What’s In YOUR Gratitude Journal?

2013-05-25 20.36.42So the last couple of nights, I’ve written the same word in my gratitude journal: power.

In my corner of the world, the power went out on Monday afternoon, but not at my house. It’s an odd thing, but the first five or six houses in the neighborhood are powered by the local EMC, whereas the rest of the neighborhood relies on Georgia Power. My house is the dividing line between the two, and sometimes, during storms or ice or winds and rain, I’ll keep my power while right next door…darkness.

On any given day, I don’t think too much about the power that keeps my TV humming and my fridge cold, that lets me answer emails and read a good book before I go to bed. But then comes a time when lines go down, when I see post after post of friends without power, or look out the window to the black abyss that’s my street, and I realize how grateful I am for electricity. How comforted I am by the glow of the street light outside my bedroom window.

We just don’t really appreciate what we have until we don’t have it, do we? That’s what I said to Lisa, who moved to Florida a few months ago. We used to meet at least once a month for a critique group but then our group broke up and she got busy with her novels and I spent a lot of time taking care of my parents. So though we lived only ten minutes from each other, we rarely had the time to get together. We could get together, we always figured, so there was no rush. And then suddenly there was a rush for one more lunch that we never quite managed before she left.

I miss Lisa.

And every time I take a shower, I miss another friend from my critique group, Deb. Which wait–that didn’t come out quite right…

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Juniorette Hall thinks it’s crazy that I have a notepad in the shower. I beg to differ.

Deb sent me a notepad that sticks on the shower wall, with paper that somehow you can write on and still read after you get out of the shower. It’s amazing! She knew that I often come up with my best ideas in the shower and so when she found this amazing notepad, she had to send it to me. I don’t know how I managed before this brilliant notepad came into my life, and I never write something down that I don’t say a heartfelt thank you to Deb, even though she can’t hear it.

Deb and Lisa and all y’all, too, are on my mind after this long week. I hope all is well with you and yours, and know that your name, if not in my gratitude journal, is in my heart and prayers.

Oh! And power. Power’s going to be on the list for quite a while!

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I Have a Really Good Excuse

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It started when the county chopped down my favorite half pink, half white dogwood.

It’s the end of March and I know that means it’s time to report on my month’s doings (or not doings, as the case may be). But really, I have a good excuse for this month’s slacking off. Come to think of it, I have several good excuses.

As I mentioned above, there was the whole tree cutting debacle. The county is widening a main road up the street from me and it was bad enough when they took out enough pines to build a small village of log houses. But The Special Dogwood that makes me smile every time I pass its blooming March splendor (and I pass it a lot)? How could I be expected to write through such a blatant disregard for my tree?

Then I had that SCBWI conference, and there’s a ton of stuff to get done before a conference, right? Totally legit excuse for not getting the writing going.

And then I also had a reception in Athens at the Georgia Children’s Book Awards and Conference. Not for my books; SCBWI was there to promote our regional authors, the ones who like to network and get those school visits. Also a totally legit excuse because there was also a lot of stuff to get done before the reception.

I did manage to get several books read even though I had that very bad, horrible, no good cold (also a legit excuse for lollygagging, by the way). Let’s see, I think the total read was five, so I’m still a couple of books ahead on my Goodreads goal. I had to wait two months to get Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir by J. D. Vance, but it was well worth the wait and my good read pick of the month.

I got fired up about a picture book idea after the conference and I’ve written a rough first draft so there’s that. And I managed a couple of blog posts, too. Which brings me to today’s post over at The Muffin where I talk about “When You Don’t Want To Write.”

March was…challenging, remembering how the Beneficent Mr. Hall was so great about shoring me up during the March conference craziness. But sometimes, just when you think you want to throw in the towel, someone comes along.

So a big thank you to Lovely Lisa for a long lunch. And for being there, just when I needed shoring up. I can highly recommend long, long lunches with a writer friend for those times when you need a good excuse for whatever ails you.

And here’s hoping your March was delightfully full of words and writer wisdom; I’d love to hear all about it. It also shores me up when I hear about my writer friends’ successes (and yeah, I could use some fall back good excuses, too, just in case April slaps me upside the head. The county is not nearly done).

Makes Me Want To Shout!

It’s a sharing-the-good-news kind of day here at Cathy C. Hall because so many of my writer friends have been so very busy! Shout-outs to…

Linda O’Connell, who’s joined the team of instructors over at Coffee House for Writers! Linda, aka the Queen of Chicken Soup for the Soul Books, will be teaching the fine art of essay writing and I can’t think of anyone better suited for the task. If you’ve been trying and trying and trying to get your essays published, try taking this class. I promise you’ll improve with Linda leading the way to publication.

Suzanne Lilly, who’s just released the last book in her California Argonauts series, Gold Rush Barons, and it is a gem of a story! (See what I did there? Gold…gem? Well, I am a writer.) Gosh, I hate to see the story of George and Lucinda come to an end…they’re such strong characters. And I learned so much in this riveting historical fiction, too; I’ll bet I could easily win the “California Gold Rush” category on Jeopardy!

Lisa Ricard Claro, who’s also just released a book–Love to Believe, the second romance in her Fireflies series! If you’ve been missing Maddie and Caleb, then it’s time to catch up–except this time around, you’ll want to know how Caleb’s sister, Rebecca, fares in a man’s world. And you’ll be dying to know what secret she’s keeping from handsome lawyer, Sean Kincaid. Or is it Sean keeping secrets from her? Hmmm…I guess you’ll just have to read Love to Believe for yourself!

Nanci Turner Steveson, whose charming middle grade novel, Swing Sideways, is set to release any day now! Oh my, I loved this story of two unlikely friends spending a summer on the chase for wild horses and…you know what? Go read it before I spill the whole plotline! And when you finish Nanci’s book, check out Janet S. Fox’s creepy good Gothic thriller, The Charmed Children of Rookskill CastleBoth Nanci and Janet were with me at the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop (Nanci in the classes; Janet as an instructor) so I can say that I knew them when.

Though, honestly, they were already gifted storytellers and writers even then. And I’m thrilled to see all the good things happening for them, as well as all the friends I’ve mentioned here today.

It really does make me want to shout, y’all.

 

 

Back with a Bang (And Lisa Ricard Claro)

Wait a minute.

Wait just a dang minute. Is it January 19th already?

Well, before we get all “Sunrise, Sunset”, let’s join my very special guest today, Lisa Ricard Claro (who, I might add, is well worth the wait we’ve had here).

Lisa Ricard Claro-300x481If you’re a regular reader at the blog, then you know Lisa. She comments all the time, and I suspect many of you have followed her, just because you’ve enjoyed her wit and warmth. You also know that she released the first novel in her Fireflies romance trilogy last year (and you may even know that her second book is due to release  in a few weeks). But did you know that she’s parlayed her writing skills into yet another writing venture, as an editor?

Yep, Lisa’s got a new gig: Ricard Writing and Editing! And she’s here today to give us the scoop. (And a surprise!)

1. How and why did Lisa the Writer decide to add a Lisa the Editor hat?

Hi, Cathy. Thanks for inviting me to be here.

My editorial business grew organically. Other authors requested my services as a copy, line, and developmental editor, and as a writer of back cover blurbs, queries, bios, etc. Eventually, it became apparent that I had developed a viable business. More than that, I love doing it, love helping other authors.

2. Editing is  so challenging, though. What’s the hardest part about your work as an editor?

My type-A personality is my biggest foe. I perform my editing work at a snail’s pace because I’m a perfectionist and don’t want to miss any detail. My speed doesn’t affect my clients, because I meet deadlines and don’t charge by the hour, but by the page. It sure makes for sore eyes at the end of the day, though!

3. I’ll bet! But there has to be a favorite part of editing work, right?

I love helping people! I’m honored when an author entrusts his/her work to me. As an author myself, I understand what a gift that is. Helping others succeed is fulfilling in ways that nothing else can match. And honestly, I love doing it.

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4. So who are the writers who need your services? What do you tell a writer who has a critique group or partner about spending money for editing services?

All writers will benefit from the skills of a good editor. Authors are too close to their work to view it with the objectivity required to search and destroy those things that weaken it. Also, authors submitting work to agents/editors want to be sure they’re sending polished manuscripts.

Industry fees vary widely, so it isn’t surprising that authors balk. It’s tempting to trust your critique partner(s) to set you straight. But do those trusted associates know the correct use of em dashes to denote action in the middle of dialogue or why the incomplete sentence you think is brilliant slows the pace of that third paragraph in chapter three? Beware, especially, of critique groups where everyone has a differing opinion.

Example: A client asked for a comprehensive edit on her novel. I sensed she wasn’t ready for that full service and suggested a ten page test (recommended for new

clients). After completion of this, she opted to trash the whole manuscript and return to her original version of the book. She had made so many changes based on the opinions of people in her critique group that she had subjugated the theme of her novel. She benefitted from one pair of eyes that cut through the layers to see the story she wanted to tell.

5. Excellent answer, Lisa! Now here’s the next next tough question: do you have another hat in store for 2016? Lisa the Publisher? Lisa the RWA President? Lisa the Sommelier? 

Have you been reading my diary?

Publisher may happen. I’d like to self-publish a Fireflies novella for Christmas, but that’s just a gleam in my eye. As to RWA president—you are an optimist! I’d be honored to hold that position, but it’s nowhere on the horizon.

No new hats for 2016. I don’t have room for any. My novel, Love to Believe, book #2 in the Fireflies series, releases January 30th, and book #3 releases July 30th. I’ve been contracted to write a first grade book for an educational market, and I’m in the middle of my current WIP, a romantic mystery. As for the editorial business, I’ve got jobs in the queue and am, of course, open to new clients.

The only new thing is a workshop proposal for the Georgia Romance Writers conference in October. No word on approval yet. Since launching my editorial business, I’ve learned that a lot of authors are unaware of the different types of editors and editing. I know of one author who paid hundreds of dollars to an editor only to discover that the service she received was primarily copy editing. She assumed “editing” meant the whole enchilada—copy, line, and developmental. She was wrong. The workshop I’ve proposed will arm authors with the knowledge required to hire the right editor for the service they need. I believe it will be valuable to most. Maybe that’s a question for your readers: Does this sound like a worthwhile workshop?

If your readers have other questions, they might find the FAQ on my editorial website to be helpful, or they may send me an email. I’ll answer questions in the comments here on your blog, too, Cathy.

Thanks for having me here!

Thanks for dropping in, Lisa! I need a little of whatever you’re having to get my work done!

And now for the surprise: she’s giving a 10% discount until the end of February for any of you who mention you read about her business here at the blog (and that’s on top of her regular discount for military). Wheee!

I’d say best of luck to my wonderful friend in her new business, but you don’t need luck when you have mad skills. So get that writing done, and then go take a look at Lisa Ricard Claro’s to find what kind of editing you need. And be sure and tell her that Cathy C. Hall sent you!

The December Blues

Snowman familyDecember is a funny month for me, and not funny ha-ha. (Though I will watch Elf , maybe more than once, and laugh like crazy.)

As much I love the holidays, I feel more keenly the people who’re no longer around when December rolls in. And I’m not necessarily talking about the loved ones who’ve passed on, though I miss them dearly.

No, it’s the friends who were once in my life and now have moved away. And for me, most of those friends are writers.

Which is a good thing, I guess. I can keep up with Janice Hardy over at her Fiction University. Whenever I read Debra Mayhew’s blog posts, I can hear her voice. And Robyn Hood Black’s over at Artsy Letters, creating one-of-a-kind literary gifts and I see her in each one of them.

But it’s not quite the same as a long, chatty lunch or a night of writerly talking at an SCBWI conference, is it? And before I know it, I’m stewing in a big ‘ol mug of Blue Christmas.

Oh, great. Now I’m missing Elvis, too.

I think I need to pull myself up by my little Elf shoes and be thankful for all the lovely times I’ve been blessed to have with all kinds of writer friends, no matter where they are now.

And maybe call one of my writer friends who lives right down the road. Yeah, I think a long, chatty lunch with Lisa Ricard Claro will be just the ticket. She can tell me all about her next book in the Fireflies trilogy and I’ll celebrate with her by stuffing my face with Christmas cookies.

But I’ll watch Elf, too, just to be on the safe, holly-jolly side. So how about you? How do you dispel the December blues and get your holly-jolly back on? ‘Cause honestly, I’m starting to think about lots more writers I’m missing. And you’re probably one of ’em.