Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

American Flagphoto © 2009 Tom Thai | more info (via: Wylio)
Wishing you and yours a happy Memorial Day.

My gratitude goes out to every man and woman who has served in the US Military. Thank you for your sacrifice, for you courage, and for your valor. Thank you for protecting freedom around the world.

Also, the holiday has grown to encompass the remembering of all those we have lost. In that spirit, I hope you spend a little time today sharing good memories of loved ones who have passed away.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is:

Five Happy Little Time Management Games that are great Little Time Wasters:

1. Roads of Rome.

2. Roads of Rome 2.

3. Farm Mania 2.

4. My Farm Life.

5. Shop-N- Spree.

I play all these games, and I love them! All are available through Big Fish Games and you can play each one for an hour for free to test it out and see if you like it. If you're going to buy one of them though, I'll tell you that they almost always have a sale over the holidays, and next weekend the games will most likely all be about five dollars.

So, if you're looking for a great way to procrastinate, check out Big Fish Games. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wisdom Tooth Week

Toothbrush 2photo © 2007 Windell Oskay | more info (via: Wylio)This week my daughter gets her wisdom teeth removed.

This is the first surgery of any kind that she's had.

Understandably, she's a little nervous.

I still have my wisdom teeth. For a long time my dentist chivvied me to have them removed, but now that I'm...as old as I am...he says they should stay put unless a problem develops. I always figured if they weren't bothering me, then they shouldn't bother him. :)

So, the question of the day is: Do you still have your wisdom teeth?

*** UPDATE  The Wisdom Teeth have been extracted, and the daughter is doing well. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Three Tips for Monday

Today's Three Tips for Monday has to do with Plot.

I tend to be a plot first kinda girl. My stories all begin with a 'What if this happened?' question. After I have a plot idea in place, I start wondering about what kind of person would have the worst time overcoming the problems I've lined up.

So, because I love plotting so much, I thought I'd give you three of my tips for plotting a story.

1. Read James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure. If you haven't read this book, and you want to write fiction...you're making a hard journey harder. This book will break down the essential elements of successful story structure and show you ways to make sure your plot is tight and fast. Jim Bell is a great communicator, and you won't be sorry you read this book. I have read it several times, and it continues to be the GO TO book that I recommend for all beginning writers.

2. List the FOUR biggest things you want to happen in your novel. The inciting incident, the boost in the middle, the black moment, and the conclusion. If you know the major mile-markers in the story, it's easier to see what you need to do, the scenes you need to write to get your characters logically from each place to the next.

3. Write a list of scenes. One sentence, one paragraph, as much as you can fit on a post-it...whatever you're comfortable with. This forms a loose outline, framework, whatever you're comfortable calling it.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, a plot-first or character-first writer?

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Friday Five

Dandelion close-upphoto © 2005 Benjamin Esham | more info (via: Wylio)

This summer seems to be taking forever to get here, probably because it is so pea-picken' cold here still. We had one 48 hr period of warmth...enough to make all the dandelions pop out.

But we're creeping along toward full-blown summer. My daughter is home from college. My son has finished his homeschooling year. My husband took the snowblower off the tractor and put the belly mower on.

So, today's Friday Five is:

Five things I'm looking forward to this summer:


1. Warm weather! It hasn't really been warm here since October.

2. Vacation. My parents are visiting this summer, and they're bringing my aunt, uncle, and a little cousin along. We're going to Duluth and the Mesabi Iron Range, and I shall gaze upon lovely Lake Superior and think long, deep thoughts. (Or I'll throw a zillion rocks into the water and watch them sink.)

3. Walking. I want to walk outside again. I've been a bit of a slacker when it comes to exercise this winter, and warm, breezy days beckon.

4. A writer's weekend. Hoping to get together with some writer friends sometime in July and write, write, write.

5. Reading and writing. I have a TBR stack that is threatening to topple over on the rest of the house, and I have some novellas and a novel to write.

Ah, summer!

What are you looking forward to this summer?

And a BLOGGAVERSARY WINNER! I assigned a number to each of the comments and emails I received and went to random.org and let them choose a number...

The Winner is.....Keli Gwyn! Congratulations, Keli!

Thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate five years of blogging, and Keli, I'll be sending you the seven books and the gift card ASAP.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Helpfulness of Talking

Chili'sphoto © 2010 Mel Rowling | more info (via: Wylio)
Last Friday night, I met Mary Connealy at a Chili's Restaurant in the Twin Cities and we did what we always do. We talked.

For about five hours. :D

We had such a wonderful time. Mary is so easy to be with, and so knowledgeable. She's also unselfish. She shares her experience and wisdom freely, and she loves to help other writers.

One thing that she really helped me with is my current novella project. She let me talk out the basic plots, whine about the backstory dump I will need to cull, and set up a format that really sounded like it might work.

Such a relief! I know this about myself: I need to talk my plots out loud. This helps me clarify the strengths and weaknesses, the plot holes, the places where I don't know the characters enough. It allows someone else to ask me questions, to force me to think about things in a new way, to work through thin places in the story.

We didn't talk about my story the whole time, but I sure am glad for the little while we spent on it. :) Thank you, Mary!

So, do you find yourself needing to talk your plots out loud to someone?

Oh, and a reminder: I'm blogging this week at http://heartsong-authors.blogspot.com/ please stop on by and say howdy.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Three Tips for Monday

Mary Connealy and me at the 2008 ACFW Conference. She won a Book of the Year Award and I won a Genesis Contest Award.

Conference Registration is now open for the 2011 ACFW Conference and excitement is building. Have you been to a writer's conference before, or a professional conference of any kind? I love the ACFW Conference. Seeing friends, great classes, the awards banquet, inspiring keynote speakers...so much fun.

This will be my fifth ACFW Conference and my sixth writer's conference. Each one has been different and amazing and educational and pivotal.

Conferences can be so overwhelming, and I surmise that for a lot of writers it is because our expectations are out of whack with reality. We all dream of sitting down with an editor who, upon reading our stuff in a 15 minute appointment, loves it so much she promptly offers you a seven figure deal and promises your work will be made into a movie that will become an iconic franchise in Americana. (I can't be the only one...can I? {crickets chirping.......} )

Anyway, with about 120 days until the ACFW Conference rolls around, how can we be preparing, realistically. Here are three tips:

1. Manage Expectations. Don't go to the conference expecting to receive a book contract. Don't make that your focus or your goal. No editor is going to offer you a contract based on a 15 minute meeting. They don't carry contracts around in their pocket. They don't have their pub board on speed dial, just waiting to call them with the next BIG DEAL. Instead, go to the conference planning to make connections, meet people, deepen your knowledge of the craft, and make some amazing memories. Lay the groundwork for the future.

2. Write. Don't spend the summer worrying about the conference. Write. Write the best proposal you can. Write the best story you can. Write because you are a writer. Don't spend your summer fretting, or sitting on your laurels. Already have a proposal polished up? Great! Now write the book. Already have a book finished that you want to pitch? Great! Write another one.

3. Meet people online and make plans to meet up at the conference. Become friends with people who will be attending, so you can have a support staff and be a support staff for the ups and downs of the conference. You'll want someone to sit with, to celebrate with, and to pray with. A 500+ person conference can be a lonely place. Don't isolate yourself and not take the opportunity to meet people before you show up in St. Louis. Follow blogs, comment, find folks on Twitter and Facebook. You can make friendships that will last well beyond the conference.

What's your favorite tip for prepping for a writer's conference?

Oh, and because the bloggaversary post got eaten by Blogger(!!!!) and I wasn't able to save the comments before Blogger blew them away, you have until midnight tonight to get your name back into the drawing for my first Seven books and a $10 gift card to an online bookstore.

Also, I'm blogging this week over at http://heartsong-authors.blogspot.com/ so please stop on by and say hello!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Friday Five

Restaurant Le Malesanphoto © 2008 Nedo Homawoo (via: Wylio)

Today I get to do three totally awesome things.

I get to call the finalists in the Genesis Contest YA division.

I get to spend the night with my daughter...a girls' sleepover.

I get to have dinner with the awesome Mary Connealy! Squee!

So, for today's Friday Five,


Five things I love about having dinner with a writing buddy.

1. Learning from one another. Sharing the information we have about the industry, about the craft, etc.

2. Talking to someone who understands the idiosyncrasies of the writing life. As supportive and loving and understanding as our family and non-writing friends can be, nobody 'gets' a writer like another writer.

3. Brainstorming ideas. Talking about killing people, kidnapping people, poisoning people, etc. And sharing cool historical ideas and settings, too. And the other person doesn't worry about your sanity, because she's right in there with you creating mayhem for characters.

4. Whining. A little. Commiserating the hard stuff. Blowing off a little steam in a safe environment. Granted, I have like...zip...to complain about, but I'm a pretty good listener.

5. Becoming rejuvenated and revitalized and re energized to get back to the work I love. Talking with a writer friend reminds me how much I love what I do and how much I want to keep doing it.

How about you? What do you like about hanging out with writers?


*** Due to complications with Blogger being down, the Bloggaversary celebration will continue through the weekend. Anyone who leaves a comment on yesterday's or today's blog post will be entered to win the Seven Autographed Books and the $10 gift card to Amazon.com or B&N.com

Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win.







more info

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Five Year Bloggaversary

Confettiphoto © 2006 ADoseofShipBoy | more info (via: Wylio)

Woohoo! Today is the Five Year anniversary of my very first blog post. I still cannot believe how quickly five years has gone by.

I do enjoy blogging, and I especially enjoy all the wonderful people I meet through blogging.

So, today, in order to celebrate,

I'm giving away a signed copy of each of my first seven books AND a 10 dollar Amazon.com gift card!

Winner will be picked at random from any comments made before midnight tonight. 

I know some folks have a hard time with the comments section or they get the blog post via rss feed. If you'd prefer, you can email me your comment at ericavetsch at gmail dot com.

I'll announce the winner on Monday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Percolating

Mud hot springphoto © 2006 Jun | more info (via: Wylio)
Last week I wanted to totally slay some epic wordcount on my current novella...and yet, nothing happened. Well, not exactly nothing. I did get 2700 words written, but it wasn't anywhere near what I wanted to accomplish.

Not because I didn't want to write, and not because I didn't have time to write.

It was because I needed to let the story percolate, marinate, and otherwise compost.

I needed some daydreaming time to watch snippets of the story roll through my head.

And it worked. I spent several days just working the story over in my mind, getting to know my characters and setting better. I needed to discover what secret my heroine was hiding from me. I sensed she had something going on behind the scenes, and she revealed to me, which will make putting her in a difficult position much easier. :) Poor girl.

How about you? Do you need to let your story brew for awhile before you write it? Or do you write it right from the get-go and discover things along the way?

Oh, and tomorrow marks my 5th year Bloggaversary, and I'm giving away some cool stuff, so come back and leave a comment to be entered to win.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Three Tips for Monday

Rooster Tyresta National Parkphoto © 2006 Udo Schröter | more info (via: Wylio)
One of the easiest things to identify in someone else's writing, and yet the most difficult to quantify in our own writing is voice.

Often writers agonize over finding their voice. Will I know it when I find it? What if I never find it? What if, when I find my voice, I realize it isn't unique?

Whew...that's a lot to angst about, and nothing steals your joy as a writer and camouflages your voice like angsty-worry.

First, let's define voice.

Writer's voice is the literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice was generally considered to be a combination of a writer's use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works). The definition came from HERE.

It takes time to find your voice, but once you do, you'll have it rock-solid. One thing new writers need to realize is: You cannot find your true voice before you master the basics of fiction writing craft. Until you're comfortable with point-of-view, dialogue, narration, setting, etc. focus on those things. Voice will come after you've become grounded with the basics.


So, here are three tips to finding your voice:

1. Relax. Clear voice shines through when you're relaxed and just let the words and story flow. Voice happens when you're not forcing it, when you're letting the words roll out without worrying about voice.

2. Read widely, and critique for people, because often you will be able to discern another person's voice before you can discern your own. However, identifying other people's voices helps you identify your own. Meg Cabot doesn't sound like Dick Francis, and Elizabeth Peters doesn't sound like Alice Sebold. Each of these writers has a distinct voice, and so do you. 

3. Write. A lot. I didn't discover my voice (and actually, someone else told me when I'd finally found it) until I had written several novels. When I go back to the first one I wrote, I can see a few sprouts of my voice amid all the compost I was throwing around, but by the time I had written four novels, my voice had become clear. When I reread my own work after being away from it for awhile, I often find myself thinking "I should put 'this' in somewhere." only to find that a few lines later, I put that very thing in. My voice was natural, the thought processes, the experiences, the vocabulary all mesh together to make my writing sound different from anyone else's.

So, have you found your voice? Has anyone ever told you your voice sparkles?

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Friday Five

wet peonyphoto © 2009 liz west | more info (via: Wylio)


This week's Friday Five is:

Five things I like about May.

1. It rarely snows in MN in May. :)

2. The shedding of coats and jackets. No more juggling hats, mittens, scarves, gloves, boots, parkas, etc. just to walk to the mailbox.

3. The school year ends. :) I love homeschooling, but by May, I'm ready for a break, maybe even moreso than my son is.

4. My daughter comes home from college for the summer! Yay!!!

5. Baseball, hockey playoffs, and NASCAR are all in full swing/tilt/gear.


What do you like about May?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

May Goals

Rainy daffodilphoto © 2010 Renate Dodell | more info (via: Wylio)This being the first week of May, it's time to revisit and revise the goals.


First, let's revisit the April goals to see how I did:

1. Finish all the plotting for Sagebrush Knights and begin the first novella. (Um, not so great here. Got the first novella plotted, but didn't get it started in April. Also, haven't plotted the other three yet.)

2. Genesis Contest work. (This went well. Got to call semi-finalists, and sent back all non semi-finalist entries. Passed on a bazillion thank-you notes, and worked on semi-final round stuff.)

3. Incorporate crit comments on Stars in Her Eyes and get it sent in to my editor. (Mangaged this one with not too much of April to spare. Both crit partners wanted to see more conflict, more at stake for my heroine, so I had quite a bit of punching up to do with her story line.)

4. Copy edits on A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas (Copy edits and content edits are all done on this title. Just galley proofs to go.)

Not too bad overall. I'd give myself a B+ for April goals. :)


On to May:

1. Write the first novella in Sagebrush Knights.

2. Plot novella's 2-4.

3. Get started on novella #2.

4. Genesis contest duties, including phoning finalists and getting the final round entries passed along to the final round judges.

5. Whatever editing issues crop up. Galley edits for Light to my Path should be the next thing on the agenda, but I'm not sure when they will arrive.

I'm trying to get a lot done this month, because in June, I'll have family visiting and will be away from writing for a good chunk of the month.

Aside from writing goals, this is the month when I get to pick up Heather from college for the summer, I get to have dinner with Mary Connealy, and Heather gets her wisdom teeth out. Oh, and earlier this week, I got a filling at the dentist. Joy.

So, how did you do with your April goals and what are your plans for May?

Monday, May 02, 2011

3 Tips Monday

Reachphoto © 2008 James Jordan | more info (via: Wylio)
This week, my son is working on his first piece of fiction, a short story he has been assigned as part of his English curriculum.

This has been interesting to me as we get down to the very basics of writing fiction and he's faced with all those decisions that come when starting a story.

The most important thing he has had to do is fill out a GMC worksheet for his main character, a brainy teen nick-named 'Stein after his hero, Alber Einstein. (Pretty cool, huh? He thought it up all by himself.)


Some writers might be thinking "GMC? Like a truck?"

Nope, GMC = Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Without those three things, you haven't got a story.

So, today's 3 Tips Monday is: GMC in a nutshell.

1. Goal. The character has to want something. To get out of Oz and back to Kansas. To find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. To stop a bomber from blowing up an elevator, a bus, and a subway train. To be the best villain in the world.

If there is no goal, if the character doesn't want something, then what will keep the reader turning pages?

2. Motivation. There has to be a reason for the character to want what she wants. Nobody lives in a vacuum, and nobody wants something for no reason. At least interesting people don't behave that way. Is there something in the past that makes the heroine's present goal make sense? This can be an inner motivation that she keeps to herself, like she's been passed around from foster care home to foster care home and the thing she wants more than anything in life is to have a home, or a clearly defined outer motivation such as get off the bus before it blows up because she doesn't want to die.

If there is no reason for the heroine to want what she wants, if she doesn't want it so badly she's willing to risk everything, life, limb, and future happiness to get it, then what's to keep the reader turning pages?


3. Conflict. What stands in the way of the hero getting what he wants? A villian? A mountain? His own self? Is there a clock ticking? A catastrophe in the offing? Something has to be preventing the hero from walking up to his goal, grabbing it, and stuffing it into his pocket. If things are too easy for the hero, the story is boring. (Write this one down. No conflict = No story. I still have to work on throwing enough trouble at my characters.)

If there is nothing standing between our hero and his goal, then what's to keep the reader turning pages?


Question for you: Which of these is the hardest for you to come up with when starting a story? Which is the easiest?