Friday, March 27, 2015

Celebrating New Experiences

It's never too late to learn something new, something fun, something different.  This week I got a lesson in how silk is made.  I attended the exhibit, The Silk Road,  which is currently showing at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was a fascinating exhibit for a number of reasons.

First, the history lesson was an important reminder about learning and re-learning our world's history. Like so many people I learned my general world history way back in high school though I studied a few more specific areas during college. But every time I visit one of these types of exhibits (such as Genghis Khan, or about Pompeii or the Mayan empire) it's like going back to school again, and I love learning new things or re-learning old things. That's why I enjoy these exhibits so much.

This one reminded me about the various trade routes from the Far East, through the Middle East and then to Europe.  I also spent a few minutes learning about how the various wares were traded all along the route, bringing things like silk, tea and gun powder, or trading for goods like seeds, emeralds and paper as the merchants travelled.

But for me the fun was learning about how silk was discovered and made.  Imagine being the woman who dropped a silkworm cocoon into a steaming cup of tea and pulling it out as one thin, long strand of strong fiber that shimmers.  Beautiful.  I also got a lesson in how to wind the dry the fiber and then how it was woven into beautiful robes that were traded to merchants.

The whole process and the idea of trade along the entire Silk Road was fascinating.  It made me want to learn more about the various items that were traded (like emeralds ). The experience also had me re-thinking a character in a book and making her come from the Far East. Or making another character a professor of Middle Eastern languages.

So here's a toast to continuing education... and learning more about the Silk Road.  I wasn't able to make it to China, but I did make it to PF Changs for one of my favorite dinners with a good friend and a glass of bubbly.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Celebrating Choices

We find ourselves facing choices every day from the time you get up and decide what you're having for breakfast. Ham and eggs, muffins and fruit, oatmeal? I've been known to choose leftover pizza or Chinese food. If either one of those are in my refrigerator, they're usually my first choice.

But when it comes to writing, I find my choices have sometimes become overwhelming. Do I write something new or work on editing the old stuff? Keep the old material or throw it out and start over?
Writing something fresh is always exhilarating, but then why keep starting new stories over if I'm not going to finish something? Ah, so many choices.

What to do?

One of the best choices is when I can see a story going in a new direction. Then I usually decide to follow that lead and that is usually a much better choice than continuing to stick with the old plan.

For instance, several years ago I submitted a short story that turned out not to be long enough for the market so I decided to re-write it, but I just couldn't get that longer version to work. Then several months ago our Heart of Denver Romance Writers decided to offer an anthology and several of us decided to participate.

As we discussed story ideas I remembered my old story that I had started and that hadn't worked. Suddenly I realized I wanted to bring that back, but as we brainstormed I got a whole new idea for the old story. I decided to give my heroine a new choice. The original premise was that she wanted one more romance in her life. She was in her 50s and wanted something new. But I had no reason she wanted it -- she just did. Then I gave her a real reason, and now I am off and running. I'll finish the story today in time to make the anthology deadline.

I made a choice, my heroine made a choice, and just making that choice made the story work again. It was like unplugging a drain. Make a choice and let the creativity flow.

Today I am celebrating those choices we all make every day. Sometimes we decide without really thinking about them, and often those turn out to be the best, including what to have for breakfast. Hmmm, I think I deserve a mimosa, just for making that choice.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Celebration Time – Release Day

Today is officially the beginning of release week for my latest book, Blues at 11, and I am celebrating.

Release day is always special for an author. Seeing your book available for sale is exciting. Others can finally read the work you spent so much time and energy working on for months, in some cases years. This is my first mystery so this book release was even more special for me.  This was the book of my heart, and I never realized it until I got into the middle of writing it. I have always enjoyed writing romance, and then romantic suspense, but this latest effort also showed me how much I enjoyed writing mystery stories. I’ve always been a mystery buff, since my childhood when I loved Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

But it wasn’t just writing a mystery story, writing humor in first person just seemed to fit me and my character.  And I got to return to my roots in TV news as I wrote it. The world of broadcast journalism can be cut throat, but it is also exhilarating, and I loved spending time with my heroine, Kimberly Delagarza, as she navigated the rocky waters being on the inside of a news story instead of on the outside.    

Here’s a blurb:

Kimberly Delagarza is a familiar face in Los Angeles as she can be seen nightly on the evening news. She drives a fancy car, lives in a house on the beach, and wears designer clothes. But the TV anchorwoman has been accused of murder.

No one believes she didn't kill her louse of an ex-boyfriend after he dumped her. Her next picture may be on a wanted poster, and her next home may be the Big House, with a wardrobe consisting of orange jumpsuits. The only man who can help her is someone she once wronged...



I hope everyone has as much fun reading Blues as I had writing it. it is now available at Amazon.com, The Wildrosepress.com, and bn.com as either an ebook or in print.   
 
So today, I am drinking a toast, perhaps several, to writers everywhere who might be celebrating release day!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Celebrating New Beginnings

Last week I was telling one of my groups that I love every new year because it is like a new beginning. The chapters close on the last book and you get to start over – whether it be with exercising more, losing weight, being more careful with money, or with writing. One of the women in the group said she doesn’t think of the new year as a new beginning because she hadn’t accomplished enough. In fact she wasn’t certain she wanted to continue in the group because she wasn’t getting the results she wanted.

I felt bad for that and I can understand that we all have those down periods when we wish we could do more, or we are working and working but not getting anywhere. But I have trouble looking at just the negative side.  Maybe the results were not there – maybe I didn’t finish editing a book in the old year, but I got lots written on other books.

When I feel down, or negative as she was doing, I look in the opposite direction. I celebrate what I have done. And that’s how I end every year. I don’t just make new year’s resolutions or concentrate on the past resolutions that went by the wayside in the first month. I look back at what I accomplished and then I set my new goals. This might not work for everyone, but it certainly works for me.

Last year I got one book published and finished the edits on another. And that book will be coming out next week.  And now I am working on edits for another book. Hopefully that will come out next year.   As Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

And that’s how I look at the years.  We are in a new year and I am celebrating it by looking back at what I got done last year –

1.      One book published  - Dead Man’s Rules
2.      One book edited – Blues at 11 (coming out next week)
3.      One book partially written during NaNoWriMo (Return to Redfern)
4.      More than 136,000 words written over the course of the year
5.      Blogged regularly
6.      Taught classes every month

I’m sure there where more  things I did accomplish and may some of those old resolutions didn’t get met, but today I am drinking my new year Mimosa and celebrating the end of last year and a blank slate for this new year that I can now begin to fill out.

 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Anticipation

Today I am singing the joys of anticipation on several fronts.  First of all I just received the release date for my first mystery novel, Blues at 11.  It will be released world wide by The Wild Rose Press on January 16, 2015. That’s less than two months away and I am eager to finally hold that book in my hands. It's a momentous moment in my writing career for several reasons. It signals my switch from writing romance to mystery.  Not that I will ever stop writing romance. I always like a good romance in my mystery novels, but this one follows the mystery pattern with lots of clues, plenty of action, and of course, several dead bodies discovered along the way.

Like so many of my books, it features someone from the world of television news, which I also can’t get away from, because I keep finding that it’s easier to write about a world you know than one that is totally unfamiliar. After 35 years bouncing from TV newsroom to TV newsroom, I learned a lot about the business and about newsroom personnel in general.
So what would happen if you were an anchorwoman who found yourself accused of murder and the media itself gets on the bandwagon to pin the rap on you? Suddenly you might find out you don’t have so many friends in the biz and not only that, but there are plenty of old rivals who will might come out of the woodwork now that there is the scent of blood. And I don’t mean the victim’s!  That’s the premise of Blues and it’s a book I spent years working on. Enjoyable years because it’s a humorous mystery. Here’s the blurb:

But my second level of anticipation has to do with this weekend, and it’s an event that my mystery heroine, Kimberly de la Garza would enjoy, I’m sure.  Brilliant, Cartier in the 20th Century  just opened at the Denver Art Museum, and I have tickets for tomorrow morning. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this ever since it was announced, and I don’t think this will be the only time I go to see it.  According to the DAM, it’s a “world exclusive exhibition … featuring stunning jewelry, timepieces, and precious objects created between 1900 and 1975.” It highlights Cartier’s rise to pre eminence, and the pieces featured in the pictures are stunning. Jewelry designed for royalty and Hollywood stars like the Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Grace are among those that will be on display.  I will be doing a blog on this visit in the future, believe me. And hopefully that can include pictures. The museum will allow personal pictures, but it won’t allow big tote bags. I have a feeling the museum guards will be constantly pulling me back from standing too close as they had to do in the Picasso show a couple of years ago.
So today, I am drinking a champagne toast in a vintage glass as I anticipate a great weekend and a great event still to come in 2015. And the Brilliant show is not the only exciting event this weekend. My friends and I will also be paying another visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens to see the Chihuly glass show, which closes next week. We visited several weeks ago and enjoyed it during the day time and pledged to return after dark. The pictures I've seen of the show at night are amazing and we will be bundling up tomorrow night and making another trip through.  More to come on this too!

Cheers!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Celebrate Your Own Backyard

As a writer I am always looking for new ideas and sometimes I find them hiding in my own backyard. Of course I have a beautiful backyard to explore.  It's called the Rocky Mountains and they are mere minutes from my driveway.  Yes, it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to cross the first hump of mountains outside Denver and be in the foothill splendor of the Rockies.


One of the great joys of this area is driving up to the mountains to see the Aspen leaves turning gold in the fall, and this year was as spectacular as always.  I have to admit my favorite year was when I drove my Mustang convertible and made the trip with the top down. This year worked well, though, since my brother drove.

He took us along the Peak to Peak highway between Boulder and Estes Park, which has some amazing views of Long's Peak as well as the entire mountain range. I had driven it before, but the colors made this drive very special.

 But the big difference this year was that I got to take roads I had never been on before, even though they are right in my backyard. We drove into Rocky Mountain National Park, along Trail Ridge Road, which had me feeling like we were on top of the world. It's the highest continuous paved road in the United States, and it sure felt like it!

First as we neared the top, there was the odd view of trees clinging to survival as we neared timberline. I remember one of my California friends being amazed at the concept of timberline  and the whole idea that there were places in Colorado where trees can't grow because of the altitude and conditions. These trees actually reminded me of the Northwest along the western coast where they are so wind blown by the ocean that only half of them seems to be surviving. I think I felt as enthralled as my friend who was seeing this part of the country for the first time.

And then we reached the top...

 
 

We were driving along a road that made us feel like we were on top of the world as we crossed over the Continental Divide.  Actually at times as we drove near the edges, I felt like we might just slide off all the way down the 12000 feet to the bottom (okay, maybe not 12000 feet, but it sure felt like we could go a long way!)  This road is not open year round -- high snows close it in the fall and keep it closed until late spring.

This highway has been around in various unpaved and paved form since the 1920s, but the byway itself was once traveled by Native American tribes as they crossed the mountains between their homelands and hunting grounds.

And, of course, as we drove I concocted a story about a city woman unfamiliar with the territory getting lost up in this wilderness and everyone had a different idea about what might happen to her. By the time we got down from our trip to the top of the Continental Divide, we had come up with plenty of ideas. Of course, mine involved a romance between the woman and a sexy guy she runs across in those rugged Rockies. As so many of our trips do, this one also inspired us to come down and look for facts about the area, and gave us all a greater appreciation for living in Colorado.

So here's a toast (with champagne from the Brown Palace, another wonderful Colorado landmark) to those places in your backyard that you might want to visit and explore... and come up with new story ideas.  And do it before it's too late. Trail Ridge Road was closed this week -- due to high snow.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Promotion Blues

Promotion is often a dirty word for writers and I am one of those who has to admit that I constantly shirk my promotion duties. We don't like to advertise ourselves or our books, and somehow we hope readers find them anyway.

This week I a putting together a promotional giveaway for the Colorado Romance Writers annual Readers' Tea and that sort of promotion I love to do because I get to buy lots of fun little items to go in the gift bag - chocolate, wine, pens, pencils, books and other goodies.  Last year my sister and sister-in-law spent hours making plastic canvas bookmarks. They came out great, but then I realized the thickness of the plastic made it hard to actually use the marks in books. Ooops. No more of those.

Promotion has always been a problem for me, even when I was producing daily newscasts. In addition to putting together the newscast, producers often have to write those clever little teases that the anchors must read just before they go to commercial.  You know, the ones that end with, "stay tuned," or begin with, "coming up next." Some of our producers would start thinking of how they were going to tease a story from the moment they first knew it was going to be in the newscast. I was never very good at that and as a result I waited until the last minute to write those teases. Mine went something like, "Weather is next, will it rain tomorrow?" And then the little tag line under the visual would read something like  "Sunny Saturday?"

You get the picture.  Well, now I find that I have to promote or tease MYSELF as a writer. I need to promote my books. Luckily I don't have to come up with lots of daily clever little blurbs, but I do need to have a Facebook page, a web page, a Pinterest page, a blog, and so many other things I can't even count them all.  I'm not good at it, but I am trying.  And with Facebook, I not only should have a personal page, but a reader fan page I'm told. Oh, and that doesn't include having a Twitter account. So much promotion, so little time to write.

This week I finally spent some time trying to update my webpages and Facebook pages. And I find I enjoy Pinterest. I have more fun seeing what others are doing and how they organize their pages. And I found myself coming up with new ways to use some of the wonderful pictures I've run across or re-pinning from other people.

So here's a toast to today's promotion -- and the links to my various sites, just to show that I can do some promotion, even if it is very simple and done at the last minute... just like old times in the newsroom.

And I'm hearing we'll be having a sunny Saturday. I'll toast that too! The last weekend of September.

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