Friday, May 31, 2013 | By: Cafe
The power of imagination makes us infinite. 
- John Muir
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 | By: Lynn

Use the "F" Word to Accomplish Your Goals

The economy is tanking, the economy is growing; the world is struggling with climate change or it’s not. And on top of everything, the zombies are out there just waiting to make us their dinner. It’s enough to keep us all in a constant state of turmoil.

Of course, the economy will do it what it does, the world most likely will go on, and zombies aren’t real. But according to experts on the History Channel, the popularity of zombie stories and various other world-changing storylines is connected to our fundamental fears of having no actual control over our lives and the very real threats of terrorists, disease, environmental catastrophes, and more. So what’s a writer to do when unreal distractions make us run in various – real and emotional – directions? As suggested by Hope Clark, founder of Funds for Writers Funds for Writers, we can turn to the “F” word. We can “focus.”

I’m writing this tongue-in-cheek, of course. Clearly we’re not all boarding up our windows to keep out zombies or storing up supplies in hopes of surviving a world catastrophe. These extreme activities are not robbing our time, but we do have daily living to manage on top of our efforts to further our writing goals. Life can become a gerbil’s wheel of endless business. It’s easy to latch onto the latest advice; the latest tips that suggest how we can best take our writing ability and aspirations and turn them into a viable writing career, despite all the obstacles and distractions. Write a blog and use Facebook and Twitter to build a Web presence. Diversify with short stories or commercial nonfiction. There are varying approaches touted with equal earnest. Trouble is, if you’re working a day job, managing a family life and trying to get your writing career off the ground, the wealth of advice can be just one more distraction pulling you in different directions and diluting your productivity. So focus.

Clark puts it pretty succinctly in her newsletter.

“Pick one project that will represent you well … . Then center your world around it. Let's say . . . write a novel. When you're enticed to enter a contest, don't do it, unless it's for a novel. When you see a retreat, don't go, unless you go to write the novel. When you attend a conference, only go to further your novel. When you see a Chicken Soup that catches your fancy, only do it if you've already worked on your novel for the day. Nothing gets done unless it's affiliated with the novel,” she wrote.

It’s simple advice. Something to keep our attention and bring it back to creating what we want, whatever that may be. Focus, to concentrate your efforts. Focus, to use your limited time and energy to accomplish what best meets your needs.

This article is excerpted from Romancing the Prairie, the quarterly newsletter of the Prairie Hearts chapter of RWA.
Friday, May 24, 2013 | By: Cafe
You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.
- Ray Bradbury
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 | By: HiDee

Creatures of Habit


I am a creature of habit. I eat the same breakfast every day.  I follow the same routine every morning, and every evening when I return home.  I rarely take a different route to or from work, and I park in the same space every day.

For the past few weeks, one or two days a week, a shiny new white SUV has been parked in "my" space.  We don't have assigned parking, but I've come to think of it as "my" space because I've been parking in the same space every day for almost eight years. (Doesn't that make it mine?) You wouldn't expect there to be a competition for "my" space because it's on the 5th floor of a parking garage. Not exactly a prime spot.

Because "my" space was taken on those days, I parked in the next space over. Yes, I cursed the driver of the SUV. I wanted to park where I always do!  But I stayed within my lines and didn't crowd her, as I have seen some drivers do to other parked cars.  Each day, the SUV was gone by the time I left work.  The last day it was parked there, the driver apparently decided to leave me a message.  "MOVE ME" was written in the dust on my hood, and my van had been keyed.  Two wavy lines now run the length of the passenger side, and another long, deep gouge is visible on the passenger side hood. I suspect the driver thought I should have parked somewhere else, somewhere farther away from her shiny new SUV. I may be a creature of habit, but that doesn't give her the right to key my van.

This experience has given me a lot to think about. How many of our daily actions are habits that we do every day without realizing it?  How often, when we are frustrated for whatever reason, is it because one of our habits has been interrupted?

Ian Newby-Clark, a psychologist at the University of Guelph, researches habits and self-change. Newby-Clark says "Habits help us through our day. When we are doing something that is habitual, we are not engaged in the task in the same way as when we are doing something that is not habitual."

Habits allow us to accomplish tasks effortlessly.  It makes sense then that changing habits, or creating new habits, can be stressful to us.

As a writer, I have my share of bad habits. I check email and Facebook, and surf the internet when I should be writing. I read newspapers, blogs and books when I should be writing. There are times when I can justify some of these habits as research. But most of the time, they are just habits, albeit ones I enjoy. I don't necessarily want to change them, but I am working on having better control so that I can accomplish my goals.

What habits do you have that keep you from doing what you should be doing?

Friday, May 17, 2013 | By: Cafe

We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.
- Tom Robbins
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | By: Lynn

Favorite Writing and Reading Spots

When I imagine my perfect day my mind goes to reading and writing. A scene in my mind puts me in a favorite place for both, but they're different places that offer different things.

Reading is one of those things that can be enjoyed anywhere. At the doctor's office, waiting in the car for my husband, the coffee shop. But for me, the reading experience is enhanced by my setting, so cuddled up with my cat on the couch is a perfect place for me to read. Windows let in natural light, it's fairly distraction-free, and I can sink into the pleasure of my current read.

While indoors affords me a high degree of comfort, free from insects or weather, a nature space is also a favorite place for me to sit and read. Fresh air is always welcome and since I like sunshine and cloudy days equally well, as long as the outside temperature is doable and there's no rain, I'm happy to sit in nature and enjoy a good book. That nature could be a park, a beach, or simply my backyard. Sitting in nature combines my fondness of being among trees and grass or sand and water with the experience of reading. It's a full-senses thing that refreshes and relaxes me.

But ordering coffee and pulling up a chair at a coffee shop or bookstore is equally satisfying. For me, there's a certain rich ambiance in a bookstore that can't be topped, though a library is pretty good, too. However, the background noises of coffee machines and chatter at a coffee shop warm my heart and put me in a reflective mood. I love coffee, so having access to it is not to be minimized for putting me in a state of relaxation. I can sit back and read on.

But those same background noises and qualities of ambiance inspire my muse, so a coffee shop is on my list of favorite places to take my laptop and write. It's handy to have "rewards" available, which I take advantage of. When I want to make progress on my WIP but my fears are disrupting my soul, I can distract them with promises of a blueberry muffin or cinnamon roll and coffee shop coffee. The trick is to get there, because once I'm at my computer, coffee and appeasement in hand, the fears fall away and I can get to work doing something I love. I can hunker down and write on.

As a freelance writer I typically have deadlines and I have a dedicated writing space at home. That's where I write most of the time and it's a favorite place of mine to be, for no other reason than that space is associated with writing. But I imagine other spaces; fantasize about having an office in a downtown building where I work alone or with a fellow writer, but surrounded by other types of workers in their offices. I imagine lots of creativity and energy flowing from office to office. I fantasize about a loft in my home where expansive windows look out in a serene natural view. In that loft there's a large, comfy window seat where I could spread out and read in between writing spurts. I could write and read on to my heart's desire.

I know of some writers who write in front of the television or among family goings on. Some people can read anywhere while others need a quiet place with no distractions. We're all different and have our own versions of favorite reading and writing places. What's yours?

Sunday, May 12, 2013 | By: Cafe

Happy Mother's Day!
Friday, May 10, 2013 | By: Cafe

Character develops itself in the stream of life.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Elke Feuer

Today, the Write Way Café welcomes Crimson Romance author Elke Feuer.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I don’t remember the exact moment, but I do remember getting a typewriter for my ninth birthday. I started reading romance at twelve, and wrote my first book that same year. Until recently, I wasn’t interested in writing another genre.

Why did you pick the setting you did? 
When I started researching the book, I wanted to know a popular place for jazz music in the 50’s and 60’s. Chicago jumped out at me, but when I saw the beautiful buildings, including the house I imagined in the story, everything fell into place.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? 
I made them up or rather they jumped into my brain and decided to take over.

Do they reflect aspects of yourself? 
Oh, a great question, but no. The characters were adamant about who they were.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret? 
The biggest writing block was trying to make six months pass quickly while keeping the urgency of the suspense. I made time pass in 1-3 week increments throughout the chapters by working them around scenes about the renovations or at the beginning of a scene with a big event so readers didn’t feel shorted that nothing exciting happened during the time that passed.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
My characters were the biggest surprise, especially the ghosts who were supposed to be part of the back story, but insisted on being included in the scenes. I was skeptical, but they were right. LOL! Even with all the edits and changes I made before and after the book went to the publishers, I still wanted to make more when I saw it in print. I read scenes and thought “Ugh, this is crap! I should have done this instead.” Thank goodness for deadlines or we’d never finish editing our books.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, publishing; about ghosts and restoration projects?
I learned I didn’t know anything about the publishing industry (still don’t, LOL) and that no matter how you tweak your writing process, it’s different for each book, is in fact an ongoing process. I learned what wonderful, supportive friends I have both in the writing world and my personal life. I never imagined ghosts could capture my and readers’ hearts. That people would consider my book as much a paranormal as suspense. That restoration projects are easier to write than to do in real life. Last and most important, I learned I still have a lot to learn.

What are you working on now? 
My current book is called Deadly Bloodlines. It's book 1 in a 3 book series I’ve yet to name. I’m excited about this book because it’s the first one set in Grand Cayman where I live. The most surprising thing about the book so far is how much I love my villain. He’s truly devious and is speaking to me more than my other characters. Another surprise is my heroine is more flawed than any other I’ve written. This book and series is going to be my biggest writing challenge yet as it’s teetering on the edge of a thriller, a genre I never thought would appeal to me. I’m about half way through and looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead.  

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be? 
I’d love to be a fulltime writer, but I’m blessed to enjoy the job I’m in. My day job is operation/project manager which I enjoy because it’s challenging, interesting, and I love the people I work with. It’s a lot like my writing career. LOL!

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

About Elke:  Elke lives in Grand Cayman with her husband and two kids. Reading, spending time with her family, traveling, and meeting people is her joy. Writing is her passion.

She stumbled into writing suspense, and to her surprise found she enjoyed it, along with writing about serial killers. Elke is fascinated by them, and what motivates them to kill. She writes time travel, historical, and contemporary novels to even out her dark side.

Connect with Elke at:
Friday, May 3, 2013 | By: Cafe

Doubt whom you will, but never yourself.
- Christian Nestell Bovee