With a little help from my friends...

Thinking about Thursday

Yes, I know purist appreciate the Beatles version more, but I am 80's kid and this man's voice will forever be linked to the opening of The Wonder Years in my mind.

 This past weekend, I attended the Texas Two Step Conference which was hosted by my RWA chapter. During a workshop on "writer karma",  Candace Havens talked about surrounding yourself with other writers who will "pick you up off the floor" when you need it.

Just a few short years ago, I was a closet writer. A very select few people in my world knew I wrote and none of them were writers. Now, I have an amazing support system.
So, here are some shout outs to the other writers in my life who lift me up and, occasionally, kick me in the butt.

One of my awesome critique partners and Great Expectations Contest Winner~ Genevieve Wilson. 

 The Fabulous Roni Loren and her pretty book, Crash into You. She is giving a workshop on writing sex scenes at DFWCon. I can't wait!

The amazing Lindsay Cummings. This girl is going to be huge. She just announced her sale this week. I am keeping all of the pictures I have of us together so I can say I knew her when. 
Who is going to guest blog for me one day, despite the fact she continually claims to "have nothing to say".

I am blessed and thankful to have these ladies and several more in my life. 

What about you? Do you have a network of people to keep you on track? Do you prefer the sweet, nurturing or the tough love approach? Lucky for me, I have a good mix of both!

Spirited Anthology

Thinking about Thursday

Spirited 13 haunting tales

                             This isn't exactly a book review. Mostly because I'm pretty sure the prerequisite for reviewing a book is that you read it and you see that haunting cover above? I'm not sure I can read it!
                              I may write romantic suspense about creepy stalkers and chill-inducing serial killers, but ghost? Especially spirits of children? Um, no. They freak me out. Like, "can't wash my face because I am scared to close my eyes alone in the bathroom" FREAK me out. 

                              But, that being said, this would be a freak out for a good cause. 
From Amazon:
With this celebration of things that go bump in the night, Spirited authors hope to slay the specter of illiteracy that plague our youth. All proceeds from Spirited will be donated to 826 National, a non-profit organization that offers free after-school tutoring, workshops, and in-school programs because "strong writing skills are fundamental to future success."

So, I'm torn. Fight illiteracy or fight nightmares? 

What about you? Do you like ghost stories? Does your imagination ever run away with you even as an adult? What freaks you out? 

Be sure to come visit tomorrow for the 

I swallowed the heebie-jeebies in my stomach and found some plot-producing stories of the supernatural for you!

Say Hello To Barb Han!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Barb writes emotionally gripping Women’s Fiction and Romantic Suspense. She speaks Spanish,and studies French and Mandarin. She loves sports and spends much of her time on or around a basketball court. In her down time she plays video games and loves reading with her children. 
She also has a passion for great cause. 
Let's get to know Barb! 
One of your passions is educating people about dyslexia. Tell us about that.

It's simple. Dyslexia affects my family. Texas Scottish Rite gave us a video, which had been produced by dyslexic children, in which kids talked about feeling stupid because they had a hard time learning to read. Some dyslexics never read. To compensate, they memorize the shapes of words. Imagine that.

The kids talked about the pain they felt at being treated differently by teachers and teased by peers. My junior high son, who is dyslexic, is extraordinarily bright. But, if you graded his intelligence based on his ability to spell, the picture would look different. He couldn't really read until fifth grade. He has an amazing support system through home, school, and friends. As a result, he's doing incredibly well. He's fortunate. Many kids don't have that kind of support. When I heard how many otherwise bright children were suffering poor self esteem and flunking out of school because of this condition, I knew I had to do something. Especially when I learned the kids who succeed, despite this condition, had one person believe in them. Think about that.

If people understand the condition, we can help so many kids reach their potential. Knowledge is a powerful thing.

I can't be that person for everyone, but if I can help turn on the light bulb for a few dozen or a few hundred people, then imagine how many children's lives would change.

I'm incredibly proud to say my son is in the process of creating a charity, The Dyslexia Fund, to help raise awareness and funds to benefit Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.   

    Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

I write every day, seven days a week. I work as much as I can while my children are in school. After night time routine and showers, I've been known to squeeze in another hour or two. On weekends, I work throughout the day when I'm not attending horseback riding lessons, basketball games, or grocery shopping.

I always chuckle when people ask where I usually write. I write everywhere. In my office. On my laptop. At my local Starbucks (I know, it's cliché, but whatchagonnado?). While waiting for carpool to start. On bleachers during my kids' sporting events (Of course, I always stop to watch when they're up).

I practice my pitches everywhere too (including to my dog who I swear rolls his eyes and walks away when he's heard a pitch for the 30th time). I have to give a shout out to the very gracious mothers who've let me practice my pitch during our daughters' gymnastics classes too. As you can see, no one's safe around me.
   Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?

Normal life? Balance? (insert string of laughter)

Let's see, I have children ranging from college to elementary. We help care for my mother-in-law (who suffers from Alzheimer's).  Oh, and we're a dual career family. Guess you could say we're the meat in the sandwich generation.

I used to feel a lot of stress about being everywhere I needed to be and being everything to everyone. I had to give that up or I was going to go insane. Now, I've accepted the fact that these are the busy years.

Since my children are spread out in age, I know how much I miss the oldest who's in college, so I really take time to enjoy my junior high son and first grade daughter. I love being involved in their activities and volunteer as much as I reasonably can in their school.

Despite my sometimes crazy, hectic schedule, I always make time for the important stuff. I read with my kids. I play video games (great stress reliever!). I'm involved in their lives. We sneak away on as many fun vacations together as we can. We get outside. I play with them at the playground (it's a great way to exercise).  

I get everything done because I've paired my life down to the basics. Family first. Work second. Then everything else. 

I got rid of tasks that didn't support my goal to be a good wife and mother, or advance my career. I don't do housework anymore. I hire out.

I think it's important to talk to your spouse about your career goals. Mine knows exactly what I'm trying to accomplish. He's the biggest supporter of my dream and he's great about pitching in to make sure I have time to get everything done.

I have wonderful, understanding friends who know what I'm trying to accomplish, support me, and understand I may not check in every week. It could be as much as a month or more before we talk, but you can be sure I'll be there in a heartbeat if they need me. It's reciprocal.  

I say no (this is oh-so-tough because I really love to roll up my sleeves and volunteer). I'm getting better with practice.

This is a biggie: I don't bring my cell phone into my office. Interruptions are time killers.

I'm crazy about prioritizing. It really is the best way to cover what you need to in a day instead of letting the day get away from you. I make lists. I write down my daily work goals and check each one off as I accomplish it. I have a whiteboard downstairs in the main traffic area where I list kid activities for the week and a wall of white boards in my office where I post everything from daily goals to accomplishments to storyboards.

I like to work hard, have fun, and I don't take things too seriously. My description on Twitter is this: I write. I cook. Run carpool. And repeat.

   What is the best advice you have received about this journey?

I've learned so much from other successful writers who are gracious enough to share what they've learned. Candy Havens and Tracy Wolff are two of my all-time favorites. They've given so much great advice, I couldn't possibly list everything here. I'll settle for sharing a career-changing moment.

I'm a fast writer because I'm used to working on deadline (I was a journalist in a past life). Early in my career, everyone kept saying, "Slow down. It can take a year or two to write a story." I kept thinking I would die if I had to work that slowly. Then I heard Candy Havens speak at a DARA meeting. She was the first person who said, "Hurry up! And I'll show you how."

A career-defining moment.

She gave me revision tools that worked perfectly with my work style. I used her Revision Hell method on my WIP, submitted my entry to a publisher's contest, and wa-la was contacted by an editor (which began a two-year relationship where she taught me how to write romance).

I listen to Candy Havens speak every chance I get.

    What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?

It's a marathon, not a sprint. Learn craft the way you would train—try to learn something new every day. Be dedicated.

Approach your work from the perspective that you've already "made" it. Work like you're the success you know you're going to be.

Keep it fun.  
  Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

This idea came to me a few years ago. The premise is simple: How well do we really know the person we live with?

We like to think we know each other intimately, don't we?

But what if we didn't?

In my story, a woman's husband was killed outside of Central Park in what authorities have told her was an extreme mugging. After two years of mourning, she decides to rejoin the living and reclaim her life. She’ll sell the country house and move into their small place in the city.

But when Taylor cleans out her husband’s NY apartment–a place he kept to be close to his job in the Financial District–she finds a strange bank account. Investigating the rogue account kicks off a chain of events that put both she and her college-aged nephew in danger, and makes her question whether her husband’s death was an accident. But that’s not all, she unearths information that makes her unsure if any part of the life she shared with her husband was real.

Shaken to the core, she leans on her friend, Emma, and becomes friends with Alex’s neighbor, Ian. But Ian doesn’t have the same warm feelings for Emma. In fact, he seems downright suspicious of her. But Taylor thinks he’s pinned the wrong person. It’s Emma’s politically-aspiring husband, Richard, whom Taylor doesn’t trust.

Determined to find the truth, Taylor’s life hangs in the balance as she searches for answers.

   How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?

My Web site: www.barbhan.com
I Tweet at @BarbHanAuthor

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Barb!  Your story sounds very intriguing! 

So, what else do you want to know about Barb?

Cleaning out my closet

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

 Please enjoy this 
clip to get you in the mood for today's post. 
Just push play. I'll wait.  

Funny, right?
I would think so, too...If it wasn't my life.
This is my project for the week.

I must make all of this fit somewhere in here.

And trust me, this is a "good" picture of this room. There is so much lurking out of the camera range, it makes me want to cry.

Kind of like doing revisions.
I am taking a class from
Candace Havens .
I just finished what she calls
  While avoiding the closet pondering ideas of great meaning, I was struck by how similar the process revision  is to cleaning out my closet.

Step One:
Feeling   overwhelmed
I walked by said closet probably ten times, opened the door, sighed, closed it
I opened my WIP probably ten times, changed two words, sighed, checked Twitter.
Step Two:
I have been researching closet organizational options, mentally deciding where things should go, giving myself pep talks: "I'm sure there isn't actually a troll living in there."

I made notes for my WIP, mentallyworked through scenes and dialogues, gave myself pep talks: "Candy is going to kick your butt if you don't get this done."

Step Three:
Going in
I made work on the room that the closet stuff needs to inhabit. It's like one of the those puzzles were you have to move everything else to move piece. I told myself I only had to work for 15 minutes. I ended up working over an hour.

I made myself sit down and do my Revision Hell process. It took a couple of hours a day, but it was worth it. I finished the whole WIP. It will need this process again. I know that, but I also know that I can do it. Hopefully, that will make steps one and two less intimidating.

So, what did I learn from all of this?
  1. Eat the elephant one bite at a time, or if you aren't into pachyderms, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In otherwords, quit staring at it and get started.
  2. Nothing can make you feel inferior without your consent. (I may have paraphrased a bit) or, plan your work and work your plan.  I needed to think and process what needed to be done. Stressing over it and dreading the tedious process  ahead did nothing positive for me.
  3.  Rome wasn't built in a day.  I gave myself plenty of time to work on the revisions. I took breaks when my brain locked or my butt went to sleep from sitting in this chair too long. I am giving myself a week to complete the closet to playroom transfer. Burnout isn't productive.   
So, Tell Me Your Story:
What elephants do you have on your plate? 
Done any revising lately?
Side note: I am looking for authors to be featured on Tell Me Your Story Tuesday. If you would like to be interviewed, or know anyone who might, please email me!

Name Dropping

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Name Dropping

The above picture is from the book signing I attended on Saturday. I think  going to signings should be my new hobby. 
They are fun and this one even had cake! 
These beautiful, talented ladies are members of my local RWA chapter, 
(You should check out the home page just for the picture of the cowboy!)  
So, let me introduce you to them! 
From left to right.

Nikki Duncan  was signing 
the second book in her 
Sensory Ops Series:

who was featured on 
in February, was signing her latest release

had several books available.
I went with one of her Blaze romances.

also had several available. 
Following Roni Loren's recommedation, I chose

As you can see, I am building my "To-Be-Read" list for the summer. Tell Me Your Story. 
Do you like book signings? Have any great stories about meeting fabulous authors? 
What are you reading? Know any new authors I should pick up while I am creating a small mountain beside my bed? 

Dancing with Words

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday:
Dancing with Words

Featured Author:

 Linda Graves, 
author of the newly released  
Shimmying Faith.

Dancing with Words

First, a big thank you to Dawn for inviting me to share the story of my writing journey. Like many writers, I began at a very young age. In elementary school my stories were simple, usually about horses. As a city girl, it was my greatest desire at the time. However, life got in the way and writing fell by the wayside as other interests took over. My passions moved to include softball, choir, band and drama by middle school. Those love affairs continued until long after high school until another passion swept me into its grasp.

In college, I discovered Belly Dancing. Middle Eastern dance swallowed me whole. For thirty years it was the joy of my life. During that time I married and had a family. I love them dearly, but it was dance that moved my soul. I loved every aspect of dancing, the performing, the teaching, the costume design, the choreographing. Like choir, band and drama I loved the entertaining.

After a few years, I became co-director of Scheherezade’s Fantasies. For the next eighteen years, even finding enough free time to read a book seemed to be a near impossibility. When a few years ago we disbanded the troupe, I found I had tons of free time to fill. While chatting with my teenage daughter and one of her friends about boys, I started telling them the PG13 stories of the many zany dates/relationships I was involved in during my twenty-six single years. They convinced me to write them down, which turned out to be my first completed manuscript, Trying on Shoes.

I knew little of the art of writing, only the art of entertaining. Still, I was excited about the new form of entertainment that had presented itself. After attending a lecture by Candace Havens at a nearby library, I realized that romance was the direction I wanted to head. As much fun as my dating life had been, reality was who would be interested in my love life? So I decided to break up the ‘Boyfriend’ stories and weave them together to make some interesting, and of course totally “fictional” characters to grace my overactive imagination.

Over the years, dance has given me a gaggle of fun, rather unique experiences. When maneuvered around to protect the not so innocent, then combined with the boyfriend stories, I had plenty of fodder for tons of stories. Now that I had material, my next step was education.

I began taking on-line writing classes and non-credit college courses to improve my craft. After less than a year, I submitted my first completed manuscript Shimmying Faith to more than twenty publishers. I knew little about them, but ignorance is bliss. Several months after receiving multiple, “Interesting concept, but not what we’re looking for.” or the simple form rejections, I finally opened an email that said, “Congrats! We would like to offer you a contract.”

Needless to say, after ten or so minutes of jumping up and down and heart palpitations I settled down to read the email. Yes, they really wanted it! Even with the still much needed editing they wanted Shimmying Faith. Now, eight months from that most welcomed email, I am a published author with Whiskey Creek Press.

The classes, blogs and conventions are always there to help me hone my craft. I am somewhat A.D.D. so I have at least ten manuscripts in the works. My erotic Raqs Rory, is in the ‘submit’ process, my paranormal Jaguar’s Dance is in rewrite. I’m lovin’ my current venue to entertain. Now my favorite thing is to get my groove on, Dancing with Words!

Linda Graves

Check out SHIMMYING FAITH’s book trailer on YouTube

Linda, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us on Tell Me Your Story Tuesday.  

*If you are an author (published or still in waiting)  I would LOVE to feature your story.
  Email me at writerinwaiting (at) gmail (dot) com*