Writers Helping Writers

Last Saturday, my good friend Victorine Lieske and I had the opportunity to speak to the Omaha chapter of the National League of Pen Women. They bought us lunch, we met some very nice women and saw a couple of friends from other writing connections we have. And, as always with writers, we had good conversation and plenty of laughs. You can read all about the history of the National League of American Pen Women at their website: NLAPW.org.

I love speaking at events with Victorine because she’s a writing, marketing, ebook guru known all over the country. She sells books in her sleep! So, it’s pretty cool she lets me come along and share the floor.

I know not to talk about writing or marketing because I’m just a beginner learning the ropes. But I can talk about the importance of critique to work a book and make yourself accountable to your readers. I can also talk about networking.

Here’s what Connie Spittler, the group’s current president, had to say about my portion of the program. “Gina Barlean’s main and best points. As friends, we can give each other free publicity.” It’s a simple premise. Just common sense—one thing this country girl has, at least on occasion. I like to break things down into language we can all embrace. I try to do that in my book, Build a Writing Team. In that book, I talk about networking. It’s a word that can simply translate into, be a friend to each other.

  • I’ll promote you and you promote me.
  • I’ll support you, you support me.
  • I’ll help you and you help me.

Sorry to take the mystery out of it. If you want people to help you out, help them out. If you want people to be nice to you, be nice to them. Let’s combine our talents and see where it takes us.

What I pointed out to the NLPW was that women already have this skill perfected. Those who are successful do this for each other from the time they’re very young. They rally behind each other and build each other up. So I thought it was pretty neat to find out the organization’s original goal was,“mutual aid, advice, and future development” for each other and their careers. 

Interestingly enough, the Nebraska Writers Guild also had women writers of the era—Aldrich, Cather, Sandoz. And their history is quoted to say among their goals was, “…to foster the development of the talent of those who desire to write and who show definite possibilities of authorship.” Similar era, similar women, similar thoughts. Pretty cool, I think. Essentially, they encourage women authors to help each other out, and to support and give advice to other writers.

I guess our foremothers had this networking thing figured out long before we ever did. It’s true. There really is nothing new under the sun. Funny, though, how our world wants to put new names and spins on what the past already knew so well.

Great Blog Posts

Scatter brained seems to be my mental state as of late. I really don’t know how I juggled life when I was young. I never even had to think about it. Just like I never had to think about dieting or being in shape, or how I would ever get everything done. Nope. Never crossed my mind. I just did it. Now, ooh, la, la… I need lists, and then notes to remind me of where I put my lists!

This leads me to my blog posts. At least 20 times a day I think of awesome ideas for blog posts! Do I remember them when I sit down to actually write the blog? Heavens no. It’s a totally blank page up there in my noggin. Not a clue what that amazing idea I had in the shower was. No recollection of the epiphany I had in church or during a session at conference. So, you, my poor readers, get a half-assed jumble of shinola. Woe is you.

I decided to do some blog reading today in hopes of either remembering or getting a fresh idea for a blog post. I found that other people must still be able to think, so I’m going to share their posts with you. They did a bang up job! I think all of their ideas are well worth reading.

Brian Crouse wrote a wonderful blog about gratitude today. I love to practice gratitude. The older I get, the more lucky I know I am. I like that he considers gratitude a super power.  Suspending Belief

Then I read a post by Charrissa Stastny.  She always sees the bright side and shows us the beauty in the world. She’s the kind of person I want to always be around. I’ve never met her in person, but just reading her blog makes me happy every time! Joy in the Moments

My friend Becky Breed took me back to childhood with this article about road trips. Boy, it was just like being there. Everyone has these kinds of memories. And aren’t memories a kind of trip in themselves?! Write in Community

Carrie Reuben and I have been following each other’s blogs for a few years now. Today she wrote about when writers use big words. She makes me laugh, and think. Both of which do me good. The Write Transition

The other blog post I read this morning was Faith Colbourn’s. She talks about how nurturing each other can actually affect our DNA. I believe it. Kindness is key. Prairie Wind Press

I hope you’ll check out all of these blogs. I read them because I respect these people and I find what they have to say to be intelligent and of value. I think you will, too.


A few things in the old brain today.

IMG_0306My first thought is about my poor cat, Poppit, who is, quite probably as I type this, having his little testicles removed by the vet. He’s going to be so angry with me when he gets home from the vet. I hope a nice can of cat food will help him forget. Yes. I will be doing my best to pamper a feline later today.

The next thought I’m entertaining is about France. I’m going there in a month. I’m excited. I’m 588px-Regions_de_França.svgnervous. I’m scared. But mostly, I can’t even begin to imagine any of it. I think it’s going to be surreal.  I need to figure out what clothes to take and I must read up on different facts about the country so I’m not completely ignorant. I’m blessed to be going with two friends who both speak French. As long as I keep my mouth shut, I might not embarrass myself too much. Note the words, “might” and “too much.” This leaves some wiggle room.

10374448_10152816308736454_3968303323509060046_nAnother thought is because I’m going to France I’m going to miss my niece’s high school graduation, and that is very sad. Miss Molly is precious to me and it really bites that this trip fell at the same time as her graduation. Both of these things are once in a lifetime events. So, I need ideas for an amazing present for this special girl. I’ll take her out to lunch the week before I leave so I can celebrate her special day.

Last on my mind is the hug-fest I attended last weekend. It was actually a writing conference, but IMG_080311139418_10152833292632143_1179165526800934718_nseriously, these people are like family to me. Yes, I learned things about writing and marketing, but the big bonus was that I reconnected with such incredibly interesting people and met a few new writers I hadn’t known before. I learned some things, too, but really, I feel like the main thing I walked away with is knowing I have found my tribe… my place in the world. I love chatting and learning and laughing with these fine friends of mine. Some of them are older than me, some younger, most smarter, but all of those I call friends touch a very special place in my heart. It doesn’t get too much better than that.


Tell Me About Your Book

I hear this all the time:

“Tell me about your book!!”

  • First of all, I’m a writer because I’m not really very good at summing things up quickly. I need about 50,000 words to make a point.
  • Secondly, I’m writer because I don’t really like to talk.
  • Although I have ideas to express, the notion of people looking at me while I express them, makes me panic.
  • But there’s another really good reason it’s difficult for a writer to give a short description about their books. It’s because an author’s book is like their baby.
  • If someone were to ask a parent to sum up everything about their child in a few minutes, the parent would probably have a hard time encapsulating the entire personality and character of their son or daughter.
  • The kind of things a parent or author might say if they were pressed are, “They’re nice! They have a big heart! They’re smart!”
  • But unlike parents of actual children, Authors want you to buy their babies.

So this idea of a book being an author’s baby will help me explain the writing process, which is another question I often hear: “How do you write a book?”

First comes the gestation period which all happens in our minds:

  • The author comes up with the idea for a book.
  • We think about who the characters will be.
  • We come up with the issue the characters will need to solve.
  • We decide where the story will take place.
  • Then, just like giving birth to a baby, we birth our books.
  • The difference is the delivery process is the actual writing the book.
  • When we finish the book, it’s like the first time we hold our new baby. We love it, and stare at it, and think it’s wonderful and amazing, and a miracle.
  • But we don’t really see our baby like other people see it. We love our baby no matter what.
  • But a relative might come over to see the baby and leave thinking, “That’s a funny looking baby!” or “Man, that baby is fussy!” or “I can’t believe they let that baby have a pacifier.”
  • So although you love that baby like only a parent can, you have to step back and raise it properly.
  • It’s the same with a book. We have to see our story through the eyes of many readers to make sure it makes sense.
  • We need to answer questions like, does it flow, is it believable, is it well written and properly formatted, is the cover the best it can be?
  • I’ve learned it takes teamwork to make a great book.
  • Critique groups, and beta readers, editors, and cover designers.
  • When the book can pass all of these stages, just like a young adult passes all of their classes in high school, then the book can then go to college — the editor, then on to the real world — the reading public.

 One important thing I’ve learned is, The time to publish a book is not when it’s done, but when it’s GOOD! I’m still working on making the next book in the Rosewood series good enough to join the real world. Thanks for your patience.

I’m still working on making the next book in the Rosewood series good enough to join the real world. Thanks for your patience.