Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Very productive day for 'The Band'. I believe I've reached the turning point of the book and can now start working toward the resolution. It was difficult to bring it together and it will probably require a lot of revisions during my editing process, but the core is written and I'm pleased with it.

Finally got around to sending out a memo about my on-line interview with Jacco van der Horst at Books & Writing. He is based in The Netherlands. You can check it out at -( www.books-writing.com/interview-with-author-sharon-poppen/ ). He did a nice job. I haven't had many hits as to comments, but I can only hope folks have read it. Marketing is such a major part of this writing endeavor. Funny, how I can enjoy and want to sit for hours working on creating a perfect scene and stretches of believable dialog, but find it challenging to create an interesting piece of marketing. I can only hope it gets easier with time.

So, in thinking about marketing, the following quote comes to mind. "Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy." Norman Vincent Peale
March 27, 1012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Walking Fine Lines

Another day of moving my main character in 'The Band' forward in his downward descent. I'm walking the fine line between too much detail and not enough. Thank goodness for first drafts!!!

Still no word on 'Regardless' or on 'Lita'. Another fine line here between bugging the publisher and yet want to keep things moving forward.

Had a great time yesterday. Went to the theatre to see the local production of 'West Side Story'. It was great! It is amazing to me what professional production efforts are achieved right here in our little city. What I saw yesterday could hold its own with many of the major productions at the renowned theaters I attended when I lived in L.A. The range of voices we heard was astounding. We will probably go to see their April production of 'Fiddler on the Roof'.

The Kingman Library is going to host their annual KABAM in May. They have invited authors to sign up for a booth. I may do it. I had fun last year and sold some books. Also got a good review for 'Hannah' from a local book reviewer.

I came across a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe today and it really registered with my core belief in my own writing goals. "The most original authors are not so because they advance what is new, but because they put what they have to say as if it had never been said before."

March 26, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tell 'em what they did right!

Another fun morning at Hastings Books & Music. Eight of us showed up this morning. As usual, it was great coffee along with very stimulating conversation. Many topics were covered, including movies, children, God, war, a touch of politics and writing/critiquing techniques.

One of the things I brought up was how at the critique sessions we tend to skip over a really good piece of writing by saying something like, "Oh, that was great." "Any other comments?" "No." "Okay on to the next piece to be critiqued." I think this is short changing the new writers in the group. Yes, we need to point out flaws in plot, grammar, pacing and the like, but good examples of the right way to tell a story can be invaluable, especially to the new writers.

Karen mentioned that occasionally she will try to use very long sentences, a technique she studied with the group last year. When no one mentions the long sentences, she's not sure if she met the goal of what a long sentence is supposed to do. A good hook, believable conflict and a reasonable resolution are also things that should be discussed. What made it work, why was the conflict so effective and even though it may have been a surprise, why was the resolution logical. These positive things need to be addressed. So often, it's the stories that need a lot of work that get talked to death. So do the stories that jog memories, when everyone has to chime in with the details of a similar person/situation in their life. Just some thoughts that were thrown around over our coffee this morning.

Talked with Peter at Hastings and found out that all my copies of After the War, Before the Peace have been sold. They only have one copy of Hannah left. He said to bring in some more copies and he will put them on the Hastings shelves for me. Yahoo!!

Putting more focus on the things we do right with our writing brought this quote to mind. "To be good is noble, but to teach others to be good is nobler - and less trouble." Mark Twain.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Youth - A License to be Foolish Now and Then

Completed another episode of The Band today. I'm at the real turning point of the book, so it is taking more rewrites than usual to get the point across. I'm having to walk the fine line between moving the story forward while keeping the reader in tune with what has happened in the past to bring the main character to the crisis he is now facing. It's work, but it's fun work.

I was thinking about the writer's assignment for our next meeting which is 'brain freeze'. As I pondered a story line, I thought about what happened to me last Saturday in our local Safeway/Denny's parking lot. About seven of our local writers had gathered for our 'after meeting' gab fest at Denny's. We were all leaving at around 4:30pm. I usually lock my car door as soon as I get in my car, but I was chatting with friends and forgot. As I headed for the exit to McCulloch Blvd., I encountered 6 or 7 spring breakers. Lake Havasu City is a popular place for the college kids to come for their spring break from classes. They usually let all inhibitions down and party hardy for the weeks they are in town. Well, these young males were definitely partying. One of them spotted my Alaska plate on the front of my car and began giving an exaggerated thumbs up. I smiled and waited for the young men to get out of the exit lane. The young man who liked the Alaska plate began creeping alongside my car making me too nervous about hitting him to move forward. Suddenly the passenger side car door opened and he leaned in. "I just had to tell you what a cutie you are," he said. I smiled and said, "thank you." "Want a drink?" he asked offering me a paper sack, wrapped whiskey bottle. "No, thanks," I said. Then he grinned and said, "You are a such a hottie. If you were 30 years younger, I'd bonk the hell out of you." I laughed, then said, "And I'd probably enjoy it." That made him laugh as his buddies pulled him out of my car and they headed towards Safeway. I laughed all the way home. When I told my friends about it, they asked if I wasn't afraid. I guess I should have been and probably would have been if it had been late at night and it was dark, but it was light and in a busy parking lot. They were just having fun, being crazy like young people do before true adult life drains some of that wild, devil may care attitude from them. I would have loved to have been there the next morning when he sobered up and his buddies showed him the pictures they probably took with their cell phones and teased him about propositioning and old lady. Ah, springtime in Havasu! Will I write a short story about the incident, hummmmmm.

All this makes me think of a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson. "For God's sake, give me young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself."
March 20, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Value of a Good Writer's Group

Had a great conversation today with Stephanie, a fellow member of my local writer's group. She has just recently joined and already shows a lot of promise. It is so stimulating to listen to the high hopes and untainted comments of someone new to the profession who has yet to experience the rejection that comes right along with the writing. Although, at our last meeting, she took quite a verbal assessment of her submission, both of what was done right and what needs work,. We talked about the high value of working with a writer's group. Our group has members who comment on the overall feel of a story, while others look for the basics - hook, conflict,resolution, and fortunately we have a couple of members who were English teachers, who keep us on tract with our punctuation. We agreed that The Lake Havasu City Writers Group is a dynamic, inspirational, supportive cadre of members that is unique and we are blessed to be a part of it.

Sold another book today. My friend Rita is giving Hannah to a friend of hers. Also, gave a copy of the most recent Offerings from the Oasis to the two folks at Havasu Landing for all the help they gave me when I fell a few weeks ago. So three more books are out in the public domain. I can only hope those strangers enjoy the writng and tell their friends.

Thinking about getting my books in as many hands as possible so as to attract new readers, a quote by George M. Cohen came to mind. "I don't care what they call me as long as the as they mention my name."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Critiques - Why bother?

Moved 'The Band' along today. I've gotten their grandfather back into the scene at the request of J.J.'s brothers who have found themselves out of options to keep J.J. from certain self-destruction.

Then it was off to my regular Saturday writer's meeting. Big crowd. It was the week of our 250 word assignments. My verbal feedback lasted about 60 seconds, but the written copies that were returned to me contained some good critiquing. A couple folks took the time to mention in detail what I did right as well as what needs work. I really appreciate their efforts. A critique that merely says, 'Nice work. I enjoyed it', doesn't help the author or the rest of the writers in the room who are there to learn. Okay, off my soapbox now.

Our after meeting at Denny's was powerful in that our childhoods were shared. Out of the seven of us, five had horrible childhoods and some even included sexual abuse. That these folks have become so successful is a real tribute to their awareness and strength to take control and not let their past dictate their lives. As I listened to their stories, I sent a mental 'Thank You' to my parents, grandparents, uncles and step-father. They were real men and role models that always acted in a manner that created a loving home filled with an aura of warmth, stability and protection. There were so many stories shared that I'll be surprised if it doesn't motivate some very emotional, heart rendering stories from these folks.

Afterwards, I joined Jo for my St. Patrick's Day corned beef and cabbage dinner at Juicy's Restaurant. It was delicious.

Then it was home to examine my critiques in depth. Made some effective upgrades to the story. All in all a fun day.
To close out this day of the year dedicated to The Irish, let me leave you with this bit of Irish observation per Margaret Jackson. "Ireland is rich in literature that understands a soul's yearnings, and dancing that understands a happy heart."

Taxes, Rock Bottom and Limbo

Taxes prepared today. Let's just say it could have been worse. I was thrilled to be able to have to claim royalties from three different publishers for 2011. Let's hope next year is even better.

I've been working on 'The Band' again and I'm at the crux of the story where the main character hits rock bottom. It is an emotional ride. I really like this character and want my readers to like him, too. Now, my plan is to start his climb back to being the responsible, good guy that had been his persona since birth.

Getting a little nervous. Haven't heard from my publishers on two books. And one is scheduled to go to print in Sept. The editor has been reading it for over a month now and not a word from her. The other one seems to be in limbo, too. I've been busy working with my agent and working on an 0n-line interview, so I've not questioned the other publishers. If I don't hear by mid-week, think I'll drop that them a query email.

Attended a coffee get together at Hastings Books and Music on Thursday and Peter stopped by to say hello. I really need to true up with him on how many of my books have sold and get him some new shelf copies. Don't know what I'd do without him. He is so good to all of us local writers.

Well, I'll close tonight with a comment about taxes. I have to agree with Arthur Godrey's quote. "I'm proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just a proud for half the money." And I say, "Amen!!"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Another Interview!

Had my book club this am. We discussed the books of Gladys Malvern. She wrote books for young girls and used historical people/times to center her characters around. Everyone loved her books. Most read Dear Wife. All agreed that they would definitely read another Malvern book.

Finished my interview for Jacco van der Horst. I think it turned out well. He asked for an excerpt of After the War, Before the Peace, a picture of the book cover and a picture of me. I hope it turns out well and that he has a wide readership.

After reading about the U.S. Revolutionary War in Dear Wife and the War of 1812 in Mamzelle, both books by Gladys Malvern, I'll sign out tonight with this quote from Oscar Wilde. " He to whom the present is the only thing that is present, knows nothing of the age in which he lives."

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Value of Critiques

A good writing day! Finally got back to poor J.J. Of course, it was only to get him deeper in trouble. The next few pages will be the real turning point of The Band so I'm really anxious to get the first draft done.

This is the second Friday of the month, so I met with my oldest running crit group. Right now we are down to three members - Lois, JoAn and me. JoAn is moving her story about the abducted child forward and the chapter I reviewed for today was probably the best chapter so far. It had a flash back to ground the reader in the problem and yet she included a hint of romance to keep it from becoming too sad. Lois is moving her adventurous women saga forward and this chapter had lots of intrigue. I received some good feedback on the segment of The Band they reviewed. They seemed to like how I sobered/detoxed J.J., but left the reader with the strong suspicion that it wasn't going to last. Just what I intended, so that was good.

This evening I went with Rita to see The Vow. I had seen it before, but I still enjoyed it again. The writing was clever, not sappy, but with a sweetness that helped to keep the tragedy of her memory loss from becoming too much of a downer. In this movie, the balance of pain between the husband who remembers everything and the wife who can't remember a thing reminds me of a quote by Pubillius Syrus. "The pain of the mind is worse than the pain of the body."

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thursdays at Hastings

Thursdays have become our unofficial writer's coffee get-together at Hastings Books & Music store. Today we had quite a crowd - Anne Connors, Tom Novak, Gina Olsen, Karen Wright, Dave Bellomy, Heide Hirsch-Gros, Jo Schlad and me. We started with a review of a cover letter that Anne had composed to send to a prospective agent. I thought it looked very professional and effective. Gina shared some grammatical upgrades. I sure hope it works. Anne is determined and her book Anzak is worth a chance at the big time. After the review of her letter, the conversation veered all over the place with lots of talk of Europe, the problems of aging and just funny stories. It's a couple hours of real camaraderie and I sure do enjoy it.

This evening I attended a meeting for the Mohave Community College Foundation of which I am a member. Another member, Gloria Ackland, is a member of a book club and they read my book Abby. She reports that her group loved it and they would like to read more of my work. I am so stoked! They would like a sequel as there was lots of talk about whether the Indian woman, Swan, had died or not. My intent was that she had and that Tommy had regained his memory and would find his way back to Abby. But, I just love hearing how others interpreted the story.

Again, did not get a chance to work on The Band, so J.J. is still in a mess. Hopefully, I'll get to him tomorrow. Always we look forward to tomorrow, but for now, I leave you with this tidbit from William Arthur Ward about the value of today. "Today is a most unusual day, because we have never lived it before; we will never live it again; it is the only day we have."

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Reader Comments

Had a great day today. Went to our local library for a talk by my dear friend and fellow writer, Dave Bellomy. He talked about the Mohave desert and all its flora and fauna. His book, Tude, is about a desert turtle making his way across the desert while having to dodge many man-made caused threats to his life. It was a very informative and well-attended event.

Didn't get a chance to work on The Band today. Poor J.J. is about to get into real trouble and I've left him hanging. I can almost hear him yelling for me to move him along.

Sold another After the War, Before the Peace today. And, I still need to deposit that last royalty check. It is such a good feeling to know that the book is still selling after all these years.

Oh, talked with a friend who just finished reading Hannah. She was upset because of Sunrise, Hannah's horse that was lost in the river. She commented that she kept expecting for the horse to show up alive all the way to the end of the book. It is so surprising to me how each person finds something different in my books. I just love it.

So, tonight I'll close with this little quip from Charles Caleb Colton. "There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it and to find sensible men to read it."