Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wednesday Writer's Club #2

You are a Writer

First I’d like to say that if you love to write, you can call yourself a writer. It doesn't matter whether or not you’ve been published! And if you enjoy blogging, you’re definitely a writer (and a little crazy too!—in a pleasant sort of way!)

The gift of writing manifests itself in different ways. You could be an excellent letter writer, or great at writing grants for your company. One friend of mine writes great birthday card verses. Her family loves receiving the customized cards.

If you'd like to send your work to an editor, for possible publishing, its helpful to remember that every editor has a different personality and preference. Some will like your piece and some will not. Another factor to consider when trying to get the attention of an editor, is trying to find out what that editor is looking for. All magazines and publishing companies have different (and changing!) needs. Trying to match what an editor wants can be a little tricky. But it’s possible!

Find Out What Publishers Need

For instance, you could submit an excellent article to a kids magazine about giraffes. But if they are looking for articles on sea life, you won’t get published. So do not take it personally if you get that dreaded rejection letter. Just try to study the magazine more closely—or the types of books they publish. Need some help with this? Read on...

Most of us don’t have a bundle of money to lay down to purchase all the back issues of magazines, in order to “study” them. Instead, go to a publisher’s website. They should have their current issue up—or current books they have published. For the magazines…click on some of the articles. Let’s say, for example, you wanted to write an article about prayer. Has this magazine recently published several articles on prayer? Give them something else. What haven’t they done? Note: Yet keep in mind that magazines are always looking for a new spin on an old topic.

In addition to the Writer’s Guidelines, many magazines will make available to you a “theme list”. For example, children’s periodicals often have theme lists. The month of May might be “Making New Friends”, and June might be “Summer Craft Projects”. In your big Writer’s Market book (see last Wednesday’s post) look up a particular publisher and see if a theme list is available. If it is, follow the instructions for obtaining one. If the instructions are unclear (often the case) it’s okay to call the publisher and ask how to obtain their theme list.

In Closing

Most of my publishing experience has been in writing articles for magazines. But I hope those who are writing books will find these writing hints useful. If you are writing a book, ask yourself…can these chapters be broken down—or tailored into an article? If you manage to get an article or two published--relating to your book manuscript, it will do you good. Publisher's may look at your book more seriously! But remember: Not all books will have chapters that make good use your head on this! You may find your fiction novel chapter may be a little challenging to change into an article!

Have a great day! And I’ll see you next week for Wednesday Writer’s Club! Drop me a comment, if you have time. I’d love to say hello to you and hear about your writing!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Chocolate Covered Raisins

Tomorrow we are celebrating my mother’s 76th birthday! I never know what to get her because she always insists, “I have everything I need.” I finally thought of the perfect gift. She loves guessing games so guess what her present is!

There’s a big green and gold bag on my desk filled with several small presents wrapped with red polka dot paper. Each present has a clue affixed to it. She’ll have to guess what they are. Okay. A sample for you. Can you guess what this is? “It’s sweet on the outside and good for you on the inside.” Yep. That’s it. (Hope mom doesn’t read my blog!)

I’m lucky to have such a wonderful mom. Her strong faith in God is a comfort and inspiration. And I’m quite proud of her tennis accomplishments. Up until a couple of years ago she had a national ranking.

And she’s also sweet and wise…kind of like a chocolate covered raisin.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cody Update

Cody got a job! He is going to be trained as a salesman at an off-road motorcycle store. He starts tomorrow. He needed new shoes very badly, so off we went tonight. They didn’t have the shoes he liked in size 12 so he got a "just okay” pair. He was anxious to get the shopping ordeal over with. Yes, I love shopping with a man. We go in, we come out and we’re done.

Cody has many more challenges to face, but the job was a major step.

This post is a bit short today…because things are a little crazy around here.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Extreme Parenting

My mind is on my oldest son. Today we scheduled a meeting with him about his bills, rent and his life direction in general. I heard his loud muffler coming down the street at about noon. I breathed a quick prayer for wisdom. Earlier, Tom and I had prayed together—that we would be firm, but compassionate…that we would have clarity of thought and a dose of patience. We pulled some chairs into the sunny spot on our driveway. The mood was somber under the blue sky. We discussed with Cody the upcoming dilemmas he will be facing in the next few days and possible strategies for solving them.

Right now I feel like a train engineer with a problem. One of my cars if off the track and bumping along in a dangerous fashion. Oh how I pray he will get back on track soon.

As parents, when our kids go through stuff, we feel it deeply. And when their problems become more serious, we cry out for relief. But I have to stop and think, that if God delivered me from my worries—therefore delivering Cody…would Cody learn anything? No. I can show my love for Cody by allowing him to experience the consequences of his choices.

With all our children, whether its completing a homework assignment or climbing out of debt, a parent’s job is to help them become more independent, not dependent. A wise older woman, once told me that when you allow your children to climb out of their own problems—as hard as that is—it gives them a feeling of confidence. If they are constantly rescued, they feel like a failure.

At times, yes, we still rescue him. Some things are beyond his control and expertise…and we don’t want him to lose hope in life itself by allowing him to be buried under a burden he cannot shoulder. But he does need to experience the realities of life. So we struggle along this road…

After Cody left, I walked out into the back yard so I could get a better view of the sky. Somehow, when I look at the sky, it helps me remember how big God is. I sat down on the dry prickly grass, put my hood up, and then lied down. The view was beautiful. As I stared at the sky, and watched the treetops move with the breeze, I felt my tense muscles begin to relax. And I knew that in some way—in God’s many ways—everything would be okay.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Writing Club!

Dinner is ready but nobody can eat right now. I hate it when that happens. So I put everything away (Chicken Caesar salad) and here I am on my blogging throne.

Today the subject is writing. I’d like to write some helpful advice to those writers who would like to publish their work. I’d love to share what I know…on Wednesdays! Maybe we could call it “Wednesday Writer’s Club”. Now I’m not a supreme authority on these matters, but I certainly can give some guidance. (Note: If you don’t see the post on Wednesday, check back later in the evening. I work during the day, and usually will post some time in the evening).

As an introduction I’d like to give you an assignment. Google your favorite magazine (or a book publisher) and see if you can find their writer’s guidelines. Not every magazine prints their guidelines for submission on the internet, but more and more magazines are jumping on board (on the web board) every day. In the past one had to write a letter to the magazine requesting the guidelines. By the time the guidelines came in the mail, the writer forgot what she wanted to to write about!

You may see some web sites that boast of having guidelines for many magazines. I have found that some of these sites do not list all the instructions for submissions and they are not updated regularly. It’s best to try to get guidelines from the web site of the magazine itself. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find the guidelines you need. There is always a way! Right now, in my lap, sits a book called Writer’s Market*. You can find the latest Writer’s Market in the library or bookstore. If you look up a specific publisher or magazine, information will be listed regarding how to submit your work…and how to obtain the writer’s guidelines. In the guidelines you will also find out how much you will get paid if your manuscript is accepted! Warning: some magazines/publishers do not pay at all…this inforamtion will be listed also. (How DARE they not pay a writer! Writing is hard work!!)

*2007 Writer’s Market edited by Robert Lee Brewer
Also: Christian Writers’ Market Guide 2007 by Sally E. Stuart

Okay. Start googling those magazines and publishers…and see you next week at Wednesday Writer’s Club!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Flying Oranges

I peered over the cinder block wall and aimed very carefully. My fingers curled around the orange, like a pitcher ready to throw his fast ball. The orange had to land in just the right spot. I released. The orange zoomed through the air and landed on a grassy spot right next to my neighbor's back porch. Perfect! If I had hit her brick pathway instead, the orange would have split. I stepped down off the wobbly plastic chair and went to pick a few more oranges. I had to keep Jean alive.

Jean is about 88 and she is very much alive! She says my oranges keep her going. She is a wonder. She cleans her house, gardens, drags her trash cans out, and keeps an eye on the neighborhood. She loves to wake up on a winter morning, and see oranges on the grass--as if they were dropped from heaven (or the Easter Bunny).

I'll be back soon--I want to talk to you about "Wednesday Writers Club".

Sunday, January 21, 2007

An Ocean View

Yesterday I found myself standing on the grounds of an old Palos Verdes Estate. Looking in one direction, I could see the massive Pacific Ocean, and in the opposite direction, an old cracked stairway led up a hill. Climbing the stairs, I passed citrus groves, clusters of cactus, and strange looking shrubs.

From the top I could see a view of the land and the ocean.

We were visiting my husband's film composing colleague who rents a bungalow on the grounds. He said the owner of the estate is a very old person who still lives in the big old mansion on the property. The many acres of land surrounding the mansion are undeveloped, and look much the same as they did 100 or more years ago. It was an awesome walk.

This trip to the coast came about quite unexpectedly. Tom, who is also a composer, needed to drop in to see his friend, to obtain some additional "sounds". We had a great time, and on the way back I talked Tom into driving over the beautiful Vincent Thomas bridge. It looks like the Golden Gate bridge of San Francisco, but its smaller. Tom, who doesn't like heights, smiled and said, "I'll do it for you." After the grand ride across the bridge, we descended safely onto the firm ground once again...only to see a roadblock. This meant we had to turn around and go back across the bridge! Tom was not thrilled. But I had fun!

Today was truly a breath of fresh air. There is a saying...that the best things in life are free. Today was wonderful. And it was free. Well..except for the gas, and visiting the Starbucks that overlooked the beach.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Face Down in the Dirt

Don’t travel alone. An ancient voice coming from the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes comments, “Two are better than one… If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has not one to help him up!” (Eccl 4:9a, 10)

That’s what I was thinking last time I rode my motorcycle. I was out at El Mirage with my son and husband. After winding through the foothills we decided to stop and enjoy the view…for a few seconds. Then we started up again. The road ahead involved negotiating a sharp turn. Dylan and Tom made the sharp corner. I didn’t. My bike fell over and I landed face down in the dirt. The bike rested heavily on my right leg. I listened to the sound of their motorcycles slowly drift away. Great. I wonder how long it will take them to discover I’m not behind them? I tried to shove the bike off my leg with my free foot, but nothing budged. I tried to twist my foot out. My foot wouldn’t budge. So I waited…and waited...studying the desert pebbles. Ten minutes later (it seemed like 30) they returned. Tom lifted the bike off me. “Sorry it took so long for us to get back.” I limped around (exaggerating a bit) Let them think I broke my foot!

Therefore it’s not a good idea to ride alone, because you might need someone to pull your bike off you. And the same is true for life’s journey. My husband and I are going through a difficult time with our oldest son. With so many crucial decisions to make—one after another—we found ourselves reaching out to others for advice. Friends who are older and have gone through similar experiences with their own children, have given us good objective counsel. My own parents have also been a solid support and vital compass. Now of course, there are times when the advice one receives from others may not always feel right. But it’s still helpful to hear different opinions. It gives you a broader perspective. Tom and I know that ultimately the final decisions will rest with us. But we are richer in knowledge for having listened to those around us.

We are also utilizing the advice written in about A.D. 55 by James. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him. (James 1:5-the Bible)

Parenting is a rough and bumpy road with lot’s of twists and sharp turns. It’s nice to know that we don’t have to travel alone!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


My husband got up at 6:15 a.m. this morning gathered his motorcycle gear, loaded his bike, picked up his friend and off they went to spend the day riding in the wilderness. He’s not back yet, and it’s 7:00 p.m. They usually stop for dinner on the way home, so no worries.

One time he and a few friends went riding in a mountainous area. They went a little too far and realized they were going to have to ride back to the staging area in the dark. It was about a 2 hour ride back and the roads looked a lot different in the dark. Therefore it turned into a 4 hour journey. One that my husband doesn’t want to repeat. Yes, they had a GPS (Global Positioning System), and the little black arrow pointed them back toward camp. But it didn’t really tell them which of the several crisscrossing dirt roads to take through the various mountain ranges. I started getting phone calls from wives about 8:00 p.m. “Have you heard?”

Tom told me later, he started to get nervous when they realized their gas tanks weren’t going to make it. And their water was getting low. We often talk about what we’d do if we got stranded somewhere. We always carry matches, emergency blankets and granola bars in our backpacks. But one never thinks it will really happen. Prayers were breathed as they paused for a moment to discuss directions and discern their situation. They decided to keep going for a bit longer. A few minutes later they saw headlights on the road in front of them. An old truck rattled toward them. They flagged the driver down and asked him if he had any gas. “Nope. This thing runs on diesel.” When they told him about their situation, he said, “follow me…I have some gas at my cabin”. The driver led them back to his cabin (out in the middle of nowhere) and poured gas into their tanks. “You parked your truck WHERE?” He refilled their water supplies. “You’ve got a long way to go yet.” They finally got back to the truck about 11:30 p.m.

Oh…Tom just walked in the door. He looks like he's in one piece. He is telling me they rode in the Copper City area and went about 91 miles today. He rode his friend’s KTM525. (Tom's bikes are a KLX300 and a WR250)

Well…I haven’t gotten to the subject of parenting yet...but I will soon. My oldest son, who moved out a couple of months ago, just called us. It seems his car is having problems. And he is low on money. I’m always praying for wisdom in knowing how much to help a 19 year old and how much to let them figure out on their own.

Monday, January 15, 2007

An Unexpected Visitor

I plodded down the deserted neighborhood street. Where was everyone? A cold wind slapped my face. Suddenly out of nowhere a tiny puppy appeared. He ran toward me and playfully lunged at my legs. Then he scampered down the street back toward my house.

I turned and followed him, gently calling, “Come ‘ere little fella.”

We recently lost our own dog, Jasper. He was 14 years old and loved immensely…especially by our sons. I wish I could put a picture of him up, but I don’t know how to do that yet. I’m still on my learning curve with this blog!

I quickly swung open the door to our home, and called my 15 year-old son.
(—good way to get him off the computer games.)

“Dylan! There’s a puppy out here!”

In 4 seconds flat, I heard Dylan’s large feet pounding toward me. He ran right by me and out into our yard. Both of us sat transfixed watching the fuzzy brown ball sniff the bushes and carve figure-eights in the grass. We managed to get a few pats in here and there. Then…he disappeared as quickly as he had come. I had gone in to get a leash, and Dylan said the puppy had run behind the house. When he went to find him, he was gone.

But his happy spirit lingered, and we were glad for a visit with a puppy. Somehow it helped fill the space Jasper had left. We’re not ready for a new dog yet…but someday the time will be right.

Thanks for visiting...I would write more, but I just remembered that I'm cooking dinner and I think the meatloaf is burning!

It's okay, Whew! Okay I have one more minute. I'll tell you what's coming up...

I ran into a couple of people who gave me some good advice on parenting my teen boys. Soon I will tell you a bit more about my boys. I really do need parenting advice.

Talk to you soon……

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Mysterious Envelope

Yesterday, I decided to open the mysterious red and yellow envelope that a messenger service had placed on my porch. I tore open the flap and pulled out a thick clump of paper. There was a letter on top.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to issue you a formal offer for your children’s book. You are among the 4% chosen out of tens of thousands each year to become published with our company. We believe this will be a marketable book. It is our pleasure to present you with this contract.”

Five seconds of pleasure filled my heart. Then I turned the page and read further.

(Not an exact quote) The publisher will provide (approx) $20,000 in resources to produce, market and distribute your Work. The author participation fee is: (approx) $4,000.

Okay readers….This is called Subsidy publishing. (Many of you are already familiar with this term.) A Subsidy publisher is a book publisher who charges the author to publish her book, as opposed to a royalty publisher who pays the author. Subsidy publishing is good for some authors, but may not be good for others…especially if they don’t have any money! Authors who speak and sell their books at their engagements, often “self-publish” or “subsidy publish”…because they know they can make their investment back.

Now if I had an extra $4,000, this might be good for me. But I don’t. So I will bounce this book out again. Sigh.

If you are thinking about doing some writing, it’s essential you pick up a Writer’s Market. Here are two choices:

Christian Writers’ Market Guide 2007 by Sally E. Stuart
(If you wish to write for the Christian market, this is a must.)

2007 Writer’s Market edited by Robert Lee Brewer

Inside these books you will find valuable advice about publishers, their needs and how to submit your work. You will also be able to discern between subsidy and royalty publishers. (Some publishers are both!)

Thanks for stopping in today. I'll be back on Monday. There's a deep blue sky out there, and I'm going for a walk. It's been awhile since I've talked to any of our neighbors. I wonder who I will see?

Friday, January 12, 2007

My First Post

Okay I’m going for it! No more procrastination. I gotta get this blog kicked off. Throw my fears aside!

So should I start with the topic of writing, parenting or motorcycles? Actually it all goes together. I recently wrote an article about being a mom on a motorcycle…and what it’s like to chase three men speeding across the desert—eating their dust! It’s called, “When God rode a dirt bike.” Yeah…I know. That sounds a little strange…but you have to read the article. (It will be a future post but presently its at a magazine under consideration)

How did we get into off-road bikes? When the boys were 12 and 15 my husband decided to buy three bikes as a sort of “male bonding” thing. As you all know, at that age kids are starting to gravitate toward their friends rather then spend time with family…especially true for our eldest son. So my husband bought the bikes. My husband and eldest son struggle in their relationship, and the bikes really helped to bring them together. A common interest is a wonderful thing. And it wasn’t long before I heard, “Hey mom, you ought to try this.” “Hey mom, pop a wheelie!”

It takes us awhile to drive out to the desert where we can ride. So most of the time you will find us living out life in our friendly California neighborhood. I call it “the flatlands”— a place surrounded by mountains to the North, and the beach to the Southwest. My town is pretty typical for this area. It’s crowded with people, rows of houses, traffic, barking dogs...all the usual stuff. In fact there’s nothing special, unless you look closely…and stop to notice… The first thing you might notice is oranges. A long time ago this land held acres of orange groves. Orange trees are still scattered here and there across our back yards. And almost everyone has a lemon tree. This can be a problem when you want to be neighborly and share the abundance of your crops.
“Would you like a basket of lemons?”
“No. I have 57 on my tree right now.”
I’ve learned that Christmas cookies get a lot better reception.

Well…I better sign off. I don’t want to wear you out on the first post. Yet I do want to add that when I drove home from work yesterday, I saw a bright red and yellow envelope on my front door step. I thought it was just a piece of junk mail so I left it there overnight. Today I opened it. It wasn’t junk mail. My heart skipped a beat as I read the letter. It was too good to be true! I’ll tell you more later.

Thanks for stopping by. Leave a comment if you wish. I'd love to meet you. It is so nice to know that someone is out there!

Sharon Lynne

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Introducing California Breeze

There is a new blog in process! But it's still being built.
Please check back Friday, January 12th.

Some of the topics will be:
Off-road riding in Southern California
Parenting Teens
Becoming a published writer
and simply...getting to know me...a wife, mom, writer, biker, and Special Education aide.
See you soon!