Reflecting on a weekend writer’s retreat

How about a mini-conference?

This past weekend was my local Word Weavers’ retreat, titled Cultivate. Attendees got a taste of what a writer’s conference is like without taking a week off or spending a lot of money.

Everyone left at the end of the sessions rejuvenated and encouraged.

 

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Erin Curtis, President of Word Weavers, Aurora,IL chapter gives opening address.

 

Writers are a lonely breed because other people don’t understand us. We wonder sometimes if this writing journey is worth it. But get a group of us together and we come to life.

No one thinks our love of words is peculiar. We discuss our characters and plots like they are real people and events. Friendships are renewed, and new ones forged.

Add a couple of workshops with Ginger Kolbaba and Rowena Kuo then finish with a critique session, and you’ve got a day of inspiration to recharge the wordsmith in all of us.

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Ginger Kolbaba. Author and Speaker shared her expertise

More than once I heard attendees tell me how at-peace it felt to be there. They didn’t know there were groups like ours. One woman said she was so surprised others liked her work. Sharing our word babies with anyone besides our mother can be daunting.

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Rowena Kuo, CEO of Brimstone Publishing taught a session

Retreats and conferences help writers realize they are not alone in their pursuit of publication. They have comrades-in-arms to battle discouragement.  Registration, breaks, and lunch serve as opportunities to build a network, and in the classes we learn what we didn’t know or had forgotten about our craft.

It’s a wonderful thing.

 

 

Share your small retreat experience. I’d love to hear about it.

 

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A Visit with Krysten Lindsey Hager

Today I welcome  YA  authorr Krysten Lindsay Hager to Jubilee Writer.  I always enjoy learning about authors, their projects and what makes them tick. Let’s begin, Krysten what’s your latest published project.Krysten Hager

Can Dreams Come True is my latest young adult novel. It’s about a girl named Cecily who has always had a huge crush on singer Andrew Holiday. She wants to be an actress, so she tags along when her friend auditions for his new video. However, the director isn’t looking for an actress, but rather the girl next door—and so is Andrew. Cecily gets a part in the video and all of Andrew’s attention on the set. Her friend begins to see red and Cecily’s boyfriend is seeing green—as in major jealousy. A misunderstanding leaves Cecily and her boyfriend on the outs and Andrew hopes to pick up the pieces as he’s looking for someone more stable in his life than the models he’s dated. Soon Cecily begins to realize Andrew understands her more than her small-town boyfriend—but can her perfect love match really be her favorite rock star?

 Sounds like sonething many young adults dream about. How did you research for your book?

I read a lot of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs of singers and watched a lot of music documentaries and biographies as well. I decided to use singers from different decades for a wider range of material. Some of the singers I included were: Ed Sheeran, Elvis, Justin Bieber, Whitney Houston, Katy Perry, Marvin Gaye, George Michael, Andy Gibb—and several others. I ended up walking away with a different picture of what it’s really like to be a performer.

Researching  real celebrities lives for deeper background is a great idea. Interesting.

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What inspired you to write your book?

I used my own celebrity crushes to create a “what if” moment and to see what the mindset would be for a girl who was put in that position to date her ultimate crush while being a normal girl next door. I wanted to explore that relationship and compare it to the high school relationship she had been in.

It is obvious you are still in touch with the younger version of yourself.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but it wasn’t until college that I knew it was my calling for sure. I read a biography of Paula Danziger and I could really relate to why she wanted to write for teens.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

I would tell myself the importance of enjoying the writing process and not to focus just on getting published. I think too often writers put this insane pressure on themselves to get a book published. Put the focus on the writing.

Excellent advice. Now tell us who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

Having friends who enjoy the books helps so much. I had a friend who was messaging me how much she loved Dating the It Guy and then when I’d respond she’d tell me to leave her alone so she could get back to reading! That helps a lot to know people are enjoying the work. My best friend encouraged me to keep going with Can Dreams Come True when I stopped for a bit after my pop star crush passed away unexpectedly. That helps a lot.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love biographies/autobiographies and YA books.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I write in my office. I was a military wife moving around for years, so having a place to settle down and actually have my books unpacked and on the shelf is sooo inspiring.

Thanks so much for stopping by Krysten, thanks for sharing links so my readers can contact you and buy your books.

Biography: Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star,  Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True? True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for childen/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News, and on the talk show Living Dayton.

WEBSITE: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/krystenlindsay/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/krystenlindsay/

Buy links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon IN: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/Dreams-Come-True-Cecily-Taylor-ebook/dp/B079S3KJSH

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/can-dreams-come-true-krysten-lindsay-hager/1128104849?ean=9781621357469

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Why I’m Excited about my Audio Book

audio-1867121_640This week I’ve been listening to the audio version of my novel Secrets & Charades. I’m excited about the prospect of a new audience for my novel. My reader, Meghan Kelly, is doing a wonderful job of bringing to life the story of Evangeline and Jake.

Several friends and at least one family member prefer audio books. Therefore, marketing to listeners is a good idea. Who are these listeners? There are commuters, those driving to work or taking the train. And sales persons who listen between calls. My husband’s cousin listened to a lot of books on her assembly line job. A friend of mine listens while she cleans house. Those who are blind or have brain injury also love audio books.

Some may ask why I didn’t record the book myself.

Three simple reasons

  • Publisher offered it
  • Although I love reading out loud—even doing voices, turn on a recorder and I stumble a lot. I get frustrated doing over my voice mail message.
  • I lack the proper equipment.secret-charades-front-cover

Advantages of using a professional narrator

  • They have “the voice” for the job
  • They have the professional equipment, eliminating unnecessary background noises.
  • They have a following of readers who love their narration
  • Together, we double our marketing stream.

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After auditioning five narrators, Meghan Kelly had the voice that best captured my story. The combination of a wonderful story read by a woman who understands my characters adds so much to the readers experience. In my mind it’s a win-win. I’ll post the link  to my audiobook when it is available.

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Here’s some info on my narrtor. I’ll be posting and interview with Meghan once the audiobook is available.

PLEASE!  Like my Facebook Page!!
e-mail: mustsing71@hotmail.com
Direct hire link: https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=A2FDC5ZS8UJAMN

Share your experiences with Audio books. I’d love to hear them.

 

An Interview with Carol Guthrie Heilman’s Agnes Hopper

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Welcome Carol, I  heard you found a transcript for an interview with Agnes Hopper. Tell me how she came to be first.

Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar began as a short story that ended when the seventy-plus widow ran away from her retirement home. When the curtain dropped on the final scene, I squirreled the story away. Months later, when I pulled it out and reread it, doubts about the conclusion gnawed at my writer’s gut. Would a feisty, headstrong, outspoken woman such as Agnes escape into the night and never be heard from again? “What if” questions began popping into my mind and would not leave me alone

And so I began a long discussion with Agnes. What if you bumped into an old friend who lived there and then you stayed around long enough to make some new ones? What if you began to realize the administrator of the home ran a tight ship for sinister reasons? Would you care enough to stick around? To become a voice for those who were afraid to speak up?

The novel evolved from there. Along the way Agnes and I fell in love with some quirky characters. Writing Agnes’ story has been an exciting journey. Her second book, Agnes Hopper Bets On Murder, has a release date of April 15th. We are conspiring on her next adventures in book three with a working title of: Agnes Hopper Acquits an Arsonist.

I dearly love the elderly, and that’s a good thing because now I am one. Agnes has a spunky spirit much like my mother’s and the humor often comes from my daddy, who was an Appalachian coal miner.

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The following interview takes place between a reporter, Jenny Lee Jones, from The Timely News of the small town of Sweetbriar and Agnes Hopper. The newspaper runs a weekly series called About Town and Sweetbriar’s retirement home was next on the list. Future installments will include Blind George’s Pool Hall, the Kut’n Loose Beauty Shop and Rodeo Rags.

The scoop on the initial interview with Jenny Lee Jones of the Timely News

Agnes Hopper:

As we had agreed by phone, I met a reporter on Sweetbriar Manor’s porch while the other residents were either napping or watching soap operas. A slight breeze carried the scent of confederate Jasmine trailing up a nearby lattice as we settled ourselves in our rockers.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Thank you for talking with me this afternoon, Mrs. Hopper. When I spoke with Miss Johnson, she said I was welcome to interview any of the residents—except you because she had recently determined you did not possess a sound mind. Naturally, my suspicious antennas went up, and since the cook informed me your administrator will be gone until suppertime, I made a beeline over here.

Agnes Hopper:

She said that did she? I’m not surprised. She runs a tight ship around here for reasons yet to be determined, but I’m working on it. Leave your card and when I figure out what’s really going on around here, I’ll give you a call.

Jenny Lee Jones:

You realize I don’t have to reveal my sources if you would like to speak up now.

Agnes Hopper:

Oh that woman would know. I’m not worried about myself, you understand, but there has to be a reason for a friend’s nightmares or fear in another’s friend’s eyes or . . .

Jenny Lee Jones:

Mrs. Hopper, why would you think your suspicions have anything to do with Miss Johnson?

Agnes Hopper:

Let me be perfectly clear. I will expose our unscrupulous administrator when the time is right.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Will you give me the exclusive when you do?

Agnes Hopper:

Agreed. Let’s change directions for now. Call me Agnes. Everyone does except my friend, Smiley. He’s called me Sis from my very first day

Jenny Lee Jones:

And why is that?

Agnes Hopper:

I think he knew right off I was madder than a wet hen to be in this place, and a little scared, too, so he tried to show me he was on my side and willing to be my friend.

Jenny Lee Jones:

So you’re saying you didn’t want to live here?

Agnes Hopper: I had no choice.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Could you explain that, Agnes?

Agnes Hopper:

First off, my little farmhouse burned to the ground. Who would’ve thought a pot of beans left on the stove could do such as that.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Is that when you moved here?

Agnes Hopper: Moved in with my daughter, Betty Jo. Me and my pet pig, Miss Margaret, that is. We lasted six months. My daughter and I came to the conclusion we couldn’t tolerate each other any longer.

Jenny Lee Jones:

You don’t say. I understand the Manor doesn’t allow pets. What happened to Miss Margaret?

Agnes Hopper:

My dear son-in-law, Henry, came to our rescue. Miss Margaret spends her days at his hardware store. He drops her off each evening at Ben Blair’s Llama Farm just outside town, plus she’s there on Sundays. Everyone loves the arrangement, except me. I miss her sweet presence something fierce.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Yes, well . . . Why did you choose a pig as a pet in the first place?

Agnes Hopper:

She did the choosing. My husband, Charlie, brought her to the house soon after she was born. The runt of a litter and her brothers and sisters kept her from her mother’s tits. We bottle-fed her for six weeks and then took her back to the barn. Well, that sow wouldn’t have anything to do with her. First thing we know Miss Margaret was on our front porch whining and crying like her little heart was broken. From then on, she was ours.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Let’s get back to the reason I’m here. Sweetbriar Manor advertises a rewarding, enriching lifestyle. Perhaps you have misinterpreted some conversations or even let your imagination run away with you. Miss Johnson has had a stellar reputation since she’s come to Sweetbriar.

Agnes Hopper:

For a reporter, you’re not a good listener. When I have my ducks in a row, I’ll contact you. If I’m right, that woman will end up in prison.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Have you considered counseling? You’ve had to grieve over losing your husband, your farmhouse, your pet pig, and your daughter’s hospitality. Sometimes anger makes us lash out at anyone who tries to help.

Agnes Hopper:

Like Miss Johnson?

Jenny Lee Jones:

She thinks you’ve demonstrated some irrational behavior, like when you talk to your dead husband, for instance.

Agnes Hopper:

My Charlie is a comfort and he can make me laugh when things get tough.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Have you made any other friends here? Besides the one who calls you Sis.

Agnes Hopper:

Pearl, my best friend in high school, lives next door. Then there’s William who always chews on a fat cigar and calls me Red, because my hair reminds him of his mother’s. Francesca, his sweetie, thinks she better than the rest of us, but she can play a mean piano. And Alice is a dear, frail lady who writes poetry, talks in riddles, and keeps some secrets bottled up inside. And the one who calls me Sis? He’s a small man with big brown eyes that could melt a rock. They’re all my friends, and if they don’t start speaking up for themselves—I’m going to have to do it for them.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Why should you get involved? If you stir up trouble, you could be asked to leave.

Agnes Hopper:

I have a plan. Even if Miss Johnson shows me the door, and even if our good sheriff won’t listen to me.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Have you always been this . . . this

Agnes Hopper:

Outspoken? Gutsy?

Jenny Lee Jones:

Overly suspicious.

Agnes Hopper: I have a sensitive nose and I smell something rotten in this place. Expect a call from me in about six weeks. Or maybe less.

We stood, shook hands, and said our good-byes. I hurried inside. It was past time to get this show on the road.

 

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Another adventure with Agnes Hopper.

What a fun interview. Thanks for sharing it. I’m part way through my copy of Bets on Murder. Can’t wait to find out who done it. Agnes is a fun detective. Click here to order.

About Carol:

Carol Heilman, a coal miner’s daughter, married her high school sweetheart, a farmer’s son. She began writing family stories, especially about her dad’s Appalachian humor, for newspapers and magazines. One day her mother said, “We don’t have any secrets any more!”

Carol’s books, Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar and Agnes Hopper Bets On Murder, were inspired by her mother’s spunky spirit and her dad’s humor. She is the recipient of two Carrie McCray awards for writing excellence.

Carol lives in the mountains of NC with her husband of fifty-plus years. They love to play cards, go antiquing, hike, and visit grandsons on the east and west coasts.

 

 

How to have a New Attitude about an Interrupted Writing Schedule

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I love those perfect writing days. The ones where I can check every item off my writing to-do list and my heart swells with satisfaction at a job well-done. But those are few and far between.

I know my limits

Most weeks I need to decide what I can get done based on the hours available and my fatigue level. I’m a morning person, by 9 pm my brain is often mush. Therefore, I rarely attempt to write after 8 pm. I’ve done it, but I don’t plan it.

Writing around a work schedule and homework

Then I must factor in my work schedule. The days I work eight hours I pencil in smaller projects such as writing blogs or critiquing a piece or two. Editing a chapter of my WIP or if I’m super inspired, I’ll write a rough new chapter. Again, knowing the later it gets, the less productive. Add to that, every week day hubby picks granddaughters up from school, and we help with homework. Frustration abounds for me with the new core curriculum and no phonics. It can be an energy and creativity drainer. Making my brain turn to mush earlier.

Organizing my days off

On my days off I may need to take my mother to a medical appointment. I may have a hair appointment or some other meeting that cuts into my productive time. Let’s not forget the never-ending cleaning of the house. (Which as a writer we pretend is not needed until company is coming. Actually, that is me always. 😊)

Working around a week of interruptions

Then there are weeks when schedules have to be set aside for more important things. This is one of those weeks. A friend’s funeral takes precedence over my schedule. My husband and I volunteered to pick up another friend at the airport yesterday, and the wake is today and the funeral tomorrow. I want very much to be a part of my friend’s send off. So, rather than freak out about what I can’t get done I redo my to-do list.

Knowing the funeral would change what I had planned for later in the week, I made adjustments. Monday and Tuesday, I critiqued other writer’s projects and got a smaller project of mine revised and sent off early. Wednesday, I wrote this blog and did some revisions on my novella before I took my mom to the doctor. Then we picked up my friend at the airport, which included flight delays. They had us playing the waiting game. I took out my notebook and sketched out a speech and research questions for my novel while we waited.

Today my plan was to get up early, post this blog and do what I could before work. I work four hours this afternoon. So, I’ll check my to do-list for what I can accomplish this morning. After work I’ll go to the wake and spend time with many who loved our friend. I have no plans to write tonight. But it could happen.

Friday is normally my write-for-six-hours day. But the funeral and meal after will take up most of my day. I’ll do what I can before it and, if I feel up to it, I’ll do something afterward. But I have no plans for tomorrow. Emotional days are not always ideal for creativity.

Saturday I’ll use to catch up on my writing new chapters and revisions. But if old friends are in town from the funeral and want to get together, I’ll do that and reorganize my to-do list next week.

A New Attitude about interruptions

A writer’s life is always interrupted. Our best-laid plans can get side-tracked. We can get bitter about all the time robbing, or we can get better at using the time we have each day. I am no expert on time-management. My emotions and exhaustion from the day can weigh heavily on what gets done. But I remind myself of a quote from Anne of Green Gables. “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.” Then I wake up on that tomorrow and begin all over again.

Tips for Writing a Stellar Novella, Part 3

Today Pegg will be sharing the final segment on writing a stellar novel. One that leaves the writer satisfied and anxious to read more of your work. In part one she shared what you can  and can’t put in a novella. In part two she explains how to sprinkle history and background into your novella. Here is her final installment.

Cutting words

And last, there are the words themselves. You can always—trust me—cut more words. You don’t need double descriptors. The wide, blue hat with feathers becomes the blue hat. Her lace-trimmed, velvet, ball gown becomes her dress. If you’ve described something once, trust your readers to remember and don’t describe it again. Cut all the um-oh-well type of words out of your dialogue. People talk that way, but it’s irritating to read and it adds to your word count.

Here’s my recipe for a 25,000 novella:

Open with the hook (grab the reader with intense action and/or emotion)

At 6,250 words – first plot point (when the hero/heroine loses control of their life)

At 12,500 words – mid-point shift (when something major changes for the hero/heroine)

At 18,750 words – second plot point (when the hero/heroine sinks to their lowest point)

At 23,000 words – climax (when the truth shakes out)

2,000 words to wrap up the loose ends

I hope this helps those who want to try writing a novella. If nothing else, it’s a good exercise to tighten up your writing.

Pegg, I find these tips so helpful as my next project is a novella. I’m  going to keep this information close at hand.

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About Pegg:

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls.

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If you have any questions for Pegg about novella writing ask them in the comments.