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Friday, September 21, 2012

I Am So Blessed

I got up today without an alarm, as is my usual practice. Dressed, cooked breakfast and brewed coffee. Ate while I caught up on my emails. Then made a grocery run. I like to go weekday mornings to avoid busy times. I remember, in yesteryears, driving home from downtown Dallas, reaching my neighborhood about 7:00 p.m., yet I was with a mob of other people at the market, just wanting to be home already. So I like to avoid those after-work hours to give the nine-to-fivers one less person in their way.

Now I'm home, groceries in their proper places, my hot Café Bustelo espresso at hand, my cats within petting distance and my windows open to enjoy the breeze and sounds of nature. Even though it may reach a tad over ninety degrees today, that is way better than the one-hundred-plus heat of not too many days ago. I'm seated at my computer and can see outside, which may or may not be a good thing. I happen to think it is okay, as long as I pay more attention to my screen than the goings-on in my yard.

I'm in black flip-flops, a taupe prairie skirt topped by a man's white cotton undershirt (love those!). I think I need red nails to match my outfit. So later I'll give myself a mani-pedi. Meanwhile, frozen chicken breasts are thawing, to be breaded and baked for dinner.

And I'm at work.

Yes, too glorious to be true, but it is nonetheless. I am my best boss ever--ha!

I'm an author. And when not creating, I'm a freelance copy editor for two large publishers. Either way, my computer and I are inseparable. I love my profession so much that I work holidays, weekends, my birthday, Christmas, New Year's.

I work probably eleven hours a day. Most days. Now I don't get paid for all that, as I love to research, to read, to learn more about my craft and then to blog about what I've found. I enjoy every bit of it. With no commute, I saved myself fifteen hours a week. And have put them to better use than by incurring a three-thousand-mile oil change every season.

Now there was one day I did copy edit for eleven hours. That was a brutal day. My mind is not set up for that. But I can weather six to eight hours, seven days a week. I happen to think I'm very productive in that mode.

I wish everyone had the freedom I do. To work those sleepless nights from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. and then sleep to noon to be revived to resume work from noon to six that evening. To work around errands. To work outside once the weather gets comfortably into the seventies and hopefully the mosquitoes are gone.

For that matter, if money were no object, I could work at the beach, in a woodsy cabin or on a boat I suppose. As long as I have battery power and an occasional internet connection, I'm golden.

It took me several years to reach this glorious pinnacle, but it was worth every bump. In this my new career, worry is such a waste of energy. It stifles the creativity. And things usually work out. Granted I had to get a McJob in two really lean times, but I'm fully at home now. With steady work and expected earnings that exceed my monthly bills. That, along with my health, is my definition of wealth.

I've never been more broke nor as happy--except at the birth of my son. That remains the ultimate high. But these days, they are right on up there. And now that I've done without for a period, I'm ever-so-grateful for the plenty on its way. And will be a better steward of it because of my new heightened insight.

So, Happy Friday, all! I wish you manifold blessings.

Denise Barker, author, blogger, copy editor

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Do. NOT. Quit. Be Evidence to Inspire Others

I love Barbara Conelli's blog. She's a wonderful travel writer who transports me to Italy with just one sentence. But she's more than that. She's a very wise woman. Read her inspiring post about not quitting.

I wish I had written that.

And even though the title states this article is for authors/writers, it is for all of us with a dream. Be the first person to break the four-minute mile in your niche. Show everybody it CAN be done. Enjoy.

Here's the link:


Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Collage as Prewriting and Inspiration, per Jennifer Crusie

Another CP of mine forwarded a post from Patricia Burroughs's blog entitled Let's Write a Book . . . , in which she shares Jennifer Crusie's collage process. You may find Pat aka Pooks here: http://classofpooks.blogspot.com/2012/09/jenny-crusies-collage-system-whiteboard.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LetsWriteABook+%28Let%27s+write+a+book...%29.

The two Crusie collage links confirm the Story Structure to Die For insights (see initial post of today). Our subconscious knows the tale to be told. Maybe a collage can help us discover it, uncover it, define it.

The first of the two is a long post, so grab your cuppa joe and settle in. Here is that one: http://www.jennycrusie.com/for-writers/essays/picture-this-collage-as-prewriting-and-inspiration/#container.

And then the second link shares actual pictures of the collages. Very artistic! Find them here: http://www.jennycrusie.com/more-stuff/book-collages/.

As a pantster who works off instinct and intuition, I could get into this. Plus, I may not have all the artistic painter genes to render the kind of covers I need for my novels, but I'm capable enough to collect and collage, so this seems like a fun art project from start to finish.

[Please keep on praying for Grant. See post immediately before this one. Thank you and God bless.]

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Please Send Up Prayers for Grant, J. J. Virgin's Son

I won't go into the details but J. J. Virgin's son Grant was very badly injured by a hit-and-run driver on Monday, surviving on miracles each step of the way. Please send up prayers for Grant.

I don't know J.J. personally, just from reading her health newsletter online. But, as a mother of a son, I feel for her fully.

And I've prayed.

Thank You, God, for being with J.J., Grant and the other family members always, but especially let them feel Your presence at a time like this.

Denise Barker

Story Structure to Die For by P. J. Reece

One of my CPs reminded me of this e-book which I had downloaded but not yet read. So I gulped all fifty-six pages last night. Major revelation!

The title is a foreshadowing, an overview, of the author's insights. Once read, you'll remember it too. And there is a lot of white space involved in the PDF version, so it won't even take an hour to ingest and learn.

You can look at the pieces of a good story or you can look at the sum of the parts. You can look to formula or you can look to goal.

Once incorporated, how freeing!

I recommend it for plotters and pantsters alike. Enjoy. Here's the link for a free download of P. J. Reece's wonderful e-book:


P.S. The author styles his name as "PJ Reece" without the usual periods following his initials. But for us copy editors, CMS rules. Particularly CMS 8.6 which not only requires that I put in periods, but also a space to separate each initial. Unless it was reference to the initials alone, as in "P.J." (no space in between). OR unless it was a set of three initials, like JFK or LBJ--then no spaces, no periods.

Aah (yes, this is Webster's preferred spelling), the life of a copy editor . . .

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

God Bless America

God bless all of us worldwide. But on this day, this particular day, God bless America.

Denise Barker

Friday, September 7, 2012

Speaking of Writer's Block . . .

I've never had "writer's block" because I'm an author.

And here's the distinction in both my mind and as paraphrased from the words of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: An author creates, like God (check out Webster's yourself). A writer . . . writes.

Think of the terms "ghostwriter, screenwriter, copywriter." All these wonderfully artistic souls are for hire in general. Not that they can't also be authors, but these three terms are strictly for when they are working under someone else's direction, writing around someone else's creation.

For ghostwriters, they take the idea from the source (the person who hired them) and carry it to fruition. For screenwriters, they usually take a novel (again, someone else's baby) and reduce it to a 120-page script for the big screen. For copywriters, they are instructed (by their employers) to write ads for their customers, for instance.

Okay, the previous spotlighted generalities. This paragraph deals with specifics. You could order me, a romsus author, to "write like Stephen King" and my brain would freeze. Same as if you commanded me to write about death in gory details or child porn or concentration camps. First, not my genres. Second, even if you dictated that I write in my own genre--now at this very instant--a romantic suspense short story about a prince and a barmaid, I'd be a petrified, brain-dead, wordless individual.

Because I don't write on demand.

Because I'm not paid by the hour or in flat fees per job.

Because I generate my own ideas.

Because I create from data I am constantly gathering with all six senses (yes, I'm counting intuition).

Now granted, I could write something if forced and it would probably read that way . . . forced. Lifeless. No emotion. Because it didn't have the verve of a story idea that I cultivated and picked myself.

Thus, if I don't happen to be creating at the moment, I don't call it "writer's block." I call it gathering info, letting things marinate, allowing thoughts to percolate a while longer. Research. 

So, be careful what you name things.

Take Abram in the Bible for instance. When God wanted to change Abram's destiny, he changed his name, WHAT HE WAS CALLED. That is why we know him better as Abraham. God changed his wife's name, too. Sarai became Sarah for the very same reason.

Beware what you call things.

So if you think you are experiencing "writer's block," ask yourself these questions:
  1. Am I working with a subject or theme or premise I chose myself, which I love, that inspires something in me, whether enthusiasm and goodwill or rage about wrongs to be righted or something in between?
  2. Am I on the wrong side of the writer-author line? Like me, I work better solo, in full control, as an author. While I could function in the write-about-this role, I would not be happy and my creative genes would go on strike.
  3. Am I affixing a derogatory label (writer's block) when I really need downtime, some influx of new data/scenery and my mind-body-soul are just working off that bad input?
  4. Change "can't/won't/no" to "choose not to/maybe later/not now as I've decided to do something more important." Watch for those automatic responses we all tend to replicate.
  5. Stop saying "I have writer's block" and that may cure a lot of ills--ha! 
  6. Am I working by formula instead of being moved by emotions?
Hope something above stirred your heart as you read this. As always, take what resonates, toss the rest.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Writer's Block Is When Your Imaginary Friends Won't Talk to You

Per wordsmith.org:
writer's block has been described as the situation when your imaginary friends won't talk to you. 
As an author, I love this humorous interpretation. Had to share.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor