Time to Say Farewell…

This past week I had to say goodbye to an old friend.

The one my son commonly called the toaster. My business was a mere five years old we bought this car, and it lasted for 12 years taking me to and from my customers homes, nursery shopping, and running around town. Sometimes she overflowed with flowers and herbs, giving me a full day’s work and an everlasting supply of different scents. It was a well-known car in town, between the shape and the logo ( a white Scion), and I often heard people saying they had seen me driving around from job to job in my unique car.

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It’s funny how you form an attachment too an animate object. I knew every nook and cranny of my car and the sounds she made, so I realized she was in trouble. And I had to make the decision to let her go, the time was here for her retirement.
After a fond goodbye, I now I have something new, “does happy dance”! It’s bigger and bluer, and I’m hoping it will last me another 12 years.

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As a writer, I look back and I see I’ve given my characters unique cars setting them apart (Megan has an open jeep, Aiden has a cherry red ’65 cutlass, Jake has a red motor scooter), or gave them their own attachments with another item (Megan has a special bracelet, Makenzie wears a lightning rock). It’s easy to transfer your own emotions into your writing, your own likes and dislikes (Megan love chocolate, Mackenzie loves gardens, Paige and Rebecca love cats). Sometimes you might transfer the likes of somebody else into your characters; a comment a good friend may have made about loving a specific brand of handbags suddenly becomes your main character prized possession.
It’s not just inanimate objects we share with our characters, often we bring them in to our favorite place, too. Whether these places are from our past or from our present sometimes or even places we want to go to in the future, they find their way into the story. Some authors are talented enough to create their own places and bring the characters to that imaginary location. But each of those places, just like each of the inanimate objects we so love, means something to us as authors. We may not be aware that with our words we share this love with our characters, and in turn share with our readers.

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As a reader, this helps you identify with the characters in the story, creating a bond. As a writer, it is our job to find a way to bond with our readers. So authors, share a little of your personality with your readers. Help them make the connection to you and your books.

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Everyone loves a Gift

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Surprise!

We all love to receive a gift, especially a thoughtful gift that was picked up just for us. The more thought put into the gift the more it affects us and the more we treasure it. Unusual gifts tend to target the heartstrings little bit more.
For example, I’ve a customer who ever year his wife goes out-of-town to visit relatives. As soon as she leaves, he has me design a different section of her garden. One year was a butterfly garden, another year  the front flower garden, another year a herb garden. each year she comes back delighted and surprised with his gift that will last for years.

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This got me thinking about our characters in our books.
Do you give your characters a special or unusual gift during your story? Does this gift play an important part of the story’s progression? Did your character receive their gift either by some magical way or possibly by a loved one or maybe even a mysterious gift left by the doorstop?

I hadn’t thought about it, but my characters have all received gifts. For example, in book number five of the Citrus Beach Series (A Tank Full of Trouble) Aiden surprised Megan as he keeps sending making mysterious while he was out-of-town. Each gift leads up to a grand conclusion.

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In my upcoming series Storm Voices, my main character, McKenzie, is given a beautiful little gray kitten help her as she recovers from… well you’ll just have to read it and find out. These are gifts that are beyond the normal birthday, Christmas, or anniversary gift, they’re something special that our characters are not expecting and play a major role in the plot line of story.
What books have you read where the characters have been given special gift? Was it a gift of love, magic or surprise? As a writer, you have the ability to give your character something unusual that can be used in ongoing story lines.

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And authors, remember as much as we enjoyed getting gifts ourselves, our characters enjoy it to.

Use this to push your story forward and draw the reader into the life of your characters.

 

Two little words

 The End.

These two words can have so much meaning…
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Sitting in a dark theater, the theme music plays,  and these two words come up on the screen. It’s the directors announcement that the movie has finished and now it’s time to leave.

These two words are often used when referring to a period of time . They can indicate when a major phase of your life is over. For example; The End of high school– you’ve graduated and  are ready to head off to your next great adventure.

If you say the words when talking about a relationship, this could mean a great love affair has finished, for good or bad The End has come.

 

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But for the book lover, The End, has a different meaning. 
It means your story has come to an end.  The author has finished telling you her story, and whatever creative adventure you were on together is now finished. Hopefully the author has pulled together the story to give you the satisfied ending. If you’re reading a mystery; all the clues have been answered and you now know who the culprit is. If you’re reading a romance; true love has been found and there’s a happy ending to finish the story.
No matter what kind of story you’re reading, the main characters have accomplished what the writer wanted you to see. The world she is brought you into is closing its doors for now.
But for me, as a writer, The End is not a bad thing. To me, The End signals a new beginning. There’s a new story to be told, a new adventure to take my readers into, a new mystery to be solved, a series to  continue.
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Yes, for me, The End is simply a new beginning.

Give a little back…

There comes a time in your life when it’s important to not only take, but to give back.

As you reach certain levels of success, you need to take somebody under your wing  to mentor.  Give back to your community and, in a broader spectrum, give back to the world.

I was taught this as a young child. But, of course, my parents didn’t call it ‘giving back’ they said you’re doing ‘what’s right’. We helped the lonely and the elderly who lived in our neighborhood by making sure their lawns were cut, they got occasional visits to keep them company, and treats like plates of homemade cookies. We did our part for church, too, making sure we were there for every cleanup and event the church sponsored. And we gave back to the school in forms of being part of the PTA or helping on class activities.

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It was right after I moved to Florida, getting a job with a man who was a community leader, I learned about giving back to the business community. He taught us it wasn’t just giving back money to associations and good causes, it was about giving of yourself. Giving time was  sometimes more important than giving money. A perfect example was after Hurricane Andrew hit Homestead Florida, many of the large nurseries were destroyed. Nurseries unaffected in other parts of the state sent down representatives and supplies to make sure those businesses demolished could rebuild. The made sure families affected would have food, water and shelter. These nurseries that helped didn’t make any money from their efforts; it was simply good will, and it was the right thing to do. This example of giving back made a lasting impression on me.

When I started my gardening business, I made sure I got involved in the community by joining the Chamber of Commerce and other non-profit organizations. Even if I didn’t have money to help these organizations, I had my time and efforts and I gave freely.

Now, as I enter a new stage of my life as a writer, I’m determined to give back once again. And, although I’m not as knowledgeable as other authors with more experience, I freely give what I can to help new authors starting out. Sometimes a kind word of encouragement is all another writer needs. Another way I give back is to read other people’s books and write honest reviews.

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You can easily do this, too.  Or, become a beta reader when you can. And don’t be afraid to promote another author’s book. By promoting other books in your own genre, you will also promote your own books. As more and more people become interested in the same style of writing as yours, you’ll find the sales increasing.

It’s exciting to be part of the writing community, and I’m thrilled to give back. I know most of us are introverts and tend to prefer working from within our own comfort zone, but with the use of the internet you can easily help another writer get through a  tricking plot point . Plus, I’m amazed at how many great friends I’m making.

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So, as a result, occasionally you’ll find I don’t post a traditional blog. Instead I’ll help support other author’s by posting a promotion. This will give you the chance as a reader to have access to new books and new writers you might not have known. It also gives these authors more exposure, which we all need.

I hope you will enjoy these promotions and take advantage of them. Remember if you enjoyed the book take a moment and let the writer know. Send an email or, even better, write a review on Amazon.

I think you’ll find it feels wonderful to give back!

Write, Weather, Mood

Have you ever noticed how much the weather affects your day-to-day life?

 It’s not just whether it’s raining or cold; it’s the whole feeling of the weather.

On sunny days, you’ll find people smile more and they are more apt to greet you kindly and engage in conversation with you. If it’s one of those perfect weather days, we’ll even prolong the conversation to stay outside to enjoy the weather.

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On a cold rainy day, people barely even look up at you as you walk by. If words are exchange, the  conversation is grumbling about the weather.

As a writer, I’m amazed at how much the weather affects my mood for writing as well.

Seriously, it’s kind of hard to plan a deep dark murder or some villainous crime on a bright sunny day when you’re sitting by the beach. These are the days when I am more in the mood for writing a funny scene or even a romantic one.

However, if you’re curled up inside shivering because of the cold and it’s overcast and rain is hitting the panes of glass of your windows, well that’s different. On a day like this, it doesn’t take too much to put you in the dark mood to write a dark scene. Plots of murder and misdeeds are easy to put down on paper. I have no qualms about putting my main characters in a miserable situation. If I’m miserable, then they can be, too.

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Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_stieberszabolcs’>stieberszabolcs / 123RF Stock Photo

Unfortunately, as a mystery writer, I can’t wait for dark rainy days to write about a murder. My imagination must work overtime to create the mood or scene I’m working on at that moment.  That’s when I often will use other stimuli to help me get in the right frame of mind. Music is a big component as I write, setting the mood for the writing I wish to accomplish. Often going online and looking at pictures (I love Pinterest!) will spark the needed thought process. After all, a picture of a lethal weapon can lead to thoughts of crime.

If these methods don’t work for me, then I find it best to go ahead and write a scene that will fit my mood. I will sneak it into my work in progress later. Or, maybe, put it away in a file to be used in another book.

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No matter what the weather ,as a writer it is important to take control of your work. You should write every day, 1 to 2 paragraphs or 1 to 2 chapters. And if that fails, pick up a book and read someone else’s words. You’ll be amazed at how much this will spark your imagination!

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It can be a lonely world out there for an indie writer. You can be lost or overwhelmed easily, but we have resources at our fingertips that can help us along. One writer went to the extreme to help other writers. I’m pleased to introduce Kathryn Bax (Pen name Kathryn McMaster) as my guest blogger for this week.

 I’m going to let Catherine tell you a little bit about her story and about the great website that she’s put together for writers and readers alike. I’m proud to be part of this website and of course you can find all of my books there. But it’s not just my books; there’s a vast number of writers from different genres. So, you be sure to go to the website and start picking out some great books to read.

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One Stop Fiction for Readers and Writers

We all like to read free and discounted books, don’t we? Who doesn’t like a bargain? I co-founded One Stop Fiction for two reasons. The first was to provide readers with quality books at discounted rates, the other was as an author I was frustrated at the lack of places I could be seen, other than my own author Facebook pages and website. How could I make sure that my book was on a permanent website, rubbing shoulders with books from my peers? Along came the idea for the website.

However, 9 months ago, the idea hadn’t even been born yet. I was still frantically trying to finish my first novel. Once I was nearly finished I realized that I needed some ideas on how to market it. There was no point in writing a book that nobody would see.

So I paid a squillion to join a course on book marketing only to be bitterly disappointed. It had not stated on sign up that the course was primarily for non-fiction writers. I took very little away from the course and felt rather disgruntled. I was not the only one. Other fiction authors were very unhappy too.

So, being the rebel that I am, I decided to break away from the group and start my own Facebook group where we could all learn from each other and share marketing ideas. The group soon grew to well over 1000 members. However, after listening to the feedback from the new group, there seemed a need to provide a platform where writers could connect to readers and vice versa.

I had built and run several websites of my own before this. I was no stranger to HTML and website jargon. However, I knew that we needed a site that would be more than a ‘mom and pop’ venture. We needed something slick and professional, easy to use and attractive to look at.

In the previous disgruntled group were two very special people; Shaun Griffiths, a Young Adult author who would become our Content Manager, and Alex Okros; an author of short stories (still unpublished) and the published author of a time-management book.

We fast became Internet friends. One day I said to Alex that I was thinking of starting up a website for authors. He said that he too had had the exact same idea. I said that it was all very well and good to have lofty ideas but website platforms did not come cheap. Who would we get to build it? He started to chuckle and said, “Oh, didn’t I tell you? I am a computer programmer and my girlfriend designs websites.” Sometimes, some things are just meant to be.

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http://www.onestopfiction.com

 

The website was released to the public on 8/8/2016 which we hope is an auspicious date – not that we are at all superstitious! Already hundreds of books have been added to the site and we are thrilled to see how many people have entered our monthly competition to win a Kindle eReader Paperwhite worth $119. The competition is open to all, no matter where you live. There is no joining fee, and to say thank you for your subscription you have a choice of 30 free e-books to read.

So please come and join us, have some fun, and be prepared to find some great books!

 By Kathryn Bax (Pen name Kathryn McMaster)

Co-founder and Business Development Manager

http://www.onestopfiction.com

 

about the pictures
logo and head-shot provided by Kathryn Bax
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_flynt’>flynt / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

A Deal For YOU!!

I love working on cross over promotions with other authors.

It’s great to be included with writers working together to help each other get the word out about our books.

Even better the reader (YOU) benefit!

So today and tomorrow take advantage of some great books at a great price!  Just click on the link below and then make your selections. Don’t forget to pick up the newest Citrus Beach Mystery at this low price. Look for Tank full of Trouble.

http://www.reneepawlish.com/promo

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So, Now I Understand!

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I guess it was about five or six years ago I had the pleasure of having client who is also a pretty famous writer. Vero Beach seems to be a hotbed for authors and this one was no exception- started Miami and worked his way up and I not to name drop, but his initials are C.H.

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At the time I was not writing myself although I had aspirations to begin. I can remember being impressed and a little bit awestruck by this man. He had a set schedule that he stuck to, and had his family stick to as well. He had an office set off in the house and when he went into his office during normal hours that he had set aside he was not to be disturbed under any circumstances. He stuck to the schedule just like in any other work environments and he made family stick to it as well. At the time I didn’t quite understand the need for this type of environment, but now that I’m writing I truly do.

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Now that I’m writing myself I understand why there is a need for your own special space. It may not be in office, it could just be a quiet little corner of your porch or in your bedroom with the bedroom door closed. But you do need to have a location where you can write and not have any interruptions in your thought flow.

Without an exclusive environment to write in, it’s easy to get distracted. I found that out myself; it’s easy to get up to run to get a drink and next thing you know you’re throwing a load of laundry in the washer or playing with the cats.

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You pick up the phone and the next thing you know, you’re answering emails. The distractions are boundless enough without anybody in the house, and add in family and friends? They see you at your desk and unless that door is closed you are soon caught up in family demands. Or, maybe you write outside and soon it is the neighbors who want to chit chat because they see you out on the porch. Before you know what you’ve lost hours of writing time.

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And then there’s the internal interruptions; the need to check your emails, to go on your favorite blogs or forums to just check out what’s going on. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumbler; are all great things, but you need to set aside a time to do them away from your writing time. These are important things, because for many of us that is the way that we provide a social platform to make our name recognizable. But you need to set aside separate times to write and separate times to promote. It’s up to you to decide what order and the length of time that you need for each of these items

So, as I’m working on my third book, I understand and admire this author that I spoke of earlier with even more respect. He was able to stick to his regimen and pour out books, very good books by the way, and he still was able to do everything else in his life that he wanted to.
I’m taking my lessons from him. I’m going to start setting my own writing time and stick to it even if it’s only an hour at night from 10 to 11 when I have time to myself and can’t be interrupted. I will follow his example and build from it.

What steps are you going to take to make your writing career more successful and more productive?

Life’s Seasons

I was reminded today and how much our life revolves around the changes of the seasons and nature. Often these seasonal changes are reflected in our writing.

For example, there is a favorite place of mine that the Azaleas bloom in a beautiful display called Bok Tower. This happens once a year and year we migrate to Bok Towers to spend the day wondering the beautiful gardens and listening to the bells of the tower. I have plans for this locations to be mentioned in my books.

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When I look back in my life, I realized during my childhood, I also had “migrations”. Every year, my parents would bundle us up in winter clothes, make sure we had thermoses of hot chocolate and we would drive an hour just to sit by a frozen lake and watch the migration of the Canadian Geese. There will be thousands of them in this one area. It was a sight to behold something that is stayed with me my whole life.

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There have been other seasonal changes that we have celebrated with activities during my youth; like going to see the cherry blossoms or spending an afternoon picking strawberries. A visit to the Groves to pick oranges or to the Orchard to pick apples was a family event.

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As I go through my adult life there are other migrations that happen during certain times of the year. The end of the summer was the time when I said goodbye to our son as he went off to college. Down here in Florida, the start of our fall/winter season is kicked off with the arrival of the White Pelicans. The start of the holiday season is kicked off with shopping and baking and preparations.

Each season has its own way we relate it to nature; be at by following the birds, following the plants, or following the weather.

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So, I ask you, what season are you enjoying right now? Are you including it in your writing?

Your Book Cover Is So Important

I think I’m safe in saying that every writer feels a special sense of excitement when it’s time to start picking out the illustrations to be used to express the feeling and story of your book. 

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There’s an excitement as you’re writing. You keep the little things in the back your mind; this scene would look good, or, that character needs to be enhanced on the cover. Throughout the writing process your mind is constantly thinking of what is going to look good enough to catch a reader’s eye and hopefully get them to buy your book. Which phrase was catchy enough in the book to be used in your promotional blurb prompting someone to open the book up and read your words? If you’re writing a series, what is going to make the series look unique, but let each book have a distinctive cover?

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For me, I knew exactly which scene in all of my books I was going to use on the cover. There was just something that popped up and said “this is it!” Even before all the words were written, I knew on all three books what was going to be on the cover of my book. Now, not at all writers follow that process. Many of them pick multiple scenes and create multiple covers before deciding on the one that they really want. They get feedback from other writers and friends on what looks the best. To a certain point, so do I, but I’ve followed my natural instinct more than I do anything else. If it speaks to me, then I hope it’s going to speak to others.

I’m also realistic, and I know my limitations. I’m not an artist, and even though I love to take pictures, I’m not a photographer. This is when I call in the professionals. I picked out the scene, I have a vague idea of what I want to accomplish on my cover and then I turn it over to my illustrator. As a writer, it’s good to know your limitations and talents. If you are a writer that is multiply talented and can write and draw than you are in a league of your own. For the rest of us, we are writers. So, it’s only common sense to delegate something so important to a professional.

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Also, there’s nothing wrong with going back sometime in the future and redoing your covers, updating them or giving them a new look. This is especially important if you’re writing a series. Times change and your whole attitude and outlook on the series may differ from when you originally started. I know after just three books that there are a couple of things I’d like to change on my very first cover. But I’ll wait until I get three or four books ready to be sold as a set, and then I’ll do a complete cover change. By keeping the parts I really like and changing the things that need a bit of tweaking, I will be able to keep the look of my books fresh. Of course if you your book is one that will withstand the test of time, and be easily recognized for years, then don’t touch a thing.

And while we’re talking about covers – don’t forget your title must show up on the cover and grab the reader’s eye. Your name is just as important – because if they don’t remember you, then readers are not going to be looking for your next book.

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The point I’m trying to make is that your cover is an exciting part of your book. It should be given just as much care and consideration as the words that you put on the pages.

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