Friday, March 29, 2013 | By: Cafe
"Begin, be bold,and venture to be wise." 
- Horace
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 | By: HiDee

Looks Can Be Deceiving


How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
– Wayne Dyer

People fascinate me. Some people irritate me at the same time.

I’m a people watcher. Everywhere I go, I’m on the lookout for something that strikes me, something I can use in my writing. I have mini-notepads filled with descriptions of people, settings, and situations. Colorful people, people who fade into the background – doesn’t matter which. What struck me about them? What life circumstances might make them who they are? How are they dressed? Do they walk with a swagger, or do they shuffle? How do they treat the people they come into contact with?

I’m also a people person. I can talk to just about anybody, and often do, much to the dismay of my children. I genuinely like most people I meet. But recently I’ve had the. . . experience, let’s say, of meeting people circumstances dictated I immediately dislike.

One older gentleman was tall, distinguished-looking, and well dressed. He seemed very personable, speaking to a number of people who approached him. Another man, near the same age, was dressed well but more casually than the first. He held a young boy in his arms, obviously a doting grandfather. Across the room sat a woman whose face reflected years of a hard life. I couldn’t help but wonder how three siblings could seem so very different.

If I had met these people under other circumstances, I would have thought good things about the men and worried about the woman, wishing I could somehow make her life easier. But looks can be deceiving. Their actions prior to our meeting have colored my perceptions of them. There are two more where they come from; two who made less of an impression on me. I don’t know anything about their formative years, so I can only speculate what drives them. They appear to be selfish and motivated by greed, only looking out for numero uno.

How do I know this? Actions speak louder than words. While their father was on his deathbed, they expended energies on belittling his wife (not their mother), vowing to remove her from “their” property, and threatening to take items that don’t belong to them. When her father’s wife referred to all of us as “you people”, the hard-looking daughter demanded an apology. It was simply a figure of speech, nothing more. We witnessed that same daughter’s son stealing from his dying grandfather’s garage – while she watched and did nothing to stop him. The tall, distinguished-looking gentleman called the county housing authority trying to prove his father’s house was not up to code – hoping to get the wife evicted. The doting grandfather said, “Right now, I’m worried about my dad. But there will come a day when I’m worried about me.”

Their family is obviously very different from my own. I started thinking of them as villains. My mind races with questions. What motivates these people? When will they come to their senses – will they come to their senses? Where did they get such bizarre ideas? Why are they behaving this way?

Can I use these experiences in a good way? Yes, I can. Instead of letting them get to me, I can write them in to a book; I can give my characters the passions I feel for people, for situations. Or I can explore characters with opposite beliefs. What might I learn by doing that?

The writer in me is always on the lookout for story ideas. Characters, settings, situations – the world is full of inspiration if only we are open to it. Even if inspiration is sometimes closer to us than we might like.

Are you able to use such experiences in a positive way? How?
Friday, March 22, 2013 | By: Cafe
"When love beckons to you, follow..."
 - Kahlil Gibran
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | By: Lynn

Hard But Worth Doing

 I'm not big into making New Year's resolutions, but this year I resolved to make walking every day for fitness a priority. So far, so good. Do I feel I have time to drop everything each morning and walk a mile? No. It's hard to pull myself away.

When I was a teenager in junior high – yes, there were junior highs in those days – I wanted to join the gymnastics team, even though I hadn't developed any skills in that area. I worked hard at learning to do the splits. I worked at it all the time, doing stretches and expanding my splitability. I also worked on teaching my body to do a backbend. That, too, took perseverance. When I had the bending backwards part accomplished, it took more work to be able to stand back up. But it meant a lot to me to be able to do gymnastics, so I stuck with it. Eventually it was a joy for me to be able to do the various tricks and use the apparatuses.

I don't know where that Lynn went to. The Lynn who could try and fail over and over and stick with it regardless, looking to a certain point in the future when I assumed I would be successful. I had that Lynn's pluckiness into adulthood and it helped me write my first two books and forge a career in freelance writing. But at some point, life, in some ways, became a long therapy session, as I began exploring my inner world and what motivates me to do and not do things. It has been fascinating work that has broadened my awareness. But with more awareness has come, well, more awareness. This awareness has been amazing at the same time that it has prompted things that put the brakes on my writing. It seemed like it was too hard, for a variety of reasons. I needed all the right conditions to write or I couldn't make myself do it, even though I wanted to.

Another key moment in 2013 has been my awareness that, like prioritizing fitness, a lot of things are hard. But being hard doesn’t actually have to mean much. I've been giving that feeling too much say in what I do. I'm reclaiming my ability to face hard things and get what I want, and acknowledge that sometimes I have to create conditions that support the choices I want to make. I’m grateful to my family for reintroducing me to the opportunity in taking hard things in stride and doing them anyway. These people do marathons, triathlons, climb mountains, do rock climbing, and more things that are challenging but offer benefits they enjoy. I've latched onto a saying one of my daughters-in-law brought to my attention. It's credited to former professional basketball player and author Art Williams and it goes like this: ‎"I'm not telling you it's going to be easy, I'm telling you it's going to be worth it." This is an inspiration to me and is supporting my endeavor this year to say "Yes!" to things I value but find difficult to do, like walking a mile and writing pages every day in my WIP.

Here are other things that are hard to do but worth it:

Submitting books to reviewers, not knowing what they might say.
Sticking with reading Jane Eyre.
Cutting portion sizes at meals.
Reducing sugar in my diet.
Being direct and facing the response.
Hiking a hill.

I'd love to learn what you find hard but worth doing anyway. Share?

Friday, March 15, 2013 | By: Cafe
Be faithful to that which exists within yourself. 
- Andre Gide
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | By: HiDee

I Brought You Into This World...

Characters are a lot like teenagers.

They both keep me up late at night.  With one teenager in her first year of junior college, the other in his first year of high school, I stay up later than I’d like more nights than I care to admit.  I do not sleep until they are home.  At least some of those nights, my characters keep me occupied.  The down side is by the time the kids get home, my characters are just getting started on their adventures and I don’t want to go to bed!

They both require a referee at times.  Every parent (and author) should have his/her stripes!  And a whistle.  My teenagers get along well, for the most part.  But my son sometimes exhibits signs of raging hormones, and then the fights increase.  Of course, neither of my teenagers is EVER wrong (they get that from their father).  I can only take so much before I blow my top (er, whistle).  My refereeing experience comes in handy with my characters, too.  The things my characters argue about aren’t necessarily as stupid as what my teenagers argue about, but their arguments are more intense.  Sometimes they definitely need to be separated!

They both talk back.  My husband and I are strong believers in keeping the lines of communication open – especially between ourselves and with our children.  My teenagers know they can talk to us about anything, although they may not like our reactions.  They employ the Divide and Conquer strategy – cornering whichever one of us they think will say yes to whatever it is they want.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  When their strategy fails, they tend to lose control and start talking back, raising their voices and saying things they shouldn’t.  My characters usually skip right to the losing control, talking back part.  And that’s because of the next point.

They both tend to have minds of their own.  I’ve taught my kids from an early age to be independent, to think for themselves and not follow the crowd just because everybody else is doing it.  And yes, it’s coming back to haunt me.  They have yet to figure out there is a fine line between being independent and being disrespectful when speaking their minds.  My characters tend to follow the same pattern, which leads to talking back.

They both make me cry.  Luckily, my kids don’t make me cry very often, but when they do, it’s usually a gullywasher.  I’ve been known to go for a walk and not come back for long enough the youngest gets worried and wants to come looking for me.  That just makes me want to cry more.  My characters, on the other hand, probably don’t make me cry enough, but I’m working on that.  I want them to touch readers’ hearts like they have touched mine.

I wouldn’t trade my teenagers – or my characters – for anything.  They may drive me crazy, but I’m proud of each one of them.  I’m proud of the people they have become, proud of all that they’ve learned from me, but most of all, I’m proud of the life lessons they’ve taught me.

I hope they never forget that I brought them into this world...

I can also take them out.

Note: Originally printed in the April 2011 issue of Romancing the Prairie, newsletter for Prairie Hearts RWA #43.

Do your characters act like teenagers? What characteristics do they exhibit?

Friday, March 8, 2013 | By: Cafe
"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature." 
- Henry Ward Beecher
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Elizabeth Meyette

The Write Way Café would like to welcome Crimson Romance author Elizabeth Meyette.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I actually wrote Love’s Destiny on a dare many years ago.  A friend who loved the romance genre gave me a few Kathleen Woodiwiss books to read. I kept resisting and finally gave in and read The Flame and the Flower. I was hooked, but I didn’t want her to “win” that easily, so when I returned the book, I said, “It was good, but I could write a romance novel.” She responded, “Then do it!” So I did. It wasn’t until I retired from teaching English that I had time to polish it and prepare it for submission.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
I had submitted query letters to several agents, but with no luck. I decided to self-publish using CreateSpace, and while I was wrangling with Headers and Footers, I saw a call for manuscripts from Crimson Romance. I submitted my query and a chapter, and they asked for the complete manuscript. Soon after, they sent me a contract and Love’s Destiny was published as an ebook June 4, 2012 and as a paperback August 20, 2012.

Most of my research was pre-Google and took forever. For example, I read an entire book on ships so I could accurately describe Jonathon’s ship, the Destiny. Historicals require a lot of research, but I love it. I spent many nights at the library with questions like, “How long did it take to sail from London to Yorktown in the 1700s?” or “What kind of flowers grew in Virginia in May?” Now with the Internet, research is much easier, though I have to be careful to verify information by checking a few sources.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
I think books often start with “I wonder…” and I wondered what would happen if people with totally different philosophies fell in love, so Emily, who was English, fell in love with Jonathon, a patriot. I had visited the Jamestown and Williamsburg area and fell in love with the rich history there. Soon after that visit, I started my novel, and I knew that area was where I would set my book.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
My characters are entirely fictional. They show up, and I write their stories. Some friends who have read Love’s Destiny say they see a lot of me in Emily, which I find a great compliment because she is strong and honors her own truth.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
I certainly have days where my Muse is on vacation or asleep. What works for me on those days is to just go with the flow. Work on marketing, editing, or housework. Notice what came last in the list.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
One surprise was the reality of my Muse. There are days when I simply sit at the keyboard and record what I am “seeing” and “hearing” from my characters. When I finish a scene, I read it aloud, and sometimes it’s like I’m hearing it for the first time and I think, “Hey, that’s good!” Another surprise since the book has been published is who some of my readers are, especially men: my husband, my brother, my brother-in-law, my friend’s fiancé. I think that’s pretty great!

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, London and patriot activities?
Well, I’ve learned many things. I’m still learning, what my rhythm is. As a former teacher, I am used to a very regimented schedule, for example using the restroom only at 55 minutes past the hour. (I am not exaggerating!) So I am still trying out various options such as working out in the morning then writing or writing in the morning and then working out. I’ve learned what an author’s platform is and how important social media can be as a marketing tool. Of course, that has shifted the burden of marketing more to the author than in previous days. I love history, and the American Revolution is my favorite era, so learning about the struggle the Founding Fathers went through or how hard it was when families were torn apart by Tory vs. patriot loyalties was fascinating. I came across information about a spy system that I am going to incorporate in a later book in the series. Also learning about everyday life in that time, for example, what herbal remedies they used, or how they adjusted stays to accommodate pregnancy or authentic recipes from that time and place is very cool.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
When I retired from teaching, I decided to use the principals of Feng Shui to set up our den for my office, and I love how it turned out. Although it is a small room, I love having a dedicated space where everything is at my fingertips. I have intentionally decorated it in soothing colors that encourage creativity, and with art pieces by local artists. The hardest part is keeping it uncluttered which is a first step in Feng Shui.

What are you working on now?
I am working on the edits for my manuscript of Love’s Spirit, the sequel to Love’s Destiny which Crimson Romance has slated to publish on April 22 as an ebook. I have two more books planned in the Love’s Destiny series. I am also working on a mystery set in the Fingers Lakes region of New York State. Mystery is one of my favorite genres, but it requires me to become a plotter rather than a pantser.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
My dream job would be traveling to exotic places to sample the food, drink and swimming. I would get paid for that, right, since it’s a job?


Please visit me at:
www.elizabethmeyette.com
www.facebook.com/elizabethfmeyette
www.twitter.com/efmeyette
http://elizabethmeyette.blogspot.com/

You can purchase Love’s Destiny at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes

Friday, March 1, 2013 | By: Cafe
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." 
- Helen Keller