In remembrance…

About a month ago, I visited the family cemetery mentioned below.  The grass had been cut, but a lot of “settling” caused several headstones to topple over and others to sink in.

I stopped at the area where my mother, grandmother, and uncles are buried.  I reminisced about the time one of my uncles promised to buy me a Wanda Wee-wee doll for Christmas, and the time my grandmother tried beer but added sugar because it tasted “awful” on it’s own.

And then there was Mama.

I thought about how she taught me a lot of life skills at a young age.  They’ve proven quite effective in my decision-making as an adult.  And I remembered the time I begged for a Knit-Wit kit to make quilts and crafts with a rainbow of colors.  When it rained, she’d put on records we’d borrowed from the library while we twisted yarn around the Knit-Wit tools.  At best, I made the pom-pon tassels for the corners of the quilt my mom finished.

I attempted to locate my great-aunt’s plot, but wasn’t able to.  As I walked around, I felt a sadness.  Not just because my loved ones are gone.  Rather, the cemetery was empty.  There were no flowers -no weather-battered artificial bouquets or anything.

It made me think about how we remember our loved ones after they leave this earth.  Should it matter that we leave flowers or are the memories enough?

Melanie V. Logan

Memorial Day is a time to remember the men and women in the armed forces who have served our country and lost their lives defending it. Cemeteries are adorned with flags and flowers to not only celebrate these lives, but also honor them.

But for me, Memorial Day has additional meanings. One, it’s a day my family and friends come together to barbecue and fellowship. Sometimes this is the only quality time we have together. We talk about days of ole and catch up on the latest happenings in each others’ lives. It’s a joyous occasion.

Two, I’m reminded of the diligence of my great-aunt Dollie who made it her mission to

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We’ve Only Just Begun

Redux

Melanie V. Logan

Robyn yawned as she turned the page. The book was interesting, but her eyes and mind were too tired to comprehend. Helping her ailing mother was taking its toll. Books had become her vacation – a mental break from the reality of her world.

The damsel was in distress.  No longer could she care for the manor.  The storm brewing would be its end as well as hers.  Sitting on the disheveled porch, she cried. Then a man stood before her.  It was Tobias.  He cupped her face in his hands, gazing into her eyes before pulling her close to his heart.  He vowed to make everything right.  She looked up at him with hope.  He reassured her by passionately kissing her ruby lips.

Robyn swooned.  Her attention was glued. Adrenaline pumped through her body providing a jolt of energy and excitement she didn’t know she had.  She longed for…

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The Rules of Procrastination — Sophie Speaks Up

Redux

Melanie V. Logan

We’ve all been there. Slacking, putting things off, brain fritz, you name it. Procrastination hits us at one time or another. No matter how many times we “pencil” things on the calendar or set phone reminders, we find something to distract or pull us in the opposite direction.No amount of self pep talks work. We’ll find an excuse. That’s the determination. Too bad that samedetermination can’t drive us toward productive writing.

The excerpt below is a humorous take on procrastination from Sophie Speaks Up. Check out the rest in the link below. I’msure many of you can relate just as I can.

I mean, excuses. 1) Thou shall not call it procrastination. Instead, call it “writer’s block.” You simply ran out of creative juices to continue working on your project. How are you supposed to do anything if you ran out of ideas and don’t feel creative anymore, right? 2)…

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My Worst #Writing Bad Habits: Using Find/Replace to Scrub the First #Draft – Tips from K.M. Pohlkamp

Some of the most overused words in my writing are was, have been, or trying to find a better way to say smile or grin. A thesaurus is helpful in some aspects. But it only replaces the word with another. What I like about the example given, is it prompts a mental picture for the reader and evokes feeling and a connection.

K.M. Pohlkamp - Author Website

The first draft is finished. Great! Um… now what?

I am often asked about my “writing process” and the more I write the more procedural it becomes – it is the engineer in me.

Getting the first draft on paper/electrons is a monumental task. And if nanowrimo and write sprints have taught me anything, it’s that snails could crawl over the keyboard faster than I write. So when the words are flowing, the last thing I want to do is disrupt my train of thought by editing.  But when the words flow, my bad writing habits tend to sneak in. That’s OK, a first draft is just getting the story down so it can be molded.

But it needs molding.

So after completing a first draft, the next step in my personal writing process is a systematic scrub for my worst writing habits. I have a list of my issues and…

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Things I Learned From Finishing the First #Draft: Pearls of Wisdom from the Quippish Quill

Wonderful insight! I never thought of writing being like a relationship. The metaphor is perfect!

Quippish Quill

After 6 embarrassing years and a graveyard of unfinished WIPs, I finally finished my first draft today! Yes, that’s right. It actually took me the better half of a decade to finish a measly first draft that barely clocks in at 40k words. I blame my perfectionism and Netflix. To commemorate this rare occasion, I thought I’d write down the hard-fought lessons I learned.

Disclaimer: These are lessons I learned that worked for me. They obviously won’t work for everyone. I don’t claim to have universal writing advice that will apply to every writer out there. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to it!

firstDraft

Passion Will Only Get You So Far

Writing a book is a lot like being in a relationship. In the beginning, everything is perfect. You’re crazy in love and blind to your partner’s flaws and you’re both busy barfing rainbows at each…

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Don Draper’s Guide to Fantastic Writing

When it comes to successful creativity and slogans that might-have-been, look no further than AMC’s Mad Men.  During it’s original run from 2007-2015, I missed out on the thought-provoking, artisty, dry wit, and shenanigans of the fictional advertising staff of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.  But I’m lucky!  I’m able to catch the reruns.

It’s interesting to watch Don’s take on an idea, sometimes stumbling upon a great ad campaign along the way.  For example SnoBall.  He took the concept of “a snowball’s chance in hell” and turned it into something consumers would find humorous and memorable.  Now that’s good writing!

What #Literary Agents Do (And Don’t Do) For #Writers

Querying a good literary agent is the first step in getting your novel or book project into the hands of a publisher. What is a literary agent? A literary agent is the middleman between you and potential publishers—they are your best hope for getting your book published. But what does a literary agent actually do for a writer? And what don’t they do?

What literary agents do:

1. A literary agent’s top job is to find an editor who likes your book enough to buy it. Reputable literary agents have a wide network of contacts and relationships with acquisition editors at publishing houses. They know what the editors are looking for, and they’re experts at sending your submissions to the right people. Because editors know that submissions by literary agents have already made it through a stringent screening process, agented submissions usually go to the top of the pile.

Literary agents will NOT purchase the rights to your book and then turn around and try to sell your book to publishers. Nor can they promise to sell your book.

2. Literary agents pitch your book project to publishers and try to get you the best deal. It is in their best interest to negotiate lucrative contracts with publishers, as literary agents work on commission (usually 15 percent). They also manage your business affairs with the publisher once the deal goes through—contract disputes, royalty statements, collecting money—leaving you on good terms with the editor and freeing up your time to write.

Literary agents are NOT always attorneys, but they do specialize in book contracts and are well-versed in authors’ rights.

3. A good literary agent will often edit or critique a manuscript and offer valuable suggestions to increase its marketability. BUT you should never query an agent unless you have a completed, professionally formatted, and carefully proofread novel or memoir in hand. (Only how-to and self-help books can be pitched without having been finished first.)

Literary agents do NOT offer line-by-line edits or make rewrites. It’s up to the writer to incorporate the agent’s suggested changes. Agents are not interested in helping you master the art of writing. Their focus is on the business of writing, as in “How can this book sell the most copies?” Read more about how to hire the right editor for your writing.

4. Literary agents are authors’ advocates. They don’t make money unless you make money, so their goal is to get you the best deal. Most reputable agents will make a commission of 15 percent for domestic sales. They offer encouragement and support and help keep you on track with deadlines and rewrites. They can also help shape your career by suggesting new ideas, finding wider audiences, and keeping you abreast of changes and trends in the publishing industry.

Literary agents are NOT tax consultants, publicists, personal bankers, or writing coaches. They often offer moral support, but they are not interested in being your therapist. They will not handle your advertising and marketing. And they’re certainly not interested in being your personal answering service.

It’s up to the writer to take advantage of all the services a good literary agent can offer. As an author’s ally, a good literary agent can make a writer’s life more successful and rewarding.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, an author’s submission 
service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994.  Their work is 
highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing 
leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!