31 March 2010

Editing tips, part five

National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo) is drawing to a close.  If you've been participating, you should be at nearly fifty hours of editing.  If not, there's still time to finish.  Throughout the course of the month, you've read about different editing tips: reading your story multiple times, getting outside reader opinions, reading your story aloud, and knowing your common mistakes.  With all the editing you have to do to a story, though, how do you know when you're done?


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28 March 2010

The fine print....

In honor of National Poetry month this April, I'm holding my first contest!  Here's how it works:

Send a submission of one of the following:

  • an original poem
  • a post (no more than 750 words) about writing poetry
  • a post (no more than 750 words) about reading/enjoying poetry
  • a post (no more than 750 words) about how poetry has changed your life

You may only send one entry no later than April 20th by sending it in the body of an email to me at coffeestainedblog (at) gmail (dot) com.  The subject line of the email should say BLOG SUBMISSION in it somewhere.  I will send a confirmation that the entry was received within 24 hours.  Submissions will be posted on the blog throughout April in the order in which they're received, exactly as formatted in the email.

You may comment on submissions as they appear, but voting will not begin until April 25th.  During the last six days of April, you may vote on your favorite submission (one vote per person, of course) by adding the comment "VOTE" to your choice.  If you vote more than once, I will count your first vote.  If you want to change your vote, you can email me with the subject line VOTE CHANGE.  In the email, give me the title of the post you're voting for.

I will tally the votes on May 1st, and announce the winner on the blog on May 2nd.  (The winner will also be notified via email.)

Now here's the part you're really waiting for: the fantabulous prize!

The winner of this spectacular poetic contest will receive this:


A set of three moleskine journals (5x8) with lined pages.

Perfect for continuing your poetic adventures beyond National Poetry Month.

You may begin sending submissions today, and the first submission will be posted on April 2nd (assuming it's received by then).  There will be only one submission posted per day, and I will add a sidebar with a running list of entries, and links to the posts.

Good luck, and happy scribbling!

27 March 2010

The Artist's Way check-in: week eight

  1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? (Have you been very tempted to abandon them?) How was the experience for you? I'm happy to say I did my morning pages every day this week!  Yay!  I haven't been tempted to abandon them.  In fact, I feel "off" if I don't do my morning pages.  It's always a good experience for me to do the morning pages.  And the more I do them, the more beneficial they seem to be to me.
  2. Did you do your artist date this week? (Have you been allowing workaholism or other commitments to sabotage this practice?) What did you do? How did it feel? Once again, I skipped the artist's date.  I don't know why, but this is something that's very hard for me to do.
  3. Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it? I didn't experience any synchronicity this week.
  4. Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant to your recovery? Describe them. The task about listing five things you aren't allowed to do (and then doing them on paper) was very helpful to me.  I was bottling up some unhappy emotions and holding onto some anger, and this task allowed me to vent what I was thinking/feeling, let go of it, and move on from it.  It was a great relief after that task.

ScriptFrenzy is easier with support from Orlando writers

ScriptFrenzy is nearly here, and while thousands of writers have already committed to writing 100 pages of script in 30 days, there are many of you who may still be nervous about this big, scary adventure.  After all, if  you've never written a script before, it can be an intimidating venture.  Fortunately, the ScriptFrenzy website offers a lot of support and information about script-writing to get  you ready for the month.

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23 March 2010

What's in a name?

I know the title I give my coffee house book isn't the be-all end-all of the book.  I know that it could easily be changed on the recommendation of an agent and/or publisher.  I know all this.

But I still want a title.

I think I'm tired of just calling it "the coffee house book."  Now that I'm making real progress on the writing, I want a title to reflect the work I'm putting in, and my excitement about the project.

So I'm opening the floor to suggestions.  What would you title a collection of vignettes linked by a coffee house and its owner?  (Note: the over-reaching arc of the book is following a typical day in the coffee house through all these voices.)

Floridian seasons, as observed by an Illinoisian

Jen over at Divinest Sense has a nice post up today about spring in Florida.  I started to comment on it, but my comment started sounding like its own post, so I decided to write over here so as not to clutter Jen's comment section with my rambling.

I am not a Florida native.  I was born in northern Illinois, and then followed my father all over the country during his years in the military.  When he got out of the Army, we settled back in Illinois.  I graduated high school in northern Illinois and college in central Illinois.  When people ask where I'm from, I tell them Illinois.  It's the state that feels most like home (outside of Florida).

Editing Tips, part four

Everyone makes mistakes in writing.  By editing, you correct those mistakes and help your story to be the best it can be.  You can read through your work, let others read it, and even read it aloud to edit your story.  But knowing yourself and your writing skills can be another good way to help your editing.


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22 March 2010

This Week's Task List

I have quite a bit to do this week in preparation for our Easter trip (we leave April 2), so the bulk of my task list is over on my personal blog.  But I do have some writerly things to do this week.

  • Continue working on the coffee house book
  • Continue rewriting Newly Wed (NaNo novel 2009)
  • Finalize prep for ScriptFrenzy
  • Continue working on the grant application
  • The Artist's Way tasks for week 8
    • Goal Search (#1)
    • Color Schemes (#3)
    • Things you're not allowed to do (#4)
    • Ideal Day (#6)
    • Ideal Ideal Day (#7)
  • Start looking for poems for National Poetry Month on the blog (that's right, folks! It's that time again!)

21 March 2010

Lenten Reflection and The Artist's Way

We're coming to the end of the Lenten season.  (Next week begins Holy Week!)

Lent is a time to really look at your life.  When you give something up, your intention should be to give something up (or add something, as I did) in order to strengthen your faith life and be a better person.  And that's what I've been doing.

Shortly before Lent, I started The Artist's Way.  It's a tool for creative people to become "unblocked," and shows creative people how important spirituality (not specifically Christianity) is to the creative life.  When I started it, I didn't really know what to expect.  I didn't think I was blocked.  I thought I had a strong faith/spirituality.

As the weeks progressed, though, I learned that I was blocked.  And I learned that, while my faith was good, it could've been quite a bit better.  I trusted the process and kept going.

As the weeks went on, my creativity was opened up.  I learned more about myself as a writer.  I found my niche.  My writing life has blossomed.  I learned more about myself as a woman of faith.  I grew stronger in my faith, which changed how I lived my life (in a good way).

This has been a good Lent for me.  I feel good about my life and where it's headed.

20 March 2010

The Artist's Way check-in: week seven

  1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? Have you allowed yourself to daydream a few creative risks? Are you coddling your artist child with childhood loves? I did my morning pages every day this week!  Yay!  In fact, today marks nineteen days in a row I've done my morning pages!  I'm so proud of myself!
  2. Did you do your artist date this week? Did you use it to take any risks? What did you do? How did it feel? I didn't do an artist date this week.  (Oops.)  Unfortunately, it was a bit of a crazy week.
  3. Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it? I didn't experience any synchronicity this week.
  4. Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them. This was a bit of a difficult week for me.  I think because most of the tasks were more abstract this week, and I'm really a paper-and-pen type of person.  Then again, even my morning pages seemed...off...this week.  I kept pushing through, though.  I trusted the process.

Local indie bookstore says goodbye

After nine successful years of contributing to the Orlando community, local independent bookstore UrbanThink! is closing its doors as of March 31, 2010.


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19 March 2010

Writing motivation

Many on-writers see the writer's life as one full of art, inspiration and beauty.  They see writers' minds as fountains of stories just waiting to be written down.  It's a glamorous vision of writers' lives, but writers know it isn't always like that.  In fact, there are many times that writing feels much less a dream job and much more work.  And when it's work, it's hard to find the motivation to keep at it.


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17 March 2010

16 March 2010

Editing Tips, part three

In part one of Editing Tips, you learned about one process for editing, which uses three passes of a story.  In part two, you learned the benefits of having others read your work.  This week, you'll learn the benefits of reading your story aloud.


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The freedom of knowing your niche

The process of The Artist's Way has been a very good one for me.  I won't say I've had thunder and lightning changes the way others do, but I have felt myself changing in quieter ways.  My spirituality and creativity are linked more closely, my faith is strengthened, and my writing life has been...clarified...to me.  I know what I'm going to write now.

I don't know that my writing path has a genre name the way some writers can declare Mystery or Young Adult or Speculative Fiction.  But it's what I'm going to write.  Let me explain my plan for the coffee house book.  (And if you steal my idea, I will hunt you down.  Fair warning.)

The coffee house book is a collection of vignettes that are threaded together by the owner of the coffee house and the coffee house itself.  Each vignette will reveal something about the owner, as well as something about the coffee house.

This is how I decided to set up the coffee house book some time ago, and it's what I've been working toward.  But an amazing, wonderful, scary thing happened this past week.  I got about seven additional project ideas that seem to go along with how I've set up the coffee house book.  (Looks like I know what I'm writing for the next seven years or so.)

When I first started getting the ideas, I was afraid it was my brain's attempt to sidetrack me from the coffee house book.  But something else strange happened.  As I was getting these ideas (and they were half-developing in my head), I was excited about them, but I didn't want to stop my current projects to jump into one of these new ones.  Instead, I wanted to finish the coffee house book so I could start the next one.

The ideas came because this is the way I'm supposed to be writing.  This is my niche.  And once I discovered it, my creativity opened up in the form of these ideas, and the progress I'm making on the coffee house book!

It's a wonderfully freeing feeling to know you're on the right path.



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Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My first contest!

The coffee-stained family is taking its first trip as a complete family soon!

We're going to spend Easter, and the week following, with my family.  It's going to be a great trip.  I haven't seen my family in quite some time.  I'm looking forward to spending time with them.

That said, the coffee-stained blog will be left to its own devices for the week.  I will have a few posts going up which will be links from Examiner.  But I'd like to take this opportunity to open the floor to some of my readers.

This time around, though, we have a theme.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have an idea.  See, April is National Poetry Month.  It's a month that celebrates that poetry is ignored 11 months out of the year.  And I love celebrating poetry during April.  So I would love if anyone who wants to contribute would send one of the following:

  • an original poem
  • a post about writing poetry (a poem about writing poetry would be even better!)
  • a post about reading/enjoying poetry (a poem about reading/enjoying poetry would be even better!)
  • a post about how poetry has changed your life (a poem about how poetry has changed your life would be even better!)
Anyone who wants to send something can, and I'll put a few up for that week.  Anyone whose piece is not posted during the first week of April needn't worry.  I will be using all the pieces I receive throughout the month.

But wait!  There's more!

We'll also be picking a "fan favorite" piece at the end of the month.  Throughout the month, be sure to read the pieces that are posted.  Then, at the end of the month, you'll vote on the guest pieces (you only get one vote) by posting a comment on the piece.  Whoever wins the fan favorite contest will get a fantabulous prize to be announced at a later date.

So start thinking about your contribution, and when April gets a little closer, I'll divulge all the details about the contest and prize.

Happy scribbling!

15 March 2010

This Week's Task List

  • Cardiology appointment (Tuesday afternoon)
  • Continue working on the coffee house book
  • Continue working on Newly Wed
  • Continue working on grant application
  • The Artist's Way week seven tasks
    • Mantra task
    • Album task
    • Sacred space task
    • Collage task
    • Favorite films task
    • Reading topics task
    • Collage place task

14 March 2010

What is ScriptFrenzy?

Back in November, Orlando writers, as well as thousands of writers all over the world, sat down at their computers and took on the adventure of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.  Next month, thousands of writers all over the world will once again get creative and undertake a new challenge: ScriptFrenzy.


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The Artist's Way check-in: week six

  1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? (Have you used them yet to think about creative luxury for yourself?) How was the experience for you? I did my morning pages every day this week! (Hoorah!)  Actually, I've done my morning pages for twelve days in a row!  I'm very proud of myself for that.  It was a good experience for me, and I've found the content in my morning pages is changing.  It's no longer quite so... complain-y.
  2. Did you do your artist date this week? (Have you considered allowing yourself two?) What did you do? How did it feel? I did have an artist's date this week.  And I used it to take a much-needed nap!  It felt wonderful!
  3. Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it? I did experience synchronicity this week.  And, once again, it has to do with something personal, so I'm not going to share here.  Sorry!
  4. Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.  I had a breakthrough in terms of my writing this week.  I've discovered my fiction niche, which has really freed my creativity.  Not only am I making a lot of progress on the coffee house book, but I have ideas lined up for post-coffee house writing.  Yay!

11 March 2010

Spring cleaning your portfolio

The weather is finally warming up in central Florida!  With the temperatures finally creeping back up to "normal" Floridian weather, people are starting to think about spring.  And with thoughts of spring often come thoughts of spring cleaning.  As you're going through cabinets, drawers, and closets to clean your home for spring, you should take a look at your writing portfolio, as well.


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10 March 2010

Remember the coffee house book?

Yeah, I'm still writing it.

It's going a little slower than I would like, but it's starting to pick up.  I'm hoping to get back on schedule soon so I can still meet my (self-imposed) deadline.

I've been spending some time working on Newly Wed, which is the updated title to Pondered, which was the project name given to the rewrite of my NaNo 2009 novel.  I'll still be working on that rewrite since NaNo winners get a free proof copy of their book, but that's more of a souvenir thing.  If I don't get it done, it'll be okay.  Ultimately, the coffee house book is my priority project.

The great thing about the coffee house book is that it's revealed my writing niche.  I have ideas for future books that are similar to the coffee house book (in format), and instead of wanting to set aside the coffee house book to work on these new ideas, I want to finish the coffee house book and then work on these new ideas.  They all kind of fit in together, which is fun.

The good news for my writing is that I'm taking a trip the week of Easter, so I'm hoping to be able to get some writing done while I'm gone.  Yes, I know it'll be crazy; I'm taking a week-long trip with a seven-month old.  But if nothing else, I can try to do a little writing during the long drive from central Florida to central Illinois.

If my writing continues to pick up, I may even have something worth sending to readers next month!


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Image: Ian Kahn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

09 March 2010

Editing Tips, part two

You know it's important to edit your work, even if self-editing is difficult for you.  After all, you want to make your story (or article or poem) the best it can be.  But sometimes, no matter how many times you go through your writing, you could miss errors or mistakes.  Since you spend so much time working on your stories, you can become too close to them, and that's where the problem arises.


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10 on Tuesday: reasons I love spring cleaning

  1. It has to get done.
  2. It's a reminder that St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner!
  3. It's a great way to get away from writing for a little while if you're feeling stuck or blocked.
  4. You find things you'd forgotten you lost.
  5. You can implement your plan for being all nice and organized (and pretend it'll stick).
  6. Everything looks shiny* once you're done.
  7. It's an excuse to get Hubby to do some chores he's been avoiding.
  8. It means the weather is warming up! Yay!
  9. It's a reminder that I get to see my family soon!
  10. You feel good afterward, knowing that everything is clean and put away and organized.
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*Oh, how I wish I had Firefly on DVD.  I guess I'll have to settle for watching Jayne on NBC.†


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†Could the writers get him to say "gorram" just once?  Let's be honest...he's basically the same character in both shows, anyway.

07 March 2010

The Artist's Date

Yesterday afternoon I went out for a late lunch with a friend, Shannon, who is also going through The Artist's Way.  (We're on the same week.)

It was so fun!

We met at a great little cafe called Dandelion Communitea Cafe.  It's organic, vegan- and celiac-friendly, and locally owned/operated.  The atmosphere is great; I can't wait to go back!  The food was delicious, too!

It was very nice to get away for a few hours.  I spent good time with a friend, didn't worry about Bean (he was spending some quality time with Hubby), and just relaxed for a while.  We talked about writing, life, the universe, and everything.  I'm so glad to have met Shannon in person, and I'm looking forward to spending more time with her.

Yesterday was a very good day.

The Artist's Way check-in: week five

  1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? Are you starting to like them--at all? How was the experience for you? Have you discovered the page-and-a-half truth point yet? Many of us find that pay dirt in our writing occurs after a page and a half of vamping. I did my morning pages five out of seven days this week. I do enjoy them, actually. And I'm finding that if I don't do the morning pages, I feel different and out of sorts for the day. I have discovered the page-and-a-half truth point, and it was weird. When I read this question, I looked back through my morning pages and found that many, many days included some sort of emotional/spiritual revelation or breakthrough about a page and a half into the morning pages.
  2. Did you do your artist date this week? Have you had the experience of hearing answers during this leisure time? What did you do for your date? How did it feel? Have you taken an artist date yet that really felt adventurous? I had such a great artist date this week! I met with a friend who's also doing The Artist's Way for a late lunch. We talked about writing and life and everything, and it was wonderful to get away for a little while, to not worry about what I should have been doing and just enjoy being where I was for the moment.
  3. Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it? Try inaugurating a conversation on synchronicity with your friends. I have experienced synchronicity. This week was a significant experience, actually, but it's of a private matter, so I won't share it here. I think, for some people, synchronicity is easier to see and believe than for others. I find it easy to see and believe.
  4. Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them. I'm beginning to learn who I am and what I want now, and I've realized I don't have to apologize for that or feel guilty for wanting to take care of myself or spoil myself every now and then. I think it's helping me realize that I am important, and that my creativity is important.

04 March 2010

Your library is more than books

When you think of your local public library, probably the first thing that comes to mind is getting to read books for free. And it's true that the library has lots of books to offer members of the community, but that's not all it has for you.


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02 March 2010

Sunshine Award!

Meika of Waiting on the Muse was kind enough to give me the Sunshine Award!  The award is given to bloggers whose "contagious positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging universe."  I feel so honored to get this award!  I write more for myself than anything else sometimes, so I'm glad people are getting something out of it.  Thanks so much, Meika!

Here are the rules of this award.

  1. Put the logo on the blog within your post.
  2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers.
  3. Link the nominees within your post.
  4. Let the nominees know they have received the award by commenting on their blogs.
  5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

So here are 12 people whose blogs I read that are positive and creative and make me happy:

  1. Lerin of Beautiful Chaos
  2. CMerie of Catholic Wife and Mother
  3. Diane of At Least Three
  4. Janice of After the Artist's Way
  5. Kell of Welcome to Earth
  6. Abi Ruth of Little Pockets of Joy
  7. Angie of For The Rest. Of Our. Lives.
  8. Jen of Harried Mom of Four
  9. Shannon B. Chenoweth
  10. Natalie of Between Fact and Fiction
  11. ViolinMama of A Rosey Outlook on Life
  12. Cam of A Woman's Place...
Congratulations, bloggers, and thanks for being my sunshine!

10 on Tuesday: things I usually have to edit in my writing

In honor of National Novel Editing Month, I present the following:

  1. Adverb overuse
  2. Unnecessary descriptions of what's going on
  3. "Talking heads"
  4. Noun-pronoun agreement (yes, I'm guilty of using "they" and "their" when I shouldn't)
  5. Long sentences (sometimes I ramble)
  6. Repetition
  7. Rough scene transitions
  8. Cliches
  9. Things I think are funny that actually aren't
  10. Too many line breaks (to show a change in scene, passage of time, etc.)

01 March 2010

Editing Tips, part one

March first is the first day of National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo), a month-long adventure in novel editing. Just as NaNoWriMo shows writers they have the time to write a novel by writing 50,000 words in one month, NaNoEdMo shows writers and editors they have the time to edit their work by editing 50 hours in one month.


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This Week's Task List

  • Continue working on the coffee house book
  • Continue working on To Be Married (formerly Pondered)
  • Continue working on the writing grant (due in October)
  • The Artist's Way tasks for week five
    • Grievances task
    • Image File task
    • Imaginary Lives task
    • Twenty with money task
    • Sixty-five with money task
    • Mean to self task
    • Ten items task
    • Creative block task
    • Payoff task
    • Person to blame task
  • Update website