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Friday Features

We think writing and Christmas have a lot in common.

Preparing for Christmas is like writing a book—not that anyone gets much writing done in the weeks before the holiday. The concept, however, is the same; start early and stay on target.

For an easy Christmas holiday:

  • Shop all year long, especially on vacation where you can get one-of-a-kind items, and avoid the mall rush.
  • Plan in advance. Knowing your menu weeks in advance and looking for recipes you can prepare ahead, freeze, or have on hand reduces stress in the kitchen and lets you enjoy the holiday too. Don’t want to cook ahead? Then remodel the kitchen (not before the holidays, of course) and get that second oven you’ve been wanting so all those green bean casseroles will fit in. Better yet, let someone else host.
  • Get familiar with your Christmas dishes. Start using your Christmas dishes at the beginning of December so you don’t have to get them out of storage at the last minute. That 24 piece place setting of hollies and Christmas trees needs to be used more than once at Christmas dinner!
  • Get next year’s Christmas cards as soon as they go on sale.  After all, you have a pretty good idea how many you will need for next year, and they never go out of style.
  • Begin next year’s Christmas letter now. Start in January and keep a running tally of the important things you want to include. If you bind the letters in a notebook you have a ready-made life journal. One stone, two birds.
  • Make a goal list. Shopping done before Christmas, house cleaned thoroughly by the first weekend in December, trim the tree the day after Thanksgiving (since you don’t have to shop on Black Friday), Christmas cookies baked by the second weekend (or cheat and just buy them), the guest room readied right before your guests arrive, and so on. Tweak the list to fit your needs.

For easy book writing:

  • Write all year long, every day. Then when you take all that time off in December to get ready for the holidays, you won’t feel so guilty.
  • Plan your book in advance. Some seat-of-the-pants writers claim too much planning takes the fun out of writing. We’ve done it both ways, and have found thorough planning and plotting keeps us out of those pesky writer’s blocks. You just have to be willing to let your characters speak to you even if they don’t want to go where you’ve planned.
  • Get familiar with your book and characters. Let the novel and your characters live with you daily. When you are thinking about the book all the time, the words come easily to the page and your characters’ voices sound more real.
  • Get your ideas as soon as they come to you. Carry a notebook, or use your phone, to jot down everything that comes to mind about your current WIP or ideas for new books. Even if you don’t use the ideas now, they may work, with some tweaking, for something in the future. Writers are always writing and we need to capture those ideas when they come.
  • Begin your next book now. Writers who don’t think about future projects while they are still working on the current one run the risk of writer’s block for their next book. A running log of ideas, thoughts, characters, or anything related to the next books will make coming up with the stories easier. We brainstorm when we drive places, capturing all our ideas, good or bad, in a composition notebook. In a single composition book we have at least 10 new ideas waiting to be developed. Will we write them all? Maybe not, but we have ready-made journal filled with possibilities.
  • Make a goal list. Set writing goals for yourself. Whether it’s 100 words a day, or 20 pages a day doesn’t matter. It’s the goal that counts. Tweak your goal list to fit your needs and you’ll be surprised how quickly those 100 words will turn into pages, and pages into chapters, and chapters into a book.

So this holiday season, when you are laying your gifts beside the nativity, under your Christmas tree, give a gift to yourself. Promise to start writing early in the New Year and stay on target. Who knows, with perseverance and a little luck, you could be tucking your brand new book under next year’s tree as a gift to someone else.

Happy Writing and Merry Christmas!
C.D. Hersh

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Tell Again Tuesday

A blog series where we shamelessly share posts from others that we have enjoyed.

 


 

Why There Will Always Be People Who Don’t Understand Your Creative Live

By Lucy Mitchell


This can be a tough one to accept.

If you are a creative person there will always be people in your life who will never: . . .

For the rest of the blog go to:

BlondeWriteMore blog

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Today, March 20, is Alien Abduction Day, and, no, we’ve never been abducted, although Catherine did have a boyfriend in the 60s who claimed to have been taken aboard an alien spaceship and had his broken leg healed. He was an ex at the time, which was good because if he hadn’t been she’d have shown him the door pronto!

Whether or not you believe in aliens, of the spaceship variety, they do make for interesting conversation and some pretty good stories. Consider all the fun we’ve had watching television shows  such as “My Favorite Martian”, “Mork and Mindy” (one of Catherine’s favs), “Third Rock”, “V”, “Star Trek” (also a favorite of ours), and “X-Files” (another favorite). Movie goers swarmed to alien-themed films “ET”; “Close Encounters”;Alien”, with the scary thing on the spaceship that drools; “Star Wars”, which is built on an entire universe of alien beings;  Hollywood’s newest release “Alien’s and Cowboys”; and Catherine’s all time scary movie “The Blob”, featuring a thing from outer space that sucked unsuspecting people into its black gooey mass. She was afraid to be in the dark for months after seeing that as a child.

Readers have always been interested in extraterrestrial stories. In 1898, H.G. Wells published his science fiction book “The War of the Worlds”, which has seen several adaptations throughout the years. Perhaps the most famous one was a 60-minute radio show, in 1938, written in a broadcast fashion that caused pandemonium when listeners believed they were hearing a news report, not a work of fiction.                                                                       

If you want to write an alien abduction story where would you begin? Start by setting it in one of the U.S. hot spots for UFO sightings like Roswell, New Mexico, the site of the alleged 1947 spaceship crash and the infamous Area 51, where spaceships and alien bodies are purported to be stored;  or Albuquerque, New Mexico; the state of Colorado, especially Saquach; Gulf Breeze, Pensacola or Santa Rosa, Florida; Elk River, Minnesota, or Anza, California. If you want to go farther afield consider Stonehenge, Australia, Canada, Russia, Africa, or Europe  where crop circles  have been found.

Like a touch of murder mystery in your stories? Then consider killing off someone who has a million dollar Alien Abduction Insurance Policy, which can include insurance against alien pregnancy or probing, as well as abduction.  Yes, there really is such a thing, but it has lousy payoff terms. Shirley MacLaine reportedly has a policy. I’m not sure how one would go about proving the insured had really been abducted, but that’s a problem for you, the author, to figure out.

If you want celebrities to cameo in your book as UFO believers you’ll have no trouble finding them.  John Lennon saw an oval-shaped UFO in the New York sky and reported it, along with a host of New Yorkers. You won’t find a record of his call with the city, however, because he didn’t leave his name. (Gee, I wonder why?) Former President Ronald Reagan reported witnessing two UFO accounts while he was governor of California, and Jimmy Carter said he saw something strange in the sky in 1967 when he was governor of Georgia. Astronaut Gordon Cooper said he took photos of a UFO while in space. The Pentagon allegedly took the films and they were never seen again. (There’s a cover-up plot, if I’ve ever heard one.) Even Walter Cronkite, a trusted newsman to millions of Americans, claimed he saw UFOs while watching a test of a new Air Force missile. With famous eyewitnesses like that who wouldn’t believe in alien beings and their spaceships?

If writing about aliens isn’t for you, then park the car in garage (because we all know aliens love to catch us in our cars on lonely roads at night), hunker down behind drawn shades with a few good alien movies, some popcorn, and a tin foil cap (if you’re cheap) or  thought screen helmet  (if you’ve got money to burn) to protect your brain from alien  probing. And …

 keep an eye on the sky if you go out … just in case.

What are some of your favorite alien television shows and movies? Did any keep you up at night worrying about alien abductions or invasions?

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Christmas blog post

Preparing for Christmas is like writing a book—not that anyone gets much writing done in the weeks before the holiday. The concept, however, is the same; start early and stay on target.

For an easy Christmas holiday:

  • Shop all year long, especially on vacation where you can get one-of-a-kind items, and avoid the mall rush.
  • Plan in advance. Knowing your menu weeks in advance and looking for recipes you can prepare ahead, freeze, or have on hand reduces stress in the kitchen and lets you enjoy the holiday too. Don’t want to cook ahead? Then remodel the kitchen (not before the holidays, of course) and get that second oven you’ve been wanting so all those green bean casseroles will fit in. Better yet, let someone else host.
  • Get familiar with your Christmas dishes. Start using your Christmas dishes at the beginning of December so you don’t have to get them out of storage at the last minute. That 24 piece place setting of hollies and Christmas trees needs to be used more than once at Christmas dinner!
  • Get next year’s Christmas cards as soon as they go on sale.  After all, you have a pretty good idea how many you will need for next year, and they never go out of style.
  • Begin next year’s Christmas letter now. Start in January and keep a running tally of the important things you want to include. If you bind the letters in a notebook you have a ready-made life journal. One stone, two birds.
  • Make a goal list.  Shopping done before Christmas, house cleaned thoroughly by the first weekend in December, trim the tree the day after Thanksgiving (since you don’t have to shop on Black Friday), Christmas cookies baked by the second weekend (or cheat and just buy them), the guest room readied right before your guests arrive, and so on. Tweak the list to fit your needs.

For easy book writing:

  • Write all year long, every day. Then when you take all that time off in December to get ready for the holidays, you won’t feel so guilty.
  • Plan your book in advance. Some seat-of-the-pants writers claim too much planning takes the fun out of writing. We’ve done it both ways, and have found thorough planning and plotting keeps us out of those pesky writer’s blocks. You just have to be willing to let your characters speak to you even if they don’t want to go where you’ve planned.
  • Get familiar with your book and characters. Let the novel and your characters live with you daily. When you are thinking about the book all the time, the words come easily to the page and your characters’ voices sound more real.
  • Get your ideas as soon as they come to you. Carry a notebook, or use your phone, to jot down everything that comes to mind about your current WIP or ideas for new books. Even if you don’t use the ideas now, they may work, with some tweaking, for something in the future. Writers are always writing and we need to capture those ideas when they come.
  • Begin your next book now. Writers who don’t think about future projects while they are still working on the current one run the risk of writer’s block for their next book. A running log of ideas, thoughts, characters, or anything related to the next books will make coming up with the stories easier. We brainstorm when we drive places, capturing all our ideas, good or bad, in a composition notebook. In a single composition book we have at least 10 new ideas waiting to be developed. Will we write them all? Maybe not, but we have ready-made journal filled with possibilities.
  • Make a goal list. Set writing goals for yourself. Whether it’s 100 words a day, or 20 pages a day doesn’t matter. It’s the goal that counts. Tweak your goal list to fit your needs and you’ll be surprised how quickly those 100 words will turn into pages, and pages into chapters, and chapters into a book.

So this holiday season, when you are laying your gifts beside the nativity, under your Christmas tree, give a gift to yourself.  Promise to start writing early in the New Year and stay on target. Who knows, with perseverance and a little luck, you could be tucking your brand new book under next year’s tree as a gift to someone else.

Happy Writing and Merry Christmas!

C.D. Hersh

Khron Conservatory Crib. Cincinnati Ohio

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