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Category: A Bit of Magic

Meriam Wilhelm's column
Home > Columns > A Bit of Magic

There Is Nothing I Like Better Than The Pursuit Of A Juicy New Truth

May 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic tagged as , , ,

There Is Nothing I Like Better Than The Pursuit Of A Juicy New Truth | Meriam Wilhelm | A Slice of OrangeThe Pursuit Of A Juicy New Truth Can Be Tantalizing.

Prior to writing any new book I take time to consider potential characters, plots, conflicts, relationships and settings. Additionally, I do what many writers do; I seek out unique bits and pieces of information to tuck into my story. I’m always looking for a different way to add color, depth and dimension. It requires a lot of time and effort to find the most unusual, weird or provocative nuggets of truth. I’m constantly looking for the “what else” factor. What else is out there that I can add to make my story more readable and my characters more unique? In the end, this effort not only supports a personal learning curve and makes the writing experience more fulfilling; I hope it makes for a better book. And besides that, it’s fun!

Sometimes I pursue a tangent based on a remark I overheard, a comment on television, a magazine article or just some bizarre curiosity I’ve developed. I’ve had a blast investigating things like Wiccan marriages, time travel, spiritualism, bridal fashion design, mural painting, the migration patterns of the local whale population and professional kitchen appliances. Quirky, right?

In my next book I delve deeper into the power of gemstones and crystals and the various forms of Reiki healing These are both  topics I have always been curious about but knew very little. In making up my many spells, I reviewed over five hundred different magical spells that I found in books, diaries and articles. I was compelled to discover  exact language that working witches use in their spells before I felt comfortable writing my own. I love to take field trips to bookstores, museums, paranormal shops and libraries as I snoop out funky facts. And along the way, I meet the most interesting people; reflections of whom you just might see in one or more of my books.

Currently I am on a quest to learn more about Herkimer diamonds and Reiki healing. I had never even heard of Herkimer diamonds before starting this book nor was I aware of their potential powers. So cool!  And Reiki healing was a totally new pool of information for me to dive into, because again – I was curious. I’m learning important concepts, new vocabulary, different ways of thinking and where to find even more information. Sometimes I tweak the data, changing names or enhancing certain traits or characteristics to better support the plot. Other times I just share facts and figures as I found them. It’s become like a treasure hunt for me. Unfortunately, I sometimes get way too carried away in my search, gobbling up precious writing time to pursue more data than I can ever fold into one story.

Although I feel truly free when writing in the paranormal genre, I always want to make sure that my stories include facts that are both interesting and whenever possible, true. If I can understand a topic better my characters might just sound smarter, more in tune and a tad more realistic to the reader. In short, I hope to make my storyline more believable.

Sometimes, sitting for hours with just me and my computer can get pretty tedious. However, forcing myself to learn something new and then challenging myself to integrate that information into my next story really does keep me on my toes. It forces my mind to stay open and hopefully keeps my writing fresh. Sometimes, just one juicy new puzzle piece will totally change the direction of the story.

There’s one other benefit; I am a cornucopia of sometimes useless, but always fun, facts and stories to add a little zing to any family gathering or cocktail party….if I ever went to a cocktail party that is.

Meriam


MORNING MAGIC

MORNING MAGIC

$9.99eBook: $3.99
New Moon Beach is a charmed hamlet by the sea. But when Olivia Merriman returns home from college to open her dream shop, Mystique Creations, the entire town erupts in magical chaos. More info →
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Meriam Wilhelm

Meriam Wilhelm

www.meriamwilhelm.com

The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it.  When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.

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I Won’t Apologize For Being A Logophile!

April 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic tagged as , ,

I am a full blooded, totally committed Logophile. It’s something I practice everyday and everywhere. In fact, I am so addicted to Logophilia that I carry a small floral notebook in my purse at all times to support my addiction.

Not familiar with the term? Neither was I. However, I was searching for the right word that would clearly define something that I do daily. The term Logophile comes from two Greek words – Logos which means words or speech and Philos which means dear or friendly. In short, a Logophile is someone who likes words very much. And I do.

However, my addiction to words centers more around the gathering of names. I am a dedicated name collector; not just normal names, but rather the unusual, ear catching ones. Whether I am in the airport, the hospital, the grocery store or my doctor’s office I am always listening for and recording unique names. I’ve even been known to collect a name or two off the billboards that overhang the Las Vegas Strip. As a writer, I use these names when I am searching for the perfect moniker for one of my characters.

For instance, Dr. Barleycorn is the nickname of my character, Matt Maxwell, who is a horticulturist in my book, Morning Magic. He’s an expert in growing things and since barley and corn are grown in the fields I decided to retrieve this name from my BookO’Names. I actually heard the real Dr. Barleycorn being paged at my local hospital years ago and I wrote his name down. Of course, I had numerous other options like Dr. Peachbottom, Dr. Driven and Dr. Roebust. But none of them seemed to fit Matt just right. I can’t wait to use the name Penelope Pendergast in my next book. I instantly fell in love with that name when I heard it in the airport in Europe. Penelope, if you’re out there – I love your name!

In my latest book, Sea Dreams, one of my central characters is named Thor Hudson. I adore the name Thor and was hoping that someday one of my kids would name one of their kids – Thor. We had a rousing discussion one night during which all but one of my children voted down the name. Since I guess I won’t have a grandson named Thor any time soon, I can at least have a favorite character with that name.

I also love to play with names by not spelling them in a traditional or expected way. I don’t do this to confuse, but rather to draw attention to the character themselves. Brady is a rather boring way of spelling a last name but Braidie certainly draws your eye and attention and that’s what I wanted my character to do.

My quest to gather names continues. As I was walking by the beach last week I heard a guy call out to his friend whose name was Templeton. Hmm, I like it. Not sure when I will use it, but it now holds a place on page 12 of my notebook. Can’t wait to dream up a character who will step up and own that handle!

Meriam WilhelmMeriam
www.meriamwilhelm.com

The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it.  When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.

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A Namaste Revelation

March 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic tagged as , , , , , ,

Woman doing yoga outsideI spent a couple of post retirement years writing full time and I had a blast. 5 books on parenting and 4 of my first fiction series – The Witches Of The New Moon Beach later, I felt fulfilled. However, I never anticipated how quickly I would gain weight and at the same time stiffen up from lack of movement. Oh sure, my fingers were regularly flying across the keyboard but my butt remained stationary for hours on end.

All three years I focused my energies on my writing. During that time I religiously avoided visiting my bathroom scale until one day when my doctor asked me to “step on up” and I froze. Yikes, I had gained ten, twenty… uh oh more pounds! What had happened? After all, I wasn’t a total slug. I had actually taken an occasional yoga class or two.

I knew that I had to make a change so I altered my eating habits, upped my yoga classes and increased my walking time. I poured myself into my black stretch pants and promised to stay faithful to my yoga master and my new found routine.

But wait! My weight gain was not my moment of enlightenment; at least not the one I want to talk about today.

Almost anyone can do yoga and I am surely an example of that. Moving from Mountain Poses to Yoga Backbends has taken some time, but I have actually started to enjoy it. I find myself centered and calmer as I leave the studio and that certainly has helped me with my writing focus. It was during one of my recent yoga sessions that I had this revelation of which I now speak.

Here it is – Practicing yoga and writing a book have a lot in common. I truly believe that as a byproduct of my self imposed, yoga packed, body limbering routine, I simultaneously improved both my body and my writing abilities!

According to the latest YOGA Journal the three segments that every yoga class should have include a slow warm up, a recognized theme and a slow cool down. Hmm, sounds similar to the elements of writing an article, story or book. 

Slow Warm Up– Just as a yoga master warms up their students through challenging stretches so do writers warm up their readers by introducing characters and locations to engage and stretch the imagination. While yoga teachers struggle to keep their students fully involved in their yoga practices – so do writers toil to keep readers connected to their story line. It’s important to mix up yoga poses and some sessions need to be more impactful than others. This is also true when writing a book. A good writer builds from scratch, keeping the action moving and creating momentum while making some passages more action packed than others. A solid warm up is critical to the success of yoga students and writers as they learn to stretch both body and mind.

Recognized Theme – While a yoga class may focus on leg stretches or balance enhancement a book must have an equally identifiable focus or theme. The writer must be able to clearly articulate a storyline. Whether completing a challenging yoga experience or typing the last words of a book, the benefits can be similar. Both can bring satisfaction -physical and mental.

Slow Cool Down – One can find a parallel between a yoga cool down session and the completion of a well written conclusion. A passionate yoga practitioner might expect to feel more limber, relaxed and properly aligned – both mentally and physically – upon completion of their workout. Upon creating a final passage, a writer could anticipate feeling mentally stretched, emotionally fulfilled and totally in tune with their thoughts. Of course, throughout the process, both activities can be potentially filled with frustration and challenge.

I found a couple of other similarities between yoga and writing. I have to work hard at both to achieve any success and neither come naturally to me. Upon completing a satisfying chapter or a fulfilling yoga class I experience a sense of calmness, mental clarity and satisfaction. Usually exhausted at the end of either, I quickly recharge. I am now fully committed to both as they bring me joy. And some of my best storyline twists and turns have actually come to me in the calm of my yoga studio.

Surely you too can add a bit of magic to your day. I would encourage anyone to take a yoga class and if your heart so desires – try writing. Over time, you are sure to find satisfaction in either or both. For me a side benefit is that the scale numbers are going down; something we can always talk about later.

Meriam
www.meriamwilhelm.com
Meriam Wilhelm
The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it. When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.

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How I Got Bit In The Butt And Survived!

February 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic, Writing, Writing: It's a Business tagged as , , ,

 

This past year I authored my first fiction series, The Witches Of New Moon Beach. Like all new authors, I was totally excited to share what I had written and couldn’t wait to see my books posted up on Amazon. I had such a blast writing the series and had fallen in love with both my characters and my newly created beach city. I felt confident that my book covers were strong and that I had a solid plan for marketing each of the three (now four) books in the series.

Unfortunately for me, I let my excitement to share override my common sense. Sure, I had checked and rechecked for spelling errors and I even had three different people read my first book. I knew that there were individuals out there that you could pay to edit your books, check for typos, misused words or grammatical errors. But since I hadn’t yet made a dime I was resistant to spend money on the above mentioned even though in the back of my mind, I had a pressing fear that I might just have missed something. Grammar is just not my thing!

And so I proudly posted my first book for all to see and was immediately bitten in the butt by reviewers. Yes, there were a few kind comments, but then the bite came as I read “the grammatical errors were sometimes humorous” and “the book is filled with typos that simple editing could rectify.” One reader said I wrote like a teenager. Ouch!

How had this happened? I had done more than simple editing. What had I missed? I immediately took the book down and got some help. I repeatedly read the book back to front searching for errors. I tried out several editing software packages before purchasing Ginger and I ran book one past a high school English grammar teacher who I respected. I agonized before putting it back up. But the cleaning apparently worked since 73% of my reviews from then on were 4’s and 5’s and I’ve not been hit with negative remarks on spelling or typos again.

Let me say this clearly, I deserved to be bitten in the butt for posting a book with internal errors. I own this and boy did that hurt! I’m sure that I lost more than a few readers who were disappointed by my poor editing skills and either didn’t finish reading book one or never ventured toward purchasing books 2, 3 or 4. I’m saddened that they never got a chance to get to know my characters or to experience the magic within the pages.

Skip forward to my 5th book which will be out in early February 2017. I have spell checked it repeatedly, used my Ginger software for grammatical screening and had two different people read it for possible errors. However, this time, I’m also going to spend a few bucks to have a professional edit my book. Why? Because I can still remember how badly I felt when reading those negative reviews; reviews that I had earned. There is nothing worse than being disappointed in yourself.

I also learned something very important. It’s hard to see your own errors after you have lived with a story from birth to finish. I guess that I read right past mistakes more than once. My brain read the word site when I had actually spelled it sight. And semicolons took the place of far too many commas. I even failed to capitalize a word or two clearly by reading too quickly through the story.

In the end, I survived. Painful though it was, I learned a great deal from this experience. My counsel to you? Protect your butt – take your time, do your homework and then consider getting some professional help.

My best wishes to you as you successfully share your future stories with the world!

The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. When I retired after 35 years in education, I longed to share all that I had learned and created several parenting books on topics from bullying to homework strategies. While I miss those enchanting moments with children and their parents, I always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I sought out my own magic and wrote about it. In short, I was lured into the world of fiction writing where I soon created my first series, The Witches of New Moon Beach. The first book, Morning Magic is currently FREE.


Inspiration isn’t hard to find as I have lived in Redondo Beach, California all my life and New Moon Beach might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot out my next book. I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.
Feel free to check out my website: www.meriamwilhelm.com
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