Follow the evolution of the Writer Knapsack (and even participate and help make decisions) as I create the face and materials of a new and different take on helping writers in this crazy world of publishing. Join me from the beginning and watch the website change as I work on sketches to a final logo, offer tips and tales toward final production, and develop an array of materials for those living the writing life...all to fill the pockets of your own writer knapsack.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

After the party

How many others are rolling around after a big Christmas dinner and a few days of leftovers?  I feel very blessed for all we had this holiday.

Christmas was a mass of good times with the extended family followed by a nice, quiet PJ day with the hubby and kids.  

With the full understanding the blessing of family safe and together is ALWAYS on top, this year's favorite gifts were a mug with a typewriter on it that said, "You're my type" LOL, and this...

Yes, I admit, I am a Sharpie whore. I remember doing another blog on it a few years ago, too, LOL.  This set is cool all around and will come in handy as I design the logo and other fun stuff for this site.  I just have to figure out what to do with the box, because I love it and seems a shame to put it in the recycle bin.

What were your favorite/fun gifts this year?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas to All!

We have a wooden cow figure at the end of our driveway that I decorate.  This year, with everything going on in the world these days, I felt this was the most appropriate sentiment to share with the town and toss out to the universe.

As you can see, no snow yet for the holidays, but it is Christmas...and anything could happen.

I wish you and yours the very merriest of Christmases and all the best for the coming new year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What the heck does "Telling versus Showing" mean?

When I first started writing way back when, I would get rejection letters with notations like "deeper POV needed" and "Telling versus Showing" and "misplaced modifiers," and I was like...whaaaaat?

It took me a long time to find out what those terms meant and how to implement them into my own writing. That is one of the main reasons I decided to create the Writer Knapsack, to break down these terms in an easily understandable way, and with examples, so writers don't stare at their manuscript in confusion and frustration, but rather sit there with a light bulb over their heads as their fingers fly across the keyboard, revising towards a better chance at publication.

As noted in my initial blog, as I create the material for the first installments, I will share some of the information at the same time.  The guides will be a bit more fun and detailed, but here is an example of how I see this particular term:

Telling versus Showing 

is the same as 

Fly versus Deeper Point of View (POV)

Telling is simply an impartial third party watching what is going on--like a fly on the wall.  Your character, however, is the one experiencing what is going on.  And that right there is the BIG difference.  Why describe a scene from the fly's POV when the character is the one actually experiencing the moment?  Showing a scene through the character's specific perception/reaction/sensory experience is the way to draw a reader into the moment, hook them, and make them empathize with your character.

'Tis the season, so let's use a Christmas example:

Santa Claus dropped down the chimney and popped his head out from beneath the mantle.  Smoke and ash plumed around him as he stepped out toward the Christmas tree.  

The gasp of a young child could be heard, and Santa spun around.

The above would be considered Telling because it is simply described as what a fly on the wall would see.  There is no sensory detail, no perspective from Santa Claus as the main character.

So, how do you take a Telling scene and Show it to the reader?  By using specific perspective and experience.  Start by asking yourself the following questions:

What is the emotional state of the character?  
What does he see/hear/touch/taste/smell?
How does he REACT to what is happening in the scene--how would I react? 

The last one is important, because it will give you a better sense of the moment if you think of how you might react...then think of your character's characterization (shy, confident, strong, timid) and how would they react?

A possible revision of the above paragraph Shown with deeper POV may read something like this:

Santa Claus winced as his old knees buffered the brunt of his landing down the chimney.  He sighed when heat, still emanating from the extinguished fire, warmed his cold toes. After a quick peek beneath the mantel to ensure he was alone, he stepped out. The scrape of his sturdy sack against the fireplace walls sent a plume of ash into the room.  He stifled a cough and waved a hand through the smokey debris in order to see the over-sized Christmas tree.

The Martins sure outdid themselves this year. Santa grinned, admiring the long strings of popcorn and cranberry garland, bright lights, and handmade decorations.

A gasp from behind made him spin as his heart kicked up a tempo to rival a herd of reindeer.  The wide, blue gaze of the small boy in the living room doorway reminded him of his own son back home, waiting for him to return from his yearly rounds.

Santa let out a hardy chuckle at having been caught and hefted himself down on one knee.  "Merry Christmas, Tommy.  I am so glad you've been a good boy all year."

The above now Shows the same scene from the specific viewpoint of Santa Claus.  The perspective and sensory details of the big man himself adds so much more flavor, visual stimulation, and sensory data for the reader to experience the scene WITH Santa.

A simple way to remember to Show in deeper POV...Be the character, not the fly.

Give it a try.  Take a short scene or paragraph from your own manuscript and see if you can revise it to Show the same moment from the deeper POV of your character.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Does this sound like you?

If I could just stay home from work today and write...
I am in the middle of a chapter and just need a couple more hours but I have to go do _____...
I want to write but need a good amount of time at once just to get it done...
I'd rather be writing...

I think all writers have those moments, or days, or months when we wonder why we can't just follow our passion and write full-time, tell everyone and everything just to go stick it, and horde yourself up with your computer and the blissful sound of tapping keys.  I know I've had those moments, a lot! Especially since I've decided to pursue my passion project head on.  It's frustrating not to do what everything inside you says you need to do, right then, all the time. Now.

Then I remembered one of Marie Foleo's weekly videos I had seen last year, and it helped bring everything into perspective (actually, a lot of her videos do).  It had to do with all the jobs, little and big, that we've every had that got us to this point, and the jobs we do now in order to pay bills and feed children and keep a roof over our heads...which all allows us to pursue our dreams.  They are important because they "fund the passion project."   They aren't a deterrent to our dreams, but in fact, help us be able to do them because we are not worrying about where the next paycheck is coming from or if our children have warm clothes for winter.  Sure, maybe we only get a half-hour a day to write, or do whatever your passion is, but there are some who are probably not even getting that little amount of time.  It is important to be thankful for what we do have.

So, I stopped wishing away the day job and the night job and everything else that takes me away from what I want to do, and instead, be thankful for them, and focusing the time I do have not on worrying how much will get done, but just getting it done.  And because writing is more fun to me than, say, any form of exercise  LOL, I made this sign for my desk with just a little added incentive...

...meaning to take at least ten minutes out to do some form of exercise with the reward of being able to write. This reminds me that what I do when I am not writing is just as important as what I hope to accomplish with my writing, keeps me focused on the important things.  That everything is connected, everything can work together if we stop fighting ourselves...and simply be grateful for what we have.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gift Winner

Congratulations to Annette Bower, 
winner of my post's gift on the 
Trans Canada Romance Writer's Christmas Blog Tour this week!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas Blog Tour with the Trans Canada Romance Writers

I LOVE Christmas, and I especially love reading Christmas stories.  Yes, I oooh and ahhh over the new Christmas romances that come out each year, but it’s the traditional ones (and some not so traditional) that I have found and kept over the years that I enjoy reading over and over and over again.

These are the ones put out and read at our house every year.

I’m still a kid at heart and love How the Grinch Stole Christmas with all the fun vocabulary.  The Night Before Christmas is like an extra big kiss and hug before bedtime every time I read it to my children.  Then when I want a good wintry tale, I open up the classic, A Christmas Carol.

One of my newer favorites was found on a family library night where everyone wore their pajamas and the librarian read A Creature Was Stirring.  This is an adorable take on the famous story from the point of view of a little boy.  So much fun with great illustrations.  I had planned to go to the bookstore the next day to buy a copy because we all enjoyed it so much, and then a Christmas miracle of sorts happened—we won the gift basket with all the books she had read to the families that night.  That was a Christmas treat I always remember and treasure while reading A Creature was Stirring year after year.  This book is a definite recommended read, and I’m sure it will soon become a family favorite in your house, too.

Do you have a favorite Christmas story?  Maybe one I haven’t heard of before and will be eager to try!

And if you do enjoy a Christmas romance, check out my Christmas in Noelle series including...

Oh Holly Night

Helping out in hope of reaping a veterinarian partnership, Dr. Holly Night winds up in her own version of a Christmas nightmare—Santa Claus, reindeer games, babies born in a stable. Raised in a family that didn't "do" Christmas—or family—she is unprepared for a town filled with an overwhelming holiday spirit. Add in a handsome mechanic who finds amusement in her obvious misery, and not only is her patience tested, but unexpectedly, her belief as well.

 Amusement isn't the only thing Rev Johnston feels for the pretty doctor or her situation; he's been the outsider before and knows how hard it can be. Having been abandoned one too many times before, he isn't about to let himself fall for someone who can't wait to get out of town.

 Can the magic of Christmas, with a little help from Santa Claus, heal these two hearts before it's too late?

Find it at The Wild Rose, and

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am gifting a copy of Oh Holly Night to one lucky tour guest...just leave a comment with your favorite Christmas story. 
I will be picking a winner on Thursday December 10th at 4pm EST.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * *

Thanks so much for joining us on the Christmas Blog Tour today, and make sure you stop by everyone below!  Also, before you go, take a gander at my previous post to see some sketches and direction for the Writer Knapsack.

Trans Canada Romance Writers

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Take a Peek in the Knapsack

As I said, I've had this idea of creating writing material percolating in the back of my mind for a while, even though Writer Knapsack was not the original title (but that's a story for another day), and as the ideas brewed, I knew I wanted some type of defining character to not only recognize as part of the brand, but to use in various ways throughout the different content, because, let's face it, writing is about characters.  What you do with them is your decision and part of your unique voice, but any story I can think of has a character, whether real, imaginary, human, animal, material, or other. [If anyone knows of a story without a character, let me know.  I fully believe that you learn something new every day.]

So, as promised, here are a few samples of the various characters I've sketched out here and there...

My authors will know why I'd consider a fly as a possible character LOL.  Let's just say it will definitely be fully explained to everyone else in the first volume of the first set of the Writer Knapsack series.

I've been collecting cows since my sister bought me a cow tea towel for my first apartment way back when.  Now, I have a herd and a half throughout my kitchen and office, so this type of character reflects some of me personally...I think cows are laid back, funny, and moooovelous!  

And then, of course, the traditional human character.
Okay, there might be a bit of me in there somewhere, like the peace pendant and thicker hips LOL.

Though I don't quite know which direction I am going yet with a design character (and that is where you will be able to help me a little later on), I do have a definite direction with the content.  I'll be working on the first volumes of these initial materials for the Writer Knapsack:

A) A writer guide series breaking down everything from mechanics to story structure 
to grammar to synopsis and query letters.

B) Quite a fun and different take on procrastination--how to deal with those times 
you fight yourself to get writing done.

C) A secret project dealing with writer relaxation that I am super excited about and am not sure how much I will reveal before the final project is almost done. (Hey, I have to keep some mystery for you to look forward to, right?)

Next Tuesday, I will be doing a special post for the Trans Canada Romance Writers' Christmas Blog Tour where I have a special giveaway planned.  My next regular blog after will be about a problem I've faced many times, and I'm pretty sure most every writer has, too. But it's probably not quite what you may be thinking as the post will focus on an aspect of the writing life.

Thanks for hanging out with me,

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Twitter Pocket top right.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Life is Too Short Not to Follow Your Dreams

I feel a little like I’m about to pass out right now—sort of like when you're used to singing in the shower or alone in your bedroom, holding a brush as a microphone, dancing in front of the mirror, and giving the most ultimate performance ever, and then you’re out with friends one night, and they somehow convince you to get up on the karaoke stage, in front of everyone, and…uh, uh, uh…  Yeah, like that.

It's a big step, putting yourself out there.

Well, I’ve had this project in my head for years, something that combines all my passions—writing, editing, art, and helping writers reach their dreams. Over the years of editing, I kept (and still keep) coming across many things both new and published writers struggle to understand and/or find material to explain those concepts. Thus, the spark began. And grew and grew as I thought of a different take on and unique and fun ways to do a series, not just to help with writing, but that would encompass the various aspects of the writing life. But I never really talked about my ideas or shared them with anyone. Never found enough time to devote full focus to the concept. So, when I stole a few moments to research or sketch out ideas or make notes, it was my time, my little horded dream where absolutely anything could happen. And as it does, life throws detours onto the highway—kids, family, jobs etc., so I kept shrugging my shoulders and told myself, Someday. 

Lately, however, it’s been like the universe has stuck a few new sign posts on the side of the road. First, my sister gave me this cool journal for my birthday with a saying I have always appreciated, and I started thinking…hmmmm, what if?  Then, I was reminded (sadly a number of times over the last couple of months) that some don’t get the opportunity to make it to their “someday.” That life is far too short.

So this time, when all those thoughts of “it’s too hard, too much, will take too long” came up, instead of falling into that doubt pothole yet again, I had an idea…what if, instead of working all alone and waiting until the writing, editing, sketching, digitizing, proofing, finalizing, publishing, etc., etc., etc. were complete, what if I shared the journey right from the beginning? Share not only the experience but some of the content, my thoughts and sketches, tips, tales, triumphs, and terrors? What if I could help writers along the way as I worked on my passion project? All to the final product…a dream for me, and hopefully, a dream builder for others.

Maybe that's why I feel as if I’m standing up there on that karaoke stage, having a hard time breathing and staring out like a [rein]deer caught in the headlights…because, not only is this venture an exciting kind of scary newness, but by doing so, I am making myself fully accountable to make it happen. While still all mine in my head, my passion project could be worked on whenever...or not at all. But now, I am making a full out statement of Here I am and here’s what I'm doing. Now. No more excuses, no more hiding behind the bedroom door with a stylus pen as a microphone and singing at the top of my lungs while editing manuscripts (okay yes, admittedly, that does happen on occasion.)

Exhilarating, petrifying, breathtaking, and yet…I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes me! 

So, what you can expect:

~ Blog posts with everything from content from the drafts of  material I work on together with excerpts of the other fun pieces I have planned to (hopefully) amusing antidotes of the writing life to special guest bloggers and interacting with other writers.

~ Sketches of designs and logo ideas that I hope you will help me decide for branding and other art/writer related ideas.

~ Writer inspiration to keep you motivated.

~ The changing face of the website as I put all of the above into play.

For now, how about a quick tour of the current site? To the right you will see various “pockets” I will fill regularly. Feel free to share the Twitter Pocket. Fill your own writer knapsack with titles from the Book Pocket. [Such as the one up there right now. Not only do I highly recommend anything by Stacey Joy Netzel as a great read, but she is donating all the proceeds of this title for the month of December to her local animal shelter. So, have a cozy break reading this holiday romance while knowing you are giving an animal an opportunity to be all warm and cozy this holiday season, too.There is also the Promo Pocket below where I will add events that pop up from time to time such as the Christmas Blog Tour happening next week by the Trans Canada Romance Writers.

I plan to blog every Tuesday with a few extra or special posts thrown in here and there—like an added one this debut week on Thursday, wherein I plan to share a few sketches and the grouping of materials I will be working on as the first part of the Writer Knapsack.

What about you?  What is your dream?  Are you working on it now or is it percolating in the back of your mind like mine was?  If so, is there maybe something you can do, right now, to start moving forward on your dream's path?  Could just a few minutes a day working toward it make a difference? The answer to the last one is a definite YES!  [In a future post, I will be talking about just that!]

Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this somewhat longer than expected initial post and listening to my dream. And please, if you like the concept don't hesitate to pop back and visit often, and feel free to share the link to this website with your friends and writing groups!