Sunday, October 25, 2015

Karen Walker

Please welcome the lovely and talented Karen Walker to the blog today!!!
Karen has been one of my favourite blogging buddies for years now and I'm thrilled to be able to help her promote her foray into fiction!

The Process of Writing a First-Time Novel after Decades of Writing Nonfiction

Thank you, Jemi, for hosting me today.

 Okay, I’ll admit it right off the bat. Deep, deep down I’d always wanted to write a novel. Ever since I’d read Little Women when I was a child I wanted to be Jo, sequestered in an attic, spinning tales. But that wasn’t the direction my life took. Instead, I became a marketing/public relations professional and wrote articles, essays, brochures, annual reports and the like – always with my client’s name on the piece – never my own. 

After three decades, I quit to write full time. I had a story to tell, but it wasn’t fictional. It was my own story. That resulted in my memoir, Following the Whispers, which I published in 2009. Later that year, while vacationing in Scotland, I heard a voice asking me to tell its story. I’d never experienced anything like that before and it frightened me. It happened again in Ireland, so when I got home, I began to explore what this voice was and what story it wanted me to tell.

In the first session with my writing coach, Mark David Gerson (, I said, “I can’t write fiction.” I’d tried. During the years I was working on my memoir, I went back to school to complete a college education I’d started in the 1960’s. I took every creative writing course the university had to offer and got straight A’s – even graduated Summa Cum Laude. But it was clear to me that I was not a fiction writer. In my mind, you must have a great imagination, write great metaphors, use similes and other writing techniques. Be able to write lush, rich descriptions. That just wasn’t me. I was used to the who, what, where, when, and why of a press release. 

Big sigh here. Mark David’s gentle coaching style helped me move past my own limiting beliefs so that I could begin to allow this story to emerge. Believe me, I kicked and screamed the entire six years it took to get this story out of me. I’ve lost count of the number of drafts. The first one Mark David called a skeleton. “Now you have to put the skin and organs on it.”

Writing a novel was perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I am not an analytical thinker when it comes to writing. I write from the heart. So I didn’t think through a character’s motivation or even character traits. They just came through and I wrote it down. I guess it was kind of like automatic writing.

I’m still much more comfortable writing nonfiction. I’m pretty sure that will be my next project – in fact that same voice is now asking me to write a companion piece to The Wishing Steps – one that imparts all the wisdom that came through during the writing of the book. I’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to ignore those callings. Stay tuned… 
Here’s the scoop on The Wishing Steps:
Three Women and a Single Story That Unites Them Across the Millennia
“Totally engrossing. A must-read for today’s wise woman!” Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin, minister/priestess
Brighid, Ashleen and Megan: Bound through time by a curious light, a mysterious voice and a call they dare not ignore. Yet in obeying this strange force, the women must face soul-searing trials that call into question everything they know and believe — about themselves and about the world around them.
“Guaranteed to inspire you to a deeper level of spirituality and a new appreciation for Goddess.” Rev. Clara Z. Alexander
Karen Helene Walker is a widely published essayist and author of the 2009 memoir, Following the Whispers. When she isn’t writing, you will often find Karen performing in nursing homes and retirement communities as part of the Sugartime or Sophisticated Ladies musical groups, traveling with her husband of 20 years, Gary, or relaxing with a good book at their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit the author’s website at
The Wishing Steps is available for purchase NOW in both print and ebook versions at: You can also purchase it as an ebook on Kobo, I Tunes, and at Barnes and Noble.
Thanks Karen! I love the story of your journey to becoming a fiction writer - it's so interesting how the stories choose us. 
What about you? Do your stories choose you? Do you want to stretch your wings and try nonfiction (if you're a novelist) - or the reverse?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Jacqui Jacoby & the 2nd Paragraph

Please welcome Jacqui Jacoby back to the blog today!

This week we have author Jacqui Jacoby with a writing craft post of 'Second Paragraph'.

Award-winning author, Jacqui Jacoby lives and writes in the beauty of Northern Arizona. Currently adjusting to being an empty nester with her first grandchild to draw her pictures, Jacqui is a self-defense hobbyist. Having studied martial arts for numerous years she retired in 2006 from the sport, yet still brings strength she learned from the discipline to her heroines. She is a working writer, whose career includes writing books, teaching online and live workshops and penning short nonfiction.

Jacqui Jacoby on the web:

Website           Blog                       Twitter        Facebook

Google + Jacqui Jacoby          Instagram: JacquiJaxJacob      Pinterest: Jacqui Jacoby

Second Paragraph
Every writer faces it.  Every writer worries and dreads that it is going to arrive.  You sit down to type, whether it is a novel, an article or a blog entry, and there it will be: a blank document with a blinking cursor asking you to begin. 

We sit in our chairs, ready to write, the ideas in our head ready to pour onto that page, but we just can’t get it. We can’t get it to sound perfect, moving from our mind to our fingers, even when we think we know what to say.

“Why don’t you just start on the second paragraph,” Lucien Carr said when he at worked at the United Press International, no doubt kick starting a writer at a type writer. And Carr was right. Sometimes skipping the beginning to fill in later and moving on to what comes next is all it might take to get forward momentum.

Hitting a wall of “writer’s block” can be cured by something as simple as Mr. Carr’s suggestion.  You can’t get that first paragraph to work, move down the food chain to the second and see if that doesn’t jump start your ideas.  Sometimes something as simple as going back to write the beginning last can fix the problem.

If hitting the wall, however, turns to jumping off the cliff, then it might take a little bit more creativity to break through.

Ted Schwartz, in his book Time Management for Writers gives excellent advice on multi project.  It is, as Mr. Schwarz says, only writers who set off to work on one solitary project at a time giving it your full interest, until that interest is burned out. “Doctors see several patients. Lawyers see several clients … but writers often believe the myth that they are not being professional unless they stay with one project through to completion …”

Editing a book?  Have you started the research on the next, giving equal time to both projects?  Have you volunteered to guest on a blog? How about your favorite RWA chapter?  I bet the editor of the newsletter would love to have you ask to contribute as well as serving on a board or committee.  Contest judging? Always a fun way to share our creative thinking while helping out while getting a chance to see what other people have to say.

The key to finishing a novel is regularity, to be able to face that first paragraph on a daily basis and say “This is what we’re going to do.”   You must commit to it with a set time and a set goal in order to move from Page One to The End.  Nothing can get in the way of this goal. Not TV programs, telephone calls, requests from family or even that cat who decides your keyboard is the warmest place in the house.  Here is a little known truth: You can move the cat.

On the days the book talks back rudely, telling us “writer’s block” is on the menu, then we need a to attack from a different angle, letting that book know it is going to get written.  We’ll just spend twenty minutes answering writing related e-mail, or maybe we’ll write an entry or our blog.  Or better still … we’ll start on the second paragraph and see what the story has in store for us.

 Jacqui Jacoby's newest release is MAGIC MAN

Detective Peter Mackenzie knew crime and knew his job. With The Cemetery Man schedule to leave the next body on the next grave Peter doesn’t have time for the puzzling Alexandra Madison. Her wild stories of a stolen life and family and friends who don’t remember her. Her last resort, she tells him is him and the relationship they shared. Peter doesn’t need this nonsense and his eccentric father walking in only irritates him more. Until his father utters the name everyone forgot, giving hope to Alexandra for the first time. 

Time is their enemy as the weekend grows closer and on Sunday, Peter knows another body will be waiting. 

What he doesn’t know, what he couldn’t know, even with Alexandra delving deeper into his father’s past, the victims are not random. They are chosen with reason and the monster who takes them is not done. She is coming for one of them.

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Amazon UK





Enter this Goodreads giveaway to win signed copies of MAGIC MAN. 
Thanks Jacqui! I tend to work in a linear fashion, but I have jumped ahead to writer certain scenes that are calling to me, and I definitely have worked on more than one project at a time - it's fun!

How about you? Anyone cheating on their MS with another MS at the same time?

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Final Chapter for From the Write Angle

If you haven't heard yet, my friends and I over at From the Write Angle are lowering the curtain over at our blog. It was a tough decision, but it's time. We've all gotten busy, busy, busy, and we're not able to commit to the time needed to keep the blog strong. If you haven't read the final post, it's a good one, and in the comments many of our contributors are doing updates about then/now.

From the Write Angle started in 2011. In some ways, it seems eons ago, in others, only a heartbeat or two.

It's natural to look back and to look ahead during a time like this. I haven't sent out a single query or published a single book in that time. I know to some that would seem inconceivable, but it's true. So, what have I been doing? Working on my craft. I'm a hands-on learner, so I've been writing and trying and learning. And improving.

While I may not have my stories out in the real world yet, I'm SO much closer to having a product I'll be proud to share.

My buddies over at From the Write Angle are a large part of that. So many talented writers who are so willing to share and help out others! I've already bought and read at least a dozen books by my fellow FTWAers and I'm looking forward to many more.

It's been a very good ride at FTWA, and I'll miss the regular contact with my colleagues and my new blogger buddies, but I know we'll all keep in touch.

Have you been part of a group blog? It's such a great way to grow and learn and share!