Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What do you want to see?

I'm considering something here....I've been visiting other writers' blogs and one thing I've seen that has captured my interest is some of their writings. Actually, not just some of their writings. I've done that here a bit. What I'm talking about is them posting an actual book online, bit by bit, chapter or section by section. Is that something you think would be of interest? Would it give you an opportunity to sample my writing? Would you find that more interesting than simply bits and pieces of what's on my mind? I could, of course, still interject those bits and pieces.... Let me know what you think.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's all about me....

There are very few people in the world that don’t relish the idea of talking about themselves. Perhaps it sounds better to say they desire others to want to hear what they have to say. I can’t say I’m any different. That being said…I was thrilled when fellow author J. Timothy King requested an interview.

The interview centers around my book Becoming…a collection of faith-based short stories concerning pivotal times and journeys in our lives. I hope you’ll take a few moments to jump over to Tim’s blog and read the interview. Be sure to let Tim and I know you stopped by.

Tim will also post a review of Becoming to his ebook review page. Keep a lookout for that as well :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Which Way is Up????

I'm having one of those weeks that is leaving me feeling as if I'm drowning just a bit. I'm swamped with work, which is always a good thing I suppose. I do have to admit, I procrastinated on this project for no particular or good reason and now I'm having to play catch-up. The reality is, I am enjoying the project. It's a full blown book job from the transcription of a very old manuscript to editing the piece word by word to transferring it to the proper format for printing to creating the cover. It's a good book, well written, and I'm so very pleased to be a part of bringing it to "life" so that we may present it to the world.

Still, that doesn't make it any less overwhelming when I sit in front of my computer and realize I have two days to complete two weeks worth of work! On top of that...I'm in one of my no-sleep modes where I wake during the night with stories whirling through my head. Yesterday as I sat at a stop light on my way to pick part of my crew up from school a new story began to form in my head. "No!" I told it. I'm already working on two with a third in the notes phase. No use. An hour later as I sat with my children at McDonalds while my flat tire from Saturday got put back on my van, I had the main characters named and the opening scene fleshed out. I wrote in my head off and on all night! Ugh. When I have one of those nights...which is quite often...I am reminded of an old commercial where the children get the parents up early on the weekend. Perhaps it was a crying baby and the commercial says something about sleep being overrated. One of my sisters once told me after I had children that I would find myself operating best on 6 hours of sleep. I think that is just enough to function yet little enough to dull the senses so you just kind of float through life... I'd really just enjoy six good hours in a row!!!

Alas, the cats agree with my sister and the commercial. Of course they cat nap at my side as I work so what difference does it make to them? They do love it when I write in the wee hours of the night and they sneak onto the kitchen table to "help" by rearranging my papers into a nice bed. They keep me company, I suppose; championing me on as word by word I continue with my work knowing soon, very soon this book will be printed and shipped and into the hands of the author who, for the first time, will see his name on a cover. Inside he will find the words that he labored over and characters that he breathed life into. For those of us who write, it's a feeling without compare. It's also what keeps me going...the thought of that look upon his face when he opens the package containing his book. For that, I would gladly trade a little sleep and ignore my laundry...for a few days anyway.

Have I learned my lesson on procrastination? Probably not! Will I ever not take on more than one person should? No! Life is short and grace is given. We rise to the occasion and, just as we feel we truly are drowning, light shines and we know exactly which way is up.

For those of you who have pitched in and taken up the slack as I wade through....THANK YOU! Your support means more to me than you can imagine. The favor will be returned....after I finish this project :) Or maybe after the next one.....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Unlocking Doors....A Trip To Independence

I can’t believe it has been 5 days since I posted! My children have been home all week for Spring Break…husband as well. It’s a miracle I’m getting anything done. I did take the day off….truly took the day off yesterday and we drove a full 45 minutes up into the great state of Kansas to a small town called Independence (we live very near the Kansas border). It is a trip we all enjoy. It’s not too far and we have a great time…and it doesn’t break the budget! It’s a no lose situation.

Independence is a town of about 10,000 people. Not too big but certainly not dinky in appearance. My husband’s family hails from there abouts. They are all gone now but memories live on for him and we have made many new ones.

Founded on land taken from the Osage Nation, early Independence was home to many families made wealthy by the oil and gas booms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ornate Victorian homes and architecturally thrilling buildings still attest to the prosperity of pre-Depression days. Oil magnate Harry F. Sinclair, who founded the Sinclair Oil Company with its dinosaur logo was one of the more known. His retro building still stands prominent within the town. As we walked around yesterday, we wondered how many people still knew that building, now filled with multiple individual businesses, had once been the headquarters for Sinclair’s empire. Undoubtedly time will continue to lessen the historical significance of such.

I talked about William Inge, a famous playwright, in an earlier post about Picnic. He was born in Independence and, as is indicated in much of his works, the town had a huge influence over him. Each spring Independence Community College hosts an annual festival in his honor.

Miss Able, a rhesus monkey, was born at Ralph Mitchell Zoo. If Miss Able is ringing bells….you may have seen her in Night At The Museum 2. We’re very proud to have visited her birthplace! Miss Able along with Miss Baker, a squirrel monkey, became the first animals to fly in space and return alive on May 28, 1959. Monkeys still live on the island sporting a rock castle surrounded by a water moat enjoyed by ducks and a pair of stately swans that love dog food (I’m out of breath). The zoo is free! It isn’t huge and occasionally many of the animals will have taken refuge inside. Still, it is a highlight of our trips. We have certain exhibits that are “must sees” and there is an awesome playground inside the zoo with a nursery rhyme theme (and 3 gorillas…. not sure how they fit in but the kids love to have their pics made on them). Yesterday my third grader had to take her Flat Stanley. Photographs abound…now to just get them downloaded. I’m so bad about that I’m in dire need of a personal assistant!

From Memorial Day to Labor Day The Miniature Train, Miniature Golf Course and Carousel are open (Weekday evenings and Sunday afternoons). Admission: the Carousel is 5 cents, the Miniature train is 25 cents and Miniature Golf is $1. The Mid-Continent Band plays every Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. at the band shell through the summer. How’s that for small town entertainment! I love it! Oh yes, they also boast their annual Neewollah event as Kansas' largest annual festival. Held the last week of October, Neewollah's musical stage shows, carnival, concessions, entertainment and grand parade attract more than 80,000 visitors each year. Do we attend? Don’t you know it! The last time we missed was the year my son was born on October 15. I simply couldn’t bring myself to take a newborn. It’s an action packed day. Hey, Chris…I do have my limitations after all! You did realize Neewollah is Halloween spelled backwards???

And, last but not least, the day would not be complete without driving through Dairy Queen for traditional treats. The store in Independence is owned and operated by an older group. They can still make Chocolate Sodas…as long as one of the three is there. I hope it is not a tradition that will go away with them although it does seem like it, huh?

That makes me sad but also serves as a reminder to me to teach my children. I love walking through history. We’re blessed to live in a place rich with such (Bartlesville, OK was home to Phillips Petroleum Company and Frank Phillips for many, many years. I’ll have to write about that someday…) It’s amazing how much history we have right outside our front doors. Opening one door can unlock the doors into the past as well as into the future. How many doors can you open right there in your own town? Try it. I’ll bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rambling With A Purpose...The Making of a Great Day

Yesterday was one of those days that, even though I didn't accomplish many of the things needed to be done, it can be ranked as a really great day. It started by a prominent radio personality from Tulsa emailing me to tell me she'd just finished painting the bookshelf for her baby's room and my children's book, How Sadie Learned To SMILE, was the first one on it. Lindsey Bauer is the only woman out of a 4 man team that hosts the Wylde Wake Up Show on 106.9. She is an avid campaigner for Tulsa's ARF featuring their pets in need of forever homes on her blog and showcasing them on the radio. Her wit never ceases to amaze me as, day after weekday, she humorously wrangles the guys. I have to admit, I began listening to K-HITS to research a book that will be coming out in the future about a young starlet attempting to do the right things in a world where "right" is anything but black and white. The first time I tuned in I lasted all of 20 minutes! Today's music is a bit different from what I was used to. However, as time went on I found that I not only liked a lot of the music, but the hosts of 106.9 were awesome. It's no wonder they're number one! Someday I will suggest Lindsey write a book called "Happy Tails...Tulsa ARF Success Stories" by Lindsey Bauer, radio personality and ARF spokesperson, with Linda Boulanger (see how I got that in there!!!). I think it could be a great fundraising project for the organization. But for now, Lindsey's mind is undoubtedly more concentrated on the bedding she just purchased for her upcoming arrival! I love babies. Just glad they're someone else's nowadays :)

Then, I reconnected with an old friend after many, many years, took my younger two to McDonalds where they played for over 2 hours and I wrote to my little heart's content. Funny thing, a little boy came up to me and said "You're that author that came to our school. You brought the dog..." He was so excited. He was also right. I often take the "real" Sadie with me to readings and author visits. Although the book is fiction, I used Tracy Freeman's rescued pet as my inspiration. They're both sweethearts.

Checking my FaceBook I noticed I could get a free ebook of Lori Newman's Poetry Book Looking To Be Seen. Fellow author Lori Finilla wrote on her FaceBook: You need to read this unbelievable heart touching book. The first poem made me cry. I can't wait to read it! I also got hold of Jaimey Grant's Regency Romance Redemption. I don't usually read ebooks because I spend so much time on the computer editing/formatting for myself and others as well as writing and, of course, social networking but I'm pretty excited about these. I noticed Lori Finilla is changing the name of one of her books from "My Brain Injury" to "The Last Day I Was Me". I think that's a great change. A photograph of Lori and snippets of information I've read on her life have inspired the idea for another novel. I've been making notes while working on A Marriage of Necessity and yet another novel. My mind never stops working!

To end the day I received an email containing the parts of one of my handwritten novels that I'm having typed up into a "properly formatted electronic version"...that's exactly what it says under Transcription Services on my One Stop Publisher site. Yep, I'm using my own company. Isn't that good of me?!!! Anyway, I did a bit of spot reading and got all excited about the story all over again.

I almost forgot....almost :) Author Tim King has interviewed me for his blog. The interview will be posted rain, shine, or bus accident (sorry...inside joke between Tim and I) on Thursday, March 25th so mark your calendars and pop over to read it and comment. Tim made me feel good. I gave him permission to hatchet away at my responses, however, he said "I probably should have taken a hatchet to it, as you suggested...but I love the content..." Bookmark Tim's blog: http://blog.jtimothyking.com/ Tim's book From The Ashes Of Courage is on my reading list. I love the idea of this story and can't wait to read it.

I went to bed contented and slept well. Okay, so I went to bed contented and ended up writing in my mind most of the night! This new story is demanding to be let out. What's a girl to do?!! I love living on the line....on the lines of my notebook or a story, that is. Happy weekend friends!

Two Kisses....a fun short by Linda Boulanger & Patrick Sipperly

All her life there'd been only two men she wished she'd kissed and didn't. Only two! TWO. Now we're not talking about a simple peck on the cheek or a faint brushing of the lips. No sir! She'd wanted them to be all out, set your watch, settle in for the count, write home to your best girlfriend, passion-filled kisses. Oh how many years now had she dreamed of these kisses? She'd tormented herself for not seizing the moment in each case.

Well, Mr. Opportunity was knocking on her door and each of these men had presented themselves back into her life. Both of them! Rachel smiled. How often did a girl get the chance to recapture a lost dream? Kind of like roping a rainbow. Oh the thoughts made her feel dizzy and slightly twitterpated.

She'd seen Kurt not too many years before. What had it been? Two? Maybe three. Either way, he'd looked mighty fine for a forty something, middle-aged man. Mighty fine indeed. But life had been different two, three years ago. She'd been madly in love with Jack. Kissing an old crush had been far from the front of her mind.

Now don't misunderstand. Rachel still loved Jack. In fact, he'd asked her to marry him. She'd agreed but had coaxed him into convincing her they should push the date a little ways down the road. She did love him. She did! He was nice looking, took care of himself, and he'd be a great provider and all. He even got along well with both of her grown children. But the sense of excitement at being together had waned somewhat. Okay, quite a bit. And now...she'd given her cell number to a mutual friend who had given it to Kurt and he'd called her for lunch. Lunch! With Kurt!!! One of her two missed opportunities. Lunch tomorrow...

Rachel shook her head and checked her emails. There it was...the confirmation for the thirty year reunion. Something else was there too. An email from Doug. Yep! The other guy she'd dreamed of for so very many years. They'd ran across each other quite by accident on the reunion pages and he still looked pretty darn good from his pictures anyway. Several emails confirmed them into the mutual admiration club and arrangements were made to meet a day earlier than the reunion. Oh yes! Rachel touched her flushed cheeks and laughed like a silly school girl. She felt as giddy as a seventeen year old in young love.

The next day found her trying on outfit after outfit until she found the one that portrayed the perfect look. Hands on hips, she turned this way and that looking at her image. Now she looked good for 48! She was still trim. Her hair was dark with just the right highlights. Eyes were still bright. And the outfit made her look...well, just a little bit like a hottie. Not a tramp! Just desirable. She was ready. With a smack of her painted lips she sauntered out of the house to meet Kurt. Today was THE day! She was determined to make it happen.

They were to meet at McDaniel's Bar & Grill. She'd made the reservations, requested the perfect table. In her mind she'd played through the scene over and over. They'd be seated adjacently, their chairs both too close to the corner. They'd chat, she'd flirt unabashedly and, by the end of the meal, he'd kiss her. She felt all tingly as she drove.

The young lady at the front knew her. She nodded when Rachel said she could seat herself. As she walked toward the requested table, a surge of irritation rose up. Someone else had sat down there! Some pudgy older man with thinning, bristly gray hair and a wrinkled face had dared to interfere with her dream. Her heart sank as he looked up at her and smiled. She'd have known those blue eyes anywhere; those blue eyes that washed over her with unchecked appreciation.

“Kurt!” she said with faux-enthusiasm. “How nice to see...how nice of you to have agreed to meet me for lunch.” She quickly slipped on the little sweater she'd draped over her arm just in case it was too cold.

It was a nice lunch after all. Great catching up. They'd always been comfortable with each other. As he kissed her cheek in the parking lot, Rachel guessed it would always be that way.

In all her life there was only one man Rachel Dunbar wished she'd kissed but hadn't. One Douglas Taylor. Doug, as all his friends called him. He'd been such a sweet guy in High School. Always the perfect gentleman, even when they'd huddled close together against the cold on the bus with the broken window coming home after a football game. The cheerleader and the quarterback. It would have been so perfect. Yet neither of them pursued it. And now, thirty years later to find out both had harbored feelings for one another.

The plane landed and she knew he'd be there to meet her even though she'd told him she could get her own car. Her heart beat wildly, hopeful his photos hadn't lied.

She breathed a sigh of relief as she stepped through the gate and caught sight of him. Now Doug Taylor looked good with a capital G-O-O-D for a 48 year old man. Dang! Wow! No disappointment there.

“Rachie!” He grabbed her up and swung her around. She giggled, oblivious to the people who stared. “You look great, girlie.”

“Well!” She stepped back and surveyed him openly. “you weren't lying when you said you'd taken care of yourself.” They walked from the airport arm in arm.

“Watch out rainbow,” Rachel thought, “I'm getting out my rope.”

By the end of the next day Rachel wondered what she had gotten herself into. Doug had indeed taken care of himself and was truly the center of his own universe. Every conversation came back to him. He was extremely opinionated and well...yawn, boring. Doug, blah blah. Doug, bleh bleh bleck. Why had she not seen this in the emails?

The weekend could not pass quickly enough for her. Although she did enjoy seeing Jilly, Susan, Marjorie and the others again. She was happy to say she was still the best looking of the squad. But she was ecstatic when Doug dropped her at the airport. She departed with but a little kiss on the forehead.

Jack met her at the door of her townhouse with a lovely, hand-tied bouquet of flowers. She could smell a delicious meal in the makings. Dropping her bags she threw herself into him, nearly crushing the flowers. Carelessly he tossed them on the side table and wrapped her in his arms. His hands ran up her spine and into her hair, pulling her head back with gentle ease. With a smile, he lowered his lips to meet hers.

Breathless, Rachel looked up at Jack with dreamy admiration and desire. In all her life there was not a man she wanted to be kissed by more than Jack Reed. In fact, there had never been a man she'd wanted to kiss and didn't.

Sidenote: Two Kisses is one of my favorite stories. It began with an idea I had because...you see, there are only two guys in my life that I wish I'd kissed and didn't! I won't and they have no idea who they are (although I'm in occasional contact with both of them). The story began a bit more serious in nature although by the time I sent the original to Pat it had evolved. He took it and further added his own special blend of humor and I must say I am so pleased with this story. You can find it in our published collection titled Time Out On A Roller Coaster which contains another fun kiss story we wrote together called Chocolate Kisses.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

His Blood For Yours

I was recently asked if I had a favorite story in my latest book titled "Becoming..." and, although I love them all, I decided to go out on a limb and choose one that received mixed reviews as my favorite. I’ve been told the writing on that story was flawless, the main character marvelous, and the story spiritually challenging. However, there is a part in the story where the man, an individual who had shot multiple people before falling victim himself and getting saved by the female physician, tells her that he's not a bad man but had just had a bad day! That line hit a nerve with people. I was told he WAS a bad man! What I’d hoped to show was that people often do things when ran by emotion. The doctor shares real compassion with him and gives him hope. She shares with him about the Great Physician whose blood still cleans the stains from all of our bad days. I like the story and the fact that she ministers to him throughout. Unlike some of my other works, “Becoming…” is very faith centered. I would not call it preachy, however, all the stories deal with issues of faith.

Enjoy “His Blood For Yours” (Originally titled “Stains of a Bad Day”)

Lindsey Walker veered right, taking the exit ramp that would lead her to the Red Dragon Emporium. It was the place to find the perfect accessories to go in her newly redecorated living room. She’d chosen a warm, earthy pallet for the designer to work with. She loved how it was coming together, but decided it needed a subtle pop to liven the tranquility; something simple like a red vase.

This part of town was foreign to her. She carefully navigated her candy apple Lexus according to her GPS. Left turn, then right. Rounding the corner she saw a grouping of emergency vehicles. The hypnotic lights all flashed in unison. Blue. Red. Blue. Red. A young police officer motioned her away but she stopped instead.

“I’m a doctor. Can I be of help?” There were several bodies lying around. Each appeared to be responding to care; all except a man somewhat apart from the others. He lay in a crimson pool of his own blood while a young EMT frantically tried to stop the red flow.

“We’ve got a bleeder. Can’t seem to stop it. He’s, uhm, he’s the gunman. Responsible for all these…” He waved his hand to indicate the victims.

Lindsey nodded. “Let me see what I can do, okay?”

The policeman nodded. Lindsey got her bag from the car. He escorted her to the EMT. The young man looked up at them. “I can’t save him. Can’t stop the bleeding or even slow it.”

“Let’s have a look, shall we?” Years of training and experience as a top-notch surgeon taught Lindsey to be calm in emergency situations. It helped to ease the tension of those around her as well.

She knelt beside the body, barely noticing the blood soaking through her Calvin Klein jeans. A brief exam led her to a few tricks of the trade, all of which proved useless.

Dr. Walker moved her hair from her face while listening to the EMT rattle off the man's vitals. He shook his head. “He's a goner, doc.”

But Lindsey refused to give up. She closed her eyes and placed her blood-soaked, gloved hands together. “Father,” she whispered, “Tell me what I need to do to save this man. He needs a second chance with You.” She lifted her hands to the heavens and spoke the words she’d heard others say in the hallways as they’d prayed for loved ones before surgery. “Guide my hands, Lord God.”

A feeling of peace and knowing washed over her. She knew exactly what to do. Pulling the gloves off, she ordered the EMT to douse her hands with the antibacterial spray from her bag. Bewildered, he did as ordered. She called out tools and he lifted them from her bag.

Lindsey made an incision in the man’s side just large enough for her hand to fit through. The others who had gathered around watched in utter shock.

Lindsey closed her eyes, envisioned the internal body, and felt for the bleeder. “There!” she said at last. “Clamp.” The EMT handed it to her as her hand emerged holding parts of the man’s innards. The gurgling of blood lessened and stopped. Lindsey packed around the open wound. “We need to transport him immediately. He needs more than what I can offer him here.” Heads nodded. Activity followed.

As they began to wheel the man away on the stretcher, Lindsey leaned down and whispered to him, “He saved your body. Now let Him save your spirit. His blood for yours.”

In a moment he was whisked away from the crime scene en route to Emmert Memorial Hospital.

The next day, Lindsey went to see the stranger she'd helped to save. She knew exactly who deserved the glory and she didn’t mind telling others as much. Alone she could never have saved him.

Through bandages and tubes he smiled at her weakly. “Thank you,” he whispered. Lindsey nodded, watching him try for more words. “I’m not a bad man. Just a…..bad day.”

“I know.” She replied as she sat close to the bed. Her compassion brought him to tears. “Will you let me tell you about real hope?” He nodded gratefully.

Taking his hand, Lindsey spoke of another doctor, the Great Physician, who died upon a cross that we might have life more abundantly; whose blood still cleans the stains from all of our bad days.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy To Sacrifice...a short story

In honor of an excruciatingly busy week, I am going to share some of my writings with everyone. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them. The first one is from my co-written collection of short stories called Time Out On A Roller Coaster, written with dear friend Patrick Sipperly. We co-wrote several then added more of our own. This one is all mine and I rather like it. Hope you do too...

Happy To Sacrifice by Linda Boulanger

She landed the plane with ease, guiding it to the ground with the same precise gusto that made her appear to blaze through life with an air of confidence. As the tiny craft taxied to its destination of rest she felt a certain wave of nausea. She patted her stomach knowing her days of carefree climbing in and out of the cockpit were numbered. Abigail Brighton was pregnant.

The reality of that statement had begun to sink in as increasing bouts of nausea had sent her marching more and more often in and out of the bathroom. Her husband had joked that they needed to install a revolving door. He’d said it, of course, as she’d clung to the rim of the porcelain bowl for the third time that morning. Abigail had failed to see the humor in his statement.

The sickness had begun to subside enough that she felt confident to pursue again her greatest love – flying. Taking to the skies had always helped her clear her head. She’d needed this time to concentrate, to figure it all out, to sort through her feelings and come to terms with this tiny being that was growing inside of her. It was a life form so new; yet still it was threatening to change her lifestyle. In many ways, it already had. She no longer felt free to do as she pleased and her confidence in her ability as a mother was severely grounded, not unlike her plane on a bad weather day.

The pregnancy was unexpected. Her husband was thrilled. She was, thus far, unenthusiastic. Of course her husband had not had to make sacrifices. He had not been kept from the things he loved or had to deal with the nausea and fear. She thought of another who had made sacrifices for her; her own mother. She was the very person who had instilled in her the love of flying. And her mother’s love of the air had come from Abigail’s grandmother; one of the few women who had belonged to a quietly heralded group of Soviet women pilots in WWII known as the Night Witches. These women, a small regiment, flew bombing missions from 1942 to the end of the war. They were the most highly decorated unit in the Soviet Air Force. Amazingly, they flew in obsolete wood and canvas biplanes that could carry only two bombs at a time. The aircraft was extremely slow with a maximum speed lower than the stall speed of the German crafts which made them difficult to shoot down. Abigail’s grandmother, as had the other women pilots, had made daring use of her flying skills and the plane’s exceptional maneuverability. They became known as the Night Witches because of the tactic they used of cutting their engines and coasting over the enemy camps to drop their bombs. They could come in lower that way without detection and possible ground fire. The women, making their runs under the cover of night, soon had the enemy believing them to be witches appearing out of the night. It added to the mystique and heroism of this brave, resourceful regiment of flying women.

Her grandmother had continued to fly after the war; passing that love down to her own daughter and granddaughter in turn. Because of these two women, Abigail was who she was. They’d each made sacrifices for motherhood and now it seemed to be her turn. A smile lifted the corners of her lips. Again she patted her stomach. Her mind filled with dreamy thoughts of sharing with her child this love that had been shared with her. She imagined the times they would climb in and out of the cockpit together. She could feel the soft fingers with the tiny hand in hers; hear the high-pitched, childish voice chattering away excited questions; see the cherubic face upturned to her in awe and admiration. Her face beamed, glowing as only a pregnant woman’s does.

Abigail walked away from her plane with a new confidence in her ability as a mother; not born of knowing what to do, but of the dream of sharing her knowledge and experiences with her child. Secretly she hoped for a daughter to follow in the footsteps of the flying women before her. As another wave of nausea washed over her, she no longer cared about all she might miss and what she must endure to bring her baby into the world. Her spirit soared with giddy delight as she realized she was now happy to sacrifice.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

No lack of ideas here…

I have been inundated with ideas. That’s a good thing, right? Well, yes and no. I remember when I wrote my first novel…as yet unpublished (as well as still mostly in handwritten form secured within the folds of one of my notebooks). I wrote the whole thing over Christmas break. That’s right! A whole novel in a two week time period. Is it any good? I don’t know. At the time I thought it was the best thing I’d ever done. Pride gushed from every pore of my body. Again, I don’t know if it’s any good. It’s about the Phantom of the Opera of all things! But, the important thing about that novel was that it revived a dream within me; one I’d buried many years ago. I LOVED the process from conception of the idea to the writing and rewriting. I practically worked day and night on the thing. Obsessed, I would say.

As I wrote I thought “this is what I want to do when I grow up.” Keep in mind I was just a few months shy of my 45th birthday! Nearing completion I began to consider a “career” change. I’ve done many things though the last 15 years have been devoted to being a mother and wife as well as volunteering with my local no-kill animal shelter. I also became card maker extraordinaire and designed custom specialty greeting cards. Awesome Cards for Awesome People was my slogan. I loved doing that too, although it barely paid for itself. I actually still do cards by request and have my “regulars” who email or call…regularly!

But, my youngest was getting ready to start school. I realized I would be alone for 5 whole hours every single day. What did I most want to do with that 5 hour time span? I knew. I wanted to write. And, as with anything we undertake…or at least it is this way for me…I began to doubt myself. What if I couldn’t think of anything else to write about? What if I wrote one or two books and then…nothing!

That didn’t happen. In fact, it has been quite the reverse for me. I have idea upon idea and each new story brings with it a whole slew of new ideas…so if you’re lacking, let me know!  Before I finish one, a new one is waiting (and usually I begin before the other is finished). That’s happening as I write A Marriage of Necessity. I have two ideas, in fact. Surprisingly they are both a bit different from anything I’ve done before. One was inspired by this flash of a vision I keep getting every time I walk out into the garage and get into my vehicle. It’s a bit frightening. The other inspiration came from the profile picture of a FaceBook Fan. I then read her story and knew why that picture was calling me.

It’s exciting to know the ideas are forthcoming. I could run out of them today and have enough in my file cabinet to support my writing efforts for the rest of my life. At the same time, it’s a bit frustrating because I want to share them NOW! I also have a job to do as I edit and format and help others achieve their writing dreams through my www.OneStopPublisher.com.

On a positive note….I have finally handed over some of my handwritten manuscripts for transcription. The day I watched the first one walk out the door I thought I would cry. I had to remind myself that she’d come back to me in a format ready to share with the world. Let her go! It’s the only way to do what I want to do…share NOW. And may the ideas be forever forthcoming….

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Helping others through One Stop Publisher

This has been a really great day. I can't really pinpoint why. Do you ever have those days? I feel as if I made a lot of connects and was asked to do a blog interview surrounding my collection of faith-based short stories, Becoming... I said yes, of course! I realized too that there are a lot of people out there just like me with the dream of a hold-in-your-hand book. That realization made me even more glad that I began my One Stop Publisher company. I've occasionally had second thoughts about it. I'd love to be able to do nothing but write. However, that's not really reasonable PLUS part of my dream has always been to help others with their dream.

I think the day I helped an 8 year old girl publish her first book I knew I'd continue. We still have some revisions before she "goes public" with it but, she has a proof in hand, and is so proud. I remember the day I held my first book with my name on the cover in my hands. Talk about Cloud 9 (or would that be Cloud 8, Dina?!). It hasn't been a huge seller, though I have sold 2 this week. But, it opened the door and it was practically painless. It gave me the confidence I needed to continue. I'm not so sure a room full of rejection letters would do that. Plus, I still have options. I maintain all rights to my work and can pursue other avenues at any time.

So, does that mean I will continue on the self-publishing path? I don't know. For now, it's working for me and I'm meeting a lot of others who have had success as well. Some of us are teaming up to help others through my One Stop Publisher and links to their sites. It's exciting! I also set my own hours and can change my mind about my projects!!! That is even more exciting and I have exercised that right several times (if you look at my What's She Up To page of my author website, you will see that I recently had a change of heart). And with that, I'm going to change directions and take myself to bed. It's 1:30ish a.m. and I'll be sitting at a tennis tournament all day tomorrow....between running kids to school and other activities. At least it's supposed to be warm-ish--I think.

So, I think I'll leave you with a couple of links:
The Shelf Life of Linda Boulanger on FaceBook
One Stop Publisher on FaceBook
Coffee's Hot -- great networking site
If you get bored....check out the blogs I follow and do some reading. There are some really talented writers there with fun and interesting and insightful things to say. (You can get there from my profile, I believe).

Monday, March 1, 2010


Author Melinda Richarz Lyons creatively explains why she thinks writing is
F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C as she shares some of the things she thinks are important when it comes to writing using her latest book—a young readers book entitled Murder at the Oaklands Mansion --as an example.

F—The “F” in fantastic stands for fun! Writing is fun! When you write fiction—just think about it. It is the only time in your life that you can make things up and get away with it. You can make up a story that is not true when you write fiction. Now it is important to remember even if you make a story up you still need to write about what you know. Like the murder in my story is made up, but the facts concerning the Civil War that are in the book are true and the things about Murfreesboro, where the story takes place, are true. Because first of all, I lived in Murfreesboro, and second, I did a lot of research on the Civil War before writing the book. So write about what or where you know and then do research if you need to. Your story can be made up but your background information has to be believable. It is also fun to create characters out of thin air. Like in my book, I needed a bad character and thought, “what do I want him to be like? How do I want him to look?” So I just made up a name and started creating this murderer. I decided to make him older. Then I decided to make him an aging hippie and decided he would have a long gray ponytail and he would drive an old flowered bus. I pictured him as scruffy and it was fun to dress him and put words into his mouth that made him sound mean. So remember, writing is fun because you get to use your imagination.

A—The “A” in fantastic stands for action and activity. Nobody wants to read something boring. Think about the books you like to read. They have action in them, don’t they? And you have to create action and activity. Let me give you an example. In my book, I have the main character, Brooks, witness a murder. Okay—I could have just written something like “Brooks heard a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot. Then somebody fell down.” That tells what happened but it isn’t very exciting. So instead I wrote, “Brooks heard several loud crackles and then he felt something fall against him. It was the man who had been standing right next to him. The man was just lying there on the ground bleeding! Brooks stood there frozen and then he heard someone scream, “Call 911!” Both those passages basically say the same thing, but the second one adds a lot more action and activity. Don’t just tell your reader what is happening. Make your reader hear the gun, see the man fall, and use details. It is a lot more effective to say the man was bleeding. That makes you see the fact that he really is hurt. So make your writing have that A in it for action and activity.

N—The N in fantastic stands for never. You never need anything but your mind and your English skills to write. You can write anywhere anytime and it doesn’t cost anything. You can use a computer or just a pencil and a piece of paper. Writing never has a time limit, either. You can write for fifteen minutes or you can write for five hours. That is one of the things I love about writing. Like with my book, I would think of something I wanted to add to it or change, and I would sit down and write. I never had to write in a certain time period or in a certain place. And you almost never have any limits on your writing. By that I mean you can go wild with your imagination. You can create a character and a situation right out of your head. And think about this--you are almost never too old or too young too write. I was 11-years-old, the first time I got paid for my writing. So remember, the N stands for never.

T—The first T in fantastic stands for teach because writing teaches you so much. You know when I was talking about the fact that you need to try to stick with what you know, even if you write fiction so your background information will be accurate. Like with my book, I started with what I knew—my town of Murfreesboro, TN, and I did know quite a bit about the Civil War. But I wanted to make sure all my facts were correct, so I did a lot of research at the library and on the internet. Doing the research took a lot of time but it was really fun. And just think how much that research taught me. I learned all kinds of things about the Civil War. Also each time you write, it teaches you to be a better writer. Remember when you learned how to swim or skate, or ride a bicycle. At first you weren’t very good. You feel off your bicycle a lot. But then with practice you got better and better. Writing is like that. The more you write, the better you get. So the T stands for teach as writing teaches a lot of different things.

A—The A in fantastic is for accomplishment. When you finish writing something, you feel like you have really accomplished something. Your words are on paper. What was in your head is there for anyone to read. There is no better feeling than when you write something and it touches someone else. Like if you write a poem for your Mom and she reads it and cries. How great is that? Writing is very powerful. You can make people cry or laugh or get angry—just with your words. One time I wrote something and a woman who read it sent me flowers. I felt so very accomplished. Like I had done something important and touched someone with my words. What I wrote meant something to someone else. So the A stands for the accomplishment you feel when you put your words down on paper. It feels like you have done something important and you have!

S—The S in fantastic stands for success. But becoming a successful writing involves a lot. First, writing is very hard work and takes a lot of time. I often say that the word writing may be spelled with one r and no e’s. But actually when you think about it writing has two r’s and by that I mean writing involves rewriting or revision and rejection. You don’t just jot something down and you are done with it. Like with my book, I spent more time on the rewriting and revision than I did actually writing the book. I think many authors spend a lot of time making their writing as good as it can be. Now the other r that is involved in writing is rejection. If you write much at all, at some point you will face rejection. I have enough rejection letters from publishers to paper a room. Honestly! But what you have to do is take rejection as part of writing and try to learn from it. Just like when you teacher corrects something on your paper. Most of the time, if you change it, your paper will be better. And the e’s that are actually part of the word writing go along with this—edit and effort. You have to spend a lot of time on those revisions and rewriting. You have to edit your work and then it will be edited by others, like your publisher. It takes a lot of effort to be a writer. But to be a success at anything in life, you have to work hard. Now if you decide that writing is what you want to do for a living, there are many different ways you can do that. You can write fiction or non fiction books, or be a journalist. You can work for a newspaper, a magazine, or a tv or radio station as a writer. You can also find success writing speeches for a congressman, or writing commercials for an advertising agency. Or you can teach writing! So remember, S is for success and that takes a lot of time, rewriting, revision, rejection, editing and effort.

T—The second t in fantastic stands for tools. This is very important. You have to have the right tools to write! Learning grammar is vital. Proper use of the English language is very necessary for any writer. I know sometimes that seems kind of boring, but if you don’t have the basic tools, your reader might not understand what you are trying to say. Writing is about communication, and without the basics you can’t communicate your thoughts on paper to anyone else. It is just like building a house. You couldn’t just start building a house, without having some education about how to do it. And you would have to have the proper tools to build your house. You couldn’t even put up a wall if you didn’t know how to use a hammer. So you have to learn basic rules about grammar and sentence structure and things like that, to be able to write. And it doesn’t matter if you ever want to make your living as a writer. Everyone needs to know how to write because good communication skills are the key to success in any job or career. No matter what you do, you need to be able to communicate. And that takes education and tools. So remember your T is for tools.

IInspiration. I am often asked where I get my inspiration. The answer is simple. All around me! I see someone who looks or acts interesting and I think about how I could use that to build a character. Or I see something happen and it inspires me to write. Sit outside some day and just look around. Do you see an old man walking across the street? What do you think he is like? What if you made up a story about him? What would it be? Imagine a story built around something you see right in front of you. For my book, I got my inspiration from a real situation. My neighbor across the street had a little boy. He and I started doing things together and that is where I came up with the idea for the book. I decided that the little boy could be the main character in Murder at the Oaklands Mansion. Then I made the woman across the street from him his aunt. Then I took some of the things we really did do and put them in the book. For example, we really did go see the ice sculptures at the Opryland Hotel and we really did go to a movie audition. And—we really did go visit the Oaklands Mansion. I started with those things and then I thought, well that wouldn’t be very interesting. What could I have these characters do that would be interesting? Oh—how about getting them involved in a murder? So you can get inspiration from things all around you and again—it sometimes goes back to what you know. Your inspiration is often right in your own backyard. Sometimes writers can get inspiration from an event. Like in the movie “The Perfect Storm” that was about a boat sinking. The storm really did happen and the boat really did sink, but the writer who wrote the book made up the things that happened at the end. He wasn’t on the boat and everyone went down with the ship, so he really had to make up what they said and did right before the boat sank. So he was inspired by a real event. Or sometimes a writer is inspired by something that he feels strongly about or is upset about. Or a writer can even be inspired by another person. That is how biographies get written. So the I in fantastic stands for inspiration.

C—The C in fantastic—our last letter—stands for construction in creation. It is important to have a plan when you write, just like when I was talking about having the proper tools. Think of it like building a house again. You have to have the proper tools and education to build a house, but you also would not start building a house without a plan or a blueprint. Writing is the same. Most writers, including me, start by brainstorming. Before you can create, you have to construct. That is what brainstorming is all about. I sit down and think about what I want to say. What is this book or story about? Where I want to start and how I want to end my story? What kind of characters do I want? How do I want to develop them as I go along? You can always change things when you rewrite. But you have to have a basic plan about what your goals are with each piece of writing. For example, what is your purpose? Like with my book, I first wanted to write a book that kids would enjoy reading. I wanted it to have some funny things in it, some action, some suspense and some mystery. I also wanted it to be informative about the Civil War. I always thought history was boring, because when I was growing up, history in school was just memorizing dates and names. History is much more than that and I wanted to make it exciting to learn about the history of the civil war. So I tried to include as many interesting and sometimes scary or even funny things about the civil war in my book. As I went along, I did change some of my original plans as I was writing the book. But I started with a basic construction plan so that I could create. So C is for construction in creation.

Melinda Richarz Lyons, an amazing author and individual, earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of North Texas, and has been a free lance writer for over forty years. Her work has appeared in many publications, including True West, Cats Magazine, Nashville Parent, Frontier Times, Cincinnati Family Magazine, Kids, Etc. and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She is a co-author of WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty (Echelon Press). Ms. Lyons’ story “Twice in a Lifetime” was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love (2009). Her current book is Murder at the Oaklands Mansion. For more about the author and her writing: http://www.melindalyons.com/