Posted May 22nd, 2013 by Victoria
Well, retreat is over and it’s time to get back to reality – which for me, means back to editing other people’s stories while working on my own. Yes, I’m one of those horrible things called an editor. I’m the person who tells you where to put your commas and whether a word is a possessive or plural.
But I’m also a writer. And in addition to my works you can find on my bookshelf, I’d like you to take a look at a place called Gloaming Gap. It’s a place where several people I know, including me, got together to write new gothic stories. I’ve included the link below to my own stories, but feel free to take a look around and see what else is there – you won’t be disappointed, I promise.
Posted May 13th, 2013 by Victoria
This post will be a little different today. Instead of giving you editorial tidbits, I’m going to talk about an event that’s going to take place this week for myself and my friends. We will all be jumping in our cars and driving 3-4+ hours to reach an incredible place where we will spend the next three and a half days at a writing retreat.
This is a time of fun, getting together with like-minded friends who also happen to be writers – and writing. Lots of writing. Or editing. Or brainstorming. Or outlining. If it has to do with writing, we do it. There are no workshops to attend, no agents or editors to impress, no schedules to adhere to (well, almost none, but I’ll get to that.) It’s just an intense time of writing and is something we look forward to all year. This will be our tenth year of doing this.
When we first started the retreat, it went from Friday evening to Sunday morning. So actually, we only had one full day of writing. It was fun and we got a lot done, but still… one day. That wasn’t much. So we expanded it to now include Thursday to Sunday right before lunch (though most of us do leave right after breakfast because of the distance involved).
Now you may think that two days isn’t much time to get anything done. But you’d be wrong. You’d be surprised how much you can get done when you have nothing else to worry about. We stay in a hotel-like establishment. Our meals are provided for us as well as snacks. For those who need breaks, there are hiking trails (though at least two of our members are no longer permitted on them without a GPS – a story for another day), exercise and activity rooms, and a small museum on site. The only schedules we adhere to are meal times. And we do take some time both Friday and Saturday evenings for a little relaxation and time with each other (but those are optional – if you’re in the middle of an intense scene – keep on writing!).
We go full of excitement and anticipation; we work hard, play harder and return exhausted and brain dead, but usually satisfied with what we accomplished.
So my suggestion to you is… plan your own writing retreat. It doesn’t have to be as elaborate as ours. Can you get away for a weekend? Or even just an hour? Yes, you can have a retreat for an hour. You go into your room/office/place of writing – turn off the internet and other distractions and concentrate on nothing but your writing.
You might be surprised what you can get accomplished – even in just an hour.
Posted March 27th, 2013 by Victoria
In my “real” life, I am an editor and I work at a small, independent bookstore so my life is surrounded by books. I was also a reviewer for a national magazine for almost twenty years, and have a degree in library science. All this goes to say – I love books. I can’t get enough of them. Though sometimes…
As an editor, I spend my days making other people’s books better. I look at plot lines, continuity, grammar, spelling… everything. It’s not easy work and I don’t always like the book the publisher sends me to work on, but I do work on them all with the same level of integrity and attention, no matter the subject. It is my job to take these rough rocks and turn them into polished gems.
All this is to say that, by the end of my “work” day, I am usually more than ready to turn off the computer and do something that does not involve whether to hyphenate “face to face” or capitalize “Google”. Unfortunately, my own writing time suffers because of this – by the time I finish, I’m just not ready to work on my own stuff. It took some doing, but I finally figured out that, unless I’m under a deadline, I’m going to have to be a weekend writer. I don’t edit on weekends (again, unless I’m under a deadline) so that is my time to write – and I’ve found I’m actually more productive.
When I carved out time in the evenings, it always took a little time for me to figure out where I was in the story and where I needed to be next, and there was never enough time to really give the work justice. But by setting my weekends up for just that (and yes, all the other stuff I have to do on weekends – but I’m still adjusting the schedule), I have a lot more time and can write longer and better than a little here and a little there.
I’m still tweaking the schedule, and probably will for some time, but for now, it’s working. So look to see new stuff from me soon – or as soon as I can find a new publisher! In the meantime, check out Danger on Xy-One – a non-erotic futuristic romance under my other name.
Posted March 17th, 2013 by Victoria
I love crossword puzzles. There. I’ve said it. I’m one of those people who do them in ink. I’ve been doing them since I was a little kid. Dad would pull me up on his lap and we’d do them together. It was his way of teaching me, a slow to start reader, spelling and vocabulary. We also did other word games – like when we were waiting for another family member, he’d point out a sign on a building or billboard and have me figure out how many words I could find in one big word. He made it fun, which is probably why I still love word puzzles of any sort. But especially crosswords.
One of the things I look forward to on Sundays is the New York Times crossword puzzle. It’s a challenge I enjoy.
What I don’t enjoy is crossword puzzles that don’t follow standard puzzle conventions. Like one letter per box. I detest puzzles that have entire words in a single box, and don’t even use the same standard. Like today’s puzzle that used the word “water” or “H2O” in blocks. It’s not cute. It’s not fun. It’s nothing but frustration as you look at the puzzle and know the answer, but it doesn’t fit the grid. Even though I don’t like to stop something in the middle, I will often not finish these puzzles, mostly because of the frustration factor.
So I am asking you – if you are a crossword puzzle lover, how do you feel about puzzles like this?
Posted March 9th, 2013 by Victoria
Birthdays: William Cobbett, Vita Sackville-West, Mickey Spillane,
Tips and Teasers: A redundancy is the use of a word or words that are not necessary and can be eliminated without losing the meaning of the sentence. “That” is often a redundant word. Go over your manuscript. Are there any places where “that” can be eliminated?
Thought for the day: “To note an artist’s limitations is but to define his talent. A reporter can write equally well about everything that is presented to his view, but a creative writer can do his best only with what lies within the range and character of his deepest sympathies.” – Willa Cather
Posted March 8th, 2013 by Victoria
Oops – missed a couple of days – just too much going on. My apologies. So here is an abbreviated one for today. Enjoy!
Birthdays: Erik Linklater, Kenneth Grahame, Sembene Ousmane
Tips and Teasers: Make a list of places you would like to visit. Now do the research. Besides money, what would you need to go to these places? Why do you want to visit them? What draws you there? If you can’t go, how much can you find out about them through research?
Thought for the day: “Writing is not about degrees or vocabulary or diagramming a sentence. It is simply about the desire to tell a story.” – Fannie Flagg
Posted March 5th, 2013 by Victoria
In addition to the birthdays, quote and tips, I’m happy to announce the print version of my futuristic romance, Danger on Xy-One, is available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. It’s been available as an ebook, but now will be in print format as well. The publisher is Ellora’s Cave found in their “Blush” line (the non-erotic portion of the site). It is a futuristic romance full of danger, mystery, and, of course, romance. A story in the Hunters for Hire series.
Aleksia Matthews is an asteroid assayer who would like nothing better than to be left alone. Her life is soon turned upside down when a band of ruthless pirates attack her ship. Shemanages to escape, but fears the worst for her brother. Ali swears revenge. Although well-trained by Fleet Security, she knows she can’t do the job alone. When she literally runs into a stranger, Jason Cole she knows she has met the perfect partner — in more ways than one.
Special agent and Bounty Hunter, Jason has spent the past year tracking the pirates who killed his brother Zack and Zack’s family. He’s always one step behind, too late to help the victims. There are never any survivors — until now. It is up to him to keep Ali alive and out of trouble until the gang can be captured, and maybe longer. Buy here: http://www.ellorascave.com/danger-on-xy-one-1.html#
Birthdays: Mark Handley, Michael Resnick, Howard Pyle
Tips and Teasers: Go to your nearest public library and browse the stacks. Check out areas you don’t normally go. What can you find that’s new and different for you?
Thought for the day: “When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life.” – Erica Jong.
Posted March 4th, 2013 by Victoria
Today is “Hug a G.I.” day – actually, for what they do and endure, that should be every day. Thank you to the men and women of the Armed Forces.
Birthdays: Alan Sillitoe, Johann Wyss
I’m not overly familiar with Sillitoe, though I should be, but Johann Wyss? Even if you don’t know the name, I know you’re familiar with his most famous work – The Swiss Family Robinson. Sillitoe was a prolific writer of fiction, poetry, plays, and more.
Thought for the day: “The muse whispers to you when she chooses, and you can’t tell her to come back later, because you quickly learn in this business that she may not come back at all.” – Terry Brooks
Tips and Teasers: What is your book about? Boil the answer down to no more than two sentences. This becomes the basis for your pitch to editors and agents.
Posted March 3rd, 2013 by Victoria
Birthdays: Emile-Auguste Chartier, Sidney Lanier
Okay, I have to admit, I’ve never heard of either of these authors. But I did look the up when their names appeared on the birthday list. Interesting people. Go ahead, check them out. Lanier was a well-known American poet who has a school in Alabama named after him. And Chartier was a French philosopher and essayist who wrote under the name “Alain”.
Thought for the day: “I know some very good writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts” – Anne Lemont.
Tips and Teasers: If you are not hearing impaired, try watching TV without the sound on, using closed captioning. What do you feel like you’ve missed, if anything? Write down your feelings about going all day without sound.
Posted March 2nd, 2013 by Victoria
Birthdays: John Irving, Philip K. Dick, John Jay Chapman, Theodor Geisel
Okay, I’ve heard of all of these, but my favorite is Theodor Geisel, aka Dr.Seuss. His lessons in silly rhymes educated and amused me for years, and still do. As a young librarian, my students used to challenge me to see how fast I could read “Fox in Socks” (a lot faster than I can now) and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” went to each of my children as they graduated, and has become a classic gift for that event for thousands. And can anyone forget Horton and his care over eggs and tiny Who’s? His birthday (today) is the inspiration for Read Across America.
Thought for the day: “Sometimes, it’s simply best to rip it all up and start over.” – Chuck Leddy
Tips and Teasers: Find a Dr. Seuss book (or several) and sit down and read it – to yourself, or someone else, it doesn’t matter – listen to the words – the sounds, the rhythms. Then write your own Dr. Seuss story.