Friday, December 31, 2010

Do We Need A Face Lift?

As We Were Saying is thinking about getting a face lift. We need your help! What should we not change? What is crying out for an overhaul? We've changed the page colors. What do you think of it? Too bright, too hard on the eyes, just right? We’re going to be putting a lot of thought into the navigation tabs, page layout, and content . Thoughts? Ideas? Do you have a blog? What do you use- blogger or wordpress?

Also, tell us what keeps you coming back here for more. We’d love to know your thoughts about the website and what we can do better!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How To Plan For The Best Year Yet-2011

How To Plan For The Best Year Yet-2011

Every year since I was a child, I’ve set aside time in December to look back on the previous year and set goals for the next year.  This was my Dad’s way and we kids all did what he said to do.

This year I’m taking only one day, but I’m also editing a contest submission and outlining another project at the same time.

Why Make a Plan?

A basic principle of planning is stating what you want to achieve. You may have to give up something to get something else – so it’s better to know what’s most important to you.

Donald Miller says in his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, meaningful lives don’t just happen by accident. You have to make deliberate decisions at some point. If you know what you value and what you are working towards, it will be much easier to make the decisions.


  •  Evaluate the Previous Year
  •  State Goals and Focus for Next Year
  • Identify Obstacles and make decisions in Support of the Goals and Focus
Here’s what each one looks like in brief:

Look Back

Look back at the year that’s quickly coming to an end. What went well? What did not go well? Write down at least three items for each category. If you set goals from last year, go back and review all of the goals you set last December. How did things work out?

Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver) excerpted from

Ask Yourself Questions

5 Minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010 (Patti Digh)

If you didn’t set goals ask yourself these questions.

What disappointed you?

What surprised you?

Where did you excel?

Where did you fail?

List Your Goals:
  • The goal must be written down and must be meaningful and specific.
  • The goal must have an ending time.
  • Obstacles to obtaining the goal must be identified.
  • A plan must be executed to overcome obstacles.
  • Write down the list of people, organizations, and tools that can help you obtain the goal.
  • Write down a plan of action to obtain results.
  • Write down the things that will benefit you if you obtain the goal.

Categorize Your Goals .

I’ll share an example here from my Writing category:

2011 Writing Goals:

Write 150,000 words and track progress through spreadsheet.


 Write 52+ blog posts, oriented towards writing craft and motivation (50,000)

  Write one book (100,000 words)

After you have your goals set in all the categories, then define the outcomes.

One year from now, what do I want to have accomplished? Write this statement as a short paragraph. Outcomes: At the end of 2011, I will have finished the manuscript for my book and written for the group blog. I will have a list of agents to contact, a query letter and synopsis written.

The list of outcomes highlights the big priorities.

Choose a theme and purpose for the next year. The theme and purpose usually come as a result of the goals. My theme will be Contribution . I want to contribute more through my writing and to my writers groups.

Identify Obstacles to the Goals and Focus

There are always obstacles that come up to keep you from obtaining your goal. For instance if your goal is writing a specific number of words or pages, unexpected company arriving when you haven’t met your page or word goal for the day, can quickly make you adjust your goal.  Losing your manuscript because you didn’t save it, or children misbehaving are all obstacles. List ways you can find the time to write, and the necessary tools to prevent the loss of your work.   Do the same procedure in other categories of your life, financial- spiritual, family etc.

Once you know where you’re going, it’s much easier to plan the route. After setting the goals, you can then figure out how to make them happen. As Seth Godin says “You have to show up to make them happen.”

If You’re Not A Goal Setter

If you don’t believe in setting goals for active life planning, then you will be setting yourself up for failure by the second week of January if you're not committed. Taking life as it comes is not a goal setter's motto. You have to believe that establishing goals and working toward something is worthwhile. But there are other ways to approach goal setting.

A friend of mine mentioned that for her New Year’s Resolution, she sets a goal using a single powerful word to focus on a specific goal. She wants to be more efficient in her work and life. So she chose the word organize. She says she wants to be organized in all areas of her home and life. She says it will make her feel more comfortable and happy . The single word is a reminder about the goal/resolution . If she wants to do something different, she could – but as long as she keeps challenging herself, she’s fairly happy with how things are going with her one word.

Maybe, how we spend our days is how we live our lives. Those moments that unconsciously slip away add up and are gone forever. Will you plan your next year?  Share your thoughts. How did your 2010 go and what do you want for 2011?

We'll be taking a digital break until January, so that we can spend time with our families. See you back here, ready to go January 2nd, 2011.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How To Write A Home Run Story In 2011

Larry Brooks
Crossposted with permission.   If you like straight talk, this information will be immensely helpful. Thank you Larry for your post.
HOW TO WRITE A HOME RUN STORY IN 2011                          
by Larry Brooks                                                     

Part 1… of Two

We say the same thing every year right about now: this will be our year. This, of course, meaning the fresh new year about to commence.

Because, perhaps on many fronts, the departing year definitely wasn’t it.

Right about now is where one of the most tried and true truths of the universe applies, to the point of cliché. It’s that old definition of insanity: doing the same old thing while expecting different results.

Too many writers get stuck in this loop, many because they aren’t aware there is a better way. But there is.

Perhaps, in 2011, you should do something different.

Where your story is concerned, the following sequential regimen and process just might qualify as something marvelously, brilliantly different. The thing that could break you out of whatever loop, or rut, in which you consider yourself stuck.

And while I can’t guarantee your success – nobody can do that in the writing game – I can do the next best thing. Because your novel and/or screenplay – or whatever other kind of story you’re writing – can’t help but be better for it.

This process breaks down into six sequential parts.

Which means, you get to do the math any way you’d like, as long as you do this in the right order.

I also highly recommend that you tackle these as equal segments of time, if nothing else than for the sake of discipline and focus.

Could be that a lack of discipline and focus was your undoing in 2010. Follow this story development process, and that particular issue will go away in 2011.

Which means, you can write your story in six 2-month segments, six 1-month segments, or six 3, 2 or one-week segments. The further into that sentence you fall, the more projects you can write, and write successfully, in the next year.

Feel free to start in the middle if you’re already somewhere down this path. You may begin the year knowing precisely what story you hope to write, which means you can skip to Segment 3. But, with an asterisk.

The asterisk is: you should never skip Segment 1 if, in the most objective dark corner of your writerly soul, you aren’t completely sure that you’re in command of the requisite tools of the trade.

If you aren’t sure what those tools are beyond “a way with words,” then you more than most are in need of Segment 1.

To skip Segment 1 is like trying to fly an airplane without ground school. Or take out a spleen without medical school. Or survive a troubled marriage without counseling.

You may think you know… but do you? Really?

The lie you tell yourself in this regard is precisely what stands in your way of writing a story that will sell. In this or any other year.

I also caution against jumping around in this sequence… that, too, could be part of the reason you remained unpublished in 2010. The Great Fatal Mistake writers make is to skip one of these segments, or even just phone it in, in favor of the joy of actually writing the narrative.

Yeah, it’s fun to fly an airplane, too… but just wait until you try to land. You’d better know what you’re doing.

The countryside is full of crashed writing dreams because the writer/pilot lied to themselves about Segment 1, and then, out of that ignorance, disregarded one of the other steps.

Don’t let that be you.

Segment 1: Prepare The Storyteller.

You’ve just read my cautionary pleadings. Now it’s up to you. This is the reason most writers can’t sell their work. It’s not their story… it’s them.

Are you fluent in dramatic theory? Do you know the difference between sub-plot and sub-text? Between concept and theme? Because premise and concept? Between inciting incident and the first plot point? Do you even know what a first plot point is, and where it goes, and why, and how it detonates your story if you misplace it, as well as the other major story milestones? Do you know what those milestones are?

More importantly, are you operating out of the belief that those questions are invalid for you, that there is some great and mysterious creative muse out there that will guide you through and around these story-killing obstacles?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. You actually can write a home run story without knowing these things by summoning your intuitive, inner storytelling genius.

But let’s get real. There are only a few of them out there, and they are rich and famous. The rest of the names you see on the bookshelves or on the opening credits of a film… they’ve immersed themselves in Segment 1.

It’s Your Call

Read Syd Field, whether you’re a novelist or a screenwriter. Read my story structure ebook. Immerse yourself in the realm of the Six Core Competencies of successful storytelling, available at this link in my new book, or here on the site in the archives. Read The Writer’s Journey, which is not available here. Read about Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake methodology. Read James Frye’s How To Write A Damn Good Novel and his several genre-specific follow-ups. Go to a Robert McKee workshop.

Then, read some bestsellers and not so bestsellers and watch it all unfold before your eyes. Perhaps for the very first time. Reading books in context to something valid, craft-wise, is the most beneficial thing you can do to prepare yourself for writing your own.

Reading or writing without that context… it’s a crap shoot. With very low odds.

Make sure you get it. If you don’t, you’re on your own with that inner storyteller that thinks he/she does get it.

And, remains unpublished as 2010 leaves the building.

Segment 2: Prepare Your Vision For The Story.

What follows assumes you do get it. That you’ve taken the time, put in the effort, and it all makes perfect, illuminating sense to you.

Now it’s time to get to work on your story.

You need to have an idea for a story, and it has to have legs. You need to live with that idea for a while, kick it around and bat it back and forth with your creative peers and mentors, to see if it really is a good idea after all.

Ideas are like cheap lovers. Sometimes they don’t look so hot in the morning.

Ideas are also like not-so-cheap lovers. When you let them go, if they don’t come back to you they were never really there.

But, as you hone your idea into great majesty, remember this: beginning a draft with only that idea on the table, without the following segments of the process having been addressed, is a commitment to using drafting as your vehicle for story discovery. A long and arduous road.

If you do this, you are officially a pantser… someone who writes stories by the seat of their pants. It can work, but it’s the long hard road to get there.

Why? Because there are three other essential elements, or essences, that you need to put into place before your story will work, and there are a list of criteria under each of them you should apply to your plan.

The only pantsers who stand a chance are the ones who know this. Same with story planners, but by definition, what story planners plan is, in essence, those criteria-driven elements

Once again… do the math.

Ready to commit to a long term relationship with that idea? You’re not done with this phase. And you’re not ready to write the story, either.

Has it been done before, and how, and by whom? What is your genre, and does it fit? What is the market appeal of this idea, assuming you can write it well enough, and does your idea fit, stretch or otherwise offend its given niche? Why will anyone else care about this idea and the story that will spring from it?

What gift does this idea bestow upon the reader?

What about this idea will grab a crusty old seen-it-all agent or editor and make them lose sleep until they can sign you?

To Be Continued...
Read Part 2 of “How To Write A Home Run Story in 2011″ early next week.

Larry Brooks is the author of four critically-acclaimed thrillers,  with one of the fastest-growing and most respected writing sites on the internet

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon , he graduated with a degree in marketing communications from Portland State University in 1975 where he  attended  in the off-season from a professional baseball career.  He pitched for five-years in the Texas Rangers organization.

Below are two of Larry's newest books. You may find a complete list of his books at his website.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Writers Digest 101 Best Blogs Voting

 Voting For Top 101 Best Websites ends January 1, 2011.

Every year Writers Digest selects 101 of the best websites  for writers.They 've divided their list into nine sections: creativity, writing advice, general resources, jobs and markets, online writing communities,  agents, publishing/marketing resources, genres/niches and just for fun sites.
If you enjoy the posts at our blog, we would appreciate your nomination.
Here's what you need to do:

Send an email to: and in the subject line reference 101 Best Websites.

In the body of the e-mail, type . This is the  address for  our blog As We Were Saying. You may also add any feedback on the site. Voting ends on January 1, 2011. Every vote helps!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Little Less Conversation, A Lot More Action

 Elvis was right when he sang, “A little less conversation, a lot more action…”

Image courtesy of Mark Robinson and me'n the dogs
No amount of prayer or positive thinking can make you a writer  without action.
This very simple truth is often forgotten. It's easy to talk about writing, another thing to do it.  It's easy to make the mistake of putting an unreasonable time frame on all of your desires. But that's all they are if you don't take action.
Taking action could be a form of repetition. If you do something everyday for six weeks, it becomes a habit. Something that you keep doing over and over until you get results. And, like any activity, even if you don’t get the results you want, if you keep doing and believing, you’ll benefit one way or another.

If you find yourself with fewer hours this month to accomplish your writing goals, then set a goal to write fewer pages. Write one page a day if that is all the time you have, just don't stop. Once you stop, it's much harder to get back into your story. Finish your sentence or leave it half finished and stop, even if you're in the mood to keep going. It makes it easier to pick it up because you think about the story during the evening and will be eager to get back to it the next day.

 Managing your  time can be difficult if you have  many “have-to” things in your life.. Family members can make it tough. They know how to work guilt . “But you’re always on your computer! Are you going to watch this show with me?  When is this heroin addiction of yours going to start paying some bills? It's the holidays, can't you tear yourself away for the family?" Curb the massive flood of guilt by getting up before the rest of the family if that's possible. Give those early hours a positive spin by thinking of the time you will have with your family to enjoy the holiday season.

What is the one “action” you do everyday to keep you growing in your career as a writer? What actions do you take  that other writers can learn from? What do you think about “positive thinking and it's effect on you as a writer”?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Driving Home For Christmas

 Gorgeous Tree in a Hotel

Recently I made a trip to N.C. to celebrate an early Christmas Holiday at Thanksgiving. You never know what kind of weather you'll get in the mountains. I've included a few pictures of the trip. The Holiday season can be a hectic time, but it is over way too soon.  These pictures capture a  beautiful moment in time.

The First Snow of the Season

Christmas means making gingerbread houses.
 A cold mountain stream
For many, Christmas means lots of driving. Chris Rea's song typifies this.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Around The World of Blogs

If you're getting geared up to pitch your book to an agent or publisher, this blog by CJ Lyons on the perfect pitch will help.

Want to know more about the blood camera which might take the place of luminal at crime scenes? Go to C.P. Lyle M.D. Forensics Blog at

Want to publicize your book or find a reviewed book. Check out Reviews by Martha's Book Shelf

Jungle Red  Writers is an excellent blog featuring six mystery writers who write about craft, do interviews, and feature new books.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Time Management Tips To Keep Your Writing On Target

Holidays provide a serious distraction for writers who want and need to complete their work.

So what can you do to enjoy all of the activities of the holidays, and also get some writing done? I’ve listed some of the things I’ve learned over the years when I had a very busy work schedule and family responsibilities.

• Make a schedule of what needs to be done, and when it needs to be done. Go day by day and week by week.

• Combine as many activities as possible, i.e. go to the bank, to the post office, to the drugstore, and the grocery store.

• Inventory the freezer and make room for holiday meals.

• Plan all menus for the holidays, including breakfasts and lunches. Spend one afternoon or evening cooking. Do a mini-freezer cooking session to put 5-10 pre-made entrees into the freezer.

• Make breads, pies, cookies, that can be frozen and used later. Pre-measure dry mixes (like scones) and store in air tight containers. Prepare for drop-in visitors. Collect hospitality supplies, cheeses, crackers etc.

• Solicit help from the family. There’s no reason hubby can’t address Christmas cards while you’re helping the kids make cinnamon ornaments or Christmas cookies.

• Create a master shopping list. Utilize the internet and catalogs for gift shopping.

• Set up a gift wrapping station with all supplies in one place. Wrap presents as they are purchased.

• Get up earlier and/or go to bed later to create that extra time needed to write.

• Utilize the time you spend waiting at children’s functions, doctor’s offices, wherever you spend a few minutes that you can write a paragraph or two. Use breaks and lunch at your day job to write.

What do you do to keep your writing on schedule during the holiday season? I hope you’ll share your experiences by leaving a comment.

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