By: Judy Bobrow
My mother often quoted a philosophy she called the Law of Compensation. It was her way of rationalizing what we saw as the negatives in life by turning them into positives - and sometimes it drove me crazy. But I’m trying to employ that philosophy today, as I recover from recent back surgery. Suddenly, I am transformed from a busy, physically active person, into someone who needs to walk slowly and constantly monitor every movement. My new normal is: Don’t Bend! Don’t Lift! Don’t Reach! Walk Carefully! So, I’m looking for the positives, and here’s what’s been revealed.
Slowing down can be good! Imagine that!! The whole process has made me appreciate time in a new way. Instead of keeping one eye on the clock to make sure I get to the next activity on time, I am reading whole books in one sitting and writing with a much clearer mind. Most important I have time to think about the things that require the luxury of time for pondering and appreciating the small things – like watching the birds at my feeders and the slow rising of the sun in the early morning when I can’t sleep.
I certainly don’t want to go through surgery again any time soon – back or otherwise – but there is an important lesson for me in my mother’s Law of Compensation. It is possible to turn negatives into positives if I just allow myself the time. And perhaps the biggest positive is that lengthening my time now is good training for the future, older me.
Thanks Mom! JB
I sometimes wonder what makes a story good? Why do I stay up all night reading one book, while another I find so dull? As a writer, I want to know how to keep readers turning the pages. So, I decided to scan some reader reviews, searching for the answers.
Many of the responses suggested the pace was sluggish. In fact it seemed to be the number one complaint. Here are some of those review excerpts:
So the pace of the story is very important. What slows the tempo? What causes the story to lag? Here are some more detailed reviews.
Ok, so too many details, or too much description can cause a story to lag, become boring. Then what makes the story good?
By studying what reviewers say about books they like, or don't like, I found what to watch for in my own writing. - LG
Photo credit: Pixabay.com
I've been having a rough time concentrating at home lately. There always seems to be things that take priority over my writing - AKA laundry, cleaning, you know real life stuff. Thing is, I can't just let the house stuff go, and if I do, it eats at me. But it also eats at me if I'm not able to write. As a matter of fact, I pretty much turn into a snarling grizzly. AKA it gets scary ugly. So, my writing friends and I came up with an idea...
The Muse Crew is hosting a write-in every week at our local community center in Hamburg, MI. We provide a quiet place to work on projects and the writers bring the rest! We are there every Sunday, from 11:30 to 4:30 and take a short break in the middle of the session to allow for open discussion/feedback on the projects being worked on. It is our hope that some satellite writing groups will form from the interaction, but at the very least it will be a supportive place to work on our projects and bring some consistency into our writing lives.
Our plan is to have an educational element once a month as well, and invite speakers to discuss writing, publishing, marketing or any other topic the group finds interesting. We are only a few weeks in so I don't have much to report, but will provide regular updates on the Muse Crew blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter. At this time, there is no cost to participate.
For anyone interested in participating, or speaking at this type of event (free of charge), please feel free to email the crew at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them at the following social media links:
Please be sure to sign up for email updates on the Muse Crew Facebook page!
The post will be pinned to the top of our feed. Happy writing! - DH
In 2017, the published authors of the Muse Crew decided to dabble in some self-promotion and participate in book events. We started by asking our local librarians and searching on the internet to determine which events had the most potential for positive results. We also looked for events whose charges would be the most cost effective for us. We made a list and applied for the events as soon as their registration processes started.
Out of our group, there were four of us that participated regularly, and we ended up with a list of seven events from June to November, ranging in costs from $0.00 to $150.00 per space. Most were specifically book events, while some had other things to see and do, such as craft shows, festivals and food events.
We found that the best way to tackle in-person events was to share the burden of cost, set-up, and customer interaction, which we managed pretty effectively. We purchased a banner and matching table cloth that represented the group, decided on common display elements, and decorated each quarter of the space based on our individual book offerings. If members weren’t available to participate at a particular event, the members who were there represented them and were prepared to take a credit card sales by listing the other author’s books in their square accounts. A supply of everyone’s books were at each event, even if the author was unavailable.
I have found that participating in the events was well worth it even if I didn’t sell a book, and especially when entered into as a group. Here’s why:
Help with set-up: I have been doing events like these, for various products, off and on my entire adult life. I can tell you from experience they are a lot of work. There is a lot of preparation that goes into designing a functional and mobile display. Depending on the venue, there could be quite a distance between where you park and your booth space so it is always helpful to have more than one set of hands to help with the work, or at the very least a wagon. Be sure to do a trial run of what your table will look like prior to your first event, and have other members of the group present. That way, everyone in the group will know how the set-up works and will be able to create a consistent and professional looking display, no matter who is able to participate with the event.
It lowers the cost: This was important for each of us. We are all just starting out and don’t have huge book sales or budgets to offset the expense of doing costly events. We are also aware of how many books we need to sell to meet the “break even” point, which did sway our decision on some of the more expensive book shows. Being able to split the cost four ways for the season of events allowed us to participate in more shows than would have been possible individually.
You have someone to talk to about the craft: This by far was my favorite reason for doing these events with my writing group, since we were able to chat all day about the issues we were having with our WIPs (works in progress). Our bi-monthly meetings are invaluable to dissect and receive feedback on a particular scene, but time doesn’t always warrant a deep dive into plot structure or character development. Being at an event for 6 to 8 hours allowed for a lot of down time between customers to work out issues I was having on book 3 in my Power of Four series. A special thanks goes out to Madelyn March for helping me navigate the finer points of elemental magick and guiding me toward creating believable back stories for all my baddies. I had a blast at the Kerrytown Bookfest!
Networking: Extremely important! Can’t stress this enough! Writers, you need to get out of your house and get out there with other writers! There are so many talented people out in the world to connect to, most of which have at least one thing in common with you… their love of writing! I was able to connect with many talented and gifted writers who were happy to mentor me in the things I felt I needed help with. They directed me to online writing resources, offered to do author interviews on their blogs, and provided direction on conferences and events that would be most beneficial to me when building my author business. I would like to send a special shout out to Melissa Keir, S.J. Lomas, and Sylvia Hubbard, who each, in their own way, pointed me in the right direction at the just right time in my journey.
Some must haves for book events:
These events were not always money makers for me, in fact, there were times that I didn’t sell one book. I suppose Fantasy Romance isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, although I find that thought impossible to consider. But even if my sales were low, I came out of each of these events with one more idea, one more contact, even one more challenge that I was able to overcome. One of these events even led to a speaking engagement, which was an awesome and nerve-wracking experience. It offered me the opportunity to level-up in my professionalism as an author, practice my public speaking skill-set, and now I am more empowered to meet the next challenge head on! These lessons, about writing, business, and even myself, are invaluable to me. They are giving me the building blocks I need to make tweaks in my business model and, at the end of the day, sell more books. These experiences also put me in the best position to connect to readers who are interested in hearing about the stories I have to tell. There couldn’t be anything more important than that in my mind, it is what writing is all about for me. DH
Genre: Historical Fiction
By: Linda Grischy
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! The journey takes you deep into the world of 1676 New England.
James Bailey, an agent and spy of the King of England, is sent to Boston to investigate the details surrounding the death of Sir Benjamin Cotton, another of the King's agents. James and his trusted friend Peter Church, a Native American and Quaker who is traveling with him, quickly find themselves in a hostile land surrounded by danger.
Prudence Cotton, wife of the deceased Sir Benjamin Cotton, is anxious for the King's agents to help her find her young daughter, who she believes is living with the Nipmuk or Abenaki people.
The characters are rich and lively, the setting wild and fascinating. An adventure into the untamed New England territory ensues, as the truth of what happened to the village of Winton and Crow Hollow unravels. - LG
Michelangelo went out and got himself a big rock and started sculpting—cutting a little here, chiseling a little there. Us writers have to make our own rocks before we can even begin to chip away. It’s called a “first draft.” Only after that do we get to make art. That’s okay: I like to revise. I like to polish even better. Right now I have a draft of a novel that looks like I got tired at the end. I look forward to getting out my trusty Rockbiter chisel and my wet stone cutter and taking on my rock. So fun! SQ
We've written together for years. YEARS! That means we have an inner window into each other’s minds that can only be gained after sharing all parts of the writing process. When you do that, you really put yourself out there. That is a vulnerable feeling. Yet, it’s the only way to grow! And goodness, have we grown! We’ve worked through scenes where characters have had life-altering experiences, gotten lost within themselves, had hot sex, and faced a plethora of life’s challenges. That not only brings a group together--it makes us all stronger writers.
Now, we're ready to take on another challenge. We're going to share our unique group with others. What makes us unique? We’re a group of women who come to the writing table from vastly different life experiences and writing endeavors. The differences in our expertise is what makes us stronger together. As a group, we can critique stories through so many lenses…teacher, wife, business woman, psychologist, editor, parent…the list goes on. These are only some of the things that make this group amazing. Ok, enough boasting. (Yes, you can tell I love these women.)
So, putting ourselves out there means we're going to open a window into our conversations through our blog. It will be a place where we muse about writing and discuss topics important to writers. On our website, we’ll review high-quality books, which will help writers looking for reviews, and readers looking for a good book. (There are so many good books out there!)
We look forward to our next Muse Crew journey and invite you to follow along. If you have suggestions on topics you'd like us to add to our list, please feel free to offer them in the comments.
Happy Writing (and Reading),
The Muse Crew
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