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November News 2014

What happened?

I’ve been somewhat absent from my newsletter/blog for a month. Writing a new novel takes a lot of butt-in-chair time.

The Work-in-Progress. You can see the "timeline" on the cork board.

The Work-in-Progress. You can see the “timeline” on the cork board.

I’ve heard of National Novel Writing Month for as long as it’s been around. I never thought I would actually do it. I did this time. NaNoWriMo was the impetus I needed to finally write a solid first draft of Token, that YA (Young Adult) work-in-progress that I’ve been telling you about for the last year. I went into the month with four chapters that were not good. I spent some time improving those. I had close to seven thousand words to start. I needed 50,000 words to win (or complete) NaNoWriMo. You see, it’s a national challenge. I probably should point out that now NaNoWriMo is an international challenge. Many people win. I’m not the only one. I have 53,000 words today. There will be more by December 1. I’m officially going to the big TGIF (thank God it’s finished) party at River Oaks Book Store. Yay!!

This is the end of the receipt from a Barnes & Noble in Pasadena. Do you see Deadly Thyme down at the bottom? Whoo! Hoo!

This is the end of the receipt from a Barnes & Noble in Pasadena. Do you see Deadly Thyme down at the bottom? Whoo! Hoo!


Now, the News:

Denise, Fern, Sarah, Me

Denise, Fern, Sarah, Me

November 8 was the Houston Writer’s Guild’s first mini-conference under the new leadership team. The team consists of Denise, Fern, and myself. Denise and Fern are the new owners of the Guild. I am honored they picked me to help them steer the course. Our mini-conference was a rocking success with a good showing of members and new folks anxious to learn the craft of writing. Sarah Cortez an esteemed speaker and winner of many writing awards for her poetry books, was our speaker. People said that the day went by so fast they couldn’t believe it. There was also lots of food with breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack.

Now for the News You Can Use:

SAM_1233_edited-1March 28 of 2015 we will hold a one day pitch practice conference to help members of HWG get their pitches and presentations ready for the BIG CONFERENCE. At the pre-conference we will have actual agents for members to pitch their novels, and screenplays to. More details to come.

The next big thing is the Amazing 2015 HWG conference. There will be several agents from NYC there. We will have some Texas agents and editors and publishers there. Friends, this is Big Time! There will be agents looking for folks they want to represent to the big six publishers in NYC. There will also be a lot of break-out sessions about how to self-publish, the art of craft, the business of doing it, the “how to” market it. More details to come.

Down on The Farm

One of the things I did do this month besides have some amazing books signings around town was that I took Cora to visit my brother on his farm. We picked vegetables, Jon took us to visit the menagerie, we petted his AKC Siberians, and Jon gave us some eggs (nicer than any from the store). I want to show you some pictures from that day.SAM_1240

And I wanted to show you some artwork that my amazing sis-in-law did. She drew this from composite photos of her trips to Egypt. She painted it with coffee. Okay, you can say “wow” too.SAM_1243

Happy Thanksgiving!

SAM_1264It’s the end of the month and I want to thank you for sticking with me in reading my blog, especially when there are weeks between offerings. I appreciate every one of you. May God richly bless you in this holiday season.

I thank the Lord for His loving kindness, and mercy in keeping our family safe and well.

Don’t eat too much and watch out for the crazy drivers.

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Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative - Austin Kleon
I started this book thinking it would be a quick read. I mean, look at it! Well, you can’t see it here. It is tiny. STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST or “10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative” by Austin Kleon. This book is not a quick read for the simple reason that it is stuffed with good ideas that need to be mulled in your brain like the spice in your spiced apple cider. Mulled apple cider is always better the day after. Yes, I said “mulled”. Or steeped inside that steamy caldron of a creative brain you carry on your shoulders. This is a fantastic book.

Also, I can’t believe I read a NYT’s best seller while it was still on the best seller list. That’s a first.

I don’t want to leave you wondering if I’ve lost it. Here are a few tips from the creative master Mr. Kleon: Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. In other words, waiting for inspiration to hit you may see you old and gray before anything happens. I love his scribbles and multimedia artwork he uses to illustrate his points. He says “Fake it ’til you make it.” Great advice. You have to make some ugly art before the good stuff. If you’ve been to art school as I have and seen what you start with and then see what you end with on your “forced” projects you understand what this means. With writing it translates into the same thing. Some days what I have written is horrible. But Mr. Kleon says over and over – don’t ever throw anything away. He’s right. You never know when that “horrible” will spark something ingenious. All my work comes from ugly.

He quotes from Francis Ford Coppola — “We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice. And that’s how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you.”

Another tip from the book: Write the book you want to read. I’ve always heard – write what you know. But I’ve always believed that you must write what you love AND what you want to read. If you write, you spend a LOT of time at it. You better love it.

One more tip from the book: Side projects and hobbies are important. How well I adhere to this! I can’t help it. I can’t help writing. Even if the writing is only in my head. I can’t help seeing the world around me with an artist’s “eye” although I haven’t touched a canvas in nine months. But life goes on and my projects may look to everyone else as though I’m sitting on my hands. They aren’t – my projects are brewing.

I don’t begin to do this book justice in a short review. I’m going to leave the other seven tips for you to read when you pick up a copy of “Steal Like An Artist”. You won’t be unchallenged, and unchanged if you do. I promise.

The stuff in the book may even be a sort of Holy Grail for writerly types.