Monday, September 29, 2014

Autumn and Writing, Perfect Together





 
"...I cannot endure to waste anything so precious 
as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. 
So I have spent almost all the daylight 
hours in the open air."

~Nathaniel Hawthorne



What's your favorite season? I am partial to autumn. For some reason fall inspires me to write. Maybe it's the cooler temperatures and cozy evenings at home, or the inspiration I find from being outdoors and enjoying the fresh air and colorful foliage. I think Mr. Hawthorne is on to something.

Discovered these items recently - thought they might inspire some autumnal writing. :) 

How I Found the Write Path is a collection assembled by Carrie Butler and P.K. Hrezo featuring authors such as Robyn Campbell, Alex J. Cavanaugh,  Medeia Sharif, C. Lee McKenzie, and Tyrean Martinson. As I compose this post, it is free for Kindle (99 cents otherwise). Check it out hereThis is the Amazon description: 

"In this endearing compilation, over sixty authors share letters written to their past selves, candidly sharing what they might not always discuss in public. The hope is that those of you who haven’t published will learn from their experiences. And those of you who have published? Well, you just might realize you’re not alone."


Do you write for children? How to Sell Your Picture Books by Agent Lara Perkins highlights four crucial elements for success.

Historical fiction writers take note - C.S. Lakin's post, 5 How-to Tips for Writing Historical Fiction offers wonderful tips and insight.

Hop over to Rhonda Schrock's blog  for her thoughts about television remotes and mirrors. I'm pretty sure it will make you smile.

In other news...

Sandy Sieber interviewed yours truly over at PA History.

Write for Life, my latest book, is now available for 99 cents on Kindle. This is Volume One, Writing the Research Paper and it includes lessons for grades 7-12.

Congratulations to Cecelia Lester, the winner of Sarah Sundin's book. Thanks to everyone who stopped by for her interview last week.

Does one season inspire your writing more than another? What do you have going on this week?

Happy writing,

Karen

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Visit from Sarah Sundin

Exciting news - Sarah Sundin has two new books out! She is here this week to share about her latest release, Where Treetops Glisten. Please join me in welcoming her. :)  Sarah's offered a copy of Where Treetops Glisten for a giveaway, so check out the details below.

Welcome, Sarah! Congratulations on your latest books! You have been super busy this year with the release of In Perfect Time and Where Treetops Glisten. How did the collaboration with Cara Putman and Tricia Goyer for Where Treetops Glisten come about? 

That was a lot of fun. In 2011, Cara came up with the idea of the three of us writing a WWII Christmas novella collection. Tricia and I loved the idea, tossed around a few ideas, and then we let it rest. That Christmas, on a road trip to visit family, I was blindsided by a Christmas novella idea. It flew together so quickly it’s hard to trace how the story came together. In a few days I essentially had the entire novella outlined with major scenes sketched. I loved this story so much, I knew I had to write it even if Cara and Tricia weren’t interested in a collection. Well, I emailed Cara, and it turned out she had an idea for a novella…and so did Tricia. We had a few brainstorming emails and a conference call or two, and the concept for Where Treetops Glisten came together.

Can you give us a peek into the stories? 

The three stories follow the Turner family from Lafayette, Indiana throughout World War II.

Cara Putman’s story, White Christmas, happens in 1942. Abigail Turner is a student at Purdue who enjoys her job at Glatz Candies. Then she meets Jackson Lucas, a man carrying a heavy burden for his widowed mother he’s supporting. Abigail is determined to help him save the family farm, but will she be able to overcome her fears of falling in love again?


In my novella, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Lt. Pete Turner comes home for furlough in December 1943 after completing a combat tour as a fighter pilot based in England. His tank is on empty, but his pastor’s advice to give baffles him. How can he give something out of nothingness? But then he meets little Linnie Kessler and her lovely widowed mother Grace. Can he convince Grace he’s no longer the bully she knew as a child? And will his gift to them fill the empty places in their lives?


In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Merry Turner is serving as an Army nurse in the Netherlands in December 1944. Still reeling from betrayal and a broken heart, she’s confused and concerned by the anonymous gifts that turn up for her Christmas birthday—personal gifts that point to the very man who betrayed her.

Is this the first collaborative project/book you've done? Has it been any different from when you write a novel by yourself? 

This is my first collaborative project, but Cara and Tricia had done collections before. It required some coordination, particularly with timelines and character histories and traits. I made up several charts to keep us on track, so Cara and Tricia dubbed me the “spreadsheet queen.” But then I benefited from their energy and fountains of ideas. Really, these women don’t shut down. Another thing that was interesting to me was using characters who didn’t “belong” to me. Both Abigail and Merry appear as side characters in my story, and we all used the parents and grandma, so we needed to keep the personalities consistent. We had lots of emails asking “What would Abigail be doing here?” “Would Pete say that?” or “What’s Merry feeling at this time?”

It would be a lot to keep track of, that's for sure. How do you keep yourself on track with your writing deadlines? Have any tips to share? 

Spreadsheets and charts. He he he. Really, I do. My monthly goal chart is crucial to me—that’s where I list all the tasks that have to be done each month. I work back from my deadline and divide up how many chapters I need to write each month, leaving time for editing afterward and lots of pre-writing beforehand. I also include publicity activities, when I need to update my website and social media sites, etc. I keep a separate spreadsheet for interviews and articles with due dates and post dates so nothing falls between the cracks.

Sounds like a great system. Successful too, since you have seven books to your credit! Are there any new books in the works? 

Yes, there are! My new Waves of Freedom series follows three American naval officers based in Boston during World War II. The first novel, Through Waters Deep, comes out August 2015. In 1941, as America teeters on the brink of World War II, Mary Stirling works at the Boston Navy Yard and renews an old friendship with naval officer Ens. Jim Avery. Jim’s destroyer escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic, but problems on his ship point to a saboteur at the shipyard. As Mary works to find the culprit and Jim battles U-boats, their friendship promises to blossom into something more. But could a deeper friendship rip them apart?

Wishing you all the best with your current books and the new series too. Looking forward to reading them. :)

Thank you Karen, and thanks for inviting me to stop by!

Giveaway Details

  • You must be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower of Write Now. (See sidebar to sign up if you don't already follow.)
  • Please leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.
  • Giveaway ends Thursday, September 25 at midnight EDT. Open to US residents only.
  • Winner will be chosen by random.org and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Find Sarah and her books on her website. Stop by her blog as well, she'd love to see you!  

Do you have any questions for Sarah? How do you keep your writing tasks organized?

Happy writing,

Karen

Monday, September 8, 2014

Perspective


My book got its first two star rating on Amazon a few weeks ago. Good and bad reviews are part of the deal, but I must admit, it stung a little.            

Other than the initial sting though, I was pretty okay with it. It shook my confidence momentarily, but I remembered the advice of a few of my favorite writers.

Jody Hedlund shared her thoughts on the topic, "My book won't be everyone's cup of tea, and that's okay."  (My paraphrase.)

Ann Gabhart lent further insight when she said, "Rejection is not fatal."

Jody and Ann are right. Bad reviews and rejection - they aren't the end of the world. You can't please all the people all the time. It's all about perspective.

It's been a good reality check, this less than stellar review, for it offered an opportunity to review priorities and what motivates me. Here is my short list. See how it compares to yours.


Faith - I believe that God is in control no matter what. Nothing takes Him by surprise.

Family and Friends - It's good to know your loved ones are on your team.

I. Must. Write. - The need to express myself no matter what anyone else thinks.

The Importance of Sharing - I feel led to share various experiences and bits of info with others.

The Take Away - There's often something to learn from a negative review, constructive criticism, or a rejection letter. Challenges sharpen our skills and help us grow.

Balance - Knowing there will be ups and downs helps maintain a better outlook.

Blessings - Remember and count them daily.

How do you handle rejection or bad reviews? What helps you keep a good perspective? What's on your short list?

It's been crazy busy around here, with a manuscript submission, the start of my teen writing classes, and a wedding on our property over the weekend. So I am taking a break until September 22 when Sarah Sundin stops by to talk about her new book. Hope you can join us. :)

Enjoy September!

Happy writing,

Karen


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, September 1, 2014

Plugging Away


My manuscript is due this week so I've gotten little else done around here, including today's post. It was going to be riveting and insightful. Well maybe not quite, but it was a good idea that I thought you might like. It will have to wait for another day; I hope you don't mind if I share a few links instead.


If you happen to do historical research, I reviewed a book in the Writer's Guide to Everyday Life series at the Coffeehouse for Writers Blog. It's a wonderful resource for writers of all genres.


Carol J. Alexander at Everything Home with Carol has a great giveaway going this week. Prizes include free downloads of Paperless Home Organization, Lessons from the Homestead, my book Homeschool Co-ops 101 and other home/homeschool resources.

What are you writing this week? Have any special Labor Day plans?


Happy writing,

Karen



Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Visit With Susan Sundwall


The lovely and talented Susan Sundwall joins us today to discuss her latest book, The Super Bar Incident. This is Susan's second book in her mystery series. Susan's offered to give away a copy of both her books so be sure and check out the details below.


Welcome to Write Now, Susan. Congrats on the new book! How did this story come about? 


Thank you so much for having me, Karen. I’m honored. The Super Bar Incident is the second in my Minnie Markwood mystery series. I wrote it because I had so much fun writing the first one and wanted to expand on  Minnie’s adventures. In Super Bar I put our intrepid mystery shopper and amateur sleuth on a diet. Most of my readers are women and I’m sure they’ll be able to relate to her Titanic battle with the scale. I also ramp up the romance between her two sidekicks, Rashawna and Joel. 


Yes, I know many of your readers will relate to that "Titanic battle". I know I do! How did you get into mystery writing?


I’ve always loved reading mysteries and never thought I could write one, until I began reading Janet Evanovich. She was the first mystery author I’d read who put a lot of humor and sass into her stories and I loved it. Reading her kind of gave me permission to let my own wacky side come out. I realized a mystery didn’t have to be so mind tangling. And though I’m not as um – risqué – as Janet, it was very freeing. And, of course, finding a publisher, Mainly Murder Press, validated my belief that I could write a mystery.  
  

Humor and sass - that appeals to a vast audience, I'm thinking. I'm glad you gave it a shot, for it sounds like it's right up your alley. :) Do you have a specific writing routine? How do you stay on track and meet your deadlines?



As they say, lark or owl, and I’m definitely a lark. I do my best writing in the early morning and am often surprised when several hours have gone by seemingly on a freight train. I break the rest of the day into chunks with an hour here or there for a re-write of my current project. A deadline is sort of like a mosquito. It buzzes around and you stand it for just so long before you swat it. If I swat it in time (and I always do) I let myself have a small – okay big – treat. Hot fudge sundaes top the list. 

That comparison of mosquitoes and deadlines is on target! Speaking of sundaes, do you have a favorite writing snack?


When I’m “in the zone” I don’t even think of eating. Sometime a cup of good coffee will help me along, but often it goes cold. Oh wait, does Candy Crush count as a snack? As a break in the tedium of finding exactly the right earrings for Minnie to wear in scene #18, I do “snack” there. Incidentally, Minnie has 300 pairs of earrings, so choosing the right ones each day is daunting. 


I guess Candy Crush could count...:) Wow, that's a lot of earrings. I guess she can wear a different pair almost every day! What's your favorite piece of writing advice?


When I first began writing I’d hear two things repeatedly and they’ve stuck with me. The first is B.I.C., Butt in chair, and the second is, Finish the Book. This is the dynamic duo of writing. Embrace them like Batman and you’ll be well rewarded. 

Ah, good advice. We don't get any writing done if we don't show up and apply ourselves. Thanks so much for sharing with us today. Best wishes with your books!

Thank you, Karen. :) 

Find Susan's books on Amazon

Visit Susan on her Blog 

More About Susan

Susan Sundwall is a mystery writer who sets her stories in and around Albany, New York. Her first mystery, The Red Shoelace Killer – A  Minnie Markwood Mystery, was published in late 2012. Her second book in the series, The Super Bar Incident, was released in August 2014. Both are available at Amazon, Untreed Reads and from the publisher. She lives in Valatie, New York, with her husband and adopted stray cat, Sister Agnes.

Giveaway Details and Requirements

One happy Write Now follower will win a signed print copy of The Superbar Incident and an ebook of the first Minnie Markwood Mystery, The Red Shoelace Killer
  • You must be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower (see box on sidebar).
  • You must leave your email address with your comment.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight EST Thursday August 28, 2014. Winner will be chosen by random.org, notified by email, and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Do you have any questions for Susan? Do you like to read mysteries? What is your favorite writing snack?

Happy writing,
Karen