Tag Archives: Writing

Destiny?

Alphonse Mucha - Fate

Alphonse Mucha – Fate

Lately, I’ve been thinking about destiny (or fate, if you prefer) and what it’s meant in my life. Imagine my delight when I read not one, but two blog posts this morning regarding being in the right place at the right time and seizing the opportunity presented. I imagine destiny is part what you make it, part blind chance. But there’s a small voice inside of me that whispers of mystery and magic and refuses to cave in to total and precise logic.

And really, what fun would that be?

Now, of course there’s an obvious explanation to that train and it goes something like, “Well, she writes fiction–what do you expect?” But it goes far deeper, I think. (Maybe it’s because I saw the movie Lucy last night, but I’m in a hella philosophical mood today…)

John Atkinson Grimshaw - Spirit of the Night

John Atkinson Grimshaw

Long ago, people believed in magic, in forces beyond what they could see, and ascribed what they couldn’t explain to gods and goddesses, faeries and other supernatural beings. Or, in the case of Feng Shui, to the effect of energy, or chi, on space and time. Along came scientific inquiry and religion, both advocating that theirs was the only way, blowing the shit out of centuries of beliefs (although, in many [most?] instances religion jacked the original festivals and belief systems, modifying them for their own use. Science just rolled its collective eyes and ignored these belief systems, assigning the moniker of superstition to the practice.)

But centuries of belief in forces beyond ourselves created that still, small voice in each of us and is represented in the modern world by our little quirks: like the writer who lights a candle every time she sits down to her computer; or the pitcher who circles the plate three times before throwing the ball (I’m sure you can come up with more, but you get my drift). Many of us pray, others meditate–all trying to connect with something outside (inside?) ourselves. Some people prefer to call this voice God, some call it by a different name. Some don’t believe in anything other than themselves (which in itself is a belief system). I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t believe something. So, for the sake of argument, can we admit human beings are defined (at least somewhat) by their beliefs?

Okay, now that we’ve got that established. Where was I? Oh yeah, destiny.

Personally, I believe in destiny, or fate, or whatever you want to call it. I also believe in science. And stuff we can’t see or explain (I simply label that “energy”). What I don’t believe is that there’s only one way of looking at the world, one narrative. The universe is far too ginormous to hobble it with one true explanation. To me, it’s like saying my friend who takes belly dancing lessons is only that: a person who belly dances–when she’s so much more. Why limit our thinking?

Especially when it comes to the universe.

When Fate DecidesSo I choose to believe in destiny. But I also choose to believe destiny likes a little help now and then. Like putting yourself in the way of the freight train of fate. In regard to writing, maybe you’re not where you ultimately want to be at the moment. I’m convinced that if you act like you’ve already achieved/received what you want, put yourself in the way of success, meet others in the industry, network, believe in yourself and persist, eventually you’re going to get it. “It” may surprise you, though. The universe is so much more intelligent than we could ever imagine…

Case in point: I never would have met my husband Mark if it weren’t for putting myself in the way of the destiny train. Several times. Until it took. Back when I was in senior high, I came out to Washington State to visit my sister and she tried to get me to transfer to a local high school. I didn’t, but if I had, I’m pretty sure I would have met Mark then rather than 18 years later, when I went white water rafting with the same outfit he did. Back then he worked as a chef and owned a French restaurant in the same town where my sister lived. He often ate at the cafe  where she worked. They even remember each other, vaguely. The really weird thing? Back home, I was dating a guy who was the spitting image of Mark at the time. Years later, I showed my mother Mark’s old passport and she asked why I still had my ex-boyfriend’s I.D. Seriously, they could’ve been twins. Over time, we’ve compared timelines and events and have found many, many instances where we could have/should have met, even though we lived in different states or even countries.

What I’m trying to get at, (and this is quite a ramble, sorry) is that I believe there are forces at work that we know nothing about, and to be aware of what you put out there in thought and action. And never give up. Especially if you have a dream, whatever it may be.

Some day, you just might find yourself in the path of destiny.

 

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In Defense of Elmore Leonard and other Bloggy Things

(*Attention artists or friends of artists: be sure to read to the end–I’m putting out a call for entries after the main post.)

Elmore LeonardThe last guest post on this blog dealt with another author’s loathing of writing “rules”–more specifically, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Good Writing. I won’t list them all again, but if you’re curious, here’s a link to the post. I thoroughly enjoyed her snark and applaud her dislike of fencing a writer in with so many pesky rules. She preferred to call them guidelines, or suggestions. All points well taken and I agree with her–to some extent. Writing is a creative pursuit, and expecting authors to adhere to rules they don’t agree with stifles that creativity (and I’m not talking about grammar or punctuation here. These rules should be mastered early on in a writer’s career.)

What I take exception to is that Elmore Leonard’s rules were just that: his rules. For his kind of writing. And his gazillions of fans obviously enjoyed how he wrote his stories, so it worked. For him. I’m sure someone asked him to create a top ten list of writing advice and he did. As did Stephen King and several other successful authors. Now, I’m not saying these rules won’t work for other writers. They can and do. I generally agree with most of what Leonard listed, with a few caveats. But that’s just my opinion. Just as the rules were Elmore Leonard’s opinion. They aren’t intended to be a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. I don’t think he ever intended them to be viewed as commandments.

Take it or leave it.

I, for one, am a fan of Leonard’s work and have learned quite a lot from him and other masters of the genre, and I will continue to read and study those who have mastered the art of writing how I want to write. For the rest of my life. I haven’t read Nora Roberts, for instance, because I’m not a huge romance fan. But that doesn’t mean her rules (whatever they may be) for writing aren’t worth considering. They work. For her. And you surely have to agree that she’s successful at what she does.  Same for Stephen King. Neither of them give a rat’s @ss whether I agree with the way they work their craft. But if someone does want to know how these massively popular authors do what they do, those “rules” are there for the asking. Just read their books.

Okay. Off my soapbox now. On to

Other Bloggy Things

I’ve decided to begin a new feature on the blog where I plan to spotlight artists from all different mediums: vocalists, actors, musicians, painters, filmmakers, etc, as well as authors. I’m calling it the Spotlight Series (original, huh? 🙂 ) and over the course of the next few months I intend to showcase creatives from all sorts of disciplines (and nope, I don’t have a set schedule for when I’ll post them–just like most of the blog’s entries, it’s pretty much gonna be a random event). Yay, random!Spotlight Series logo

The idea hit me one day when I was in the middle of emailing back and forth with several people I know and realized each of them worked in a creative field–and not only as writers. I thought it might be fun to do posts highlighting their work, so the Spotlight Series was born.

If you know someone who you think deserves to be highlighted (even if it’s your fine self), I’ll be accepting suggestions through the end of June. Just email me at dvberkom8[at]gmail(dot)com with information about the artist (whether it’s you or someone you know). I’ll take a look at their work and possibly find a slot for them on the blog. There will be a few questions (not as extensive as Awesome Authors), and I’ll include jpgs or audio/video files of their work in the post. It’s at no charge to the artist and will give them some exposure they might not get otherwise, plus I get to meet interesting people and have cool stuff on the blog. Total win-win!

So what are you waiting for?

 

 


Guest Post: Act Successful

[Today mystery author Chris Redding is taking the reins. Enjoy!]

Act Successful

by Chris Redding

I have this thing called A Tool Kit for Writers by Naomi Epel. I use it for writing blog posts.

It has cards and a book. A card will have a phrase on it. The book gives you more detail about the phrase. I’ve actually never used the book. My card while writing this blog?

Act successful.

Not really Earth-shattering. Maybe some of you even went, “Duh.”

I think it is one of those truisms that is so obvious that we forget to do it. It’s almost too easy so it can’t possibly work.

Years ago in college I and several people had pit passes at Pocono Raceway. This was back in the days of Formula One Racing. The group wanted to eat first. One other person and I decided we could eat anytime. We went to the pit.

After we’d been there for a while an announcement was made that all those not on pit crews had to leave. I’m a rule follower so I was going to leave. The person I was with was not a rule follower. He talked me into staying. He told me to act like I belonged.

So I did. At one point I was within ten feet of Mario Andretti. Coolest day of my life.

We did leave, but no one asked us to. We just got hungry.

I think to act successful, you have to do that same thing. You act as if you belong there. This can be for anything, not just writing.

There is another facet to this. Act the way successful people act. People often ask me how I balance it all. I just do. I don’t think about not being able to—I just do. If you think you can’t, you’re right.

What does this all mean? You’ve heard the term fake it until you make it? This is it in a nutshell.

 

Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. When she isn’t writing, she works part-time for her local winery.

 

A View to a Kilt

A View to a Kilt coverWaking up next to a dead guy can ruin your whole day.

When a wise-cracking interior decorator wants to put her past behind her, the dead body of the mayor’s son makes it pretty clear that won’t happen too easily.

A conservative former computer geek for the FBI is holding on too tightly to his past. His wife died under suspicious circumstances and he believes the decorator has the information to solve the case. Unfortunately for him, she isn’t talking… until a series of events convinces her she needs protection especially when her biggest secret threatens to destroy both their lives.

Buy Links:
Amazon
Omnilit
Smashwords

Find Chris on the web:
http://chrisredddingauthor.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/chrisreddingauthor
http://www.twitter.com/chrisredding


Writing Process Blog Hop

The End BookToday I’m participating in the Writing Process Blog Hop, where you’re tagged by a fellow writer to answer some questions. In turn, you then profile 2-3 other writers to do the same.  The person who tagged me is the inimitable and always classy Charlie Ray (http://redroom.com/member/charles-a-ray). I interviewed Charlie a while back on Awesome Authors. You can blame him for what you’re about to read 😀

Question 1: What am I working on?
Currently I’m brainstorming scenes for the third as-yet-untitled Leine Basso thriller. It’s like old home week as I figure out which direction Leine and Santiago’s relationship is going to go, how to integrate Leine’s new line of work into the story, and re-introduce characters from previous books (if you liked Yuri’s uncle, you’ll enjoy this installment), all while keeping the suspense and action building throughout the book. Beginning a novel is all deliciousness and unicorns and mimics the first blush of infatuation: everything’s awesome and the possibilities are endless. Yes, I know that will wear off at the first hint of trouble, but as long as I blow something up I should be okay 😀

CFD_Cvr_2_200x300I’m also working with two different audiobook narrators: I’m excited to report that Melissa Moran has finished CRUISING FOR DEATH and the book is now in ACX’s capable hands.  Melissa also recorded the KATE JONES THRILLER SERIES boxed set and has been a lot of fun to work with–she has Kate’s idiosyncrasies down pat. Look for it in the next few weeks.

Kristi Alsip is in the process of recording BAD TRAFFICK, and I can’t say enough good things about her work. When I first heard her voice I KNEW she would make a great Leine Basso and, from what she’s done so far, she’s nailed it. Once the audiobook’s completed it will go to ACX’s sound engineers for approval and should be available next month.Night traffic

Question 2: How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I write thrillers, and there’s an expectation on the part of thriller readers that the books will be fast-paced and have a lot of action. Of course, I LOVE writing action scenes, so that’s no problem. What I think I do a bit differently is incorporate suspense and action and a likeable, kick-ass-but-flawed heroine with humor. One reviewer put it this way: “The humor serves as good balance to the fear and anxiety that [the character] freely expresses in the face of her predicament, providing a sharp and refreshing contrast to the typical stoic, grim-faced male hero of the thriller genre.”   Another difference: my female characters aren’t superheroes–in fact they are all too human–but they aren’t helpless women who need a man to save them, which is a particular pet peeve of mine. Why would I want to read about a woman who doesn’t know how to get herself out of trouble and who waits for the alpha-male to “save her”?  Yes, I have strong men in my stories, and yes, they help the heroine out occasionally, but I try hard to write female characters who are plenty capable themselves and know their way around a weapon. And explosives.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do?
DVBerkom_YucatanDead_200Growing up, I loved reading spy novels and watching James Bond movies, but always yearned for books and movies that had a female equivalent in the lead. When I caught the novel-writing bug I thought why not write what I’d want to read? My first female character, Kate Jones, went through several incarnations, moving from a smart ass Jeep tour guide in a humorous mystery to the current thrillers where Kate grows into a capable and dangerous enemy. She’s still a smart ass, though.

As for the Leine Basso novels, SERIAL DATE was in response to a twisted dream I had about serial killers and reality shows, and I needed to find a character to write who could go toe-to-toe with one of them. An assassin seemed perfect: they both killed people. The dynamics of having one of the characters (Leine) question her motivation for being a hired assassin and whether that made her different from a serial killer intrigued me. The second novel, BAD TRAFFICK, was in response to watching a documentary on child sex trafficking and I knew I had to write Leine into the story. I was torn though, as SERIAL DATE has quite a bit of dark humor and satire, and I wanted to try to keep the tone consistent in each series (okay, it didn’t work with Kate, but at least I tried). There’s nothing humorous or satirical about human trafficking, so the tone in that book ended up being more of a straight thriller. There’s still some humor, but only in Leine’s smart ass reactions to specific characters. Hmm. Do I detect a theme here?SDBookCover170x260_3_11_13

Question 4: How does my writing process work?
First, I clean my house. Really. My husband loves this stage, since I’m woefully challenged in the domestic arts. Then I sit down with a notepad and paper and draw a timeline across the top of the page, putting little hash marks at the beginning, 1/4 point, midpoint, 3/4 point, and two near the end, labeling them: inciting incident, 1st turning point, midpoint, 2nd turning point, black moment, resolution. Then, I set to work brainstorming scenes, moving them around on the timeline to see where they fit. If I have trouble coming up with enough scenes to start writing, either I trash the idea, or I ask my husband and writer friends to help come up with scenes. Once I’ve got a good sense where the story’s going, I sit down to write (I use a computer and MS Word). I’m pretty linear, so I go from chapter to chapter, editing a bit as I go, until I reach the end. During this first draft stage, every two weeks I send sections to my critique group for their suggestions. Then I do a read through before sending it out to a dozen or so beta readers. While I’m waiting for their responses, I catch up on all the stuff I ignored while writing. Once the betas get back to me, I do one more read through incorporating many of the suggestions, and then send it off to my editor. At that point I usually have the title, so I work on the book’s description and then send that info off to my cover designer. Once I get the edits back I incorporate them, do another read through and publish.

Now that I’ve bored the bejeezus out of you all, it’s time to give a shout out to the writers I picked to continue the blog hop. All three are in my writing group and all are published in some form of romance (I’m the token heathen who doesn’t write in that particular genre). We’ve been friends for years and yes, I know where the bodies are buried. We’ll leave it at that…

Darlene Panzera writes sweet, fun-loving romance and is the winner of the “Make Your Dreams Come True Contest” sponsored by Avon Books, which led her novella, THE BET, to be published with Debbie Macomber’s FAMILY AFFAIR. The full length novel, re-titled, BET YOU’LL MARRY ME, released December 2012 and her bestselling series, THE CUPCAKE DIARIES, released its first installment in May 2013. Born and raised in New Jersey, Darlene is now a resident of the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her family and her two horses, and loves camping, hiking, photography, and lazy days at the lake.

Jennifer Conner  is a bestselling Northwest author who has published over forty works. She writes Christmas Romance, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance, and Erotica, and has been ranked in the top 50 authors on Amazon. Her romantic suspense novel, SHOT IN THE DARK, was a finalist in the Emerald City Opener, Cleveland, and Toronto RWA contests. She lives in western Washington in a hundred year-old house, blows glass beads with a blow torch (“which relieves a lot of stress and people don’t bother you…”) and is a huge fan of musicals.

Chris Karlsen is a retired police detective who writes time travel romances populated with 14th century knights, and thrillers featuring a nautical archaeologist and Turkish agent. She spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. The daughter of a history professor and a voracious reader, she grew up with a love for history and books. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and Northern Africa satisfying her passion for seeing the places she’s read about. A Chicago native, Chris has lived in Paris, Los Angeles, and now resides with her husband and five rescue dogs in the Pacific Northwest.

If you have a minute, please stop by and visit their blogs–they’ll be posting their own answers to the above questions next Monday. Have a great week!


How to Respond if Someone Holds a Gun to Your Head

P14-45 handgun Since I write novels dealing with guns and criminals, I’m always looking for no-nonsense advice from professionals (law enforcement officers specifically, although interviewing a criminal via email would certainly be interesting).

I just re-read an article with a wealth of information regarding what to do if you’re ever in a situation where someone is holding a gun to your head. Whether you’re writing a scene or are interested in what to do if it really happens, here’s a link to a post by former law enforcement dealing with that specific scenario. I especially enjoyed his snark about wearing stilettos and shrink-wrap clothing…


E-Book Expansion

Kindle 2, Kindle 3 & Kindle 4According to a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life project, the number of Americans who read e-books is growing…

Well, dang. I coulda told ’em that 🙂

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/more-americans-now-reading-ebooks-new-pew-data-show/

 


Happy Writers

2010 - A year plenty of HopesI just ran across this golden oldie by former literary agent-turned author, Nathan Bransford, on the Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer and thought I’d share. He’s hit the nail on the head, IMO.

Happy Saturday!


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