/*from pinterest*/
Debra Dixon:  Goal, Motivation & Conflict

Debra Dixon: Goal, Motivation & Conflict

Debra Dixon, author of GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT is coming to Calgary, Alberta, Canada on May 2, 2015 and I’m already signed up for the workshop.

This is my underlined, stick-it-noted, well-read copy of her book.

It was back in 2002 when I first heard Debra Dixon speak. I still remember that workshop, presented by the Alberta Romance Writers Association, otherwise known as ARWA.

That Friday night when she arrived, we immediately learned something about setting.  

Alberta writers would never think of meeting someone outside the airport. You wait inside, right? That’s normal, isn’t it? It could be minus 30 out there. Who would ever wait outside at the airport?

Someone from Memphis, Tennessee.

Finding Deb Dixon at the airport on that Friday night was an example of romance writers creating a comedy of errors. But Jenn, diligently walking around with her sign, eventually found our speaker, and the Board took her out to dinner.

The next morning, I remember arriving about 8:30 to a room bubbling with conversation. The day was packed with information, much of the format was lecture and a good portion was “interactive”. We created the GMC chart for Sarah, the rebellious debutante in a Western. The trick with the exercise was to try it outside of our usual genre.  

The GMC chart can be used to create a new story, to tweak an existing one, or to find out why you’re stalled. And it’s also useful for that query letter or editor interview. I believe GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT is one of the most important books you will ever put in your writing library.  

We had such a good time that day and I can still remember going out for dinner after the workshop.

Trish and I walked into Madison’s at 5:15. It was a Saturday night. The maitre d’ looked a little worried when we said we had about 10 to 15 people coming over.  And no, we didn’t have a reservation.

But she quickly sorted things out and found us a long table where we could all sit together. I told her we were the ARWA group.  

“ARWA?” The maitre d’ clearly had not heard of us.

I spelled it out  for her.

The waiter also looked a little confused. Trish told him, “We’re writers.” And then she quickly added, “But we have money!”

The service was excellent, the food was high cal and the talk was flowing. I was still trying to come up with my Dominant Impression for my heroine. So was Donna Wickens. We were making notes on the napkins. The waiter brought more napkins.  

I love these post workshop debriefings. The chairs around Deb Dixon kept getting new people in them as writers came to her with their specific questions. This lady is like the energizer bunny. She just doesn’t stop. Finally at 9 pm, twelve hours after our official workshop start, we called it a day.

And now the Calgary Association of the RWA is presenting a Deb Dixon workshop. I have a chance to hear her speak again, to reinforce what I know and to fill in the blanks for what I don’t know. And, besides that, I get to spend some quality time with writers.

Here are the details.

Date: Saturday, May 2, 2015
9 am: Registration and light continental breakfast
10 am: Workshop starts
Noon: Buffet lunch
5 pm: Workshop ends

Buy your ticket here. Tickets will be on sale until April 24th.

If you’re a writer and you live in or near Calgary, I hope you will join me at the workshop.

One more thing:

Register by March 31st and your name will go in a draw for a 25-page critique by Deb Dixon.
Good luck!

Fourth Blogiversary

Fourth Blogiversary

I’ve been blogging weekly since March 5, 2011, and this is my 210th post. That’s four years of Tuesday Café blog posts.

My very first post was on a Saturday, but the second one was on a Tuesday. That’s why I started calling my blog Tuesday Café. I know that doesn’t make much sense, but I wanted a name—something other than “Suzanne’s Blog”—and there you have it.

Now I’ve decided I’m not going to be as structured. I’ll probably still blog weekly, but it doesn’t have to be on a Tuesday. And I’m renaming the blog, The Chimes Café—a name I got from a café in one of my Story Worlds.

Four years ago, I was only beginning this writing journey. I’ve learned a bit since then and I want to share some of that with you now.

Ten Things I’ve Learned Along The Way

1. Be committed
It’s not gonna happen magically. There are no elves that sit down at my keyboard and do it while I sleep. I need to show up. Ninety percent of anything is showing up. We’ve all heard the “10% inspiration, 90% perspiration” rule. So set some kind of schedule and stick to it.just type

2. Be realistic
I can’t commit to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s hard to commit to 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. Some weeks it’s just not going to happen. But that’s no reason to throw in the towel. I will keep coming back, until the current book is done. And then I will start the next one.

3. Be prepared
I know for sure that writing “The End” is only the beginning. Then there’s the editing, the proofing, the formatting, the cover choices, the quest for reviews. All of it takes longer than you thought it would.

4. Stay hydrateddrink lots of water
Having water bottles in the middle of the hall reminds me to take sips all day long.

5. Stay flexible
Do a cobra stretch every hour to avoid Hunched-Over-Keyboard Syndrome.

stay flexible

6. Treat yourself
Have a cupcake. Have a cupcake with a candle on it. Celebrate something. Every one thousand words needs a cupcake.delicious treats

7. Have a writing buddy
Report your word count daily. This does not have to be elaborate. Keep it simple. Something like this:

Subject line: report
Body of email: 129 words

8. Go for long walks, alone
long walks neededGive the muse a break.
Breathe in the fresh air.
If it’s raining, carry an umbrella.
If the sidewalks are icy where you live, go skiing.

9. Have fun
Sure, writing is a business, but it needs to be fun if you’re going to stay in it for the long haul. If you don’t enjoy those long, lonely hours at the keyboard, do something else. Take up knitting, or learn French, or try skydiving.

try sky diving

10. Begin
It takes a long time to learn the Craft, and you’ll always be learning it. Part of the learning is the apprenticeship. You learn by doing.

Many writers think they need to read one more craft book, need to take one more course. But reading craft books does not equal writing. You’re already good enough. Start writing. Practice. It’s not set in stone. It can always be edited later.

Do you have any writing tips you’d like to pass along?
What do you think of The Chimes Café for a blog name?
Do you like cupcakes? With candles?
Do you let your candles burn all the way down to the icing?

Cupcake from iStockphoto.com #000012620129
keyboard from iStockphoto.com #000007155263
water bottle from iStockphoto.com #000007155263
yoga cobra from bigstockphoto.com #7947064
lots of cupcakes from photos.com #114302447
long walk from photos.com #137398544
skydiving from iStockphoto.com #000016403632
pen from iStockphoto.com #000014549265

A New Book, A New Mug

A New Book, A New Mug

Every time I write a new book, I get myself a new mug.

Each book will involve numerous cups of coffee or tea and it’s important to have the right mug to humour the Muse.

This is the current mug. I got it while I was visiting Ontario last October at a pottery place called Pinecroft.

The Muse also enjoys teatime at Pinecroft.
time for teaAnd walking around the grounds.
the grounds at PinecroftAdmiring the leaves is also very useful for inspiration.
autumn leavesKissing the frog has been known to help the Muse.
kissing the frogBut the surest way to inspire the Muse is tea with friends.
tea with friendsWith this new mug and all the inspiration attached to it, the new book should be out by October. Wish me luck!




Writing Down The Bones

Writing Down The Bones

This is one of my favourite books on writing. I bought this copy in 1995. It was originally published in 1986 and there are updated versions since then. It’s the kind of book you reread and reread.

In WRITING DOWN THE BONES, Natalie Goldberg has presented the work as a series of vignettes, each two or three pages long. Some are only a half page. They are all powerful and concise. Whenever I need motivation for my writing, I randomly flip open the book and listen to what she has to say. Sometimes I get lost in her essays for an hour or more. Sometimes I do the exercises she suggests. I always close the book feeling inspired.

In an earlier blog entry, I describe one of her writing exercises here.

Some of the chapters I have circled in the Table of Contents are

  • First Thoughts
  • Living Twice
  • Writing Is Not a McDonald’s Hamburger
  • Blue Lipstick and a Cigarette Hanging Out Your Mouth
  • One Plus One Equals a Mercedes-Benz

I’ve underlined and stick-it noted my way through the pages and I don’t lend this book to anyone. If you’d like your own copy, you can most likely find it at your library or buy it here.

Now, I’m going to make a cup of tea and get lost in this book for the rest of the afternoon.

NaNo Inspirations

NaNo Inspirations

I continue to struggle through National Novel Writing Month, with not very much success. Oh well. At least there are words on the page. Not a lot of them, but more than I started with.

A few motivational lines that sometimes get me started.

Inspiration exists but it has to find you working. —Picasso

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. —Gustave Flaubert

It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward. —Old Chinese Proverb

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God. —Sidney Sheldon

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. —Mark Twain

Another secret is having sufficient prompts. Like these:

And always remember: he who hesitates is not only lost but miles from the next exit.

cupcake rose from depositphotos #3235106
cupcakes from photos.com #114302447
Earl Grey from istockphotos.com #09447849
brownie from photos.com #92264610
mint tea from photos.com #153469650
fruit from Rolf, latte from Suzanne