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It's always a toss-up at the end of the year: look back on the year that's passed, or set that aside and concentrate on the year ahead. Or both. I think that's the kind of year it's been for me.

Personally, the year has been a hard one, as we've struggled with the issues of our special-needs kids, some of them improving, others not so much. The stress has taken a toll on the marriage, as so often happens. I suppose it says something that we're still hanging together. Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. We'll find out, I guess.

We're getting older and falling apart a little more--but that's the way of things. Resolutions for next year include to find a therapeutic pool exercise class handy, since the Lyrica didn't work out. Fibromyalgia is such a frustrating condition. You need to get good sleep to bolster pain management, but the pain prevents good sleep. They recommend exercise, even when you feel like you couldn't stand to move an inch through your aching muscles. Best practice for me so far is to take something for pain and just soldier through. Hopefully it'll be better next year.

Professionally, though, what a raft full of blessings! I scored a part-time job with the county as an attorney for families working through Children's Services, that came with benefits and a regular paycheck. This opened up my time formerly spent chasing new clients to spend writing.

I haven't wasted that time, either. In 2011, I signed contracts for five new novels to come out in 2012 and 2013. This is what my new email signature looks like now:

Also writing as Lyndi Alexander:
The Elf Queen, 2010 The Elf Child, 2011 and The Elf Mage, 2012, all from Dragonfly Publishing
http://clanelvesofthebitterroot.com
Triad, coming from Dragonfly Publishing in 2012

Also writing as Alana Lorens:
Secrets in the Sand, a novel of romantic suspense---The Wild Rose Press, April 20,2011

http://alanalorens.com
Conviction of the Heart, coming from The Wild Rose Press in 2012

Second Chances, due out from Zumaya Publications in 2012

Post-apocalyptic YA Series  The Color of Fear: Plague, The Color of Fear: Journeys and The Color of Fear: Survivors debuts in 2013 from Zumaya Publications

It took nearly forty years, but I've finally achieved my life's dream: to become a novelist. Best of all, that last YA series is the book(s) of my heart, the one I've sunk my soul into. To find a home for it has been the pinnacle of the year for me. I can't wait to work with editor Liz Burton and Zumaya and get that into print.
But not today. Today I'm tending to my neglected blogs, which have taken second seat to all my novels and galley proofing the last two months. I'm grateful to have had a plethora of guests on particularly the Clan Elves blog and my romance blog to help keep my readers entertained. I want to set a schedule for the new year to tend to each of them at least weekly. With four books coming out in 2012, I need to make sure people can find them!
Next week I'm spending reviewing Margie Lawson class notes and several other writing books I've purchased over the last six months and stalled off reading. I've got a lot of writing to do in the next year, and I want to make sure it's the best it can be. I'm sure you all will let me know if it's not!
In the meantime, I wish you all a satisfying 2012, in whatever flavor and definition that means to you. Our family will be celebrating a new arrival in the spring--one that's not between two book covers!-- so we have much to look forward to, as well as travel, family and hopefully some sun here and there. May you have many blessings come to you.

This has been a busy week for me--in addition to real life intrusions, I've been working steadily on NaNo, with 22,000 words in 11 days, and I've had a blog on Savvy Authors and Lyndi's books are featured on Jerri Hine's Facebook Novel Works today!

Then I have competing blog posts today: On the irony of being a divorce lawyer writing love stories, at IcySnowBlackstone (click through to the blog page) and on how being a fantasy writer has helped me deal with our youngest, who's diagnosed with autism, sensory integration disorder and other language delays at A Splash of Scarlet. That's her proud face with her fair ribbon above!

If any or all of these interest you, I invite you to stop by!

Come see Lyndi go through her paces--and pages--at the blog of Kellie Kamryn.  today. (Don't worry, my post is white bread; you can safely click through the content warning!!) Kellie has a great romance series based on gymnastics coming out in the spring, which just goes to show what happens when you write what you know. Thanks, Kellie! And come see Kellie's post at the Clan Elves homepage, too! I admire the way she's used her painful breakup to inspire positive writing experiences.

This is my latest book, due out from The Wild Rose Press early next year.  It's the story of a single mother who's a family law attorney working in the domestic relations field, and a case that not only gets her on the wrong side of a powerfully-connected city councilman, but also brings her close to a handsome Pittsburgh police lieutenant, who falls pretty hard for her, too.
The cover artist really captured the look of menace I was going for--can't wait to get the edits done on this one and send it in!

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Come by Every Day Fiction and read a short story in honor of National Coming Out Day. Didn't intend for it to appear today, but how appropriate it is.

http://www.everydayfiction.com/personally-by-barbara-mountjoy/

(And it's published under my own name! That hardly happens any more...  :)  )

Yes, yes, I know I haven’t posted here as often as I’d like–hopefully you’ve missed me! The good news is I’ve been doing substantial amoounts of writing-related work, which is a good thing! The latest venture is this little bit of video, a book trailer for my first published novel, The Elf Queen. A book trailer is supposed to be like a movie trailer, giving enough of the story to entice folk to come see/read my book. (and hopefully the rest of the series!)




So what did you think? Is it exciting? Suspenseful? Must you go buy the book at Amazon right now? Okay, if you must. Pssst: pass it on… :)

Today’s guests are Frank Hall and Kim Hall, the owners of That Book Place in Madison, Indiana. We met recently at Context 24 at sci-fi/fantasy con in Columbus Ohio, where we made new friends and learned a lot. Welcome, guys!


Thank you, glad to be here!

Tell us about your bookstore: what do you carry, when did you start, what makes your store different?

Our doors opened to the public on the Ides of March 2006. We are primarily a used book store. We do carry some new books in stock of local authors within a few hours drive of us and from some local publishing houses. I like to think that we are different because I don’t try to push the newest bestseller on you. I try to get to know our customers and make recommendations based on what they have read and what other people have read that have also read what they like.

Do you have new books? Used books? Not a library, right? How do you decide what new books to carry? What are your criteria for used books?

We are definitely not a library and we carry both used and new, mostly used. With the new books we do focus on local authors and local publishing houses but I will also have something in that I know people are wanting. Right now we have a few copies of Game of Thrones in stock new. Once the TV show came out, probably we have a person each week who learns it’s a book series and comes looking for it. We carry pretty much everything so our only criteria with used is that it needs to be in good shape at least and still current for non-fiction.

What’s the most important thing that distinguishes the kind of experience a reader will have at a small, indie bookstore from the big box store?

For us it’s just more personal. I am here pretty much everyday Monday through Saturday. Over the years I have gotten to know our customers so I can help them better. Also, since I am here all the time I see what comes in for trade and what goes out so I have good idea if we have a certain book or not and where it is. I also know what is going on in most of their lives, so I make it a point to ask how things are. Of course that also goes because we are in a small town.

At Context 24, you said, “Independent bookstores are the future.” What are the implications of that? What purpose will indies have in the future?

It’s going to have a profound impact on the industry. We are down to only one national chain. Two, if you count Amazon. When you start getting big stores that are more worried about the bottom line instead of helping customers then you start having issues. I don’t see a time when B&N will move into a small town like mine. They don’t see enough customer base to turn a profit. So we smaller stores are beginning to flourish. I think you will see more and more stores like mine pop up in smaller and midsize towns. The big Houses are going to have to take notice and start working with us smaller venues to help increase sales.

What do you see as the ways independent bookstores can most help authors?

Work with them. They are the reason we have a business, so work with them. It doesn’t matter if they went through a small press, vanity press, self published or is from a big house. They make the product we sell. So encourage them. If they are local, set up a spot for them in your store. Host readings for them or if there is a local writing group, invite them to your store. Make them know that what they are working towards is not in vain.

What are the ways authors can help independent bookstores?

That’s simple. Keep writing.

What would you like to have authors do when they want to schedule an event at your store?

Call us or email me at least 2 or 3 months in advance. I like to advertise in the store that we have someone coming so that the customers can decide whether they want the book or not. If the customer can’t make it in that day they can go ahead and buy it and I will get it signed to them and they can pick it up after the event.

What’s your favorite event of the year?

My new favorite event is our Authors fair. This past year for our 5 year anniversary we did an authors fair and had around 30 authors here along with one of our big outside tent sales. We have decided to make it an annual event, so this coming March 17th we are having another one. We are shooting for 50 authors and I am really excited about it. I guess a very close second will be October. The entire month. We decorate for Halloween and have a blast in the store.

What’s the nicest thing a reader has done for your store? An author? Does it involve chocolate?

Actually it does involve chocolate. We have a few customers that will bring us gifts during our anniversary celebration. Sometimes it’s candies and such. We even have a few that will occasionally bring us cookies if they pass by the bakery before coming to the store. The nicest thing that any author has ever given me is after the signing they shake my hand or give me a hug and say thanks. I love being able to have a spot where the authors feel welcomed.
What do you think of the book printing kiosk?

I think they are an intriguing idea. And being able to load them up with classics and such would be a wonderful way to make sure you always had a particular book in stock. There are lots of things that I can see that could come from them that could revolutionize the industry.

What would you like people to know about your store?
I think, all in all, the best thing to know about our store is our motto. It sums everything up in a nutshell. “No such thing as too many books.”

I've got to agree with you there! Thanks for being here and best wishes for the next year. Find out more about THAT BOOK PLACE at their Facebook page, and if you're passing through, stop in and say hello.

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Today’s guest is author Sherry Isaac. Sherry and I met on top of a mountain in Colorado at one of Margie Lawson’s Immersion Master Classes in writing. Since then, she’s gone on to do marvvelous things, and her collection of short stories, STORYTELLER, is out this summer. Please welcome her.



COMMON GROUND

by Sherry Isaac



Someday. What a magical word.


For years, I dreamed of being a writer. Someday.


I’ve spent decades, dollars and devotion honing my craft in the pursuit of Someday.


Someday is here.


Uh-oh.


It’s time to promote.


There are plenty of resources on self-promotion. Books and websites and downloadable pdfs. Even online classes.


It’s a whole new industry, full of great ideas. One of my favorites, the one I’ve been engaged in for the last three weeks, is the virtual blog tour.


Networking with other writers is reciprocal. If Author A gives Author B a slot on their blog, Author B will bring their fans. Some fans will stick around and become fans of Author A. Author A’s audience will be introduced to Author B and start following Author B’s blog and buying Author B’s books.


Tit for Tat, a total Win-Win.



Bonus: Author B doesn’t have to come up with a post that week. Ahhh. Time to focus on the reason behind the blog: The Novel.


But first, you need authors to network with.


I signed up for my first Margie Lawson class a year and a half ago. Up until the online class on Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors, all my contacts were local. So local, in fact, that I had trouble unloading copies of the anthology I was a part of, because, fine as the anthology was, everyone in my circle was either in the publication, so already had a copy of the book, or knew someone who was in the publication, so had already bought a copy of the book.


Growing a national audience, let alone an international one, seemed impossible without a powerhouse publisher behind me.


Until Margie.


That first one-month class expanded into a year spent with Margie Lawson. It was, like the A&E channel advertises, time well spent. I learned so much last year. My writing techniques multiplied faster than a den of unchaperoned rabbits.


And so did my network.


What a fun side-effect, and certainly one I hadn’t bargained on when I signed up for DSDB, Enhancing Character’s Emotions, Deep Editing (The EDITS System) or any one of Margie’s other classes.


And then I went to Denver. Four intensive days of writing and revising and rhetorical devices.


And four new friends.


All right, all right, all right. Gloria Richard was already a friend.


Friendships are not based on geography, but rather, they are based on common ground. In Joan and Jessica, Barbara and Gloria, I found peers. As writers, we shared similar trials and aspirations, fears and passion, goals and dreams. Each understood the sting of rejection, how high the stakes are and how stiff the competition. A sisterhood, if you will.


A family.

And then I participated in IMC II.


Laura and Susannah. Lisa and Carole.


All right, all right, all right. Carole was already a friend.


Over the past few months, as my launch has crept closer, the support, enthusiasm and generosity of these eight women has blown me away. Not only have they opened their blogs to me, but they began to spread the word, long before my book went to print. They found blog space for me among their contacts, and Joan, a fine Twitterer in her own right, hooked me up with a Master Twitterer. Barbara invited me to share book signing space at a Pennsylvania bookstore. At a Colorado reading, Jessica gave up an opportunity to promote her own work and chose instead to read an excerpt of mine.


What ever had I done to deserve such favor?


It pleases me, too, that these connections billow over with downy goodness, just like an plump, over-stuffed pillow. My fans and friends are now their fans and friends. There are far too many to name here, and what would be the point? There will be more tomorrow.

The circle grows.

And so this, the final stop on my virtual tour, is a dedication to all the writers I’ve had the pleasure to befriend on my journey. May your ideas never stop flowing, and may your ink never run dry.

~


Winner of The Alice Munro Short Story Award, Sherry Isaac’s tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend all things, including the grave, appear online and in print. Her first collection of shorts, Storyteller, debuts July 2011. For more information, or to order an autographed copy, click HERE


Learn more about Sherry at her website: http://www.sherryisaac.com/



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This week I'll be posting in several places--today I'm with author Alison Chambers, talking about the genesis of the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot stories. Tomorrow I'll be at Vintage Vonnie, talking about the real-life love story that inspired my novel SECRETS IN THE SAND. 

Next week I'll start teaching my first class for Pennwriters, on basic promotion for small press authors.

I've just had a science fiction novel, TRIAD, accepted for publication, and I'm polishing book three of the Clan Elves series. Looks like I might be a novelist when I grow up!

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Welcome today author Alyssa Fox, whose first novel ROAD TO RECOVERY has just been released.


First off, I want to thank Barbara for having me on her blog today. This is how I came up with the plot, my characters for my debut book Road to Recovery. Well, I was writing another medical book at the time, and it just came to me while cleaning my house. I know, glamorous life right? I was trying hard to get a contract with Harlequin’s Medical line at the time, but have since learned my sex scenes are too steamy for them.



Anyways so, I thought what would happen if two doctors were competing for the same mentorship at the hospital. Then I thought what if they were both attracted to each other, but they didn’t want to admit it to one another. And that’s how the book was started. It was a fast write for me both characters came to me really stronger.


Kyle came to me first, and he was very demanding in my head. I mean, what else would you expect from an alpha man, but that? At first he didn’t want to tell me his dark secrets, but finally, I was able to squeeze it out of him. Since I started writing I’ve never had a character surprise me with their back story, but he sure did. As I wrote more he still at times would reveal things I never saw coming throughout the book. He even made me cry while writing in a few places with the things he had been through with losing his wife and daughter.

Erin pretty much laid it all out there on the line for me as I started writing their story. She was one pissed off woman that a man had used her in the past. And she wasn’t looking to fall in love at all. She had a neatly outlined five year plan, and no one was going to mess with it. Then the mentorship came along, and she could move that plan up to a two year plan. She never even saw Kyle coming to knock her on her butt and turn her plan upside down. She didn’t take to kindly to it either.

I’ll admit the title took me some time to come up with. It gave me so much trouble! And then one day it hit me really hard out of all the words I had thrown together. My family more than likely thought I had lost my mind, as I was asking them does this work? So that’s how I came up with my plot, characters and the title of the book.

I can be found at my website. Twitter and Facebook.


Here's a blurb for the book:


Dr. Erin Miller’s life was going great; for the most part, anyway. She was single, had a career she loved, and a cherished circle of friends, but something was missing. When a mentorship with the Chief Pediatric Surgeon becomes available, she couldn’t be more thrilled. Maybe this is just what the doctor ordered! That is, until the handsome and charismatic Dr. Kyle Reynolds decides he wants the mentorship as well.

Kyle Reynolds has lost everything including his wife and daughter. With nothing left in his life except for his job, he sets his sights on the new mentorship position with single-minded determination. The only obstacle he faces is the sexy Dr. Erin Miller.

Excerpt

Erin leaned back in her chair. She sat surrounded by the tomes she’d pulled from the shelves. It made no sense to her. The tests she’d been waiting for had all come back fine. Those two hours she’d hoped it would take had turned to six. She was still waiting for an ultrasound report, which should be coming any moment. She placed the latest report on the table and reached her hand to her head, slowly rubbing her temples. It wasn't like her not to be able to figure out what was going on with a patient. She dreaded the look on the parents' faces when she had to tell them. Sometimes it seemed like days before reports came back, and that was the only part of her job she hated. Her stomach knotted as she glanced at the clock. Only twenty minutes before she had to give them an update.

Her mind wandered back to the meeting six hours ago, and the way her body had warmed under Kyle's gaze. It had only been for a brief moment. Girl, you seriously need to get laid, that's all it is. There's nothing to the way he looked at you. You're imagining things.

“Good afternoon, Erin,” She jumped at the deep voice coming from her left. A glance over her shoulder confirmed what she already knew.

Kyle.

“Afternoon.” She fumbled to grab the chart in front of her, hoping he'd leave. He sat down next to her. His gaze singed her cheeks, but she couldn't look up; instead, she concentrated on the chart in front of her.

The memory of their first week working together came to her mind again. When she walked into the office, she'd been drawn to Kyle, who had sat in a chair across the small room, so arrogant and sure of himself. Kyle wasn't her type at all; she normally stuck with the safe, boring guys. Everything about him had screamed he was more. Just once, she wanted to take a chance and not do what everyone else expected. It had been time to let go and have some fun. Well, that's what she had wanted to do, and based on his flirting he’d seemed to be into her too.

For a moment, her mind drifted back to the dance they’d shared at the Christmas party three years ago. Against her best judgment, she’d said yes to Kyle's offer to dance. Really, what could one little dance do? Boy was that ever wrong, from the moment he’d taken her in his arms. She could feel the chemistry between them. The smoldering heat took over, and she couldn't think of anything but him, as fire raced down her spine, consuming her. Her mind told her to break the dance, that it had been a mistake, and yet she couldn't. The pull between them was greater than her need to move away.

Her gaze had traveled upward. His eyes had darkened, her knees had weakened, and it had taken everything in her to fight the strong attraction she felt toward him. She saw the unspoken question in his eyes. The song ended. "I'm sorry...I just can't," she had whispered and left him on the dance floor.

Instead of taking a chance on Kyle, she’d gone the safe route and starting dating Dr. Lopez. Someone she had thought was ready to settle down and start a family like she had been. Too bad the safe route had turned into the biggest mistake of her life. It had caused her to re-examine her plans. To wait until she was more established in her career before she seriously started dating again.

She continued pointedly ignoring Kyle, and relief washed over her when Jenny, one of her interns, walked up and said, "Here's the CAT scan report."

“Thanks,” she said, taking the report. She studied it. Erin closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. This keeps getting crazier. She opened her eyes slowly to skim over the report again. Nothing had changed. “This makes no sense,” she whispered, more to herself than to anyone else.

“What's doesn't make sense?” Kyle asked.

Setting down the piece of paper, she turned to look at him. “I've got a three year old patient, and it shows he has no appendix, yet he has all the classic symptoms of having appendicitis. I don't get it; I've run every test I can think of.”

“Here, let me take a look at his chart.”

Erin handed him the chart and watched him as he read it. His eyebrows drew together as he concentrated. Her fingers itched to trace the scar above his right eye, and she wondered how he'd gotten the injury. He cleared his throat, jarring her back to reality.

“This doesn't make sense. Come on, I want to check him out myself.” Kyle stood.

Although she wasn’t crazy about his taking over like that, she was so relieved to have another brain working on the problem that she let it slide. Her bruised ego was nothing compared to the well-being of her young patient.

Kyle’s hand brushed against the small of her back as he let her precede him into the room. Shivers of pleasure raced down her spine so quickly they were gone in an instant.

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PROMOTIONAL BASICS: GETTING THE WORD OUT, WHEN YOUR WORDS COME OUT: Online Course  by Barbara_Mountjoy

INSTRUCTOR: Babs Mountjoy DATE: August 1 – September 2, 2011

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Congratulations! Your book or project has just been published. Now comes the real work: making sure your audience can find your book, purchase it, enjoy it and share it with others, bringing you fame and fortune! Most publishers want to hear about your platform, which includes a website, blog, or other publicity method to sell and promote your product or book across the world.


The internet and social media are great methods to share your news and can go a long way toward reaching your potential audience. This online course will teach you the basics of publicity and marketing, some old tricks and some new tricks, to make your new release a real success.

* 4 most important things to include when developing a website


* Discover a variety of ways to get your work noticed online and offline


* Blog tours: how to get one started and why they’re a great way to spread your name

* Freebies and giveaways to attract readers and followers

* Setting up personal appearances and book signings (Have a program in mind, not just a chair behind a table)

FREE BONUS: A list of 50 sites where writers can submit their books for review.


TESTIMONIALS:


"Definitely a 5 out of 5. So much information, and the handouts were great!" - Emma T.


"Loved this! Worth the price of the whole day." - Kathleen B.


"Very informative. A wide breadth of material covered."


"This is the reason I came to the conference--I learned so much that I can use." - Linda A.

Get better website and book sales results from proven promotion methods! LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.


$79 ($89 non-Pennwriters members) $89 ($99 non-Pennwriters members) EARLY-BIRD PRICES END SOON!

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Barbara “Babs” Mountjoy has been writing ever since she was a little girl, unable to control the urge of stories that wanted to percolate through her fingers into the keyboard. Or back then, onto the old Royal typewriter (before the TRS-80 even! Wow!). She's been a published writer for over 35 years, spent seven years as a news reporter and editor in South Florida, and has contributed stories to two CUP OF COMFORT volumes. Her non-fiction book 101 LITTLE INSTRUCTIONS FOR SURVIVING YOUR DIVORCE was published by Impact Publishers in 1999, and her first novel, THE ELF QUEEN (under the pen name Lyndi Alexander) came out in 2010. THE ELF QUEEN is the first of the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, with THE ELF CHILD coming out in 2011 and THE ELF MAGE to be released in 2012.
 
Her romantic suspense novel SECRETS IN THE SAND was released by the Wild Rose Press in 2011 (under the pen name Alana Lorens) , and her women's fiction book SECOND CHANCES comes out from Zumaya Publications in 2012. She blogs about autism, writing and life at http://awalkabout.wordpress.com, and continues to write tech articles and TV reviews at Firefox News online.
For more information on Babs Mountjoy or this course, email her at bmountjoy at zoominternet dot .net or visit the Pennwriters site today.

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Organizing: One Less Thing


When I started writing fiction years ago, I read an estimate that a novelist needs to spend 2000 hours learning the craft of fiction writing in order to get published.


I thought that was excessive. I figured a smart guy could learn to write a novel in a few hundred hours.

Maybe I'm just not all that smart, but it wound up taking me quite a bit more than 2000 hours of writing to get my first novel accepted by a publisher and on the shelves of bookstores.

Even though I wildly underestimated the amount of time it would take, I always knew it wasn't something you do in a weekend, so I made a point early in my writing life to find ways to spend more time writing.

I believe that if you're a serious writer, you need to be writing at least 10 to 20 hours per week.

Why?

Because when you finally sell your manuscript to a publisher, they're going to expect you to polish your novel within a few months. And then they'll expect you to do a second novel soon after that. And then a third, and a fourth . . .

That level of effort is easily going to cost you 20 hours every week for the rest of your writing life. Easily.

If you're not already writing at least 10 hours per week by that time, you just plain won't be able to gear up quickly enough to meet those demands from your publisher.

You don't have to start out writing 10 hours per week when you first begin writing fiction, of course. Hardly anybody can do that.

I recommend that you work up to the level of writing about 5 hours per week by the end of your first year of serious writing. And yes, it may take you a full year just to get up to that level.

Once you're writing 5 hours per week, you can then ramp up over the next year or two to writing at that magic level of 10 hours per week.

How do you do that? How do you find that kind of time when you're probably already overwhelmed by all the other things you're doing in life?

It's not easy. It's going to call for you to make some hard decisions on what's most important to you.

We're all juggling a lot of different things in our lives. I am. You are. That's just how things are.

Think about all the things on your plate. You probably have 10 or 15 that are important. Maybe more. You've got 168 hours in every week, and you're awake for at least 110 of those. That's a lot of hours. How do you fill up those hours?

Is it possible that you could live your life with one less thing on your plate?

(I know that the grammar purists will probably say it should be "one fewer thing," but that just doesn't ring well in my ear.)

If you've never tracked your time, this might be an enlightening exercise. Keep a daily log of where your time goes over the course of a full week. Keep a record of anything that takes longer than about 5 minutes. Lump together things that take less time than that. You may be amazed at what you spend your time on.

Now it's time to get serious. Every three months, ask yourself if there's one less thing you could do. One thing you could shove off your plate that would gain you at least an hour per week in writing time.

Maybe it's an "essential" TV show that really isn't all that important.

Maybe it's time spent browsing the web, fooling around on Facebook, texting, Skyping, tweeting, or whatever your favorite way is to chitchat electronically. Can you carve out an hour from that?

Every three months, can you find one less thing that "must" be done? Something that's really not essential? Something you can offload to somebody else?

Can you take that time and use it for your writing?

One less thing, every three months. If that one less thing buys you an extra hour per week of writing time, then in a year, you'll be writing at least four hours per week.

In two years, you'll have an extra eight hours per week to devote to your writing.

In three years, you'll have twelve hours a week.

This is not easy. At first, that "one less thing" won't cost you much. But as the months go by, each "one less thing" is going to sting more and more.

Life is full of sacrifices. If you want to write a novel, you have to give up something else that you like doing. You have to give up lots of somethings.

You can get there. One less thing at a time.


REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION-- Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 25,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

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Where's Bette Davis when you need her?
The last thirty days have been quite a rollercoaster for me. I finally got the job with the county I've been angling for since about 2008, with full benefits for me and the whole family. Fantastic. My book THE ELF CHILD, second in the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, came out. My first romance, SECRETS IN THE SAND, was released in ebook by The Wild Rose Press. My first teaching gig in the writing field got WOW reviews from attendees at the St. David's mini-conference.

At the same time, my father's painful bone cancer finally rendered him incapable of caring for himself, and we took him into our home, with the help of Hospice, for his final days.

So much got put aside as we really took things day by day, not planning farther ahead than the next morning. Work took a back seat, and I am grateful for the court's understanding and patience. Writing was set aside, too, except for the moments when I just needed to escape to some other place to get through an hour, anywhere except real life that was all too real.

Here's hoping the "bumpy night" is over, and spring might actually arrive sometime here in the frozen Northlands, setting my fibromyalgia pain to 'low' for the season. My hyacinths are out, sharing their delightful aromas, so that's a good sign. Writing on book three, THE ELF MAGE, is proceeding again at last. Working up to the Pennwriters conference in three weeks, where I'll meet with an agent about an autism project very close to my heart. Forward, world, forward.

I'm hosting a number of my sister authors on their blog tours at the Clan Elves' site, Other Writers, Other Worlds, including Brianna Soloski, Mayra Calvani and Jessica Zellman, and making the rounds myself to celebrate my new books as well. See me at Brianna's blog, asking the question, Are You an Old Dog?

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I'm guest blogging today on The Book of Your Heart at Mayra Calvani's blog, The Dark Phantom Review.  Come by and say hello!

And for a look at Mayra's column at the Clan Elves' page, see A Typical Writing Day!

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One of the things an author needs to have in his or her arsenal is a good photo to send with press releases, interviews and post with notices of book releases, etc. I've been putting this off for some time, partly because of cost and partly because I HATE HATE HATE having my picture taken. :)  (That's why I'm always the one with the camera--then I'm sure I'm out of the viewer range!!)

But as more and more opportunities come along, (and more and more books, too!) it seems like an inevitable task that we need to accomplish. Yesterday, I gathered the courage to go to the studio. My lovely "Theatah" friend Pam with the fabulous shoe store AND a Mary Kay business (how does she find the time!!) did my 'glam' makeup, and sent me off to the photo session, where a lovely young woman named Jennifer cajoled me through the process. I can't wait till she gets her own studio up and running--Capturing Moments Photography seems like the perfect name to me! Thanks so much to both of you for your help and encouragement!

It wasn't too painful, and I in fact survived. I've already sent out some of the shots as accompaniments to interviews and the like. What do you think?





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Today I'm the blog guest of Emma Lai at Emma Lai Writes-- She is a delightful hostess with fascinating books of her own. :)  Come by and say hello!

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Well, here it is, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen: My new book cover for Secrets in the Sand, my first published romance novel, available soon from The Wild Rose Press.

Here's hint of what it's about:

After a run of bad relationships, Lily Pearl Evans has finally become an independent woman. In the New Mexico desert town of Chaparral, she works for herself in her own house, she sets her own rules, and she's determined no man will hold her back again.



Gene Nicholas worked for more than a decade to achieve his dream to be a doctor. Wanting to share his gifts with those less fortunate, he leaves South Florida to volunteer for a tour with Doctors without Borders in Mexico.


When Gene provokes a showdown with the local Mexican drug cartel, he becomes a man with a price on his head. On the run, he ends up on Lily’s doorstep, a mystery man forced to conceal his past to protect them both. With the cartel’s dangerous web drawing tight around them, can Lily and Gene survive a druglord’s revenge?

Have you ever been watching a tv show or a movie, and said to the person next to you, "I could write that..."

Next week the NaNoWriMo people launch their 2011 website for the spring extravaganpalooza, SCRIPT FRENZY!

Even if you don't want to write a novel in the thirty days of November (tho I'd highly recommend it, at least once), you can still join up with the leagues of writers who push themselves into a first draft during the month of April with this opportunity to prove you really could write that.

What does it take? Here's the low-down:

The Challenge Write 100 pages of original scripted material in the 30 days of April. (Screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, and graphic novels are all welcome.)


When: April 1-30


Cost: Free. We run on donations.


Who: Everyone (worldwide) is welcome. No experience required.


Prizes: Happiness. Creative juices. Pride. Laughter. Bragging rights. A brand-new script.

Does it say anything about judging there? Headaches? Expensive classes and editors? No. Just the satisfaction of knowing you've taken some of those crazy ideas rocketing around in your head and let them out onto paper. Murder, greed, any of the deadly sins are great. Love? Love is good, too. Got some hostility and other issues to work out? Gentlemen, pick your characters and let em rip. It will save wear and tear on your loved ones.

The Script Frenzy people even give you tips!

How-To Guides


SCREENPLAYS

• Introduction to Screenwriting

• Screenplay Formatting Overview STAGE PLAYS

• Introduction to Stage plays

• Stage Play Formatting Overview

TV SCRIPTS

• Introduction to TV Scripts

• TV Script Formatting Overview

COMIC BOOKS

• Introduction to Comic Books

• Comic Book Formatting Overview


What have you got to lose?  Come on, now. What?
Nothing.
Yeah, that's what I thought. Start planning now and get ready to write April 1!!!

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Today I'm visiting Warm Days, Cool Nights and Hot Guys-- the blog of historical romance writer Jennifer Jakes, talking about critique groups and how to choose the one that fits you. You can just click by the adult content warning--my post is pretty vanilla!! Come by and say hello!


Check out my fancy new email signature--I think my head may swell a bit!


Babs Mountjoy

Also writing as Lyndi Alexander:

The Elf Queen, 2010

The Elf Child, 2011 and The Elf Mage, 2012, all from Dragonfly Publishing

http://clanelvesofthebitterroot.com/

Also writing as Alana Lorens:

Deliverance, a romance from The Wild Rose Press, coming in 2011

Second Chances, due out from Zumaya Publications in 2012

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This Thursday, the authors of Zumaya Publishing will be featured at Coffeetime Romance!  Please come by and support all of us--Zumaya will be printing my women's fiction novel SECOND CHANCES after the first of the year, so I'll be there too!

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Come find me, Technorati!!  :)  JN2TR572GQUR

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