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Farewell

Gem State Writers began on April 1, 2011. Since then, we have posted 572 blogs. Along the way, our members have been published, been successful in writing contests, and developed their craft.

As with much in life, things change.

As we devote more of our time to writing, the group has decided it’s time to retire Gem State Writers. We all want to making writing the best books we can a priority in our lives. We leave knowing GSW has helped us grow and learn about this time-honored profession. And we’ll miss all of you.

Our members share their thoughts below.

Stephanie Berget: When I was asked to be a contributor to Gem State Writers, I was so excited that this group of talented women considered me good enough to write alongside of them. I was also terribly nervous. I’d never blogged before, had really never written with any kind of deadline, and that scared the crap out of me.
Throughout the last year and a half or so, blogging at Gem State Writers has expanded my knowledge of writing craft, taught me to have the post ready whether I feel like it or not, and how to research topics. I’m thankful for that, but I’m more thankful to have had a great group of writers to learn from. I’m going to miss each and every one of you.

Peggy Staggs: In the short time the group was together, I learned a lot about my fellow bloggers. I’ve enjoyed everyone’s perspectives and techniques. Even when I sometimes struggled for ideas, I still looked forward to stretching my mental muscles. The good news is I have a ton (or at least a few pounds) of blog under my belt. The bad news is I will miss you all.

Janis McCurry: When Gem State Writers began I asked myself what interested me about writing. Language was the answer. I loved researching for the language blogs I wrote. The evolving of the language and the continual change intrigues me. I loved having deadlines to “keep me honest.” I loved getting to know my co-GSW-ers and learned something from every blog. Reader comments were delightful and insightful (how’s that for rhyming?). It was a great 2 ½ years and I don’t regret a minute. Thanks to all of you, both bloggers and readers.

Judy Keim: Blogs are considered a waste of time by a lot of people. In my opinion, some are; some are not.

If one is committed to write blogs to the detriment of writing stories, then it is a waste of time. If one thinks writing blogs is a sure way to get the attention of an editor or an agent, it is a waste of time. If one thinks you can sell a large number of books by blogging on a regular basis, it is, in my opinion, another waste of time. (There are other ways of promoting your work.)

On the other hand, if you are writing or participating in a blog to learn about others (both in your group and those who respond) it can be worthwhile. If you’re blogging as a means of sharing industry information or skills, it also can be valuable.

What I’ve learned by blogging with the Gem State Writers is that we have a group of talented, interesting, knowledgeable people whom I’ve gotten to know a little bit better. That’s been time well spent!

Mary Vine: I’ve enjoyed being a part of Gem State Writers, a shared effort to get our blogs out to the world. I will miss Neysa writing how important it is to go to conferences; I will miss Janis giving us a look at language and sharing about her travels; I really appreciate Peggy’s piece on The Bad Guy Tree for mystery writers; I enjoyed reading about Corina’s life near McCall; Lynn helped me understand trying to write with a tiring, busy schedule; I’ve gotten to know Judith through her move and writing journey; I’ve learned more about the rodeo from Stephanie; Through Jennifer I am reminded what it was like trying to write with children in my home; Meredith gave me a glimpse of living in a faraway place where one can meet up with a wild animal or nearly get snowed in; I’ve already missed MK and her individual pursuit of writing. Yes, every time someone has moved on to other writing pursuits, I regretted seeing them leave. Finally, cheers for Marsha who has stayed with us to the end, to inspire us in our writing, and to share her own journey.

Lynn Mapp: At the inception of Gem State Writers, we blogged every two weeks. I didn’t think I had that many blogs in me. What I learned during my time with the “Gems” is I actually had the ability to write two articles a month. It doesn’t sound earth-shattering, but it was for me.

I also had the opportunity to be with a group of women committed to writing and sharing their journey with other people on the same path.

Someone told me that my blogs tended to be of the “you can do it” nature. I am a cheerleader, a supporter, a believer. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.

Neysa Jensen: I’ve enjoyed blogging about writing, specifically children’s writing. It helps me put things in perspective when I try to explain it to someone else. Anyone who would like to be with and learn from fellow writers is welcome to join our SCBWI events. You can find out more on scbwi.org.

Corina Mallory: Thank you to everyone on this blog for letting me join your ranks. It’s been a real pleasure to read your work and get to know you better through your comments. I’ve learned a lot, not just about my fellow writers, but about myself. You’ve made me think about why I write the way I do, why I love some things and others leave me cold. You’ve helped me become a better writer. I’ll miss coming here and seeing your bright happy faces in your avatar photos and hearing what’s going on in your lives and what topics you’re finding interesting. But the internet is forever, right? We’ll always have pixels.

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Self-Publishing 4

Do it yourself self-publishing can be a scary thought, but if you can write a book and get it ready to publish, then you do have enough skills to get that book out there. I took the plunge and so can you.

What made me change my attitude from scary to possible? Sure, I talked to others who had done it, but I was still hesitant, until I came across a book by Lucinda Moebius called Write Well Publish Right. First of all, I was interested in reading a book about writing from a high school and college teacher. Her book is what she teaches her students from beginning to the end at publishing. Mainly, I thought maybe I could implement some of her concepts into ideas for teaching language to small groups. Moreover, what I really took away from this book is that it is possible for me to self-publish a book.

Lucinda states that it is easy with the use of the formatting guides available through ePublishing platforms. She hired a formatter for the Kindle version of her science fiction books, but formatted the Smashwords version on her own. Also, she had help with her cover, hired an editor, and went through Amazon CreateSpace as her printer. Many times she states that it is up to you to do your own research and do what is best for you.

Yes, she inspired me, so I went to createspace.com and got started. There an author can put in the title and paste in your manuscript and cover. Remember you have to have an ISBN number for your e-book, another one for your print book and CreateSpace can provide them for you. I did have to hire help with the e-book, my son did the front cover work, then I hired Fiverr for the spine and back cover for which I paid a little extra. Instead of five dollars with Fiverr, it was ten dollars and I’m very happy with their work.

I learned that the CreateSpace process for me was somewhere between adding art and print to a Vistaprint writing advertisement to doing my own taxes (on an easier year).

Yesterday, I went to hear multi-published author, Joanne Pence, give a talk about self-publishing at my local writers group in the Boise area. After already using CreateSpace, I learned the following information:

For those of you that want to add a publishing name to their self-pubbed books, Joanne says that you can go through SBA.GOV for your assumed business name. Registering a name will cost you $25.00. For my writing business name of Melland Publishing, LLC, I went through the Secretary of Idaho and paid $100.

Joanne also says that off-white or cream is the paper color of most fiction books. The 6 x 9 inch book size is becoming the industry standard and costs less than a book sized 5 ½ x 8 1/2 inches. You can buy a cheaper, older version of Adobe Photoshop on eBay for making your own covers.

Finally, Joanne adds that, especially for multi-published authors, the value of going to kdp.amazon.com and using them exclusively to sell your e-book for your first 90 days can give you five free days on Amazon. It’s a way to get your name out there in hopes of readers choosing to buy and read your other books. After 90 days you can renew with them, or you can put your book into an .epub format and download it to other bookselling sites.

Yet, as Lucinda says, you need to do your own study and then decide what is best for you.

http://www.maryvine.com

 

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Self Publishing 3

This summer I had the opportunity to read several books. Some of the e-books I chose to read were free on Kindle, by long published authors and new authors taking advantage of the self publishing boom.

I have an eye for spotting errors in what I read, probably because I have practiced editing and proofreading my manuscripts for many years. I’ve gotten so that I can spot an error in anyone’s book, at least one error, ninety-five percent of the time. I am okay with, or can tolerate, up to four errors per book, but after that I am annoyed and most psychology books will say that being annoyed leads to anger.

Yes, I became angry with a new author, who could write, but had errors in her book. It wasn’t misspelled words that got my attention, but words that didn’t belong in the sentence, like someone used auto correct. Another common error in this book was leaving out a word in a sentence. Writers can leave out a word and miss it in the editing process because our minds know what we meant to say and so we think it’s there. It happens to the best of us, that’s why we need another set of eyes on our manuscript. Actually, more than one pair.

Today the trend is to hire a professional editor to go over a book before self publishing. An editor is someone who prepares the final version of the manuscript, helping the writer determine the length and the order of events and scenes, character development, etc. Yet, I believe the author mentioned above needed a professional proofreader more than an editor. A proofreader goes line by line and marks corrections in grammar, spelling, omitted words, etc.

Presently, some of the best marketing opportunities are asking for books with four and five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. They want proven books, reviewed by average folks, not your author buddies. So, basically, the writer needs a proofreader and an editor, whether you hire someone or not. Don’t trust your eye as the only proofreader you need because it is quite likely you will miss something. The goal is to present your best work to the world, so don’t be in a hurry and get the help you need.

 

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Are You Ready for Indie Publishing, Part II

A Haunting in Trillium Falls_Mary Vine.jpgYou can find Are You Ready For Indie Publishing, Part 1 here:
https://gemstatewriters.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/are-you-ready-for-indie-publishing-part-i/

I’ve written and edited a book, asked other writers to read it and then I made changes. So, now I’m ready to start the steps to indie publishing. Yes, I wallowed with whether I should try to submit this baby to a publisher, but only sent it to one who rejected it. After some disappointment, I reminded myself that with three published books to my credit, this is the one I’d chosen to branch out with.

To be sure, I talked with other authors about the self-pub business. Many found success and encouraged me to do the same. An indie author referred me to Indieromanceink, an email loop for those who are, or plan to be, an indie author. It is a large group of writers that ask questions, or answer them, and there’s quite a bit of knowledge to be gained from this site.

An incredible amount of work to self-publish is necessary and it can be downright scary. First, you need to hire an editor to do a line-by-line edit, especially for a first time author. Some suggest two editors. It takes hours of time to read about marketing to prepare for launching out on your own.

There are two things I just don’t know how to do, and don’t have the time or inclination to learn. Number one is: Cover art. There are many indie writers out there doing it all, including the cover art and some a very eye-catching. I am lucky to have a designer, graphic production, multimedia, digital artist guy in the family to do mine.

Number two is to publish the e-book and send it to various outlets. I chose Wildflowers Books, a division of The Wild Rose Press to self-publish and distribute my book, A Haunting in Trillium Falls. The cost totaled $199 and the package includes a digital ISBN, conversion of the book into various formats, and distribution to the following retailers and partners:
Amazon Kindle
All Romance
Bookstrand
iTunes (iBookstore)
Sony
Kobo
Barnes & Noble Nook
Overdrive Content Reserve (distributes to libraries and various retailers)

Whether you are published first or not, marketing your book(s) takes time and scheduling time to write is the one thing most authors struggle with. It’s like going to school to be a special education teacher and when you get the job find out you are overwhelmed with so much paperwork that you have little time to work with the students that fascinate you so much. Yet, going the indie route with an e-mail loop has helped me learn volumes about the book publishing business which seems to change every day. And to top it off, you will earn more money on your own for that book you’ve created after hours of hard work.

http://www.maryvine.com

 

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Writing Everyday

I was flipping through the June 2013 edition of Woman’s Day magazine the other day and saw a short article called, Team Support by Debbie Dehler. She says, “You don’t go from couch potato to completing a race in a day. It’s regularly setting small, realistic goals that gets you to the finish line.” Sure this is all about diet and exercise, but it also applies to other goals as well. In my case, writing goals.

This month I participated in NEW/100. As far as I know, NEW/100 started in a writing group I belong to. NEW means No Excuses Writing, and the 100 stands for at least 100 new words per day. At the end of the day (or when you can) the word count is posted on the loop with NEW/100 in the subject line so that those who aren’t interested can delete the email if they choose.

Yes, in NEW/100, others are expecting us to get our word count in, which gives us the motivation to get those 100 words done and posted. Being accountable to another has helped me start or continue my writing project and for me it’s starting small and continuing until I reach my goal. For me 100 words a day is doable. 100 words is better than writing nothing at all and the words add up. This month I totaled 7,045 new words.

I know that there are additional online supports out there as well. I’ve seen 100 words in 100 days and you can only miss one day. I’ve seen 200 and 500 words sites as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 1k words a day competition.
One of these challenges just may work for you. Slow and steady wins the race.

http://www.maryvine.com

 

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Stress + Writing ≠ Creativity

Stress is a killer. It not only takes its toll on your health, but it saps your creativity. It isn’t the stress of meeting a deadline…we’d all love that stress. No, it’s the stress that comes with everyday life, events we have no control over, and tragedy. When we reach our individual limit, we shutthCADXPP5Z down creatively.
There is stress eating it’s the I-don’t-give-a-crap syndrome. It’s when your teenager is giving you a full load of attitude, your four-year-old is screaming, “Mommy, look what I did,” as he points to your brand new curtains covered with your favorite lipstick, and the dog is sitting at your feet—tail wagging—the remnants of your favorite pair of shoes hanging from his mouth. Then your husband calls to tell you he’s bringing the boss home for dinner. That’s when you simultaneously reach for a serving spoon, a half-gallon of full fat ice cream and race for the nearest room with a locking door.
That’s not creative-killing stress. No, what I’m talking about is the kind that keeps you up at night staring at the ceiling wondering if you’ll be able to get out of bed in the morning. That’s the stress that kills your creativity.
I’m a worrier, and at this point it isn’t likely to change. You name it and I’ll worry about it. The kid. Someone once said, “When my daughter’s 18, she’s on her own.” Ahhh. To be able to switch off that mother thing so easily. Adult children bring their own set of stresses. Mine chose the Army Infantry for a career. The natural extension of that was him ending up in a war zone (That took a few decades off my life). Now he’s dealing with PTSD and a career-ending foot injury. Then there’s the husband who had to have emergency eye surgery. Sigh.thCAN3MSRM
The point is stress is always with us in one degree or another. We have to learn to deal with it in ways that don’t drown our creativity. Here are some tactics I use to deal with stress…none of them includes pulling out my hair or kicking the dog.
1. Get organized. You’ve heard it, a place for everything and everything in its place. It’s surprising how much stress will flee your life if you implement a system. Just think, no more last minute searches for something you need as you head out the door. It takes a while, but you can get there from here.
2. Sleep. Your brain needs to rest and reset. To do that, you need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. I can hear you! “I’ve got too much to do. And what difference can an hour or two a night make?” A LOT. They used to say you couldn’t catch up on sleep. That’s changed. A short nap (no more than an hour) and you’re farther ahead than if you tough it out.
3. Exercise. You know that drained feeling you have at the end of the Exercise_-_Treadmill_1day? Some physical activity will produce healthy endorphins. They naturally relieve stress and help you get a better night’s sleep. When you feel drained and you think you don’t have enough energy to fix dinner, let alone deal with everyone in the family that’s a great time to leash up the dog and go for a walk. You’ll be amazed how much energy you’ll have at the end of the walk.
4. Massage. I wouldn’t/can’t give up my massages. It’s something I do just for me. It works out all the kinks and I end up relaxed.
5. Friends. There’s no replacement for friends. You know the kind you MB900445508trust with your deepest secrets. They can finish your sentences and turn a blind eye to your stupid stuff. They are hard to find. I love my friends. You guys know who you are and how important you are to me.
Stress is with us forever, the best we can hope for is to keep it at bay. How do you deal with the stress in your life?

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in Blogs, health, stress, writers

 

Memorial Day

As a writer, I cannot help but put important events in my life down on paper. Just recently, I lost my in-laws, so I am honoring their lives here.

My mother-in-law was a lesson in being frugal. She taught me that one can get by without the frills in life and still be content. She didn’t hang on to a lot of stuff, only what she needed. What she had was used readily and appreciated. I always enjoyed how she would get a new gift and tell me how she was so happy with the product, whether it was new sheets for her bed or a timer for her eye drops. Once she realized the convenience or comfort, heartfelt thankfulness was in her tone of voice. She appreciated her flowers and nature and taught me to see beauty in a barren tree in the dead of winter. My husband looked forward to talking with her on the phone nearly every week, and I will miss sitting in the background with an ear to their conversations. She appeared to hang on his every word. Who else will care so much about what he is doing with his life?

And who didn’t love my father-in-law? He had a gifted sense of humor and always had a smile. He continued to smile right up to the end of his life. He (and his parents) taught my husband a good work ethic, and to go out and help the neighbors. He had his kids shoveling snow off walkways for those who needed it and he did his share of helping over the years, too. I can’t imagine him not being there when someone needed him, if he was able to help. The most profound thing I had ever heard him say came from a conversation he was having with my husband about a year or two ago. My father-in-law had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he came to the conclusion that he couldn’t worry about finding the right words in conversation any more, that he had to just let it go. He told my husband that he would probably have to do the same thing at times as regards to his multiple sclerosis. During WWII, he served in the Battle of the Bulge, a well-known battle in France, where the courage and fortitude of the American Soldier was tested against great adversity.

After many years in the Wenatchee area, my in-laws moved to the Spokane Valley to help their daughter care for her family with a new disabled baby. Likewise, they looked out for their neighbors and helped an elderly woman who lived next to them for many years. We were there the day their house sold and the neighbors from literally every side of their home came over to ask about them as they’d grown to care about them so much over the years. And personally, they treated me like I was a gift from heaven for their son, which I so appreciated early on.

They were married sixty-six years and attended Church together most of those years. They passed away less than two weeks from each other. For me, their deaths give new meaning to the expression; see you on the other side. When my time comes, I look forward to hugging them again.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in biography, Blogs, Boise, Family, Idaho, Memorial Day, values

 

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