Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | By: HiDee

Objective: Write the Best Book I Am Capable of Right Now

Stop making excuses and just write.

The words reverberate in my head – just like earworms, only there is no music.  Just a voice, mocking me throughout each day:  when I check Facebook it whispers “You’re making excuses…”  When I check email, it gets a little louder.  “STOP making excuses!”  When I try to relax by reading, it practically shouts at me.  “STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND JUST WRITE!

My manuscript IS written.  The first three chapters have been revised and polished because I’ve entered a couple of contests.  The middle chapters have a little sag that I’m editing out, and the last few chapters need more work.  But the manuscript is not finished – not like it should be for submission.  Right or wrong, I want to have a “finished” product before I send it out.

Working toward that goal, I have a printed copy of my manuscript that I'm busy marking up.  I selected a different font for each POV character, so I can easily see if I’m head-hopping.  I have red and blue pens, and highlighters in assorted colors to mark things that jump out at me as I edit.  I have a spiral notebook handy to jot down more detailed notes about facts that need checked, loose ends to tie up, and plot problems to resolve.

The contests have been a great learning tool.  As an entrant and a judge, I’ve seen a variety of scoresheets. I’ve compiled my own list of questions to use as a guideline while editing.  I also have a checklist of words to search, and replace.

But how do I know when to stop?  How do I know when it’s ready to submit?  

I regularly peruse writing websites.  Another excuse?  Maybe, but one I hope will pay off because I learn so much from experiences other authors share.  For example, Holly Lisle (http://hollylisle.com/how-to-revise-a-novel/) suggests setting a completion date for revisions.  “You need to keep yourself going with deadlines. It’s easy to fall into a nasty cycle of second-guessing yourself, revising your revisions, and never getting to the point of actually sending the manuscript out.”

Great advice I need to take.

But more importantly for me, on Holly’s site I found a clue to knowing when my book is finished.

Your objective is to make it the best book that you are capable of writing right now.

No, my manuscript won’t be perfect. But if I make it the best book I can right now, then I can move on to writing the next book and use everything I’ve learned to make it even better than the first!

How do you know when your manuscript is ready for submission?  Is there one thing that is a deciding factor?  Please share.

Friday, July 25, 2014 | By: Cafe
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
-Frank Outlaw
Thursday, July 24, 2014 | By: Cafe

Echoes of the Past: Soul Mates by Susanne Matthews

Are soul mates a fantasy, only a dream? The Write Way Café welcomes author Susanne Matthews, who doesn't think so. Check her list of tell-tale signs.

Thank you so much for having me here today. Soul mates, love at first sight. What do both of these have in common? Some would say they’re impossible dreams—pie-in-the-sky theories that don’t exist—and that’s sad. In this busy world of ours, people have little time to form relationships let alone hunt for that elusive Mr. or Ms. Right. Instead, like butterflies they flit from one unsatisfactory relationship to another. For many, the outside appearance is everything. For others, there has to be a connection below the surface, a common interest, something beyond the body. Sadly, there are a number of people today who don’t believe in soul mates. Most settle for what they believe are life partners, life mates, people with whom they’re compatible and happy, but not all of those relationships last. 

American author Richard Bach believes, "A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are."

According to Dr. Carmen Harra, Author, clinical psychologist and relationship expert, soul mates exist, and finding them is the key to real happiness. In Echoes of the Past, neither Michelle nor Tony has been able to have a real relationship. Why? Because these soul mates found one another two centuries ago, and then were ripped apart by those who wouldn’t accept their love. Now, after two hundred years, they have a chance to be together again. To believe in soul mates is to believe in forces and time beyond the here and now. 

Are you looking for love? Here is a short version of Dr. Harra’s Ten Elements of a Soul Mate.

1. It’s in the way they make you feel. In the words of Jerry Maguire, they complete you. You’re whole. You have everything you need to be completely content with life. 

2. They’re familiar and comfortable.  Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, when you meet your soul mate, it’s as if you’ve known them forever. You might even have a sense of déjà vu—that haven’t we met before feeling—because you very well could have in another time and place.  

3. You get one another. Have you ever seen people who can finish one another’s sentences? While you might experience it if you spend too much time with a friend or a family member, when it happens with someone you’ve just met or known a short while, it’s a sign of what Dr. Harra calls the soul mate connection. 

4. You love them for who they are—warts and all. There are no perfect men and women. We are all flawed in some way. Even soul mates will disagree and have ups and downs, but those episodes will straighten rather than damage the relationship. A soul mate loves you just as you are. They don’t try to change you, but accept you wholeheartedly, and love even the quirky things you do that occasionally drive them nuts. 

5. It's passionate. Your relationship with a soul mate is deeper and more intense than anything you’ve ever experienced. This can be both good and bad, but soul mates can get beyond the dark days to the happiness waiting for them.

6. You can do anything TOGETHER. Soul mates are united against the world. They can overcome anything together. The relationship is built on mutual respect and compromise with togetherness as the glue to hold everything in place. 

7. You're on the same mental wavelength. Soul mates often think of one another. It’s not uncommon for them to call one another at the same time. Out shopping they might pick up something the other needs without it even having been mentioned. Life might separate them physically at times, but the mental connection still exists. 

8. You have faith in one another and feel safe. This is a critical aspect. Trust and faith. No matter the size or gender of your soul mate, when you are with them, you feel secure and protected. If the person you’re with plays on your insecurities in any way, even if the other nine points fit, you can be sure they aren’t your soul mate. 

9. You can't imagine life without them. Walking away voluntarily from your soul mate is an impossible task. Many people who lose their soul mates spend the rest of their days alone because it’s impossible to replace them. In the movie, The Notebook, the scene at the end illustrates the power of the connection between soul mates. 

10. You are honest and forthcoming with them. There are no secrets, no hidden agendas between soul mates. You look one another in the eye. Your connection is deep and demands the truth at all times.
Not everyone will find their soul mate, but in Echoes of the Past, Tony and Michelle do. As you read the novel, see if you can find the Ten Elements of the Soul Mate in their story.

Born Mohawk, raised white, forensic pathologist, Michelle Thomas is trapped between two worlds—this one and the spirit world where the ghosts of those who’ve drowned speak to her. Haunted by crippling nightmares of her own drowning death and erotic dreams of a phantom lover, she strives to make sense of her life. When two suspicious deaths occur at the Lake of the Mountain Resort, she’s sent to investigate. She’ll face the greatest challenge of her career when her past and her present collide. One of these men is her future, but which one—the rich and powerful Mayor Ron Davies, or Tony Steele, the hydrology professor who may be responsible for his students’ deaths? Charged by the spirits of her Mohawk ancestors to atone for her previous sins by protecting Lake of the Gods, can Michelle solve the murders, save the sacred waters, and fulfil her destiny?

Release Date July 11, 2014

Purchase Echoes of the Past from SCP.
Check my Website for other purchase options.

About Susanne:  Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada.  She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. Today, gets to spend her time writing, so she can share her adventures with her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Follow Susanne on her:  Website    Blog    Facebook page    Twitter @jandsmatt

Amazon author page    and    Goodreads author page

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | By: Lynn

What Books Do

The world is getting bigger. Can you feel it? It’s sort of like when a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. But in this case, when the world adds a new reader to its population, the world expands…for that person.

It’s been amazing to witness the transformation right in my household. The sheer pleasure and pride and excitement are fun to be a part of. I’ll explain.

My husband always encouraged our kids to read, as, of course, did I. They all grew up to be reading adults. The kind of readers who read all kinds of books and enjoy them. But my husband kept hidden from them that he didn’t read. He knew how, but whenever we talked about it he said he wasn’t a good reader. He didn’t like reading. Then a few years ago I pointed out how odd that he so believed reading was a good thing, but he didn’t read. He agreed. But still didn’t start reading.

Another time, I told him my life had been so enriched by the books I’ve read. I talked about learning things and engaging with different places and people than I would ever actually do in person. I told him he’s missing out on all the good stuff. I remember what he said: “You’re probably right. I’ll consider it.”

Well, that was my cue. I bought him a book about running and encouraged him to read it, even if he’s a poor reader, so that he maybe could talk about running with our running kids. That appealed to him. And that was the starting off point of my husband becoming a bona fide “reader.” He reads for pleasure. He reads instead of watching television. From that first book about running he has turned selecting books to read into an adventure. He’s read thick biographies about important people. He reads print and on his tablet. He’s read short books about animals. He’s read adventure books. One of those was the first book he read that he couldn’t put down until it was finished and it was more than 200 pages long. He’s read nonfiction books about sports and race and triumph under terrible circumstances. He finished a Tom Clancy book of about 800 pages in two weeks. He’s even read my three romance novels and given me the gift of being moved by the stories.

Since that first book about running, he has read a list of books that totals 35 various sorts of books. This summer so far he’s read six, including the long Tom Clancy. When he was reading a book about Thomas Edison, he would share tidbits from the book about the man. Did you know Thomas Edison not only invented the light bulb, he also designed an efficient battery and opened a factory, and through his inventions provided hundreds and hundreds of jobs? And did you know he also developed a distribution system for electricity? My husband enjoyed sharing those facts from the Thomas Edison book he read. He loves to talk with me about the books he’s reading and it’s pure delight for me. His eyes light up and his discussion is animated. He’s become a member of an interesting group of people: readers.

Do I take credit for initiating this phenomenon in my husband? Of course. But his transformation is truly all his doing. He proves that people can change, and in doing so, the world expands. Books can do that. Whether it’s fiction, such as the Golden Book The Sleepy Little Puppy, or a romance novel, a classic, or nonfiction, such as the biography my husband read about Nelson Mandela or the sports book about football he read in about three days, books open the world for readers.

I asked him the other day, after he finished another book, if he’s become a good reader. He cocked his head and smiled and said, “Maybe I have.” I said, “It sure looks like it.”

What book got you started in your love of reading? Mine happened to be The Sleepy Little Puppy.
Friday, July 18, 2014 | By: Cafe
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 | By: HiDee

Stop Making Excuses

Fear.  A four letter word that writers know well.  It’s a facet of our lives that sometimes gets the better of us.

Sending our children out into the cruel world has nothing on submitting our writing for consideration.  At least our children can fight back, hopefully with the tools of experience we have provided them. But there’s no one to protect our words, except our words themselves.

What if we aren’t good enough?  What if nobody likes what we have written?  What if our work is rejected?

I’ve been writing since I was young.  By no means does that make me an expert.  But I must be on the right track because I’ve gotten positive feedback from people who have read my work.  I know I still have a lot to learn.  And yes, maybe I am just a little bit afraid of having my work rejected.

But I’m equally afraid of being successful. What if I’ve done my homework well enough that my writing is accepted? What are the consequences of success?  Will I be ready for it?  How will success change me, and how will it change my life?

The road to becoming a successful writer is paved with good intentions.  It also has scenic pull-outs that are valid distractions – distractions that enable us to  ignore the fear. Distractions that fuel the fear, too.

Family – I haven’t been very successful at putting my family after my writing.  With my oldest moved out, and my youngest wanting nothing to do with me (he’s a teenager, what can I say?), I plan to spend more time writing. But I also need to nurture my relationship with my husband. Will my family relationships suffer if I reach my goal of being published?

Exercise – I haven’t been very successful at exercising, either.  My day job is a desk job, and although I do a fair amount of getting up and down, sitting all day has definitely contributed to this secretary’s spread! In order to combat the spread, hubby and I often walk in the evenings after dinner.  On weekends, we regularly make trips to one of our local state parks and spend the day hiking. It's good for the hips, and photographing nature while I'm there feeds my creative juices.

Appetite – Unfortunately, I have one.  Especially for chocolate. Therefore I need my family to make me get out and do things, rather than coming home and sitting all evening.  Or, maybe I should invest in a treadmill desk.

Reading – Some of the best adventures a body can have!  Escape into another world and live vicariously through those characters.  Travel the world, and experience places and situations that you might not have the opportunity for in your daily life.

These topics were part of a recent discussion with a writer friend who ultimately told me I was making excuses and that I need to stop making excuses and just write.  Her comments made me think.  I need to find balance in my life.  I can have every intention of becoming a published author, but if I spend all my time on the scenic pull-outs of life, I’ll never travel that road to publication.

Do you allow your fears to be a distraction?  How do you balance life and writing?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, July 11, 2014 | By: Cafe
The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say but what we are unable to say.
- Anais Nin