Friday, May 30, 2008

Blogging Hiatus

I've been so busy that I haven't been blogging, so I thought it was fair to let my readers (if there are any) know that I probably won't be blogging for awhile. I just have too much to do, and keeping up with the blog is one more stress I can't deal with right now.

I would blog about the stress and excitements of getting our business moved, but I haven't had a lot of time to even think about that. Well, actually I have had some thoughts. Corporate America makes it more difficult than ever to own a small, two-person operation business. It's sad, really, because that's how America started out. It's like we've forgotten our roots and now money is what drives most people. The more people there are, the more rules we have to follow. Don't get me wrong, rules are a good thing, but huge corporations have the money and the manpower that they can break rules easier or slip past them and make their own.

Collision repair shops are probably one of the most difficult businesses, IMO, because it deals with paint, thinners, and pollution problems. You have to make sure you're up to code on everything. Not enough capital is the reason most start-up businesses fail, but you can use all your capital just making sure you are up to code and have all the permits you need.

Because we are small, with a minute amount of capital, my husband and I along with his partner (my dad) are trying to do the majority of things (the move, changing over everything, the cleaning, etc) by ourselves. Because I work full time (and not with this business) and I have to write or else, I have to look at other things to drop. Writing is my anti-depressant, and I've actually been doing a lot of it lately. I guess the stress of everything has pushed me to write write write, so I'm going to take a blogging break. It's not like I was blogging much anyway, LOL.

I will be back and I'm going to try to do my Top 8 of '08, my Spotlights, etc. I just can't stick to my schedule right now and can't say when I'll be here, but you can always find me out and about somewhere on the internet.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spotlight on: M.G. Braden

Tell me about yourself. Do you write under a particular genre, or several?
I write Contemporary - usually just straight contemporary, but I do have a paranormal coming out on August 1st and right now I'm working on a ST that will have action/adventure elements.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since high school. I started my first romance when I was in Grade 10. It was going to be for HQ. I still have those pages - typewritten, no less. I described my heroine's outfit in great detail - especially her peach suede suite and strappy sandals! LOL It was very typical of what I was reading in romances at that time.
Where do you get your inspiration?
As with most writers, I'm sure, it is often from people or situations I am familiar with or sometimes I think "what if..."
Do you have a writing routine?
When I have a book due I write every night as soon as the house is quiet. I usually go into a chat room with some other writers and we do writing challenges where we write as much as we can in 20 minutes. It really motivates me. I need to do that even when I don't have a book due and it's something I struggle with. I'm much better with a deadline. It forces me to write.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a writer?
Just actually doing the writing. Sitting down and writing without being distracted by the internet, email, my kids, life, etc. Because (when not on contract - which I've only been lucky enough to have twice before the actual book was completed) I'm only accountable to myself and it is much easier to just do other things, especially with all of my other obligations.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I have a huge imagination and I like seeing that take shape, instead of it just swirling around and driving me batty. It takes it out of my head and on to paper where I hope, someday, someone will read and enjoy it.
What do you dislike about writing?
I'm not sure there's anything I actually dislike about writing. Although, I guess I could say not knowing where I'm going and being afraid that I have nothing left to say and an entire book of blank pages looming before me.
What do you enjoy in your spare time? Do you have any collections? Hobbies?
I have three kids between the ages of 2 and 8, so I don't have a lot of spare time LOL. But, I do sing on the Worship Team and volunteer at our church. It helps keep me grounded. Singing has always helped to relax me.
What’s your favorite color?
If you could drive any vehicle, with money as no object, what would it be?
A Hummer - yes, I know, not practical, not good for the environment, there really isn't as much room as one would think... I don't care. I want one. For all sorts of reasons. ;-)
What’s your favorite genre to read?
Romantic Suspense
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with other writers?
Find yourself a good support group and a good critique partner. Both are invaluable. You need the writing support group as a place to go to where people understand what you're doing and why. You need the critique partner because you should always have someone objective read your work. Husbands/wives, family members aren't usually objective. You need to find a critique partner that actually works for you and it may take some time to find the right person. I was lucky and got mine on the first try. It was a fluke and we write completely different genres, but that has worked for us.
What is your biggest writing annoyance, i.e. too much noise, not enough light, or can you write just about anywhere?
I can't have my kids running around me when I write. I get too caught up in what they are doing instead of what I should be doing. Most other things I can tune out.
Who is your biggest supporter? How does he/she support you?
My husband. He believes I can do or be anything I want. He completely believes I have it in me to write a bestseller - if I could only channel that on to my pages! He cleans up after dinner and puts the kids to bed so I can deal with the business of writing.
What’s your favorite food?
What's the one book you'd love to write but could never publish?
Hmm, I'm not sure. I hope that all the books I write will be published. At this point I don't think there's a story in my head that I need to write, but that I don't want to actually have published.

How do you plan your characters (charts, off the flow, etc.?) How do you organize your books?
I'm a pantser so I don't plan anything. I just write.
Do you have any pet peeves? How about when it comes to novels?
Who doesn't? LOL How about driver's who cut you off and then avoid your eyes as you drive by them later, because then they can pretend they didn't actually "see" that you were there? Yeah. OK, buddy.

When it comes to novels all I have to say is... Please don't head-hop. It's really annoying. And yes, I know some of the great writer's in our genre do it, but that doesn't mean it's a good way to write. Some of those authors tell a tale so well that you are sucked in despite the head-hopping. If you write that well, more power to you. If you don't, then learn to write in one POV per scene - it's harder, but it's well worth it.
If you had to pick a vegetable most resembling your personality, what veggie would you pick and why?
A pumpkin, because it's got a hard shell with many different lumps and bumps and a soft gooey middle. Honestly? I've never thought about this before, so hopefully this answer works! LOL
What’s your dream vacation?
Somewhere with a turquoise blue ocean, soft as silk sand beaches, swim-up bars at the pool, lots of sunshine, my dh and a stack of books beside me and my kids off enjoying the kids club for the day.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on a single title romance with action/adventure elements with a feisty heroine who makes me smile and a slightly mysterious hero who I think is rather hot. My hopes are that this book would be the first in a series.

What are your future plans?
I'd like to find an agent this year and then hopefully can write at least two full-length books a year, as well as a few shorter ones. My comfort zone is in writing novellas, but I need to stretch that in order to get a NYC contract. That's what I hope the next couple of years brings for me.
Besides writing and without limitations, what is your dream career?
In the dream world I'd be a singer, but in the real world the other career I'd like would be to be an OB/GYN nurse.
Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?
I love making people feel emotions with my words. If I've made you laugh or cry, or even just smile, then I've done what I set out to do. If I can take you away from your real world while you are reading my book, so that you didn't notice the passing of time, then I'd be very happy.
Would you like to share an excerpt of your work?
Sure... here's an excerpt from my upcoming book Vampire Oracle: Harmony coming out August 1, 2008 with Cobblestone Press:

She couldn’t stop looking at it. The way it twinkled in the sunlight, or under any light for that matter. She lifted her hand again, trying to catch the reflections in the diamond. She laughed aloud, giddy with happiness. Theyd spent the last hour talking, but it still distracted her.

“So I guess that means you like it?” Marc Brodeur quirked one brow, his lips pursed in amusement.

“As a matter of fact, I don’t like it.” Kara Staten twirled about, trying to catch the sunlight in her ring one more time. She stopped in front of Marc and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I love it!”

She gazed up into Marcs blue eyes and was sure she saw forever written there. Finally. I have my forever. Tugging his head down, she arched her neck to touch her lips to his. She put everything she had into that kiss. Everything she felt. She didnt care that they were standing in the middle of the towns central park. Didnt care if people were watching. All she cared about was the sizzle that shocked her every time they kissed, every time they touched. It was no different now, as the moment his lips touched hers a spark shot through her systemlike having pins and needles zing through her body, but better. Kara swore she could feel an actual buzz at her hip.

Wait, a buzz? She groaned, and pushed back from Marc. “My cell is ringing. Damn, I missed it.”

Marc looked confused. “I didnt hear anything.”

“I know. I had it on vibrate. What I thought was the thrill of your embrace turned out to be my cell phone ringing.”

Thanks, M.G.!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Revision Hell

Yep, that's what I'm in right now. It's hell because let's face it, when you've read the same story a dozen times, you get to the point where you just don't want to do it again. You overlook things. Deep inside, I know there are things I need to change, but it takes my wonderful critique partners to finally convince me.

Take the setting. I love how authors make the setting like a character and certain authors do it very well. However, just because I love to write it doesn't mean a reader is going to love to read it.

I thought writing was supposed to get easier, not harder. It's so hard because I want to be writing, but I have to go to work, so all I can think about when I'm at work is how much I would like to be home writing and when I get home to write, I'm so tired. Finding a happy balance is so difficult, especially when you're close to the end of the story but you have to start over.

My critique partner--thanks Miranda!--likened my story to this:

"It's kinda set up like a chick on a treadmill right now. Lots of action--introspective thinking--why am I fat?. Then--holy s***, someone put a chocolate cake a few feet from the fat girl."


She's not being cruel, she's being honest, and I'm grateful for that. I know she's right, and now I have to fix it.

Cause and Effect. Cause and Effect. Cause and Effect. That mantra keeps going over and over in my mind.

I've done everything in this story that you shouldn't do: too much description, too many characters, too many subplots and everything is explained in the last chapter. It's like I had to write something so horrible before I could make it good. Why oh why didn't I listen to my instincts in the first place?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Running and Growing a Business

Many of you may remember when I mentioned my husband and I were starting a small business, yet I continue to work full time AND pursue my writing. It's a small business that we have operated out of a shop on the property we own about 5 miles out of the city limits, so we depend on a lot of word of mouth and advertising. We've wanted to lease something in town, and that opportunity has come up.

It's scary and exciting, all at the same time. We're either going to fail miserably or succeed well enough to survive. I don't think we're going to fail, but it's going to be stressful for awhile. I don't make enough money writing to help us out through the slow spells, and I darn sure don't make enough in my full time job. Moving the business we have is going to be like starting over again. We have to have initial deposits to get things running, transfers done to certain accounts (phone, internet and other normal business expenses), plus add more overhead costs.

It's been a dream of ours for a long time. My husband has commuted (the shortest distance was 45 miles one way) for years. He can no longer commute. It's either succeed at our business, or sell everything and move.

Who would have ever thought I'd be a business woman? I can't believe it's happening, I'm not sure it's going to happen, and I've been praying a lot about this. All I can do is hand it over to God and trust that He is going to provide...

So far, He has. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Get started now!

"The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today." - Nolan Bushnell

I hate to use my dear hubby as an example, but I have to. He has ideas that blow my mind sometimes, but he doesn't do anything with them. He has personal goals, but he's always too busy (or too tired after being too busy) to pursue them.

Don't get me wrong, he does pursue his goals. He's running a business, and right now he thinks about writing a screenplay but doesn't have the time. Of course, it isn't his passion like writing is my passion. He'd like to do it...someday, but there are things in his life much more important. (More important than writing? Yikes!)

How many of us give up because the outcome isn't right now? How many of us are simply too tired after a day of work (I am, all the time), too busy with things we have to do instead of things we want to do?

It can take years for something to develop (it takes 9 months for a baby to develop in a woman's womb, then another 18 years for them to develop just enough to graduate. Ah, but do we ever develop to our full potential?)

I am the biggest procrastinator ever. Even if I make lists, I'll learn to ignore those things on the list I don't want to do just yet. So how in the world am I going to offer advice on how to get started and stay motivated?

Well, as Nolan Bushnell says in the above quote...Just Do It! Start Now!

And that is this months writing tip.

Happy Mother's Day to all!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I have a purpose!

My good friend, the Blonde Duck from has given me an award! The Blogging with Purpose Award! (What was she thinking, LOL! She must have me confused with someone else!)

Seriously though, I appreciate this duck more than I can say, and I know her blog deserved this award, because it is cute, charming and oh so funny! So now I get to hand off the award to 5 bloggers who have not received the award yet, and I'm very excited. There are so many good blogs out there, it's hard to choose just 5!

The rules are:

1. Nominate 5 blogs which haven't had this award before

2. each of the blogs must have a purpose

3. the nominated blogs must make a link back to this page

4. the logo from the award must be put on their blog and it must link back to this blog!

(okay, I didn't do that part, but I do have a link on my blog back to the nominator!)

Because I love reading about where she is, where she's going, and seeing the pictures she posted of her trips! She travels the world in an RV with her husband and writes romance. What could be better?

She is an interesting person, you never know what you might find on her blog, and I don't know where I'd be without her!

I love reading about her newest ventures, and she writes sexy romantic suspense! My favorite!

I met Carol Ann when we had our novels published with The Wild Rose Press at virtually the same time. She has interesting people, facts and motivation on her blog, so it's definitely worth receiving a purpose award. (And I'm still trying to figure out how she did those great picture things on her blog!)

Jennifer is always cracking me up and she's always doing the cutest things on her blog! Plus, she writes from the heart.

So congratulations to the 5 bloggers who gained this notable award!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Goals, Motivation, and Conflict

I made a blogging schedule but have not been sticking with it...My days are filled with work, my evenings are filled with recovering from my stressful day and finding time and energy to write.

Which brings me to the topic of my discussion today...GMC. Goals, Motivation, and Conflict. Those are the 3 things every character in your story must have. What do they want, why do they want it, and why can't they have it? It sounds simple, doesn't it?

Books have been written about it, it's been blogged about more than anything I'm sure. It's one of those things you know your character needs.

What about us? When it comes to ourselves, it's sometimes hard to figure out our GMC.

Goal: To write

Motivation: I love writing and building characters and their stories

Conflict: Time and energy

Yep, it's as simple, and complicated, as that.

My problem is I usually know what my goals are, but conflict gets in the way and I lack motivation. It's easy to forget or overlook what motivates me, especially when things get hectic and it's easier to relax on the couch with a glass of wine and a good movie.

Take blogging. I want to stick to a schedule, but time really does get in the way and it's hard to find motivation when you don't have a lot of readers on your blog. Well, it's hard to get readers when you don't blog!

Because today is my Top 8 of 8 if I go by my blogging schedule, I'm going to list 8 ways you can find motivation.

1. Keep a gratitude journal and write about what you're grateful for. Remember the small things we often overlook.
2. Pray.
3. Hang a picture of an inspiring person, place or event, or something that reminds you of what you want and why. Remind yourself why you want to reach this goal, and renew your vigor with that knowledge.
5. Assign yourself a personal mantra and say it everyday. I will I will I will.
6. Believe in yourself.
7. Reward yourself.
8. Penalize yourself. That's right. It's in direct contrast to what I said about rewarding yourself. I find that if I want something and I have the means (like if I want a piece of chocolate or a new pair of shoes), I'll usually buy it. I work for a living after all, why not? Yet sometimes that attitude makes it hard for us, because if we always get what we want, we don't have any reason to work harder at what we want. Parents penalize their children if they do something wrong, why shouldn't we penalize ourselves? When I first got on the insulin pump years ago, I had to be very strict about what I ate and what I did for a good month. I rewarded myself at the end of the month with an ice cream blizzard, knowing that if I did what I was supposed to do, I would enjoy that ice cream. It was rare for me to have Dairy Queen blizzards, so it was motivation for me to do what I needed to do. If I had a blizzard every time I was hungry for one (which I didn't back when I didn't have an insulin pump), I wouldn't have cared because I would have known I'd have one anyway. Just one example!

How do you motivate yourself?