Climbing the Mountain: Finding the Courage to Write (Penny Rader)

Anyone else crippled by fear? I am.

If I share my writing fears, will you share yours?

My biggest fear -- what if nothing comes to mind when I sit down to write? That one's quickly followed by what if I never finish another book? Am I destined to come up with the first few pages of a story, maybe a chapter, only to have them languish without middles and ends? What if I never sell another book? What if someone does buy the book, but then readers who plunk down their cash hate what I've written...or make fun of me? What if everyone sees that I'm a fraud because I don't write every day? What if my writing exposes parts of myself that aren't all sweetness and light? Showing my real, true self to the world is darned scary.

I’m tired of letting fear get in my way so I did some poking around online. Below are a few quotes and articles that got my attention. I thought they might help someone else, so I'm sharing them here.

Writer’s Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the first draft as crap;
The courage to write the next chapter anyway;
And the wisdom to know it can all be fixed later.


Don’t feel guilty about being afraid of the blank page. Don’t think you aren’t a writer if you don’t rush to the computer first thing when you get up in the morning in order to face the empty page. Writing is hard work. Filling up an empty page with your thoughts, your pains, your joys, and your creative ideas takes immense courage. – Rachel Ballon, The Writer’s Portable Therapist

A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: “As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It’s not as wide as you think.” – Joseph Campbell

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.—Bene Gesserit, Litany against Fear.

Write what disturbs you, what you fear what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.—Natalie Goldberg

If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow. – Louis L’Amour

There is always the risk that you may disappoint yourself. That risk is there even for productive writers, as most writers don’t write as often as they would like. Because of this reality, you will need to practice self-forgiveness. – Eric Maisel, A Writer’s Space

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

The 6 Golden Rules of David Leisner (substitute writing for music)

1. You have practiced to the best of your ability. Trust your automatic pilot to do most of your work for you.

2. Do not judge what just happened or will happen. Only motivate and observe (non-verbally).

3. Do not second-guess any audience member's reaction to your playing, as your perception will probably be inaccurate. Please yourself only.

4. Be in the music, in the moment. Be on stage, not in the audience. Be in the giving mode, not the receiving one.

5. Single out one aspect of your playing that is the top priority among things you need to be reminded of at this time.

6. Enjoy! Let your emotions for the music be present. Let your excitement for the music be present.

(For the complete article, go to

Additional Links:

20 Inspirational Quotes to Make You Stop Procrastinating and Start Writing

Courage Is Doing What You’re Afraid to Do

Creativity Writing and Fear

Everyday Courage and the Writer

Fear, Courage and Superheroes: 5 Posts on Writing and Audacity

Fear, Courage, and Writing

Fear of Writing: Is It a Gene?

Fear: The Dream Stealer

Good Reason Not to Write

Is Fear Affecting Your Writing?

The Nasty Four-Letter Word That Keeps You from Writing

Put Your Fears to Rest

Shane Black Confronts Your Fears

Two Ways to Overcome Writing Fear And Recover Your Creativity

~ ~

What are your fears? How do you beat them back?

Write from the Heart

Considering I'm doing this with no sleep since Saturday night, thanks to a tight deadline, I'm hoping at least a little of this will make sense. I'll try my best. :)

While watching my fave TV show last week (Criminal Minds), I heard the following quote that struck me as perfect for all of us.

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)

I tend to lean toward the belief that even "real" writers write for the pleasure of writing. (Try saying that fast, three times!) Each of us has reasons why we began writing, but most of us share the first and foremost belief that we began for the sheer pleasure of it. It sure wasn't for the money!

I remember the first full length novel I wrote, although I do try to forget exactly what I wrote. It was voluminous, probably totalling around 400 pages, typed on onion skin paper, for the most part. And single spaced. I did it for fun. I did it to quiet the voices in my head. I did it because...well, I could. And I did.

Now I write on deadline, on proposal, and on a computer, using double spaces (25 lines per page) and proper formatting, grammar, and hopefully spelling. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. It means mostly that I write because I have to (deadlines), I need to (proposals to lead to those deadlines), and a computer that has to be replaced every few years. (But, Yea! No onion skin!)

But no matter what I'm writing or how tight the deadline might be, I still--sometimes--find a particular piece of dialogue or a certain description that makes me go, yeah, that's good! And that means good for me, not a reader. Just me. There aren't always a lot of those moments, just those "sometime moments." I live for them, and I continue to write, hoping to have more.

So when you sit down at your computer or with your pad and pencil, ask yourself who you're writing for. Could you stop writing today and never regret that you did, even if you lived to be 200? Or would you sneak back to peck on the keys, trying to eek out the perfect turn of phrase or understand a character who just wouldn't shut up when you crawled into bed? I admit to the second and couldn't dream of the first.

Do you write from the heart? And what is your heart telling you?

More Useful Links for Writers

I'm sorry, but I'm scrambling to get a second blog for the month done. I'm taking the easy way this time and sharing some of my favorite research links.

For writing to do with cowboys and ranching:
Purebred Cattle Pages
Breeds of Livestock
Cattle Today Forum
Cowboy Language
Western Decor
The Cattle Site
Rodeo Attitude Site

For writing using castles:
English Castles
English Castle Locations
Scottish Castles
Medieval Castle Life
Medieval Spell
Medieval Jobs
Medieval Clothing
Medieval Collectibles

For writing about other time periods:
Viking Answer Lady
Regency Men's Clothing
Regency Fashion

Miscellaneous writing help:
Fictional Character Name Generator
Popular Baby Names
Romance Novel Covers

Contemporary Women's Clothing
Frederick's of Hollywood
Victoria's Secret

Armani Men's Clothing
Flirting Tips for Guys
Types of Kisses

Beard Styles
Men's Hairstyles

I Love Fiction

I began phonetically sounding out words at the age of two and was reading Little Golden Books by the age of three. Sound precocious, don't I? I wasn't. It was sheer desperation. I couldn't get people to read enough books to me, so I had to learn to read them myself. Ah, the magic of fiction. The fairytale world of other realities. I was well and truly hooked from a young age.

This picture is third grade. My favorite part of school was the day each week that we got to go to the school library. This is the year that I found two great treasures. The first was "At the Back of the North Wind" by George MacDonald, and the other was "The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet" by Eleanor Cameron. Wow. Science Fiction was a shock to my system. This was fiction de la creme for me. I was hooked for years, later discovering Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony, and a score of other Science fantasy authors.

Somwhere as a teen I stumbled across a romance. I took a vacation from Fantasy and dove into romances. Perhaps not all were the best choice for an impressionable teen girl, but some were a help in choosing the right husband. I passed up all the toads and waited for that really special someone. So glad that I did. Thank you, romance authors, for making me want a real hero.

Later I discovered and switched to inspirational romance. For me it was a combination of favorites...God and romance. In The Circle Trilogy, Ted Dekker presents God as a lover of romance, and the creator of all romance. That was a fun, new concept for me, affecting what I want to do as a writer.

My current list of favorite authors: Patricia Davids, Roxann Delaney, Starla Kaye, Penny Rader, Nina Sipes, Joan Vincent, Debbie Macomber, Jan Karon, Dora Jessie Saint, William MacDonald, Max Lucado, Francine Rivers, and Randy Alcorn. There are others, but I'm trying to hurry and finish this blog...

If I had to pick one book that was my favorite over the many that I've read, it would be "Deadline" by Randy Alcorn. It was a life changing book for me. My view of Heaven was so narrow until I read this book. It opened up a treasure of limitless eternal possibilities, making me see God and Heaven as terribly exciting and adventurous.

Nathaniel Hawthorne said, "Words --- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary. How potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them."

Fiction impacts lives. Whether conscious or not, each author sends a message in her book. Every author holds power in her hands to affect the lives of individuals. Being the lover of fiction that I am, my life has been impacted through the years by authors and their stories. Some inspired me to greatness. Some inspired me to foolishness. As we craft our stories, may we be conscious of those that will hold them in their hands and make decisions based on those stories.

Why am I in a hurry to finish this blog? In my research for this blog, I discovered that there are five books in the Mushroom Series by Eleanor Cameron. I am long overdue for the second book in the series, so I'm off to the library. See you later.

The First Books I Fell in Love with (Penny Rader)

When I was in first grade Sister Mary Renee told us we were going to read. I must confess that my heart kind of stopped because I thought that meant they were going to give us big books and expect us to read them right then and there. Fortunately, it wasn’t nearly that scary. While I don’t remember the process of learning how to read, I do know that I haven’t been able to get enough of books since.

I used to ask for books for my birthday and Christmas (still do, actually!), but most people looked at me funny when I said that. Finally, when I was nine or so, someone gave me a book as a gift: Little Women by Laura May Alcott. My dad’s mom gave it to me for Christmas. I still have it.

As I was growing up we spent a great deal of time at the Westlink branch of the public library. I read most, if not all, of all the orange-bound biographies in the kids section, starting with the ones about women. Whenever I hear the names Virginia Dare and Amelia Earhart, I flash back to those orange books and remember scenes from them. I also enjoyed mysteries, such as the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew as well as stand alones.

One book I checked out more than once was the pioneer story Miss Charity Comes to Stay by Alberta Constant. Next time I visit the library I'll see if it's still there and if I still like it.

The Scholastic book orders available from school were a great source of inexpensive books, once I started to buy my own. One that sticks out for me is All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. I loved this story of five young sisters and Jewish traditions and how the mother used buttons to make doing chores more fun. While working on this post I discovered there were several more books about this family. Can’t wait to find them.

I wish I could remember more of the titles that I ordered from Scholastic. Most of the ones I read had romantic and/or mystery threads. Another fave was Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Spears, which was based on the true story of a family abducted by Indians in 1754. The dressmaking scene still pops into my head when I think of this book.

When I was in the 5th or 6th grade the school librarian handed me The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It wasn’t until I was almost finished with the book that I found out it was part of a series and toward the end of the series at that. I couldn’t wait to go back to the beginning of the Little House books and read them all. As my thirteenth birthday approached I told anyone and everyone I wanted the series. I was convinced I would get the boxed set for my birthday. Didn’t happen. I was crushed. It took me quite a while and a lot of babysitting to save up the money to buy it for myself. I still have the boxed set. Well, all except the very last book of the series. My baby sis loaned it to a friend and she never returned it.

Not too long after that I bought Where Are My Children by Mary Higgins Clark. I probably drove my mom crazy that day because I read it all in one sitting. She’d call me to do something and I’d say “Just a minute, Mom. I want to finish this chapter.” You know how it goes. Before you know it you’re sucked into the next chapter. I still love women-in-jeopardy stories. (My mom says my baby sis learned "Minute, Mama" from me.)

The summer between eighth and ninth grade I discovered Harlequin romance novels at J.C. Penney’s. I think I still have the first Harlequin I read, The Wilderness Hut by Mary Wibberly, somewhere. A lady from our church gave me a whole bag of Harlequins, which I happily devoured throughout the summer.

My freshman year a classmate loaned me Caroline by Cynthia Wright. This story about a heroine with amnesia took place just after the Revolutionary War. I was in heaven. Romance, history, and sex. Holy cow! What more could a teenage reader want? ;D Thus, began my years-long love affair with historical romance novels. For my sixteenth birthday my brother gave me another historical romance I’d been yammering about. I saw it mentioned in a magazine. The Proud Breed by Celeste de Blasis, a multi-generational sage of California. I had no idea my brother had been listening until I found the book under my pillow.

Thanks to the person who suggested that we blog on the books we read as kids. It's been a great trip down memory lane. I love giving books as gifts, even to non-readers. There’s something out there for just about everyone. My family pretty much knows that they’ll be getting books from me. Do you like to receive and/or give books as gifts? Do you have any childhood faves you'd like to revisit?

Where'd THAT come from?

Almost to the day, ten years ago I began to write my first novel. I'd had an idea of story I wanted to read from the time I was fourteen and had read many a science fiction book. But...I had absolutely no ability or desire to write it myself.

Words do not come easy...or so I thought. If order flowers I have to get help from the clerk to determine what to write on the little cards. You know, those little ones, the ones that should say something nice or appropriate to the sentiment of the occassion. Well, I can look at one of those cards and begin to bleed out my eyes before anything comes to mind. Then I have to destroy a couple as I change my mind. Luckily for me, age has brought me the gift of less embarrassment. I now merely ask the clerk what would be good. It saves time and the recipient isn't as horrified or disappointed. Ditto with memos and letters.

I thought if I ever met a writer I would give them the idea for this book and they would write it and I would read it. Since I didn't want any preconceived ideas of how the book would go, I made sure not to think about it. Then I found out writers have their own ideas and don't want anyone else's. I was a little miffed to discover this. My husband of twenty years gave me a look and told me if I'd written a page a month I'd be finished by now and know how it ended. I decided to start the next day. But, I couldn't write it.

As I lay down to sleep that night, a person came into my head, the younger sister of my heroine. She had been inspired into action by her older sister's success. I jumped up and wrote that down. The next day, I began to write the younger sister's story and as it unfolded over the next nine months, out of the murky depths of my innermost mind, the bare bones of the first story came out of the mist.

Since then I've learned I really am a writer of novels. That book finished in nine months, the next almost nine years. I still can't write those pesky little cards for flowers etc without feeling like I'm against the wall they use for the firing squad. Talent can be like that.

The Proving Zone stories flow from the tips of my fingers like a symphony of flavors, scents, and delights. Other writingly stuff--not at all. The purpose of this post, should I be too dense to pick the right words to get my thoughts across, is to share my belief that writing talent, ability, and desire are not the stuff of knowing, it is the stuff of exploration. Writing novels gives me great joy and contentment as I root around in my murky head for the perfect word or phrase to describe exactly what my characters taste, feel, or do.
The next best joy is that 'gotcha' moment when readers who would not normally read my kind of novel become engaged in it--sometimes to the point they read all night. As an author, I love THAT feeling!

I hope you feel encouraged to begin. Don't let age, condition, preconceived lack of talent, hail, mist, or dead of night stop you from enjoying the process of writing whatever kind of writing you find fun to do.

About those who say nasty things about your writing or thoughts on it. Please remember: Not every story is for every reader.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day all you Irish and want-to-be Irish.

May the luck of the Irish rest in your pocket all your life.

I love this day. It means spring is coming. It means it's time for green shakes, green beer and cabbage with corned beef. It's time to plant potatoes if you believe my grandfather who was Polish and not Irish.

It's a day filled with traditions and imagery.

So how do we use imagery in our writing?

Here is a simple lesson.

Choose a photograph or a picture that depicts a scene. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day let’s imagine a photograph of a man planting potatoes. You can use any sort of picture you wish.

Stare at the picture for awhile. Let yourself enter the scene and stay there for a few moments.
Now put yourself into the picture. Imagine that you are in the picture. You are looking around. You are experiencing everything that is happening in the picture.

Ask yourself: What do I see? What do I hear? What do I smell? What can I touch? What can I taste?

Taste is often difficult for some people to imagine but if you are working to plant a long row of potatoes can’t you imagine the taste of sweat on your lips or dirt?

Write down all of the senses you are experiencing. Write it out using as many adjectives as you can think of to describe the experience. Doing so will help you learn how to bring your writing scenes to life for your readers.


I met my husband on St. Patrick's Day in 1973. Irish luck? Maybe.
Pat Davids

Creating Memorable Characters

Developing a character is the most important element to writing a good story. You can have an interesting idea, with a workable plot. Then add conflict to move the story along. But without great believable (life like) characters, your story will lose the readers interest. You need to understand and know your characters as if they were a close friend or a member of your family. Taking the time to work up a character sheet will polish your writing.

You can begin with a few traits or a full detailed character sheet. The more you get to know your character, the better it will make a strong and interesting Hero and Heroine. It’s up to each writer how much she wants to know about secondary characters. It depends if those characters play more of a major role throughout the story.

My characters usually have a first and last name. I look for a picture to fit each character. Physical appearances such as the color of eyes, hair, color of their skin and body structure. Their likes and dislikes, what activities they enjoy. Back history lets the reader know where they have been in their past and what makes them do the things they do now.

Writing a character chart can be as in-depth as you want it to be. The point I want to make, is know your characters well. The more interesting and enthusiastic the character is, it will speak volumes making your story the best it can be.

There are many examples on the web for writing a character sheet, here are a few to get you started:
Using Character Sheets in Fiction Writing

How to write an Effective Character Sheet


Writing Makes Me Happy

Some of us have been blogged about the downside of writing, but I'm choosing not to go that route. I admit there are many downers, but I prefer to think positively. I love writing and slipping away into one romantic story after another. I've been writing for many, many years and most of that time I wove together stories just to please me. I still occasionally write little stories simply because I want to try something different. Or I think about some storyline that is just fun to play with. I like to indulge my fantasies.

One of my most enjoyable ongoing storylines involves a cow who has every bit as much imagination as I do, Blossom. So I'm going to share one of my early quickie stories about Blossom, a story that made me happy to write it.


Blossom wasn’t in the mood to trail after Elsie today as she led the herd of blind followers out to the same old field, for the same dull day they always spent. It didn’t matter how many times Elsie turned her big Jersey head to glare back at her, Blossom wasn’t going.

Music drifted from around the side of the dairy barn and she completely put Elsie and the others from her mind. She loved music. It gave her dancing hooves. It made her daydream about other times, other places, being more than just Blossom, the token Guernsey on the farm.

Now that she had some time to herself, she felt inspired to indulge her fantasies. To heck with old sourpuss Elsie. Always telling Blossom to learn to accept she was just a cow. Plain and simple. A cow whose only role in life was to produce milk for their owner. Well, Elsie might be content to spend her days thinking only of what batch of grass to chomp on next, of how full her udder would get in order to please Farmer Sam, but Blossom wanted much more out of life.

The spirit of adventure once more spreading through her, she dropped the hay she’d started munching on and light-hoofed her way out of the barn. She’d had her fill anyway. She’d only been eating out of boredom and habit. Besides, she’d had a little trouble squeezing through the hole in the fence on her last adventure. Losing a pound or two might be a good idea.

As she rounded the corner, she spotted Farmer Sam’s wife hanging laundry on the clothesline beside the main house. The music seemed to be louder now. It grew even louder the closer Blossom got to the side of the corral. She had a notion it came from the black box on the ground near the clothesbasket. The beat was good. Lively. Her tail began swishing back and forth in rhythm with the sound. Her back end swayed. Definitely a tune you couldn’t resist letting your whole body get into. Perfect. She couldn’t think of any other way to describe it.

The wind picked up, which Blossom didn’t mind at all. It kept those pesky flies from bothering her so much. But it also whipped something the woman had been trying to pin to the line away from her. The garment fluttered to the ground and she quickly bent down to pick it up. As she bent over, the woman’s low-cut top struggled to contain the abundant breasts she was blessed with. They looked ready to burst.

Blossom felt herself blushing. She didn’t particularly like it when her udder was so bloated with milk she was near to bursting and Farmer Sam saw her that way. Of course, her body was supposed to get that way. Still, she found it embarrassing at times, and she wondered if Farmer Sam’s wife ever felt that way when someone stared at her breasts.

She shook her head, shaking away the strange thought. Then she caught sight of the red dress at the end of the clothesline. Red, It was Blossom’s favorite color. Immediately she envisioned herself wearing a fine red ballgown, walking on her hind legs beside Ferdinand, that handsome stud of a Charlmaine bull from the neighboring farm. They were going to a barn dance. They’d spend the evening whirling and twirling around the sawdust covered barn floor. She’d bat her long lashes at him. He’d give her that saucy grin of his. And Elsie would be shooting daggers with her eyes at Blossom the whole night, because she had once considered Ferdinand her bullfriend. Not that Blossom could remember Ferdinand ever giving Elsie even more than a bored glance.

“Blossom,” Farmer Sam’s deep voice came from behind her. “Decided not to go out to the field today, I see.” He chuckled. “Well, I reckon that’s not a problem.”

He stepped beside her and gently patted the side of her neck. She was the only cow on the farm he talked to, touched more than to just get milk. She felt special. To show her appreciation, she winked at him as best she could.

He grinned. “You’re a flirt, aren’t you, sweetheart. It’s a dang good thing there’s a solid fence between our place and the Stanton’s. ‘Else I’ve a feeling their old bull would be paying you regular visits. Hot heifer that you are.”

Blossom beamed. Hot heifer. Wouldn’t Elsie just die of jealousy and annoyance if she heard that comment! Well, maybe when the herd wandered back tonight, she just might see to enlightening Elsie with that little tidbit.

Farmer Sam gave her one last pat and walked away saying, “At least you didn’t manage to get into the wine again.” He laughed, shaking his head. “Funniest thing I’ve ever seen. A drunk cow.”

She didn’t care that he was laughing at her for her last misadventure. No, she was still preening about his notion that Ferdinand would find her attractive, hot even. Oh, if only that were true.

Reading vs Life

We are blogging this month on our favorite books and stories, but I wanted to share why books and stories are important to me.

As a child I often escaped into secret places to read. There wasn’t much at home to read except the encyclopedias and a set of classics bound in pastel colors that were bought for my aunts and uncles to read when they were in school. The farm, my grandmother’s homestead, was fifteen miles from town so we didn’t go to town but once a week for groceries. We had a library in grade school that was left from the high school when it consolidated in the county. That library opened up vistas of excitement for me. I took stacks of books home until my arms ached from the weight. There was only twelve students in my class so I was lucky enough that the school was small enough that no matter what kind of kid you were, you were accepted and involved. At that time my favorites were stories of survival or masquerade. They still are for that matter, but now I want a healthy dose of romance in them.

During high school, I managed as a farm kid to get a driver’s license at fourteen and then found the county library. OOOhhhuuuweee. I found science fiction and as a little snob read the section and determined that romance was for those without the brainpower to read more. That was about a year before I found Georgette Heyer. She had me at page one of The Grand Sophie and I became a permanent convert to romance. Louis Lamoure beguiled me into westerns.

My mom didn’t seem to care if I read, but it disturbed my father a lot. After the initial excitement was over that I learned to read, he was worried and has had many a talk with me about the fact that books aren’t real and I needed to come out and live a real life. What he never understood, and still doesn’t, is that I comprehend real life very well. There isn’t enough in it to keep me entranced. I need both worlds. Never-ending cycles of dust deposit and removal just don’t do it for me. I need to visit other places, people, and times. With such a low availability of people, I need the imaginary ones to learn other things from. I’ve learned about sacrifice and nobility of spirit. I’ve learned of chicanery and spite. I’ve learned how to make handmade lace, jerky, and cheesecake. I’ve learned about the needs of plants, animals, children, and myself.

I have friends. I have acquaintances. I have people I’ve known for a lifetime and people who have known my family for a few generations and I theirs. I also have books for friends, acquaintances, and teachers. Books are more reliable. People die, move, or attend to their own business. A book is always there ready to share all it is at any time, day or night, storm or shade, un-judgemental, as long as you have the strength to open it. However, why do I choose romance over all other varieties? Because I think reading material ought to end on a satisfying and upbeat note precisely because real life can be very harsh, unpredictable, and sometimes doesn’t end well at all. And do you want to know some irony? I really miss those Harlequins I once turned my snobbish little nose up at, the ones that took us to countries, professions, and cultures around the globe—nurses with blind men, isolated Australian sheep farms, Portuguese families and old family names.

Voices from the Dark Side (Roxann)

While many people envision the writing life as glamorous, those of us who actually tackle the task of putting words on paper know the truth: It ain't pretty, honey! Any one of us could name half a dozen to a dozen or even more cons of writing. That doesn't mean there aren't pros, nor does it even mean that the cons outweigh the pros, but this month some of us are tackling the tougher aspects aka the realities. Or as Pat so aptly put it, the Dark Side.

Every job/career has its downside. Writing isn't immune to darkness.

You've worked hard on that manuscript, that baby that's kept you up at night, driven you crazy with voices in your head, and produced backaches from sitting at the computer too long. The i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. It's polished so well you need sunglasses just to glance at it. And then you summon the courage to call it "finished," sending it away and hoping for at least an encouraging word from an editor, an agent, or even a judge in a contest. And then you wait. And wait. Sometimes several months go by, and you still keep waiting. And you begin to wonder if A) It didn't reach its destination, or B) It's so bad, no one has the nerve to tell you. Neither is probably true, but that doesn't mean every possible scenario of what could go wrong doesn't enter your very active imagination.

Then there's life after The Call. Published authors, if honest, will point out that the term "deadline" incorporates a key word. DEAD. Because if you don't meet that deadline with the finished product, be it a proposal or a full manuscript, copyedits or galleys, you may be putting a nail in the coffin of your career. But it doesn't end there. Working with an editor doesn't guarantee that your latest baby will be swept into the arms of your editor the minute it arrives and admired for its beauty. More than likely it could be three months or more before you even hear a peep from the person who holds your destiny in her (or his) hands. That editor has other submissions to read. You are one among many, and your latest baby will wait in line. (See photo above for a real view of manuscripts waiting to be read.) Unless, of course, you're Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Dan Brown, John Grisham... But they went through their own rejections, testing periods, and waiting in line. But it doesn't end there. Your editor isn't the last one to approve your baby. There's often a senior editor and, in some cases, a group or panel of people that must be convinced your baby is good enough for the world to see.

It won't be long before you're back at the keyboard, hearing voices, back aching and fuzzy-brained from lack of sleep, working on that next baby.

And they say childbirth is difficult and obviously why it's called labor. But, like childbirth, the joy of that baby being brought into the world for you and others to see is worth it. :)

A Magic Carpet of Books by J Vincent

Treasure, Magic , Mystery! Do you remember books from your childhood—from 5th through 10th grade? Do you remember what they inspired?

Books were a rare treat as a child. I went to a four room school which had no library. I don’t recall books for reading entertainment being available until about 6th grade when Sr. Agedia (my apologies for not recalling her last name but she was a fixture in Wichita with a variety of programs) became principal and each month brought 30 books from the Wichita Public Library. My world expanded exponentially. I leapt from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder to Black Stallion and Island Stallion by Walter Farley, Black Beauty Anna Sewell, King of the Wind and Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. Horse crazy you might say—I even had a collection of ceramic horses—still have a couple of them. But I also devoured Jim Kjelgaard’s Big Red, Irish Red, Son of Big Red, Outlaw Red.

Anne of Green Gablesby Lucy Maud Montgomery told me it was okay to be a tomboy. Who didn’t read Treasure Island and then spend countless happy hours drawing treasure maps and going on treasure hunts? The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis said “dream of other worlds, of magic.” Around 8th grade I began to purloin my Dad’s Zane Grey books: Riders of the Purple Sage, Desert Gold, The Light of the Western Stars were but a few. They whispered that you only had to be strong, tough, and never give up and then good would prevail. In the mix was Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. By time I was a freshman (and thought I’d died and went to heaven to have a library available all the time) I had read Gone with the Wind, one of only a few romances I encountered until I met Georgette Heyer and regencies in my twenties.

My reading in the middle school and high school years was broadened and leavened by Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. They introduced me to Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth and the mysteries of China. That led me to her China Sky a love story of sorts set during the Japanese invasion during WW II. I eagerly awaited delivery of the four volumes a year and gulped them down cover to cover as soon as they arrived. I'm listing the books in two volumes: Summer Reader’s Digest 1960 when I was a highschool freshman: The Lovely Ambition - Mary Ellen Chase, Trustee from the Toolroom - Nevil Shute, The Leopard - Giuseppe di Lampedusa, Village of Stars - Paul Stanton, To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee. The second volume is from 1961: The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck, The Agony and the Ecstasy - Irving Stone, The Making of the President, 1960 - Theodore H. White, "A Lodging for the Emperor" (Japanese Inn) - Oliver Statler, Goodbye, Mr. Chips - James Hilton. Many of therse stories led me to read the origninal work or other works by the same author. Without them I would never have been introduced to such a broad stroke of writing styles and stories.

Perhaps I was just lucky that we didn’t get a television until I was in high school, or was it that my Dad valued reading so highly, or perhaps I was just blessed with an avid curiosity. I was certainly blest to have learned that in books you could be anyone, go anywhere, do anything. What were your favorite authors or titles? Where did they take you? What did they inspire you to do?

The Down Side to Writing by Becky A

On our previous blog Pat spoke of the downside to writing for her. This really got me to thinking about what I disliked about the whole process. I feel it is good to share these kinds of things in order to mentally prepare anyone who desires to write. There are parts that you are not going to like about the writing process, and you are the only one who can decide if the price you must pay is worth it.

For me, and this is going to sound a tad bit superficial, sitting on my backside for hour on end is a real downside. Not only that, it’s a royal pain, literally! I have never been one to sit for long periods of time and my body lets me know how unhappy it is with all that BICHOK. When my legs begin to swell I start hopping up and down, doing little things around the house to keep the circulation going.

Another is writing the tough emotional scenes, and for some reason, I write a lot of them. I don’t like pulling on old memories, old pain, to bring those scenes to life. It’s hard and I must revisit some stuff I would prefer to ignore. However they say that writing is cathartic so I guess for me, it’s a good thing no matter how it feels.

Often when I am slogging through an especially hard part, like the black moment, I will get up about every five to ten minutes and go do something else for just a little bit. It relieves the emotional pressure but drives my hubby nuts. I suppose I must look like a jack-in-the-box running in and out of the Living Room every few minutes. So between keeping the blood flowing and relieving the emotional pressure, I spend a lot of time getting up and down. I think I’ll name my new exercise routine, The Writers Way to Weight Loss. Of course far too many of my little trips are to the kitchen, hunting for whatever snack is calling my name!

The only other thing that seems to really bug me is the time issue. I have two little ones running around my house during the week and my writing time during the day is often in snatches of a few minutes here and there. Nap time provides a bigger chunk but by then Grandma usually needs a few zzz’s too! (Not to mention a little shoveling duty so I can walk across the floors without breaking my neck.)

All in all for me these are minor issues. The satisfaction I feel as I complete each scene more than makes up for any discomfort. And when someone reads my “masterpiece” and understands what I was trying to convey, it obliterates all those annoying aches and renews my desire to keep writing. So my friends as you contemplate the perks and the pains of writing, let me know what is on your list and how you deal with it. I would especially like to know how you deal with the tough, emotional scenes. My husband will thank you.

What's the worst thing about being a writer?

We had some wonderful romance scenes and stories last month on this blog. I enjoyed everyone of them. (okay Blossom is my fav)

Being writers is what makes us tick, but what about the dark side?
What's the downside of being an author? We have pros and cons to every aspect of our lives, what are some of the cons we face in our make-believe worlds?

I'd like to start off by saying that creating a story that is emotionally satisfying outweighs all the bad stuff, but there is bad stuff.

Number one is TIME: When I invest hours and hours into a story, that time isn't available for my husband or my daughter or grandkids. It isn't available to me. I cringe when I think of the hours it has taken to write 15 books. Am I glad I did it? Sure, but some things got put on the back burner. Taking care of myself. Visiting my folks and my brothers. Traveling with my husband. I missed those opportunities.

Number two is isolation: Me in my office, typing until my fingers ache, talking for imaginary people. It's lonely work.

What do you see as the down side of this business?
Have you even thought about it?