The Body Never Lies (Penny Rader) Creative Commons-licensed content
A couple years ago I attended a communication seminar.  I was surprised to learn that only 7% of communication comes from words – which is one reason why it’s easy to be misunderstood in emails and tweets and facebook posts.  The other 93% comes from body language, tone of voice, etc.  I trolled the internet for help using nonverbal communication in our writing.

Body Language Basics (Julie Rowe)

Check out this article for tips about how smiling, eyebrows, head positioning and body position reveal what your characters are doing and how they feel about it.

Body Language Cheat Sheets for Writers 

This cheat sheet from Archetype Writing includes Anger, Attraction, Distress and Lying, among others.

Body Language – A Guide to Reading Body Language Signals

This site has a body language index – loads of helpful information.   Especially body language signals and meanings (broken down by eyes, mouth, head, arms, hands, handshakes, legs and feet,  personal space).

The Body Language Noob

You’ll find additional articles about body language, including “The Most Honest Part of the Body” – be sure to check out the short video.

Body Language: Ten Ways to Show How Your Character Is Feeling (Renee Miller)

“The worst part of getting advice like ‘show, don’t tell’ is that writers like to throw it out there, but they don’t seem to want to take the time to explain it.  …where many writers tend to tell when showing is best, is when they’re trying to covey how a character feels.  Body language is so easy to use, and it gives the reader a visual of what’s going on…” Creative Commons-licensed content

Gender Differences: Female Body Language

This article is for men writing female characters, but I figured it’d be helpful for women, too. :D

The Human Touch – Using Body Language in Writing (techtrigger)

“…too easy to forget your body interacts with the world.” Examples include body movement, sounds, textures, dialogue.

Non-Verbal Thesaurus:  A Writer’s Cheat Sheet to Body Language Cues

Pretty cool.  Check it out.

Using Body Language

There’s a ton of info here: body language message clusters, movement, parts-of-the-body language.

Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist (Margie Lawson)

In this article, Margie discusses dialogue cues and facial expressions.  She also gives several examples from novels.

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are (Amy Cuddy)

A TED Talk about “power posing” Creative Commons-licensed content


Do you have  favorite body language reference?

We Are Addicted

It takes a few seconds to recall the days before computers became an integral part of our lives.  I remember my first computer, a Commodore 128, purchased in the 1980s, before the internet became readily available to the average household.  At the time, I was involved with a small, local community theater group, and I couldn't believe everything I could do with my nifty computer:  making flyers--with graphics!--and writing articles about the group for the local newspaper.

By the early 90s, my then-husband became interested in what a computer could do and bought a much better one--for him.  I was sometimes allowed to use it when he was at work.  I took a correspondence course in writing for children and teenagers, typing away on both the old and the 'new' computer when I could, then mailed my assignments in when finished.  Internet had not yet arrived for the common man or woman.  I left writing behind for a few years and didn't pick it up again until my four daughters were a little older.  In the meantime, I'd returned to reading romance and decided it might be fun to try my hand at writing it.  It was!  I wrote for a year or so, bought some books on writing romance, then discovered some information in one of the books about a national organization for romance writers--Romance Writers of America--and their annual conference was quickly approaching!  And RWA had a local chapter!!  Penny Rader and I had met in the book store where she worked at the time, and she had previously invited me to join it, although I wasn't quite ready for that...yet.

I also learned WE HAD INTERNET.  And we'd had it for some time.  Color me angry.

With the Internet, a whole new world opened up for me.  I found the Romance Authors Page (RAP) chatroom for romance writers, where I lurked for over a month.  Then, on my 45th birthday, I stuffed my shyness in a closet and joined it.  In the meantime, I'd become an RWA member, booked a flight to the conference in Dallas, a rental car and a hotel room.  I also attended my first WARA meeting.  In the RAP chatroom, I met Kathie DeNosky, who was a Golden Heart finalist that year, and we met in person in at the conference.  We still remain very close friends, although she lives in southern Illinois and I live in Kansas.  Had it not been for computers and the Internet, that never would have happened.  Since then, I've met hundreds, if not thousands, of romance writers and count many of them as friends.

Yesterday morning, the sky fell down on me.  I turned on my computer to discover that my monitor wouldn't work.   No writing, no connecting with friends, nothing.  I love my monitor.  22" at my fingertips to see the world.  It even swivels to vertical, so I can compare two documents at the same time.  But now, when I turn it on, there's a blank screen...then turns off...then turns on, only to keep repeating.  I blame the electric company.  In just over four weeks, our power has gone out four times, always when the computer is on.  The first time was for 25 hours, due to a storm.  The second time, barely two weeks ago, power was out for almost two hours.  The third time, earlier this past week, it was out for about 45 minutes.  Then Friday night, with no storm in sight, the power on our block went out, came on, went out, came on, then went out, in less than 10 seconds.  It stayed out for about 20 minutes.  I ended up spending the rest of the evening with my youngest daughter and her best friend, before finally going to bed.  Then came the fallen sky yesterday morning.   I spent most of the day trying to fix the monitor, even buying a new video cable.  It's now Sunday, and I'm now using my oldest daughter's old 12" monitor.  This is not fun, but without it, I'd be found in a corner, huddled in the fetal position.  But it works, and since I'm on deadline and can't live without connecting with my friends, I don't have a choice.

So, yes, I have an addiction to computers and the Internet, but I'm not alone.  On the flip-side, as long as I have a computer and Internet, I'm never alone...except during those power outages and blown out monitors.

Heaven, I'm In Heaven . . .

Vacations come in all shapes and sizes. What some would consider heaven, another would consider quite the opposite. I've never had the yen to climb Mount Everest, but I would consider poking my nose into a volcano’s crater some day.

This month I had the pleasure of vacationing on top of a mountain in Witter, Arkansas. Where, you say? You heard me, Witter. The “town” consists of a post office. They have quite the nightlife. Cars buzz past at least once per hour. Well, maybe, on Friday nights. J

The purpose of my little trip was to haul thirteen teenagers and one adult to camp with me. We had an awesome time. Four to five hours of sleep each night. Head lice, sore throats, sibling fights, divas, teen love, stomachaches, one-hundred degree heat, rain, mud and personality clashes. Yup, that’s heaven alright.

Fifteen tired and cranky people crammed into one van for the seven-hour trip home was the icing on the cake. We managed to make it without killing, or losing, a single one! I can’t wait for next year.

Some of you are thinking right now, is she insane?  Yup, certifiable, and I’m okay with that. In spite of all the craziness that comes with kids and camp, I wouldn't miss it for the world. Getting to know those kids makes it all worthwhile. Seeing their lives changed as they learn to work as a group, trust each other, and open up to new friendships is phenomenal. They come back stronger, more assured, happier and with a new degree of freedom to be who God created them to be. That is awesome.

It was hard. I’ll admit it. I've had a lot of sleep to catch up on, but in the process, I came back with a new zest to write. Before the trip, I was stuck. I had no desire to write and no confidence in the direction it was going. I sat down last Sunday night and got started again. Yippee!

Vacations aren't always about rest and relaxation. Sometimes all it takes is change. I left burnt out on this whole author bit. I came back ready to wrestle my characters into submission. I've only managed to get a few hundred more words on to paper so far, but that’s okay. I know where I’m going now and that is awesome.

Next time you get in a writing rut, take a vacation. Even if all it consists of is a trip to Sonic for a banana split. Let your brain wind down and every worry melt right along with that ice cream. Savor every tidbit of pineapple, lick every drop of chocolate and memorize every piece of strawberry heaven. When you get home, your brain will be stress free and ready to work.

A dream vacation involving planes and trains, but maybe not what you think (Melissa Robbins)

               In a couple of years, I turn 40.  Leaving the kids with the grandparents, my husband and I will travel to England to celebrate.  It will be a marvelous time to go, the 70th anniversary of the VE Day and 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  It would be cool to stand in some of the places my characters have stood.  Some must-sees on my list.

Royal Air Force Museum – oh yeah, first on my list.  Not only do they have planes, but entire exhibits devoted to the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service and Americans in the RAF.  Since one of my heroines is a PM and one of my heroes is an American RAF pilot, my husband will be dragging me out of those rooms hours after I go in. 

Hastings – Although the village of Sandwick-on-Sea and Thaddington Hall, where my characters reside, are made up, Sandwick has a striking resemblance to the town of Hastings on the southern east coast of England.  I would love to walk the hills and piers. Hopefully with no barbed wire and land mines on the beach.

Battle of Britain Memorial – not far from Hastings, near Dover.  Looks a lot like the Vietnam Memorial, with its wall of names. 

Imperial War Museums – All of them if my DH will let me, but definitely the ones including Churchill’s War Rooms and IWM Duxford, which was an aerodrome  for the Royal Air Force and then the Yanks (Mighty Eighth Air Force) took over.  Lots of planes.

The Blitz Party – This will take some planning, but I would LOVE to attend one while in England.  The Blitz Party is held one night once a quarter.  EVERYONE dresses up in 40’s clothes.  I don’t think you can enter the party without looking like you stepped out of WW2.  Google The Blitz Party and you’ll see loads of people dressed up from previous parties. 

 Train stations fascinate me.  Paddington Station would be cool to visit.  I had a Paddington Bear when I was a kid.  Waterloo Station would be another on my list.  I am curious to see how much it has changed since the war. 

  Of course, there are the usual tourist stuff, like the castles, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, etc.       

Whose with me?

If the Shoes Fits (Penny Rader)

Since our retreat and July meeting had to be cancelled and I was scheduled to give a program on Creativity, I thought perhaps you'd play along with me here on the blog.

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it [and I hope you do!], is to pick one of the pictures below and tell us about the person the shoe(s) belong to.  If want to write about more than one picture, great!

1.  picture taken by @Doug88888, Creative Commons licensed-content

2. picture taken by Samantha Davies, Creative Commons licensed-content

3. picture taken by Eric S.,, Creative Commons licensed-content

4. picture taken by Zanthia,, Creative Commons licensed-content

5. picture by dave lewis 88,, Creative Commons licensed-content

6. picture taken by Eric S.,, Creative Common licensed-content

7. picture by dave lewis 88,, Creative Commons licensed-content
8.  picture by Liz Jones,, Creative Commons licensed-content

9. picture taken by Tony & Wayne,, Creative Commons licensed-content

10. picture by Pete Harmer,, Creative Commons licensed-content

What do you think?  Will you join me in showing who a pair (or more) of these belong to?

Why Don't We Write?

Life is a lot of work.

Whether we write or not, everyone's life is a lot of work. Sometimes the work is breathing, something a lot of us take for granted. Sometimes life is about relationships and other people's emergencies.

Everyone who has been around even a little bit, knows that we all get twenty-four hours a day or there abouts for you science buffs. How we choose to spend them is how we are defined by ourselves and others. The outward appearance of the time we have spent pretty well tells the story. My pretty toenails tell that I like pretty toenails and I spent the time to get them that way. Doesn't matter who actually did the work. The time was spent.

My healthy skin tone means I spent some time achieving it. Whether by good food, good friends, or a healthy respect for the sun, I still spent some time on it. Didn't think about it, but the time was spent. We spend a lot of time without thinking about it. Wasted time we usually think about. It doesn't matter how it was wasted either, whether we liked the way is was wasted (swimming) or abhor it (fixing a clogged toilet and still having to call a plumber).

The thing about writing and other related activities is that it takes some thought to do it. Much of our other time that disappears like sands in an hourglass is gone due to habit mindlessness. The struggle to find time for activities that takes thought to do is harder to do than to do what we do automatically.

Can we develop the ability to write mindlessly? No. Plots and character development don't happen that way. Computer games, Facebook, television, and shopping do.

Add a little bit of lonely in. Can we spend the time alone it takes to write?
Will we?
Should we?
Abandon our loved ones for the mind candy of people who don't exist yet? How do you spell guilt?

These factors and hundreds more all pull at us, fracturing our ability to stick with it, rear-end in chair, fingers on keyboard. It is a miracle any writing is ever done. Although life is a lot of work, miracles happen every day.  Sort out a little time, make an appointment with yourself, put your mind to it, sit your seattie in your chair, and put your fingers on your keyboard, and.....write!

What's a Vacation?

I'm serious.  What's a vacation?  It's been so long since I've had one--except for a few working vacations--that I'm afraid I wouldn't recognize one.

There was that trip to Worlds of Fun last summer, after my youngest daughter's graduation.  But, really, my idea of a vacation isn't sharing a (very nice) cabin at WofF village with 8 others and spending the day following everyone, while they rode the rollercoasters and everything else that moved.  Yes, I did ride a few rides, and we did have fun, but a day and a half is not a vacation.  It's a weekend.  Okay, part of a weekend.  Not exactly a dream vacation.

When I was a little girl, a vacation was a yearly standard.  It was easier for my mom and dad, because I was the only one to drag around.  I slept in the backseat or the back of the station wagon, surrounded by books.  (You didn't think I'd be without those, did you?)  I've seen some of the most fabulous places!  Yellowstone Park, Disneyland, Pike's Peak, Mount Rushmore, the U.N., Florida Everglades, and more caverns and waterfalls than I remember.  From east coast to west, north to south, and beyond.  Most of them I remember, some I don't.  48 states, Canada, Mexico and Cuba.  When I was married and my girls were young, our family vacationed often at Silver Dollar City.  My aunt and uncle owned a home on Table Rock Lake, and for several years we visited them.  We went as a family to Savannah, Georgia, to watch my girls' dad play softball, and another trip to do the same in Battle Creek, Michigan.  Since then?  Not a whole lot, unless RWA Conferences (those working vacations) count.

Vacations have become a thing of the past.  But that doesn't mean I don't dream.  Two of my friends (both authors) and I often talk about going to Barbados.  We have a friend there, who we met in a romance writers chatroom back in 1996.  He's an author, too, and would show us THE places to go.  Fun?  Oh, yeah, worlds of fun. ;)  I suspect the biggest chunk of time would be spent lolling on the beach, digging our goes in the sand, and making sure the pina coladas the cabana boys brought us were perfect. Perfect cabana boys, of course. ;)  Isn't perfect what a dream vacation should be?  It would be for me!

There are hundreds of places I'd like to visit, new ones and already-been-there ones, too.  I'd like to go back to NYC for a third time.  And right up there vying for first place with Barbados is a rail trip to Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, DC, to see the things I missed the first time.  That one might be more doable than Barbados, but why stop dreaming there?

Dreams are what spur us on to do the things we never thought we'd do.  Without them, life would be dull.  So I keep dreaming and wishing and hoping, and that surf along the Barbados coast feels soooooo good. :)
Photo courtesy of

Dream Vacation with a Grade--Steep by J Vincent

As a former teacher summer always meant a big change in routine.  There was usually a class to take to keep up my certification but it was vacation time.  A time for swimming lessons, three different set of ball game schedules and sometimes four if my husband decided to play too.  Large and small family trips were also part of these months.  They ranged from camping relatively close to home to going to Colorado and camping in the mountains.  One year my husband borrowed a popup camper and we went on an adventure from here to the Grand Canyon and back with many stops in-between.  One of the most memorable was going down Wolf Creek Pass to Durango, CO which has 7-10% grades.  I’ll never know what it is like going UP Wolf Creek Pass because going down it once was more than enough for me.  There’s only so much burning brakes I want to endure.  We stayed at a KOA camp that night and as I did laundry at midnight all the women there were talking about was coming down Wolf Creek Pass!

A few years later we took our own popup on a trip to Yellowstone National Park.  We went via Nebraska and the Dakota Badlands.  After we left the badlands and were a day out from the park we had to cross a mountain range--not sure of the name.  On the descent I was sitting with my feet up on the back small bench seat of our extended cab pickup.  I became concerned about the growing burned brake odor and swung my feet down as I sat up.  When my shoes hit the carpet they squished down and forward.  The carpet was actually melting!  By some miracle we were near the only house on this road and they had a garden hose which we used to cool the carpet down.  The good Lord must have felt sorry for us because by another miracle we got the last camp spot in Yellowstone the next day. 

The Grand Canyon and Yellowstone are truly memorable places.  I’m so glad we got to see them and the joys and travails getting there and back filled my writer’s “experience bucket” to the brim.  This summer we are looking forward to August and a week’s camping in our usual spot (I think it’s safe to call it that after forty some years of going there) at Thirty Mile Camp outside of Creede, CO.  Going there is sometimes adventuresome too.  We’ve blown tires, had engine trouble, and had kids get sick.  I’m hoping for a very sedate trip out and back this time.

Vacations can be memorable for many reasons.  We seem to hit extreme highs and lows on many of ours.  What about you?  What vacation story do you have to tell?  Do share it.

Gotta Love A Man In Uniform.

Pat Davids here wishing you Happy Independence Day.
Hard to believe July is already upon us, isn't it? You always know when it arrives in the US because it starts out with a bang. And bang it did in my neighborhood until midnight last night. Honestly, people! Check your calendars. We've got a couple more days before we celebrate the beginning of our country.

I don't know if our Founding Fathers could visualize America as it stands today. We're a country made up of people in all shapes, sizes and colors, but we do share a trait that has been passed down to us since colonial times. Love of country. We all love this land, but some love it enough to put their lives on the line to protect it. God bless every one of them. I have family in the military. Hey, I was married to a sailor, so I have some small idea of the sacrifices military folks make for the rest of us. As a tribute to our service men and women, I thought we would talk about our favorite military themed books.

I wrote a three book series called The Mounted Color Guard. Although it was fiction, it dealt with an active duty unit at Fort Riley, Kansas. I really enjoyed the research for those books. I couldn't have done it without the help of both active and retired members of that amazing cavalry unit. Okay, nothing says romance like a handsome young man in uniform on horseback with a sword in his hand. There were some HOT guys in that unit. Most were the same age as my grandson, but eye candy knows no age limit.

What are some of your favorite military stories and authors? Do you go for Navy Seals or Special Forces? Modern military or historical? Do tell.