Take Your Reader on The Journey! (Revisited) — Writing your first novel-Things you should know (repost)

Doing a little research, I found Jan originally wrote about this topic on November 19, 2019.

The advice is still spot-on.

Get writing! Today if possible — Tomorrow at the latest!



I’ve written several blogs patting authors on the back and thanking them for the joy they provide to people like my mom. She is elderly and can’t go to the places she would like to visit, but my mom loves books. They take her not only to places she would like to go, but places […]

Take Your Reader on The Journey! (Revisited) — Writing your first novel-Things you should know



How Do You Satisfy Your Creative Cravings?

I am of the belief that writing is as much fun as painting or photography or sculpture or any other Creative Art. Yes, it’s frustrating, time-consuming, methodical, stressful, and more.

It’s also inspirational, spiritual, cosmic, and thrilling.

My problem lately is that I’ve gotten in the driver’s seat of my fourth novel, and although I’ve worked out the story line and am loving writing about my space traveler, I miss writing a short story now and then. I have been perusing various contests and publication opportunities, and I find areas I’d love to try. This one wants a creature story. This one wants supernatural fiction. This one wants pirates and ghosts.

What fun! What adventure!  But what do I write about?

I think I hang out in novel land because the writing is long and real and I can keep the same idea throughout the pages. Short stories require separate thought, separate ideas. Unique ideas. And eventually my love of writing starts slipping on the confusing bed of ideas and plots and endings.

Do you hide in one genre over another? Do you have a desire to paint something totally different yet stay within your safe and more experienced area? Or draw something totally out of your comfort zone?

I have a folder of stories, some finished, some barely started. Few would fit into the guidelines I so fawningly follow. Most of my good pieces are written more on a whim of the moment — an impression on the drive home, an interlude between two or more people at the bus stop. My short stories are based on a bolt of lightning that directly hits me. It’s a lot harder if I’m out searching for that bolt.

I often encourage my blog readers to break through your self-imposed sanctions and to go for it. Reach for the sky — or dig deep into the cavern.

I still believe in that.

But I sometimes think it’s getting harder and harder to dig into that fertile creative ground and come up with something new. Something that will fit within someone else’s parameters.

How do you juggle all your cravings? Do you stick with what works or do you find time to experiment and go off in left field now and then? I’d love to know that there are other seasoned and non-seasoned writers who are as confused and excited as me.

Let’s see now…as the website says…think adventures and hauntings at sea, shipwrecks and buried treasure, treacherous waters, sea spirits, ghostly galleons, giant squid, kraken and sailors gone mad.

I can do that…can’t I?

Putting On My Big Girl Pants

db6600a576463299e6df8b2d18f0a78fFirst off, a dreamy thank you for hanging with me during October and visiting the land of dreams and nightmares. My dreams thank you for checking in on them.

But now it’s November and although it’s 63 degrees in Wisconsin, nature is warning us that the kick-back-lazy-summery-buttery days are just about at their end. Thunder and lightning streak the skies this morning — much like the beginning of my first novel.

I am one of those complainers I can’t tolerate. I want to be a published author, but I have 3 novels sitting in my computer gathering dust because 1) I don’t know what genre they really are; 2) are they really any good; 3) there are a zillion published and self-published books out there, what’s one more on time travel/murder/fear of being caught/romance or maybe-romance book?

I don’t feel like I’m a procrastinator — it’s more like I don’t do the things I really need to do to get my work out there. Which, in reality, is a form of procrastination. Plus my confidence has been hiding under a rock somewhere lately. I mean, I have written two  novels in one series, another in a different series, and am in the middle of a follow up for THAT book, so you can’t say I’m not doing the work. Of course, that work has been over 10 years in the making, so that probably says something, too.

What about publicity? What about asking for advice from someone who is trying to get published too? Or who is already published? Why do I hesitate to ask for help? Am I afraid they will say no? And so what?

No doubt that as I get older the window of opportunity closes quicker. I can’t keep up with a full-time job and write too. At least that’s how I feel at the moment.  Which is not true, either. I know there are those of you who have done just that. Juggle family and kids and illnesses and setbacks and divorce and moving and still knock out great poetry and books. They — you — do not let your surroundings become your crutches.

When you are a ditz (I say that lovingly), it’s hard to stay focused all the time. I try. Its not the big responsibilities that throw me off balance — it’s the time inbetween. It’s the time between visiting the kids and driving home or vacuuming all the dog/cat hair so that I can sit down and write that I fall between the cracks. It’s the daydreaming while I’m driving that could one day cause me an accident. Its the noticing I need to sew a button on a shirt for tomorrow that readjusts my free time. The coming up with a plot twist at 1 a.m. when I have to get up at 6 that leaves me drained and sleepy all day and night.

It’s not always that dramatic, of course. It’s the moving from point A to point B in a hurry that causes black and blue marks, or hitting the wrong button and wiping out a whole chapter that sets my psyche afire. I misplace my phone all the time and put things in a safe place only to forget where that safe place is. Even when I have the time to sit and write or research, I find disorganization everywhere. I find myself organizing images or sorting written files or deleting a hundred pointless emails and before I know it two hours have gone by and I’m too tired to write.

It’s about time to put on my big girl pants and hit my secondary world with dogged determination. Make a list with a hundred bullet points if that’s what it takes, and do one organizational thing before one creative thing. That’s how I will move forward. And no one will notice the unicorn slippers that I wear when I put those pants on.

If only I can find that other slipper…

Who Am I Tonight?

Alright Readers, Writers, Painters, Sculptors, and all other Creative Musi —tumblr_n768syHP341tp9r4eo1_500

I have been on the writing rollercoaster for quite some time now, enjoying the ride when I can get it, thinking about it when I can’t. It feels good to admit that I have focus, a purpose, and a plan (at least this week).

Before I settled on my current plan, I entertained another idea. A book, a novel, that would have taken a lot of research and smart thought and emotes in worlds I don’t often delve into.

I was going to write a book about dementia from the patient/subject point of view.

Being a mixed genre writer, I was going to throw in some faerie stuff in the prologue, and have that be in the patient’s thoughts throughout the book. The ending I was going to leave up to the readers. It wasn’t going to be campy; it was going to be merely a different take on the situation.

It’s a great idea. A great story. But then I started to think. I don’t know anyone with dementia. I don’t have it (yet), don’t have family with it, or friends, or acquaintances. The thought itself terrifies me, so that would have been my point of view.

After a lot of thinking and rearranging and NOT being able to rearrange my life, I decided to go in a different direction, working with something that I’m already familiar with, something I think will be a hit.

But one of my fears was that those who did have loved ones going through this tragedy would be offended that I “took it too lightly.” I mean, mixing faeries and memory loss and loss of bodily functions — what was I thinking?

So what I wanted to know was, have you ever written/painted/created something out of your comfort zone? Did you finish it? Did you do anything with it? Did you get any reaction because of it?

Maybe you’re pretty clean-cut but wanted to write a sex or demon novel. Maybe you wanted to paint a nude of someone. Or sculpt a piece that, in one way or another, was offensive. Did you do it?

Society is strapped with bungee cords that hold us back from doing anything too off-kilter. I admit I often am a victim of it myself. I often wondered if I took a Stephen King turn at a short story if my family would think I’m psycho. Or if I wrote 600 Shades of Grey if my grandson would coil back in horror.

There is a little of us in everything we create. Even when we step out of our comfort zone there is still a thread that holds us to our sanity. To our safety. I know there have been plenty of artists who have pushed the boundaries of sanity, decorum, and sacred truths to make their art known.

I admit I’m not that adamant about testing the waters of propriety. I know there are plenty of sexy novels out there written by 60 year old little ladies, sculptures of nudes by conservative bankers, and all that. Somehow they either create a persona — a pen name/life — that takes the brunt of the criticism, or are so confident in who they are that they really don’t care.

I haven’t totally trashed the dementia idea, but because of the structure of my life at the moment I can’t give it the time, research, angst, and especially the respect, it deserves.

I’d really like to hear if you were tempted by another “you” — and if you ever followed that Muse.

And don’t worry — I won’t give away your secret —

— you will.

How Do I Write “It”?

dogFellow writers, readers, stencilers, painters, sketch artists, graphic artists, scrapbookers, sculpturers, jewelers, poets, screenplayists, and all other creative muses! Lend me your ear/ideas/thoughts/minds.

I have been writing since I wrote my first love story with Paul McCartney. I’ve written several novels through the years (sounds so impressive, although I’ve never been published).  Be that as it may, at this tender age of middle- pre-old age, I’m having a moral testing, so to speak.

My first novel had no sex and no real violence. The sequel had a little more sex, and just a wee bit of violence. The third one had a bit of creatively written sex, and off-camera violence. I’m not prudish — it’s just that the stories didn’t need gratuitous S&V.

Now I am working on another story. Girl goes into “another world” that’s not what it seems (of course). I’m thinking of having one of the heroine’s new friends murdered.  Her murder is important to the direction of the story.  I also want her to be murdered right after she has a baby.

Now (again) — I am not a murderer. I am the person who picks up the worms in the driveway after the rain. I love puppies and unicorns. And the thought of popping someone off unnerves me. I don’t want/need to be graphic — I don’t need to describe it in detail, if at all. But I want my character to be well loved for the few chapters she’s around.

Why is it so hard for me to murder someone? And how do I get passed this?

Do I name her after an old boss who I can cheerfully say I hated? Should I give her such a weird name that no one can feel sorry for her?

Pretend characters are just that. Pretend. A character. Made up. Make believe.

Then why do I feel like I’m murdering a friend?

Any advice you can share will be most appreciated. In the meantime, I’ve got to start sharpening my knife/hatchet/sword.

Who knows when I will pretend to need it.

When is a Cherry not a Cherry?

cherryLike an artist loving colors, like a potter loving texture, I love words. I love the written word, the spoken word. I love the English language in all its curly q’s and static punctuation marks. I love reading, I love creative conversations, and, as you know, I love writing.

I’m also such a child when it comes to words.

Take today. I’m entering catalog copy onto the website, and the product is hoes. I chuckle as I type. I wouldn’t have chuckled 15 years ago, but the world of English has changed since I was a young tart. One of my favorite movies is Fred Astaire in The Gay Divorcee. More giggles. Pussy used to mean cat. Cock was a male rooster. Chuckle chuckle. A shaft was a vertical opening or passage through the floors of a building. Jugs held moonshine or water. Laughing with me yet? Now I find myself avoiding those words just because of today’s connotations.

The same is true with reading and writing sex scenes. Now, I’m not a puritan. Through the years I’ve had my share of “love on the picnic bench” or “kitchen table bumps.”  But as I get older the words just don’t stimulate like they used to. There are lots of books out today where women are ravished and men are studding and the language is as red as bing cherries. I mean, how many erotic positions and sounds can there be? I’m not a prude either. Healthy libidos are what keep us young. So how do you balance sex and love and lust in your blockbuster novel without being embarrassed about every other word?

One way is to write sex scenes that explode without saying one dirty word.

Ever try saying something without saying something? Now, that’s a challenge! Funny thing is, I enjoyed the challenge. Try out this passage from my latest creation:

His sensuality devoured me, sparking a hunger I never knew I had. I was not a virgin, but I might as well have been, as I surrendered to his caresses and his demands. Falling on the feathered bed, his hands found every curve, every fullness of my body, sending electrical currents through me. Currents I almost could not stand. His mouth followed his hands, and I found myself following his lead, my needs exploding into sounds and screams of pure pleasure. When he took me it was if a monster roared above me. Guttural, wild, transcending this plane to another and another. I matched his transcendence, spiraling out of control, the heat from our stones exploding inside of us, inside of each other.

Not one male chicken, not one kitty cat.  Not one moonshine container or vertical passage in a  building. Normal “words” like hands and mouths and explosions, but nothing is ever really said. Just implied.

I suppose for most it’s a pretty boring passage. The point of using variations of cats and roosters is to get that extra blush that words like kisses and hugs can’t bring. It’s like using swear words when you’re a little kid. You’re not supposed to say them, but every time you do you get that little thrill of being naughty. And that’s the power of words. One word can launch a thousand dreams, a thousand nightmares. That — is power.

I must admit I do miss some of the old-fashioned words, though. I personally miss — and use — the cat’s meow, groovy, the cat’s pajamas, jive, holy mackerel. I’m not going to stop watching The Gay Divorcee just because slang has twisted the words around.

But that’s not going to stop me from giggling every time I type the color buff or cherry.



Writing Process Blog Hop

image-of-animated-book-to-useGood Evening Fellow Writers, Bloggers, Gardeners, Graphic Artists, Publicists, Homemakers, Students, and others in the Creative Art Field!

I have been asked to be a part of a fun, innovative way of introducing blogs to other bloggers, It’s called the Writing Process Blog Hop, and it’s a great opportunity to share my world and those of other writers.

I was introduced to this Hop by Carol Balawyder, a multi-talented writer who is in the process of getting her crime novel The Protectors published. She also is contemplating self-publishing her fiction novel The Dating Club, and is the creator of her fun blog under her name, http://www.carolbalawyder.com. I suggest you check out her site and find the gems waiting there.

The “quest” of this quest is to answer four questions about my writing, my books, my blog, and whatever else this branch of the Arts holds for me. So here we go!


What am I working on?

My writing time these days is split between writing for my blog, Humoring the Goddess: Managing the Madness and Magic of Middle Age (www.humoringthegoddess.com), and my current novel, Gaia and the Etruscans. I had a change of mind after my first draft to break my full-length novel into chapters, which has turned the art of editing into a pretzeled confusion, but I think it will make the story stronger. Gaia is a fantasy fiction piece about a middle-aged woman whisked to another world to deal with impersonation, romance, murder, and romance, in what I like to call “Ancient Rome on acid.” It’s fun, it’s intricate, and keeps me up way passed my bed time.


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Both my blog and my novels deal with a middle-aged woman’s point of view. At this stage of our lives, our idea of romance, adventure, and curiosity are much different than they were in our 20s. I want to show that middle-aged (and older) women can be as much fun, as emotional, and as clever as those half their age.


Why do I write what I do?

I love writing my blog, because I feel it offers a wonderful blend of practicality and possibility. I believe in living every day to its potential, even if one’s potential is limited to sitting on the sofa and watching TV now and then. I believe one is never too old to be creative, and I want to encourage others to find their Muse and follow it through the creative landscape that’s available to all of us. There is so much magic out there in every day life, and I want to write about all of it.


 How does my writing process work?

My novels are inspired by the oddest things. My first two books, Corn and Shadows and Time and Shadows, were inspired by  role playing worlds I hung around in many years ago. Another time I wrote a story about four writers who win a writing contest, and I loved one of the characters so much that I created two novels around her. I have written a couple of short stories that are shadows of my father who has passed on, and poetry based on my love of faeries and magic. My blog is inspired by every day things — things I find hard to understand, things I fall in love with, insecurities and rewards that come and go through my everyday life.  I always know the ending of my story before I start writing, but how I get there is another story



One of the rewards of this Blog Hop is recommend other friends and their blogs who are on the writing bandwagon like me.  Here are two of my favorites who will be posting next week.


cropped-Updated-head-shot-in-chair-e1402426272272Jillian Maas Backman is a writer, intuitive, and radio show host. She is the author of BEYOND THE PEWS: Breaking With Tradition and Letting Go of Religious Lockdown, and  has developed her career around her empathic ability to work with people though the worlds of reality and spirituality. Open minded and energetic, you can find her at http://www.jillianmaasbackman.com.




Hugmamma’s Mind, Body and Soul (www.hugmamma.com) is a delightful blog written by a woman who embraces getting older with hugs and humor. Huggy, as I love to call her, writes a blog full of love, hope, and laughter.  Her outlook is reflected by something I picked up from her blog:  “Would like humankind to follow the lead of the Venetians who have built a uniquely vibrant and colorful country with an eclectic mix of people, by connecting hundreds of small islands with bridges.”