Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Fun.

I'll be the first to admit that the shopping and running around is much fun, but I enjoy the giving of gifts. So to get in the spirit I decided to throw a contest on my blog. There's 3 parts and I just chose the winner for part 1. Part 2 starts today. It's been great fun. Stop on over and see what's happening.

Other than that I just want to wish everyone the happiest of whichever holiday it is you celebrate.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Getting motivated when motivation is lost

I struggle with motivation sometimes, especially when the seasons change and the days get shorter and colder. Everyone has their own ways of coping, and I've prepared a list of mine:

1) Exercise! Physical activity gets the blood pumping and allows my mind to wander freely. Once that happens I not only reduce my stress levels and feel good afterward, but often will think up ideas on trouble spots with writing and/or plot thoughts.

I highly recommend yoga for this.

2) Music! Sometimes I just need to listen to good, soothing music--or whatever suits my mood.

3) Treat yourself! Go out, go see a movie or read a book. Do something which removes you from your usual routine.

What are some of yours?

Love & Magic,

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The character drives the story, but before she can react to her surroundings, its necessary to find out what is going on in her life.

Historicals nearly have the outline done for you. Research what was going on during the time you want to put her in. If the character lives in a world of your creation, what goes on in this world?

In HARRY POTTER there were quidditch matches all year and the Yule ball once a year. These are events utilized in the books. In Harry's world, the events centered around school. The problems were resolved before year's end when he got on the train home. The school year was her timeline.

What time of year events happen add to the story. Spring is symbolic of renewal. It's a good time to find resolution, lost loves, or inner strength.
Autumn might be a time when old habits or ideas die, or change to allow for something new.
Getting a feel for what occurs in your characters year will give you a ideas for the events in her life. Conflict is created around those events.

Kindertransport caught my attention because I never heard of it. Grafeneck Castle became one of six killing centers. These two factors made me wonder what kind of hero would defy the law and rescue a child targeted for termination.

Since Nazi's are never heroes I found the idea of a SS resistor interesting. My hero needs to defy the Reich, protect the heroine, and save the child while not blowing his cover and earning the trust of a woman with no reason to trust him.

Where to start?

The Nazi's took over Grafeneck in October of '39. She would have to get the children out before then. Prior to October, she needs to meet the hero, the villain, and the children of Grafeneck.
To start my time line I need to outline things the heroine needs to do.

My introduction needs to explain the "feel" of the people under Nazi rule and how this affects my heroine. I used the Christmas story. "Take the baby and flee; the king wants to kill him." This opening hook generates interest and foreshadows my heroine's conflict. My hero and heroine are introduced by a mutual mentor.

I also needed to introduce my villain, so I used a social event. The League of German Girls hosted several, accommodating my story nicely. It also allowed a resistance protest.
The heroine, Erika, gets a job at Grafeneck castle to care for handicapped children. Now, to give her challenges fitting the times. As a Catholic, Erika holds life sacred. She sees the attitudes people have against the attitudes. At work, a monetary reward is given for those nurses who turn in the names of "defective" babies to the state.

Any issue can be made into conflict. There are always those who agree and those who disagree. Making up her own mind sets up the conflict and goal. She has a certain length of time to reach these goals.

Decide the main story events and plot them on a timeline. Give her problems to solve and keep her reactions within her character experience, belief system and ability.
Erika's faith demands she resist Nazi policy. her problem now is about trust. There are those so indoctrinated they have no problem turning over dissidents to the state. Trusting the wrong person can mean her arrest.

Conflict will arise when each character tries to reach their goals before the story ends.

Once you have the major events down there is always time to add more and layer the story.
The outline lays the groundwork for events and what order they occur. It can change as your ideas change, but its always there for a reference point.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where do writers find the time?

I am a writer, but I'm also a mother and a wife. I work part-time at a local community college. So along with writing I cook, clean, run errands, go to work. It's no wonder I'm so tired. So recently when a co-worker asked me where I find the time to write I laughed. Then I explained:

Last year I managed to write 4 novellas averaging about 20k words.

I also wrote 3 full lentgh titles all over 50k words.

Along with writing there was a lot of promotion being done too. I joined a few groups that I think are really helpful. and
Granted I lost a lot of sleep, but it was worth it. And yeah the house may not have been at it's cleanest. As for kids and husband they've all pitched in so I have more time to write. I've my younger sister tell me I spent way too much time on my laptop, but it's not like the stories are going to write themselves.

In just about every room in my house there's a notebook for jotting stuff down. There's one in my car too. Even if I'm not actualy writing I'm plotting in my head. That's kind of a bonus beacsue the next time I sit down it all flows out onto the page.

At some point I'd love to quit my job and write full time, but I'm not there yet. The more I write the more ideas I get. As long as that keeps happening then I'll keep finding ways to write.

That's it for now.

Rita Sawyer
Giving You It All
Romance Passion Laughter

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Plagiarism V Imagination

It was called copying back in grade school. Being labeled a copy catter was a terrible fate; a thing best avoided.

Inspiration often grows from events and stories of days gone by. How thin is the line between inspiration and copying?

Plagiarism is defined as: A piece of written work someone has claimed as his/her own. (This definition was copied from the Bing search engine.)

Bram Stoker's widow sued over a 1922 remake of DRACULA, claiming the movie maker neither asked permission nor paid royalties on the piece. NOSFERATU was a near duplication of the vampire story minus the renaming of the main character from COUNT DRACULA to COUNT ORLOCK. Stoker won the suit and all copies of the movie were destroyed.

TERMINATOR was criticized for being too similar to two OUTER LIMITS episodes titled THE SOLDIER and THE MAN WITH THE GLASS HAND. The stories had to do with soldiers going back into the past and a robotic human with a computer device in a glass looking hand.

ROMEO AND JULIET has been remade dozens of times. The theme of forbidden love is favored both in Hollywood and among romance authors.
Our heroes may indeed be from the wrong side of the tracks, or fall in love with the "wrong" woman during a family feud, but we are careful not to duplicate the story. Though the idea of family conflict, and running away together is too tasty to ignore, we always put a new spin on classic ideas.

Romance writers believe in love conquering all, so we do like our happy endings. Human experiences, and universal themes have remained the same over the centuries, so there is bound to be some similarities among artists.

I had to laugh when I listened to a pod cast about Santa Claus. "He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you're awake." The man responded "It sounds like the Gestapo." I used a similar joke in my book KINDERTRANSPORT. I won't accuse him of plagiarism; I'm sure others have made the same observation.

Inspiration hits us in a variety of ways, through news articles, overheard conversation, even dreams. We may find ourselves improving stories of old, or remaking history to our liking. Inspiration is simply a creative response to stimulus.
With our brilliant imaginations and natural talent?
Perish the thought.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Having been away for a while, I only discovered this morning that Blue Gold was chosen to participate in DABWAHA 2010, run by Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Whatever happens, I'm delighted to be nominated in some very strong company. If you want to take part in the voting, here's the link.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Notes From The Desk Of A BUSY New Author

Okay as everyone in the United States knows it's TAX TIME. Not the best time for anyone, I know. For a new author working hard on building a back list, trying to promote what she/he already has out there, and working a day job, getting everything together and blocking out a few hours to actually fill everything out is like pulling teeth.

Seriously it's painful. I'd rather be writing, or soaking a jacuzzi with silky bubble bath soothing my skin. Shoot sorry got a little lost in thought there. See what I have to deal with. Back to whining about filing out all these forms and numbers that start to blend together after a while.

Over the past few weeks I've learned a lot about what can and can't be written off (Good to know for next year). I've come up with a organizational system that will hopefully keep my from losing my mind next year.

Good luck to everyone out there.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How To Be A Likeable Writer

I’ve been writing for longer than I care to remember and if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s be a writer editors like. The publishing world might seem like a huge community, but it’s not. It’s tighter knit than you’d think. Word travels fast from one editor to another. So what qualities have I discovered can turn you into the editor’s darling? Here are my top five picks-

Be Dependable
Whether it’s freelance writing or books, publishing runs on tight deadlines. Miss one and you cost the editor sleepless nights and not to mention the publication money. Stick with deadlines no matter what. And I’d go so far to say that turn work in ahead of that deadline. If there’s a problem and the editor wants you to change something, you’ve got that extra time before the deadline’s staring you in the face.

Keep The Editor Up to Date
This quality goes hand in hand with the previous one. If you can’t meet your deadline, let the editor know ahead of time. Don’t wait for him or her to call asking where the manuscript is. If you’re having a problem with something or know you can’t get edits turned in on time, tell them and tell them early in the editing process. And ask questions if you’re not sure exactly what the editor wants. I’ve found if you have a problem and ask their advice you oftentimes get Brownie points for considering them as an expert who’s there to help.

Don’t Be A Prima Donna
This is a competitive business and word soon gets around who’s a problematic writer. Don’t let your bad reputation get in the way of making a sale to an editor who’s heard horror story about your temper tantrums.

Meet Them Half Way
There are going to be times when the editor and you don’t see eye to eye on something you’ve written. Look at it from their point of viewpoint before you talk to them. While you shouldn’t stay quiet about something you think the editor is being unreasonable about don’t argue just because you think you’re the writer, it’s your baby and that means you know best.

Be a Team Player
Think of your editor as you’re buddy. Their name’s going on your work too. They want to be as proud of the story or book as you are. Think of you both working together to make it the best project ever.

In a competitive business like writing, it’s not always the best writers who continually get published or have bylines in every magazine. It’s the ones who are reliable, always meet deadlines and get the reputation of being an easy person to work with.

Susan Palmquist is both a freelance writer and author. Her latest book, Sleeping With Fairies is published with Lyrical Press and a recent nominee for best book of the week at LASR. To find out more about Susan and her work visit

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Best Seller List and New Authors

Best Seller List

It seems every publisher has there own, as well as ebook and traditional book stores. then of course there the NY Best Seller list.

So with all these list out there an author has a lot to shoot for. The question buzzing around my brain is:

When do you rave about hitting the list?

In my opinoin hitting any best seller list is an accomplishment worth touting loud and clear. Not only is it great promotion, but hey you worked hard writing and polishing your story. Your publisher did their part to give you an eye catching cover, and great editor. So why not tell everyone when it's doing good. Why not take the small achievements and try to turn them into something huge?
So there you have it from the little bit confused, but very happy author hoping to see everyone on the Best Seller List.

Rita Sawyer
Giving You It All
Romance Passion Laughter

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's the nicest thing someone's ever done for you?

I've had a lot of nice things done for me, so hard to choose. I've had friends come over and care for me while very, very ill, including buying me groceries. Above and beyond!

Ask me anything

Who's the most talented person you know?

That's a tough one. Define "talent". And how can you possibly say one person's talent is greater than another's? And in what?

Ask me anything

Want to know more about me or my writing? Ask me anything!

Ever wanted to ask me a question about my writing or me in general? Ask me anything

Ever wanted to ask me a question about my writing or me in general? Ask me anything

The Lost Art of Eavesdropping

Wanted: Inquisitive person who keeps their ears and eyes open every day to possible story ideas.

Sound like you? Want to apply? Then congratulations, you’re a writer.

I’ve always found people and their conversations fascinating. (Okay, I’m just plain nosey). But since I’ve been a writer my inquisitiveness has become an asset and a great source of story ideas for both my fiction and non-fiction work.

Ideas are Everywhere
Stories and story ideas are out there everywhere, you just have to find them. Sometimes if you’re lucky, some will come looking for you.
Not that I’m going to turn the following conversation I overheard into a story, but for some writer it could have been perfect.

An Interesting Conversation
I was getting the oil changed in my car and sat in the waiting area reading all by myself for the first 10 minutes. Then a man, probably in his mid 30s, sat down. All was nice and quiet until his cell phone rang and the conversation started. I couldn’t figure out who he was chatting with but for the next 30 minutes he talked about the woman he’d been living with for the last two years and why he was going to walk out on her in two days time. The conversation continued with him saying he’d been unhappy for over a year and had plotted his ‘escape’ and had done his best to keep his true feelings and his abrupt exit a secret from her.

It’s a Story
My first thought was (other than why do people air their dirty laundry in public) for a writer there was a story here somewhere. For example-

For a romance writer, it could be he walks out but discovers he really can’t live without her after all.

For the mystery writer, she reacts badly, starts to attack him with a kitchen knife and he ends up killing her in self defense.

For the mainstream writer, he might get into a car accident on his way to telling her he’s leaving. He’s in a coma for the next two years while sits faithfully by his side without ever knowing what he’d plan to do to her.

It’s Easy These Days
And these days eavesdropping has got even easier. Back before cell phones you just had conversation between two people dining together. Now you have your pick of what cell phone conversation to key in on while you dine. So keep that notebook handy because you’ll never know what you’ll overhear.

Other Added Benefits
And eavesdropping has some other added benefits. It’s a great way to listen to natural dialogue. Listen to how real people talk. Can you make your characters sound like that?
And how about character traits and quirks? If you dare look their way while they’re revealing these intimate details, what are they doing as they speak. Twisting their hair or tapping their foot.
If you haven’t already guessed it, yes, I find people who speak on cell phones in restaurants and other public places really annoying. However, please don’t stop because some writer might use what they’ve overheard as the premise for their next book.

Susan Palmquist is a freelance writer and author. Her latest book, Sleeping with Fairies is published by Lyrical Press and received a five books review from Long and Short Reviews. She’s currently working on her next novel, a romantic suspense set in the Pacific Northwest. As well as blogging here, she also writes the Susan Palmquist Interviews blog at For more about Susan and her work, visit

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Romantic movies and what makes them good!

Personally, I like a romantic movie which isn't solely focused on the romance but is either a) more plot intensive and/or b) has paranormal, scifi, and/or fantasy elements. For that reason, Practical Magic is right up my alley. It has a happy ending, is about a family of witches, and I happen to like the main characters. The entire story draws me in from start to finish.

Having a happy ending is usually #1 on the criteria of most people when it comes to romantic books or movies. It's high on my own list and why I didn't like Titanic and don't plan to see nor read The Time Traveler's Wife.

What's your criteria for a good romance plot? Do you have a favorite romantic movie and if so, what?

Love & Magic,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Making Your Mark.

As an author you need to get your name out there and hopefully work up some recognition. This is something I've heard a lot.

Build that backlist. I've taken this to heart and am wokring hard to get this done.

Promote the best you can. This one isn't so easy.

So where does the new author find those chances.

Yahoo loops, but I'm not really sure how much exposure I'm getting.
I started my own blog, but again limited exposure at this point.
Social networking sites, Twitter, myspace, facebook. Got them all. Fun, but time consuming since I get sucked in by the games. (Yes, I'm addicted to Farmville)

My books have gotten some great reviews and I appreciated everyone. I do think this helps.

Conventions and get togethers seems like a good way to get out there, but they can be expensive.

So there it is my thoughts today in a nutshell. If you're up for it shout out your favorite promo ops.

Rita Sawyer
Giving You It All
Romance Passion Laughter

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Goal Making Time

It’s January which seems like the perfect time to focus on writing goals for the year. Every December I jot down what I hope to achieve in the months ahead.

Last year I hung a bulletin board (see photo above) in my office. I write the name of each writing project/goal on index cards and attach them to it.

I pin my ‘want to do’ on the left hand side and on the right, projects that are done and out there circulating. Some of the index cards contain titles of my WIPS. Many are carry-overs from the year before. Most are new projects I want to start and hopefully I’ll finish.

Did you set writing goals this year? Here are some tips that have worked for me.

Write Them Down
Just like me, get a bulletin board or at least a notebook and write down your goals. Make sure it’s somewhere close by so they’re always in view and a constant reminder of what you want to achieve.

Check Them Often
Make a note to look through your list on regular basis, mark it down on the calendar if you need to. That way you can track your progress.

Tell Others
Do you belong to a writer’s group? Have a critique partner? Even a non-writing spouse or friend who’s willing to help you? I’ve found if you share your goals with someone you’re more likely to stick with them. A side tip here, ask them to check on your progress and to make you accountable for getting them done.

Reward Yourself
Did you achieve one of your goals? If so, how are you rewarding yourself? A bar of chocolate, an evening at the cinema. Rewards, no matter how small can motivate you.

What Went Wrong?
Don’t count on failing but be prepared to readjust and reset your goals now and then. Why didn’t you achieve a goal, was it lack of time, lack of motivation? Did the plot seem to go nowhere? Sometimes just thinking about why something isn’t working is enough to get things in motion again.

Set A Deadline
For me, goals only work if they have a time limit. For example, I want to send my historical novella out to the first publisher by Feb 1st. Time limits give goals more urgency.

Susan Palmquist is a freelance writer and author of four novels. Her latest, Sleeping with Fairies was published in December by Lyrical Press. Susan has a monthly blog at Between the Pages, called Susan Palmquist Interviews. Find out more about her at

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bring in the new, out with the old!

What are some of the things you'd like to change or add for 2010?

How about some of the things you'd like to get rid of that you had back in 2009?

I have a long laundry list:

1) Finish Shadows of the Dark Moon, book 2 of the Dark Moon series, and Blood and Spice, Blood and Mint Chocolates' sequel.

2) Reorganize my bedroom and house. My workroom is also my bedroom and when it's cluttered I'm equally as scattered.

3) Get into better shape. It'll bring down my stress levels and make me feel better on the whole. I'll be getting back into yoga now that my work schedule is finalized.

4) Organize my personal time better, set up a writing schedule. I struggle with a very volatile primary career which has taken me out of writing for as much as months at a time. I can't operate like that anymore; it means getting big projects done doesn't happen.

What are some of your goals for the New Year?

Love & Magic,

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