Creative Wells

Man does not live by bread alone.

No, we need more. In fact, we creative types have to keep those creative juices flowing. One way or the other. Right now, for me, it’s attending a workshop founded by NY Times & USA Today Best Selling Author Jodi Thomas and Random House Publishing’s Upcoming Star Tim Lewis at West Texas A&M University’s Writers’ Academy in Canyon, TX all this week.

I’m taking the Screenwriting Structure for Novelists class taught by Best Selling Author and Bram Stoker Award Nominee Alexandra Sokoloff. I’m starting a brand new project and I have to tell you, I feel really good about this story! It’s sort of a sequel to Shattered Promises, my story in the anthology Romance – The Spice of Life. The new story is titled Deadly Promises. Does that give you a tiny inkling of what you’ll get when you read the book? I hope so. 🙂

This takes place during the same timeframe as Shattered Promises, only with different characters (naturally). There’s the plane crash and a lot of flawed characters, including: a new sheriff in town, a struggling widow and a stalker. I’m also going to address some social issues.

Like I said, I’m super excited about this. We’ll see what comes out of the class and if they can help me fill in a BUNCH of holes in the plot. I have faith that Alex will be able to see what I’m completely overlooking. Or even go a direction I never would’ve thought of going.

I can’t wait to reconnect with old friends as well as make new ones. Spending a week immersed in writing with other writers is so uplifting and inspiring, it’s unbelievable. I’ll come home completely wiped out and drained, but it’ll all be good. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t crash and burn during this class because she definitely puts you through your paces. Regardless, I’ll have all the plot points worked out by the time I leave on Friday. Yay!

Btw, wish you were here as they have other wonderful instructors, such as: Margie Lawson, Jennifer Archer, Dian Curtis Regan, Mike Bellah along with tonight’s banquet speaker, Linda Castillo. Now how could you go wrong with a line-up like that? 🙂 ♥

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Writing Conferences – The Ups and Downs

I’ve been extremely quiet lately. There’s a reason. I attended the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc’s (OWFI) conference May 3-5 in Norman, OK. Wow. What a rush! Not only did I meet with my first line editor, but also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press. I hung out with them on Friday night after the Famous Author’s Banquet during a Buzz Session.

Oh! Speaking of the banquet, I hit the ‘big screen’ by announcing the publication of my books last year, GRAVE SECRETS and ROMANCE-THE SPICE OF LIFE. DSCN0670_706

DSCN0673_709I wasn’t alone, by all means! Lots of OWFI members had books released last year. Our pictures were displayed along with the book cover and a short blurb about the story. Each author stood when their name was called by Alaska Yup’ik Storyteller Jack Dalton. Then we waved (enthusiastically, I might add) as the audience cheered us on. DSCN0674_710My good friend, Kathlyn Smith, did her best to get a good picture of me. Wasn’t meant to be, though. *s*

I also got to hang out with friends from the West Texas A&M Writers Academy as well as others from Amarillo, including: Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyllis Miranda. Jodi was one of the speakers, and let me tell you, she told us in no uncertain terms what it takes to make it. Yet, here I sit. Writing a blog and not writing on my story. The good news is I came up with another storyline while there. Woot!

So all in all, I got my money’s worth out of this conference. Will I go back in the years to come? You betcha’! This year there were four other members of Smart Women Who… attending the conference. 931229_10151632008947456_1977057717_n[1] T.D. Hart, Jackie King, Kathlyn Smith, myself, and Susan Shay. I think everyone had a fantastic time.

What about you? Do you go to conferences? If not, why in the world not?! Even though you may come home exhausted—I know I did—it’s a great opportunity to connect with other writers, pitch your story to an editor or agent, reconnect with old friends and make a ton of new ones. How can you lose?

You can’t.

Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Thomas, Burpo and Vincent, and Sutherland

Widows of Wichita County

Jodi Thomas

♥♥♥♥♥

When an oil well begins producing, the driller finally has the money to fulfill his/her ‘pipe dreams’. This book signaled a new contemporary direction for Thomas after starting in Texas historicals. It is a lush book about five women married to larger than life men.

An oil rig explosion burns the men beyond recognition. The wives are called to the hospital. They make an agreement to support each other anxiously awaiting news. Two women are friends. Crystal and Randi talk honestly in the first minutes. Then, without words, Randi understands Crystal needs a husband to love. Randi lacks staying power in marriage unlike Crystal.

When the only means to identify whose husband is the survivor is a plain wedding band, they exchange a subtle glance. Crystal stays by her husband’s bedside strengthening him.

She proves a major thorn in his greedy son’s side. As a trophy wife, she will be penniless and homeless without her husband. When this son tries to prove his father incompetent, it is only because of her husband’s vanity in refusing to wear glasses to read and sign checks that she was granted authority to sign the checks he dictated. Thus, this record of her writing checks keeps the business in her hands. Throughout the book her growth is stunning.

Helen, a businesswoman and town leader, has adult twin daughters. Only after she is widowed does she begin to see their many good points. She holds the younger widows together and guides them to become more self-sufficient women.

Ana, an upper class Italian, grew up around bullies and disrespect in her parent’s household. Her older husband married her for breeding stock. When that failed, he ignored her and her wishes.

As a wonderful second grade teacher, a career she loves, Meredith married the high school’s star jock who never graduated beyond his high school fame. She is not a Texas beauty. Her wardrobe appeals to her second graders. It does nothing to show off her assets to men. Even should the money for a better wardrobe come after she pays off her mountain of debts, it is iffy a man will look toward her inner strengths.

Thomas describes Randi as always getting the bigger piece of the cake. She is pure white trash complete with a plastic leather coat, super short skirts that display her long legged assets, and cowboy boots. She drinks too much. She wants to chase her dreams, not settle down.

Sometimes a serious book can make you smile thanks to well drawn characters and in the telling. The book was re-issued this summer.

Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent

♥♥♥♥

For believers, this is a very reassuring and faith inspiring book. For non-believers, it gives the reader something to consider.

Late Bloomer

Peg Sutherland

♥♥♥♥  

First of a four book series set in Sweetbranch, Alabama.

Hero Ben McKinzie is first a father. He steals his toddler from the drinking of his ex-wife and her stepfather’s abusive temper. Ben plans to go underground and leave his company business in his brother’s hands.

His first stop toward the underground is Sweetbranch, where he walks into Rose Finley’s Picture Perfect Beauty Salon. His little withdrawn daughter warms up to Rose as she snips off enough hair to subtly change the little girl’s appearance.

Rose dreads turning forty without ever having ‘good lovin’, her college education, or much excitement in her life. She speaks politely to the man passing through as she works. In good conscience Rose can’t allow this out of work man to take his daughter to the rowdy motel. She rents them rooms in her two story house where she lives with Uncle Bump, the local curmudgeon, her cooked food source, and last living relative.

Sutherland constructed three great reads from this start. Each offers a rich textured picture of the deep Southern roots I grew up with in that simpler time before the New South most of us know. These books are peopled with memorable characters you’ll grow to love and remember long after you finishing reading.

~~~

Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Seriously?

Linda here.

As I stated last week, I attended the Writers Academy at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, TX, taking Jodi Thomas’ class. Honestly, I wish you’d all been there with me. To spend an entire week with other writers, immersed in writing, is unbelievable. Yes, many of us have attended National (some will be there this week), but this wasn’t the same. You don’t sit and listen to speakers, you participate. We had to think and work at our writing.

Which made all the difference.

While there I realized how blessed I am to be part of RWI, to be able to meet monthly and to be part of a critique group. Several in the class had no one. One woman said how much being a part of the class, how being around other writers who “understood” her, meant to her. Guess she found out ALL writers talk to themselves. And wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

I’ll post more detailed info on my personal blog (www.lindatrout.com) in a day or two for some of the fun things we did during the week. I came home exhausted and so pumped! And ready to jump back into my writing full force.

The last day, a few minutes before the class ended, Jodi told us we took our writing seriously. As we should. However, we shouldn’t take ourselves seriously. To make her point, she passed out red noses for everyone. This is Jodi and I smiling for the camera.

Ain’t we cute?

I can almost guarantee I’ll be going back next year. Wanna’ come?

Linda Trout

 

My Best of 2010

Remember a week or two ago, I asked you to start thinking about your best list for 2010. A couple of our overachievers already posted some of theirs, but for the rest of the slugs, like me, today’s the day I’m expecting — even pleading for — your lists. Give me inspiration, some new things to read/see/listen to. Broaden my horizons.

My own list — not comprehensive by any means because, let’s face it, my memory is as faulty as the electrical cord my pupper, Jack, once chewed through. Still, here are some of the highlights for me:

— Watching “Shrek” 57 times. (When our grandson comes to spend the day with us, he walks into the house, grins and says, “I need frozen Snickers, Diet Dr. Pepper in MY glass and Shrek.”)

— A late-winter retreat with Slut Meg to a cabin in the southeastern Oklahoma woods and an early spring getaway to Casa del Sol B&B over by Turner Falls, OK. Wonderful, productive times that recharged me exactly the way I needed.

— Total knee replacement. I’ve had osteoarthritis in both knees since I was a teenager, and the right one was so broke-down that we tossed it out and put in a new one. Rehab’s tougher — and more ongoing (four months down, about eight to go!) — than I expected, but hey, I’ve got a new knee, and this pain WILL go away!!

— Kindle. I bought it thinking it would come in handy during all the hours of physical therapy. I’ve read A TON since then!! Some of my favorites: Silent in the Grave, Silent in the Sanctuary, Silent on the Moor and Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn; Invisible, In Plain Sight, On the Run and Stranded, the Ivy Malone books, by Lorena McCourtney; Somewhere Along the Way by Jodi Thomas; and The Native Star by M. K. Hobson. Now I’m loving The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

— Cozumel!! I hadn’t been out of the country except to Calgary and Tijuana. Loved loved LOVED it, even if I did have cane in hand and ice packs at the ready. The sun, the ocean, the people, the laziness, the rest, the companions . . . I wanna go back!

The worst of 2010: my pupper, Jack, died in June. We got him as a puppy when he’d been hit by a car and needed hourly care. He attached himself to me right away, sitting nearby, sleeping against my legs, going to the office with me every day. He was a German shepherd/Jack Russell terrier and a little guy, no more than 50 pounds, but he (and everyone else) thought he was a 900-pound gorilla. We had 12 wonderful years with him,, and it broke our hearts to lose him, but he’ll always be with us in memory and in love.

So tell me — especially you guys who read but never comment (please, please, pretty please) — what was good in your 2010?