Sunday, February 07, 2010

 

Talk to Your Readers

With freelance we tend to find ourselves writing informational pieces quite regularly. It can be a piece on how to repair something (DIY), or maybe in the creation of a craft item.

I was reading some information about a craft project that I wanted to try and I actually got bored with the way the article was written. To be honest, it was rather dry and I felt like the writer was telling me what to do. Hello, that's not nice!

Then I remembered one of my favorite authors and how she always talks to you and helps literally kick you in the butt, Natalie Goldberg. If you've read her books you know exactly what I am talking about. Just like standing in one of her mini-writing workshops, she talks to you with her writing.

Recently, I gave her techniques a try while doing a how-to piece on making a memory quilt. I must admit, it was at least a start and I am finding that more people have been interested in reading it. It has actually led to some readers asking additional questions and for ideas. This has helped me then construct my answers for each of them as if I'm sitting across the table from them having a conversation and enjoying the project that we are working on.

It's difficult to do considering that you don't have the person right there in front of you. But, I have found that if you sit there and think about your friends and how you would try to help explain to them how to do something or by visualizing and wanting to show them, it can help you to write a better piece.

Yes, like all of us, I am still learning the technique and still have a ton of kinks to work out. But, by talking to our readers, it gives them a sense that you care and want to help. As our society has changed a great deal in the last 15 years with the onset of this wonderful internet, many of us are now home-bodies and social butterflies of a different nature. We don't leave our homes like we did to socialize. Many of us only socialize through the internet. With this in mind, we need to find ways to humanize what we are writing, to make our readers feel that they matter and are in many aspects a part of our lives as well.

If you are interested in finding out how to write and speak to your readers, check out some of Natalie Goldberg's work. Her most recent release is Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir; or check out one of her older books called Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Each of these will help give you an idea of how to speak to or with your readers rather than at them or telling them.

Happy Writing!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

 

Goals for 2010

Have you ever felt like you were on a roller coaster ride that didn't want to stop? Well, I have to admit with my ever changing work schedule and other things going on in my life, I feel that way on a daily basis.

Today I realized how many things have been neglected recently in my life. I can't really use the holidays as an excuse either, because, well, they just weren't in the way for the most part. I had things pretty well organized, no real stress about what was going on. I planned ahead to some degree, although I did feel like I was struggling to finish the last gifts that needed to get out the door.

I hear everyone talking about setting New Year's resolutions. To be honest, I have never done so to this day. However, I do set goals for myself each year. This year, my biggest goal is to find more writing time and to expand on many of my story ideas.

To date, I have published over 400 articles, but alas, it isn't where my true passion lies, my true passion is in the heart of writing stories for children. I have several in the works and only one completed and ready for editing, but now I have hit the point where my fear is holding me back. This leads me to one of my first goals for the year.

1) Pushing past my fear

With this goal, I plan to attempt to once again get this story published. It has gone through hundreds of hands over the past 5 years, many saying that it wasn't time, that this story would be better produced in the future. Well, it is now the future and I feel it is time to give it a go once again. Many of the publishers I had contacted stated that because of the huge craze with a very popular young wizard, they felt that my story shouldn't be left in the shadows and there was tons of potential that would help this story shine through.

I have to admit after reading those encouraging words, I'm still scared and ready to hide under the blankets, but, I will attempt once again. Yes, I admit just like all of us in the writing community, rejection is harsh, but we must go through it in order to continue on with our goals as writers.

After everything that has happened in 2009, I am anxious to even think about 2010. I am worried that I won't be able to find enough time to write. This is my second goal for the New Year. Finding more time. With an ever changing work schedule, sports, and other activities for my teenagers, I am now striving to find enough time to write.

2) Find more writing time.

My goal is to sit down daily and see where I can squeeze in even 10 minutes for writing. Hopefully, time at work will help, when things are quiet and there isn't a huge need for a lot of paperwork, or needed in other departments to complete tasks.

How about those minutes waiting in the doctor's office that I rave about using; oh wait, I don't get that time because I am hardly at the doctor's office.

My schedule shifts daily so I must shift my writing times and make sure that I schedule myself a writing appointment on the calendar. I hope that this goal can be met.

Another goal of mine is to get more involved with the writing groups that I have been in contact with and help others as much as they have helped me with my writing. This is another goal that I am striving to meet. Right here at WOW we have such fabulous women that have each helped me, throughout the past year, meet my writing goals even if they don't realize it. Thanks to all of you for doing that for me. :)

3) Get involved with my writing groups!

This goal should be easy to do; however, again, time may be the issue. I am going to strive to be in better contact with the groups that I so love and want to work with more closely once again. But, please everyone be patient with me. I am sure there will be times when you will need to take and beat me with a wet noodle.

Although I currently only have 3 main writing goals established for the new year, this is a good start and will help me to find my way into the future of my writing.

By attempting to not only work more on my stories but also to continue to write more articles, I am striving to stick to these goals that I have set forth.

For each of us, as writers, time is one factor that many of us struggle with on a daily basis. Getting into a new groove after major changes in your life can really put huge strains on your writing, and it is hard to let life do this to each of us.

Have you set writing goals for the New Year? If so, what are they and how do you plan to meet these goals for yourself?

Just remember, it is okay if you don't meet one of your goals. At least you tried. There have been many times when I have attempted to meet many goals through out the year that involve my writing and, no matter what, something ended up on the floor behind the stove.

Happy Writing!

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

 

When Life Throws You A Writing Bone


Today, I started working on articles about different music artists and how they got their start in their careers. This made me stop and think about the many great writers out there that have gotten their start in the writing world and what led them to this wonderful craft of ours.

Many times I have heard this statement: "If you wake up and all you can think about is writing, then you should be a writer." This does ring true, but many people are fearful of how to get started. Believe me, I'm no expert. The many women here at WOW! that have gotten published in print other than the World Wide Web know from experience how hard it is to find the right niche and get your story read. There are many years of experience that are tied up in the articles you read everyday on our site. These ladies are not only dedicated to getting their messages heard and read, they are also dedicated to helping others get their messages heard and read as well. Each one of them with their special gift.

Each one of these women can attest to the ways that they were "thrown the bone of writing." Each story unique and different. You can find that not many people start out writing in the same way, but all of us had the same thought and intention when it was realized. To be heard, to be heard and read through the form of a printed material. Like the messages that are sung my many great music artists, our words are designed to work the imagination. Some through stories, some through ideas to help with every day life.

Think about what got you started in writing. How unique or different may it be from someone else's story. Was it a turn of events? A dream? An author that just took your breath away and helped you decide that you had a story?

For me, my bone was thrown to me by my literature teacher in high school. I was attending Cibola High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was my Junior year (11th grade), and Mrs. Saunders was the type of teacher that loved to give us writings from well-known authors that didn't quite appear as popular as many of their other great stories, but still had a message. The one tale that really set me on my path was Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. As many know Antigone was the big play that all of us remember quite well, but Oedipus got put on a back burner so to speak. This was due to the type of story and what happened in King Oedipus's life. Mrs. Saunders took us on the normal journey through the story as many great literature teachers do, however she came up with a clever idea. She wanted us to change the story, she wanted us to show, in our own way, how Oedipus's life could be different. Many students groaned and mentioned how much they disliked writing but, for me, it was like a light inside my head flicked on all of the sudden and I had all these ideas whirling and spinning so quickly I felt I couldn't grab a hold of them. I wrote down all that Mrs. Saunders wanted us to do, I even wrote down notes of my ideas hoping I wouldn't forget some of them. I left the room smiling unlike many of my classmates, who looked at me strange. A good friend of mine asked me what I was smiling about, and I explained to him that I was actually excited about the assignment. He laughed and walked away shaking his head, then turned and told me I was weird. In my head I knew otherwise, I knew that I found one of my true passions, writing.

That night, I sat down with my door closed so no one in the house could disturb me and began to write. I started off with the initial idea that I wrote before class let out. Before I knew it, I had written 35 pages--front and back--on notebook paper. It was like I couldn't stop. I even created additional characters for the storyline. I came up with new children for the king. At dinner, my father wandered in and asked me what I was doing, and when I told him, he smiled and closed the door only to return with my dinner on a tray. He kissed me on the forehead and told me how proud of me he was and left quietly to let me continue to write. By 2:00 AM, I had written over 100 pages that went with the storyline. Mind you, the assignment was only for 4 pages. Scratching my head and knowing I needed rest for school the next day, I had to decide how I was going to take and break down this story I created. Thank goodness the assignment wasn't due until the end of the week. This gave me time to make sure I was able to give Mrs. Saunders exactly what she wanted from us. But, at the same time, it brought me to my first journey of writing--and wow, what a journey.

It saddens me to think that I actually almost walked away from this passion, this drive that has kept me going for so many years. When it came time for graduation, I actually chose a different path initially for college; I went into business. Yeah, right! But, after the first year and a half, I found that my heart just wasn't into it. Oh sure, I took the knowledge that I had and was able to apply it to many great jobs, but, unlike with writing, my heart just wasn't in it. I felt a part of me was missing. Now and then I would write some poetry, but it still didn't feel quite the same. It wasn't until late one night--after I had gotten married and had our second little boy--when a story came to me in the middle of the night. It was as if that bone had been thrown back at me. I got up and began writing. I couldn't stop, the story just flew from my fingers, I was driven. I didn't want to stop, I wanted to get the story out. At the time, we had one of the first home computers, a Commadore 64, I had been using to write on. My husband found me the next morning still at the computer typing away. He smiled at me and left me to my work. Throughout the day I stopped long enough to take care of the children and do some of the normal house chores, but the minute I was done I went right back to writing the story. I had to get it out, I had to get it finished. By dinner time that evening, I had finished the story.

Today, I wish I still had that drive, to sit and write all day, to get a story and run with it, but other bones have been thrown in my path once again. However, I have found other great ways to continue my passion with stolen moments at work and at home. When it is quiet and I feel the need, I steal the moments and run with an idea.

I know that some day my true passion of getting one of my stories published will come true. I know that there is a publisher out there that will accept me and my story. Until then, I will continue to write because after all I am a writer.

So if you have been thrown a bone in writing, grab onto it and hold on tight. With all your might, strive to keep your passion alive and write. If you are like me and can't seem to get your story published, that's okay, find other things that you can get published and work from there. Eventually, someone will open their eyes and help you to achieve your ultimate goal of being a published book author.

So now I throw this question to each of you. When did the writing bone get thrown to you? What or who tossed you that first bone?

Mrs. Saunders, if you are out there and if you are reading this, thank you! Thank you for awakening my passion in this wonderful world of writing!

Happy Writing!

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

 

The Art of Letter Writing


I woke up thinking about writing a letter and found myself torn. Do I write the letter via e-mail or do I pull out my nice stationary that I have had stored away for a long time?

But, then my thoughts grew deeper on the matter. I realized that the art of writing letters is practically gone.

Oh sure, we still get formal business letters from companies in the mail. But when was the last time we actually received a complete letter from someone in our lives? For me, it has been an extremely long time. This, of course, stemmed to another thought, a thought about our wonderful internet and how it has changed our lives. But, to what degree? In many cases, we tend to just forward some profound message that someone from somewhere else sent to us. It isn't our own words, it isn't something we've written. Have we grown so far away in the lines of communication that we don't actually write letters to the ones we love or to our friends?

Not many people realize it, but the art of letter writing is one of the many ways that our great authors got their start in the writing world. When you think back through history, how each writer would communicate to family and friends that were far away, it was through a letter. These letters are what kept the lines of communication open. Mind you, by the time many family members would receive the letter it would be several months old and left the family in anticipation for the next. This anticipation is the same our readers get when they are reading a book, a book that has drawn them in and holds their attention. They want more, they want to know what is going to happen in the end, so they read on and on.

Now laugh if you must, but I want to start a movement, a movement to bring back this dying art. This art of communication that so many of us have walked away from because of technology. We have lost the art of communication through words that we can write rather than speak, or in the case of our younger generation, text. That almighty shortened abbreviated work that has been created on cell phones. In my opinion YUCK!!!! Yes, I own a cell phone, but I don't text. I can't stand it. I would much rather hear the person on the other end of the telephone or actually receive a full letter from them letting me know how they are doing, what they have been up to, any changes in their lives.

Technology has given us many ways to get creative with our writing today, but alas, who actually uses it? With e-mail available to almost everyone, we could create some very pretty letters to send out, virtual stationary if you will. But the stationary alone is not enough, you must fill the pages with communication. This brings us back to our writing basics, the ones that all of us have learned in grade school. Who, what, where, why and how, the many questions we could give answers to through a nice lengthy letter that we could be sending to our loved ones.

If all of us as writers could help this movement, wow, think of how it could re-sculpt our lives. Communication that was once lost, found again. Think of our children, do yours truly know their grandparents? Do they communicate with them other than the occasional telephone call or summer visit? How about that long lost Aunt that you found? So many questions in our lives could be answered. How many marriages could be saved through the art of bringing back the art of letter writing? You may laugh, but to be honest, a friend of mine actually began leaving her husband letters on his pillow in the morning. She felt she couldn't express to him in actual words for a while and began putting pen to paper. She felt ashamed that this was one of the only ways she could open up to him, it was her safe zone. But this safe zone helped open her up to him, they found and understanding and it saved their marriage. Oh, sure, this won't work for all marriages, because of different situations etc. But think of the ones that are out there that many of us feel are worth saving.

As I rattle on I begin to think of a way I can actually help start the movement of letter writing. I have decided that each day, I am going to attempt to write at least one letter to someone I know. This letter will either be sent electronically or via regular post. I want people in my life to know that they mean more to me than just as a relation. So today, I am going to start my first letter.

Dear Friend,

How long has it been since we last talked? Probably longer than we both remember. I know that we don't stay in touch much, but I feel it is time that we change this. Everyday our lives change, we change, even if we don't see it, others around us do. I want to get to know you again, I want to know what brought us together as friends. So today, I am writing this letter to you to say how happy I am to have you in your life. Thank you for being my friend.

You probably don't know much about what is going on with me these days and I am sorry, but starting today, we can turn over a new leaf. A leaf that has turned brown, we can now bring it back to life into a lush beautiful green. From now on, my goal is to write a letter to you and others in my life. To let them know how I am doing, not one that simply states an answer to a question. I want you to know that you mean more to me than a simple e-mail forward. You are more important to me than that.

I hope this message finds you well. I know you have probably gone through a lot as well in your life and it would be nice to know if in some small way I have helped you through a bad time or if I have made you laugh today.

Maybe today, we can begin a new life together, a life in the art of writing once again. Something we did when we were in school, passing notes back and forth planning what we were going to do for lunch or how cute that boy was sitting next to us today in class. Do you remember those times? Help me bring those times back. I want to know how you are.

With all my friendship and love for you!
Carrie


Happy writing!

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

 

The Art of Research

BY: CARRIE HULCE

The art of writing the perfect book takes time, patience and the best research. No matter how small the topic, we always have to do some form of research. But, did you know that research in itself can be an art? I know I must be eating way to many cookies. But, its true. It takes lots of time and diligence to find the perfect information for your story or article. That could mean hours of looking through books, magazines, the web and more.

The first step to the art of research is getting yourself organized. I have to admit I can be one of the most disorganized people around, although many people may tell you differently when they look around my home or even my business. (pssst, I'm a closet disorganized person)

My first suggestion is to find yourself a few spiral notebooks, they are inexpensive and work great to hold all of your research. Your best bet is to get one that is multiple subject so that you can organize by subject. For example, I have a notebook that is all about different varities of trees. From the Cypress to the Red Oak, I believe I even have a section for a Sycamore tree.

If you are going to be writing down notes on your subject, I highly recommend using a good ol' pencil, that way you can erase, fix your errors, etc.

Now time to get to the fun. Researching. With the technologies of today I start with my first and easiest access point for research the World Wide Web. There are great search engines available to us all, as many of you can attest I am sure you have been hard nosed google users for years, but did you know about the following search engines that are available to you?

  • Ask- http://www.ask.com This website looks on a narrower prospect. This company wants to get as close as possible to the subject you are researching.
  • Monster Crawler- http://www.monstercrawler.com Website actually does a piggyback technique onto other search engines such as google, yahoo, msn search. It will pull from their databases to provide you with the information you might be looking for.
  • Dogpile http://www.dogpile.com combines the best of all worlds. Dogpile will pull information from the different search engines. It also had toolbars, a special search engine that is placed on your desktop for quick searches and more. Each day, Dogpile has different quick searches that it can and will do for you. It's a neat site, fun to play with, but does help with comprehensive searches as well.
  • Alta Vista http://www.altavista.com This search engine is great if you are searching in different languages. You can actually choose the language you wish to search in. You are also given the option to look up Audio and MP3 files. This search engine is quite multi-task friendly as well.


I don't want to overwhelm you just on search engines for the internet, I know that can be a lot in itself. But, there are also people search engines, there are geneology search engines.

Now onto the next realm of research. Our wonderful libraries. These are still the heart of the art of research. So many times, we can still find the older and more historical books that can and will be quite helpful to us all when you are searching for specific pieces of history. I actually took a look at one of my son's history book and was just shocked at how much history had been cut out of their books. The fall of Rome, it was only mentioned as a side note, hello! This was a huge part of history. There's a lot of information there. After shaking my head, I remembered one of my favorite places to go and do my research. I was glad that my old reliable was still very reliable for the information that I wanted to compile. So again, notebook in hand, the one on the subject of course, I begin to do my normal routine.

  • Card catalog- great to look by subject to see what they have available and today, if your local library doesn't have it but one in your district or nearby town does, they can have the book transferred over for your convenience. How about that for a gas saver for you. In some cases it may cost a couple of dollars, but it will save you sitting in traffic burning up a bunch of gas.
  • The reference section is a wonderful source of information, today you can still find many encyclopedia sets, up to date reference information on many subjects, from medications to even running shoes. Don't laugh I found a huge reference book at my local library on running shoes. Every type you can possibly imagine. Unfortunately, reference books can't always be shared by libraries. Check with your local librarian to see if they might transfer books specifically reference between them.
  • Periodicals are a great way to find current information, from the local news paper to the latest magazine, you can find hundreds that are kept through out your library. Many libraries archive these up to several years worth. Ask your librarian how many years their archives go back. You library will also have several different newspapers, not just the local paper, you can probably even find some that is still kept on microfilms, etc. Many libraries have now turned to having them on a special computer though.


When you actually start to take notes there are several methods to use. I always seem to go back to the old reliable, the one our teachers taught us so many years ago. The wonderful outline, just remember, you can expand the outline with a few extra notes if you want to make sure certain parts of your subject stand out. The old reliable works great to help keep your notes organized. Here is an example of one:

  1. Pineapples
    1. Grown in South America, the Hawaiian Islands, Australia
      1. Many plantations found on the island of Oahu
        1. Visitors can tour one of the biggest plantations ran by the Dole company
          1. Dole is a large manufacturer of canned fruits and vegetables.
  2. Varieties of Pineapples


As you can see, for each part of your subject you can expand, add as much or a little information as you need. The old reliable is quite handy for that.


Then again if you get in a rush like I do some times, just keep organized paragraphs, and remember you don't have to write down every little detail. Just make sure you catch the ones that are really important to your subject.


One last tip for you and then I will stop babbling. If you find yourself with a lot of notebooks and want to make sure you keep them well organized. You might want to invest in some large bins to keep them in, you can then mark them by subject matter, etc. I have a friend that actually goes one step further, she has taken a small recipe box and some 3x5 cards and has colored organized her collection of notes. Then when she begins a new story idea or article, she goes to her box, checks to see if she has taken notes on the particular subject before.

When it comes to doing the research, just be sure you capture as much information as you can that would help with your story. Learn your subject well. It will show in your story or article that you have taken the time to do the research and that you understand what you are talking about.


Happy Writing Everyone!

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

 

STRESS!!!!!

By: Carrie Hulce

Stress: physical, mental, emotional strain or tension on the body and mind.

That is only one of many definitions of the word stress.

I know lately I have had a huge level of stress and I thought for sure I would just fall apart. I thought I was in a world all by myself that no one knew what I was going through or what I was doing. It amazed me how this one little word could trigger such fears and anxieties in my body that literally became uncontrollable. It physically made me ill. Now, mind you, my body was already hit with heat exhaustion, I have been working in a very warm building trying to get it set up with my tea and coffee shop housed safely inside of it, then leaving to pick up whatever little things we needed to complete certain jobs, this of course meant going into extremely cold buildings making my body temperature go completely crazy. Not fun.

Then came along our wonderful friend…..STRESS! With my mind racing uncontrollably, my fears so out of control, I wanted to scream. It was getting to a serious level where I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink, and I just wanted to be put out of my misery right then and there. My whole insides were screaming at me to do something to fix this huge mess that was causing so much turmoil in my body.

With my head sinking deeper between my shoulders with my huge problems, I turned to writing a few friends for some help or advice on what to do, because I felt that I just couldn’t let go. I just didn’t know what to do to get things turned around the way I wanted to right then and there. I wanted immediate satisfaction, and was just not getting it. This was making me feel even worse with my problems.

Then a wonderful friend, (you know who you are) told me to let it go. To just be patient and let things happen. She said that eventually things would fall into place and that I wouldn’t need to worry. At first, I wondered how I would do this given my problem. Then she told me about hers and I found that they were very similar and was amazed at how calm she was compared to me. Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening and sharing with me the stresses that are in your life as well.

Well, now you are probably wondering why I’m shedding all this on all of you. Because all of us are facing huge struggles right now in our writing, in our financial lives, in our families, heck, let’s face it, even our economy is stressed. We all need to find ways of release.

For us writers, that can be easy. We can just pick up a pen or pencil, or start tapping on the keyboard to get some of our tension out. But, there are times, that this doesn’t always work. I got to thinking of other ways to help relieve some of our stresses. Even though our problems will still be there, we still need to find ways of maintaining our bodies, minds, and spirits. I know that I surely wasn’t thinking about it. I was just focusing on my problems, thinking they were never going to go away, that it was only going to get worse, and wondering how I was ever going to make it given everything that has been happening.

Now that I have gotten my emotions under control somewhat, I’m able to focus a little better on other things. First and foremost, my writing, given my current situation, that has led to this article.

I began looking at different websites that I thought might also help each of you relieve some of your stresses as well. That way, all of us can find a restful medium within ourselves so we can still remain active in what we need to do and not curled up under our covers crying.

I also think it would be wonderful if everyone could share a special way that they try to relieve stress. We all know exercise can help tremendously. Our partners sure appreciate it as well. (blushing a lot right now)

Yoga- Yeah, I know you are thinking: But I’m not flexible. Well, you don’t have to be. If you at least try some of the positions, although like me you won’t be perfect at it, you will be amazed at how well it helps to relax your body and mind.

This website gives yoga information for the beginner. It gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do certain movements, etc.

This website gives you links to other yoga websites. It gets a little tiring going through this one but you can find some interesting information.

Yoga Point is great. It gives you step-by-step movements, explains the benefits of yoga, gives simple suggestions for body types, shows diagrams of posture and more.

It isn’t yoga, but Women’s Health has some pretty good quick workouts for us busy women as well.

Stress management- We all try to find ways to manage the stress in our lives. But, sometimes they don’t always work and it's always nice to try to find other ways to manage our stress. I actually got a little giggle at some of the suggestions.

This article not only gives you some simple ideas, but it also gives you information on the effects of stress and much more.

Interested in the art of Feng Shui? This site gives you information on how it relates to relieving stress. The article is quite interesting I won’t spoil it for you, I want you to enjoy it for yourselves.

GET UP AND MOVE!- That’s right, the simple art of walking can help relieve some of the stress from your body. Go for a nice long walk in your neighbor hood. Don’t try to think about what’s bothering you though, focus on things around you, a small flower, a dog that is currently running loose in someone’s yard, the rusty old car that’s been sitting on the side of the road for the last 4 years. Focus on something else, it helps get your mind to relax and to help open up to solutions for what may be stressing you at the time.

Turn on some music and dance around the living room, you will be amazed at how music can help move your body and release tension. You don’t have to be a good dancer either, just let the rhythm take you away, hey that leads to another idea there is a website called Jams Bio that is neat. You can write about different songs that you have heard over the years. They ask that you write about a particular memory and how the song relates to your life, etc. the website is http://www.jamsbio.com

There are tons of interesting ways to relieve stress on the web. I know that some of the ideas that I’ve given might not help everyone, or maybe you find something new and fun to help you relieve your stress.

What ever you do, no matter how hard it can be, find a friend or someone that might listen, talk about what’s bothering you get it out of your body. That is one of the first steps. Sometimes the art of talking can have profound affects on what we are dealing with. You would be amazed at what others might come up with that can help you too.

Happy Writing!

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

 

Groundhog Day!

By Carrie Hulce

Curiosity got the better of me today, so I decided to do a bit of research on Groundhog Day. I wanted to see what facts I could find. I know that this isn’t about some great writing find, but, I thought it would be something fun to share with all of you. Who knows, maybe some of this information could be helpful for one of your wonderful stories.

I figured I would start off with the most famous Groundhog of all Punxsutawney Phil, that wonderfully lovable Groundhog that we hear about every year on the news. Heck, he’s famous enough, why not give him top billing. They even have a website for him. http://www.groundhog.org I wondered what information I could dig up about this interesting Holiday... So many questions were running through my head, I didn’t know where to begin.

First, I wondered about the life expectancy of a Groundhog, and come to find out a normal Groundhog only lives about 8 years. Good ol’ Phil has been around for 120 years, supposedly, he is fed a special elixir every year to help keep him going strong and looking young. Hey let me have some of that! Maybe I’ll get a little energy out of it.

From ancient times, we relied on the flora and fauna around us to let us know what was happening with the seasons, from this the time of year, between the winter solstice and the spring equinox was a time to watch for all, if certain animals such as the ground hog came out and saw their shadow, then more winter was on its way, which as many of you now was predicted for us. As the centuries passed this time of year became know as Candlemas Day, during this time, the pastors and priests would bless candles to pass out among the community to help light the way for the dark winter still ahead, to also bring good luck to the farmers for the future planting season ahead.

Around the mid 1700’s when the Germans settled in Pennsylvania in the Punxsutawney area, the Candlemas tradition was brought with them, they had explained to other settlers that if the Groundhog saw his shadow there would be 6 more weeks of winter, and thus, Groundhog Day was born.

Today, it is amazing at how everyone may celebrate this time of year differently. Many people now travel to see the famous Gobblers Knob to see the most famous of Groundhogs, Punxsutawney Phil. How neat it would be to see him pop his wee head out of the hole look about then say, “To heck with this, it's still nap time for me.” What a life and what a great job. Don’t ya think?

This research made me think about the stories that are deep inside each and every one of us, and without the many talents of so many of you very creative and wonderful writers the tales such as Phil’s wouldn’t be around to share.

Just in case you would like to share some cute tales and maybe create a special tradition with your little ones, or heck, your little ones’ little one, I have found a couple of really cute books to share. You can find them at Amazon. I hope you will enjoy them as much as we do.

Groundhog Day! By: Gail Gibbons

Substitute Groundhog By: Pat Miller

The Groundhog Day Book of Fun and Facts By: Wendie C. Old and Paige Billin-Frye


Go to sleep Groundhog! By: Judy Cox

Happy Writing! And Reading!
Carrie

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Friday, December 07, 2007

 

A THOUSAND WORDS ABOUT NOTHING?

By Carrie Hulce

So many times we all feel like we have writer's block. I know I have been there more times than I can count.

I have to admit, I have tried different techniques. Some work, some of them don’t, which, is unfortunate, but it does happen.

Not too long ago I got to thinking to myself. “I have nothing to write about.” I wanted to smack myself. There is always something to write about. Then I thought, “But what?” I looked around my dining room, then looked around my living room. I saw my glasses laying on a magazine I had been reading through. It came to me. I can write about “nothing.”

I know now you probably think I’m crazy, but nothing is actually something. Here is an example of what to do.

• First look around the room you are in, pick an object example: remote control to the television, the cup of warm coffee you might be drinking.

• Grab a pad of paper and a pen/pencil. Write down things about the remote example: the color, how many buttons it has, what company is it made by, does it belong specifically to your television or one of the many movie players you have, or is it a universal remote. How long have you had the remote?

• Now branch out from there, do research on that particular object, find out when it was invented, find out who the inventor was.

By now you are probably laughing, but it works. You can take anything and write about it. It just takes time.

When you want to be a writer, you need to take the time and make the time to write. It doesn’t matter if you feel you don’t have anything to write about. Write about “nothing” and you will find that there is actually something there.

I have found this exercise to work rather well. I have found several story ideas develop just in an apple.

I hope that for all of our wonderful writers out there, that this technique helps for each of you.

Have fun writing about “Nothing.” You will see, you have something to do.

1,000 WORDS ABOUT NOTHING!
AN APPLE

They say: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But, does it really?

How do we know that statement to be true. Has it been proven? Have there been a number of people in the world asked to eat an apple a day? What kind of apple? Or is it any kind of apple, to make sure that the person has some variety.

Apples are so juicy and have great flavor. They make wonderful pies, are versatile in most dishes, like stuffing, salads, stuffed in poultry or other meats. Ever wonder if there was a cook book put out just about apples? How many different cook books?

Over the years, I have eaten my fill of apples and still do. Red, Green, Crab, Golden, Macintosh, Cortland, Red Delicious, Granny Smith. The names for different types of apples seem to be endless; I’m sure a researcher spent many years gathering up tons of information on each apple.

I can remember sitting up in a crab apple tree hiding from my cousins, waiting to hit them with the hard unripe ones. Or lying on a large branch, several of the crab apples lying on my belly waiting for me to eat their tart sour skin. Yum! Oh, the tummy ache afterwards. Then vowing never again to eat another crab apple, but to do it again the following visit to my grandparents’ home.

My worst experience with an apple, picking one off of a tree in an orchard, looking at it not seeing a problem, how perfect the apple looked. Then, I took a huge bite, juice spilling down my chin, taking another look at the apple, seeing half of a warm wiggling towards me. YUCK! Screaming and dropping the apple, crying to my grandmother how horrible I was starting to feel, because I ate a worm.

How about baking that first apple pie ever? First preparing the crust, peeling several apples of different types, slicing them carefully so that each slice looked to be the same size as the next, layering the slices inside the crust, then sprinkling each layer with cinnamon and sugar. A little lemon juice to help maintain the brilliant color of the meat of the apple. How lovely. Remembering how tired I felt after completing that first pie. Presenting the pie to my new husband, showing him how well I could cook. Boy, did I feel accomplished then. To laugh now, because he does ninety-five percent of all the baking in our home.

The most painful memory of all and one that I will remember for all times, sharing a slice of pie with my grandfather a few days before he died. How we joked about Christmas, how we made plans on where everyone would stay, when we came back for the holiday to visit. The hot cocoa that he made special, spiced with cinnamon and apple sauce. I’ll have you know, I thought he was crazy at first when I watched him drop that spoonful in, but it was so good. I couldn’t believe it. Chocolate apple cocoa, yum. Oh, the pain he was in, how I wished I could make him feel better. How I wished I could take away all of his stresses and worries so that he and my grandmother could still be together. How I wish that day would have never ended. Only to give him one more hug, one more kiss on the cheek, one more joke to tell, or a walk down the street.

Apples are the fruit of life, according to most, and it is also the fruit of knowledge.

Gosh, how about making apple sauce for the first time? I burned it to the pan, how messy that was. All the sugar that I added to it, that I didn’t need to. My dad ate it with a smile, said it was good. I couldn’t believe how nice he was to lie to me. I knew how bad it tasted, I ate some myself.

Food fight, apple sauce being flung by spoons around the cafeteria at my son’s school. He was only in pre-school, but, still what a mess they all made. The kids were mad that we made them clean it all up. The teachers and parents got together later, only for a good laugh, seeing their expressions when they all got caught having such a good time, flinging their apple sauce at one another.

Here is another interesting thought. How about the saying: “The apple of my eye.” Gosh, that goes way back. I wonder how often that got said by people. When did it stop being used as a phrase? How many people still use it today? Can you imagine your eyes being filled with apples? That must be painful. I wonder are they red or green apples, or did you get yellow ones in your eye.

Apple flavored sausages with cheese in them too. I tried them, I don’t think I even tasted the apple. I remembered tasting the cheese and the spices though. I wonder if the creator may have just been pulling our legs. Or if the sausage I got just didn’t have any apple in it after all. Shouldn’t the maker, check to make sure those sausages had plenty of apple in each one for people to taste.

Apple Cider vinegar, is great for salads, and hey I heard it is great for weight loss too. I’ve seen apple cider vinegar tablets or how about the special bottles in the health departments of most stores. I would think that must taste awful after a while though. I bet after a while you would get tired of it and not want to do that as your diet any more. I know that Apple Cider is also great to use in marinades, it tenderizes meat very well.

*** Above is just an example of how to write 1,000 words about nothing. As you can see, each paragraph is about apples in some way. But when you look at it as a whole, you will find several ideas for stories.

Make sure if you use this exercise, you try to get as close as you can to 1,000 words. Don’t worry about your sentence structure or misspelled words. The important thing is to try and come up with different ideas for your base subject, in this case being the Apple.

Happy Writing!- Carrie Hulce

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Friday, June 01, 2007

 

The Balancing Act

It's difficult to balance everything we do on a daily basis, plus try to make sure we have time to write. There are many of us that can't be full time writers as we would like. We just have so many things going on, that it's impossible or so we think. I am at fault for not being able to balance my life and writing. For the longest time, I would put my writing on hold, thinking there wasn't time. I didn't realize how much precious writing time I missed out on, even when I had little ones running around the house. Oh wait, I still have little ones running around the house, they're just much bigger.

I won't sugar coat this for anyone. As you read this, I have just added a new challenge to my life. Not only have I been maintaining a full time job, taking care of children, keeping up with a home, getting into shape, I have now added small business owner to my life and also moving. Looking at my list it seems pretty small, but I didn't detail it completely. Every facet of my life is full. Yet, I still find time each day to write. Even if it's just for a few minutes before I go to bed, to write down something that may have happened during my day.

I admit there have been many times that I didn't sit and write when I had the time, I would find other things to do. But, no matter, I do find the time to squeeze in my writing with all that I do.

Every moment I can grab for my writing is precious time. Time I know I can use to create. Here are some examples of times I spend writing. Waiting for a doctor’s appointment, it may be five minutes, it may be forty-five minutes to an hour. Waiting while your car is being repaired, there can be an hour or more some times. While kids were at practice, I would either sit in my car or in my comfy lawn chair with a notebook, heck if the weather were just right even my laptop, I could get in a good hour or two of writing. Hey, I've even gotten some juicy story ideas while sitting around some of the other parents.

For those of you that have the time to be full time writers, I envy you. For those of you like me, just remember you aren't alone, there are many of us doing the same thing you are daily.

You can balance your life and writing, you just have to take the time when you can. It’s there staring at you, all you need to do is look.

Happy Writing!
By: Carrie Hulce

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

 

Carrie Hulce, Runner Up



Today we visit with another of our runners up. Grab a glass of iced tea, pull up a chair and enjoy.

WOW: I've loved seeing how others react when they found out they had placed in the top ten. What about you. How did you react when you got the news?

CARRIE: Oh my gosh! I was so excited I ran into the kitchen and told my husband, he gave me a huge hug and praised me. Even though it was 7:00 am, I picked up the phone and began to call everyone to let them know. That made my day to receive the email, that I placed.

I have to admit, I had gotten discouraged about my writing for quite some time.

WOW: The car in your story reminded me of one I had long ago. What inspired your contest entry, The Sign?

CARRIE: My inspiration was actually multi faceted. My first inspiration came from my college days. I bought my first car, an Olsmobile Toronato. A big huge boat (Dad wanted me to be safe). I went to the bank to make my final payment on my car; it was if the car actually knew what was going on. Shortly after, I started having problems with it.

My next inspiration was my cute mother-in-law. I can’t say enough about her. She is just so fun to be with. Her name is Tina. Every time I spend time with her, I want to be around her more. She was my lead character for this story.

My final inspiration was a conversation that I had with my girlfriend; she and I were talking about what we would do if we were to take a trip some where. She came up with this crazy idea that she wanted to go to Montana someday. Blew my mind. I started to laugh. I finally asked her where she got a crazy idea like that. She laughed and said because she had never been there before.

WOW: That's a lot of inspiration for such a short word count. Do you enjoy writing Flash Fiction with the shorter word counts?

CARRIE: Yes, I have to say because I love the challenge. By nature I am the type to fill a page with words, as you have probably seen just with the first question. It makes me stop to think and help me to understand that in writing you can get a story across as long as you are descriptive enough and can make the story run smooth.

WOW: I noticed in your bio, you work in a homeless shelter. Have you ever used an incident from your volunteer work with the homeless as inspiration?

CARRIE: I am currently working on one story that did come from a woman from our shelter. Her story hit home for me. She was the mother of 3 small children, had been married to her husband for many years. Her husband and children were killed in a car accident, it was a DWI. After the funerals and everything, she found herself on the streets, she had never worked before and didn’t know what to do or where to go. She finally came here, where she was able to finally get some help. Today, she is working, has a new place to live, is even involved in a new relationship.

She looked at me one day, saw how stressed out I was, she grabbed my hand pulled me aside and said; “ What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.” She’s right. After contemplating what she had said to me. My stress level went down and I was able to focus on my day.

That evening I began to write a story about her.

WOW: Do you have a favorite genre you like to write and where do you get your ideas?

CARRIE: I am a very eclectic writer. I have come up with all sorts of stories. It can be from a dream that I have had, someone I’ve seen shopping, or even about a bird that just landed on my window sill.

WOW: I think all writers at one time or another get a bit discouraged with their writing. What one piece of advice would you give other them?

CARRIE: No matter what you do, continue to write. Even if you feel you are to busy or think you can’t come up with any ideas. They are there for you, you just have to grab them and hold on tight.

WOW: Great advice:-) What are you working on now?

CARRIE: I have to laugh. First off, I can finally admit, I am a published writer, thanks to WOW! If it weren’t for you guys, helping me when I was down. I probably would have never written again.

I am currently working on a mystery story for children, plus I am working on an adult science fiction story. I have to admit, editing is the hardest part when it comes to writing a book. I hope I can find someone interested in publishing my stories.

WOW: I have the feeling you won't have much to worry about when you are ready for that publisher:-) When not writing, do you have any favorite author you turn to?

CARRIE: I am a book worm all the way so I have a few.

For mysteries, I like to read the work of Lillian Jackson Braun. She has written a series of books that are all entitled The Cat Who……?

For romance, when I’m feeling on the mushy side, Jude Deaveraux and Johanna Linsey. They both are historical writers; you can tell they have done their research.

Finally, another great inspiration for me picking myself up and dusting myself off, a local author here that has done some small writing work shops, Natalie Goldberg. She has written a lot of poetry, but also has some great ways of helping writers look inside themselves. The first book, that I highly recommend to other writers is her book called “Writing down the Bones.”

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us and sharing your writing. You get the final word. Anything you'd like to add?

CARRIE: I just want to say THANK YOU! To everyone at WOW! for helping me find myself in writing and inspiring me once again. Everyone involved with Women On Writing, have been just absolutely wonderful. Words can’t always express how grateful I am for having all of you in my life!

For all of you writers out there. KEEP ON WRITING!!!! NEVER GIVE UP!!!!

Happy writing to everyone!

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

 

Mailbox Letter! From Carrie Hulce

We received the most inspiring letter from Carrie Hulce, and we just couldn't wait until our next issue came out to post it!

Honestly, this is the reason why we strive so hard to make WOW! what it is. If it were simply monetary, we'd have abandoned our mission long ago. WOW! is something greater than just us... it's about you and where you are in life. And this letter brought tears to our eyes and a big warm smile to our hearts. Thank you Carrie, and we're backing you 100%!!!

Carrie's Letter:


Hi Everyone at Wow,

I normally don't make "New Year's Resolutions;" Honestly, how many of us stick to them. But, I did set a specific goal for myself and that is to "stick to my guns" about my writing.

I have always found it difficult finding time to write. But, I am determined to surpass. I am the mother of 3 boys, one teenager of 14 almost 15 (he loves Football), one 12 about to be 13 (an almost teenager, YIKES), and a soccer buff of a 10 year old who will soon be 11. Now mind you two of my children -- the actual teenager and the youngest have a lot of activities constantly going on where I am having to run them around for their sports. (What is a mother to do???) I found I spent a lot of time behind the wheel of my car and no real time for much of anything else.

I have been writing for many years. I've taken classes, the works, to improve my writing skills. Even though I have done so, I have fallen short on myself. There has been one thing holding me back: A drawer filled with rejection letters. NOT ANY MORE! I am taking back my writing. Instead of letting those letters get to me, which I have now thrown away, I am listening to my co-workers, friends and relatives who have told me that I have a skill to use, picking up my pen. :) Well, the pen and the almighty keyboard is raised and working.

Thank goodness for Winter break and well sorry to say surgery on my knee, I found WOW! I am so happy I did, your website, since I have been laid up, has helped inspire me to write more. I am now setting appointments with myself to write, research, do anything I can for my writing. I am looking forward to entering in my first contest with WOW! and hope to continue to enter contests through your site. Big HUGS! to all of your staff for their hard work and dedication to the ART of writing. I commend each of you for the fabulous job you have done with this site. :)

Sincerely,

Carrie Hulce
New Reader of WOW!

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Dear Carrie,

Your letter has inspired us in so many ways and on so many levels!

When Beryl and I (Angela) read your letter, it brought tears to our eyes... sincerely. To think of all the things you, as a dedicated mother, are going through -- Wonder Woman comes to mind! You represent the spirit and soul of WOW! and we are thrilled you've joined our family of writing women!

We're sorry to hear about your knee surgery, and we wish you a quick recovery. I know how devastating that can be... my husband had one last year. So, while you spend your time laid up, we'd like to do something special for you. We're sending you a personal e-mail to get your mailing address, and sending you out a gift-pack of treats, goodies, and brain-food to help you through your time of recovery and re-birth into the writing world! We want to give you everything you need to recharge, re-energize, and meet your personal writing goals for the New Year!

All of us writers have received rejection slips, and we know they are painful, because writing comes from the heart. Some of us choose to paper the walls with them and some of us shred them into tiny pieces for our kid's hamster cages... but whatever the case, we've all been there and will continue to be there; it's part of the writing process. But keeping that in mind, we try to take a different approach at WOW! -- one of encouragement and growth. We all know that each one of us has something to share, whether it's a feeling or a story, something to write about, to pass down, to communicate with others who relate or enjoy our views, get moved or shocked by them, or saddened... and that's what we're here for -- that experience that helps us to understand one another as women and writers. We ALL have it in us! Now we need to shine!

Carrie, that's what you've done in your letter. You've shined. You've shared your heart and soul and we commend you for it, and thank you. You've made us laugh and shed a tear, and we're rooting for you, as I'm sure all of our readers are. Keep going and don't ever lose sight of your goals. We KNOW you can do it!

Warmly yours,

Angela & Beryl

Your new friend, and Editors of WOW! Women On Writing

PS. ~* BIG HUGS *~ Keep that almighty pen raised high and that keyboard tapping!

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