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Archive for July, 2010

RWA goes to Orlando!

As a budding writer, I have attended a couple of the Romance Writers of America conventions. Once in Dallas, TX, and again last year in Washington, DC. I have got to say this was a thrilling experience for me.

Established writers, agents and publishers are everywhere! They are meeting and talking with their counterparts and offering loads of helpful information to newbies like me. Not only are there incredible opportunities to meet these famed writers but lots of workshops led by writers, publishers and others who can help us achieve our goals. There are lines of people who get to meet their favorite authors.

Food at these conferences is delicious! We had luncheons and dinners presided over by the likes of Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas and others. Not only did we learn from them, we also learned about them. And believe me, these ladies are all fun to have around.

Not all romance writers are women. I was a bit surprised (and I don’t know why) at my first conference to see a few male writers gracing our meetings. By the 2009 Washington DC conference there were many more.

I signed on early this year for the Nashville conference. One, because it was within easy travel distance from my home and two, I love the way these conferences stir up my writing spirit. I come home inspired, energized and ready to write night and day!! Unfortunately, this year intense rains flooded much of Nashville~~leaving millions of dollars in damages as well as destroying the very place we were to have our meeting, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Repairs to this majestic place are not to be completed till near the end of this year. Working with Gaylord, the officers of RWA had to change the venue to a fabulous hotel in the lovely Orlando FL area. The conference is to be held in a glorious Disney hotel, and even as I type this blog scores of writers are probably getting ready to enjoy a wonderful week of friendship and learning experiences. Best-selling Nora Roberts is set to be keynote speaker and Jayne Ann Krentz, Sabrina Jeffries and Sherrilyn Kenyon are slated to speak as well.

Unfortunately, I cannot travel to Orlando at this time so this year I am forced to miss the conference. I will keep up with blogs of writers in attendance, drool over photos of fabulous writers and librarians and readers having fun in the sun, and envy their wonderful week.  The change in venue meant changes in my, ahem, being able to afford a really nice time while at conference and also was quite a drive from my home.

If you are a writer or a budding writer of romance…these are wonderful conferences. Believe me, you are so excited to write and the energy, the joy of being with others who love to write is fabulous.

Look out RWA ’11, I am saving my pennies and looking at travel plans. A year from now I want to be sitting on the front row of those workshops again and meeting with old and new writing friends.

Have a great time!

KW

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“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.” ~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Leighton~A Favor

Looking back over my life I see times when I was ecstatically happy, then others that were equally depressing. And yet, no matter how much those days either set me back or thrilled me…they would always eventually come to an end. The new days would start and, almost magically, every new day had its very own plan. Sometimes the highs and/or lows of the day before carry through…then again, sometimes those new days are just that….brand new days with new adventures.

Looking back over my life I am amazed that I have taken so many different paths. In my younger days I was one who loved to travel the paths less traveled then as I grew older and became a parent I often took the path of least resistance. Those changes have sometimes been reflected in my writings. As a younger woman, on my own and without cares, I wrote with much abandon. As I became a parent…I wrote with more restriction. Not so much because my thoughts changed…but because my life changed. With children or family or friends to think of, I’d be more apt to either censor myself or hold that muse back. After all, I was someone’s mom or daughter or neighbor…and I wanted to write romances!!!

As I’ve developed my writing skills over the last couple of years I look back and see that old muse taking over again. I love to let my thoughts be free and take over my writings. I feel that old nudge to not restrict myself and follow my dreams. My way to compensate for the empty nest….is to ultimately reclaim my sense of adventure and my sense of self. I am starting to realize that no matter how old we become, life is still so very short and we should at the very least attempt to be true to our dreams. And that tomorrow is a fresh day…time to forge ahead without worrying about the days gone by.

Remembering that old saying as I forge ahead:

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life,

KW

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Thoughts about life…

I adore books. As a little girl starting school I loved the smell of new textbooks and all that went with it. The crayons, the new paper…even that block of clay!! I even (shock!) liked most of my teachers!!

As I became a teenager and even into my young adulthood I loved to read. I was quite a regular visitor to our local library and had my own bookcases filled with books by my favorite authors. As I grew older and had my own children, I loved to read to them….and was filled with delight when they could read to me. Both my girls would ‘write’ books when they were little…and I still have them packed away with all my treasures from their childhood.

So how do books and my personal thoughts about life tonight relate? It is quite simple really. I lost my grandmother just a few hours ago. She was just three years shy of 100 years of age and had lived through so many major events in our world’s history. It just reminded me of one of my outlooks on life.

To me, it has always been easy to explain life by comparing it to a book. When one is born, it is as though his or her own personal book of life is opened. As life’s experiences occur…from learning to talk, to walk, to write, to read…..and on into the teen years….the adult years…and yes, even those last moments before death….I feel it is our own personal chapters in this book. And when a person dies…it is not the end of that book. While in my analogy it is represented by the closing of the book…it does not mean one ceases to exist. The book existed in our hands for a while….it left an impression on all who touched it….and now it can be placed upon a shelf. The soul of what was contained in that book lives on….the book itself now represents the essence of the soul. No longer here in our hands but up there, perhaps beyond our reach on the upper shelf…but we never forget what we learned within those chapters.

The chapters in my grandmother’s life were many. She touched many lives and left behind two brothers, a daughter, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren…and too many other relatives and friends to mention. She has joined my dad, her sisters and brothers, my grandfather and so many others who have gone on before her. Tonight her book has been placed upon that top shelf….out of my reach….but the essence of all I’ve learned from her all these years will be with me always…just as all I’ve learned from my dad, my grandfather, my mom, my sister…and all I had the honor of knowing who have gone on before.

I’ll miss you Mamaw,

KW (“Kitty”)

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I have been a Facebook person for almost a year. It has brought me closer to writing friends and colleagues as well as some very dear friends who live miles from my home. Not only has Facebook proven to be a wonderful social networking tool for my writing but it has also helped me meet and befriend others in the writing world in ways I could never do via snail mail.

Yesterday I decided to attempt Twitter. I’ve heard lots of references to tweets on the news, in Facebook posts and online. So….I am now experimenting. I’m again taking baby steps, easing into the world of tweets and following writers and publishers I recognize. Still no followers for me but my only tweets are simply…basically saying, “Hi, I’m tweeting!”

I am researching the pros and cons of Twitter and will be watching the site for any insightful help for my fledgling writing career. If it becomes too much of a time crunch to maintain both…so far Facebook is my preference.

Honestly, I am still trying to decipher all the @ and # and other symbols I see in Twitter posts. It may turn out to be too sophisticated for this writer!!! I don’t know if my conversations would all be private, public or either…so I am still learning. Lol, although I haven’t had any tweets to me so far!!!

What do you think of Twittering?

KW

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On the Mississippi Gulf coast

“A picture says a thousand words.” No statement could be truer as this writer found these two particular photos on the Internet this weekend. People from my hometown are traveling to the coast to aid in the cleanup and now I can see why. Our coast was lucky until Hurricane Alex pushed the Gulf waters onto our beaches and into nearby Lake Pontchartrain. I was really hoping that one murky, muddy protector of our coast was its close proximity to the place where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf; this and a few pristine barrier islands located off the coast of the state. In fact, someone told me today that a family friend who harvests a huge oyster bed he owns will not be able to obtain oysters from there until five years from now.

Removing oil from Gulfport beach using shovel

I was wrong. Now states from Texas to Florida are all affected by the spill in the Gulf’s coastal waters.

Imagine lovely walks here now. I think not,

KW

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My paternal grandmother celebrated her 97th birthday this past April. She has appeared before in my blog…I related the story of my dad’s birth in a boxcar back in 1930, in the logging camps of Louisiana.

Her health hasn’t been very good for about two years now. For a very, very long time she seemed healthy for a woman of her years. A few months back she complained about hurting in her right chest and side and scans revealed some unusual places in her right lung. The doctor had his suspicions but with her advanced age any procedures to verify or disprove whatever it was could have been more harmful than the possible illness.

She has taken a turn for the worse over the past month or so. No longer is she able to walk with assistance or be mobile in the wheelchair. She is now bedridden and I visited her for a while today. She seemed so tiny and fragile, maybe because I’ve never seen her so helpless. A stroke quite recently had affected her right side and speech; and she has lost so much of her energy. It amazes me that just about three weeks ago she was up and talking and still laughing and kidding with me and today was so very different.

I have lost so many close loved ones over the years, it hurts to feel my grandmother slipping away. To have lived and experienced all that has been in her lifetime….incredible. And I will continue to visit with her, and talk to her for as long as she is in that bed. I will still treat her with the admiration and dignity a lady of her years deserves. I can sit at her bedside and tell her about my day and keep her company.

To all of you who still have your grandparents or your parents, give them a huge hug. You never know what can happen in just a few weeks time and always, even if that parent or uncle or aunt or grandparent is nearing the century mark, it comes as a surprise when you realize you could soon be losing a dear family member. And what is even more surprising is the frustration that comes with the reality that you cannot do anything for them physically…but you can pray.

Offering prayers for my Mamaw,

KW

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For a beginning writer…and maybe even for an established author…one of the biggest challenges is procrastination. Many times I am hit with a fabulous streak of genius and can write until someone or something practically tears my thoughts from my WIP to something else. I love those times. Often these streaks of genius strike in the middle of the night…sometimes early in the morning. But when they do I try to take advantage of that sudden burst of energy and enlightenment.

To procrastinate (proh-kras-tuh-neyt) is simply to put off till tomorrow what you should do today. To delay action.  An action that can derail your dreams if you let it take over your writing schedule. Alas, I am guilty of procrastinating, not only in my writing but also in my housework (hey, don’t you find wonderful, excusable reasons not to clean that refrigerator or wash that third load of clothes or sweep the porch one more time after you already swept before the leaves fell). What would be bad about becoming an adult, a responsible parent, would be seeing that your children have learned this art!! Did they learn it from their mom?? Hopefully not.

I was once probably the most organized person to work in an office. I color-coded, I filed each day, I had a mental schedule for each day and for each month. And I kept to that schedule. Always.

Now? I am trying to teach myself to do this, or a portion of this, again. Keeping a written schedule of what I want to accomplish or what needs to be done each day helps….and seeing my writing take form and the characters becoming vibrant is a fabulous thing. I now write at odd and scattered times…but I think this may be my own writing method.

To stop procrastinating we have to be able to take charge of our actions. Try to stick to a plan or at least be willing to take baby steps to organizing time. Just do it and not stop to think about whatever it is you are doing….it needs to get done. Goals will never be reached by procrastination and then there will be no one to blame but yourself.

Today, I wrote….yesterday, I wrote. Tomorrow…..I will write again. This is an important step in my life, to become an author and there is no one who can stop me….but me. I will not allow this to happen.

I procrastinated for many, many years and blamed it on the things going on in my life so I refuse to get back into that rut.

My time is now,

KW

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