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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

beach-writer

Lots of people think authors live a glamorous life; sitting in a beach chair, toes in the sand, large floppy hat, cool beverage with little umbrella in the glass with a laptop or tablet on their lap, just tap, tap, tapping away on the keys until – BAM – 90,000 words later, a best-selling masterpiece appears. The next day someone slaps a gorgeous glossy cover on it and plasters it all over the Barnes & Noble front window.

bookstore-window

Then, after several hours of tap, tap, tapping, said author dons oversized dark glasses and some sparkly flip flop sandals, gets into their luxury sports car and dashes off to some posh restaurant for lunch with their editor, agent, and some movie producer from Hollywood to discuss the details of turning your latest masterpiece into a Hollywood blockbuster.

power-lunch

Spoiler alert – that NEVER happens. Oh sure, JK Rowling probably does that NOW, but not when she first started. Steven King is a household name and James Patterson’s name gets tossed around a lot on movie sets and such, but seriously, that didn’t happen overnight.

So, how did it happen? I’ll tell you – I have no idea. Believe me, I wish I did. I wish I knew what secret, besides hard work and perseverance would shoot me straight up that ladder to the beach chair in the sun because God knows I would love love to dig my toesies into some white sand right about now. Not to mention that little umbrella drink.

Here’s what I do know, those people spent many, many long days and sleepless nights fussing over the right words, the parts they deleted and maybe shouldn’t have, the opening scenes that should work but for some reason don’t, a reviewers harsh comment, hours of endless re-writing.

working-woman

In other words, they worked hard and they didn’t quit. They didn’t let disappointment ruin their vision.

And, despite how it seems to authors most days, they didn’t reach a certain level of fame alone. What? You’re saying others helped along the way? Absolutely. A lot of people probably helped and didn’t even know they helped. Strangers can help strangers. Readers can help writers. Here’s how:

helping-hand

Buy books, read books, talk about awesome books.

A great way to take it up a notch, is to leave a review. It’s easy, it’s free, it doesn’t take that long, and it goes a long way in helping authors’ careers. Here’s a few places where you can leave a review: https://www.goodreads.com/https://www.amazon.com/; or http://allreaders.com/.

Go to book signings if you can and BUY THE BOOK, even if you gift it to someone else.

Spread the word on social media. A “like,” a “share,” a comment, helps boost that author’s visibility. It seems trivial, but like election time, every vote matters. (Please don’t make this political people. God knows we don’t want to go there again.)

book-with-bowGift a book. A great way to help authors is to buy books for someone else. Especially in this day and age of electronic gadgets, almost everyone has an e-reader of some fashion. If not, you can download a free app to most smart phones. Heck, you can read books on your home computer. What better gift for a person who has everything or no longer wishes to “collect things?” Again, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive. Some e-books are less than a dollar. Gifting an e-book is super easy through Amazon or other on-line e-book retailers. All you need is the recipient’s e-mail address. What a lovely surprise for the recipient to open their e-mail and discover a gift! And it won’t clutter up a closet or shelf.

 

comment-boxHere’s how I’m going to help some authors this week: Every person who posts a comment on this blog between now and Friday, February 24th, will be gifted an e-book of my choice. Simply leave a comment and mention your favorite genre so I can choose an appropriate book for you from one of my favorite starving authors. Some of you I can wager a pretty good guess about genre, but others not so much. If I don’t already have your e-mail address, send me an e-mail at jansen.schmidt@yahoo.com so I can make sure your e-book arrives. (Caveat: I will only be gifting from Amazon so you’ll have to have a Kindle in order to participate. Sorry to those who prefer other e-reader methods.)

You in turn can help the author of the book I gifted to you by posting a review and I strongly encourage you to do so. I’m acting on good faith here that you will leave a review. If you do not wish to write a review and post it on any or all of the sites I listed above, please let me know if the comments. (Caveat: If you absolutely hate the book I gift you, please do NOT leave a bad review. An honest review yes, but not a scathing one.) Remember, the purpose of this week’s blog is to help each other out. I’m helping readers, you’re helping writers.

trust-quote

That’s it. Easy peasy. You can pass the word to your friends if they want a free book all they have to do is leave a comment and their e-mail address. I’ll do the rest.

So, thanks in advance to all who post a comment and enjoy your books!

How do you help starving authors? Do you routinely leave reviews? Do you attend book signings? Do you have an e-reader?

Word of Day: Acroter

Fun fact about me: I have 3 e-readers but I prefer paper books.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, February 2017. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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1sts and lasts 1

Two or three or fourteen weeks ago, I posted some opening and closing sentences from my manuscript entitled On Hallowed Ground. That book is the second in a series (the Grounded series) that has been professionally edited and is nearing its final phase of production before presentation to the world. Stay tuned for more info on that. (more…)

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That’s what I need help with this week fellow bloggers, faithful followers and curious guests.

You see, I’m stuck. I’m roughing out the outline for my next manuscript and I have most of the requisite parts. What I can’t figure out is: how to kill someone who’s already dead. Um, sort of. Someone thinks she killed him but then the body disappeared, but then reappeared. It’s confusing. Keep reading.

My protagonist (Q) gets into a physical altercation with a man (X) who she believes had something to do with her sister’s (T) disappearance. Q thinks this because X is seen wearing T’s very unique (one-of-a-kind) amulet around his neck. During the altercation, Q hits X in the head with a rock then crawls back to her car (she’s hurt too) and calls her then boyfriend (G) for help disposing the body.

tourmaline amuletWhen G gets to the scene of the altercation, there is no body. He follows a pair of footprints (presumably X’s) into the desert but the gusting wind eventually erases all tracks. G assures his lady love (Q) that she did not kill X because he walked away. Presumably.

Fast forward several years; the very dead body of X is discovered in a shallow grave in the middle of the desert in almost exactly the same place Q had the altercation with him. No amulet is found on the body. Q calls G to help investigate what might have happened (no, it’s not alien abductions and no they are not still a couple. That’s right a necessary reunion after a very bad break-up).

G’s investigation leads to the discovery of a human trafficking ring (the most likely explanation for T’s disappearance).

Super short synopsis of what is learned during G’s investigation:

desertX was found wandering on the side of the road by an unsuspecting teen-aged boy (Z) (coincidentally T’s boyfriend at the time she disappeared). Z also noticed the amulet. When Z realized that X was bleeding all over his car and most likely going to die (from a head injury), he drove X out into the desert and dumped him out of his car. (He didn’t want to get stuck with a dead body even if he didn’t kill him.) Coincidentally, where Z dumped X is almost exactly the same place Q thought she killed him. Z kept the amulet that’s why it was not on the body and that’s how G eventually comes to suspect him; G sees Z wearing the amulet.

Here’s the problem: What is the cause of death?

Q hit him on the head with a rock. Z pushed him out of a moving car. Scavengers, weather and time destroyed most of the remaining human evidence.

X can’t have died from the head injury, because Q is the protagonist of the story and cannot go to jail for murder. She has to think she is going to jail for the duration of the story.

Z is a very minor character and really only here as a red herring. The shove out of the moving car did not kill him. He is the number 2 suspect though, behind Q.

What else could have killed X? Coyotes? Vultures? It has to be definitive and eventually ruled as the cause of death over the head injury. The head injury turns out, was not a lethal blow. But something was definitive – what?

So there you go. That’s what I need help with. Put on your thinking caps and give me your thoughts. What ultimately killed X?

What do you do fellow writers when you get stuck? Have you ever killed off a character? It’s hard to get inside the mind of a murderer and virtually impossible to do any research.

Word of the Day: Yegg

Fun fact about me: I’ve never killed anyone. Well, real anyone anyway.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, February 2016. Photos courtesy Google Images.

 

 

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This month I’m going to talk about me. But not the flower-crazy, stick shift driving, word challenged, female who likes all things sparkly. No, I’m going to talk about me, Jansen Schmidt the writer. Have I mentioned that I’m also a writer?

While this picture is not my actual desk, it accurately reflects my writing style when I’m really in the zone. You writers out there know what I’m talking about. It’s not a mess, it’s research and, I don’t care who you are, do NOT touch my desk, my notes, my piles of papers. There is a method to the madness. Those post-it notes contain key points that must not be forgotten in the plot at any cost. The empty cups are a sure sign that my husband the cabana boy has retired for the night and there will no longer be anyone to bring me beverage refills or any other form of sustenance. But I carry on. I persevere. Just a thousand more words, one more chapter, six more pages of edits, then I’ll be done for the day.

Why do we do this? Why do we put outselves through this agonizing process called writing? I’ll tell you why I do it.

In 2009 I was bestowed with an Honorable Mention is the Writing on the Walls contest sponsored by The Storyteller Magazine. As part of this recognition, my short story, Dancing In the Middle, was published in the Writing on the Walls III anthology. (http://www.thestorytellermagazine.com/past-wow-winners.html)

I was over the moon with my very first real publishing experience! This was it! It’s official! I’m a legitimate author and I have a book out there to prove it. I have a book cover to post on my website. I signed a contract and everything! Of course it’s not mine alone, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Dancing In the Middle is about a dance instructor with a secret who is unknowingly smuggling drugs into the United States from Mexico. It has strong romance elements and incorporates my love of all forms of dance. Dancing In the Middle was featured on a blog! How cool is that? You can experience that thrill here: http://sjdriscoll.com/?s=Jansen+Schmidt.

See how much more exciting my life is now that I’m a published author. I’m in demand. People can’t get enough of me. Okay, so maybe one guest blog feature has gone to my head, but it brightened my day immensely to be featured on Sally’s blog. I can’t wait for that first real book signing.

But I digress.

This Honorable Mention accolade boosted my enthusiam for writing and justified what I do as – REAL! I wasn’t just playing around any more. I was officially – an author. With that came added responsibilities, a reputation to uphold, expectations for future stories. Oh the pressure!

Fortunately, I carried on, putting more words on the page, drying up hundreds of highlighters and red pens, rubbing down countless erasers. Running the cabana boy ragged. My stubborness persistence paid off!

Writing on the Walls IV

In 2011 I entered the same contest with a different story. Finding Emily also received an Honorable Mention in the contest and will be available in the 2012 Writing on the Walls IV anthology, in either paper or e-book format in June 2012 at Amazon.com or Mockingbirdlanepress.com.

That’s right, now I have 2 book covers to post on my website. I entered the same story in the 2011 Silver Quill contest and came in second place. (http://www.thestorytellermagazine.com/silver-quill-winners.html) As a contest “winner” I received a cash prize. Oh the heart-stopping excitement! I have now received income from my writing. Before you get all gushy with kind words, I will confess that that prize money was almost enough to buy lunch for me and the cabana boy my husband. But hey, it was cold hard cash for a well written story. I’ll take it!

Finding Emily is about a tenacious private investigator’s inter-state search for a missing child presumed dead. With the help of a research librarian, he unravels the truth and sets out to find Emily.

For more information about the Writing on the Walls contest or The Storyteller Magazine visit: http://www.thestorytellermagazine.com/index.html

As a result of all of this craziness hard work, I now have the distinct pleasure of introducing myself as a multi-published, award winning author. That sounds more impressive than it really is, but I’m keeping it.

For more information about me, Jansen Schmidt the writer, visit my website at http://www.jansenschmidt.com. There you can find excerpts from my current works in progress as well as finished manuscripts waiting for some lucky editor to snatch up for publication. You can sign my guestbook while you’re there so I know you visited.

As this post publishes on the worldwide web, I will be at the start of my much needed vacation. But, please leave a comment and know that I will respond to each and every one when I return. I love seeing your comments. Oh, and don’t think that while I’m away you can borrow my cabana boy either; he goes where I go. After all what multi-published, award winning author goes anywhere without her cabana boy?

Word of the Day:  Gadroon

Fun fact about me:  I did not learn how to ride a bike until I was 13 years old. Sad – but true.

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So here it is – 2012!

Happy new year to my loyal followers and welcome to newcomers. I hope your winter holidays were safe and enjoyable. Now let’s get down to some serious business and start the new year right.

New year, new resolutions.  Today we start our diets, we are resolved that we will lose those 10, 20, 30 pounds of holiday reveling. We will go to the gym more often, we will condition our bodies for that marathon we’ve always said we would run. We are done shopping, we will save money. We will volunteer more at our children’s youth activities, in their classrooms, at the homeless shelter. We will finally clean out the garage, our junk drawers, the attic. We will, we will, we will!  But the real question is – for how long?

My resolution has been the same for the past three years – I will not make any resolutions. That way I’m not letting myself down when I stop dieting, stop going to the gym, stop training for the marathon, take one box of old junk from the overstuffed garage to goodwill and call it quits. I know, that’s a cop out. But the reality of it is, several years ago I decided to make more “realistic” resolutions, ones I could actually achieve and therefore feel good about myself. Well, I realized in July or August of that year, that I wasn’t really sticking to my resolutions, I was simply enforcing my habits. If something is a habit, you don’t need to remind yourself to do it. Habits are not resolutions.

So what is a resolution? According to Webster’s New Lexicon Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, a resolution is: The quality of not allowing difficulties or opposition to affect one’s purpose. Hmm. Okay. That said, why do people really give up on or forget about their resolutions? My answer – I become lazy. There are no difficulties preventing me from not stuffing that chocolate bar into my mouth, unless it’s a two pounder that I’m trying to eat all in one mouthful. No one prevents me from going to the gym. There is no opposition to me sitting down in the chair and writing 1,000 words a day. So why is it so hard to stick to the resolutions?

It’s psychological. We psych ourselves out about it. We are so overly adamant that we will do heroic things, that endorphines actually race through our body and pumps us up. We feel fantastic! Nothing will deter us. Then along comes January 15th and we slip a little bit, but we make excuses, like we just need a day off. Then February 1st rolls around and we have to think long and hard about what it is we were supposed to be doing better this year. When we can’t remember, the same adrenaline gushes around in our bodies, frantically looking for justification as to why we quit running, dieting, writing. That adrenaline spikes our nervous system to extreme stress levels and now we feel like horrid lazy bums so we might as well just eat what we want in front of the t.v. and be happy.

Hey, I understand. I’m not here to judge. It’s too dark and cold to be running anyway. It’s not safe and we’ll probably catch pneumonia. We can’t let that one lonely slice of chocolate cake go to waste, after all there’s children starving in India. Sure, we maybe didn’t write 1,000 words today, but hey, we sure thought about the plot and character arcs a lot, that counts for something.

Here’s my advice folks. Slow down, breathe. Enjoy the little things along the way. Have dessert once in a while. So you don’t run a marathon, or lose 20 pounds. Are you healthy and happy? Are you spending quality time with your family? Make a resolution to enjoy life a little more this year. Smell the flowers. Savor the flavor of your food. Hug your kids one extra time every day. Don’t stress on the resolutions. If you’re happy, life is good and you don’t need them anyway.

So those are my sage words of advice for this month. Now tell me, do you, or do you not make resolutions? Are they attainable? Do you feel good or bad if you do or do not attain them?

Word of the day:  Coarctate

Fun fact about me:   I am allergic to salmon.

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Hello and welcome to my new adventures in blogging!

So blogging – what is that really? It’s words. And, I love words! I’m a writer and a scrabble player and a lover of cross word puzzles. Words like widget, trapezoid and extrapolate are fun. But others, like phlegm, not so much. And let’s face it, blog isn’t very attractive either.

And don’t you just hate it when you can’t quite find the right word? You can find something close, but not quite right. Sometimes I think there’s entirely too many words to choose from. But as exciting and frustrating as words are, I’m here to tell you to exercise extreme caution when using words. Words will mess you up my friends.

Some words may look right, but aren’t. Let me tell you, that can cause some really embarrassing situations. For instance, placing a new plaque on the auditorium wall is not the same as placing a new plague on the same building. They both look right, but while plaques are nice and relatively harmless, no one really wants a new plague hanging around. Just one tiny little letter changes everything.

And then there’s times when you use the correct letters, but get them in the wrong order. This too can lead to undue embarrassment. Case in point, I once sent a very professional business letter to a client asking her to come in and sing her Last Will and Testament. Now, granted, the singing of the Will might have been wonderously entertaining, but, I’m told it provides no authenticity to the document whatsoever. Apparently, it’s the actual signing of the document that makes it enforceable. Silly mistake, but somewhat awkward for me.

And then there’s those words that will trip you up because they have more than one meaning or they have similar sounds. They might sound right, but in reality, improper useage  changes the entire meaning of a sentence. A misconception is not the same as a preconception but when spoken out loud, they sound the same – sort of. And someone who sees words in reverse order has dyslexia not dyspepsia. Two very different things, and yet they kind of sound the same. Be careful.

And quite the opposite is also true. Some words are actually very much correct, but they just sound wrong. For instance if I were to ask you to remove your small lizard from the hole in my oak wine barrel, that sounds correct. But this is also correct: keep your little skink away from my bunghole. And yet that just sounds – well wrong somehow.

So, as you go forth in the world of poems and prose, business letters and weekly progress reports, use caution and choose carefully, and please remember to proof read before you hit that wonderful enter button, least you too fall victim to the wacky world of words.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you on a regular basis. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and WordPress.com and visit my website www.jansenschmidt.com.

So tell me, what improper word usage has caused you embarrassment? Don’t be bashful, it’s good to get these things off your chest once in a while.

Word of the day: Alacrity (Go look it up, but not right now. Post your comment first, then go.)

Fun fact about me: I have an extra vertebrae in my spine. (Unfortunately this does not give me superpowers, it just make me more susceptible to back problems.)

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