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Showing posts from April, 2012

Dangerous Attractions Rides Again

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First published in 2003 under my Colleen Easton pseudonym and now available for the first time for Kindle under my Gwyneth Atlee brand, Dangerous Attractions is the story of forbidden passions that unfold in steamy Key West when shipwrecked heiress is rescued by a man she'd thought dead, a forbidden local "Conch" boy she befriended as a child, a man who has grown into a wrecker captain working in the 1851 Florida Keys' fascinating wrecking industry. With memories of a deadly Seminole attack--and all of society's strictures--stacked against them, nothing can stop the flame ignited so many years before. To write this book, I extensively researched both the period and the place, using diaries, charts, and other primary research from Key West's own library archives. The result: a unique blend of historical romance and historical fiction that's steeped in tropical flavor. Here's what Booklist had to say about Dangerous Attractions: After surviving a s…

Letter to an Emerging Writer: How to Stay Motivated

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I led a writing workshop at a writers conference, and today was contacted by a participant with questions that still burned: How do we keep going?  How do we make ourselves keep writing, without any real deadline or urgency?  How on earth do we stick to it?

Here, in part, was my answer to this serious, thoughtful, curious writer:

"I do understand entirely how it is easier to work when you have deadlines imposed from outside you.  But in general, you see, the world doesn't demand that we write a novel, so we have to find ways to trick the mind.  Yet no trick in the world will work unless you have a story you really want to tell.  If we just have a vague ambition to write a novel, we may never get it done.  That is looking at the thing, the product, the artifact, rather than at what it's designed to wrap and contain: the hunger to tell a story that won't leave you alone, won't leave your mind, won't leave your digest…

"All We are is Writers:" Letter from Hemingway to Fitzgerald about Tender is the Night

You may have seen this already, but on twitter today, someone pointed me to a link to this letter from that fantastic website, Letters of Note.  It's a letter from Ernest Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald on the publication of Tender is the Night, and Hemingway isn't altogether flattering.  But what he is is honest, especially with his almost painfully accurate advice for the writing life.  Among other nuggets, this stood out:

For Christ sake write and don't worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket. You feel you have to publish crap to make money to live and let live. All write but if you write enough and as well as you can there will be the same amount of masterpiece material (as we say at Yale). You can't think well enough to sit down and write a deliberate masterpiece and if you could get rid of Seldes and those guys that nearl…
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Dear Friends,

I'm very proud to announce that I am now part of new graffiti, a grassroots publishing project that gets literature out of our iPads and Kindles, off of our bookshelves, and onto the streets! Want to get involved?  Go to http://newgraffitipublishing.com/ and check out its latest project, which marries my short story "Observatory" with artwork by Sarah Stone.  Visit the "Downloadable" page to print a poster-, letter- or postcard-sized image of "Observatory"--and post it wherever you think it will create beauty and magic in the world!

And thank you, friends, for all you do to support writing, words, and creativity.  It is a joy to be part of this time and place with you.

Mylène

Thought for the Day: Sylvia Plath on Self-Doubt

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” -Sylvia Plath

W.B. Yeats: "Where My Books Go"

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Where My Books Go
William Butler Yeats

ALL the words that I utter,
   And all the words that I write,
Must spread out their wings untiring,
   And never rest in their flight,
Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,
   And sing to you in the night,
Beyond where the waters are moving,
   Storm-darken'd or starry bright.

Iggy Pop "Passenger" (Happy Birthday, Iggy! You don't look a day over 87!)

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"Punch, brothers, punch with care, punch in the presence of the passenger..."

The Great Research Debate

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Do you exhaustively research before you begin work on a writing project, or instead, do you concern yourself first and foremost with story and only afterward go back and clean things up? I've known champions of both methods, and I've also run across those who have erred on one side or the other. Some would-be writers delve so deeply into the research that they become hopelessly mired in it, so much so that they risk never actually getting to the writing. Or they worry that unless they become a leading expert on the area in question, they won't be able to pull off writing about it convincingly. Others whip through the story and then belatedly find out the research doesn't at all support their plot points. When they try to rearrange the scaffolding, the whole sad mess collapses, never to rise again. My solution has been a hybrid approach. While preparing to embark on a project that includes an unfamiliar component, I spend a couple of weeks checking out primary source …

Go with God, Levon Helm

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Online Workshop

Hello, writers!

I think this online event at mediabistro sounds really compelling!

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/mediabistro-launches-online-literary-festival-writing-workshops_b50136

I just wanted to share. What other conferences/festivals do you think are great for writers to consider attending?

BtO Co-Founder & NYT Bestseller Joni Rodgers Free on Kindle

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I loved Boxing the Octopus co-founder and New York Times bestselling author Joni Rodger's brand new short book on the writing life. And best of all, First You Write: The Worst Way to Become an Almost Famous Author and the Best Advice I Got While Doing It is absolutely free on Kindle today.

Please download, enjoy, and share it with a friend today!

Riding the Waves

I had the best of intentions to try to be a more consistent poster lately, but once more, I find myself swamped, this time, with a tight revision deadline, along with a new writing project that's been keeping me enthralled.

I've learned to ride the waves of writing enthusiasm where and when they take me. All too often, the day-to-day routine, as with any other job, gets to feeling like hard work. It's the moments of absolute passion that serve to remind us of why we ignored Mom's advice and didn't shelve our dreams in favor of the nice, safe day job with its health benefits and retirement plan.

So if I'm absent for a while, I hope you'll trust that I've caught a good, long roller. And I'll do my best to milk it for everything it's worth.

Write that! (My life according to Mitchell & Webb)

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My life as illustrated by Mitchell and Webb:

Recommended Writing Class:Patricia Kay

I've known Patricia Kay for a number of years, and every time I've heard her speak, I've come away impressed. Friends who have taken her online classes rave about them, so I wanted to take a moment to recommend her latest. Check it out while space is still available.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming announcement on my own upcoming online class for RWA University this June, titled "The Marathoner's Guide to Writing: Staying in It for the Long Haul without Losing Your Patience, Your Persistence, or Your Mind."

"Make 'em Laugh, Make 'em Cry, Make 'em Wait"
by Patricia Kay
May 1-25, 2012
$30 at www.WriterUniv.com

Great books are about more than good plotting, likable characters, lots of conflict, and skillful writing. For a book to really grab a reader, the author must make an emotional connection with that reader. Otherwise, even though the reader may enjoy the book, it won't be one he'll remember. It won't be one he&…

Here's Peepin' at You, Kid!

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This made me laugh so hard, I had to share it. Happy Easter!

My Rule: Make Love, Peace & Joy Whenever Possible

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I have a strict rule in Words With Friends: Make LOVE, PEACE and JOY whenever and wherever possible, even if you don't score a lot of points for it.

Emily Dickinson's Advice to All You Dreamers

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"Finite to fail, but infinite to venture..."
-Emily Dickinson

Have you strayed lately from the surer path? If not, what are you waiting for?

We're given only so much time to take chances. Are you wasting yours?

In the Company of Walt, Beatrix and Benjamin (Session on Self Publishing with Dorothy Hagan)

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For those of you who are Houston area residents, I just wanted to give you a heads up about an upcoming professional development session at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. The session is with self-pubbed novelist and teacher Dorothy Hagan about "self" and "indie" publishing. Something that strikes me about what she says in this video is the sentence "the changes in technology have made it virtually possible for anyone to see their work published professionally now." I know that we've discussed the options available for writers now and the pros and cons of epublishing versus other types of self publishing, as well as traditional or "legacy" publishing. And as Joni has said before, just because someone has a story, doesn't mean that they will automatically have the skill to tell that story. So then the question becomes, just because it's possible to see your work published professionally, does that mean it's ready to be…

Metallica "Nothing Else Matters" from S&M

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Every book I write has "anchor music" that takes me back to a specific vision of a character, place or moment. This one works for all three, evoking the lonely longing of the protagonist in my forthcoming novel, a crime scene cleaner entangled in a complicated love affair and an even more complicated struggle with his own sanity.

Fabulous Fungi, anyone?

With all the talk of free and 99 cent ebooks, I thought it would be fun to post this link from ABE books about their most expensive rare books sales. I'm not sure what strikes me the most, the first edition of Moby Dick, or the $13,916 17th century Dutch study of mushrooms.
And yes, I am still alive! :)

Birth of a Book

This blows! Amazing storm footage of flying semi trailers

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I've been a little obsessed with storms for the last several years, pretty much since the epic hurricane season of 2005, which sparked the story in my latest novel, The Hurricane Lover.

My husband and I volunteered with relief efforts here after Hurricane Katrina and watched agog as the Houston metroplex was strangled by the biggest evacuation debacle in US history as Hurricane Rita threatened the city.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike roared up I-45 like a colonoscopy, doing all the damage we narrowly escaped during Rita. During the height of the storm, my curiosity got the better of me. I went outside so I could experience it. I couldn't have written about it if I hadn't seen, heard, smelled and tasted it. Incredible.

Anyway, this today outside of Dallas. Holy flying 18-wheelers!

Material World: the difference between Big 6 and indie, brought to you by Madonna and Nicki Bluhm

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One of the things I love about indie publishing is the feeling that I'm getting a more intimate experience of the story.

A lot of Big novels in recent years felt overly edited to me. As I gain more experience as an editor, I can see another editor's handprint more clearly. The book has been produced to an extent that most indie authors frankly can't afford, and (I would hope) would resist, even if money was no object.

To illustrate: "The Material Girl" is a great song. Catchy as hell, tons of mass audience appeal, and as you're about to see, it holds up both fully produced and in the raw. Here's the classic version we know and love: Here's the same song by Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers. Intimate, raw, unfiltered, not glossy. Suddenly, the lyrics are conversational and accessible, the tone is between you and me. Two ways to deliver the same story. I love them both, but I've kinda had enough of books that are slickly produced and sanitized for my…

Material World: the difference between Big 6 and indie, brought to you by Madonna and Nicki Bluhm

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One of the things I love about indie publishing is the feeling that I'm getting a more intimate experience of the story.
A lot of Big novels in recent years felt overly edited to me. As I gain more experience as an editor, I can see another editor's handprint more clearly. The book has been produced to an extent that most indie authors frankly can't afford, and (I would hope) would resist, even if money was no object.
To illustrate: "The Material Girl" is a great song. Catchy as all get out, tons of mass audience appeal, and as you're about to see, it holds up both fully produced and in the raw.
Here's the classic version we know and love in all its high-polished glory:

Here's the same song by Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers. Intimate, raw, unfiltered, not glossy. Suddenly, the lyrics are conversational and accessible, the tone is between you and me.

Two ways to deliver the same story. I love them both, but I've kinda had enough of books that are sl…

Fill the Well Sunday

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After months of being basically housebound as I struggled to meet a pair of tight deadlines, I decided it was time to get out in the world again and refill the well with images, experiences, and enjoyment. Today's foray was classic Texas all the way: longhorns and bluebonnets in the sunshine, barbecued brisket in a family diner sort of spot, and long hours of meandering talk with the man in my life, the kind of drive to remind us when and where and how we fell in love all those years ago.

So what's your favorite way to recharge your creative batteries? And when's the last time you indulged?

If it's been too long, make a date with yourself. Life's definitely too short to work 24/7, and anyway, your work will be far sharper for the fresh new images and ideas you will bring back to it.

Not a half-bad Sunday, one that's left me freshly energized for a good week writing.

Dylan Thomas recites "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"

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