Thursday, June 26, 2014

Writers Rock!

I am a firm believer in the power of writers.  Together we can come up with so many different plots, characters, ideas for saving the world, ideas for ending the world and just plain fun stories. There is something exhilarating about spending a few hours with writers or reader just chatting. I'm convinced that people who read regularly and the writers who provide books for them have a way of looking at the world that is just plain fun.

If I sound bubbly it's because I just spent a fun weekend at RomCon14 last week. This was the fourth time I attended the convention and it never fails to energize me. As a writer it makes me feel good about what I do as I chat with readers who always have interesting questions, observations and ideas for writers.

My first session was as a teacher, presenting a class for RomCon U on characters. A great question I got from a student was what to do about characters who start out as secondary people and then seem to take over the story.  My character Freeda Ferguson attempted to do that to my heroine in my new book, Dead Man's Rules.  She was such a fun, fresh person I couldn't help but give her a story of her own, which I am doing in Dead Man's Treasure. And that was what I advised to my questioner.  Go with it and give him his lead and see what sort of story journey he takes you on. She said readers are already interested in him, so I predicted good things should come as a result.

Next, came an opportunity to create a character for a story in the Build A Villain  workshop. I got the opportunity to team with fellow TWRP (The Wild Rose Press) author J. L. Wilson on coming up with a devilish fun bad girl with few redeeming values but with a way with men.  We also developed a woman who was equal to the challenge of vanquishing our villain in a darn good plot. All in all, the creative spirit that came to life as readers and writers participated in the creative process was fun to experience. Everyone had ideas and everyone contributed. One person would come up with an idea and then the next would add, and so on.

But the day of creativity was just getting going.  Later I got the chance to learn to crochet. (more on that at a later time) Then came an evening of  book signing, where I had the opportunity to sit next to the great Heather Graham. What an opportunity! Naturally I had to pick her brain and pose the same question I have often been asked when I teach my classes on characters. Where do you get them?  As the best selling author of more than 100 books, she is a great person to query. And her answer was so simple. People. Like so many other writers she is an observer. She pays attention to the folks around her. She said she often used to watch her children and their friends and figure out who might end up with who, based on their personalities. What a great idea. While I often watch people too, I found I might have a new way to people watch -- thinking about personalities that match and those that don't, putting couples together.

And that got me to thinking about my own characters too. I'm going to be watching them a lot more carefully. Who will end up with who? And why?  It will be a lot of fun to find out.

So today, I am giving a toast to the writers and readers from RomCon 2014.  Thanks for the fun and thanks for the inspiration!

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Power of Positive Rewards

I have always believed in the positive power of rewards – especially when it comes to giving them to myself. In the old days when I could afford it I would treat myself to weekend getaways. I would spend the days sitting by the pool, walking on the beach or shopping  and the evening at a baseball game, the movies or at a great dining spot.
These days I am living a much simpler life. My week days are not nearly as hectic since I spend most of the time writing or working on online class lectures while the weekends sometimes turn into total chaos with everyone in the family wanting to go in different directions.
Now I am finding simple ways to spend my weekdays of retirement – like a trip to the library to research my latest story, or a trip to the book store to see what is new on the shelves. And I still try to find time to reward myself, like with a trip to the Denver Art Museum to see its current show, Modern Masters, a showing of artwork ranging from Van Gogh to Andy Warhol. How great to reward myself for working at my writing the rest of the time. I always enjoy the works of the French Impressionists and I don’t think I’d actually ever seen a Salvadore Dali up close before. I have to admit,  though, that looking at a huge wall of a Jackson Pollock drip painting reminded me of my brain, constantly going in different directions. The overall effect was overwhelming even as it was exhilarating.
It was a wonderful, restful way to spend the morning, and I breathed a sigh of contentment as I walked away. How great to spend time amidst so much creativity. I don’t know if I really understand art as such. I know I can’t even handle a paint brush to paint a wall, let alone create a sketch or something as magnificent as these works, but I do appreciate the individual creativity it takes to come up with ideas and then to transform those ideas into something artistic. And I know the courage it takes to share your vision with someone else and hope they understand the creativity if not the actual vision.
After the show, I took myself to lunch, and found my mind starting to click with creative ideas of my  book I am working on, and I also came up with the idea for this blog. The champagne and dessert weren't such bad rewards either!
own. Suddenly I came up with several new ideas for the
Rewarding yourself with creativity and beauty, even if is sometimes not entirely understood can be its own reward. For certain it is never a waste. It can stimulate your brain and open up new avenues of creativity, even as it soothes the soul.
So here's a tip of the champagne glass to positive rewards!