Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Social Media, Writing & Proofing & Tornadoes!

I’m dragging my feet when it comes to blogging. Sorry. I’ve just completed a great class on Social Media for the Writer taught by  Cindy Carroll. On Cindy’s website bio, she says the only thing she knows is banking and bartending. She’s wrong about that. She knows social media and the ins and outs of it. And she has so much patience; she'd make a great kindergarten teacher! I’ve taken a couple of social media classes and this is the B.E.S.T. best. Cindy didn’t give up on any of us. She worked with us until we “got it.” I highly recommend her to anyone who doesn’t have a handle on how to set up FB pages, Google+, or any of the other sites.

I’m not 100% certain I’ve done any of it right, but I have her fantastic lessons printed and I’ll be reviewing them over and over and over again. In the meantime, if you hang out on FB, then go to my Jessica Roach Ferguson page and LIKE me. It’s a little bare, but eventually, it’ll come together. I hope.

Also, follow me on twitter @jessyferguson and bring me into your circle of friends on Google+. I'm also on LinkedIn under one of those names.

Didn't I tell you I'd be turning over a new leaf in Oklahoma. Reinventing my writer-self.
I’m almost finished with my novella.

I’m proofing a wonderful 400 page novel for a good friend who plans to go POD and eBook with it. I’ll be tooting her horn for her when the time comes.

I read and offered some suggestions on a great short story for another friend about a mountain climber. How in the world she came up with such an idea is amazing to me. I guess my mind just doesn’t think like that. Her characters seem so real, so sad, so alive, so emotionally tortured! I'm SO impressed!

On top of all of this, we’re still dodging tornados: look at the pics I took last night. We went to the closet only once. We heard hail pummel the TV station while our weatherman talked. He's holding hail in his hot little hands! And he's promised MORE tonight.

Friday, May 25, 2012

This and That about Blogging and Publishing

Confession time: I miss the A to Z Challenge! I'm already thinking/dreaming/planning for April 2013. Blogging every day with hundreds and hundreds of other bloggers inspired me. I was a "member" of a very special club. And I was committed! Now my posts are sporadic and lacking ... lacking what? Purpose, I think.

I've decided to join the Insecure Writers Support Group. You can read about it HERE. They're a great bunch of bloggers and writers and many of them participated in the A to Z Challenge. So on the first Wednesday of each month, I'll post about insecurities, fears, doubts and we'll look at solving some of our problems. The scary part is that if I miss two months in a row, they kick me out of their club. Yikes! We'll see what happens.

On another note, I don't know if any of you follow Nathan Bransford's blog. He is the author of Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow (Dial, May 2011), Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe (Dial, April 2012) and Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp (Dial, March 2013). He was formerly a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. and is now the social media manager at CNET. He lives in San Francisco.

I find I read him more now that he isn't agenting. Wonder why? Anyway, he's got an interesting take on Traditional vs Self-Publishing and I like it. Take a look and tell me what you think.  HERE it is.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Creative How-To

In a speech, Ray Bradbury suggested we should write a short story a week. At the end of each week we will be happy because we’ve accomplished (completed) something. And if we write a short story a week, we will have 52 short stories at the end of the year.

He goes on to say we should read a short story, an essay and a poem every night before we go to bed. None of the modern stuff. We should read quality stories by Edith Wharton, Dahl,  Washington Irving and Poe. We should read the best poems--those by Alexander Pope, Frost and Shakespeare. We should read essays across the board in different fields. Examples are essays by Huxley and Loren Eiseley.

Every night before we go to bed, if we read one essay, one poem and one short story, by the end of a thousand nights, our head will be stuffed with all sorts of wonderful things and we’ll be on our way to becoming more creative.

What a challenge! Are you up for it? And don't forget, in addition to this reading plan, you must write one short story a week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

We're heading to Louisiana--a ten hour road trip--to celebrate our baby's birthday. Actually, her special day is May 26th but she has concert plans so we'll be partying early. I can remember every detail of her birth. Seems like yesterday. And why shouldn't it? I was too stupid to ask for drugs and by the time I realized I needed them, too far gone to request them. "They" say you forget--I haven't.

 I'm an old mom. Had baby girl when I turned 35 and I believe it was the perfect age to become a mom. I valued her, treasured her, loved her and was able to stay home, play with her and watch her grow. And boy! did she grow way too fast. Twenty nine years have flown by and I haven't had nearly as much time with her as I'd like. I guess parents always say that but maybe not. Sometimes I hear moms or dads complaining about kids coming back home. Not me. If I could, I'd be like Miss Ellie of Southfork and have daughter and stepson living on the ranch with me--in their own homes, of course!

Baby girl has filled us with joy and made our world a better place. Happy birthday, Chaney! We love you.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Markets and More

Thought I’d share some markets and contests today, as well as a conference I attended last year.

Killer Nashville is a great little conference for mystery writers and it's coming up in August. They hold a contest too but the deadline is fast approaching--June 1st. If you place or win, your book will be considered by Five Star. The editor is the finalist judge. One of the perks of this contest is that you don’t have to attend the conference to enter the contest, but certainly you’ll want to if you learn you final.  The Killer Nashville conference is small, intimate and has great sessions. Even if you don't write mysteries it's a fun conference. They stage a crime for you to solve and they have some interesting speakers--some of them REAL law enforcement officers. Take a look at their blog HERE. To learn more about Killer Nashville, go HERE and tour the site carefully. I hope I see you there!
Here’s a novel contest I learned about from friend Linda F. Todd The 2012 prizewinner will receive a publishing contract with a $7,500 advance and a $5,000 marketing budget. The winning novel will be published in the Spring of 2013 in a hardcover or trade paperback edition by Counterpoint/Softskull Press and distributed to the book trade by Publishers Group West.  The deadline is June 15th and  there are no fees to enter.

Pill Hill Press has a lot going on these days. Check out their website. They’re inviting recipes for a cookbook and some stories for anthologies.  Look at their opportunities for publication HERE.

Do you write essays or creative nonfiction? Consider contributing to the Easy to Love series of books.  CURRENT CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Easy to Love but Hard to Teach and Easy to Love but Hard to Treat

Here’s a market for women writers over 60.
There are markets, contests and conferences everywhere. Do you have any favorites?

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I think I’ve blogged before about outlining my first book, The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes.  I took twelve sheets of typing paper and each signified a chapter.  Then I recorded everything I wanted to happen in each chapter. That book was published by Silhouette Romance and I never, ever outlined a book again. And I never sold another book either. I’ve written (or tried to write) six or eight books since then--but only completed three. And believe me when I say a couple of those completed books have plot holes that would swallow a publishing house.

The point is, I failed because I became a pantser. My bad!
So here’s the deal: OUTLINE! If you’re having problems completing a project, or creating scenes that happen in a logical way or spotting holes and inconsistencies, try OUTLINING!

My latest project--a 25,000+ word novella--is outlined in detail. Granted, I was so incredibly inspired by the premise of this story that I had no trouble writing a detailed synopsis--nine pages. Then I turned those nine pages into a detailed outline. Ten chapters. The words are flowing. I write each day. I know where I’m going. And my outline doesn’t mean I’m locked into anything. In fact, chapters one and two were combined immediately and I'm a little surprised at a couple of scenes that weren't planned. Don't feel as thought your hands are tied or your creativity stifled, things can and will change as the characters evolve and reveal themselves. I'm excited because nothing is slowing me down. I love my characters and they love me. I think they love me because I outlined and got to know them a little before I slapped them in their respective scenes and chapters.

We all know and agree there’s no right or wrong way to write a book. We have to choose the method that works for us. No matter if it’s sitting down and slinging word after word like a crazy person out of control, or if it’s confidently and safely glancing over at a detailed outline that lights the blurry path.

Do what works for you, but if you’re having problems and can't finish a book  . . . OUTLINE!

Remember: People who get off to a great start have better success. And I think you can take that to the bank.

Do you outline or do you hit the ground running?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Interview with Pulitzer Winner in Swamp Lily Review

How's that for a headline? You may have read my post about being co-owner/co-editor of Swamp Lily Review. It's HERE. Really, co-anything is an exaggerated stretch since we've moved to Oklahoma. You know the old saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder? I never did believe it and now I'm proving it's not true.

Regardless of my absence, the Swamp Lily Review is thriving under my partner's fine hand. The May issue is live. And many kudos to Jan for taking the initiative with this issue. Not only did she score an interview with Pulitzer winner Tony Kushner but she transcribed 78 minutes of dialogue with him. Do you have any idea how tedious it is to transcribe from a tape? That's a dedicated woman/writer/editor/publisher. Read Swamp Lily Review HERE . Just click on May 2012 issue and you can peruse the poetry, photography and the interview.

One thing Tony said in his interview that really spoke to me was:
"I think it's imperative for a writer to develop a group of people who will know how to tell the truth while being supportive. I mean, if you're a lousy writer, and you're wasting your life trying to be a professional writer, somebody should tell you. But I don't even know what that means, being a lousy writer, so I don't think I should even say that. It's very, very, very hard to write. And I'm more thin-skinned than a lot of people."

If you're not familiar with playwright Tony Kushner, read more about him HERE and HERE.

Visit and Follow Jan HERE. She is also creator of the Bayou Writers Group website. Click HERE  to read her article on websites.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Childhood Memories

I’ve been reading Unlocking The Secrets of Your Childhood Memories by Dr. Kevin Leman & Randy Carlson, copyright 1989. I picked it up at the Yukon Friends of the Library Sale. I bought it for a couple of reasons: First, my main character in Peace of Heart has no recollection of her childhood (for good reason, I might add) and I thought I might learn something from this book. I've learned a lot. In fact, it's helping me understand her character, as well as the questions she might ask.

Secondly, my own childhood memories are spotty.

The flap of Unlocking The Secrets states, “Childhood memories are even more reliable than birth order as an indicator of why you are the way you are. The authors say these early memories are the “tapes” you play in your head which determine your response to everyday living.”  I find that very interesting. My mother is famous for saying, we can’t get away from those genes but when it comes to our memories and the experiences of childhood, she squirms a little. She says she’s a product of her childhood. I’ve had to laugh a little at that admission because several times she’s let me know that I’m not a product of my childhood. Now figure that one out!
Family stories that we've heard over and over again don't count. The memories have to be ours alone. You can separate the two by closing your eyes and asking yourself: what did I feel? What did I see? Be specific. The authors say that on a subconscious level, we all decide what memories to remember and what memories to block out.

What’s your earliest memory? Do you think your childhood experiences and memories have anything to do with your personality and who you are today? Do you ever use your childhood experiences/memories in your writing?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

H. O. P. E.

At this moment I'm at 5,279 words on my novella. I hope to  write a little every day. Anyone interested can pop in and check my progress HERE.

Today I'm meeting friends who are driving in from Texas and other parts of Oklahoma to attend the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference.  This year it isn't possible for me to attend. I'm disappointed. I'd really hoped to meet and talk with Chuck Sambuchino about my nonfiction book. I have so many questions. You might remember that I participated in Chuck's blog tour when his book, How To Survive a Garden Gnome Attack came out.

Sometimes I feel I have way too many irons in the fire. I get tired, run down and sometimes feel overwhelmed. If it wasn't for writer friends and writer groups, it would be easy to get interested in something other than writing--something that doesn't drain the emotions on a continuous basis. Yesterday I visited an online group called the Insecure Writer's Support Group. You can check it out HERE.  I read a few of the blogposts and actually felt myself getting a little depressed.  Some of these writer's were really reaching out, bearing their soul about their insecurities. That seemed to feed my own insecurities so I had to quit reading. The point of this group is for bloggers, on the first Wednesday of each month, to blog about some problem, or need or insecurity or question they have, and comments are left to encourage. One person blogged about hope. She said she knew her present novel wouldn't get her there and that her hope and belief are fading. Her post spoke to me and actually brought tears to my eyes. I've reached the point where I'm trying not to think about whether anything I write will get me there. In fact, I'm probably reaching the age that it's a little too late to get there. But, her post made me look hard at the word hope. That's when I saw a message to ME. 

H - Have
O - Options
P - Print
E - Epub

We do have options: print publishing or Epublishing. There is always, always hope.

 Do you ever find yourself dragging emotionally and losing hope in some of your favorite writing projects? How do you keep yourself pumped and positive?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writing At The Library

I'm working on a novella for a specific market. In my mind the book is about ten chapters, 2500 words in each, for a total of something like 25,000 words. Last week I wrote 740 words. That doesn't count all those blog posts for the A to Z Challenge.

The smartest thing I did before sitting down to write was to list all my characters and their part in the story, then create a detailed synopsis.  Then I broke down my synopsis into a detailed chapter by chapter outline. Granted, I know my story better than I've known any story. Don't ask why  because I have no idea. This story just excites me. My heroine popped into my head with real experiences and the story grew out of her.

Yesterday, I met my friend Janie at the Mustang Library. We were there from 9:30 until almost 3:00 and I churned out 3,677 words. We skipped lunch. And while my stomach howled, I wrote and wrote and wrote.

A lot of writers (called pantsers) don't believe in outlines but I do so much better with them. Having one doesn't mean I'm locked in. I feel like an outline gives me freedom to write. With my 'map' in front of me I can get to the treasure-- the finished manuscript.

I don't expect to churn out that many words every day. In fact, today I feel a little brain dead and very drowsy.

How many words do you consistently write a day? Do you ever feel mentally exhausted if you over do it? Do you work with an outline--vague or detailed--to get you to the end of your project?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Back to Real Life

The A to Z Challenge has ended. It was fun. I learned a lot, read some great blogs,  and I wrote every day. Now let's get back to our regularly scheduled program: I'm taking part in a challenge issued by my OKRWA group. Everyone participating must have a completed novel by July 4th. 2012. I'm working on a novella--approximately 25,000 words. Can I do it? Sure I can!

Today I'm meeting a friend at the library and we're going to write, write, write. 

More later.