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A Slice of Orange


Wanted: Inspiration

February 28, 2010 by in category Blogs

I have some quotes hanging on the wall around my computer, and in times when I am lacking inspiration, I find these help me find the way back to the path.

“Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait.” – Thomas Edison

If anything sums up the business of publishing, that one is it for certain. Publishing is a business of hurry up and wait.

– Hurry up and get that proposal in on time, then wait for feedback from the agent/editor.
– Hurry up and get those revisions in on time, then wait for the check.
– Hurry up and get that manuscript in, then wait for it to be released as a finished book.

But what if, while you are waiting, you hustle to start a new book or send out another proposal or query a new agent? Then that wait time becomes productive time, and you have a better chance of achieving your goals.

“Only those that risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot

This one can easily be applied to the craft of writing. Someone once said that there are only about fifty plots in the world. How is it possible then that so many books are published every year? (Way more than 50!) Because each author brings the uniqueness of voice and character and a twist to the plot that can make the same basic story sound completely different from another person’s version of the same.

But how far is too far? How much risk should you take? That becomes a personal decision, based on where you are in your writing career. A very successful author might be able to take risks a newer author might not. But then again, these days it is very hard to break into publishing, so maybe your work has to be riskier than others in order to be noticed and sell? This is a good one to contemplate. Sometimes taking the risk could simply mean submitting the work at all. If you never submit, you never have the opportunity to be successful.

“Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.” Madeline L’Engle

This is my favorite quote of all and probably the one that makes the most sense to every writer. Basically, if you are looking for inspiration, look to your own work and your own words and you will find it. Facing the blank screen isn’t easy. It never is. But just the process of putting words on the page gets your creative juices going, and the next thing you know the words are flowing like water from your fingertips.

Any time I am blocked or stuck I look up and see these quotes on my wall. They remind me that I am not the first writer to be going through this, nor will I be the last. I hope they help you as well.

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A Fantasy Life by Janet Quinn Cornelow

February 28, 2010 by in category Blogs

I am a fan of James Patterson and I like both his Alex Cross and The Women’s Murder Club series. I even like his flying children. I was happy when I got two Alex Cross books for Christmas.

I started the book, Alex Cross’s Trial. The book opened with a forward written by Alex Cross. That stopped me. I closed the book and looked at the front. Then I read the inside of the cover. Alex Cross had written this book about one of his ancestors in Mississippi in 1906. The main character was a white lawyer investigating the Ku Klux Klan. Cross’s ancestor helped the lawyer and they both nearly got killed. It was an interesting book, but I would never have picked it up to read on my own. I wanted to read an Alex Cross book, not a book by Alex Cross.

If you hold the book and cover up James Patterson’s name at the top, the bottom looks just like a cover with Alex Cross as the author.

I find the concept of having a character write a book very interesting. Especially when the character is not writing a book about his own adventures. I have read other books where the character was a writer and wrote books, but those books were never published for the masses to read.

I’m not sure if an author could pull this off unless the character was someone like Alex Cross who is well known and has starred in several books of his own. However, it does seem like an interesting concept if you are writing a series and want to write a book that does not fit into the normal series. It would be away to do that. People would buy the book not realizing it is not the usual book about the character. I don’t have any characters that are well enough known to do something like this, but I am thinking of starting a dark, urban fantasy series. One of those characters may some day write a book.

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March Online Class

February 26, 2010 by in category Blogs

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Hi everyone! Check out the exciting online classes offered by the
Orange County Chapter of RWA!

“The Regency Woman”
with Nancy Mayer
March 15 – April 10, 2010

Enrollment Information at
COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
If you have specific questions, email


Ever wonder if Regency women really could get away with some of the things you read about? Do you have a story where you ask yourself, “Can she do that…?” Nancy Mayer has worked to answer many questions on women of the Regency Era and in this workshop she will share what she has learned.

This workshop will focus on Regency woman and their roles, expectations, rights, and power. Including common myths and mistakes writers make in their stories. (Like can or how do woman obtain financial independence, and can they maintain it in marriage.)


Nancy Mayer has been researching the Regency for decades and trying to write for more years than she likes to remember. She has given several workshops on Regency subjects including one for the Beau Monde conference in Reno.
See her webpage for examples of some of the subjects she has covered:

Enrollment Information at
COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members

Coming in April 2010–

“What Does Nora Roberts Know That You Don’t? —
Learn How to Unlock the Simple Secrets Behind Every Best Seller
and Blockbuster Film” with Carol Hughes
Learn about the 18 scenes that every story contains, no matter its length or genre. Find out how to identify your character’s mental gender and what impact that has upon readers. Discover how your character’s arc drives your story and how your story drives your character’s arc. Learn the four throughlines of every story and how to weave them together. Check out our full list of workshops.

Want to be notified personally two weeks before each class? Be sure
you’re signed up for our Online Class Notices Yahoo Group! Sign up at
the bottom of or send a blank
email to

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Isabel Swift comments on the Sociology of Snow

February 24, 2010 by in category Blogs tagged as ,

After the recent giant snowfall, it suddenly became clear that snow made manifest all kinds of hidden things. It was like dusting for fingerprints. Suddenly, all kinds of things that are normally invisible, marked only in the air, are now marked in… water. And HA! The water is solid. It is snow. Everyone can see every step you have taken, the mark of your foot, the path you have chosen.

And what fascinated me in a city was that it also became a visual declaration of everyone’s relationship with others—their social contract was declared for all to see: upheld, breached, broken. Leaving us to shake our heads. To speculate. To categorize.

Just down the street there’s a house full of “those college kids.” Here are their stairs and front sidewalk:

Yes, true to stereotype no one did anything ever. No effort was made to clear their own stairs—one can imagine the internal dialogue: “I’m cool. I can make it down. Why waste my time making any easier for anyone else?”  

As for sidewalk, the conversation might go, “Public sidewalk you say? Litigation? Hey, I’m not going to have to pay for anything. Someone’s parents would have to ante up if something happens and we’re out of luck.”
Recent addendum: Boys had visitors of the female type after a giant snowfall and were heard to announce loudly as they toiled up the snow covered steps, “Someone stole our shovel!” Good line…!
Then there’s what I call the “Me ‘n’ Mine…but not You.”

Yes, a carefully cleared personal walkway, but then all bets are off. The sidewalk? No additional effort expended for their fellow man—even though they are going to be walking on it fairly frequently too. The personal pain of shoveling is limited solely to the area of 100% personal gain. Anything that others might benefit from (even though they also benefit) is not effort worthy.
Below we seem to have a No Man’s Land in front of a Gas Station. Perhaps they are not liable? They certainly don’t seem to have made any effort to clear the sidewalk, allowing the path to be created by many feet heading for bus stop, etc.
no mans land.jpg 

I titled the one below “Me ‘n’ You ‘n’ My Car.” Here, the person (I’m thinking guy, but don’t want to be sexist) cares enough about the car to buy it a little outfit, to clear their own stairs, to clear the car’s path AND to clear the public walkway while 
they were at it. Nice, eh?
me n you n my car 2.jpg Below is another ode to one’s car. Someone had not only cleared the sidewalk, and the car, but also created this adorable little path to their Mini. I’ve titled this “Me ‘n’ My Mini.” I thought this especially charming as it may only work once. When they drive off, there’s no guarantee the spot will still be there on their return.  
And just down the road there was the sad sight of a comparatively uncaring and neglectful car owner. Their formerly “hot” new VW Bug lies buried under a heap of snow. No path, no interest, no warm intentions. Can you see how snow has made everyone’s intentions and attitudes almost uncomfortably visible in a way previously invisible to all?
Some techniques: here’s exactly a one shovel width walkway. Beware people with strollers! You have to back up and find a pull out to allow them to pass, just as if you were a car or trying to get to the bathroom on an airplane! one shovel width.jpg 

Unlike the nearby Gas Station, this stately home and museum (Tudor Place)takes up almost an entire block and they always clear the sidewalk, even though most is just along their garden. (Just discovered their secret: Snow Blower!) The dog walkers and joggers are very appreciative. tudor place litigation.jpg
And of course, if there’s money in it, effort is expended. Commercial establishments tend to have very welcoming sidewalks.  

college.jpg And I haven’t even touched on methodology! The shovelers (elbow grease + muscle power), the sweepers (getting those nooks and crannies), the salters (no expense spared, little effort, maximum result, maximum negative environmental impact). And snow blowers–rare in a city, but I’m much more sympathetic to them than the irritating leaf blowers! Then the participants themselves: the do-it-yourselfers (voluntary and volunteered), the hire-it-outers, the hire-me-please-ers.
So that is my photo essay on the sociology of snow.  For those of you that live snow-deprived lives, this may be a glimpse into a new world. For those whose winter starts in October and ends in May, well this may not go far enough….
Isn’t it fascinating how snow makes people’s attitudes to others, to their possessions, to what they consider “worth their effort” so visible? And while our interpretations may not always be accurate—an owner may be absent, infirm, equipment-less, whatever—I do enjoy speculating! It’s a very character defining act, isn’t it?
Do you live in a city or town? What do you do/not do and why? I’m fascinated!

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