “They say that lightning never strikes in the same place twice, but the same is not true for courage. As it turns out, when courage strikes, it almost always begets more courage.” The choice of begets here coupled with lightning puts me in mind of an old time southern Gospel preacher. I also get some Texas swing and Texas drawl on every page. I kept smiling with each twist of phrase. Specific word choice creates universal appeal. It makes the language breathe. Check the similes in your book. Watch out for the cliches. Do better.

The style of TRUE BLUE SCOUTS is all about the southern storytelling tradition with the Texas tall tale tradition mixed in.  Multiple story lines weave here, and reminded me of a great uncle of mine who was a master basket weaver. He knew just how to bend a strip of bark or a stalk of sugar cane into the perfect basket shape. Appelt jumps from head to head: raccoons, a rattle snake, humans,feral hogs, the Sugarman and more. She captures in her word basket the need to save our natural places, the preciousness of the world around us, and what exactly it means to be a hero. Style has a job, and in this case it's to bring everyone around to the back porch for a stor, to take the chills, the laughs, and riotousness and learn something too. Think about your style and do more.

I hope that you put you best efforts into the language and style of your work this week. It might just transform into something bigger than you thought it could be. I will be back next week with more April showers. I hope you return too.

Also please consider checking out my upcoming ebook PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance. Thanks!

This week the doodle is on a egg. Here is "Spidey Egg."

Here is a little quote for your pocket.
I admire people who dare to take the language, English, and understand it and understand the melody. Maya Angelou

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25. April Showers: Implicit Characterization

Hi folks, I've been sharing this month what waters my soul as a writer. I'm at the SCBWI Houston Conference this weekend. I had the pleasure of reading FREAKY FAST FRANKIE JOE by Lutricia Clifton from Holiday House as a homework assignment from Mr. Gary D. Schmidt (an author I've wanted to take a class from for a long time).  I will be honest the title was not exactly wowing me, but I thought I will give it a shot. Dang, I didn't get to bed until one a.m. and I'm getting too old for this. I could not put this book down. This is my favorite one in a long time.

Here's the nutshell synopsis from Amazon: "When twelve-year-old Frankie Joe's mother is sent to jail, he is uprooted from his home in Texas to live with the father he has never met, his father's wife, and his father's four "legitimate" sons in Illinois. Frankie Joe is miserable. Trying to adjust to his blended family proves too much to bear, so Frankie Joe hatches a plot to escape on his bike back home to Texas. For that he needs money, and so Frankie Joe's Freaky Fast Delivery Service is born. His deliveries win new friends, a place in the rural Illinois community, and a sense of achievement. But his planned escape is destroyed by a heartbreaking betrayal, and Frankie Joe needs all of his incredible resilience and the loving support of his new family to survive the devastating loss"

This book is a master class in implicit characterization. I knew every single person (haha, they were that real to me, not characters) after I read it. It's written in first person and I was totally immersed in main character Frankie Joe's POV.  He's a great kid who has been dealt an incredibly awful  hand in life.  Interactions, reactions, and inference stitch this book together.

Clifton doesn't bog down the story with narrative. I love the tension created through her implicit characterization (much showing, little telling). Like when Frankie Joe's dad says he's only had one legal wife, and Frankie Joe gets it internally -- he's not legitimate. I love that Frankie Joe is surviving because of his plan to return home, this is his interior reality, and then that is put up against this loving family and town of stability that is wrapping around him. All  kinds of tension are created from that. I love how much he loves his mother regardless of her faults and his heart shatters when she betrays him. There is such truth in the unraveling of Frankie Joe's perception.

If you want to write in first person, have a large cast characters that are real people, and write cut above middle grade fiction, consider reading this FREAKY FAST FRANKY JOE. BTW, I don't Ms. Clifton at all. I just loved her book.

So that's April Showers. Next month I will be offering some the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, release June 2014) for my PLUMB CRAZY May series.

This week we have a guest doodle from my artist son Jesse. He calls this: "British".

Here is the quote for your pocket:

I've never bought into any sort of hard and fast, this-box/that-box characterization. People are individuals. Yes, they may be expected to be a particular way. But that doesn't mean they're going to be that way. Margaret Atwood

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