Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I Do What I Do...

I am not a political anything.  I rarely follow politics except during presidential campaign years and even then my self-education can be spotty at best.  But I do consider myself a writer and Monday was National Coming out Day (NCOD).  For anyone unfamiliar, NCOD was began in 1988 as a day to celebrate and embrace LGBT families living open, "out" lifestyles.

I came out myself in 1990 and have lived openly ever since.  I remember reading about being out in the early 1990s.  A magazine article I read or book I read at the time (my memory escapes me for the credit) stated that being out was a political statement.  That statement gave me great pride to know that I was possibly living in a time of social upheaval and enlightenment.

From my perspective, the LGBT plight seemed to make great strides during the 1990s.  Although Don't Ask Don't Tell seemed to be a set back and disappointment, it seemed to relax the witch hunting that was so prevalent in the military during the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

The 1990s were full of movies that brought our lives and experiences to the nations forethought.  Philadelphia illustrated very serious concerns for the community.  Tom Hanks' acceptance speech for Best Actor then inspired the very comical In & Out. Then came "Will & Grace" that carried us through eight years of the lives two gay men and the people in their lives.

All seemed to be well with the world.  Most of the press about LGBT issues was positive and moving in the right direction.  Marriage seemed to be our biggest hurdle.  Gradually, municipalities were recognizing domestic partnerships.  Many large companies started offering same-sex partner benefits.  Slowly, voters are passing measures that allow same-sex marriages within their states. 

And now we've come full circle.  Just last week, three young people committed suicide amid stories of bullying and abuse.  Nine  individuals have been arrested in a gang beating.  A gubernatorial candidate public states that homosexuality is not an option.  In my world, I really did believe that we were past all of this.  I (thankfully) have never been a victim to an anti-gay hate crime.

So here it is again, it seems, that it's a political statement to live an out and open life.  And that's why I'm a writer.  My purpose has been further revealed to me this week.  If nothing else, I am writer to share my LGBT experience through the stories I have to tell.  This new found purpose has breathed new life into my writing. 

My challenge for you this week is to revisit your purpose and the reasons that you write (or do whatever you do).  What is ultimately at stake if you ever decide to give it up?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Importance of Routine...

As a writer, I am constantly reading fiction to help me with my writing; I also read a lot of non-fiction.  Sometimes I choose non-fiction books to help me with a particular subject I'm researching.  I've been reading some great books about the craft of writing that are already helping me in my quest to become a better writer.  One of the most simple, and profound, lessons I've learned about plot and action is that plot and action are derived from an interruption in the character's routines.  Most character action is then centered around restoring that routine in their lives.

I just finished reading Rainwater by Sandra Brown  How timely it was for me to discover how the main character's life in a small, Depression-era town is disrupted by the arrival of Mr. Rainwater.  And yes, true to my writing lessons, the entire novel is dedicated to the restoration of order in Ella's life.

My personal life routines have been interrupted the last ten days as well.  Transition from one job to another left me without Internet access at home for about ten days.  Now that it's restored, it feels so much easier to complete writing tasks such as working on A Place to Call Their Own and this blog.  I even asked my partner if some of his lupus discomfort lately may have been exacerbated by the interruption in our lives.

So my lesson for you this week, no matter what quest you're currently pursuing, is to make sure that you are following the routines you've set out for yourself.  I know that for ten days, my routines were disrupted after working very hard to establish some aggressive writing routines to achieve some aggressive writing goals.  Another other lesson I learned recently is to have a back up plan ready to go when my routine is disrupted.

I also got the second part of A Place to Call Their Own posted on  Here's a link, happy reading:

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Don't Give Up...

I'm starting this blog entry with a poem shared by my Tupperware Distributor a long time ago when I sold Tupperware:

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but DON’T YOU QUIT!
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When you might have won had you stuck it out.
DON’T GIVE UP, thought the pace seems slow ~
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is Failure turned inside out ~
The silver tine of the clouds of doubt,
And you can never tell how close you are;
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the flight when you’re hardest hit ~
It’s when things seem worst that you
MUST NOT QUIT! - Author Unknown

It's been a busy week, again, and not for my writing.  The novel doesn't seem to be moving forward and this is the first blog post in nineteen days.  So what am I doing about it?

I am revising my writing plan and getting back to it.  Thankfully I have my routine in place to refer to in times like this.  I am rearranging it to start my Writing Week on Saturday which works best for me.  I also started some new routines this weekend around exercising in the morning, which should help with daily routines during the week.

Don't be afraid to write down your routines and goals.  When you get off track, like I have been, you can refer to those best laid plans when you are ready and get right back to it.

I've included a picture of our walking path in Bentonville, AR as reminder of the writing journey on which I travel.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Be a Writing Buddy to Find Writing Buddies

When I worked in sales, this principle was, “Help a Friend or Buddy.”  What this meant was always take a recruit with me to meetings, other recruit interviews, my sales parties, and out prospecting for more new customers.  In the more traditional business world, this meant always be developing other leaders.  As a writer this means lending a helping hand to fellow writers however I can.


Why do I think this is so important?  One of the main reasons is my enjoyment of learning, and in turn, teaching others.  This entire blog is dedicated to walking aspiring writers like myself walk through the trials and tribulations of writing a novel and getting it published.  This love of helping others is deep rooted in my being:  my father was a teacher (and still is) and I was corporate trainer for five years.  I'm still committed to training and developing others in my corporate job as a manager.  There's also an ancient lesson that says when you share talents with the world, your riches come back one hundredfold.

I have always thought that the direct sales industry has done a better job of giving incentives to who develop other leaders than the corporate world.  In the corporate world, we sometimes only see the downside of what happens when team members are promoted out.  As a writer, some of the benefits for helping others isn't as clear cut as receiving bonuses of any sort.


For me, one of the benefits of helping other writers, is making sure I follow my own advice.  Before I gently remind fellow writing buddies if they are writing at least fifteen minutes a day, I pause and do a reality check on my own writing habits.  (See my other posts on developing routines, I've been doing much better lately, and more to come on that subject later this week.)

Another benefit is a network of support.  I am slowly creating a group of individuals whom I can count on for honest feedback on my writing.  I am in the midst of writing my first novel and haven't made it available online until I have had at least one writing buddy review the piece before I post it.  Up until this post, most of my blog posts have been reviewed before I made a public announcement that I had made an update to my blog.

A final benefit to helping others is respect and support of the writing community.  In an effort to improve my writing and model my career after other successful writers, I make it habit to review the web sites and blogs of other fiction writers.  Whenever I read anything by a writer I've not read before, I take a few minutes to review their web sites.  I am particularly attracted to writers who have a section on their web sites that include resources and advice for writers.  Marie Bostwick's site is one such site that review often.  You can visit her at  (don't forget to right click and open in new tab or window or your will navigate way from the rest of the blog post.)  My previous post about finding a buddy focused on what you could gain from a writing friend.  Be sure that you are a writing friend in turn and provide the support that you seek.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Develop and Follow Routines: Back in the Saddle...

After six months of working a crazy schedule in a retail environmentl, I am just finishing the third week of a new job.  What makes this so significant for me is that I've been able to return to a regular writing routine.  This includes writing for this blog on a regular basis.  Even this week, working evening hours, I've made it a point to use my morning time as I would my "evening time" and get exercise, chores, and writing accomplished every day.  A Place to Call Their Own is progressing nicely, and I'll have two blog posts this week.  (FYI:  I'm hoping to post the next section of A Place to Call Their Own on next week.)

The other routine I've made sure to keep up this week is my reading.  I have read at least a few minutes each night, both in my fiction as well as my non-fiction topics.  This commitment to reading has helped me relax at night and get to bed at a decent hour.  This, of course, so I can be up by seven the next day to start again.

The reason I'm sharing this with you this week is so that you understand my commitment to making the best out of an undesirable situation.  I knew going into this new job that I would have the possibility of working later hours.  And knowing that, I also have commitments to not let my work schedule get in the way of my writing schedule.

Another catalyst for my situation is the fact that we're sharing a car.  I have to get up and take Thomas to work.   I used to be able to get up, run a quick errand, and go back to bed.  The older I get, once I'm up, I seem to be up for the day (although a nap about one or two in the afternoon is always good!).

The other catalyst that has made this week so productive is the fact that I prefer to write and create in the morning rather than the evening.  These mornings I set my fifteen minute timer just to make sure I do my fifteen minutes a day.  After the timer goes off, I tend to linger as much as I can (the timer went off at the beginning of this paragraph!  I have a wedding shower gift to wrap today!).  When I'm working more of a standard shift, and I don't' get up in the morning early enough to write, I'm usually done mentally as soon as that timer goes off.

Whatever the routines you've set for yourself, I hope they are working.  Constantly revise your routines to make them fit work for you and your family, whether or not things like your career or your children's schedules are getting in your way.  When you have solid routines in place and goals that you're reaching for, it's so much easier to get back in the saddle when your schedule gets disrupted.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Find a Buddy to Make the Journey More Enjoyable

Since we were young we were always assigned a "buddy" to do things with.  In elementary school, there was the field trip buddy.  In middle and high school there were science lab buddies.  College brought study buddies and groups.  In Corporate America today, very few people don't work as part of the "team."  You should find Writing Buddies as well.

The thing about a Writing Buddy is that you have to seek them out yourself, rather than it being assigned by a teacher or facilitated by the corporate culture.  You are looking for buddies who are interested in writing similar stories and accomplishing some of the same things as yourself.  You are also going to look for those buddies to provide you with honest feedback about your work so that you can prepare it for it's ultimate destination.  You'll want to be prepared to do the same.

So how is a buddy different than a close friend or family member that supports your writing?  I think there are two things that make buddies different.  First of all, a buddy should be able to give you honest criticism of your work, to make it better.  The other thing that makes this different is that your buddy has experienced or may be experiencing the same challenges that you currently face with your writing projects.  Although your brother, sister, or cousin may support your writing wholeheartedly, and may criticize your work, unless they are also writers, they can't always provide you the support you need when you're having a down day.  This is where a good buddy can empathize with what you are going through and help you get back to the place where you are moving forward and being productive.

If you're just beginning where do you find buddies?  The first place I would begin is a local writers group.  You can find writer's groups through the public library, bookstores, even writers groups associated with colleges and universities.  You can also do a web search for "writing groups in [insert your city}" and see what comes up.  Some groups charge a fee for your participation, others do not.  I highly encourage you to participate in whatever group fits your schedule and your budget.

Another place I've found writing buddies is on Facebook. After "Liking" some of the writing business pages, you'll find others who share similar interests.  Go ahead and offer them a Friend Request and interact though Facebook.  My current writing buddy is from Spokane, Washington and she found me because we were mutual friends of a new author we had both "friended."

No matter what you're trying to accomplish in life, buddies help make the journey more rewarding.  A good buddy will be there to share your triumphs, give you honest feedback when needed, and pick you up when things aren't going your way.  And don't forget, to have a good buddy  you need to be a good buddy.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Setting Boundaries

This week I'll return to my success series.  The next topic I haven't written about yet is about setting boundaries.  Setting boundaries is a little bit like setting goals and at the same time it's a bit different.  In my opinion, there are two methods that you set boundaries.  Boundaries are set around the times that you write and boundaries are set around the places where you write. 

First of all, you have to set boundaries around the times that you devote to your craft.  Again, this is a bit like goal setting.  If you look back at goals setting (see blog post here:, I suggest that you create a goal around when you want to finish your project or that you devote "X" number of minutes to writing every day until you accomplish your goal.  This type of goal helps me get going on my writing and get working on a project.  But once I get going, I can get carried away.  I can end up neglecting household chores, bedtimes, paying attention to the things that matter just as much as accomplishing my writing goal.  By setting boundaries around time, I ensure that I continue to function in life and don't neglect my sleep or my household chores (One of these days, I'll be able to afford a cleaning service and then I can devote more time to writing, right?).

The other boundary that's been helpful for me to set is with my workspace.  Find a place to do your writing that works for you.  For me, it's the home office when I'm at home.  I attempt to keep it organized and uncluttered so that during the times that I write, I can sit down and do it without constantly searching for supplies.  I keep one or two reference books available for my current project.  The printer always has paper in it for the times that I want to print something and do some editing.  Find a place to do your writing and create that routine.  For some, their writing space may be a coffee shop, carrel in the public library, a park bench.  Although I've never had to resort to this to get my writing done, it's a great idea for someone who is struggling with balance and making writing a priority.  It would be akin to going to a part time job:  going to a specific location to complete a specific task.

Time and space are just two of the boundaries I believe you have to set as a writer.  Get those two boundaries out of the way and you'll be well on your way to accomplishing your goals, through the routines that you set for yourself.  In the end, you'll realize that vision that you're working towards.

Have a great week!

Friday, July 30, 2010

What August Means to Me...

It's amazing to me how life's rituals we grow up with continue to last me through my life.  August was the time I went back to school in the rural Nebraska town where I grew up.  Twenty years after leaving traditional school, August still marks a fresh new beginning of the year that carries me to the end of the year.  Just so you understand how important August has been for me, here's a quick timeline:

August 1990 - I started full-time for Neodata in a call center in Omaha, Nebraska.  This would be the beginning of a seven year career in third-party contract work.

August 1994 - I transferred with Neodata to Bouder County, Colorado and moved to Denver. This woulld be the beginning of thirteen years in the Denver area.

August 1997 - I interviewed and was offered a job at U.S. Bank (although I didn't start until after Labor Day).  This would start a nine-year banking career.  This is where my technical writing experience started.

August 2000 - I interviewed and was offered a training position at U.S. Bank (again, I didn't start until mid-September).  This is where my technical writing skills really got a nice workout!

August 2010- I start my new job returning to call center where I hopefully will be able to work more consistent hours and have more time and energy to devote to my writing.

It's my mom's birthday and my grandma's birthday this month as well.

What most of the these job and career changes have helped me do is re-energize to accomplish my goals through the end of the year.  August is an exciting time for me to refocus my efforts to accomplish what I set out to do in January. 

Quite a few years ago, I vented to a co-worker in late May or early June how I hated to have to work during those times.  She reminded me it was because when we were younger we were out of school.  My dad was a teacher, so I was used to him being around in the summer as well.  That epiphany helped explain why August was a re-awakening for is traditionally the beginning of the "school year."

So this August is yet again a new part of my career and renewed energies into my writing.  What are you working on to get finished by the end of 2010?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What a Whirlwind Month...

It's been a crazy month in my life!  I got my first articles published on and I published the first four chapters of my novel, A Place to Call Their Own, on  More importantly this month, I refined my Vision for my writing career and found more focus in achieving that Vision.

It's been over a month since I updated this blog.  The good thing is that I have a clear vision and goals I want to achieve.  One of the goals I set for myself was finding another full time job with more regular hours so I can write every single day.  I have accomplished that task as well.

Even though I haven't covered Setting Boundaries or Finding a Friend to complete your Journey, I wanted to revsit Vision because it's been a so much a part of my month.  I recommend that you go back to your Vision and make sure it's always the direction you're heading.

This difference for me this month was getting accepted to do article writing for, finding, and all the time I spent surfing the web while I was on vacation from the "real job" Memorial Day week.  I had planned to get much more writing done than I did.  Part of the reason was because I got so involved in looking at all the writing blogs and advice column on the Internet as well as through Facebook.  I also spent a great deal of time looking at all the freelance writing opportunities out there and sending some queries to get some work.  But as for actually practicing my craft, I got very little accomplished.  My real goal was to revisit my Boundaries, Goals, and Routines this week (and blog about it today) and move forward with writing.

Now that I have my Vision clearly in hand and a new full time job to make writing/freelancing jobs easier to maintain and handle, I can move forward with my goals of finishing A Place to Call Their Own by the end of the year.   I have to make that happen.  In my interview they asked me what my personal and professional goals were for the year and I told them to finish my novel.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My first four chapters are available for download!

I posted the first four chapters of my novel, A Place to Call Their Own, at  iWriteIt is a content portal for written material primarily for use in e-reader devices. Users do not pay for any of the content on iWriteIt, however, they do not have permission to redistribute the content they download.

Here's the link:

(Right click on the links and "open in a new window or tab" or the website will take over the current window/tab you're using to view my blog.)

This web site is intended for use in e-reader devices.  If you download to a computer, you'll be downloading a text file and reading it from there.


Monday, June 7, 2010

I did it!

I'm published on the web...check out my article on

Don't forget to check out the sponsor's links, they're the reason I have a place to write and publish on the web!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Develop and Follow Routines..

In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia – Author Unknown.

Develop Routines…and Stick to them!

I first learned the value of routines when working in cash services for a large bank.  I started in that department as a supervisor.  Not only was I honing and developing my skills as a supervisor, I also had to learn the jobs and functions of my team as well.  One of the skills I learned to coach was developing routines with the employees and their cash handling.  It took me a while, but I translated this skill into to my work ever since.  Routines have helped me to be successful in management, training, sales, and now writing.

When it comes to your writing, find the time in your schedule to hone your craft and hone yourself.  Yes, I said it, take care of yourself.  The first part of taking care of yourself is getting enough rest and exercise.  Even if you just take a twenty minute walk during your lunch at work, that's good exercise that will give you the energy you need to work your writing into your schedule.

The other part of honing yourself is reading books to help you with your writing or help you with your self confidence.  This could be a book about developing plot, developing character, or getting your manuscript published.  This could also be a book to help bolster your self-confidence, about achieving your goals.  Either way, reading a book to improve yourself and exercise help you to hone yourself so you can be everything you want to be to your family and your writing.

And of course, make routine time to write.  In the beginning, write just fifteen minutes a day or one page a day.  If you write one page a day of 250-300 words for a year, you'll have a full length novel manuscript when you're done.  After you get into your work, you'll figure out how to carve more time out of your schedule to pursue your dreams and goals.  In addition to your writing, make time to read.  If you're writing fiction, read fiction.  If you're writing non-fiction, read other non-fiction to hone your skills.  Reading will help you hone your writing craft.

In short make time each day to write, read the genre you are writing, read to help you better yourself, and exercise to take care of yourself physically.  It will all make you a better writer and help you accomplish your goals.

Routines – Closing Thoughts…

1.    Develop routines.
2.    Stick to them.
3.    Constantly revise.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Set Goals

This week's blog is a bit late.  Here it is, short and sweet; this will have to do for next week as well.  I have to travel out of town for my current full time job and won't have the access to submit a full update...bear with me...I'll be back at in in a week.

Set and Attain Goals...

You will never “find” time for anything.  If you want time you must make it – Charles Bruxton.

Now that you have established a vision and you know what "success" looks like, break up the journey to get there into milestones.  These milestones become goals.

I love the song in Disney's "Cinderella", "A dream is a wish your heart makes."  A goal is a dream with a date attached to it.  Until you assign a date for completion on your goals, they are just dreams.  I also like, "...That star can only take you part of the way, you've got to help it along with some hard work of your own and then you can do anything you set your mind to.." That's from Disney's, "The Princess and the Frog."

As the quote says, you must make time to reach your vision through your goals.

Goals – Closing Thoughts…

1.    Set goals.
2.    Schedule activities.
3.    Constantly revise.

Have a great week everyone.  I will return in a week and talk about developing and following routines to make your writing dreams (vision, goals) come true.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Creating Your Vision

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end someplace else.”  Yogi Berra

    To begin, you should have a vision of what you’d like to accomplish with your writing career.  Are you looking to create some a little bit of extra income to pay down some debt, go on a vacation, complete a home remodeling project?  Are you looking to create a full time career that generates a comparable income to what you’re making today?  Or are you looking to write the next New York Times bestseller, do a fifty-state book signing tour, and be on Oprah, Ellen, and The Tonight Show? Maybe your goal is simply to pursue your writing as a hobby for relaxation, to get your mind off work, and productively occupy your free time.

    And what does your vision of success look like?  Does success mean that you complete one short story over a long weekend? Does success mean that you start blogging for your favorite web site to earn some extra money each week?  Maybe for you success means writing the Greatest American Novel of the current decade, making millions of in Hawaii writing on the lanai with the sound of the waves accompanying the sound of the keyboard on your laptop?

   However you picture yourself as a writer and however you define success, the first step in being a “successful writer” is to define what that looks like for you.  Write down on a piece of paper (or type out) the following phrase:  "The definition of a writer for me is…"  Now take a few moments to define for yourself what your success will look like.  If you haven’t thought about it, take some time to define for yourself what you want to accomplish with your writing career.  Stop and take a few moments to figure out what it will take for you to see yourself as successful.  If you've already thought about this, then finish the sentence, this exercise should be relatively painless for you. 

   If you use this definition, that means the you can define yourself as a writer and successful even if all you want to do is create a collection of short stories throughout the next year for your own personal enjoyment.  Only you can define what it means to be successful. 

    Next week I'll write about putting  your Vision to action.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step...

This is one of my favorite Chinese proverbs. This blog site is my journey in my world of writing. I am currently working on my first fiction novel. Keep up with me on a weekly basis as I share with you my journey to get my first book published.

I am no one special.  I wasn’t a teen writing phenomenon like S.E. Hinton.   I didn’t go to school to become a writer.  Writing is something that I enjoy and direction I took when it was right for me.  The older I get, the more important it becomes to truly love and enjoy what I do for a career.  That’s why I chose to pursue a career in writing.

The process I’m going to share with you is a refinement of years and years of reading popular self help books and business books.  There’s a short bibliography at the back of this book.  This bibliography is only a list of the books that I remember reading, it is by no means a comprehensive list of everything I’ve ever read to define these principles that have shaped my success for at least the last twenty years.

The Five Step Process I’d like you to consider are:

1.    Create a Vision.  Answer the questions, “What do I want to accomplish? And what will ‘success’ look like for me?”

2.    Set Goals.  Answer the questions, “When do I want to accomplish my writing projects?  And when do I want to be successful?”

3.    Develop and Follow Routines.  Answer the question, “How will I go about completing my writing projects?”

4.    Define Boundaries.  Answer the question, “Where will I accomplish my writing projects?”

5.    Find a Friend.  Answer the question, “Who else is out there that could use my support just as much as I could use his/hers?”

In the upcoming weeks, I'll elaborate on each of these steps in the process individually. For the first week, this is it.