Monday, September 29, 2014

Versatile Bloggers

by Kim Van Sickler

It all started here:
Thanks to SittieCates for the award! Check out her other recipients here:

And now for the rules. 
1. Thank the person who nominated you with a link back to them. (See above.)
2. Tell 7 things about yourself. (See below.)
3. Pass this award to 15 newly discovered blogs and let them know that they have received the Versatile Blogger Award.

Seven Things About Myself

1.      I self-published my debut novel, Snatched in Gullybrook in August 2014, and by September I was presenting a copy of my book to the author of The Whistleblower after her presentation at Miami University, and selling copies of my book at a sex trafficking conference at the University of Toledo.

2.      I’ve been a hard-core Girl Scout volunteer for the past ten years, and just this week was offered (and accepted) a paying job with Girl Scouts.

3.      In 2014, my second marriage almost fell apart. But my husband has always been my best friend and we are still together.

4.      I love to exercise. Spinning, yoga, weights, hiking, biking. If I don’t exercise every day I get squirrely.

5.      The outdoors speaks to me. My happiest times are communing with nature.

6.      When I was a teenager, I had an unhealthy compulsion to eat when I was unhappy. Stuffing my face with sweets felt great as they were going down, horrible afterwards. My first brush with addiction.

7.      As much as I love exercise, I am also a bit of a klutz and have had two torn ACLs repaired from two different falls while downhill skiing, as well as part of my elbow replaced from a bike accident. I have had four major biking accidents involving either flying over my handlebars or being hit by cars.

My Fifteen Awardees

Fifteen is a lot of winners! But here are fifteen blogs that I've recently discovered (that is a relative term, isn't it?) and truly enjoy for their eclectic and entertaining content.
1. Beverly Stowe McClure over at The Story of a Writer  
2. Fundy Blue at Standing into Danger 
4. S.K. Mayhew, Kid Lit Writer at Random Writings of my Random Thoughts 
6. Journey with Choki G. A Journey that Awaits the Last Breath
7. Christina Wiley at Juggling Real Food and Real Life
8. Hilary Melton-Butcher at Positive Letters…inspirational stories… 
9. Michael Di Gesu. In Time 
11. Cathy Olliffe-Webster. Cold Lake Cathy 
12. Jennifer Chandler. The Cup & Page 
13. Coming Down the Mountain. Expat Writer Living Abroad 
14. Robyn Alan Engel’s blog: Life by Chocolate 

 Now to notify my multifaceted, multitalented recipients... 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Underrated Treasures Blogfest: Good things come in three's?

by Kim Van Sickler

Alex Cavanaugh piqued my interest with this blogfest, based on a book, movie, band/artist, or show that we love, but you may not have ever heard of before.

I thought of my example right away.

Next blogfest

I think it's a combination of the cinematography (my first view of the Greek island of Santorini, a place I just HAD to visit, and did, about 15 years after first seeing this movie.)

The naughty topic:
Ménage à trois with beautiful people, including Daryl Hanna.

And my first real consideration of whether a threesome relationship is realistic, healthy, and practical. (Final analysis: No, no, and no.) Exciting, but a total fantasy...

Like Caddyshack, Animal House, Dirty Dancing, Flashdance, and Love Actually, this is a movie that's fun to watch again every so often. For the scenery, for the simple yet entertaining story-line, for the fantastical concept of people falling in love and enjoying one another without jealousy tearing them apart.

Has anyone else seen this movie? If so, did the premise intrigue you as much as it did a barely post-teen me?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Writing from the Perspective of the Opposite Gender

by Melissa Kline

This is always an interesting topic and one that I probably get asked about the most as a writer of fiction from both male and female point of views.

Nearly half of my fiction is written from the male perspective. I can’t say that there was a grand a-,ha moment in my writing journey that provoked it, or that I intentionally set out to tackle the male mind. For me, the male voice flowed naturally into my consciousness with the idea of a new book. Granted, my early male characters are a bit on the girly side, though my practice improved over time.
When I was a teen I read many books written from the male perspective like The OutsidersThe Giver and Hatchet. I was drawn to the masculine voices within these books. I believe they helped me form a connection to the masculine side of my writing.

Although my process is mostly organic, I do have a few tactics to share that may help with this craft.

Don't get intimidated by gender. Think of your character as a “blank slate” per se.  When it comes down to it, we are simply writing about human beings. Everyone has emotions, feelings, experiences, talents, etc. What makes our characters who they are is how they react to these situations.  Strip your character down to the basics and look at who they are as a human being.

Add quirks, idiosyncrasies, mannerisms, traits and peculiarities that make them who they are. Male, female or otherwise, every character should have a well-developed voice and personality. While you are developing your character, add in trademarks that make them unique. This may help define more of those gender-driven traits.

Listen to dialogue from the opposite sex. Expose yourself to media, movies, books and television that star people who remind you of your character or the character you want to develop. How does he/she respond or react in various situations? Study the difference between genders and what makes them different.

Interview your character. This is a great way of getting inside the mind of any character. Come up with some basic interview questions or find a list of generic ones online and literally interview your character. Do your best to embody them as you answer the questions. What drives them? What are their “favorites”? What are they afraid of? You’ll be surprised at how much is revealed with this exercise.

Visualize and create.  If you’re struggling to understand what makes your character tick, try a different strategy: create! Make a vision board with images from magazines, printings, etc. of your character and their hobbies. What colors do they like? What are they into? What do they look like? If you’re a visual person, this can be very helpful.

How do you feel about writing from the perspective of the opposite gender? Is it difficult or easy? I’d love to hear your thoughts! J

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

In June, my editor sent me a copy of my novel LIKE A RIVER to make a “first pass” to check for mistakes. There have been galleys and three more passes since then.

It has been a chance to see how the book’s design will appear on the page, how elements from the cover have been carried over onto the dedication page, the chapter titles, and even into the pages of the book. I think the designer has done an amazing job.
Cover artist for Kathy's book is Christopher Silas Neal
This was also a chance to view the book as a reader. I have always looked at it as a writer, and to some degree, I still do. But in the months since it went through copy editing, I have worked on a subsequent novel. My focus has been on new characters and new events. Even a different time period.

So I was seeing LIKE A RIVER through refreshed eyes. I was introduced to characters and followed their story. Yes, they are characters I invented and I wrote their story, but I was able to separate the reader part of me from the writer part of me. I have never quite done that before with my own work. It was an interesting experience, as though I was seeing these sentences for the first time.

Of course, I did know how the story ends. The element of surprise wasn’t there for me, so maybe it was more like reading a book for the second time.

Now I have put it aside and gone back to the new characters from the different time period. Soon it will be time for other readers to pick up LIKE A RIVER for the very first time. I hope they will enjoy it enough to want to read it a second time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Looking for serenity

by Kim Van Sickler
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I was living with blinders on. At the same time I was blissfully content with my life, someone in my family was battling demons. Demons that threatened to tear my family apart.

I didn't have a clue.

Suddenly my schedule and assumptions and future plans were as substantial as week-old party balloons.

And as anyone who has weathered a personal crisis knows, sometimes you feel like you're staring into one of those distorted mirrors in an amusement park funhouse.

It's pointless to wish things back to the way they were. I've got to make the best of my here and now and weather on. Get used to the total lack of predictability in my life and learn to live day by day.

Learn to live the meaning of the Serenity Prayer:

Learn to really appreciate and never take my family for granted again. 

Stare those insecurities down and vow not to let the uncertainty diminish my resolve to live a meaningful life.

I may have had my legs knocked out from under me, but that doesn't mean I'll never walk again. 

I will. I might even run.