Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Good Morning Amazing!

By J.C. Lynne

Author's Note: I pushed my post about book series and reviews to December inspired by spreading good cheer! I hope you're all finding something to be joyful about. 

Good morning people. It’s the holiday week. I’ve mixed feelings about this particular group of holidays.

Sure, I love the ‘spirit’ of the season, when I can find it. I love gathering with friends. I do wait until after Turkey day to play the Yuletide tunes. 

My struggles with the holidays are twofold. I’m of Mexican and Native American Heritage, so it’s a fact my ancestors were decimated by European explorers.

For a long time, I called it Native American Decimation Day until my then fourth grader stomped home demanding we acted like ‘regular’ people. Shrug, not really my forte. 

I also struggle with Yule celebrations. Now hear me out before you light the torches and tote the pitchforks. Christmas wasn’t a Christian holiday. 

I’m not making it up. It’s a fact. Google it or Snopes it. It was pagan. 

I have no problem with Merry Christmas and the spirit of the season. I just would like to see the spirit of the season be the spirit of our day to day life. Okay, I’m off the soapbox. We can pick this up later if you want to chat over coffee.

If you are a regular reader, you know I’ve been abjured by my parents. If you have wonderful parents or if you’re missing deceased parents, I truly stand with you and celebrate your good fortune. I do occasionally worry about them and hope they’re all right, but I don't miss the stress.

That being said, I’ve jumped into the grace of the ‘season’ feet first and it started about October. I have been dancing through my days and sleeping pretty darn well. I did throw a post out there about my general happiness and it brought up an interesting thread. 

Here I was floating in the glory that is life and a long way down in the comments my friend Jake asked, "So we know what he can't do, how about what he would say you can't do?"

I chuckled and asked The Beard. "Run the table saw." That was his answer. I replied, "Run the table saw, which I could do but choose not to."

Jake said, "All I hear is whatever you can do I can do better."

That shift of banter took me for a loop. 

First off, The Beard is fully capable of making the bed. He thinks it's a waste of time. He rejects anything that drains his resources. I tease him about because he's an engineer, enough said. 

Second, I don't run the table saw because I watched my paternal grandfather slice off three of his fingers in our driveway when I was a little kid. 

Table saws are the Christines of the mechanical world. I don't even like to walk by it in the garage if it's plugged in and sometimes even when it's not. 

I blew off the subtle slight (it is FB after all) and responded. "Hey, that was Miguel's answer. I let him deal with blood thirsty mechanical. I work hard to be amazing."

"Oooh, oookay. You go power woman."

Now I let the thread drop there. It's hard to pull nuance from emojis and straight text. I know Jake has  my back. He was one of the first to defend me to my family in the post-apocalyptic drama that was my renouncement. 

BUT .... see that? You did see that coming, right? I am amazing. We are, all of us, amazing. I used to tell my students, "I'm a rockstar teacher." They would roll their eyes and say, "You can't say that about yourself." 

It's true. I'm a rockstar teacher. If I wait for anyone else to say it, I'd be waiting a long time. We are conditioned to be humble. I read humble as meek. And honey, let me tell you, meek I ain't. I did meek and it didn't work out so well.

I've embraced my goddessness and anyone who knows me will tell you I'm not a braggart. I'm confident. I'm independent. I'm straight forward. 

Nurturing my aptitude doesn't automatically make me a b&*^%. This is a huge problem in our society. I'm comfortable in my skin and therefore others are discomfited by me. 

Not my problem. I endeavor to be a mirror that reflects the better person you have within you. My certainty, my spunk is never meant to serve as judgment of who you are or where you're at. 

I'm the first person to say when I screw up. Making mistakes isn't the end of the world. It's how we navigate. Now, I hope I'm making all brand new mistakes because repeating old mistakes is just boring. 

So if you see me bouncing to a silent soundtrack, grab my arm and let's do-si-do. Slow down. Don't freak out if it's the last one on the shelf. No need to push into what you think is the shortest line. And for goodness sake, remember we're all mucking about in the wide world. 

Would you want someone to laugh or sneer because you stumbled? Or would you hope they offered you a hand? I'll offer you a hand. Okay, I might laugh first, but not until you acknowledge you're hale and healthy.

Let's never mind the differences that separate us and always remember we are all innately, wonderfully flawed human beings. It's a choice. I make it everyday. I'm amazing. 

And in the words of Kid President ... You are AWESOME! 

From your blog admin and NCW Podcast host, Rich Keller: JC took some time to talk to me about independent publishing and cheese addiction on this week's edition of the NCW Podcast. You can hear it on iTunes, PodOmatic, or the show page at Northern Colorado Writers. No table saws were harmed in the recording of the episode.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NCW Podcast #39: Independent Publishing, Part II, with JC Lynne

by Rich, host of the NCW Podcast

It's the second part of our independent publishing series with author JC Lynne. JC is the writer of the Esau trilogy of spy thrillers which she is publishing directly via Ingram Spark. We ask JC why she bypassed CreateSpace, why she decided on a trilogy, and if she would want to be E.L. James. You can listen on PodOmatic or iTunes and view the show page on the Northern Colorado Writers website.

We'd like to hear from you about this week's podcast. You can leave your comments on PodOmatic or at iTunes.

Have the message about your book or literary service go out to an average of 1,000 listeners world wide each month by sponsoring a future episode of the NCW Podcast. You receive two live reads during the sponsored episode, mention on the NCW website show page, and a mention at The Writing Bug. Find out more information at the podcast's sponsorship page.

Monday, November 23, 2015

What do you really want in your (writing) life?

By Jennifer Goble

Oprah posed two questions: “What do you really want in your life? Where are you on the path to get there?”

Thinking of my writing life, it stopped me cold. I could answer the second question but not the first. I am mysteriously reaching toward a nebulous goal.

I have no grandiose ideas of being rich and famous with my writing, which is good, since my book, My Clients...My Teachers, has not seen the financial transition from red to black on my spreadsheet. I call two weekly newspaper columns volunteer work, and no syndication opportunities are bombarding my snail or Google mailboxes.

What do I really want out of my writing life? Such a good question!

Oprah did it again; challenged me to think.

I contemplated, prioritized, and refined what I want in my writing life: I want my writing to speak to rural women. Women who live outside urban America have always been my target audience. Being one myself, I understand the isolation and challenges of living far from services and support. I also know the peace and self-development emerging from the same environment.

What a relief. I clarified what I want in my writing life. Now for the second question; “Where are you on the path to get there?”

I write the newspaper columns, a weekly blog on my website, this bi-monthly blog for NCW, and I give presentations on the value of stories. While writing and speaking, I envision women who live in small towns or on farms. My audience is clear, and I offer no-nonsense thoughts intertwined with humor. I am also attempting, with mega technical frustration, to revamp my website from selling a book to offering rural women a format to share their stories, support each other, and ask me, a mental health counselor, questions. It is a Dear Dr. J. aka Dear Abby format.

I give myself a B+ or A- for the second question. I mainly need a large dose of patience for the website changes.

I thank Oprah for getting to the core in her questions. She helped me clear up what I want from my writing life, and in the process, helped me recognize the hard work I have done to date.

What do YOU really want in your (writing) life?
Where are YOU on the path to get there?

Until the next time: Live while you live!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Writing For Truth

By Sarah Reichert

Our world is crumbling into suffering. Attacks, bombings, wars, natural disasters, hatred and venom being fired through the streets and across social media. It makes it hard for the light hearted to stay light. It makes it hard for a writer to find something positive beneath the rubble.

I’m not here to preach. This blog isn’t a soapbox to espouse my political viewpoints or decry whatever injustice is sticking in my craw at any particular moment. But something should be said for the written word in times of trial.

Some people turn to religious texts for comfort. Some turn to scientific theory. Some turn to drugs or alcohol. Some turn to binge-watching episodes of New Girl and inhaling half-a-dozen old-fashioned donuts from LaMar’s (please, no judgments). It’s important, gentle writers, to find our comfort using our words to make a meaningful and practical difference in our world.

In these days of the media’s over-dramatization of everything, wordsmiths can be the voice of reason. I, for one, would love to see intelligence take over the spread of information again.

What does that mean exactly? It means we have the power to gather the facts of situations. The facts; (not objective observations laced with political leanings) so that we can present the clearest view of happenings and build solutions based on what we know to be true.

Okay, it’s easy for a mostly-fiction writer to throw this idea out there, but even the most non-reality-writing based of us has the power to work for solutions for our world. We all know how to find credible resources and we all know how to look at a story from the perspective of all involved.

This world is complicated. We have a moral obligation to stick to the truth, and facts can lead to real solutions for those in the direst of need.

So read with a discerning eye, and write with a commitment to truth. Know the financial backing of the talking heads on television and the hot-air-bags shouting from podiums across cornfield rich states, because the best way to find the truth is to follow the money. Look at each situation from every viewpoint, and approach social discourse with civility and the end goal of working together to make the world a better place.

Use your words for the betterment of humankind. Speak with good purpose. Seek and spread the truth. Inform, educate, and inspire. So that when life throws these insurmountable battles at us frail, and fantastic human beings, we can prevail together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On the Road Again

By April Moore

Last month, my sixteen-year-old son was in his first fender bender. Fortunately, it wasn't his fault. Nevertheless, it left some damage to his car. Nothing that can't be fixed and/or replaced.

Recently, I slowed down with my writing, got rear ended, and mowed over by an annoying driver named Procrastination. I wish I could say it wasn't my fault.  I had been paying too close attention to everything except the road in front of me. Unfortunately, I can't take my beat up manuscript to the repair shop and have the experts smooth out the bumps and tack on a shiny, new beginning. (And while they're at it, fill it up with some high-octane fuel.)

Nope, that's my job.

If you're not paying attention to the writing road in front of you, it's easy to get detoured straight into a dead end. Instead of focusing on my current work-in-progress, I let it fall to the wayside and I sort of lost my way. I was lucky, however, to have had the NCW retreat to get me back on track. I wrote 10,000 words and got the manuscript on the road again. (Fitting, since the story is about a roadtrip . . . hmmm.)

If you're running into roadblocks with your current project and you can't escape to a quiet writing retreat, there's still plenty you can do to jump start a dead manuscript:

  • Force yourself to get away, even for a day, with your story and fall in love with it again.
  • Create a writing schedule and stick to it, even if it's only thirty or sixty minutes a day. This is especially helpful if you pair up with a friend and meet once a week to discuss each other's project. It's motivating to have someone keeping you accountable.
  • If you can't meet with a writing pal, send it over email and schedule a phone chat.
  • Try writing something else for a while to spark the creativity. (It's like driving a rental car while yours is in the shop; you'll need a vehicle, right?)

When your manuscript crashes, don't leave it on the side of the road. You may have to throw away some of the pieces, but that's okay; you can put shiny, new replacement parts on. These things happen, so don't beat yourself up over them. (I promise, you won't get a ticket.)

How do you get your writing back on the road when you veer off?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NCW Podcast #38: Independent Publishing, Part I with Award-Winning Author Carol Van Natta

by Rich Keller, host of the NCW Podcast

We begin a three-part series on independent publishing this week with award-winning science fiction author Carol Van Natta, writer of the Central Galactic Concordance series of romantic sci-fi novels. During the 40 minute conversation we discuss her decision to go into independent publishing, why she decided on solely producing eBooks, and her larger plan for marketing. The podcast is available on PodOmatic. The show page appears Wednesday on the NCW website.

We'd like to hear from you about this week's podcast. You can leave your comments on PodOmatic or at iTunes.

Have the message about your book or literary service go out to an average of 1,000 listeners world wide each month by sponsoring a future episode of the NCW Podcast. You receive two live reads during the sponsored episode, mention on the NCW website show page, and a mention at The Writing Bug. Find out more information at the podcast's sponsorship page.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Two Inspirations

Post by Jenny

I don’t know if the early dark of post-daylight savings time is getting to me, or the fact that I’m not participating in the fun, all-out writing frenzy of NaNoWriMo, but I’ve needed a little inspiration this week. The holidays are approaching, bringing the end of the year in tow, and that always gets me thinking about what I have (and haven’t) accomplished. If you’re feeling a bit of the same thing, I hope you will find some encouragement, as I have, in these two stories:

The painter Carmen Herrera turned 100 this year. That’s pretty impressive, and we should all be so lucky. But what really resonates with me is her capacity for patience and persistence. As a woman of Cuban heritage, she was an outsider in the New York art world in the 1950s and received little-to- no recognition. But she kept at it and never wavered from her vision, saying in a 2010 interview with the Observer, “When you’re known, you want to do the same thing again to please people. And, as nobody wanted what I did, I was pleasing myself, and that’s the answer.”

It’s good advice, and you’ve probably heard something similar before. Now back to the patience and persistence part: though she has since become the toast of the art world, Carmen Herrera didn’t make her first sale until the age of 89, 60 or so years after she began painting. “Someone once told me,” she says, “if you wait for the bus, the bus will come.”

Larry McMurtry’s bus arrived much earlier. His first novel, Horseman, Pass By, came out when he was just 25 years old and was made into the movie Hud a few years later. McMurtry wrote ten books before the Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove turned him into a household name. After that tremendous success, he moved to Washington, D.C. and opened a store selling rare and used books—arguably a man at the top of the literary world.

Then he suffered a heart attack, underwent quadruple bypass surgery, and fell into a deep depression. He “faded out of (his) life” and for a year could barely get up from the couch. Even though he didn’t even feel like reading, he continued to write for an hour or two each morning. At the end of that difficult year, he had what would become Streets of Laredo, the sequel to Lonesome Dove. McMurtry is now 79 years old and has written more than 30 novels.

Sometimes, giving up is easy and seems like the best course of action. But many, many people have succeeded in the face of adversity, so why not keep at it? Maybe your bus is right around the corner.

When you’re feeling stuck, who or what inspires your writing?

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