Showing posts with label Karen Robbins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Karen Robbins. Show all posts

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Journal of Life.

Do you keep a journal? Journaling is one of those things that I toy with now and then. I used to be a diary-keeper when I was a teen and young adult but life got busy with five kids and I fell out of the habit. Now, with all the writing I do I find that I have a kaleidoscopic journal that is in colorful pieces here and there. I keep a blog and journal on many of my trips. We're in the habit of making a photo book when we get home of our best pictures.

Here and there in my writing I am influenced by my grandchildren. Usually it is because they have provided a good laugh. Case in point: One night we got a 1-800-Grandma call from our oldest grandson, Tyler. It went something like this:

"Tee-hee. Grandma? Can you come and give my Daddy a spanking? Tee-hee-hee."

"A spanking? Why? What's Daddy doing?"

"Well, he's your son and he keeps teasing me."

"Yes, he's my son, but what's he doing?"

"He flipped me with his sock. And it smelled, Grandma! Tee-hee-hee."

"Tyler, is this a 1-800-Grandma call?"

"A what?"

"Never mind. But if your Daddy needs a spanking, you better call 1-800-Grandpa."

Guess I still subscribe to the just-wait-until-your-father-gets-home threat. Tee-hee-hee.

And then there was the time when Kotomi, who was about four, walked up to Cinderella at the Disney World Castle and asked, “So, where’s the prince?”

I could go on but then I’d just be taking advantage of your listening ear—or make that reading eye. The point is that these are precious memories worth noting somewhere because along the way, they are often forgotten and too soon these little people will be grown up with little people of their own. What fun to be able to share the memories of their young lives with each other and their parents who may not have the time to write it down. And what a precious treasure for the future generations.

Journals come in all sizes, shapes, and price-points. When I was younger, I used a diary with the lock that had a one-key-fit-all to open it. Then I advanced to a seventy-nine cent spiral notebook when I figured out anyone could get into the locked diary.

Whatever type of journal you may choose, a clothbound fancy parchment-papered book with a raffia ribbon or a spiral notebook, put it in a place where you will see it often and remember to record those warm fuzzy moments with grands. And even if they aren’t so fuzzy, it may help you to see them in a different light. A journal is a map of a journey. Not necessarily where you are going but where you have been. It’s nice to look back once in a while.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I've been going through some old files trying to clean up and reorganize my computer. Trust me, it's worse than spring cleaning! But I have run across some interesting essays and vignettes of life that I've written and scattered about in my computer's memory. Here's one from 2007 that might bring a smile to those of you who have a speaking ministry as well as writing.


A few months ago I contracted to speak at a ladies retreat in a nearby state. Since it was a five hour drive and my husband has “semi-retired,” he offered to drive me to the campgrounds where the retreat was being held. It was a beautiful spring day and we had a wonderful trip.
            As we pulled into the campgrounds, we noticed a huge building in the middle of it. I thought perhaps it was a large indoor gymnasium or track and field house and wondered at the organization that could afford such facilities.
As we got out of the car, I asked someone where registration was.
“In the tabernacle,” she said and pointed in the direction of the large building.
Tabernacle? In the process of planning, I never thought to ask how many women might be in attendance. My experience had been with groups of 100-150 and I assumed this would be the same.
I opened the door to an auditorium with seating for 2,000. The stage that stretched across the front was bigger than my backyard. I gulped, composed myself, and walked forward to introduce myself to the organizer of the retreat.
            “So,” I said after we got acquainted, “you never mentioned how many you expected.”
            I held my breath.
            She looked around the room and replied, “Oh, about a hundred, I think.”

            “That’s a nice number,” I replied and turned to look at my husband who was still standing in awe at the door thinking his wife was going to address 2,000 women. I let him down gently.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Setting The Scene

Are you a reader? I am. I don't think there are many writers who weren't readers first. I read about a book a week and keep a list from year to year because, let's face it age aside, I never can remember all the books I"ve read except for the ones that really stood out like Gone With The Wind.

An interesting thing happened to me as I was reading John Grisham's Sycamore Row last week. I was reading more for pleasure than anything else but suddenly something got my attention. I think I actually heard a click in my head. It was when Grisham moved his story from one scene to another. There was hazy light filtering through blinds and with the obvious break from one scene to another, my brain decided it was morning and I was expecting the characters to be rising from their bed. But then he hit me with something that made me realize it was afternoon. I can't remember what right now--should have marked it. In my head the picture he had painted with words suddenly shifted. I adjusted but it did something to the continuity of my read.

It reminded me that I need to go back and see if my shifts from one scene to another are such that there is continuity. That my reader can easily place herself there not only in physical surroundings but in time. What sounds, sights, smells will lead her to picture in her mind the scene I'm creating without drawing it specifically in words. My job is not to confuse but to allow my reader to intuit the scene in her head, to create a picture that my words have painted.

How about you? What kind of tools do you use to produce scenes? How do you keep those descriptions from detracting from the story? Does your reading of others' books improve your writing?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

God's Sense of Humor

I'm not typing much these days. A broken wrist has slowed me down. But here's something from the past I can copy and paste:

This week has been a bottom-in-the-chair-fingers-on-the-keyboard kind of week. While it has been said that you should write the first draft of your novel straight through to the end without looking back and editing, I find that the editor in me keeps wanting to fix what I've just written. I go back and find the -ing words and make them stronger action verbs, eliminate the unnecessary -ly words, and see if there isn't a better way to say something without a "was" or "were" in the sentence. It all takes time and slows the process but it's a tough habit to break.

While I was praying one day this week during devotion time, I found myself editing my words. I wanted to make them just right. Habits tend to invade other areas of life. When I realized what I was doing, I stopped. For just an instant, I thought I heard a chuckle. God must have enjoyed my discovery. After all He is Father, and as children of His, I'm sure we contribute much to his laughter.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Careful Or You'll End Up In My Novel

That's what my T-shirt reads that was given me by my nieces who also came up with a pair of sweatshirts for my husband and I that are Christmas themed. One says "Nice", the other "Naughty." While my T-shirt warns those around me to be wary of my observing them, I usually don't wear it when I am truly people watching. And people watching helps develop my characters.

Sitting in a restaurant the other night, I noticed two women sharing a plated dinner (the servings were huge so I could understand why). They didn't appear to be a couple, maybe just girlfriends out for dinner. Then I heard one say something about Dad being worried and I guessed sisters. The one who looked just a bit younger was listening to the other and in her body language, I could tell she was nervous or uptight about something. I wondered why I perceived that.

I studied them a bit more and decided that the young blonde was sitting a bit stiffly with her hands stuck between her knees under the table as if her hands might give away her nerves. She was also slightly hunched at the shoulder. Perhaps it was the posture of one who's been lectured by an older sibling before. I could not detect any animosity in her expression. Either she was good at hiding it or there was none--just nerves about what was being revealed.

How would I put this into words if I needed to? I began to run the words in my head that fit my observations. Looking for more things that would convey to a reader what I was observing. After that exercise,  I could begin to project all sorts of ideas of what they could be talking about. Plotting a step mother's demise? Working for two different government agencies and suddenly discovering a cover up in one? Or maybe one was planning a wedding for the other?

Please don't tell my husband that I'm working while we're out to dinner. He thinks I'm just enjoying a night out--and I am. Just not in the same way he might think I am.

Do you people watch to gain insights into characters? There is lots to be gleaned.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Oh, Those Writers of Classics!

On our drive to South Florida to escape the cold North, we listened to a couple of audio books. It was a good example of how you can ruin a good story with a poor reader. Both books were read by women which was appropriate since the protagonists in both stories were women. The second book we listened to had a reader who read very slowly and dramatically--melodramatically almost as it came to the scenes that were suspenseful. When the tension built, she seemed to read even slower. I wanted to yell, "Get on with it already!"

The first book we listened to was very interesting. The Paris Wife by Paula McClain was fiction based on the relationship of Ernest Hemingway with his first wife, Hadley Richardson. They moved to Paris after they were married because it was the place where all the authors and artists were congregating. Stein, Fitzgerald, and a slew of others who were the breakout authors of the day gathered together and partied and wrote and argued over the right way to write. It reminded me of the film out a couple of years ago called Midnight in Paris and the visit we made to a place in Paris called the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. The bookstore was originally run by a lady who allowed the now famous writers to use the upstairs rooms for their writing.

During those years, there was a lot of absinthe consumed. (Absinthe was the alcoholic drink of the times and was about 140 proof.) After about the tenth time the story mentioned drinking absinthe my husband chuckled. "Maybe you need to drink some."

Uh, I don't think so. One drink and I would be out cold. And I'm definitely no party animal. I do however enjoy gathering with my ACFW fellow writers. That's enough partying for me. And ice tea works just fine.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

IN A PICKLE by Karen Robbins -- Featured on Spotlight Saturday

Today's SPOTLIGHT SATURDAY is on fellow ACFW Ohio member Karen Robbins with her funny new novel, IN A PICKLE.

I've been hearing about this book for a few years now, as Karen has struggled to find a publisher brave enough to risk a sensitive topic handled in a humorous manner. Success!

Annie Pickels, a 65-year-old widowed pickle entrepreneur, is in real trouble. One of her city farmers is growing marijuana on his rented plot of land. Annie, thinking it is marjoram, uses it as a secret ingredient in her pickles.

Check out the Living Proof blog for more information:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Twas the Thursday Before Christmas

Twas the Thursday before Christmas, my pen I lay down.
I'd been shopping for presents all over the town.
The stockings were hung but not with much care
And tinsel still glittered as it stuck to my hair.
Characters and plots weren't all nestled in my head
As visions of a best seller danced there instead.
The stories would wait as I settled my cap
And wished I could take a long winter's nap.
Out on my lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
My nose to the window, I knew in a flash,
My husband had tumbled while making his dash
To set up the reindeer and shovel the snow
And put up the lights that we'd see from below.
Then what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a small white truck parking by our reindeer.
The little old driver so nimble and quick
I knew in a moment it was Mailman Nick.
Quick as a bunny up the sidewalk he came
Passing the deer and calling them by name:
Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen
Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen
To the top of the porch and just past the wall
He hefted the big box and then let it fall.
As winds blow and snowflakes fly
I leapt as an obstacle that takes to the sky.
So out to the porch was the course that I flew
To grab the big box and wave to Nicholas too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard hubby say,
"I need help. Can you put that away?"
As I drew in my head and was turning around
In the door came my husband with a leap and a bound.
He was dressed all in flannel from his head to his foot
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A string of lights was tossed over his back
And he looked like the character I'd named Jack.
His eyes didn't twinkle, his dimples weren't merry
His cold cheeks like roses, his nose like a cherry,
His blue little mouth puckered like a bow,
And a beard on his chin was just made out of snow.
The clips for the lights he held tight in his teeth.
His hands circled the air as if drawing a wreath.
A grin broadened my face, my hand held my belly
As it shook when I laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
He looked in distress not like a jolly old elf.
I was sorry I'd laughed, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a nod of his head
And soon we both laughed with nothing to dread.
I spoke not a word and set my box down
Then turned to my husband and mimicked a frown.
And tapping a finger on top of his nose,
And giving a nod on my tiptoes I rose.
I quick gave a kiss, his ego I soothed
My "best seller" would wait until later I mused.
But I heard him exclaim, "I'm okay, no bother.
Merry Christmas to you, my little author!"

Merry Christmas to All!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Christmas Fair - Some Lessons Learned

The recent venture of six of our ACFW Ohio members, myself included, at the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy's Christmas Fair was a good place to learn a few more marketing tips. Starting with, how do you strike up a conversation about your books?

Saundra Staats McLemore stood at one end of the booth we set up and I stood at the other. I lured people in by asking if they would like a piece of candy from my basket. That at least drew their eye to the books behind me. Saundra would ask those who glanced at our booth, "What kind of books do you like to read?" From there she would delve into the diverse collection we had on our table (historical, mystery, YA, fantasy, sci-fi, women's fiction, etc.)

Undaunted when the answer was, "I don't read," Saundra would then suggest that they knew someone who reads and these would make great Christmas gifts as they were all written from a Christian perspective and were safe to give as gifts. In all fairness, Saundra does have a background in marketing and her technique caught on with the rest of us. She was a great example.

When you sell at a show, festival, fair, etc., you need to draw people in and engage them in conversation. If you don't feel you can do this, then you need to partner with someone who can or not waste your time and money on a booth. One of the hardest things for some of us authors is emerging from our writing shell and meeting strangers. Those comfort cocoons we surround ourselves with as we sit at our computers and write will not help us sell books unless we break out.

One of the things we talked about for the future should we decide to try this again is making "goodie" bags--bags that will have postcards, bookmarks, pens, or other promotional items in it to hand out. One of the things I found was that people were willing to take my postcard and Carole Brown's bookmark when I said they had a recipe on them. Of course I slipped in a few others that didn't (smile). Hopefully the promotional materials will lead to online sales from those who were not ready to buy that day.

Just one more note: At the beginning of the day before it got too busy, I went around to other vendor's booths and engaged them in conversation about their display then passed them a postcard and mentioned we had books for sale if they were able to get around to our table. Again, it's all about engaging people in conversation. Using your words to sell what your written words have created. Anything I missed?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Be A Great Blog Guest!

Whether you have been asked or ask to be a guest on someone's blog it is like becoming a guest in her home. This is the place where she keeps internet house. She has designed it to be what she wants much like anyone would decorate their own home. So how do you become a welcome guest on that blog? By following the format your host sets up for you.

Usually a blogger will ask you to follow a theme. Most blogs have a general theme and/or a specific theme they are running with at the time you will appear. It's like asking someone to dinner and wanting them to come dressed appropriately. You don't wear a tux to a BBQ (generally) and you don't wear shorts to a formal dinner. Stick with the theme. You are a writer. You can be creative.

When asked to supply pictures, use one of the easy and available photo apps or programs to resize your large file pictures to a more blog friendly size. Large files take too long to load when someone enters a blog site. People get impatient waiting for a site to completely load if it's bogged down with large picture files and you don't want to create more work for your host making her resize pictures. The photos from my camera and phone are often 32 x 48 inches or 3500 x 2400 pixels. If you reduce your photos to 3 x 5 inches or 240 x 360 pixels they will be easier to upload to the blog and will appear quicker for the visitor to the site. There are several online sites you can use for this if you don't have an app or program on your computer.

Collect all the information you are requested to send and put it into one email. Trust me, the blogger will love you for it. Having all the information in one message helps the blogger to find it when she needs it. There's less chance of something getting lost.

These are a few ideas to help make you a wonderful guest blogger--one who will likely be invited back again.

Links! And more links! All of us want to use a guest blog opportunity to connect with potential readers. Don't just say, "I'm on Facebook and Twitter." Provide the links. Go to your Facebook author page and copy the whole link from the URL address box. Paste it into your information. Be sure to provide at least a link to either your website or your blog. Wherever you would like to direct more traffic.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Word Of The Day - Oeuvre

Are you like me? Do you read along in books or articles and come across a word that makes you stumble? Depending on the level I'm reading, I often have to sit with a dictionary at my side.

Well, this morning, I was enjoying a second cup of coffee and perusing (I looked that up--impressed?) an old copy of Writers Digest. There was a great story about a work of fiction, that gives an account of the mysterious death of Edgar Allan Poe. It used the author's extensive research to propose a theory of why he died. I was intently reading, or perusing, when I suddenly fell flat on my face as my eyes hit the word, oeuvre.

At first I thought it had something to do with hors d'oeuvres. After all, it has the word oeuvres in it. But no, they weren't talking about food. I tried to fit it into the sentence to figure it out and failed. Webster was all the way in the den and even though I called out to him, he didn't answer.

I shrugged it off, finished the article and went on to read another. Bam! there it was again-twice in the same magazine! Well, that was too much. I hauled Webster out of the den and flipped him open. Sure enough, there was such a word without the appetizing reference to food. According to Webster, oeuvre means a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer. 

Hmmm. Makes sense. I was reading about writers. But it's close relationship to hors d'oeuvres has me craving chips and salsa. Go figure. Guess I'll peruse the pantry next.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Fiction Stretch

No, it isn't a new exercise, at least not in the physical sense. I just finished the manuscript for the second book in my cozy mystery series, Death Among The Deckchairs. It all takes place aboard a cruise ship. Now I've been on fifty-two cruises but I've never had a tour of the morgue or the brig and yet all cruise ships have a morgue and most a brig. At least that's the information I was able to glean from an online cruise forum I belong to.

I think I was true enough to the logistics of the morgue but I wasn't sure about the brig. The member of the forum who answered my questions had been on a cruise ship as part of the crew and had some interesting points to make. For instance, rather than actually keeping someone in a "jail cell", the passenger would be confined to their stateroom under guard until the next port was reached where they would be handed over to authorities or just put off the ship depending upon the offense. That helped a lot for my suspects in this case.

Problems arose however when I started thinking about things like Miranda rights and even collecting evidence in the case. Maritime law is different than laws on land. For one thing, the captain is truly master of the ship. In getting my sleuth, Casey Stengel, and her detective partner, Max, to help the Security Chief on the ship solve the murder, I probably stretched some laws and procedures. Hopefully I can get away with it depending upon who reads the book and how much inside information they have.

Years ago at one of the local writers conferences I attended, I was in a workshop led by Les Roberts who is a local writer with a very successful detective series that he writes with Cleveland as the backdrop. He told the story of being at a book signing and having a reader come up to him and tell him that he had his information wrong. One of the restaurants Roberts had his character eat at on a Thursday night was a real restaurant in Cleveland but was always closed on Thursdays. The guy said it was impossible for the detective to have eaten there on a Thursday night.

Undaunted, Roberts looked him in the eye and said, "That's why they call it fiction."

How far do you stretch your fiction?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

In a Word - Cha-ching!

Deep in thought as I washed my hair the other day, my mind was wandering all over the things I wanted to write, the things I needed to finish writing, and, well, just all sorts of things about writing. As the suds began trickling down my arms, I thought about all the opportunities that are out there for writers. Many people don't even think about--consciously.

There are certainly the novelists, the essayists, the journalists, the biographers, the writers of memoirs, the playwrights, the poets, the songwriters, and the writers of deep philosophical and theological discussion but then there are the unsung heroes. The technical writers, the advertising copy writers (someone writes those great Super Bowl commercials), the obituary writers, and the writers of all those directions on every container we buy anywhere.

Words in any venue need to be honed and perfected to express exactly what the work calls for. Quite literally, a project can live or die by one word. And one word can truly make a difference in the bottom line financially. Take for instance the word, repeat. Lift up almost any bottle of shampoo and read the directions. It will usually say something like, "Apply to wet hair, lather, and rinse. Repeat."

And there's the cha-ching. Repeat. How much more shampoo is sold simply because a writer decided to write into the directions, "repeat"?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hello, My Name Is . . .

This is a post from my blog a few years ago. Ideas come and go. So do characters as did this one. . .

January 7, 2009 - It's a new year and time to start a new novel. I have had a story idea kicking around in my head for months and I guess it is time to let it out. Now that involves meeting new characters. Usually I have a character in mind before I begin a book but this time the storyline came first so I need to get out and "shake hands" with some people to determine who is involved with this story.

Developing a character is a lot like meeting new people. On a cruise for instance, we sit down at a table for a meal and introduce ourselves to the others at the table. After that the conversation turns to where we live, how many kids/grandkids we have, professions, etc. As the cruise goes on, your table mates reveal more and more about their lives--interesting tidbits from their prior trips, tales of exciting experiences from their jobs, what they like to read and why, etc. You get the picture.

So I "met" this character yesterday. His name is Paul Carson and he's an air traffic controller. Now that's an interesting profession! I have lots of questions for him. So far I've found out he's married, has one daughter, grew up in Detroit, MI (but we'll forgive him for being from MI since he went to MSU not UM), and he has quite a story to tell about a time when his faith in God was tested. I'm excited to learn more.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Time to Rest and Rejoice

Yes, the deadlines are looming. Yes, there's always another thing on that to do list for marketing, writing, promoting, etc. But--it's Christmas!! It's time to rest and rejoice.

If you are like me, you are tempted to keep on keeping on when it comes to getting that book written. We forget that God set aside time to rest and encourages us to do the same. Rest renews us physically and mentally as well as spiritually. What better time to remember that than at Christmas when we need to be with family and friends and recognize the Great Gift that has been given us.

It's five more days to Christmas. Why not take a little more time to just rest and rejoice in the spirit of the season? The writing will still be there when Christmas has passed but the opportunities to share the joy of Christmas with your family will have passed for another year.

So I'm proposing a little R and R from here through Christmas Day. Rest and Rejoice!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo - How's It Going?

Those of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo are halfway to the deadline. The clock is ticking? Are your keys clicking? I've always wanted to give it a try but November? Why November? Curious, I did a little researching. Who in their right mind would chose November for such an undertaking?

It seems that NoNoWriMo actually started in July in 1999 in San Francisco among some Bay Area writers. Ah, now July I could handle but why change to November? November holds all sorts of pitfalls starting with Thanksgiving. As I write this, I anticipate family beginning to arrive in several days, grandchildren to be entertained and loved on, dinner to be cooked, consumed, and cleaned up after, and of course the on surge of Christmas shopping to follow the leftover turkey. That pretty much takes up half of the month.

Could I write for a half-month and come up with 50,000 words? Has anyone figured out what that equates to in hours of writing time? Let's see. If I write 1666.666666667 words a day for the full thirty days that would get me the required amount for the NaNo novel. But since I don't have a full 30 free days for writing, I would need to increase my output to fit my schedule.

Taking out the week the grands would be here and allowing for at least three days of preparation--better make that five if I shop and bake and clean and prepare meals, that leaves me with eighteen writing days for the month. For eighteen writing days I would need to crank out 2777.777777778 words each day.

Oh yes, did I mention that would also mean my husband would have to fend for himself for eighteen days and make our meals, clean, do laundry, etc. But then he is retired. Hmmm. This is looking promising. Dare I ask him?

Hats off to all of you who are taking on this challenge. One year I'm gonna go for it. Yessir. I will. Uh huh.

By the way, I never did find out why the change from July to November that second year of NaNoWriMo. Anyone have a clue?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is Rejection Like Being 86'd?

The other night I heard the term "86'd" on a television program. I knew what the term meant but wondered how it came about. I did a little research and found to my dismay that there is no real point of origin for the term. Rather, there are several speculations as to how the term came into use--most of which have little to do with the meaning today which is to get rid of, do away with, or no longer allow.

In researching, I found most sources referred to it as a retaurant or bar code. The most popular theory is connected to a speakeasy bar during Prohibition called Chumley's. By coincidence the address of the speakeasy was 86 Bedford St. in New York City. Instead of yelling "Nix it! The cops!" the bartender or lookout would yell, "86" and the patrons knew to exit by an alternative door to avoid being arrested.

Other references include 86 as a code for running out of a particular drink at a soda fountain. Another referred to Delmonico's steak restaurant where the famous steak was #86 on the menu and when it ran out, the order was said to be 86'd.

Another idea came from the time of the Depression when soup kitchens and breadlines were familiar sights. It was said that a soup cauldron could only hold 85 cups of soup so the 86th person in line was out of luck.

I guess if getting a piece of writing rejected is being 86'd then I'm glad that at least I can still get a cup of soup since I don't rely on profits from publishing to feed the family. Thankfully I have a husband for that.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Setting Speakers Fees

How do you set fees for speaking? It's a question I see posted often on many forums and yet there doesn't seem to be one answer. I think a lot has to do with why we are speaking. Are we promoting a book? Are we teaching? Are we giving an inspirational or motivational message? Or are we just entertaining? They are all valid reasons for speaking and being paid for your time, talent, and talk.

When I started out, I did a lot of freebies. Much of that had to do with the fact that I was speaking to promote the flower shop I owned. Doing floral demonstrations and talking about floral design drew in more customers. It's not too different with those who might be just promoting a book. You might do a reading or talk about some aspects of your book and then have a book signing.

But when you begin to get into the areas of teaching, motivational and inspirational speaking, or even entertaining, the purpose changes and while you may still be hoping to sell books, you are also being asked to provide a service. That service usually comes with a price either set by you (a fee) or by the group inviting you to speak (honorarium).

It takes time to write a good speech/talk/monologue/lecture--what ever word you want to attach to it. In terms a writer can understand, it takes about 4000 - 5000 words to speak for thirty to fifty minutes depending upon your speed of presentation. Most writers get between 10 and 25 cents/word for articles they write. So that shakes out to $400 to $500 at the low end just for the writing of the speech.

A good speaker is going to practice that presentation several times. (If you've ever belonged to Toastmasters International you know how much you practice for those 5-7 minute speeches.) At minimum wage which is about $7.50, if you practice your presentation three times, that would be about $25 for your time. Add to that a few more hours of working with the group by email, phone, or meeting to be sure everyone knows what is happening for the event and what is expected of you and we'll round that up to $40.

Oh yes, you will have to attend the event which means spending time traveling and at the actual event itself. Let's say the event is a day long conference within an hour's drive from home. The event will probably last six hours even though you may not speak the whole time. So travel plus event time at minimum wage works out to be about $60.

A very well-known speaker will have the credentials to charge upwards of $1500 to tens of thousands of dollars. Most of us will fall in that middle ground between freebies and $1500. So again the question comes, how much should I charge?

If you calculate what I've mentioned so far the totals fall between $500-600 for one presentation. There are some organizations who will happily pay that for a good speaker. Unfortunately there are lots of good organizations and small churches who cannot afford to pay what a speaker may be worth. So you can begin to see the dilemma as a speaker. Do you wait for those good paying opportunities or do you take what comes along and build on your experience?

Many Christian speakers, unless they are registered with an agency, will work with the group who is booking them to find a reasonable fee or honorarium that can be agreed upon. Offer a fee but also leave the door open for negotiation. Unless you are turning down engagements because you can't handle all that are coming to you, that's probably the best way to go.

Now, I can't leave without telling my love offering story. I used to say I would come on a love offering and that worked out quite well usually. The treasurer of the group would write out a check for the amount that the group determined to give me as a "love offering." One group took me literally. It was a spring ladies banquet with about 150 ladies in attendance. They fed me well and then we all went into the sanctuary for my presentation. A large basket was placed at the back of the room for the attendees to give as their heart led. It fill up with singles and fives and totaled, I found out later, near $250. I waited a bit as everyone was leaving expecting that the treasurer was writing a check for the amount collected. When she discovered I was ready to go, she exclaimed, "Oh, no! I didn't get the money counted." She grabbed the bills and rolled them into a large wad that just about fit in my small purse. It was love that almost overflowed in the hotel lobby when I tried to get out a dollar for a bottle of water.

I hope this has helped. If you have any more suggestions for setting fees, please share them with us below.

Read wherever you wander.
The Wandering Writer,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Real Life Characters

Where do writers get their characters from? As the leader of a church book club I've been asked that question several times. I can't speak for everyone else but I'm guessing they come from the same place mine do--real life. Now we all know that we're creating fictional characters but the inspiration has to come from a writer's experiences to make them real.

As my editor at Martin Sisters Publishing was finishing up the last of the galley edits, she asked what I would like on the dedication page of In A Pickle. It was a no-brainer. Here's what I wrote:

For my mother, who always said she seasoned her recipes with marijuana when she really meant marjoram. 

While my character, Annie Pickels, is not like my mother was in many ways, the way my mother mixed up her words led to the what-if premise of the story. What if someone really did use marijuana, by accident, in her recipe for pickles? 

One of the other things I have to credit my mother with was her never-judge-a-book-by-its-cover philosophy. My character, Annie, looks past tattoos and metal piercings on a young man to see the potential and good in him. 

So I am wishing Mom was still around to see what I've done. She would have loved it. Her sense of humor and storytelling is still alive and thriving in the words from my keyboard.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fun With Words - Paraprosdokians

Part of our Toastmasters' meeting includes learning a new word. A while back, someone came up with the word, PARAPROSDOKIANS. We had a great time with it. The definition is: Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation.
"Where there's a will, I want to be in it," is a type of paraprosdokian. Here are a few more:

1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

2. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

3. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. Evening news is where they begin with 'Good Evening,' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

10. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.