Tuesday, December 19, 2017

3T Writing Tidbit

Many writers, because of the nature of the field, are introspective. Accessing the muse requires the ability to delve deep into one's mind, past the conscious and into the murky depths.

But to sell books we have to be as outgoing as salespeople.

Conflict is the meat of a good story, but in reality, it's hell on sleeping. So early in my career I took a closer look at introversion versus extroversion.

This isn't a treatise on my journey. That would take books. But I did want to dig out and polish four gems for you.

Specifically, when an introvert tries to pitch a book or give a class, what stands in the way?

Overemphasis on what went wrong. We tend to view our errors from a deep, root level, which in turn cranks them way out of proportion. Don't believe me? Imagine you making that horrendous mistake. Now picture your best friend doing the same thing. Not quite so awful, right? Treat your errors as if they belonged to another person. Practice compassionate objectivity.

Delay in response is natural. We learn deep, which means whenever we have an event in the outside world, we read it into long-term memory. We also try to fit new facts into our existing framework. So if the least little thing changes in our class or pitch from how we practiced it, we can't just wing it. We have to analyze the whole situation, basically pinging the thing against our entire mental hard drive. Yikes! That takes time--especially since some of our hard drive is really on backup. Build in time buffers within your presentation or practice saying, "I'll get back to you on that."

We're at the mercy of our environment. If someone coughs during our class, we notice it. If our pitchee's eyes glaze over, we notice that. We're not only more sensitive to what's going on around us, we have to stop to analyze how it affects our presentation, and try to adjust for every little thing. Hone in on your personal/core truths. They'll relax you and focus you on your message, not the environment.

We've all heard, "Nervous? Picture the audience naked." Yeah, that doesn't work, and here's why. Our imagination is too good! We spend what mental energy we have building a picture of naked people...he has a tattoo there??...to wretched excess. Before you go into your pitch or stand before your class, take control instead. Do the superwoman pose. Tell yourself you're in control. Building yourself up is much better for you than knocking the other guy down.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. I thought you might be interested in seeing those posts now.

photo credit: the green gables via photopin cc
A Pearl for Your Fantasy--Getting to Know You #4--originally posted December 10, 2014

You’ve won a million dollars! Ever wonder what you’d do? Would you buy a sexy negligee or a Maserati? Take an island cruise? Make a loan to a favorite relative?

One of the questions authors are asked is, "Where do you get your ideas?" Well, by asking exactly that question--what if.

That million bucks (or quid or gold bars) that's now yours--what else would happen? Every investment broker on the planet would call you. Empty hands would thrust toward you (it's all fun and games until someone's eye gets poked out). The one relative you can’t stand would demand the biggest handout (but you could flip him a finger communication. Go ahead. Hey, it’s your fantasy).

Take one thing, just one, and change it. That is the seed of world-building. The grit to the pearl. Take the world you know, plus one what if. What if I won that million? What if my job were perfect? What if people lived forever (including that annoying neighbor/coworker)?

photo credit: seasonal wanderer via photopin cc
What one thing would you change? Let’s try—what if magic existed? Imagine cleaning with the snap of a finger, everything you want free! Wouldn’t life be grand?

Well, no. Remember, we only get to change one thing in our fantasy world. Basic human nature doesn’t change. People are still good and bad and just plain silly. You and I might use magic for good, but what about that neighbor/coworker? What about magical accidents?

Should you invent language? Let’s take our magic example. Every culture has a way people get extra energy. Tea, coffee. Coke, both the legal and illegal kind. Kaffey’s been overdone (IMHO) but you’d need to name the substance people use to jolt up the magic. MagiCoke? Maybe that’s illegal too, so you’d have MagiCoke pushers. Assign a shorthand. Call them Mushers…or Pushcokers…well, maybe not. But you get the idea.

Take one thing, and change it. Like a pearl, your world will soon grow!

Let's get to know each other! In my first year as a Magical Musings blogger, I'm exploring my 10 favorite things. This is number four.

What one thing would you change, and how would it affect your hero/heroine's life?

A holiday gift for you! Aunt Aina's Swedish Coffee Bread

My husband's family recipe. Every year we enjoy kneading, braiding, and smelling the buttery baked goodness of this holiday treat! Pretty enough to give as a gift. Tasty, especially warm from the oven with butter and coffee.


2 c. milk
1 c. butter
1 cake yeast or equivalent (I use just over a tsp of dry yeast)
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt (I cut this back a bit, especially with salted butter)
15-20 shelled cardamom seeds, or 1 tsp ground cardamom
7-8 c. flour

Preheat oven to 375º.

  1. Scald milk and cool to lukewarm.
  2. Make a sponge of ~2 c. flour, salt, yeast and milk. This should clean the bowl, not stick to it. Cover loosely and let double.
  3. Cream butter, egg, sugar and cardamom until fluffy.
  4. Add creamed mixture to risen sponge and work through until smooth.
  5. Add flour by ½ cupfuls until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
  6. Divide dough for loaves. Two portions make larger loaves, eight portions are good for individual loaves as small gifts.
  7. Braid loaves and put on non-stick baking pans or sheets. Cover and rise until doubled in size.
  8. Bake at 375º until nicely browned on top.

Top can be brushed with egg white and sprinkled with sugar pearls prior to baking.

This recipe comes from Sweden and is very old. Consequently, I make some changes in deference to modern ingredients. For instance, with pasteurizing, I no longer scald the milk, but use the microwave to bring it to a temperature for adding yeast. 

A note on cardamom--it’s kind of hard to find. Generally a small container, a half ounce or so, is sufficient for a year’s holiday baking. I understand, although haven’t tried, that adding some cardamom to coffee grounds prior to perking makes a nice nutty addition to the coffee.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 1T Status Update

Many of my holiday gigs are already over and I'm digging out from under the heavy practice schedule, yay! Here's what's going on in my writing world.
  • Playing with Fire: The Battle of the Bands (A Starstruck Novella) is with my editor.
  • Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady will go up for preorder later this month. 
  • Revised proposal for Night's Kiss is with my editor.
  • Huge, very big, gigantico giveaways going on now!!!! (You know it's big if there are more than two exclamation points!) If you're not a newsletter subscriber, now's the time to sign up.
  • Did you review Night's Caress? I have a very very special giveaway for my active readers. Join my MH Readers Facebook group here or the MH Readers Newsletter group here. (There's also a special holiday giveaway for active MH readers!!!!)