Saturday, February 06, 2010

Volume 1, Issue 2

“Obstacles are things we see when we take our eyes off the goal.” Zig Ziglar


I was excited when I signed up for the knitted Bloomin’ Scarf class. I had seen one finished and it was beautiful. Yes, it looked difficult, but as I looked at the picture on the pattern, I couldn’t wait to do the project and wear my new creation. “You won’t have any trouble knitting it,” the friend who was teaching the class told me. I was a little skeptical, but felt confident after I cast on the 400 stitches to the new circular needle with 60 inch cable. I completed the first two rows and listened carefully to my friend as she gave instructions about the pattern. It was straight forward-knit one row, purl the second, and then slip, slip, knit, etc. to make various flowers across the entire length of the scarf.
For the first month after the class, I worked on the scarf every evening for three to four hours. I had taken the class in June. By September, I wasn’t even half way through the project. There had been problems. I had slipped too many stitches or dropped stitches which made me have to rip out the work I had completed. My friend had been kind enough in the beginning to take the stitches out for me, but after the twelfth time, frankly, I was too embarrassed to ask her again, so I spent a week, first, trying to figure out which stitches to grab so I wouldn’t unravel the whole thing and second, ripping out over eight hundred stitches. I wasn’t happy.
In an attempt to keep my sanity, I set the bloomin’ scarf project aside. I completed a couple simple scarves for Breast Cancer Awareness month, finished a pair of socks, started another, and took a palm warmer class. I’d occasionally pick up the bloomin’ scarf and do a few rows, but just as quickly put it back in its basket.
By the middle of November, I decided to make everyone I knew a pair of palm warmers. In retrospect, I think it was because I was trying to avoid going back to the “you know which” project. I’d look at the colors, the rows of flowers I still needed to complete and think, I’m never going to finish it anyway.
Christmas came and went. The palm warmers were all given away and the scarf sat next to my chair waiting to be picked up. I had told several friends I was going to finish it by Christmas, but alas it wasn’t. I counted. I had finished seven rows of flowers in six months. I only had eight more rows to go. At the rate I was going I should have the scarf finished by Christmas 2010. That thought made me sick to my stomach. The very thought of having to slog through eight more rows brought all kinds of excuses to my mind, but I knew I had to make a decision. I could let the scarf sit in its basket and pull it out every now and then or I could determine to work on it and get it finished. With fortitude and determination, I picked up the bloomin’ scarf and muttered to myself, “I’m going to finish this by the end of January.” My daughter heard me, looked at the jumble of threads and laughed.
On January 28th, I finished.
I find my writing life the same way. I’m excited when I start a project or get an assignment. The goal is to finish, so work begins and then problems arise. I find myself distracted by other things I want to do, there’s more research that needs to be completed, I need to work on writing club jobs, or a million other things. On the days I do find myself at my keyboard, I fidget, keying words, then backspacing or deleting what I’ve written. At the end of the day, I’m no farther along than I was when I started in the morning. Discouragement sets in and I’ll read a friend’s book, the newspaper, even news links just to avoid the pain of not making any progress.
My books I’ll set aside for months. Assignments are a little trickier. I force myself to add words on the page, even though sometimes those words are less than brilliant. Okay, hardly ever brilliant, but okay.
And then determination sets in. I always tell my writing students and those who tell me, “I plan on writing a book some day,” that you can’t sell a product unless you have a product to sell. You have to sit down at your keyboard and write. Produce a book. It may be difficult. You may become disgusted with it. You may think, like a knitting, sewing, model car project, that it looks hideous, but way down deep something drives you to finish.
I know for myself, if I stop looking at all the problems, and just bully my way through, I’ll get things finished, be they knitting projects or writing projects. I know books as well as scarves take time. To use an old nautical term, I’ve got to stay “steady as she goes,” and the bottom line is keeping my eyes on the finished goal.
What’s keeping you from finishing your book?


In December, I went back to Oklahoma. While there I touched base with a lot of friends from the area, which got me to thinking about other friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I decided to track down a dear friend from Tulsa, Norma Jean Lutz. I found her on Facebook. It was just a matter of time before I found her website. She’s got some neat info on there, so you might want to check it out. The URL is
Norma Jean has been writing for over thirty years and has over 50 books to her name. She teaches and mentors writers about writing and publishing. On her website, you can learn about online classes, ask Norma Jean writing questions, read articles on writing written by Norma Jean and download freebies. I’ve personally known Norma Jean for over twenty years. She is a trustworthy person and the knowledge she imparts you can take to the bank.


Looking for a writer’s t-shirt? Maybe a pair of shoes with author written on them? What about a “writer’s hat” for those times you’re sitting at the computer being a writer? Look no further than Zazzle Writer’s Gifts, Here you’ll find ties, hats, mugs, calendars, pins, business cards, mouse pads, stationary, tote bags, aprons, shoes, notebooks, journals, t-shirts and more, all with the writer in mind. Some examples are t-shirts with quotes that say, “I love writing”, “Don’t Bug Me, I’m Writing”, and “I’m Not Day Dreaming I’m Planning My Next Novel”. This site has over 55,000 items for writers.


For those of you interested in writing picture books, check out Raven Tree Press, They publish 8 to 10 books per year and fifty percent of those books are by first time authors. Word length cannot exceed 750 words and they prefer 500 words. Their books are printed in color and in English, Spanish, and Bilingual.
They do not want alphabet books, rhyming books, or word play books. They are interested in books that can develop in to a series.
Raven Tree Press pays advances against royalties. They want the entire book submitted. No query letters. Responds in one to two months. Authors can submit via postal service or electronically off Raven Tree’s website. For more information, check out their website.


Finding Your Voice: how to put personality in your writing by Les Edgerton. Published by Writer’s Digest Books in 2003. Softback. 244 pages. 1-58297-173-0. $16.99.

Are you having trouble finding your writing voice? Do you know what your style is? Are you so wrapped up in someone else’s writing you can’t seem to add your own personality to your work? Never fear, Les is here.
With humor and great insight, Les Edgerton takes you down a writing yellow brick road pointing out through examples and exercises how you can stop focusing on what others have told you and “learned you” about writing and shows you how to find and show your own personality in your writing. Edgerton writes about everything from synonyms to dialogue to silencing the inner critic or getting him to work for you instead of against you.
More than once as you read, you will find yourself in agreement with what the author has written. If you are stuck because you want to write one thing, but don’t think you can because of the rules, then you will be freed by Edgerton’s wisdom.
You can order this book from and get it for $11.55. Just click on the link. That is a great deal if you’re looking for your writing voice.


Do you like to garden? Do you have a special way with children? Perhaps you cook a mean slab of ribs? Think about everything you do in life and make a list of those things. Don’t think about if what you do is right or wrong, just jot it down. Now from your list, take one item and write how you do what you do and why. If you read excessively, why not write about what you read and write book reviews? If you clean house all the time, what tips can you pass on to others who want to clean in a hurry? Finally, perhaps all those games you play with your grandchildren that you used to play as a child, can be written about, published, and passed on down to other generations. You’ll never know what can become of the things you do, until you write them down.

Disclaimer: Deborah does not make any money off the products she discusses in this newsletter or endorses any website or market. Her purpose is to provide information only. She believes research and decision making is always left to the individual reader.