Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
You may remember I mentioned starting Nutrisystem some weeks back? Well, today I've officially hit my first 10 pounds lost. Now that's how you start a Friday, my friends!
Any good news of your own you'd like to share?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
One of the most asked questions that writers get has to be are you a plotter or a pantser? If you haven't been asked that yet, wait a minute and you will be.
What I'm curious about is this: besides your general approach to writing, what do you prefer - fresh writing or revisions?
I'm wondering if there's a correlation between the two. Do plotters like fresh writing better and pantsers favor revising?
So - who are you (plotter/pantser) and what do you prefer (fresh writing/revisions)?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I'm not much of a ranter - not on my blog anyway - but yesterday, I saw something at the grocery store that almost made me confront the person doing it.
A woman was putting her bananas in a produce bag. That boggles my mind. I don't understand it on any level. Don't bananas come with their own heavy-duty, all purpose packaging? If she puts one of those bananas into someone's lunch box, does she first wrap it plastic wrap?
I do my (small) part to be green, but I'm not fanatical. Yet this act of wastefulness stirred a bit of righteous indignation in me.
Am I missing something? Why would anyone do this? It's not the first time I've seen it either, but yesterday it really pushed my buttons. Under what circumstances would bananas need their own protective produce bag?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Have you ever felt like you've lost the joy of writing? That sitting in front of your keyboard and putting words on the page is a chore? You're not alone. A lot of writers feel this at times - not just unpublished writers either. It can happen at any stage of your career.
Here are a few things I learned this weekend about renewing your joy.
1. Have a plan - without a plan, you lose focus and without focus, you can get lost. That can suck the joy out of just about anything. Instead of telling yourself you need to finish your book by the end of the year, work out a words-per-day goal. Come up with a plan that's manageable instead of seemingly insurmountable.
2. Resolve conflicts - Unresolved conflict can suck the joy out of your life and your work. Do you feel like the time you spend writing should be spent with your family? Work out a schedule with them so that they understand your hour after dinner writing isn't time away from them as much as it is time pursuing your dream. Whatever conflict is bringing you down, resolve it.
3. Nourish your spirit - When's the last time you read a book, watched a movie or took a walk without feeling like you should have been writing instead? Stop feeling guilty about nourishing your creative spirit! Time away from your manuscript isn't wasted when you're doing something that refills the creative well. Make time in your writing schedule to read. It's truly one of the most inspirational things a writer can do.
What other ways can you think of to renew your joy? I'd love to hear what you do to keep yourself a happy, healthy writer.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
I was woken up by the sound of duct tape this morning. *sigh* I really don't want to go into it, but let's just say that duct tape can be very loud.
I can't believe it's Friday. I have SO much to do. I need a few more weekdays. Of course, if the week were 9 days long, I'd probably still need more time. What I need to do is manage the time I have better. I just suck at it.
Any time management tips for me this Friday? Not that, you know, I'm actually going to use them or anything...
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Interview with Cecil “Cec” Murphey
by Marley Gibson
Co-authors of Christmas Miracles, coming October 13th from St. Martin’s Press
I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity today to talk to my friend and co-author, Cecil “Cec” Murphey, and to chat about our upcoming book, Christmas Miracles.
Marley: Cec, thanks for spending some time with me today.
Cec: Marley, it's great that you could take time away from important things like making a living to spend a little time with me.
Marley: I’m so jazzed about our Christmas Miracles book that’s coming out soon. I’ve had a lot of questions from folks wanting to know how we met, what brought us together, etc. So, I thought we’d do a back and forth on how it all came to be. Of course, I have to give props to our amazing agent and friend, Deidre Knight, for bringing us together. For those of you who don’t know, Cec co-authored the runaway New York Times bestselling hit 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.
Cec: I have to say thanks to Deidre Knight as well. Between Deidre and my assistant, Twila Belk, I've been able to sell quite a few books. 90 Minutes in Heaven has been my big book. I'm also proud of a book I wrote in 1990 called Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The book has never been out of print and has hit close to four million in sales. Early this year, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the made-for-TV film version.
Marley: That’s amazing! You are truly prophetic and definitely “the man behind the words.” Now, people ask how we teamed up. Sadly, there was a personal tragedy that brought Cec and me together as friends.
Cec: True. In early 2007, our house burned and our son-in-law died. Aside from the grief over Alan, we lost everything. Deidre and Jan, my-then-assistant, sent the word out of our tragedy without telling me. I'm immensely grateful for every gift people sent, but I probably wouldn't have admitted I needed help and wouldn't have asked. They taught me how much we need other people.
Marley: Deidre put out a call to other clients of The Knight Agency, to help Cec and his family out in any way in their time of need. At the time, my company was moving and we were cleaning house. We had a ton of office supplies that we were either going to throw away or give to some of the charities the company worked with. I got my boss’ permission to send a large care package to Cec…full of office supplies for him to re-stock his writer’s office. You name it…post-its, staples, paper clips, pens, pencils, markers, white out, ruler, scissors, paper, notebooks, notepads, envelopes, a laptop case, tape, glue, folders, binder clips…etc. A veritable potpourri of office delights. I was hoping that it would help Cec have a sense of getting his office back so he could keep working.
Cec: Marley's gift was the most unexpected I received. We hadn't met, although Deidre Knight had spoken of her many times and kept telling me she was wonderful. I wonder if you can imagine what it was like for me to open that box from someone I didn't know. I saw all those practical things for my office and yelled for my wife. I felt as if I were reading a first-grade book. "Look! Look and see! Oh, look!" I was overwhelmed by the gift and even more to receive it from a stranger. Those supplies were the most practical gift anyone could have given me. I'm still using black paper clips and red folders from Marley.
Marley: Awww…thanks, Cec! I didn’t have to think twice about doing it. Writing is such a solitary “sport,” but the writing community always astounds me with how they help their own. Not long after that, over plates of spinach and Gouda omelets, Deidre introduced me to Cec in person and I was thrilled to finally meet the man behind the words. Deidre knew we needed to work on a project together and thus began our brainstorming. What did you think of that first meeting, Cec, and cooking up the idea to work together?
Cec: Deidre and I had already spoken about a Christmas book and I had some idea about what it should contain, but nothing had come together. One day Deidre told me that Marley was coming to visit her and she wanted us to work together on a Christmas project. Marley and I talked before we ate and again during the meal. Everything felt right to me. I knew my strengths and Marley knew hers (and Deidre knew both of us). Everything clicked. Marley, a far better networker than I am, immediately sent out the word for submissions. Within days she had almost four times more than we could use. (She read every one of them!)
Marley: I was truly impressed with the submissions we received and it was hard narrowing it down to the ones we chose for the book. We’re fortunate to have such a go-getter agent in Deidre Knight. Cec, can you share how the whole idea of Christmas Miracles came about and what you thought of the project originally?
Cec: For me, it actually started while I was on the rapid-rail train from the Atlanta airport when I listened to teens talk about Christmas and it was mostly about gifts. I had the idea then, but nothing really came together. Months later when Deidre I and had a meeting, she brought up the idea of a compilation and mentioned my working with Marley. I've been Deidre Knight's client since 1997 and I've learned to listen carefully when she comes up with an idea. I said yes before she gave me all the information.
Marley: That’s the truth about Deidre! Getting back to those submissions, Iwant to say we got more than two hundred submissions for Christmas Miracles. So many wonderful stories to read through and select for the book. It was a challenge to pick and choose which ones were right for the book, but I loved every minute of it. After I chose the entries that would go into the book, Cec toiled long hours editing the works for a unified voice. What was the biggest challenge you found in the editing process, Cec?
Cec: I've been a ghostwriter and collaborator for twenty-plus years and this was a switch to give the book a unified voice—which was mine. It would have been easier to stay with each writer's voice, but the book—like many compilations—would have been uneven in tone and quality. When I discussed this via email with our delightful editor, Rose Hilliard, she was (to my surprise) familiar with my work. She told me she liked the warm tone of my writing and that I don't waste words. "That's the voice we want," she said. It still wasn't easy, but it was an exciting challenge. After Marley and I agreed on the stories and gave them that unified voice, our editor pulled six contributions. Although different, Rose felt they were too similar to other stories.
Marley: Can you give our readers a preview of the book? A favorite story perhaps…or one that moved you to tears? (I have to say the little boy who wished for nothing but to be able to read a book all the way through because of his stutter had me bawling when I read the submission.)
Cec: That's not fair! I liked them all. The one that touched me most, however, is the last story in the book, "Sean's Question." We had almost finished the book and I was teaching at a conference in Florida. I felt we needed one strong story at the end. Despite all the good ones, I didn't feel fully satisfied to conclude the book. On the last day of the conference, I met a conferee named Sara Zinn for a consultation. As we talked, I mentioned Christmas Miracles and that I still needed one more story. "I have a Christmas story," she said and told me about Sean. As I listened, tears filled my eyes—but, being the macho type I am, I was sure it was an allergy. Sara wrote the story, and it became the one I sought.
Marley: Oh yes…that one is an emotional one all right. It was meant to be in the book because of how you met at the conference. Now, you and I have both had challenges in our lives that others might have found too much to take, but we are both very strong in our faith and our relationship with God. How do you think Christmas Miracles is going to help others feel closer to God and experience His miracles in their own lives?
Cec: Awareness and appreciation are the two things I want readers to grasp. Awareness means for them to realize that they're never totally alone in life. Those unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary events remind us of that. Appreciation means to be thankful for what we already have. Too often, and especially at Christmas, we focus on what we'd like or what is supposed to make us happy. Christmas Miracles gently reminds readers of both.
Marley: In this day and age when our country is fighting two wars, unemployment is high, and a lot of people have a lack of hope and faith for their future, what do you want readers of the book to take away from Christmas Miracles and how can the stories in our book help provide comfort to those struggling?
Cec: I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural (as in one of Marley's stories). I call myself a serious Christian. For me, the world's greatest miracle began with the birth of Jesus. Regardless of a person's religion, this book encourages readers to think about life during the Christmas season and see that life as more than gifts and celebrations. It's also a reminder that God loves us and hears our needy cries.
Marley: Beautifully put, Cec, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Can we share what’s next after Christmas Miracles? J
Cec: Why it's the Cec and Marley show, of course. Because of our go-getter agent and our enthusiastic editor, we've already received thumbs up for The Christmas Spirit. This will be stories of people who express the true spirit of Christmas by acts of love and kindness, for release in the fall of 2011.
Marley: And I can’t wait to start working on that project! Thank you so much for your time, Cec, and answering my questions. It was a privilege and honor to work with you and I look forward to our future projects together. You’ve helped me along during a trying time and I appreciate your friendship and support.
Cec: I liked this project because Marley had to send out the word, collect submissions, read them, and discard the weaker ones. I get to see only the better-written stories. (Don't tell her that I have the better job.) Although I mentioned only one story, all of those in the book touched me because of the poignancy of their situations and the miraculous answers. I won't say the stories increased my faith, but they increased my appreciation for the delightful mix of human need and divine intervention.
Marley: Thanks again, Cec! God Bless! And to our readers, please be sure to pick up a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, out October 13, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s a great stocking stuffer or gift basket filler. We hope you, too, will discover your own Christmas Miracles in your life.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I'm home from my trip to Maryland to visit family, but I came home with a lovely head cold. Seems like every time I fly, I get sick. Ugh.
I do not have, as Hotrod likes to call it, the R2D2 virus. I'm just stuffed up and feeling icky.
The upside of that is I'll be working from bed today.
Have a great day and stay healthy!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Actually, I've reverted to diet Pepsi, but you get the idea. I'm still hanging out with family in MD, which is awesome, but Monday is still Monday.
Today my brother and I are dropping his kids off at school, running some errands, putting a bed together, then going to visit my grandfather at the assisted living facility he lives at. He defines cantankerous, so it should be fun. You never know what he's going to say. Like the time he threatened to punch out someone's lights.
What's on your Monday plate?
Friday, October 16, 2009
I'm still in Maryland, hanging out with the rents and my brother. Weather has been yucky - cold and rainy, but that's okay because the company is good.
Been reading, writing (not as much as I should but hope to work on that some more today), chatting, shopping - you know, the usual.
Anyway, have a good day and get some writing done!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I can't believe it's Monday already! I leave for Maryland on Wednesday to hang out with my family for a few days and I have so much to do before then.
My two biggies are finishing my edits and finishing judging the contest entries I was assigned for my chapter's contest.
What's on your plate today?
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
We created FLING™ Chocolate to celebrate the female spirit – the unapologetically feminine playful, naughty, flirtatious, and alluring nature that brings shimmer into the world.
FLING™ Chocolate is a sweet, light truffle on a subtle crisp layer enrobed in shimmering chocolate that's as glamorous as you are. At under 85 calories per chocolate stick, it's slim, but not skinny. Indulgent but not greedy. Naughty but nice.
So let yourself go! Have FLING™ Chocolate in private, or wave it all around town; in the office, the bedroom, or the great outdoors. It's also a way of living. FLING™ Chocolate women are spontaneous – and when we find something good, we share it.
The FLING™ Chocolate community has started in California, but you can be a part of it no matter where you are. The FLING™ Chocolate spirit is universal. So go ahead and be naughty…but not that naughty™.Is it just me or does that come off rather condescending? And shimmering chocolate? What's the chocolate made of? Vampires that sparkle? I don't know, it's all such overkill, don't you think? We get it. It's a low calorie chocolate bar, but why all the sexual innuendo? And really, it's a way of living? Um, if chocolate is your way of living, that's probably why you need a low calorie candy bar in the first place. I'm not impressed. What do you think?
Thursday, October 08, 2009
But it's not because I'm cold, it's because my desk chair isn't as comfortable as I'd like. In fact, for a chair that was rated as a "6 hour" chair, it's sadly lacking in comfort.
So. If you have any recommendations for a great desk chair or any sort of alternative, I'm listening. The gang over at RD has given me a few ideas but I'm open to more.
What kind of chair do you have? Do you like it?
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
This was so much fun, I had to share! Plus, I can't wait for this book. The first one was such a great read.
Have you ever played bunco? I went to Maria's bunco party at RT this year and learned how and man, was it a blast!
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
Instead of working on my edits Sunday afternoon after church like I was supposed to, I read. Because I had no choice. See, I started reading Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins and well, there was no putting it down. I mean, my beloved Cowboys played and I barely watched them. (Not that that game was worth watching, btw. C'mon, Romo, get it together or I may burn your jersey in effigy.)
It's rare a book makes me laugh out loud. I'm a tough audience, because while I frequently crack myself up (and let's be honest, everyone around me), others don't do it quite so often. This book however had some scenes that were gems. The seven stolen spoons? That one is priceless.
I sent to HQ to buy the digital backlist of Ms. Higgins (HQN), but they were sold out of Fools Rush In. Um, how do you sell out of an ebook? Harlequin, get with it. You lost a sale because of that nonsense.
Anyway, I can't recommend this book enough. The writing, the characters, the voice. It's a perfect 10. Do yourself a favor and buy it if you haven't read it yet. You won't be disappointed.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
Once upon a time, I was an unpublished writer amongst a rather large peer group of the very same. We would sometimes hear the few published writers in our midst complain about deadlines or edits or juggling publishers and we would look at each other in disbelief, each able to read the others' minds: We wish we had those problems. Authors should stop complaining and be happy they have a contract. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Let me say that the view from the other side is slightly different. And I'm not complaining, I just want to share, so that maybe there can be a greater understanding of things on the "greener" side.
I don't want to shock you, but being published isn't all rainbows and kittens. It comes with a new set of responsibilities and demands. Yes, I know, those of you who are unpublished are already thinking, yeah, demands I'd love to have.
And some day, you very well may have them. But until that day, here's a little insight. When the realization hits you that you are not only contractually obligated to produce, but that what you produce must find favor with your editor, you will feel a great weight upon your shoulders.
That realization is daunting. The greener grass will temporarily brown a little. And you'll think back to when you were unpublished and wished for this, and you'll come to another realization.
You're the same person. With the same ambitions. And you can do this.
And then you'll stop eating chocolate and get back to work, because this is a business and you're a professional and that's what professionals do. Get it? Good. Go write.