Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Party with SUSAN GABRIEL!

Talk about a party! We have had over 3,112 page views so far + YOU! We aren't breaking blog records, we are setting them! Everyone is welcome to join in and win autographed books from the authors!

Connie (USA) won Andrew's book yesterday, autographed and all that jazz. Congratulations! Email me, please.

Susan Gabriel is my new friend of the summer. Remember the kid you met at camp or Grandma's house that becomes your BFF? I just started blogging in April (09) and was searching writer's blogs to figure out this new world. I came to Susan's blog and started my routine exploration.

Me: "Book: Seeking Sara Summers."
Me: "Cool! Alteration in her title, clever. I like it."
Me: "Chapter 1...read, read, oh wow, read...how do I buy this book?"

See what I mean? Is this a strong first paragraph or what? THIS is Seeking Sara Summers!

Sara Stanton stopped at an intersection and stared at the red traffic light ahead of her. She wasn’t the type to go off driving into the night. Not without a map and her destination circled in yellow highlighter. Her grin grew into a smile. She had managed to surprise herself. What if she just kept driving? The possibility intrigued her. She could be one of those people who went into the store to get a pack of cigarettes—in her case, a quart of Rocky Road—and never be seen or heard from again.

I sent Susan and email that was basically..."love your book, posted a review on my blog." (I think it is only right to warn people.) We emailed back and forth and became 'instant' friends. Susan is genuinely warm, caring, and fun. http://nadinelaman.blogspot.com/2009/06/buzz-buzz-book-buzz.html

Here's a review from Amazon.com:
Elena (Spain) The story of Sara (Summers) Stanton sounds like that of many women who live their lives trapped into a life of mostly self imposed expectations. The transformation that occurs in this story shows not only the struggle to let go of the "acceptable" status quo and emerge as an individual that follows her heart instead of her mind, a mind that has kept her in a cell of her own making for most of her adult life, but also that of changing one's mind and the dead weight it has uselessly carried all along. Sara's breakthrough takes time, being sure of what she really wants doesn't happen overnight, letting go of years of unsatisfying habits is the process that we read about in this book.

This is an intimate story with a single POV, the reader is inside Sara's head all through the story, and to me this made the struggle very personal, and somewhat painful. I had this urge to step into the book and scream to Sara it was all right to follow her heart.

Sara's cancer read to me like an allegory of Sara's state of affairs, it didn't feel so much like a physical malady but more like a symbol that the way we live our life can just as easily kill us within. Sara's worst enemy doesn't seem to be her physical cancer, but the mental one.

Supposedly, the light in this story is cast by Sara's friend, Julia, and by the wonderful Italian scenery. But that isn't the light I saw, I kept focused on that bright light at the end of the tunnel that Sara was navigating, and that I kept hoping she'd reach before perishing of self imposed darkness.



Susan is another writer who is also an accomplished musician. It shows in the pacing in her writing. I can almost hear the background music change as Sara travels to Italy with the fountains, statues, shops, and countryside. It has certainly been a while since I enjoyed a book this much.

This is beautiful. From Susan's Blog: http://www.susangabriel.com/blog/writers-and-writing/a-blessing-for-writers/

Party Game: Susan sends Sara to Tuscany. In the comment section, where would you send a character? Feel free to ask any writer questions too. Post comments to win an autographed copy of Seeking Sara Summers.

**If you need help navigating blogger, here are some basic instructions: http://nadinelaman.blogspot.com/2009/08/just-few-basics.html

The comment section is below this line. Click on the word "comments." That's where you can leave a note. eMail me if you have trouble with this...NadineLaman(at)aol.com

183 comments:

  1. Hey, Nadine!

    Nice to meet you, Susan!

    The paragraph posted is captivating. There has to be a great story behind that decission.

    I have been to Tuscany, seen some of Italy, and it's definitely a place to send your character to regain peace of mind.

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  2. Good morning, Ivy,

    You and Susan will have lots to talk about. (I don't think she is awake yet, still early in her part of the country.)

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  3. Its odd cus I was looking at Susan's book a few weeks ago and made a note to buy it for my wife.
    Where would I send a character - easy, one of the Greek Islands. I went in June and it was so unbelievable.
    Susan sent me and a lot of others 'A Blessing For Writers' which should be posted sometime as well.
    Glyn
    http://glynpope.blogspot.com/

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  4. Ivy, I know you're writing, do you send your character anywhere?

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  5. Glyn,
    I couldn't put Seeking Sara Summers down and that is not typical for me. Reading isn't my first choice of entertainment. I really like Susan's writing stlye. Bet your wife would enjoy it too.

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  6. Nadine, you surprise me. I couldn't live without reading. Books are like water to me. What is your first choice of entertainment, let me guess, music?
    Glyn
    http://glynpope.blogspot.com/

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  7. Ah Glyn, it is a reader's world. Near the beginning of this blog I explain that I was functionally illeterate until I was a teen. Being dyslic, the school system (in my day) had little patience for slow readers. Therefore, it wasn't a pleasant experience.

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  8. That said, a book has to really engage me for me to finish it. I have no problem walking away from an unfinished book. So when I say I couldn't put Susan's book down...

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  9. Hello, Glyn!

    I agree on the reading addiction. If I don't have anything near me, I read labels on food packages. Some of them sound like a SF mystery.

    Unlike Nadine, who is a movie person, I have a very short concentration span for movies. I can't sit still for two hours. Very few movies had me sitting all the way through without pausing every twenty minutes.

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  10. Hi everyone,
    It's really early here in my part of the world. 5:30 am. But I couldn't sleep. Maybe I knew I was being talked about! :)

    Seriously, thanks for all the kind words about my book. As all you writers out there know, it really means a lot when someone reads a story you've spent years putting together and they get something out of it.

    'yawn' I am going to try to get a bit more sleep. (I have a big meeting later this morning that I need to be awake for.) I'll be back in an hour or so and check in before I go.

    Susan

    P.S. I reposted the "Blessing for Writers" on my blog just for you guys.

    P.P.S. I actually went to Tuscany to do research for the book.

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  11. Yes, after an hour I have stop the movie, oh dear I'm being American, I stop the film and go for a walk. I never go to the cinema these days.
    I also have to read food labels etc if there is nothing about.
    My Father was dyslexic. The school system of his day, 1930s considered him stupid. He wasn't. Later in life he became well read.

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  12. To answer your question, Nadine. My story is placed in a small town of Winerset, Madison County, Iowa. Which is sort of lunatic because I have never been to USA anywhere. Thank God there is Google maps where you can literally walk down the streets of Winterset. I tried peeping trough people's windows. But I realize how difficult it is to write about a place you haven't been to. There's so much research, sort of your quake post.

    Later in the story, they will have some action in Atlanta, but this is still in the outline, maybe it changes to...hm, Barcelona? I'm amazed by that city...I've been there, so at least I have the feeling of the energy...overwhelming...

    Susan, I love your last name...it's my sons first name :)

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  13. Good morning, Susan...I'm looking forward to spending the day with you.

    Glen, at a new school, the teacher stood me in front of the class and said, "I don't know if you are stupid or just lazy." I HATED school, loved learning and was in heaven at university, where they actually taught more globally. Nonetheless, I can write!

    Not sure it is American to abort a movie.

    I'm not sure how I would do with writing set somewhere I hadn't been. Interesting thought. I know many writers do it.

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  14. Ivy,
    How did you happen to select Iowa?

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  15. I needed a small town, like yours in Nebraska, and somehow ran into some pics of Winterset...and fell in love with it. When I found out it's the Madyson County, the magic was there.

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  16. Ah, I did it the easy way...I made up the town, never named it.

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  17. Ivy, when you come to America, would you go to visit there?

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  18. Hey, did you see I blogged about the party last yesterday?

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  19. God, what does last yesterdy mean? :)

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  20. Hello everyone, sorry I couldn't make it yesterday. Had to go on a fast as i had eaten too many of Ivy's yummy pancakes. LOL!!!

    Interesting that Glyn mentioned sending his character to the Greek Islands. I would send mine to a little place in Corfu called Arillas. It's not nearly as commercialised as some holiday spots.

    My partner Nick and I took our little boy there to recuperate. Alex had heart surgery at 3 weeks old and it was a tough time. We went to Arillas when he was finally given the all clear at 6 months old.

    It's a beautiful place and we found a little fish restaurant tucked away on a quiet road. The owner would get up at 4am and go fishing, whatever he caught ended up on the menu. His fish platters served with simple potatoes dripping in herbs and olive oil were amazing (as were the jugs of retsina).

    The sunsets were amazing and I can't think of a better place we all could have gone to rest and rejuvenate. :-)

    Glyn: My partner Nick was considered "stupid" at school as he is dyslexic too. He now has many qualifications, mainly in Childcare and as a Teaching Assistant and also a History Degree, has published a pantomime and just finished his first novel. He's one of those quietly determined people who refused to be stereotyped. :-)

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  21. No, I'll have to go look. I've been surprised by how many people are mentioning it.

    Never mind, last yesterday. Susan will be back - she's an editor! After all, this IS the First Draft!

    I really have the urge to do this... "chica!" There!

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  22. Kate, good morning! Sounds like a place you might write about.

    On dyslexia, no one knew - some must have suspected - but upon urging from a close friend, I went public about being dyslexic. She showed her dsylexic son my books. To hear her tell about it, it was really cool. But then again, no one knew I wrote either. I'm actually very private. So...guess both secrets are out of the bag now!

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  23. Hey, Kate! We missed you! Forget the pancakes, today's special is spaghetti bolognese. When in Rome...ups, Tuscany...

    I would definitely love to go there. Who knows, maybe one day...

    Chica!

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  24. Susan's book will take you there. I feel as if I've been.

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  25. Ivy, I must have been snoozing. You changed your picture. http://willingtoseeless.blogspot.com/2009/08/party-time.html

    Though, no one changes his as often as Glyn. http://glynpope.blogspot.com/

    And Kate, http://coffeewithkate.wordpress.com/

    I posted a link to Susan in the blog...

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  26. Well, not TO SUSAN, to Susan's blog. I'm getting sleepy, it is after 3 AM here. I will slip off to bed for a while soon, help yourself and make yourself at home.

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  27. Morning, all!

    Kate, Arillas in Corfu sounds lovely. As a lover of Greece and her islands myself, it sounds like somewhere I should definitely check out.

    My chosen destination would be Anaxos on the island of Lesvos. My partner Jayne and I went there two years ago and loved everything about it. See my blog post for more pictures and info.

    We were due to visit Lesvos again this year, but (stop me if this sounds familiar) we had to cancel when Jayne was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's going through chemo right now, so travelling abroad isn't really an option for us for a while.

    Anyway, as you'll gather from this, I'm sure Susan's book would resonate with both myself and Jayne. So if I don't win a copy today, I'll definitely be buying one!

    Nick

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  28. I think we need to give 3 cheers to our amazing hostess on this blog party. Nadine has gone above and beyond in featuring different writers and keeping the conversation going. When does this woman sleep? (Go to bed, Nadine.)

    Meanwhile, I raise my coffee cup (full of steaming tea) to our friend and hostess. Let's hear it for Nadine!!

    Hip, hip......
    Hip, hip.....
    Hip, hip.....


    P.S. I have a meeting I must attend--livlihood is involved--but I'll be back soon and please feel free to tell Nadine how special she is while I'm gone. It will be a nice surprise for her after she wakes up.)

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  29. Yeah, the picture is fresh, taken three days ago. The other one was over a year old.
    I still beat all of you in changing blog backgrounds :) how many of them did I change in the two months I have it?

    Let's chant together:
    Hip, hip, Nadine!!!

    Oh, another place to send my characters: Toledo, Spain. In that town, the time stands still. Wonderful place for taking a deep look into your soul.

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  30. I second that gesture Susan...Nadine is an amazing party animal.

    Nick: The holiday pictures look great. I'm getting itchy feet now. We saved like mad all year and had a lovely holiday in Tunisia in June. Once again, this holiday was something of a recuperation as we suffered the loss of our 2nd son in May.

    I must dig out the Arillas pictures...some great sunsets and also have some wonderful pictures of Tunisian mosques. We love the history and culture.

    I'm sending positive thoughts to Jayne and hope that Susan's book will be of great comfort and inspiration to you.

    And while i was typing the postman delivered my copy of Carolyn Shepherds "The Ghost Sniffer and Other Stories" along with her music cd and a lovely postcard of Stonehenge. Well, that's my evening entertainment sorted out.

    Kate

    X

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  31. Hey Nick,
    I checked out your photos of Greece. They're amazing. I also signed up for your blog. I wish your partner, Jayne, a speedy and complete recovery.

    All the best,
    Susan

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  32. I'm so sorry to hear about yor losses and your current battles... I'm sending all of you good vibes ~~~~~~~~. Stay positive, group hug!

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  33. Many thanks for the good wishes, guys.

    Just for the record, Jayne is generally OK and coping well with the treatment, though she has some good days and some not-so-good ones. It's an "adjuvant" therapy designed to reduce the chance of any recurrence, so there really is every chance she will make a complete recovery. But just right now it's not much fun for her at all.

    And hi to you, Susan. Glad you liked my Anaxos photos. I do hope you enjoy reading my blog.

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  34. Do I envy you guys for being to Greece...We were supposed to go to Athens four years ago, it was the Olympics Year, but something got in the way so...better luck next time :(

    Nick, I'm looking forward to your day in the spotlight here! The Festival on Lyris Five sounds fantastic.

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  35. Thanks, Ivy. I'm looking forward to it as well. I've already suggested some SF-inspired music to Nadine!

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  36. Good morning! Look at you guys. Kinda fun to wake up to the sound of you (all) laughing and chatting away.

    *shuffles off to kitchen in search of a warm drink*

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  37. Susan Gabriel, I love your name. It sounds so Hollywood. Welcome to your day as Blog Star!

    Your book sounds wonderful and I do believe I will be purchasing it. Do you know how many times, I have dreamed of running away and seeing where I end up? I only imagine this when my kids (adults now) drive me crazy but oh, I do love them.

    I love to read. I am reading a wonderful book now by Mary Balogh.

    Ivy..I am with you in not being a big TV fan. I can't sit still that long either but reading in bed just before dosing off for the night works wonders for my busy mind. It is so relaxing and clears the cobwebs from my mind.

    Nick, I am a breast cancer survivor. My book is about my 17 months through it. (I hate using the word journey, it is so over-used)

    Your Jayne is in my thoughts and I wish her the best. I learned quickly how tough women are. I met the braviest women through my breast cancer hurdle. I am curious to what kind of breast cancer she has and if her lympth nodes were involved. I assume she might be doing chemo. It is scary stuff but she'll get through it in no time. The bald gig is emotionally tough for a woman but somehow we manage. I found fun in wearing many different wigs and colors. I tricked lots of friends with my different looks. LOL!

    And yes, woohoo to Nadine. She is the energized bunny, isn't she?

    Have a wonderful day to all and I'll pop in as much as I can today.

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  38. Thanks for your good wishes, Connie. Good to hear you're a breast cancer survivor.

    Yes, you're right about Jayne. She had a mastectomy which also involved the removal of a lot of lymph nodes, though thankfully a CT scan showed it hadn't spread anywhere else. She is now having chemotherapy, to be followed later in the year by radiotherapy. And yes, she has two rather fetching wigs, along with various hats, headscarves, and so on!

    Nick

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  39. The 'bunny' is back. I think Susan does a great job of not making Sara 'her cancer' because there is so much more to Sara.

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  40. Seeaking Sara Summers IS a wonderful books, so I hope you guys don't just talk about buying it, I hope you actually do. I bought my copy from Susan's website because I'm a huge fan of autographed books, can you tell?

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  41. Hi guys,
    I'm back from my meeting and ready to dance. Anybody around?

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  42. Susan, I know you do a lot of professional non-fiction writing, what was it like to switch-up and write fiction? Did you find yourself a kid in the candy store, with the ability to make up anything you wanted to write, or did you catch yourself writing too 'business' at first?

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  43. I'm back.
    I keep changing my photo to find the one where I look dead cool. What do you think?
    Glyn
    http://glynpope.blogspot.com/

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  44. Is that a trick question? I'll check in a bit...

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  45. Wow, what a cool party! I guess I just jump in the stream? No commenting directly on other's comments? As her partner in life, I love that Susan's name sounds "Hollywood." Mainly because, though we love movies, Susan is so NOT Hollywood - she is one of the most down to earth, warm, genuine, insightful person you could ever meet! Oh yes, AND a wonderful writer. I know, I'm prejudiced. But also honest. Cheers everyone!
    P.S. I did my share of editing numerous versions of Seeking Sara Summers, and I loved it every time I re-read it.

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  46. Thanks for the question, Nadine.

    Fiction activates a totally different part of me than non-fiction. Stories tend to come to me in pictures, like a film playing out in my imagination. I simply write down what I see.

    It is a delicious experience to spend time getting to know new characters and then telling their story.

    I try not to fiddle with a manuscript until I get an entire first draft down. But after that, of course, comes the inevitable revising and rewriting, to get myself out of the way and let the story have its own voice.

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  47. Hi Anne, Jump in, reply to previous remarks or stir things up. I'd like to hear about the rewrites...I'd rather write than rewrite. So I think it is really cool to have 'support' during that stage.

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  48. Hey, Susan, great you're back, we were in desperate need of an editor today *GRIN*

    Glyn, I liked the one with your grandson best. That one looked like the world's coolest grandpa.

    I don't like being photographed. There are barely any pictures of me from the past few years.

    Nadine, how about some music? I'll send you some suggestions in a second!

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  49. I agree, Susan. I think write straight through the first draft, THEN go back and start throught. It amazes me how many people don't do that; how many edit as they go. I keep saying that gives the ms a see saw feel. Bet that is why I was so able to attach to your book and read it so quickly and enjoyably.

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  50. Ivy, maybe Susan and Anne will play for us??? Here is your chance as young novelist to ask Susan questions. She edits and does ms shepherding.

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  51. Oops, second time you've been here, Anne...and I keep forgetting to say, 'Welcome!' Where are my manners?

    Welcome Anne...want to jump in and tell us what it is like to live with a writer? Are we just the coolest to live with?

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  52. Hey, I didn't expect my mate to chime in here. At least she shared nice things....BTW, she's an amazing business consultant & coach, and she puts up with living with a creative type. (extra brownie points for that one)

    Not to mention that she supported us for 2+ years while I wrote books. Her belief in me helps keep me going. I hope all you writers out there have people on your team who believe in you. It's crucial if you're going to pursue this kind of dream.

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  53. I keep forgetting to mention to refresh the page. Blogger only regenerates automatically if you have posted. (I get notices of each post).

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  54. Susan, I think the emotional support is not something every writer finds a home, you're blessed.

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  55. Susan, did you discuss Seeking Sara Summers during the writing process or wait until the rewrites to really get Anne's beta reader reactions?

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  56. I am blessed.

    Of course, I feel cursed sometimes, too, mainly when dealing, over the years, with all those rejections from agents and editors during the submission process.

    Thankfully, I have a literary agent now who believes in me so I am shielded a little bit from all that. Before I signed with her, I was doing all the submitting myself. Now she does it. God bless her.

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  57. Anne, jump in...I'm not acutally moderating...I'm just chatty. Did you find you used your coaching skills in how you viewed the ms project.

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  58. Regarding re-writes, in my years living with a writer as well as reading what other writers say about their experience, I think most books go through many revisions in that process of the story finding its voice. I think it is almost agonizing for writers to get to a place of feeling "finished" with a story. But at some point the baby must be born. Without readers, it's like a tree falling in the forest - does it make a sound?

    As for living with a creative type, I've always been attracted to creative types and consider myself a very creative person, as well, though not in direct artistic talent. I ran a small handmade tile manufacturing business with an artist and loved being so close to the creative process (I rolled a lot of clay slabs, too!). I wrote a novel as a child and lots of poetry, but now my writing talents are mostly in the business arena - marketing, copywriting for my clients, etc. Yes, living with you sensitive artists types has its challenges, but without you, life would be very boring and uninspired!

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  59. I agree, a good agent is worth their weight in gold, a bad one is a writer's worst nightmare. Being dyslexic, guess I'm doing things backwards...I'm totally on my own now. Jen wrote (I think) three query letters and ended up with a dream agent.

    So what are you writing now, Susan?

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  60. Nadine, to answer your latest question... I'm a bit superstitious about discussing anything I'm working on until it gets closer to a final draft. Not because I'm afraid someone will steal the idea or anything, I just know that if I talk about something too much it loses energy. I keep mum so I can stay engaged and excited about the story.

    Anne is always my "first" reader and I usually don't even show it to her until the 4 or 5th draft. Then I make changes based on her thoughts after reading it (if I agree with them :))and then I send it to my agent.

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  61. Sensitive? My mom/mum used to say I was high-strung. The funny thing is, I'm not (so much) when one of our drivers was beginning solo and ran into the garage (serious damage), I went outside in time to see his head sink to the steering wheel. He was white as a ghost. I say, good thing I have two hrs to talk with dad before he gets home so you can still drive his Jeep.

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  62. I am reading with interest.
    Must go and eat the snails for dinner now though.
    Speak a great deal later.
    g.

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  63. Goodness, I'm going to have to go back to writing in an email and pasting here...I need an editor.

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  64. Just to be clear, my last comment was answering the question before your last question, which was do I usually discuss it during the writing process.

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  65. Yeah, I get that energy thing, I don't really flesh it out before writing either. Do you write through the first draft fairly quick?

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  66. Yep, you're making sense, I'm the one in trouble...

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  67. I'll slow down, so others will jump in, but it is so nice to talk writing with another writer with a similar style.

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  68. You're a great sport to agree to do this considering we haven't know each other very long.

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  69. First drafts are usually pretty quick, depending on how much time I have to write. I have a job where I work in the afternoons so I can write in the mornings. I frequent coffee shops, except I drink tea. My favorite tea right now is organic Assam.

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  70. Sometimes I meet "new" people who automatically feel like old friends. Does that ever happen to you?

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  71. Yes! All of the time. My friend in India and UAE both said that. Carrie and I were like that. Wonder if we knew each other before? Or is it more of a personality type 'good fit'?

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  72. With you, I felt it was like we had been friends, then caught up with each other again after a 'raising kids' gap.

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  73. That 'raising kids' gap lasts quite a while, doesn't it? But I'm glad we've found each other again.

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  74. I know you are a threapist. As a social worker, I loved how you treated Sara's emotions and second guessing, questioning, and daring to live the life she found fulfilling. It is probably that real quality you gave Sara that kept me reading. I like to experience the character rather than be told about what they are experiencing.

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  75. Hi, chicas! Couldn't resist it :)

    There are just so many things I want to ask, that sometimes I don't see the forest for the trees..e.g. ending a story. There is always something more I want to add, as if I'm affraid of letting go. Does that happen to you?

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  76. Ivy, I don't add much to the story line after the draft is written. I fix sentences for readability (or maybe not LOL) but I let the story stand as it came out. I try not to over think it.

    What about you, Susan?

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  77. Nick? What do you do? I know there are other writers here, let's give Ivy our secrets.

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  78. Well, that's my take, so what other questions do you have, Ivy? How long have you been a writer?

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  79. Hello Susan. the snails were lovely in case you were wondering.
    1.Where are you?
    2.Who are your favourite authors?

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  80. Hello Glyn, glad you're back. Any comments for Ivy?

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  81. I don't know how to explain how an ending happens for me, except it just feels like a final chord. (That's the musician in me talking, I guess.) I feel it deep inside. A sense of resolution. That, and the characters just stop talking. Of course, that's another whole issue....

    I've often thought that writing is one of the few occupations in life where you can hear voices in your head and the people in the white coats don't cart you off.

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  82. Susan, true, oh very true! Do you sometimes feel the characters are writing the story and you are their scribe?

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  83. Hi Ivy. Must be hot in Croatia. The boy ok?
    Susan still there?

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  84. Yes, going back to films (movies) that we talked about this morning, I see my three novels and any short stories as films. I can even imagine the characters playing them. if one of them was made into a film I would have to be part of the casting process. Anyone else feel the same?

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  85. Glyn, I see my stories play out in my mind, I'm very visual, rather than thinking in words (of course, all things considered). I've often wondered if reader-types writers did that movie in the mind thing too.

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  86. I've been writing my whole life, but I never took it seriously, nor did I pay attention to it. My teachers always gave me A's for my writing, but I never thought I was some talent(and still don't). I guess I just love it. There are so many thoughts I want to keep somewhere.

    My mom says that it was a matter of time when I would follow in my father's and her footsteps, and "embrace the literary spirit in me". Mom used to write a lot in high school, dad still writes a lot of poetry and publishes in local collections. I just never thought of it, until out of the blue I had an ms of almost 100 K words, some seven months ago. When I started to write, I wrote what I would want to read.

    Susan, I thought I was the only one hearing these voices. Then I heard almost every author saying the same. What a relief!

    Glyn, it's somewhat better now, it was horribly hot and humid starting from early morning. The kid is doing great, watching Fifi on DVD.

    Another thing...pace. Sometimes I wonder I make the characters e.g. falling in love to slowly or too quickly. Then I start fidgeting around and mess up the whole story.

    Thank you guys for being here!

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  87. Hi Glyn,

    1) I live in a forest in North Carolina (southeastern US).

    2) My favorite authors tend to be whoever I'm currently reading. I just finished "The Weight of Water" by Anita Shreve, so she's a favorite right now. And before that I read Lisa See's "Snowflower and the Secret Fan," so she's one of my current favorites, too. I also recently reread John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" and have decided it is an American masterpiece.

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  88. Oh yes I love films. I watch all the time.

    I wish there was a way the comment would pop up without refreshing the page

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  89. Anita Shreve's great. Have you tried May Lawson. If you like Shreve you'd like Lawson.
    Obviously anyone who didn't like Steinbeck would be a complete idiot.

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  90. Who are your main literary influences on your work though. That can't be what you are reading at present.

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  91. 'refresh' is a small price to pay to have this for free. But I agree.

    Good Susan, can't wait to be your next favorite.

    Ivy, love you too.

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  92. Earlier question: Do I sometimes feel the character is writing the story?

    Yes, although I still feel like I have some control. If the character is heading the story toward a cliff I stop them and say, "Are you sure you want to do that?" Sometimes I think they test me to see if I'm paying attention.

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  93. I think you did a fantastic job of giving Julia and Sara distinctive voices. That is one thing I'm not sure I did very well. You really are a great story teller, Susan.

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  94. Hey everybody. Hi Susan! Your book sounds really interesting.

    In he book I'm writing now, I'm sending my three main characters from Houston, TX to Green Bay, WI. That's a drive that I'm familiar with. I have also taken characters to Hell's Kitchen (not the reality show) and Dayton, OH. I have never been to Dayton or New York, so it was kind of fun to write about it. It almost feels like I have been there.

    I've actually been to Winterset though.

    AR

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  95. Sorry it should have been Mary Lawson not May

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  96. Gln,
    I grew up in the South so I have been influenced by a lot of southern writers. Eudora Welty, Reynolds Price, Flannery O'Connor. I thought to be a writer meant to be like them, which I actually resisted at first. Seeking Sara Summers was my first novel and is contemporary and set in New England.

    But as they say in some therapy circles, "what you resist, persists," so the manuscript my agent is currently marketing is YA Southern gothic. In this piece, I really allowed myself to explore my southern roots. I'd like to think it's the best thing I've written. But we'll see if it sells....

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  97. Do you write a chapter outline before you start writing? Or do you just start and see how the story flows (of course, within the frame of the story you have in your head)? I found the second way more " productive" since many subplots and side characters show up, some that turn out to be crucial for the further developing of the story. And sometimes I find myself staring at what I just wrote, thinking "Okay, where did you come from?"

    Andrew, please, from the first hand; what is it like?????

    Glyn, thanks for the comment!

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  98. I hear the voices and I talk to myself, planning what I'm going to do next. I mean Dickens acted out his characters in front of a mirror.

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  99. Uhm..that's what I've caught myself doing, the mirror thing...just to check if something sounds natural, the mimics etc.

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  100. Maybe we are all frustrated actors....

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  101. We went there on our way from Texas to Wisconsin. From what I remember (I was pretty tired) it was a nice quiet town. Very small...but in a good way. We were only there for the afternoon. We ate lunch there and everybody in the diner seemed to know each other.

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  102. No! I've thought about this a lot and I genuinely think that actors are frustrated writers. I'm being really serious here.

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  103. Susan, you said you went to Tuscany for research. You certainly made me feel I had been there. Did you do the same with New England?

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  104. Ivy, I never write a chapter outline before I get started. For me, it takes all the spontaneity and fun out of the process.

    Of course, I know other writers who wouldn't dream of writing a single word without having an entire book outlined first. So I think it comes down to finding out what your own particular style is.

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  105. Nadine,
    Anne's whole family lives in New England so I've visited many times.... None of the characters are based on her family, though. I just used their town.

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  106. I just wondered. I'm not sure I could write about somewhee I've never been. I like to make the setting 3D, bugs and all, sometimes.

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  107. *where --- sheesh. I hate when I do that!

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  108. Reading my posts, are you sure you'll edit for my next ms, Susan. Might want to up the price!

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  109. You got to have the beginning middle and end but if it goes in another direction then let it

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  110. I'd be honored to edit your books, Nadine, and anyone else who wants their book to be the best that it can be and appreciates the value of a really good editor.

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  111. Thanks, Susan. Hey, I know you came here from your meeting, do you need to grab some lunch?

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  112. Glyn, interesting point about actors, I notice quite a few of the better ones go into directing too.

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  113. Ivy, you mentioned pacing earlier. It is like the comments here, the more rapid, the more energy.

    So, if you want to exhibit a tense moment, make the sentence (and paragraphs) short, direct, power word...

    If you want to do a beach scene, for example, then meander, talk about sensory things, the spray, the breeze, sunset. Use longer sentences, or paragraphs...play the scene longer, hold it for a beat.

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  114. Lunch sounds good. See you guys in a few...

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  115. Having said that, Ivy, I didn't exaclty follow that rule at the Thanksgiving weekend disaster, did I?

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  116. Then again, quick pacing there would not have had the same emotional impact on the reader, don't you agree?

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  117. Just home and scrolling through lots of conversation here.

    Ok Glyn, you really eat snail? Lord have mercy!

    I am not a seafood eater and won't even eat shrimp so this snail gig sounds way off to me. My husband loves them, too.

    Oh, to have an agent. Susan, you lucky girl. And Nadine...I swear, I am buying Susan's book.

    thank you again for the win of Andrew's book. I am eager to read it. ;o)

    I read about how many of you write fiction. This is my dream to become a strong, passionate fiction writer. I write so much for the paper and my book is nonfiction. I feel weak in the fiction arena but I have stories in my head.

    The advice I have gotten from a successful writer is write, write and worry about editing later so you all are doing it just right. I tend to go back and edit some as I write but I get distracted and my thoughts leave me so I am sure waiting is best. It is a bad habit I must break.

    Nadine, your characters were strong and gave me a visual so this is a great thing.

    Andrew--Dayton, Ohio, huh? I've been there and it is west of me about an hour.

    I am off and running again but you all have fun in here.

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  118. Wow...Connie was a perfect example of pacing!

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  119. Nadine,
    at that scene I didn't pay much attention to the pace, I was overwhelmed with the good feeling of being home again, of getting life back on track. Loved the way Ioseph adapted to the family. I suppose it wasn't a piece of cake to meet a family of this size. The aunts were so believeable. Have some on my own. LOL

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  120. It was a risk to run the Maggie scene for the whole weekend. A writing coach might have advised against it.

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  121. Hopefully, when you are reading as a reader, you don't 'notice' the pacing, but I think when well done, it influences the reader's mood.

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  122. One thing, or trick, when doing rewrites, regardless how much you love-love a scene in general, if you dread rewriting it, then the reader is very likely to dread reading it. If it really is a good scene, a keeper, it should be a snap to do the rewrites, nearly none needed.

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  123. Susan will probably comment on pacing when she gets back from lunch.

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  124. Sorry, I posted only half of the comment. Blogger is picking on me today.
    The other part of the weekend had the mood that didn't allow much variation. It's a tragedy, when you feel like having so much to say, and sometimes the words just don't come. And stretching the scene...I don't see any better way to illustrate the agonizing anticipation.

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  125. It felt right at the time, and when writing I wasn't sure how it would turn out, so I shared in the anticipation. I really wanted to get that bit in about Karen and give her another dimension to her personality.

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  126. So Ivy, you said you had 100K words and are doing rewrites. What genre do you write?

    Connie...you too, what genre interests you (writing, not reading)

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  127. Glyn, what's the genre of your WIP (work in progress)? Is it another with a historical backdrop?

    Andrew, did you say your WIP is a Y/A novel?

    There you go! You have the floor while I make coffee. Susan is still at lunch, so talk to me guys.

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  128. Off the point - snails are like garlic mushrooms.
    The strangest thing I ate over here recently at a friends house was donkey.

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  129. I wonder what Susan's having for lunch?

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  130. Something Southern? You are so funny about meals, that is so French of you. I love it.

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  131. Wow! I didn't mean to be off-putting with the questions.

    Sometimes when it comes time to query, beginning writers have trouble with the genre question. Here is a link I like. But there are many others. http://agentquery.com/genre_descriptions.aspx

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  132. This big thing is a monster of it's own sort. Considering the genre, it's something between a romance and a thriller/mystery. The age group is stupidly undefined, the characters are between 20 and 28. So now I'm trying to turn it either into a YA or adult. I wrote it long before I started the research on the industry or the market. Now I realize it would never sell anywhere, and I consider it a practice. But I still have a soft spot for it.
    The other two things are YA pure, one is fantasy, the other has a SF twist...just started the last, gonna see what it'll turn into.

    Glyn, donkey? What does that taste like?

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  133. I have The Practice, completed which is set in the UK at a doctors surgery in 1947. Its just a pacy fun novel.
    The one I'm working on is far more serious. It's about a teacher who is accused of sexual misconduct by two of his pupils. The reader knows from the outset he is innocent, but slowly by slowly his career and life are destroyed.

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  134. Donkey, it tasted like donkey of course!:)

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  135. Ivy, 20 to 28 won't work for YA, as you know. A romantic thriller might actually be a hot item. Certainly, don't toss out the ms.

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  136. Poor donkey. They are an endangered species here.

    I know, Nadine. Just there are some things that would work in both groups, now I need to decide what to make of it. Any way, it will take lots of rewrites and changes of characters, setting...ups, the whole thing! :)
    But as I said-it was a golden practice.

    What about you? WIP?

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  137. 1. Never throw anything away Ivy. It might just work in the future.
    2. The donkey, it was dried meat. Its what the French do with their old donkeys. It tasted like saucisse, you know that.

    Right I'm signing off for an hour.

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  138. Ivy, I have a couple of fiction WIPs, but I think I'm going to have to put the fiction aside and do some industry writing in the Develmental Delayed area of my field. (used to be called Mental Retardation). I'm been unemployed for over a year and there just aren't that many jobs at my skill level. Before that, I tried entry level positions and can't say it was a good use of time and energy. It has done my resume no favors.

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  139. Looks like Connie and I are swapping writing positions.

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  140. Nadine, go catch some sleep while the rest of us run some errands. I put the kid to sleep, and I'm off to study.

    Just before I leave, a quick question for Susan: What is the biggest mistake young writers make? Any advice how to avoid it?
    Thank you so much!

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  141. Or what's the biggest mistake any writer's make? Its not just about being young, but about learning from each other which is what I think Nadine was hoping for here.

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  142. Insightful, Glyn. That is one of the things I enjoy about you.

    I like sharing writing information and experiences, connecting with each other (not only as writers) and all that jazz.

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  143. Okay, I'm back. Sorry. I didn't mean to stay gone that long. Okay, so let's talk about the biggest mistake young writers make....

    Hmmm, I don't think it's a mistake, I just think all beginning writers are a bit naive.

    It takes so much work to be a really good writer. After 14 years, I still don't think I'm there. But it is a craft, a skill. It takes a lot of practice and dedication. Like an Olympic swimmer or something.

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  144. Hello Susan! I agree with you, it is a craft where skills are mastered (is a lifetime long enough?) and an art where creativity finds expression.

    I think you are a masterful writer, Susan.

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  145. Can I support your answer Susan? A lot of people think they can write. The dreadful thing that the laptop has done has made it easy for Joe Bloggs to write a novel. If they'd had to write it on an old fashioned typewriter then it would have cut out a load of rubbish that we have published.
    I sent my work to a publisher and one comment made was that it needed editing. So I asked Google how to edit. One thing the site told me that was authors use the word 'not' far too often. When I checked my manuscript they were right.
    Also writing is about practice. Practice is also reading good quality books.
    Apologies if I should have saved this for my day tomorrow but it sort of came up.

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  146. Oh Glyn, we're all friends here. It's a party. I'd like everyone to jump in and chat.

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  147. You are kind to say so, Nadine. There are moments, though, when I don't feel like I'm a very lucky writer. (Am I allowed to say that?) I have perseverence in spades. But at this point in the game, I think some of it comes down to just plain old luck.

    For instance, I've had agents dangle $50,000 advances in my face and then change their mind about representing something. I've had executive editors of their own imprint at a major house, get fired right as they were set to acquire my manuscript. I've had other editors show serious interest, ask for several rewrites and then simply disappear. (Are they working at SAKS now?) Anyway, I have experienced the rough side of the business. Anyone who has been doing this for a while has had experiences like this, I think. I say this not to be pessimistic, but realistic. I think that's why so many writers are having the courage to self-publish these days.

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  148. Its maybe not about selling masses of our books. Most of us aren't going to be rich writers! I was reading an interview with the songwriter Richard Thompson. He said it was all about being creative. He gave the example of a poet who reads his poems to an audience of 30, sells 6 or 10 books and goes home feeling happy. Maybe we should be satisfied with that.

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  149. Regarding pacing: there's a great book on this called "Immediate Fiction" by Jerry Cleaver. He talks about how to keep readers turning the page and a lot of that has to do with pacing.

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  150. Oh Susan...I love you! Total, I've had 216 rejection letters. Self-publishing is liberating and demandingly serious. Distribution outside of amazon is questionable, but we don't want a rant from me.

    Yes, Glyn, I think, we have to do have to be true to ourselves, the craft, and our audience.

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  151. Oh cool tip, Susan. I'm going to write down the title of that book.

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  152. Heh, heh, heh...looks like we wore out the kids! Truth or Dare time: You both love being a writer, don't you?

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  153. If that were addressed to me, I love being a writer.
    So much so that its nearly midnight here and I want to up early for my day!
    Bonsoir - I've enjoyed the conversation tonight.
    Love to you all
    Glyn

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  154. Yes, Glyn...I think it is you, Susan, and me right now. G'night, Glyn. See you at MN, Pacific Time...

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  155. Absolutely.

    But more than writing, I love the power of a good story. For me, it's not about "writing" anymore, it's about how can I create a really good story. A story that will make readers think about relationships in a different way or maybe even give them the courage to change and transform their lives. That's what gets me up in the mornings.

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  156. You certainly achieved that with Seeking Sara Summers.

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  157. I'm in the middle of cooking dinner right now. Lots of running back and forth. Great exercise, though.

    We lost Glyn?

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  158. Yes, Glyn is in France. It is nearly MN there and he has been here since the door opened this morning.

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  159. Chicas, thank you for the wisdom you're sharing!

    I think I'm beyond being naive. Maybe few monts ago I was, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Now, having seen more...I even consider it flattering when Nadine calls me a writer. I'm lightyears from that!

    I read so many agent's, editor's, intern's, publisher's, author's blogs and soaking in like a sponge. I gave up the idea of querying yet a while ago. A lot of water will flow under the bridge by the time me and my ms get ready for that stage.

    To quote Glyn, it's late on our side of the world. I'm off.

    Group hug, enjoy your party, see you in the morning!

    xo,
    Ivy

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  160. Good night, Ivy! Sweet dreams...Love you!

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  161. Susan, It is 11 PM GMT, so we will have a lull here as Europe heads for bed. Anyone here now is just observing, I think you can safely go have dinner. I'm still here. Mid afternoon in the west. See you in a bit.

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  162. Wow! I've been reading back through the party. What a fantastic group of people have commented. Thank you, everyone!

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  163. Whoops, didn't mean that to sound like we're finished here, 'cuz we ain't.

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  164. I'm back.

    It has been a great group of comments, hasn't it? I've been impressed with the level of interest.

    Nadine, I think your blog party idea is definitely a hit.

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  165. Thanks. It has taken wings because of the great people involved. Group Hug!

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  166. Wow, it sure gets quiet after the Europeans go to bed, doesn't it? Sweet dreams, guys, and thanks for all your comments today. We'll be winding down on the eastern part of the US pretty soon, too. What a great day....

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  167. Yes, this does go in cycles. It is nearing 5 pm on the west coast, so there might be an after dinner crowd for me later.

    *grins* still working on that email. 5 more min?

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  168. I am going to take a short nap. Leave comments, I will be back.

    If I miss you leaving, Goodnight, Susan and thank you so much for spending your day here.

    Nadine

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  169. Hi all...sorry I'm late for the party, but have been busy all day long.
    Hi, Susan, it's nice to meet you.

    Let's Party!!!!!

    Erin

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  170. Hello, Erin!

    I think Susan has gone to bed. Have you been playing with your blog? You got pretty wound up with blogging the other day.

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  171. Nadine, I sure did. And I haven't had a chance to do much more to it than I've already done, but am working on my new novel.

    I'll get to it sooner or leter.LOL

    Erin

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  172. Cool! A new WIP!
    Good job, Chica!

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  173. After going up and down stairs hauling very heavy furniture 2 miles north of me and then back home, I am back. Whew! Getting a college kid back to school is not easy. But I will have less messes here at home, won't I?

    Nadeen, you ask what I like to write. Sorry it took me so long to get back. I love humor. I like Erma Bombeck stuff. I've been told I write a lot like her but I know I have a long, long way to go and not near like her. Besides, I want to write like ME!

    I want to learn to write fiction. Romance, always humor tied in, mystery also would be fun. But my love is with non-fiction. I also would love to write stuff pertaining to medical topics. Working in the medical field for so many years helps and interest me.

    And who was it that ate donkey? Good grief!

    As for rejection letters, I've gotten my share but I look at those as a reason to be glad they at least looked at my work.

    Someone mentioned how tough it is to make money at this. We all know that, don't we? We wrtie because we love it.

    Susan, it was wonderful to learn about you and meet you today in Blog world. I orderd your book.

    I must go to bed. I am so tired and feel like I am prattling. Sleep well all and thanks also to Andrew for giving me his book. I am eager to get it so send it on, Big guy. ;O)

    Does anyone have his email? Tata!

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  174. Connie, if you have this much energy when you're tired...

    Glyn ate donkey. He lives in France.

    Andrew has to order his book, so you won't have it just yet. It will go to him so he can sign it, then to you. I'll send you his email address.

    Susan is a delight, you can see how we became friends so quickly. Cool that you ordered Seeking Sara Summers, I'm sure you'll like it. I hope you ordered an autographed one from her website.

    I'm going to be getting your book finished by Tuesday, when you're on the blog stage. You've read all three of mine in less time than I've read yours, but mine are a bit lighter reading.

    Goodnight, sleep well, Connie!

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  175. I did order it from Susan's site. I hope you enjoy my book. Connie

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  176. Actually, not my favorite topic, I am surprised at how I am enjoying your book.

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