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So Much of What I’ve Needed to Know, I’ve Learned From Books

April 19, 2013 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , ,

And comic books.  Seriously. Long before I ever had a science class Superman explained water came from two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen and a lot of energy. Come to think of it, that’s about all I ever did understand about chemistry.
Albert Payson Terhune taught me about the love between dog and person, and the superhuman qualities of his Collies. Later years took a lot of the polish off his halo for me but brought an overwhelming appreciation for the value of hard work when writing. Good, bad, indifferent, that man put out the words. From Jack London I learned about the quest to do more and be greater, in dog or human. Walter Farley filled my head with misinformation about horse racing and stimulated the imagination of a horse crazy girl (and isn’t that a rare condition!)
Thanks to Bruce Catton and Elswyth Thane I understood more about the Civil War, the battles and the people involved. As well as the continued involvement of a patriotic family (Thane) and how involved some families with each other. From Laurie King I learned the not to be forgotten phrase “Cream of Man Soup” about trench warfare in France.  All of these writers stimulated me to more research as I tried to understand the reasons for war. Yeah, good luck on that.
Andre Norton showed endless future possibilities and also the value of one small person staying the course in spite of all odds. A most valuable contribution to the growth of an insecure girl. Betty Cavanna and other writers of that ilk spoke to that insecurity and helped ease me into growing past.
All of these writers fed my love of words, with Rudyard Kipling bloating me on their power “We’re foot slog slog slog slogging over Africa…” and “The great gray green greasy Limpopo river.”
Then one day I read: “Nothing ever happens to me.” and was transported into the world of Romantic Suspense as penned by Mary Stewart, the master of subtle romance. Sure I read books about pillage and kidnapping and Alpha heroes. But I kept coming back to magnificently worded books with people simply doing their best.  Add in Helen MacInnes and another dose of Andre Norton and I guess I could say a writer was born.
How is it for you?  What writers kicked over your rock and sent the creative ants to work?

Monica Stoner, member at Large. Writing as Mona Karel, and working now on a sequel to My Killer My Love…hoping I can come up with an even better title

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Make Your Own Luck

February 19, 2013 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , , ,

Monica Stoner, Member at Large

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the ‘luck’ intrinsic for success in the publishing world. And it sounds like a great discussion.  Except, well…hogwash.  Yeah, you heard me right, that’s pretty much a lot of bilge water emptying into the ocean.  Sure there’s luck involved.  Absolutely some writers just happen on to the right publisher, the right agent, at the right time.  But, as Harry Stone (Night Court…remember him?) pointed out, he might have been on the bottom of the list of judges to appoint, but he was on the list.  He had done the work and made the effort to qualify for that list.
By the same token, we can gag at the overwhelming popularity of writers whose books just aren’t that good, at least in our educated minds. We can point fingers at the lack of logic, or the grammar issues, but the fact is they’ve written those books, generally a lot of those books. And those books are what their fans want to be reading. While we’re stressing over the poor writing, they’ve written another book, and again it’s at the top of the Amazon rankings.
Maybe luck does have something minor part to play in readers enjoying their work.  But luck has nothing to do with them producing that work. As much as we want to bow down to our muse, or curse the lack thereof, the relevant issue here is just plain hard work. They possess a work ethic that has them at the keyboard early and late, that doesn’t allow them to check e-mail or cruise Facebook until their pages are done, and their word count is met.  Are they the best writers in the universe? Maybe, maybe not. But if quality of writing is based on the books which are written, and not those being mulled over in the mind of the writer…then yeah they probably are.
Okay, this is a bit of a whine since my work ethic is pretty much down the tubes. But I’m giving up complaining about luck, and even being envious of someone else’s ability to get things done. All of this produces artificial road blocks to accomplishing any sort of goal…and I’m getting a lot better at setting those goals.  Who’s ready to start that journey of a million words with me???

I realize I’m late putting fingers on keyboard and sharing this month’s thoughts. If you have just a minute more I need to share my thoughts on the loss of a wonderful woman who believed in me when I didn’t always believe in myself. Simply said, be at peace Barbara.  You touched so many lives.

Monica writes as Mona Karel

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Does Book Promo Really Work?

November 19, 2012 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , ,

Monica Stoner/Member at Large
We’ve all heard the quote “50% of advertising is effective, but no one knows which 50%.”  I’d say for books it’s more like 25% and we really don’t know which 75% is just spinning our wheels.  In an ideal world we would be able to write the best books ever created, and the world would beat a path to our door. Of course in that same ideal world I could have a bagel smothered in butter every morning and lose five pounds a week.
Yeah, that’s not happening either.
So we blog and Facebook, we Tweet and we join Triberr to help ourselves by helping others.  And we sigh in wonder at the success of other writers who don’t seem to be doing anything yet doggonit their Facebook page has 1258 followers.
Some people are a whiz at promotion. I hope you took advantage of Tara Lain when she was there earlier this month.  She’s amazing at promo. And the rest of us stagger along.
In an attempt to come a bit closer to mainstream I took advantage of a current blog hop/tag, The Next Big Thing blog, which turned out to be a lot of fun, since it’s about our WIP instead of the ones already in print, and aren’t we generally far more enthusiastic about what we’re writing than what we’ve written?
Even better, this hop/tag lets us help promote our fellow writers, so I was able to give a shout out to Lex Valentine, as well as several other exciting authors.  You can check it out here: Mona’s Next Big Thing
Yeah, I don’t use Monica when I write, funny story about that.  Then again my name has been a funny family story for most of my life and I ended up sharing that on the Black Opal Blog But Who Am I?
And of all things, Skhye Moncrieff invited me to blog about the inspiration for my first book, and it ended up publishing today.
So it looks like I’ve managed to be in four places at one time. Maybe one of these will be the tipping point for my fabulous success at promotion.  Just in case I’m going to keep on with my NaNo book.
Miss you all

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When You Learn, Teach

October 19, 2012 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , , , ,
“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” Maya Angelou
 
“One hand reaching forward, one hand reaching back”  Orange County Chapter Romance Writers of America

We sometimes forget as we dash through our days full of deadlines and proposals and promo work what it was like to first put pencil to paper, to first send out a proposal, or meet with an agent at a conference.  We might have buried the memory of that first rejection letter, or the second, or the fiftieth except as an anecdote while we share our (current) success story. 
When a newbie writer asks a question so basic we feel they should have learned the answer in elementary school, how many of us remember angsting over lines per page and perfect format as if that alone would guarantee acceptance by one of the publishers?  Or buying the best quality typing paper we could afford in hopes of recognition.  I sure do.
In discussion with authors from chapters across the country, I hear stories of chapters imploding from expectations of unpublished authors who demand help from the published.  On the other hand I hear stories from unpublished authors who can’t even get an answer to how to set up a blog.  Somewhere in the middle is that healthy place of compromise and share.
Orange County has that great program of “Ask An Author,” but OCC has been innovative in so many ways. But it’s not just the published authors who can step up.  Anyone who has attended a GMC talk can tell a neophyte GMC stands for Goal, Motivation, Conflict.  NaNo refers to a mad dash to produce a book in a month, at the end of which you either love or hate your characters and it’s a tossup whether your  hands or your bottom are more numb,  All of us have knowledge to share.
I’m hoping these ideas spread to other chapters, large and small, to keep the chapters and RWA healthy and supportive of romance writing.

Monica Stoner writes as Mona Karel, and has two books available for your perusal
Teach Me To Forget and My Killer My Love
When she’s not blogging about basic promo or low carb cooking Mona’s Blog she’s enjoying life at 6500 feet in New Mexico, surrounded by a bunch of silly skinny dogs. And writing, writing, writing

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