I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I’m guessing a lot of you are like me, in that my main creative outlet is writing. It’s great and I love it, but it’s not like I sing, or play an instrument, or knit, or scrapbook, or sculpt, or paint… I write.
The above are crafts I did not make.
But the more I thought about this week’s theme and how broad it is, the more I thought it would be a fun challenge to take the week and expand my creative horizons. I’m thinking every day this week, I’ll do something that’s a creative stretch: like attempting to bake a crazy dessert without a clear recipe, or actually using all the odds and ends in my six-year-old daughter’s art kit to build something wild, or sitting outside and painting a picture. I’m pretty sure I can get my daughter to partner with me on this venture, but it would be even more fun if some of you joined me too.
What do you think? Would it be fun to try something new creatively each day this week? Maybe we could even write down what we do each day in the comments below, and see what kinds of things we’ve all come up with.
I’m writing this post late late late Saturday night (technically Sunday morning, but until I go to sleep, it’s Saturday to me), so I’m not sure what I’ll try on Monday, but I’ll definitely let you know, and I hope to hear from you as well!
Deb Sarah is excited to announce that her novel, The Violets of March, will now debut in May! The publish date was moved up from August to May after a strong showing at a recent publisher’s sales conference. Sarah is so excited to have three months shaved off the long wait to publication!
Contest winner!Congrats to Violet who won our contest featuring Melissa Senate! Violet, I sent you an email today. Deb Kim
Friends of the Debs…
Our dear friend Larramie at The Divining Wand is running an incredible giveaway, justifiably called THE BEST HOLIDAY GIFT EVER!
The details are here, but the gist is this: you enter to win TWELVE BOOKS for either a special someone (the private giveaway), or a special place (the public giveaway — for hospitals, libraries, shelters, etc.). To enter, leave a comment on the site that includes the person or place for whom you’d love to win the books. You can enter both the public and the private giveaways — Larramie in fact encourages it!
Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. And the books you’ll win… unbelievable. There’s a list on the site, and they’re all terrific. We’re proud to say that many of the books are from former Debs or friends of the Debs, including Sarah Pekkanen, Alicia Bessette, Emily Winslow, Eileen Cook, Beth Hoffman, Melissa Senate, Kristy Kiernan, Joelle Anthony, Leah Stewart… and that’s just part of the list!
The deadline to enter is Wednesday, December 1st at 11:59 p.m. EST, so click on over and enter!!!
Deb Dish — The Debs’ Favorite Weird Family Traditions
Probably the weirdest family tradition we have surrounds our dog, Riley. Riley loves presents. He was our first child, and we always gave him wrapped gifts for the holidays. Because of this, he now expects every wrapped gift to be for him, and goes crazy for them, so whatever the occasion — my birthday, Hanukkah, Father’s Day… we always wrap up a dog toy or treat for him (even if it’s one he already had), so he can tear into it and find his holiday surprise.
Oh, in case anyone forgot how cute he is, here’s Riley with his longtime girlfriend Isis, waiting for their share of the Thanksgiving turkey (Riley’s the one all in black):
Here’s a family tradition question for you: When does your family open birthday presents?
We always did ours after cake on birthday dinner nights.
But J.C.’s family does it at breakfast. Breakfast? What kind of craziness is that?
When does your family open presents?
If you MUST know – we put olives on all of our fingers and pluck them off with popping sounds at every major holiday. By we I mean my 51 year old sister and 40 year old brother – NOT my children! We open birthday gifts at any time on the actual day – never before. I’m having a hard time reading Sarah’s flash – she hates cake. I’m reeling, someone catch me! I will make it my life’s goal to convert her to traditional birthday cake consumption. Although I could pop candles into a ricotta pie pretty darn easily. Hmmmm. Maybe not so crazy?
I despised cake growing up (what sort of weird child was I?!), so my mom always made me pies for my birthdays–usually apple, but sometimes pumpkin or other concoctions. Yup, when friends came to my birthday parties, they weren’t always thrilled. Today, the tradition of birthday pies continues, though. My kids love pumpkin pie, so maybe I’ll make pies for their birthdays next month (they were both born right before Christmas–two years apart). P.S. I’ve grown to love cake in my adult life. And cupcakes. And all other sweets in general.
My family has so many odd family traditions that I’m not certain I could pick just one. There’s the post-Thanksgiving sock sale I talked about last week, or the habit of making sure the Christmas tree is up the day after Thanksgiving. But aside from holiday weirdness, my family loves to visit some of Oregon’s old military sites like Fort Stevens (built near the end of the Civil War to guard the Columbia River). It’s not that we’re history buffs or anything. It’s that we like to chase each other around with Pop-Its (those teeny little fireworks you throw at the ground) making lots of noise and cackling like fiends. I don’t remember how the tradition started, but it’s impossible to stop it now.
We are delighted to welcome Bob Mayer to take a twirl at The Debutante Ball. Actually, we felt a little weird asking him to twirl, and we refrained from asking him to don the tiara and gloves. He is a former Green Beret, after all.
New York Times bestselling author Bob Mayer has over 40 books published. He has been published in many genres, including thriller, science fiction, suspense, romance and non-fiction. He has appeared on PBS, NPR and the Discovery Channel and in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated and Army Times as an expert consultant. He has over three million books in print and is in demand as a team-building, life-change, and leadership speaker and consultant for his Who Dares Wins: The Green Beret Way concepts and Warrior-Writer. You can find him online at www.bobmayer.org or at www.whodareswinspublishing.com
Bob agreed to take The Deb Interview and had some brilliant things to say about publishing, promotion, and why he’d like to be his dog. Make sure you leave a comment for a chance to win one of two fabulous books!
Take it away, Bob!
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
When I took command of my Green Beret A-Team my commander gave me a copy of the book: Bodyguard of Lies. It was the history of covert operations during World War II. What struck me was how ruthless and brutal it was. Especially the story of Noor Khan and the speculation she was parachuted into a network they knew had been taken over by the Gestapo to give up false information she believed to be true during torture. It taught me to always be paranoid in covert operations. I feature the story in Who Dares Wins as ‘The Woman Who Was’ as opposed to the story of ‘The Man Who Never Was’, which I also feature as an example in the book of a blood lesson. I believe examples where people died tend to stick in readers’ minds.
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
Augustus McRae from Lonesome Dove. Thus I have Cool Gus, my yellow lab, who ran off today to the ocean with Sassy Becca. They came back dripping wet and covered in sand, but quite happy.
What time of day do you love best?
I’m a morning person. I get my best work done before lunch.
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
If I shared it, I’d have to kill you and put your head in a safe. Joking. I don’t write military thrillers anymore because I’m too close to the subject matter. They say write what you know, but you can know some things too well.
Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel – something that’s not even in your book.
Primary motivators are key. My current WIP is historical fiction. I have two main characters. For one, who appears to be noble and a hero, his primary motivator is guilt. His ‘son’ eventually realizes this and it’s why they have distance between them. For my other character, the boy’s true father, his primary motivator is desiring redemption. I believe being able to give every major character’s true primary motivation in one word is very helpful in making them real and consistent.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Perseverance counts more than talent. That’s a tenet of Warrior Writer. Writing a good book is just very, very, hard work.
Which animal would you like to be, and why?
Cool Gus. It’s a dog’s life and he’s a very pampered dog.
What are the hardest and easiest things about your job?
Hardest: writing. Easiest: Being an author.
What’s your next big thing? (new book, new project, etc.)
My historical fiction. Touched By Fire: West Point to Shiloh is the tentative title. I’m launching a new series. The first book begins at West Point in 1840 and goes to the battle of Shiloh. Then the rest of the books go on from there. I’m very, very excited about these books. If you’ve seen the mini-series Rome, I’m doing the same thing, where my two main fictional characters influence history in epic proportions.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
The best job was Special Forces A-Team leader. Working with 11 highly skilled, highly motivated and highly trained people on extremely dangerous missions around the world is something most people can’t even imagine.
You write in so many genres, from sci-fi to romance to non-fiction to suspense. What’s the most challenging thing about that?
Author Cherry Adair said something last year I have finally heeded. Write one genre and become very good at it. I’ve settled on historical fiction as my passion.
What do you believe is the biggest change in publishing in the 15+ years you’ve been writing?
eBooks. To the point where I’ve started Who Dares Wins Publishing. I think the next three years are going to see more change than most people anticipate. I believe it’s a great time to be an author, but you have to educate yourself and work very hard at both the writing and the business end. We’ve designed our entire Write It Forward campaign to educate authors about the changes that are coming; much faster that pretty much anyone anticipates.
Deb Tawna adores your romantic comedy collaborations with author Jennifer Crusie (who also took a twirl here at the ball). What’s the best thing about that partnership?
I learned so much. We both brought a lot to the table. Jenny learned that characters can actually go outdoors. I learned about how to layer characters and much more. Working with such a talented writer is a great experience.
How is social media like Twitter and Facebook and blogging changing the game for authors?
So much that the first book we put out at Who Dares Wins Publishing beyond my backlist was: We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media by author Kristen Lamb. The point made in the book right away is to focus on content rather than the medium. 95% of authors are wasting time on social media because they didn’t plan their content and have a plan. I think it’s a great opportunity, but, like everything else, you have to do it right.
I recently did a blog post on Write It Forward about the Three P’s: Platform, Product, Promotion. Authors have to look at all three and work very hard at all three. Each area can be improved with work and they all feed off each other.
The future is limitless for authors as long as they are aware and work hard.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Bob! It was fabulous having you here, even without the tiara.
As for the rest of you, want to win some amazing books from a guy who obviously knows a thing or two about making a career as an author? We’ve got two (count ‘em TWO) great eBooks to give away. The first is Bob Mayer’s The Novel Writer’s Toolkit: A Guide to Writing Great Fiction and Getting it Published. It’s jam-packed with great tips for writers. We also have a copy of Warrior Writer: From Writer to Published Author for a second lucky winner. Want one? Just leave a comment and let us know if you have a preference between the two. We’ll choose winners on Friday, December 3 and will post them on the site Sunday, December 5. Good luck, and happy writing!
Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a day of peace, joy, and gratitude.
Today is Black Friday, a day on which it is socially acceptable to punch a stranger in the throat to save two bucks on a Snuggie™.
The Mangroomer™ do-it-yourself back hair shaver, a must-have item on your holiday shopping list.
I’m always fascinated by the irony of it. One day you’re sharing hugs and pumpkin pie, the next you’re elbowing strangers in the teeth to get the last Mangroomer™.
Several years ago I watched a woman try to cut in line at an electronics store. From the crowd’s reaction you would have thought she’d dismembered a baby harp seal in the parking lot. I learned several new curse words and then watched the mob break into joyful applause when the line-cutter was ceremoniously escorted from the store.
I love a bargain as much as the next person, but my enthusiasm for Black Friday shopping tends to wane once I’ve made my ritual 5 a.m. appearance at Fred Meyer to gorge myself on donut holes and buy enough half-price socks to outfit a small Arctic village.
Then I like to people watch. I’ve occasionally driven around town just to get a glimpse at the crazy lines and the weary shoppers hunched in freezing rain as they teeter under the weight of eight Elmo dolls.
I’ll admit I’ve participated in the madness before. I once maneuvered through an unwieldy mob by crawling on the floor to nab a $10 DVD player. For the most part though, I’d rather be a spectator rather than a participant. There’s really no better source of material for a comedy writer than watching someone steal reindeer boxer shorts from someone else’s shopping cart.
Do you participate in the Black Friday madness? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever witnessed? Please share.
I have to go kick someone in the kneecap to get a pair of cashmere socks.
As you’re sitting down to a Turkey dinner with your friends and family, maybe you’re thinking about this past year, and what you’re grateful for. I am too. And what a year it’s been! A book! A pregnancy! (Both will make their arrivals in 2011.) Continued work for the magazines I love. New friendships. Healthy kids who were moderately well behaved (I’ll give ‘em a B+ this year–Santa, are you reading?). No major tragedies other than a speed bump or two along the way (no biggie). I’m thankful for all of this, of course, but I guess, as simple as this sounds, as I think about 2010, I have to say that I’m grateful for life–to be in the game, to be looking ahead to what’s to come, to wake up every day with the anticipation of something new around the corner. The older I get (turning 33 next year), the more I appreciate how fortunate I am to just be here. So, with that enormous thought, I wanted to share one of my very favorite songs–an old one by the great Shirley Horn called “Here’s to Life.” It reminds me of how grateful I am to be living this life–even on the bad days–and how much I have to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Things for which I am grateful: For friends. Family. Food on the table without worry. Heat from the furnace without sacrifice. My husband’s job. Good schools for my children. Our health. This song was the highlight of my wedding for me. My book opens with my marrying Mark. And I’m grateful for the gift of humor to help salve our wounds and to see the joy and the goodness of life in small places. En-JOY.
And now, for something completely different. (Nod to the ever classic Monty Python. And Beaker.)
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