Tag Archives: writing

The Best or The Worst Critique; What Was Yours?

The Best or The Worst Critique; What Was Yours?

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

When I started writing at a very young age, I did it for myself because I had something I wanted to say. I never thought about getting published or who might want to read my stories. I just knew I loved to write.

Looking back at that time, I didn’t have a fear of being laughed at or criticized at least not until someone said, “I thought you had a better imagination than that”. Those words were spoken by my older sister, who is nine years older than I am, after I foolishly let her read a short story I had written. I was fifteen.

I put that short story away and didn’t look at it again for many years, but those words echoed in my brain for a long time whenever I was writing and I’d feel that same squeezing pain in my heart and wonder if I could ever be good enough.

I continued to write back then though, but my readers consisted only of my close friends, who I knew would love my stories, because they usually had the leading roles.

Of course I finally grew up and would write sometimes, but with a husband, three growing daughters, a full time job as a short order cook and livestock and gardening, I didn’t have much time or energy for much writing. But as the saying goes, “Nothing ever stays the same”.

Our daughters grew up too and finally moved out of the house. I still work full time, but now I work in an office that allows me to use my free time for whatever I want. We no longer have livestock, but we do still garden. I just don’t freeze and “can” produce as much as I used to.

By the time 2008 rolled around, we had six grandkids and I began thinking about writing a story for the two oldest granddaughters. They both loved to read, but then while reading a storybook to two of my grandsons, I suddenly saw something in my grandkids I hadn’t seen in anyone in many years; a safe audience. I could count on them to like what I wrote and not criticize.

I pulled out my old stories. I hadn’t read any of them in years and now I could see how lame they were. As for the story I had my sister read, well it wasn’t the gem I had thought it was all those years ago. My reaction wasn’t even as nice as what my sister had said to me. I didn’t know why I felt that way. I just knew they sucked and I needed help.

I decided right then, I had to write a story all the grandkids would love, starring the feral mother of five new kittens we found in the woodpile a few weeks before. I already thought of a title, “Wild and Free”.

But first, I had to take a writing class and boy did it open my eyes. I had the answer to why my sister thought I had no imagination and why I knew all the stories I had written as a kid sucked.

I had made the same mistakes almost all new writers make. I used a lot of dreams and the protagonist’s memories to fill in back story I felt my readers needed to know. But in the story my sister read, I had made the biggest mistake of all, I had my protagonist wake up and realize the entire story had only been a nightmare.

At the time, I thought it was clever and original and maybe it was when the first few hundred writers used a dream to end their stories back when they first invented the alphabet, but even in 1965, an ending like that was pretty lame.

All the new knowledge about “how” to write led me on a new mission. I wanted to fix the mistakes I had made in that short story my sister read. I worked on it for over two years. The story grew from a short story, to a young adult paranormal/mystery novel. The story changed so much it doesn’t resemble the original at all. The title, “Nightmares” and the fact my protagonist has nightmares are the only things I didn’t change. In fact I can guarantee Emily the protagonist, will not wake up and find she’s only had a nightmare.

Muse It Up Publishing will release my book “Nightmares” in May 2013. I’ve started working on the sequel.

I look back now and realize, even though it hurt, my sister did me a huge favor by telling me what she really thought. It was something I needed to hear. It’s true she could have done it in a kinder way. I’m still grateful though because it turned out to be the worst and the best critique ever for me. It sparked the motivation to take those writing classes forty-six years later just so I could finally prove her wrong and write a great story for my grandkids.

 

 My grandkids benefited too. In the picture above, all six of them received the story “Wild and Free” for Christmas that year. It has pictures of the real animals the story is about and there are pictures of them in it too. They loved it or at least that’s what they said. Now I have two more grandkids. I guess it’s time for a new story for them.How about you, what was the best and/or worst thing someone has said about your writing?As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

My facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

My facebook profile page is http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

Twitter is http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

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Are We Ever Too Old

I thought they were cute and just wanted to share.

Are We Ever Too Old?

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

Back in 2008 when I seriously began writing, I wondered if I was too old too make a career out of writing at my age? And then I thought who cares? I mean I’m not talking about endangering anyone with words. It’s not like I asked, am I too old to drive? (I’m not just so you know.)

The only people I plan on hurting are the characters in my stories and they expect it. I wouldn’t want to disappoint any of them by not writing the story my characters want told. I had to learn this the hard way, just like most of the things I’ve learned in my life. Nothing ever comes easy for me it seems.

Anyway, I once was going to write a story for an assignment in a writing class I was taking. The story was going to be about an elderly lady who felt she didn’t have a reason to keep living. She’d outlived all of her family and friends. She felt useless and life held no meaning for her. Then a little girl moved in next-door who reminded her of someone from her past.

The story I planned to write would be told from the old women’s point of view. When I described this story to my instructor, he said he didn’t think it would work. He said I should use the little girl as the point of view character. He thought the ten year old should learn something from the old lady and not the other way around. He even gave me suggestions on how to do it.

I was disappointed, but he was the instructor and I had always tried to follow the instructor’s advice, even when I didn’t agree with it. After all, he was the published author and if he said it wouldn’t work, well…I was just learning and I wanted something people would believe and enjoy. So I started writing it his way.

I must have started over a dozen times. The story just wasn’t working. I needed to be in the head of the old lady, not the little girl. After several days of working on the story with no progress, I came to realize the characters were trying to tell me something. So I went with my instincts and wrote it the way I had planned in the beginning. When I emailed it to him, I apologized for not doing it his way and then I waited.

When I received the edited manuscript a couple of weeks later, I was afraid to read his letter. But this is what he wrote: “I’m really glad you ignored my advice! This is a very poignant story and a very well told one. You make the Casey-Betty encounter work perfectly, both artistically and logically. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

I was ecstatic. I was so glad my characters had made me listen to what they wanted. After all it’s the character’s story, not mine. I won’t make that mistake again. On the other hand, maybe I’m getting senile enough, my imagination is…well…imagining things. Of course, isn’t that what fiction is?

So do writers get too old to write? What do you think? Do you listen to your characters?

If I’ve picked your interest at all in reading A Reason Too Live, it will be available online at:

Page & Spine: fiction showcase – The Front Page later this fall. But please, don’t wait till then to check out their website. They have a lot of great stories waiting to be read.

An Update: On Saturday August 11, 2012 I received an email from Muse It Up Publishing. They want to publish my manuscript NIGHTMARES. Of course I said yes and signed the contract. I’m waiting to hear if they will change the title. The publisher has the right to change it if they feel another title would work better. A tentative release date is set for May 2013. I will be sure to update again as soon as I get any more news.

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, follow, or Tweet.

My Facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

My young adult short story Trapped was chosen as one of nine winners in The Young Adult Mystery Times Nine 2012 Short Story Competition. The list of the nine winning authors and their story titles can be viewed at: (13) Buddhapuss Ink LLC    Click on “see more” to view the entire list. The winning stories will be published together sometime in September or October. I will update then.

My first adult short story, Saving Katie has been published at: www.thepinkchameleon.com a free magazine. Once on the site, scroll down the page until you see Short Stories. Click on that and the list of short stories will appear. Find “Saving Katie”.

Some of my work can be found online: My children’s story Pack Leader can be found at: www.knowonder.com also a free magazine. Once on the site type in the title of the story in the Search Engine at the top of the page and it will take you to the story.

I also have a children’s story, The Golden Stallion online at: www.storiesthatlift.com. This too is a free magazine. Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories. There is a Search Engine on this site also.

In May 2012, my children’s story, Gus’ Big Adventure was published at: Bumples Magazine. http://www.bumples.com/  A subscription is required to read these stories, but if you have children between the ages of 4-10, it might be worth it. It’s a very entertaining website.

When To Say “I Made It”

Some days it only looks like rain

When To Say “I Made It”

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

Are you a writer? What do you write; fiction or non-fiction? Do you write for small children, middle grade/teenagers/young adults or adults? What genres do you write?

If you are a writer, then you know how much there is to learn before we can call ourselves writers and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever measure up. Sometimes, I wonder if I should have stopped writing a long time ago. Would it have made my life easier?

What does it really take to be a writer anyway?

My main goal as a writer has always been to be as good a writer as possible. But how do I accomplish that? How do I know for sure when I’ve arrived? There are so many rules in writing, how am I supposed to learn and remember them all when I have trouble remembering when to use “to” and “too” and what the heck is a dangling participle anyway? Am I fooling myself into believing I can turn this writing dream into reality? Will people want to read my stories and encourage others to read them? Is being a writer worth all the trouble and the heartache?

The truth is No one knows. (That answers all the questions, but the one about dangling participles; there are people out there who do know and can explain it. Now if I could only remember…)

Anyway, just ask anyone. Ask a dozen different writers at various stages in their writing careers and you’re going to get a dozen different answers. Why? Because the answer is different for everyone and the answers come at various stages in each individual’s career.

For an example, one writer may feel they’ve “made it” when they publish their first piece. Someone else my feel they’ve made it only after they’ve sold that one manuscript that had been rejected twenty-seven times, even though they’ve published several others. Some writers, even after publishing several best selling books, may still be waiting for that moment when they know they’ve “made it”.

I was told at a young age that I had a natural talent to write, but when I started writing seriously, I realized something. Natural talent, for most of us normal humans, isn’t enough.

There are several things writing experts agree on, one of them, and maybe the most important, is to continue to learn and grow as a writer. How do you do that?

Well, some say by taking writing courses either online or in a classroom setting. Continue to read the types of books you want to write. Step out of your comfort zone and stretch your imagination by reading and writing various genres. Short stories are a good way to begin. If they’re bad no one has to see them, but it will help you to grow as a writer.

Study the books you read and really enjoyed. How did the author of that book draw you, the reader, in? And of course continue to write. It doesn’t matter what you write, only that you do it and do it often, everyday if possible. Start a blog and read and comment on other peoples blogs. You’ll be glad you did.

I haven’t made it yet, but someday in the near future I hope to be able to say “I made it.”

An update: When I started this blog post, I was waiting to hear from Muse It Up Publishing about my novel manuscript I sent them. On Saturday August 11, 2012 I received an email from them. They want to publish my novel. I’m not ready to say “I made it” but now I really do have hope that I will.

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address or where you can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter I will like, follow you, or Tweet so I can thank you.

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

I was recently chosen as one of nine winners in The Young Adult Mystery Times Nine 2012 Short Story Competition. The list of the nine winning authors and their story titles can be viewed at: (13) Buddhapuss Ink LLC    Click on “see more” to view the entire list. The winning stories will be published together sometime in September or October. I will update you then.

My first adult short story, “Saving Katie” has been published at: www.thepinkchameleon.com a free magazine. Once on the site, scroll down the page until you see Short Stories. Click on that and the list of short stories will appear. Find “Saving Katie”.

Some of my work can be found online: My children’s story “Pack Leader” can be found at: www.knowonder.com also a free magazine. Once on the site type in the title of the story in the Search Engine at the top of the page and it will take you to the story.

I also have a children’s story, “The Golden Stallion” online at: www.storiesthatlift.com. This too is a free magazine. Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories. There is a Search Engine on this site also.

In May 2012, my children’s story, “Gus’ Big Adventure” was published at: Bumples Magazine. http://www.bumples.com/  A subscription is required to read these stories, but if you have children between the ages of 4-10, it might be worth it. It’s a very entertaining website.

Claim This As Your Motto: Let It Be Me

Become everything that God wants you to be. It is within your reach!

Claim This As Your Motto: Let It Be Me

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

What do these three things have in common with writing: Taekwondo, Weight Watchers and Mary Kay Cosmetics? If you’ve read my bio, then you know I became a third degree black belt in Songahm Taekwondo at the age of 58. During my years of training and teaching Taekwondo, there were several recurring themes for students and teachers alike and I soon learned that was also true for Mary Kay and Weight Watchers.

For Taekwondo:  Commit to goals, Keep promises, Persevere through challenges, Honor those who surround you and Be loyal

For Weight Watchers: Set goals, Stay motivated, Make smart choices, Learn the program, and Learn to overcome obstacles

For Mary Kay Cosmetics: Set goals, Follow the Golden Rule, Pursue your dreams, Enthusiasm propels you forward to meet challenges and Have a “sharing and caring” attitude

Do you see the similar theme running throughout all of these as I did? Each set was designed to educate, encourage, motivate and overcome challenges. When the leaders talked about reaching goals, they would often ask, “What is your dream? Where do you want to be in five or ten years?”

My answer for Taekwondo was easy. I wanted to be a black belt and an instructor. The answer for Weight Watchers was also easy; I wanted to lose 40 pounds. But when it came to Mary Kay Cosmetics I wasn’t sure and I didn’t quite know why.

During my training for Taekwondo I set goals, persevered through the challenges, reached my goals, set new ones and kept my promises to myself never to give up. I honored those around me by showing respect, helping in whatever way I could and by doing this I brought not only honor, but also loyalty to the dojo and sensei. I worked hard and I am a black belt.

During those years of learning Taekwondo, I also needed to lose weight and I wanted to be sure I was as healthy as possible. I wasn’t getting any younger, you know. Taekwondo is a great exercise, but for me it wasn’t enough to lose all the weight I needed too.

Weight Watchers moved in next door to the dojo and I thought why not give it a whirl? So I joined. I began hearing a very familiar theme from the first day I attended, “set goals and with hard work and perseverance you’ll realize your dream.”

I already knew how to set goals and I knew it took work to reach them. I already understood I had to keep learning. The only difference now was instead of learning forms and free sparing; I needed to learn how to be a Weight Watcher.

Instead of breaking boards and side kicks, I needed to learn how to make smart choices, stay motivated and how to overcome obstacles in real life situations. I had to learn about nutrition and diet and exercise and how they go hand in hand with one another. Diet and nutrition without exercise or exercise without diet and nutrition, just doesn’t work for me.

After two years and oh so many obstacles and ups and downs, I had lost forty-five pounds. I worked hard, reached my goals and I am a Weight Watcher.

My oldest daughter introduced me to Mary Kay Cosmetics. She convinced me and my youngest daughter to join her in Mary Kay. I loved the product and I enjoyed the other women who attended the meetings and by selling it, I received a discounted price. So I was hooked and now I was hearing the same familiar tune of set goals, follow the golden rule, pursue your dreams, enthusiasm propels you forward to meet challenges and have a “sharing and caring” attitude.

The recurring theme of “Pursue your dream” first with Taekwondo and then with Weight Watchers and now with Mary Kay, always made me think of writing. When I was young that was my dream, but life got in my way and I thought I had missed my chance so I would push it out of my mind. I told myself I wasn’t any good at it anyway and no one would want to read anything I wrote. I told myself I was too old and I’d die before I ever got anything into print.

So whenever I heard someone say pursue your dreams (you hear it a lot more at Mary Kay meetings and seminars than you do anywhere else) I would ignore the hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach and continued pursuing my goals in Mary Kay. I thought I could make enough money to quit my day job, set my own hours and still have time to write. But even though I loved the product and the people and Mary Kay Ash is someone I wish I could have known (she passed away in 2001), my heart wasn’t in it.

I didn’t need to quit my day job to be able to write and as it turned out, it was Mary Kay Ash who convinced me I should pursue my real dream.

I was watching a special on TV about her life and they showed her talking on stage to a huge audience at a seminar in DallasTX. These were her words:

“Do you know that within your power lies every step you ever dreamed of stepping and within your power lies every joy you ever dreamed of seeing? Within yourself lies everything you ever dreamed of being. Become everything that God wants you to be. It is within your reach. Dare to grow into your dreams and claim this as your motto: Let it be me.”

Of course she was talking about Mary Kay and becoming an Independent National Sales Director and earning a free pink Cadillac, but that’s not what I thought about when I heard those words. My head said, don’t be a fool, but my heart was screaming be a writer.

I still am a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, but I don’t pursue it the way many do. I love and use the product and I know a few ladies who use it too. I put an order in once in awhile, just enough to stay active.

I’m also still a member of Songahm Taekwondo, although I no longer teach. I’m also a member of Weight Watchers, but instead of attending meetings. I attend online.

In my heart, I’m grateful to all three for everything I’ve learned. I don’t believe I’d be pursuing my dream today if I hadn’t been part of each one of them. Everything I’ve learned about pursuing writing as a career, I’ve already learned from Taekwondo, Weight Watchers and Mary Kay, well everything that is except how to show don’t tell.

When I need a dose of encouragement or want to tell someone about my newest writing project, I turn to the Internet and go where the writer’s are, in blogs, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and a dozen other sites. There’s no shortage of good advice, words of encouragement and best of all when I see the words “Pursue your Dreams” I can say, “I’ve worked hard and I am a writer.”

How about you? Are you pursuing your dream? Have you always had the same dream? How did you decide what your dream would be?

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address or where you can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter I will like, follow you, or Tweet in return.

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

I was recently chosen as one of nine winners in The Young Adult Mystery Times Nine 2012 Short Story Competition. The list of the nine winning authors and their story titles can be viewed at: (13) Buddhapuss Ink LLC    Click on “see more” to view the entire list. The winning stories will be published together sometime in September or October. I will update you then.

My first adult short story, “Saving Katie” has been published at: www.thepinkchameleon.com a free magazine. Once on the site, scroll down the page until you see Short Stories. Click on that and the list of short stories will appear. Find “Saving Katie”.

Some of my work can be found online: My children’s story “Pack Leader” can be found at: www.knowonder.com also a free magazine. Once on the site type in the title of the story in the Search Engine at the top of the page and it will take you to the story.

I also have a children’s story, “The Golden Stallion” online at: www.storiesthatlift.com. This too is a free magazine. Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories. There is a Search Engine on this site also.

In May 2012, my children’s story, “Gus’ Big Adventure” was published at: Bumples Magazine. http://www.bumples.com/  A subscription is required to read these stories, but if you have children between the ages of 4-10, it might be worth it.

The Choices We Make

We All Are Tested

It takes practice to achieve our dreams, no matter what they are.

The Choices We Make

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

Recently I read a blog by Martina McGowan, a Gynecologist by profession. She says she’s “not a minister (yet), or a philosopher or even a teacher, but she likes reaching out to others and helping them. She’s mentored, supported and coached people for over 30 years. She’s been a lifelong learner, a student of the Bible, as well as a seeker of knowledge, wisdom, and truth.” If she sounds like someone who could inspire you, check out her name.

She inspired me to write this blog about her message and to share it and pass it on to others. How many of us have a little voice in our heads that ridicule us and tell us we should stop striving to reach our dreams because we aren’t going to make it. Why do we listen to that voice when it’s trying to sabotage us? It’s because most of us harbor some kind of fear. So what are we afraid of? Is it fear of failing to succeed or is it fear of succeeding or something else or a combination of several fears? To fight and win against any fear, we must first examine what it is and why we fear it?

If we’re afraid of failure, and we will fail sometimes, then people will shake their heads and laugh at us. We all know someone who likes to rub failure in. You meet them unexpectedly at the store. “Hey, Donna, I hear you’ve written a book. When’s it being published?” they ask with a smirk.

That’s when the little voice, my inner critic, begins to scream in my ear. “You know no one is going to publish that thing you wrote. You’re just not good enough. She knows it and so do you.”

But what if we succeed. Our lives will change forever…a lot. More pressure will be heaped on our shoulders and more will be expected of us. We’ll need to build a platform and brand our name on the Internet, if we haven’t done it already. There will be interviews, book signings, public speaking, and so much more. It can be scary stuff, especially if you’re like me and prefer to keep yourself and your life private.

I finally figured out, my fear is actually, a combination of both fear of failure and fear of success with a dose of feeling of being unworthy and undeserving of reaching my dreams.

“You’re a nobody,” my inner critic whispers. “Why would anyone want to read or publish anything you write?” And suppose I get that best seller, then what? I have to ask myself if I’m good enough to do it again and again? And my inner critic whispers, “No way, you’re a one hit wonder.”

If you’ve read my “about” page then you know I’m a third degree blackbelt in Songahm Taekwondo. When I first began martial art training, I was doing it for myself, I had no intention of becoming a leader. All I expected to get out of the classes was to be capable of protecting myself and get into great physical condition.

But early in my journey of becoming a blackbelt, I realized, the further I advanced in Taekwondo, the more was expected of me. It wasn’t just in the discipline and sparring, but also as a leader. The more I grew in knowledge and power, the more others expected from me. I soon found myself, out there on the floor with the other leaders, teaching kids and adults the things I had learned.

Did my inner critic leave me alone? No, every time I stepped into the dojo, I had to remind myself that I was worthy of teaching. I had earned it. The mantra that kept me going then is the same one that keeps me writing today. A very wise man, Eternal Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee, passed away in 2000, but he once said, “Today not possible. Tomorrow possible.”

I understood his words to mean; when first beginning to train as a white belt, you probably couldn’t kick as high or perform with the same speed and strength as a black belt. But with the proper training and hours of practice you soon find it is possible to break a board with a jump front kick or land that round kick to your sparring partners head.

Hours are spent training and learning a martial art. As a writer we also must spend hours learning about the written word and the life that goes with it. The more we write, the more we learn and the better our writing becomes and in time, if we keep striving for our dream, we’ll see the success we have worked for. We will have earned it.

It’s all in the choices we make. We can let that inner critic stop us or we can apply what we have learned. That same lesson can be applied to anyone’s dream whether it’s writing, training in the martial arts, or seeking your dream job in corporateAmerica.

Will our inner critic shut up once we’ve realized our dream? No, he’ll always be there, trying to get us to stop, to stay safe and hidden inside ourselves, trying to protect us from disappointment and rejection. That is a truth we can’t escape because that inner critic is part of us. We can silence him only temporarily.

So, what is your dream? Is it landing that dream-job promotion or becoming a best selling author, or maybe it’s something else entirely. If we let our “inner critic” rule us, as Martina McGowan so eloquently put it, “it can bring our bright futures to a screeching halt”.

As always, I appreciate your opinions or questions. Whether you are a writer or just enjoy the written word, please, leave a comment and allow me to find your words, so I can learn what has inspired you. It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

Some of my work can be found online: Here’s a direct link to my children’s story “Pack Leader” at Knowonder Magazine. http://www.knowonder.com/2011/11/03/pack-leader-short-bedtime-stories/

I also have a children’s story, “The Golden Stallion” online at www.storiesthatlift.com. Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories

In May, my children’s story, “Gus’ Big Adventure” will be published at Bumples Magazine. http://www.bumples.com/

In June my first adult short story, “Saving Katie” will be published at www.thepinkchameleon.com.

A Little About Me

A Little About Me

By Donna Jean McDunn

This is my first entry in my new blog. My goal is to blog at least once a week. I’m going to choose Thursdays for now, until I figure out what day is best. So please check back on Thursday. As you can see from the name of my blog, I’m Donna Jean McDunn and I write fiction. I write short stories for children and adults and maybe the occasional essay. I’ve recently finished writing a paranormal novel for teens (no, it’s not about vampires, it’s about ghosts and psychics and a serial killer in training).

As a child, my older sister and my mom used to read to me, so I grew up loving books. I couldn’t wait to go to school and learn to read and write and before long, I began to dream of becoming a writer. I started out like so many others, writing stories for my friends to read. The stories were always about us, me and my four best friends. Of course they loved them. Who wouldn’t? They were the stars in the stories. But I knew, deep down, the stories really sucked.

Many years went by and during that time, every once in awhile, I’d pull out my paper and pen and write, but gradually that became less and less until one day I woke up, and I was a grandma. (It really did seem like it happened that fast.)

It was June 2008 and I heard my biological, writer’s clock ticking. I realized if I was ever going to be a writer, I needed to begin now. I thought I’d start with a story for my grandchildren (at that time there were six, now there are eight). My first idea was to use one of my old stories, so I pulled them out…and laughed. I couldn’t give such horrible stuff to my grandkids.

I needed to learn to write for real. I decided to take a writing course. That first writer’s course was the beginning of a long and wonderful journey. Since then I have completed two other courses and I’m in the process of completing number four. I now have several short stories I’m proud of, a teen novel, the beginnings of another novel for women’s fiction and I’ve started planning another teen novel. I’ve also learned a lot from reading books and exploring websites about the do’s and don’ts of writing life. On the Internet, one of my favorite places to hang out is with Kristen Lamb www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com where I found the books “We Are Not Alone The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer”. They helped me create this blog.

From that first writing course, I found I had a lot to learn about accepting criticism with a smile. I believe this is what really held me back all those years ago. The first few times my instructor told me to rewrite my story and “show, don’t tell” I cried and then I got angry. My stories are my babies. I care about the characters and listening to someone say I’ve done something to hurt my baby…well it’s very hard to accept, but accept it, I had to, if I ever expected to be published. And I wanted that more than anything, so I did as she asked.

It made my stories so much better and I couldn’t begin to thank her enough. Editors have no time to worry about a writer’s feelings or care about a writer who refuses to change what needs to be changed. There are plenty of writers out there who will do whatever the editor asks of them without question. So, if I was ever going to have a prayer of being published, I had to be professional and treat my writing as a business, not my child. It’s critical to continue reading, writing and learning, as much as possible about writing, and the life that goes with it. That’s why at least one critique partner is important and writing courses are a must. They both helped to toughen me up and get me ready to submit and deal with editors in the real writing world.

Rejections are another part of writing that’s hard to accept. I began sending children’s and adult short stories out to online sights and print magazines. I’ve gotten a ton of rejections and I’ve saved every single one. My head said it wasn’t personal. Nevertheless, my heart was still broken. But, I kept submitting and eventually I had a couple of short stories for children published.

Here’s a direct link to my story “Pack Leader” at Knowonder Magazine. http://www.knowonder.com/2011/11/03/pack-leader-short-bedtime-stories/

I also have a story, “The Golden Stallion” online at www.storiesthatlift.com. (Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories).

In June I’ll have my first adult short story, “Saving Katie” published at www.thepinkchameleon.com.

Short stories are fun to write and writing for children is even more fun, but I wanted more. That’s why two of the classes I took were designed to teach me how to shape, write and sell novels. I will be submitting my YA paranormal novel to publishers soon. I’ll be sure to keep everyone informed.

In the other novel class designed to teach writing for adults, I’m learning how to write women’s fiction with a little romance, mystery and stalkers added in for flavor. I’ll let you know what happens with it too.

You may be wondering if I ever wrote that book for my grandkids and the answer is a yes. The story is about a stray mama cat (Belle) and our big red dog (Little Red) and how the two of them became friends. Belle produced several kittens before I was able to capture her (feral cats are smart). I finally managed to trap her and the kittens to get them all spay and neutered. I even used real pictures of the animals and the grandkids in the story. They loved it (the kids, not the cats). But like I told my oldest granddaughter when she asked me if it was a true story, she was twelve at the time, I said, “I write fiction. The story was based on real animals and people, but Little Red never rescued Belle from the creek across the road.” How about you? Are you a writer or a reader or maybe both, like me? I will reply to anyone who comments. How else could I get to know you?