Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | By: HiDee

Connecting with Life's Curveballs

Life has a tendency to throw curveballs at us.  Sometimes we swing and connect.  Other times, we strike out.  

Urban dictionary defines a curveball as “A particularly difficult issue, obstacle, or problem. Named after the equally tricky baseball pitch.”

Long work-day hours, car problems, family crises and illness are all things that can derail our writing intentions.  Learning (and accepting) that we can’t control these types of things, even if we want to, can be a hard lesson.  We roll along, fully expecting events to play out in a normal fashion – normal being relative.  We try to mold people and events so they unfold in our own personal grand scheme.  We live by Plan A.

And then that curveball comes along, smashing our expectations to smithereens. 

Caught off-guard, we are not prepared to deal with the changes going on around us.  Not that we should be pessimistic, but curveballs tend to throw us into a funk, stopping us from living our lives as we normally would. We become distracted, and miss taking advantage of opportunities presented to us.  What is Plan B?  Do we need a Plan C?  How are we going to get through the immediate difficulty and bring our lives back under control?  

Curveballs don’t have to be bad experiences.  Learning to deal with difficulties helps us to grow, to expand our horizons in ways we might not otherwise have considered.  We must learn to adapt, because as much as we went to, we can not control everything in our lives. 

So how can we learn to use those curveballs to our advantage?

Take time to cry, to vent, or to be frustrated.  Validate your feelings:  believe in yourself, and know that it’s okay to feel the way you feel.  But also recognize that not everyone will feel the same way you do, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.  Then, get creative and find ways to rejuvenate and stay positive.  Learn from the experience. 

My 17-year old son recently set a great example for me.  Last week, only one month before high school graduation, he broke his upper arm playing dodgeball.  They tell us it’s the worst break you can have.  One week, two splints and a brace later, the doctors finally (hopefully) have his arm set so it can heal correctly.  The arm is immobilized, preventing him from normal movement; from any movement with that arm.  No writing (how will he take final exams?), no driving (it’s embarrassing to be driven around by mom and dad), and they want him sleeping upright (not comfortable).   He’s facing 8-12 weeks in a brace, and even then will not be fully healed.  But throughout the last week, he’s faced each day with a smile, determined to adapt so he can accomplish the goals he has set for himself.  

My son is making a connection with that curveball, and inspiring me to do the same. 

Friday, April 18, 2014 | By: Cafe
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.
 - Dorothy Fields
Thursday, April 17, 2014 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Kathryn Daugherty

Join us today at The Write Way Café in welcoming author Kathryn Daugherty, and sharing how writing romance gave her greater insights into love and family.

When did you first have the thought you’d like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
Over the years when I’d finish reading a book I’d think I could have written that. In 2005 after major back surgery with many activities I could no longer participate in, I figured it was time to put that thinking to the test. I soon discovered it was not nearly as easy as it looks. I always thought of writing romance, because that’s what I enjoyed reading. I read romance mainly because I gravitate towards books with a happy ending.

What was your path to getting the book written and published? What type of research did you do?
When I decided to write, the first class I took was an online romance writing class. That was when I discovered it wasn’t so easy. So I took up writing short stories. I had minor successes with two of my short stories, White Lies and Secret Alliance. Both were published, Secret Alliance in the Writers’ Journal and White Lies in The Secret Attic publication. With a couple of wins, I thought maybe it was time to move into novel writing. I attended a writing conference and a romance workshop, and I started with a short story that had more story to tell. Eventually this short story became my novel A Case of Hearts. By eventually I mean 4 years of writing and rewriting. The custody case is a major part of the story, I wanted it to be authentic. Laura who is an attorney and is also my daughter-in-laws friend agreed to read and advise on the legal aspects of the story. She was a great asset in making the story real.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
I mentioned earlier that the story began as a short story. In the beginning the story was to tell how a person reacts when policemen show up at the door in the middle of the night with horrific news. The more I wrote and the more I learned about Carol and Jeff, the story and conflicts grew. Carol needed an attorney and Jeff needed a man’s influence so Donovan was invented to fill both roles.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
I wanted the story to be set in the Midwest since I was familiar with that part of the country. I also wanted the city to be large enough to support a college and public transportation. Yet not so large that people would not know each other. It was important that people would be acquainted with high society individuals.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Carol and Donovan are a mixture of many heroine/hero characters I’ve met through many romance stories. The character of Jeff is made up of many little boys who have stolen my heart: my own sons, grandson, nephews, and great nephews, and a couple of very special little guys that call me Grandma, even though we aren’t related.
     The cover of my book was a photo taken by my son-in-law Chris Holmes. The little boy in the picture frame is my Grandson Keegan. Anyone who knows me or our family will recognize many names that are in the book as names of family members. For me this was an opportunity to honor and remember people that I LOVE! Though the characters for the most part do not resemble these family member in the least.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so how did you handle them? If not what’s your secret?
The block I faced during the writing was for at least 6 months I wrote and rewrote chapter 1 and 2 trying to make them perfect before I moved forward in the story. There were two things that finally got me off the block. 1) I met a fellow writer at an open house at “the Write Place,” a local publisher. Lee Collins, the author of a novel titled “Too Much Left Unsaid”  and I started meeting on a regular schedule. She finally got tired of reading and rereading the same two chapters and told me to finish it! 2) I entered a novel contest where the winner would have their novel published. Having a critique partner and a deadline turned out to be the push I needed to complete the story.

What have been surprises you’ve encountered while writing the book and after?
The biggest surprise for me came after I finished the book and came back and read the complete story aloud to my sister on a long trip to Minnesota. As I read different sentences, paragraphs or chapters I’d think WOW! I really wrote that??? That being said, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when people, even family members, would come back after reading the published novel, and say WOW!  I didn’t know you could write.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, about family ties, custody situations, and lawyers while writing A Case of Hearts?
     About myself – I could do it! I could stick with a project and finish it. I learned I could follow a story line and add conflict and character traits when needed. I learned that I could weave a story together that people would LOVE, that I wrote a story that people have told me they didn’t want to put down. They wanted to keep reading to see what happens next. Those words are music to a writer’s ear.
     About process – I learned my process is part outline and part seat of my pants. So part planner and part pantser, not unusual for most writers I don’t think. I need to get the complete story down on paper and then come back and edit. If I leave the story in a cliff hanger it is easier to come back and write the next day. I’ve learned that Grammarly and Auto Crit Writing Wizard are my best friends. Having a critique/writing friend who is honest, but kind, can help me improve my writing, and it’s a blessing.
     About the writing world – I have found many other writers that are encouraging and want to help you succeed. On the other hand there are some, who in order to feel superior, can only tear down and discourage you from writing. That is not so much different from the “other” world we live in. You are likely to encounter those individuals in any part of your life. Have confidence in your writing do not let anyone put you down. Connect with writers that understand your genre. Most important get rid of the negative Ned or Nancy in your head that tells you no.
     About family ties – I’m fortunate enough to come from a close family. I have 1 brother, 2 sisters and have lost one sister to cancer. We were blessed to be raised in a loving family, where my maternal grandmother lived with us, it was a close family. My parents passed away within 5 months of each other; my dad first, 6 days before Christmas, my mom 5 days before Mother’s Day. The real love story was them, my mom had never lived alone in her 78 years, when dad died she moved in with my younger sister. She had a few health issues but the truth of it, she passed away from a broken heart, she wanted only to be with dad. Five years later we lost my older sister to cancer. Another devastation. But through it all we have remained close and still gather together for many holidays through the year. At Christmas, there are 60 in all with our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great nieces, and nephews.
     About custody issues – When my son was sixteen my husband Cliff adopted him. So a few of the issues in the story about custody were issues we went through, though there wasn’t a custody battle at all.  Most of the legal issues and documents were furnished by my friend Laura. I wrote the legal proceedings and then would have Laura read to see if it was authentic. She’d advise me to what would and wouldn’t work. I wanted the legal proceeding to be as close to real as possible,but took some poetic license so it was interesting to the reader.

Tell us about your writing space and how it works for you.
My writing space is awesome! My husband and I live on the bank of the Des Moines River. When we moved here the gazebo was the previous owners hot tub room, basically unfinished. In the fall of 2008 after my beloved sister Linda had passed I couldn’t make myself write. Not only was she my big sister she was my editor and my best supporter. My wonderful husband decided it was time to get me back to what made me happy. He renovated the gazebo, putting in a ceiling, walls, windows, and floor. So with a writing space I went back to work at writing. The gazebo sits 7 feet off the ground and is 35 feet away from the bank of the river. I see the water flow downstream, watch bald eagles, white pelicans, geese, ducks all live on the river. I see wild turkeys and deer across the river which come down to drink.  It is a wondrous place to write.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
Romance, romance and more romance. I LOVE a happy ever after story. I like a story that brings couples together when they learn to LOVE and respect each other. I enjoy stories about women who work through problems, that are not necessarily damsels in distress, but who use their minds to overcome obstacles. I like a cozy mystery and if there is romance thrown in all the better.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on another women’s romance. The story has two heroines, one is in her 60’s the other in her 30’s. The older character fell in LOVE with a soldier, forty-five years ago, just before he left for Vietnam. The younger one is trying to figure out what LOVE really means.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
If I were to write in a different genre it would be a cozy mystery. I enjoy the old “whodunit” mysteries.  Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Diagnosis Murder, and Mystery Women, trying to figure out the who murdered who and why.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I worked in hospitality for several years. Meeting new people and wondering who they were and where they were traveling was always a fun game for me. I would also enjoy doing event planning. I like the details of pulling together a party.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Grammar and spelling. I’ve always believed my problem with spelling came when they quit teaching phonics when I was in grade school. My brothers and sisters all had phonics and are excellent spellers. Even my kids were better spellers. When they were at home I was always asking them to spell words for me. As far as grammar there are way too many rules that conflict with each other. Way too many things to know.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
I find it quite difficult to choose only one heroine/hero. I look to so many people who are and have been heroes in my life, including my parents, my husband, my children, my brother and sisters. The soldiers who are serving to preserve our freedom and liberties, they definitely are my heroes. My youngest son TJ believes we all have the ability to be someone’s hero, a humble idea, don’t you think?

Thank you for asking me to be a part of your blog and asking me great thought provoking questions.

A Case of Hearts can be purchased at AmazonBarnes and Noble online, at her website www.kathryndaugherty.com or by visiting the Write Place.

About Kathryn:  Kathryn  (Erickson)  Daugherty always dreamed of writing, her first opportunity to pursue the craft came in 2005, when she encountered health problems. She put her time away from her regular activities to begin her writing journey. After improving her skills she wrote her first published story, titled "White Lies." Kathryn’s second taste of success was with another short story, “Secret Alliance.” The story placed first in the Short Story contest and was published in the November 2007 issue of Writers’ Journal. She also received honors at the All Iowa Writer’s Conference in 2012 with her short story “Consequences,” and again in 2013 with her story “Lightening and the Lake.” All short stories are available at her website.   

Though Kathryn did not have the opportunity to go to college, she is grateful to her father for encouraging her to learn to type. Her father always said her typing skills would serve her well. Since she has worked at a variety of careers throughout the years, she is appreciative of her father’s advice. Typing skills not only proved to be useful in many of her previous occupations, but also allowed her to pursue her passion for writing. Kathryn has lived in Nebraska, California, Illinois, and now lives in Central Iowa with her husband, Cliff. They have a blended family of five grown children and several grandchildren. Jessie, a seventy-five pound German wirehair pointer who believes he’s a lap dog, rules the house.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014 | By: Lynn

Taking Care of Business

Some members of my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, Prairie Hearts , select words for the year. The words are a tool to help those who pick words to focus on something of meaning to their writing. The words are selected yearly, because our focus shifts and we discover a different obstacle or inspiration. For instance last year my word was ‘Yes,” because I wanted to remind myself to be open and willing to try new things with my life and my writing.

Throughout the year I would check in with myself to see if I was saying yes to things, new things in particular, but for me, simply saying yes was a new thing. I lean more naturally toward I can’t, but turns out I can do things, including change. So on to another issue for me. And my words for this year are ‘Do it.’

Do it gives me the extra push I need to overcome feelings and tendencies that would suggest I postpone writing, wait until I’m in the mood or have the right music or the right view or best computer program. I feel strongly that all these various types of concerns are valid. It’s hard to write when I’m feeling wordless. I have a job, so I have to give that work my best, too. Family is a top priority, so it is a regular pull away from writing. The situation requires juggling, and sometimes I’m simply tired. That these concerns are valid is one reason they are so hard to overcome or work around.

So, recently I added another phrase to my ‘Do it,’ that reminds me of something important to get in my head and heart. ‘It’s a business.’ Writing is a business. In business or for our jobs, we don’t have the luxury of ignoring our tasks. It’s expected, even required, that we show up and get the work done. I also think it’s very important to live a balanced life, but let’s get real. If we want to write books and publish them or get them published, we need to understand that it’s a business. Yes, we writers love writing. It’s a high when the words pour out. It’s a fun challenge when they don’t. So we like our jobs. But it’s still work, business, that requires dedication, diligence, resolve, and honesty with ourselves.

If I sleep in late and then don’t have enough time to spend with family, do my freelance work, clean the house, and write pages for my latest WIP, I’m not getting it. I’m not being honest. Writing is a business and if I want to achieve my goals, I have to make time for it and then do it. And if I don’t, I won’t finish a book.

If I seem a bit preachy, it’s because I’m frustrated with my own lack of awareness. I’m aggravated that I allow myself to believe I need to sleep in or have an afternoon off to read, when I so strongly want to finish my WIP and complain I don’t have time. I’m frustrated that self-doubt would prevent me from writing by distracting me with other less scary things. I have to do it anyway. It’s just business.

This is a very personal Aha! for me. I think reading is an excellent way to improve writing skills. Being tired means we should rest. But for myself, sometimes it’s just all excuses and it’s now time to get real.

Do you agree that writing is a business or is it a hobby? What do you do to keep on task with your writing? What pulls you away?
Friday, April 11, 2014 | By: Cafe
Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself...It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless.  An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent. 
- Harper Lee
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | By: HiDee

Lives change @ your library

Books have always been an important part of my life.  As a little girl, my parents and grandparents read to me.  Remember the Little Golden Books?  The Poky Little Puppy is one that comes to mind – I remember the cover, but not the story.  And then there were Dr. Seuss books, and Winnie the Pooh.  Timeless stories I also read to my kids when they were little, and will probably read to my grandchildren some day.

Weekly Readers and Scholastic book order forms were a staple of elementary school life, and I started building my own library.  I loved reading true or fictional stories about animals, especially books about horses.  James Herriot (All Things Bright and Beautiful), Walter Farley (The Black Stallion), and Marguerite Henry (Misty of Chincoteague) were some of my favorite authors, and I still have some of their books on my shelves today.

Library cards were an important key to life, for they allowed me access to more books through the school libraries, public libraries, and bookmobiles.  I could spend hours perusing the shelves, looking for just the right books to check out.  I could try a new genre and if I didn’t like it, I simply returned it to the library.  Books fed my hunger for knowledge, and for adventure.  But the library is also where I discovered poetry and history, biographies and romance novels.

Today, in addition to brick and mortar libraries we have virtual libraries.  E-readers hold hundreds, if not thousands, of books at one time.  They enable us to travel with our books, without taking up too much space. They enable us to have references at hand, as well as to access additional books online at any given time.

This year, the American Library Association hosts National Library Week April 13-19 with author Judy Blume – another favorite childhood author – as the Honorary Chair.  “Lives change @ your library” is the theme for 2014.

Has a library or librarian had a positive impact on your life?  Please take time to share your story and raise public awareness of the value books can have on our lives.

Friday, April 4, 2014 | By: Cafe
The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.
- Terry Prachett