Yes, we can!

On the third day before the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) start, many hopeful writers warm up for the task at hand. Happily another victory for writers may encourage each of us to persevere. 

Gail Elliott Downs has published her 20-year project, The Black Suitcase Mystery, A WWII Remembrance. She was the keeper of a black valise filled with letters, photographs and telegrams mailed to her great-aunt Hazel in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

Fifth grade students responded with enthusiasm to the mystery within the suitcase. With the support of her principal, Ms Downs ran with the stories that captured her students’ attention and published a delightful book.

Her book is available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon. This book is remarkable in many ways. Many people, photographs, documentation and personal letters move through 1991-1995 with the investigative process belonging chiefly to 10 year-old students.

Ms. Downs has received commemorations from many sources as well as a 1994 Memorial Day Speech in Arlington National Cemetery by President Bill Clinton. I can visualize how many groups of potential readers would embrace this book. Congratulations, Gail.

Check it out!

Keep writing.


Originally posted on Kristen Lamb! Sandi and I are in. How about you!                                    In It to WIN It—Preparing for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month)

Anyway, whoever chose November as National Novel Writing Month was seriously brilliant, because Halloween is like Mardi Gras for writers. If you are smart, use trick-or-treating to your advantage.

Deprivation and Conflict

We live surrounded by plenty. When considering the lives of our characters and their conflicts, an element of deprivation is obvious or hiding beneath the surface. It might be loss of a loved one to another person or death, or loss of shelter and food. The possibilities are endless and in any story.

As writers we pull from our own life events and emotions.

Both characters (in my novel based on a true story) suffer. Their basic needs after leaving Budapest are day-to-day struggles to survive.

Reality hit me in the chin this past several days. My family has a well that has never failed us, but we have not had running water since the 11th of October. Our artesian well is dry, and our professionals have told us that this will remain an issue until we have a foot of rain accumulate. Oregon has had the least rainfall in history of record keeping, over 120 years. Soggy Oregon has definitely not been soggy this year.

Okay, enough of our personal kerfuffle. This experience has amplified my comprehension of their plight escaping in the dead of winter leaving security and bounty behind. What does one do when what they have assumed to “always be available” disappears?

Story is relating conflict and how it impacts one’s characters and their transformation for either good or evil.

Our lives of plenty might numb us from other possibilities. Give yourself chances to imagine life in your characters’  world under duress/CONFLICT , then

Write On!!!



IMG_1371On Saturday, I attended a book promotion for a friend who has published: Diana Polisensky. She is on Amazon’s recommended new books, Whitewashed Jacarandas. She and I have shared the loneliness of writing, the “I’ll never  be done,” I wish I had a good answer to “When is your book going to be finished?” from well-meaning friends. She blogged regularly. She gathered pictures from family collections and talked to those who remembered growing up in former Rhodesia, Africa,(Zimbabwe, currently).

She did it!

Seeing her enthusiasm at having books to sell encouraged me in the best of ways.  The heavy duty work begins after the book is completed. The process is time-consuming. She had told me a few years ago that the ongoing process had been close to 30 years. Writing to publish is a time eater: writing, revising, revising again, attending writers’ conferences, sending out query letters, and, most important, missing social functions. She has been stalwart, and the commitment has paid off. Check it out on Amazon!


When Characters Take Charge

Do you remember when Oprah hosted an author and a small group of readers to discuss the work? A reader might bemoan the character’s fate and ask the writer, “How could you do that to her?” The author invariably would respond with similar emotion and agree that the outcome disturbed her, too.

“But you are the author?” someone wpuld query.

“Yes, but the character directed her own outcome.”

A moment of puzzled quiet followed.

I was confused by the author’s answer myself, that is, until I had similar experiences with characters stepping into the directors’ roles.

Have any of you experienced this in your own writing?

A recent read confirmed how other authors are faced with assertive characters: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (which I would highly recommend.) Ms. Grissom discussed her own challenge. In the “Author’s Note” she described her own phenomenon:

“Each day more of the story unfolded,…I was left to wonder what the following day would bring. … I tried on a number of occasions to change some of the events (those I found profoundly disturbing), but the story would stop when I did that, so I forged ahead to write what was revealed.”

Many authors would discount this character takeover, but I have experienced it and wonder about you.

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Branding and the Brain—What We Post On-Line Matters

Kristen Lamb is a must read weekly! ❤ Jessica

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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We’ve been talking about social media and building a platform the past couple of posts. I know this is a topic that makes most of us break out in hives, especially when you don’t yet have a book for sale. Been there, done that. Got the t-shirt. It’s sort of like credit. You can’t get any credit because you don’t yet have any credit but you don’t yet have any credit because no one will give you credit because you don’t have credit.

My head hurts.

Thus, today is for all levels of authors. Yes, even Jane Newbie who hasn’t yet finished the first book. We are going to talk about the bare essence of branding.

In my book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World I go into a lot more detail about the science behind branding, but today we are going to talk about why our…

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