Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Herbal Lore of the British Isles–April Workshop


herb gardenMy Herbal Lore Workshop for Celtic Hearts Romance Writers is also open to others. For more info and to register visit the link. The workshop runs from April 3-30, and will be interesting and informative. Although the focus of the herbs are those used historically in the British Isles, if a question arises about Native American plants, I can help out there, too. Be an active participant or a lurker. The material can be saved for later use. Lively interaction does make the class more fun, however.

Regarding homework, there isn’t any. If  you incorporate one or more of herbs into a scene you’ve written and would like feedback, I invite you to share it in the broader group, or email it to me privately and I’ll tell you if I think the herb choice and use seems right. My role is to offer information and inspiration.

Visit: http://celtichearts.org/herbal-lore-of-the-british-isles/

October Workshop–Herbal Lore and Medicinal Plants in the British Isles–Beth Trissel


herb gardenCome one! Come all! I’m leading this workshop for Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, but it’s also open to the public. For more info and to register visit the link. The workshop runs through October and will be interesting and informative. Although the focus of the herbs are those used historically in the British Isles, if someone has a question about Native American plants, I can help out there too. Be an active participant or a lurker, just don’t nibble on the hemlock while hiding behind the trees. The material can be saved for later perusal. Lively interaction does make the class more fun, however.

English country garden flowers and herbsRegarding homework assignments, (assuming you’re a writer) this isn’t mandatory, but I suggest at some time during the workshop you incorporate one or more of herbs into a scene you’ve written and post it for feedback in the broader group, or email it to me privately and I’ll tell you if I think the herb choice and use seems appropriate. I will post some examples from my own novels. My role is to offer information, inspiration, and kicks and giggles.

Mystical Press Editing Service’s Grand Opening–Beth Trissel


Greetings and Salutations!

Many thanks to Beth for hosting us on her blog today! We’ve got some really exciting news to share with everyone so grab that cuppa and let the blogging begin!  Welcome ladies. Glad to have you.

September 1-15th marks the official Grand Opening of Mystical Press Services!!!

This means 50% Off all our classes and services through September 15thhttp://mysticalpress.com

In case you haven’t yet heard about our website, allow me to introduce you to a place where you just might find the fulfillment of your dreams. That’s right! The talented folks at Mystical Press want to help you reach your publishing goals!

How do we do that? I’m glad you asked!

Mystical Press is the culmination of an idea that came from two authors and professionally trained editors—Arial Burnz and AJ Nuest—where we help authors bridge the gap between the form rejection letter and publication. In fact, we believe in this venture so passionately, our tagline is “Helping authors achieve their dreams.”

At Mystical Press our primary goal is to help writers. As authors, we understand the frustration of not receiving constructive and useful feedback, the aggravation of navigating the murky depths of the publishing industry and that, sometimes, authors just need a place to vent. Well, we’re here to tell you, the insanity can end!

Like-minded individuals can gather online at Mystical Press to work one-on-one with professional editors who help authors prepare their manuscripts for submission. Whether you are looking for a Manuscript Evaluation, Submission Evaluation, or a full story edit, we will give you honest, encouraging feedback and work diligently with you on your story to make sure it’s ready to land on an editor’s desk. No project is too big or too small and all receive the same precise attention to detail.

Perhaps your submission is ready but you need assistance with smaller editing projects like a query letter and synopsis? Have no fear! Mystical Press is here! We offer a full edit of query letters and synopses with comments and suggestions that come directly from AN EDITOR! TAH-DAH!

And don’t worry! If your goal is to write your very own dynamite synopsis, at Mystical Press we believe in “teaching a man to fish”. Our Power Class, How to Write a WINNING Synopsis, is designed to easily guide you through the process of crafting your very own synopsis! Yes, that’s right. I used “easily” and “synopsis” in the same sentence!

The self-paced course curriculum at Mystical Press can assist in tackling those pesky problem areas as well (e.g., show vs. tell, POV shifts, realistic character and story development, etc.).

If you’ve read books, articles and/or taken workshops and are still in search of that elusive contract offer, perhaps Mystical Press can help. Take one class or take a whole series—our online classes are designed to meet each writer’s individual needs.

Is your next project of the self-publishing variety? Mystical Press has a selection of pre-made covers we guarantee will only be used once! No one will have the same cover! Or, if you’d like, we can design a cover specifically tailored to your vision—you will work one-on-one with our talented cover artists! We are also happy to edit your baby and can even format the document to meet the specifications of most popular self-publishing platforms.

Remember to mention Mystical Press to all your friends and fellow writing pals – here’s why. Mystical Press offers a free Referral Program. Just register on the site and we will assign you a Referral ID. If anyone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you earn a referral fee! Whether you choose cash or a credit for products or services on the site, consider this our thank you for helping us spread the word.

Oh! And before I forget…we offer a wide range of gift certificates designed specifically with the writer in mind. Tired of searching for the “write” present for your author pals? Maybe that next birthday calls for an eGift from Mystical Press!

So now that you know all about us, please tell us all about you! Head on over to Mystical Press and register free on the site. Everyone who does will be entered into our drawing for fabulous gifts and prizes! Join our celebration and together we will strive to get your voice heard!

My Writing Journey and A Nugget of Wisdom–Beth Trissel


Why be a writer? Because you’re burning up with stories and ideas you just have to get down on paper (virtual paper these days) or you’ll go mad–probably are a bit crazy anyway. I have this theory about writers, those who are on medication and those who should be. I am, but wasn’t for years. Not until my breakdown right in the middle of Chapter Two of my upcoming release, Kira Daughter of the Moon. Took me years to finish that novel. *Note, it’s also essential to love chocolate and coffee, or in my case, Earl Grey tea. Writers function on caffeine. Avoid the whiskey.

In the beginning (about age twenty) I drew a picture of a clock with a dissatisfied face and angrily named it a ‘watch-gog’ because I felt that’s all I was doing, watching others live their dreams, and yearned to throw myself into a creative venture. But what?  All my family members were artistic and Lord knows I’d tried. Painting and drawing eluded me. I was no hawk-eyed photographer. I’d made some swell collages, but that didn’t seem enough. My arts and crafts weren’t as expertly done as others. Though, I must say, those tuna fish cans I decorated with Christmas scenes were charming.

Yes, I loved to write, since I could hold a crayon, and poured myself into poetry and short stories. Was there something more?  For the next twenty years I crafted pieces about rural life and gradually gained the seed of confidence to give myself permission to attempt those historical romance novels I so loved to read.  At long last, I’d begun. Could it be, was I actually a writer, and how would I know when I’d ‘arrived?’

Mountains loomed before me, and still do, with every new book. Publication, of course, was the ultimate pinnacle of success, but I discovered contests–some quite prestigious. If I excelled in those, not only might it pave the way toward my giddy goal but would lend me the credibility I hungered for. Certain I was ready for the initial launch, I entered my first RWA® Chapter Contest. While awaiting the results, I planned my acceptance speech for the awards banquet.  Whether they even had one or not, I don’t recall, but clearly remember sitting in utter bemusement holding those first score sheets. “You broke every rule,” wrote an equally bemused judge.

Rules???  Was Charles Dickens guided by rules, and what of Jane Austen? *Note to self, you are not Dickens or Austen, nor do you live in their time period. But that same judge tossed me a lifeline, “You have talent,” she said, “apparent in your beautiful descriptions.”

This at least was a place to begin. And so I did. With each step forward, there was always someone along the way to lend yet more constructive criticism which I balked at, but eventually accepted and grew from. Along with those beneficial guides were individuals who continually smacked me down. Most of them were called agents and editors. But I got back up, brushed myself off, and onward ho I went.  I cherished the good rejection letters, a personal note containing a high-five along with the inevitable ‘but.’ But, your work doesn’t—fill in the blank.

Yes, indeed, I’ve had hundreds of rejections over the years. To cheer myself up, I’d throw mini rejection parties (weekly) attended mostly by myself and the dogs. We jigged around the kitchen to lively Celtic music. Well, at least I did. They tolerated being leapt over in my spritely steps. Being on Riverdance was another dream, but I digress. (Often)

Back in the snail mail days, my dear hubby handed me my mail referring to these inevitable replies as my ‘Dear John’ letters. To gain the fortitude needed to open these dreaded missives, I inked the initials C. D. H. on the outside of my SASE which stood for Courage Dear Heart, a reference to my beloved Aslan from the Narnia Chronicles by CS Lewis. Later, I found it easier to be rejected by email, though not a lot. 

Eventually, after about ten years, I landed an excellent agent and thought this is it–I’ve arrived in the Promised Land! But no, not even she could sell my work to traditional NY publishing houses, no matter how much she extolled it or how many awards I’d garnered. They didn’t want stories set in early America.  Not sexy, not kewl.  Since when?

So my agent and I amicably parted ways and I spotted a new ship on the horizon, an untraditional publisher,  fast–gaining recognition, The Wild Rose Press. Right off, I was smitten by the name and their rose garden theme. Next to writing, my passion is gardening.  At the top of their homepage is a rose that looks very much like my favorite variety by English breeder David Austen called Abraham Darby. It was a sign unto me. I was forever seeking signs…must be my superstitious Scots-Irish forebears.  It’s also Biblical…

Many years and awards later, I have multiple books out with The Wild Rose, more releases coming this fall, and several self-pubbed titles. My best-selling novel, American historical romance, Red Bird’s Song, is the first book I ever wrote, oft rewrote, and the one mentioned above in that contest where I broke all the rules. 

I’ve learned so much in my journey, it’s difficult to know where to begin when offering advice to aspiring authors. One nugget I’ll share is to be specific in your word choices. Don’t ‘move’ across the room when you can stomp or tip-toe. Rather than a vague choice like ‘object,’ how about a dusty heap of bones? Anything that gives a clear visual will grab the reader far better than iffy imagery. Appeal to all five senses–make that six, and don’t neglect the deep sense a character possesses of what has been, is now, and may be.  Take care not to overuse words, expressions, descriptions, or words ending in ‘ly.’ No doubt you’ve heard this countless times, but ‘show don’t tell’ is vital. Keep any telling to relevant snippets interspersed with action and dialogue.

Most of all, write what you love and persevere. Learn from those helpful guides along the way. Keep on going like a sled dog in a blinding snow storm.  For years, that’s what I compared myself to. Remember,“You are not finished when you lose, you are finished when you quit.”

Did I ever threaten to quit?  Many times. And then I’d ask myself, what are you gonna do now.  Write, of course.  It’s what I do.

*Image above of me writing with some of the grandbabies beside me. Pic of my favorite rose taken by daughter Elise. The rest of the images are royalty free.

The Secret Life of Bees, errrr, Writers


Ever noticed that when writers are portrayed in movies they tend to come across as, well, nuts?  The examples are endless.  Take Nim’s Island, the author in this film is so agoraphobic/germaphobic she can’t open the door to get her mail, runs through bottles of handsanitizer, and only eats a certain kind of soup—not certain which phobia that is.   She also carries on vivid conversations with her only companion who happens to be the main character in her novels.  *Gerard Butler, so certainly tempting, but throw in  delusional schizophrenia.  And then there’s Stranger Than Fiction where the novelist, another ‘eccentric’ to put it mildly, has Godlike power over her bedeviled character who ultimately arrives on her doorstep begging for his life.  She plans to kill him in her novel.  And the list goes on.

I suppose there’s some justification for this crazy writer theme, as there’s a fine line between creativity and insanity.   And it’s not lost on me that this portrayal is coming to us via the scriptwriters, although they’re mostly making fun of novelists.   But it’s my thinking that most people simply do not understand the mindset of writers.  For example, on chat loops, Twitter, workshops…we blithely inquire of  each other which would be the best way to kill someone in a given situation or time period.

When I taught my herbal lore class last fall I received numerous queries as to which poisonous herb to use for the desired effect, depending on how fast or slowly an author wished their character to succumb–yes, yes, we’re speaking of characters–and in what form to deliver the fatal elixir, mixed with food or other medication…and should they disguise the bitter taste or will the unsuspecting victim just knock it back as is?

Writers can be quite morbid at times, but all in pursuit of our craft.   How to better persuade readers that the story is REAL, because to us it is.

The other day on Twitter I noted a tweet from, I assumed, a writer asking what was the most romantic way for a young man to propose to his girlfriend and  make it really special.  My first thought was, are they writing a contemporary or historical, so I shot back, “What century are we in?”

The answer from the probably puzzled groom to be was, “The 21st, I hope.”

“Ah, a modern setting,” I said to self while wondering at the ‘I hope.’  I mean surely they knew what time period their story was in.  But I persevered.  Being primarily an historical author, I simply pointed out that in many of the romantic comedies I’ve seen there’s a tendency for the proposal/I love you confession to come via a microphone or shouted in front of a crowd, like in a football arena.

The tweeted answer was, “Yes, I see what you mean but she’s not a sports fan.”

No biggie, I thought.  Most anywhere people gather will do. An Irish pub, fountain in the center of a town square, airplane terminal, or best of all breaking into the adored one’s  wedding to someone else just in the nick of time.

Not helpful in this situation, I might add.  Once I realized I was advising  an actual proposal, I chuckled heartily and left him to it. The last I saw a proposal at Disneyland was faring the best.

Among random tweets from writers I noted this week:  “Gonna watch Winnie the Pooh with the kids and then finish my demon novel.”   Anyone see the irony in that?   But it’s typical.   All of this has led me to my conclusion that writers have their own language–a secret life–which most do not understand.

I’ve gotta go figure out how to handle that ghost/exorcism without making it TOO paranormal.   In my latest historical, of course.  ~

WRITER WELLNESS, A WRITER’S PATH TO HEALTH AND CREATIVITY


Today I’m pleased to have Author Joy E. Held as my guest.  Joy has some interesting and helpful tips to share with us.~

Hi, Beth! Thanks for being a super host today. I wanted to share a list I call “The Many Joys of Journaling: Why the Journal Is A Writer’s Best Friend.”

Journals are:

1.  A good opportunity to clear your head of distractions

2.  A great source of story and poem ideas

3.  A personal history of events, learn from the past

4.  Great for exploring a range of emotions

5.  A place that allows self-observation, a meta-cognitive opportunity

6.  A source of awareness of growth and change

7.  An opportunity to function in the present moment

8.  A place for self-counseling to work out problems

9.  Good place to identify problems that you can’t work out on your own, limitations

10.  A way for a writer to connect with himself and the world around him

11.  A way learn what you truly believe in

12.  A way to discover what truthful writing is

13.  A way to learn how to focus intently

14.  A good place to learn how to write with flow

15.  A way to understand patterns in your life

16.  A way to understand your purposes in life

17.  Help you recognize your passions, notice repetitive themes

18.  A way to learn to appreciate time, a journal teaches patience

19.  A way to learn to appreciate form, space and design

20.  A way to become more compassionate toward yourself and others, teaches acceptance

Journals don’t have to be long or time consuming. Keep it simple and record a single thought a day. The main benefit is cleansing. It’s liberating and refreshing to get worries on the journal page. It keeps them from bugging you while you work.

Living the Writer Wellness plan for many years has enabled me to live a compassionate, productive, and creative life. Journaling is the underpinning of the whole process.

Do you journal?

Please visit my blog every other week for tips on the five practices of Writer Wellness which are journaling, fitness, relaxation, nutrition, and creative play.

www.writerwellness.wordpress.com

Be well, write well!

Joy Held is the author of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity, Who Dares Wins Publishing, www.whodareswinspublishing.com available in digital and print TODAY!

Contact Joy: joybeth1109@yahoo.com

*THIS INFORMATION IS NOT MEANT TO REPLACE THE ADVICE OF A QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER. SEEK COUNCIL BEFORE STARTING AN EXERCISE PROGRAM.

Tips For Surviving A Writer’s Conference By Historical Romance Author Liz Arnold


LIZ ARNOLD is an historical romance writer with a new book out from The Wild Rose Press, MESSAGE TO LOVE, set during the Spanish-American War in 1898.   Beautiful cover.
Today Liz is talking today about what she does to survive a writer’s conference!
I’m interested to hear this.  Take it away Liz~
After five hours in the car, I didn’t feel like going to the writer’s conference. The driving, the early morning preparations, and saying good-bye to my children combined to make my body sluggish and my heart heavy. But the conference began that evening at 7:00 p.m. with “Night Owl” sessions until 11:00 p.m. Twelve hours of activities were planned for the next day. I had an hour and a half to check in, change clothes, and pick up my conference information. I didn’t want to miss anything, but I was really zapped!

Thanks to great organization and nice people, the hotel and conference check-ins went smoothly and left me with time on my hands. I changed into exercise clothes, grabbed a bottle of water, and headed for the hotel activities area.
Thirty-minutes of easy yoga later, my head was clear and I felt energized again. I had done deep breathing exercises and several gentle yoga poses and I felt peaceful and open-minded. The water helped the tension headache drain away and I was excited to go to the conference.

I had a fabulous, productive weekend because I incorporated some basic principles of exercise and hydration into my plans. I also carved out a few minutes both days to write in my journal. These activities helped me cope with the stresses that accompany a writing convention. Stress isn’t all bad. New people and surroundings, and intellectual challenges create a normal amount of stress that is easy to deal with if writers will remember a few important tips:

*Water-sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget especially when attending a conference sets a writer off his/her normal schedule. It’s always available, just make a habit of drinking several ounces every two hours no matter how long the line is at the restroom.
*Exercise-your body may feel fatigued from the extra walking and excess sitting, but the cure is more exercise–specific exercises that increase circulation and reduce swelling. Simple yoga poses will help immensely. Using the hotel treadmill or exercise bike will do amazing things for reducing swelling.
*Food-take along foods you are used to eating so your body is not shocked by all new foods while you’re at the conference.
*Journal-writing a few head-clearing lines on a scrap of paper while at the conference will do wonders for keeping you focused. Don’t take your regular journal from home with you. Don’t want to misplace it! Write a few notes on hotel stationary and tape it into your journal when you get home.
I would love to hear what you’ve done to survive a con!
Thanks for having me, Beth!
Thanks for joining me here, Liz, and for all the excellent suggestions.  Anyone have some of your own?