Archive for the ‘Writer’ Category

There’s a piece of writing advice that stands the test of time. Much like the secret to weight loss is to simply reduce calories and increase exercise. No gimmick. No magic pill or elixir. No cream or special belt. Nothing but good old-fashioned diet changes and moving the body more and sitting less. There.

Now the same goes for writing. No gimmicks, music, scented candles, meditation, prayer, deals with the devil, or anything else that you need in order to write. Doing the above is fine. But not if it’s what you rely on to write.

The closest thing to a gimmick I found that actually worked to get my work in progress progressing is a subliminal message.  As my desk (I actually cleaned it up a bit to take the pic) gets cluttered with sticky notes of books to read, agents to query, and new gimmicks to try, I had the solution the whole time, right in front of my nose, a natural home remedy, trying to be noticed. I’m right here, it says, listen to me.

hint: it's a raised platform for my computer


So if you are wondering where I’ve been, why my blog is quiet, it’s because a certain subliminal message has taken over my brain.

Disclaimer: Sitting less is the very antithesis of writing more. Though I wholly recommend exercise. Writers need it. I need it. Oh, boy, do I need it. Bathing suit season …

Do you have any good writing advice? Or any advice that produces great results?

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There’s a debate going on over at Fear of Writing on avatars and monikers. Of course I instigated. And of course I sang the post. Yes, there’s a sing-along. Never a dull moment. I’d love your comments over there. And here too. You can sing your comments, if you wish.  

Speaking of cats, there is a kitten that I need. NEED, I tell you. My life won’t be complete until I have it. Someone get it for me. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/06/10/mini-kitten-pats-things.aspx

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I once read in a magazine a tip from an author on successful writing. All I remember of her tips is this: Dress for success. Dress like you care. 

I serious

She went on to say she had been writing in her sweats and jammies, not even brushing her hair, looking like something the cat dragged in (so?). Then a friend suggested she clean herself up and take her job seriously and it would reflect in her writing. She did and her writing improved along with her self-esteem.

Okay, I said to me, I’ll put it to the test. I took a shower, blow-dried my hair—styled it, even—painted my nails, wore slacks and a blouse—bra included—and a pair of low-heeled shoes.

I’ll be the first to attest that this “friend’s” advice is a load of BS. Not only did all that cut into my writing time, but I was extremely uncomfortable, hyper-focusing on my bra and shoes and not on writing. The wispy feather-strands of my hair were tickling my face, my arms were restricted in the long sleeves of my blouse, my slacks were digging into my gut, and the smell of nail lacquer was making me sick.

This friend was no friend, and this author was crazy. I mean, who does that???? (If you do, confess right here. I won’t bite. To each his/her own, right? Whatever works for you is cool with me. Nothing wrong with that. *OTHER THAN IT’S WRONG!! *the author of this post is kidding and is not passing judgment on your writing attire.)

So head on over to wordsxo, where you’ll find me, trendsetter that I am, exposed in my professional writing garb.  There, you’ll be treated to what not to wear when writing. Since she’ll be asking you what’s the most bizarre outfit you’ve ever written in, I’ll conclude by asking something more personal: What are you wearing right now? (sounds kinky)

Also, you’ll notice that Milli (check out her blog on pjs) refers to my old Twitter name of IQOkie. It is now under my regular name of Tricia_Sutton. She is aware of it but in denial. She loves the old name and followed me because of it. I side with Milli, but I took advice from a social media expert (much like the “friend” mentioned above) and changed it to my name. Tell me, should I change it back or keep my name?

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Someone (Kasie) from my writing group compares her novel to the movie Sliding Doors. I’d never seen this movie until yesterday and only caught the last hour. I loved the movie and can’t wait to watch it someday in its entirety. But here is my favorite part: A guy meets his friend in a pub and declares excitedly, “I finished it!” His friend says, “Your book?” and the guy says, “No. I’m a novelist, it’ll never be finished.” (I’m paraphrasing here since I didn’t know at the time I’d be quoting this wise and true statement). Now I have the perfect comeback for such presumptions and can’t wait for someone to assume I’ve finished my book so I can say that.  

So this person (Kasie) from my group of four members has not only finished her book and can readily admit it, but just sold her book to a publisher. Or rather her agent did. In this day of dismal statistics for debut writers, this news is inspiring. It gives me hope that there are still agents willing to take on newbies and still publishing houses willing to publish them. Check out Kasie\’s blog where she will share the query that landed her the agent who signed her. She is not only an awesome query writer, she is also an awesome writer, writer buddy, critiquer, and all things writing and not writing.

Yay for Kasie.

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I was going to go about my day of blog posting in my usual self-depreciating manner. Let’s face it, I love messing with myself, and I give myself plenty of material with which to do so. But I just finished reading Judy Clement Wall’s post about being kind to yourself. She says amazing things on her blog, and today’s message hit home. “Truthfully, I’m amazed at how hard we are on ourselves, how quick we are to criticize, undermine, belittle and doubt. If we spoke to our friends the way we so willingly speak to ourselves, we’d be friendless.”

Wow. How true. I mean how many of you would return to my blog if I called you an unfocused flake? How about a freak? Does “loser” hurt your feelings? I call myself all of these things, and more. But not today. So instead of the post I was going to do about my hair and how ugly it is since I had it chopped to pieces, and how it looks like original daughter Becky from Roseanne who, in her last season, cut her hair so severe the ratings plummeted and they had to get themselves a new, prettier Becky for the remaining seasons (I don’t know the real reason, but come on, look at the hair), I will instead share with you what I did right. My floor.

Below are pictures of my finished concrete floor. There are no before pictures, but picture a stained, ratty carpet the color of oatmeal.

I love my floor. I love even more that I did it. And that the total cost of the project was $75.00 (not including another $75.00 for new baseboards because I managed to ruin the old ones—oops). Now, of course, I want the whole house done this way. I just don’t want to be the one to do it. It took a month for just one room. A month of neglected writing. So back to writing.

Another achievement I’d like to share is a story that is up at Slow Trains. It was my first attempt at non-humor (not my first non-humor published. I had written a couple after this one that went before it). It’s about a mistake in judgment and the very anti-thesis of Judy’s message. I’m not sure which I recommend first: reading about a pair down on themselves then getting rejuvenated by Judy, or filling up on love first to withstand the dismal dread of those who think they are unworthy. I wrote this 13 months ago, and I think I was PMSing—oops, there goes that self-back talk again. What I mean is I really like this story and I think it ends with a powerful message that everyone can benefit from, and I’m proud of myself for writing it and encouraged and validated that Slow Trains published it. Yay me.

What can you share that is wonderful about yourself or that you accomplished lately that you are proud of? Don’t forget to go to Judy’s blog at Zebra Sounds and do the assignment she asks of you. I know I will.

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A short one today. Go here to the 11-points list for a hilarious catch of some grammatically incorrect movie titles. Makes me wonder if you’d find that on book titles.

Do you have any to add to the list?

Happy Easter, everyone

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Since October, my vision has been failing drastically. Or maybe it just seems drastic. One day I can read with no assistance and the next, I need glasses. But cheap drugstore glasses aren’t helping with the computer screen. With or without them, my eyes strain on the computer. I’ve tried fiddling with the brightness and contrast and all that jazz, and nothing has worked. Even typing this, I cannot look at the screen.

I had hopes for the new “special” glasses the optometrist said would complete my life. And no, they don’t work, either. So I guess I’ll just rely on my keen sense of hearing to finish my book. (note: I have an affliction called CHS aka Can’t Hear Shit. So, uh, maybe not.)

Though, I once read that if one of your senses is impaired, another one will be stronger to compensate. It’s true. Because now I hear voices.

Whatever I’m doing, I hear myself narrating in my head.

As I’m driving, I hear, “…she slams on her brakes at the black animal in the road. She’s going to save it. Tears pool in her eyes at the heap as she tentatively approaches. “It’s dead!” she screams, then sees it’s just a tire …”

When scrounging for something to eat, I hear, “…she opens the pantry to emptiness. The fridge is bare. Listless, she trudges to bed where she vows to waste away to nothing. If only she weren’t blind, she’d have seen the pantry full, the fridge stocked…”

When I complain to the universe through my blog, I hear, “…they shake their heads, dab their eyes. Poor, poor deaf, dumb and blind Tricia (especially dumb). Maybe I should offer to finish her book for her. Maybe I’ll find her an agent while I’m at it. Must do a query letter …”

You might not be thinking you thought that, but you did. I heard it. Hey, wait I heard that too. Take it back.

“…she watches Spongebob marathons until the 3rd person narrative voices fade away, and soon after, she does as well …”

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April Fool’s day is my book’s 4th birthday.

I is four

My book turning four is not a happy event, just so you know. It’s just one more reminder of unfinished business. That hasn’t stopped me in the past, querying, that is. I made a vow every year to be finished, like in ready to query finished, by April 1st. On birthday number two, I queried two agents. Birthday number three, I thought I was ready and queried three agents. You see a pattern here? But I won’t. I will not query four agents today just because I made a silly vow once. Wait. I won’t promise that. I don’t trust myself. Maybe I’ll send just one.

I have a beta reader I’m handing this to tomorrow, and I’m hanging back to see what edits or changes she suggests. I would kick myself later if I queried and sent a sample chapter that needed work. So no, I will not send out a query today. I won’t. I might.

On other news, I received Golden Visions magazine in the mail yesterday with my story Male Pattern Deadness published in it. It’s a serious piece; a psychological thriller, if you will. Also, forthcoming in Slow Trains, I wrote another serious piece—am I losing my sense of humor?

I don’t have a link to Male Pattern Deadness yet, as it’s only in their print edition, It may end up in my unlinkable page above. But the exciting thing is my story is right in the middle where the magazine staple goes. So the magazine wants to naturally open there. People picking up the magazine will be FORCED to see my story—muhahahaha.

To prove I still have my humor about me, I have a flash piece up at Fear of Writing called Mango Man. Fear of Writing has a list of prompts you can choose from should you want to write for them.

Last and most important is Linda Cassidy Lewis, my friend and member of my in-person writing group, has her debut book, Brevity of Roses, up for sale today. She is the first in my group to publish a book, so this is all very exciting, it’s also very sudden, and I haven’t had a chance to post reviews of it on Amazon or Goodreads yet, but will shortly. For now, just trust me that this is beautifully written work and I encourage you to read it. I command it.

Though none of the above is an April Fool’s joke—nor is the mention that I just forgot how to spell “above” and tried five different spellings before I gave up and asked the computer how to spell it—do any of you participate in this silly tradition? Did someone pull any tricks on you today? I’m alone right now. The day is still young. For me, it’s pending. When my eleven year old gets home, I’ll be in for it.

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It’s been a while since I wrote a post. Not good considering I left you with unfinished business, a cliffhanger, a to-be-continued. I bet you weren’t this disappointed since the psycho redhead on Melrose Place blew up the entire apartment complex with everyone in it. And everyone was in it because beautiful people living in one of the most expensive cities in America don’t need jobs. They hang out at the pool in bikinis and Speedos and do backstabbing things to each other.

Anyhoo, I had to wait weeks before I found out who died. Was it Lips, Bimbo, Boobs, or Hair? (No need to give them names.) Was it Abs, Fox, Cheater, or Skippy? Well, by the time it came back on, I had lost interest. Who are these people and what are they doing on my TV set?

I bet that’s what you are asking right now: Who is this person and what is she doing on my computer screen? Well, I’m here to answer that question. As soon as I read my last post to refresh my memory.

I’m back.

So you want to know how much weight I lost after a week of non-stop grueling exercise with no food or water. With some food and water. My memory is sketchy.

I gained two pounds.

There. I said it. And it’s taking me two weeks to write a new post because I was busy doing nothing and eating a lot so I could lose it again. I think it backfired and now I’m afraid to weigh.

So thank you for waiting with bated breath until I returned from my weight loss regime to inform you of my not-one-good-thing-came-of-my-week-at-torture camp.  

Meanwhile, speaking of food, I write about pancakes today over at Fear of Writing. It’s a recipe for how to get superpowers, which we all want. Should you make these pancakes, I’d love to hear how they came out, and if they came to life.

P.S. I once went on the South Beach diet for two weeks and gained on that too. I give up.

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Santa Cruz mountains

I had in my inbox 289 e-mails and more than that in my spam box when I returned from my five day adventure called 6th Grade Camp (aka boot camp). Not many schools have camp for the whole week, maybe this one is being punished—or I am. After we got back, my daughter and I both got sick—another week gone. Two weeks of no writing.

This is what I knew in advance: There would be hiking, lots of it. This was what I didn’t know: it would all be vertical, like in straight up, like in so steep the trails had railroad ties for steps, otherwise you’d need a rope.

Day one: We arrive in the Santa Cruz mountains at noon and freeze to death while climbing three flights of stairs multiple times (no less than ten) to unload luggage. The stairs alone would have me sore the next day, but I’m awarded an immediate hike afterwards that has me wheezing and gasping and clutching my chest, only to find out the camp counselors call that a walk and is, in fact, not a hike. The first hike is scheduled for after dinner—immediately after (every activity described in these passages is immediately after the last and just before the next. In boot camp, there are no breaks).

After dinner, we embark on what I call the Hell Hike. Also a night hike, meaning the sub zero day temperatures would now drop the after dark chill factor to a thousand below. Hell Hike is one mile straight up that due to the proximity of eating and violent strenuous exercise has some vomiting and me lagging so far behind I get separated from the rest and nearly get lost in the dark. Thanks to the horkers, I can listen my way back to the group.

Day two: Can’t walk. Every muscle is sore and my lungs collapsed but I’m under the gun. Chaperones can’t quit; there are no replacements, and only a tragic accident could free us of our obligations—which I’m searching for constantly. Every cliff beckons me to fall off it; every river invites to whisk me away. I turn logs for snakes to bite me; I run in the open during lightning strikes.

In the distance I hear the sounds of nature and a cry for help coming from all chaperones. The bark of howls triggers an echo-like pattern until we are all close enough to embrace and support, physically, each other. None of us had ever experienced such pain of this magnitude, this Hell Hike hangover. We commiserate among ourselves as to what we have gotten ourselves into. We make vows; we cry foul; we say “never” and we quit, and then right after our eight AM breakfast we separate into our groups. And Hell Hike begins. I lag behind and disrupt the pace and remain hopeful our Naturalist has a sense of humor.

After lunch and on my third Hell Hike, I lose my own sense of humor. There should be a balance; one should not have to endure three consecutive Hell Hikes. I’m not supposed to die this way, via heart explosion. My heart beats so fast that if you were looking at it, it would look still, faster than visual detection, then we stop at the top where it drops to levels between comatose and death.

After dinner we have another hike where the Naturalist thinks it will be cool to do a solo hike without flashlights under a zero moon. The good news is it’s so cold the air ices my sore muscles to numbness. We use our flashlights to get to our destination then she sends us off, one by one, alone, in the forest, in the dark, without flashlights. As a chaperone, and a parent, I feel some unease about the complete disappearance of those trusted under my care. I use my newly flared ulcer to keep me warm. Are we having fun yet? Why, yes, the kids are.

Day three: I scoot down the three flights of stairs. Good news is it’s easy to slide when the stairs are slick. From rain. After breakfast, we don our rain slickers for the first muddy hike of the day. My escape plans, at this point, move up to the next level. No longer am I thinking injuries of the self-inflicted nature but something more outward, like assault or homicide. My imminent arrest is just one of many possibilities I entertain.

The start of rain hike


After lunch we embark on what I call Hell Hike II. Not as non-stop, straight up as Hell Hike but longer. Much longer. And still heavy on the incline. And muddy. And slippery. And still raining.

After dinner they give us a break from night hikes. We have to dance instead. Barnyard dance, and yes, chaperones are needed for that too.  

Day four: I hurt from every joint in my body, but consider a deliberate fall down the stairs anyway. Crying causes my nose to run, which is already on a slow drip from the cold weather, so I refrain from public displays of self-pity. Besides, crying’s contagious to all the other comrades who clearly suffer as much, if not more, than I am.

Today is more of the same: Three hikes, including nighttime Hell Hike—which still isn’t any easier and is still inducing some vomiting.

This is the closest I got to the last person. I took a picture as proof.

Day five: Last day and the warmest. We leave the mountains and go to the beach where I’m finally in my element—ass in sand.

Summary: five days of extreme, intense exercise that ranged from six to eight hours of hiking—except last day, which consisted of multiple trips up and down the stairs to haul luggage—bad food, no computer, no phone, no nothing, not even protection from the elements.

So guess how much weight I lost.

Wait. Before you guess, just in case you are new to my blog, here’s the low-down: I write. I sit all day, and I write. I get a twenty-minute zero-incline walk a day before my butt is planted in the chair for the duration. Since I don’t buy food I don’t like, there is a tendency to eat more at home than, say, fat camp.

So here again. Camp=six to eight hours of advanced hiking and fewer intake of calories. Home=twenty minutes of entry-level walking and calories galore.

Now guess how much weight I lost. How much would you lose in the same situation?

Leave your guesses in the comments and I’ll reveal the answer in the next post.



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