Reading the Road

Avid readers talk about how many books they read in a year. But there’s another type of avid reader: someone who reads EVERYTHING. Sitting in a restaurant, they read the entire menu, every poster on the wall, each placard tucked between the salt and pepper shakers.

I’m one of those avid readers. Which means I also read every single sign along the highway as we travel.

EverywhereRoads01

This past June we drove across a portion of central Nevada and up into Idaho, from Great Basin National Park to Boise. Despite spectacular scenery around us, few other vehicles crossed our path.

But there was found plenty to read. Continue reading “Reading the Road”

Life as a Traveling Writer

Travel writers are a dime a dozen. Well, okay, maybe not *that* common. But when someone says they’re a travel writer, they usually don’t have to explain what it means, especially now with so many cable TV channels and hundreds of magazines devoted to travel. Travel writer implies they travel to various locations to write about it for magazines, books, and guidebooks. They get photos, interview interesting people, and make note of important details. The destination is the thing.

I’m not one of those writers. Nope, I’m a traveling writer. It’s a very different thing. Let me explain. Continue reading “Life as a Traveling Writer”

Read “Pea Body” on Your iPad!

My newest novel, Pea Body, featuring amateur sleuths — and full-time RVers — Walt and Betty Rollin, is now available via iTunes!

You can purchase this e-version directly from the iTunes store via this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/pea-body/id854711250?mt=11

Or you can select the print version via Lulu from my author spotlight page here: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ellenbooks

As always, thanks for your support and encouragement!

[Now… excuse me while I get back to writing the next Walt and Betty Rollin RV Mystery 🙂 ]

Finding Time to Write

“I can’t wait until I’m done with high school so I can spend more time writing,” confessed several of the young writers I worked with some years ago in Ohio. They had been selected to participate in a week-long writing intensive at a state university. They were creative, avid writing nerds thrilled to have time with peers and adults alike who actually appreciated and encouraged their desire to write.

Every time I heard this, I immediately wondered whether I should break their bubble with the truth: they will never have time to write. That they probably have more control over their time to write in high school than just about any other time in their lives. That they will go on to college, where they’ll probably fill any non-academic time with work to pay tuition and much-needed social time. After that, more school or a job… or two jobs… juggling doing what it takes to pay the bills with staying connected with family and friends.

If they marry, they’ll have even more demands on their time… and having kids?!? Well… climbing Mount Everest might seem easier than finding time to write. (See Suzannah Windsor Freeman’s book “The Busy Mom’s Guide to Writing,” being released soon, for help on this front.)

Me? Thanks to my beloved husband, I was able to quit my job well before retirement age. We’re on the road as full-time RVers — living and traveling in our RV. As we planned what we’d pack and our first trip on the open highway, we looked forward to a future of fishing for him and writing for me.

What could keep us from that?!?

Well, life gets in the way. We might be on the road, but we still have to get the oil changed, make meals, do laundry, buy groceries. And since we’re in different cities and states all the time, that means it can take longer to run simple errands because we’re constantly figuring out which stores carry the brands we like.

Not that I’m complaining! Here’s my point: you’ll never be handed time to write. You will always have to carve out that sliver of the morning, afternoon or night to get that short story finished, that poem poured over, that novel nudged into the next chapter.

Even professional, bestselling authors have to block out time to focus on their work. They have all the business of writing they have to juggle.

So don’t keep waiting for the time to suddenly be right. It won’t be.

Sharpen your knife and carve out that slice of your day for you and your work. Hang a note on the doorknob or around your neck that says, “Please don’t disturb. Writer At Work.”

Otherwise you’ll never get to that short story. The novel will never get started. The poem will never find its internal song. You will never be the writer your dream of being if you don’t write.

It’s up to you.

Pechaflickr

What better way to start a brand new blog that suggest a unique way to get that creative writing motor primed? To start it up with a blustery howl?

“Pecha Kucha,” a phenomenon that swept the professional world a few years ago, shook up otherwise boring PowerPoint presentations by demanding the presenter use just 20 slides and spend just 20 seconds on each slide.

Now we have “PechaFlickr” — a wild and fun combination of the “Pecha Kucha” requirements of 20 slides/20 seconds each with a randomly-selected set of 20 images from Flickr.

Oh… how cool is that?!?

Of course I couldn’t resist trying, and typed in the word “fluffy” to start with. I’m not keen on “fluffy” as a word, to be honest, but it was a recent word from a group writing activity I participated in a few weeks ago and thought it would be a great comparative exercise. I didn’t get 20 slides, and of course you can imagine the types of images that generally came up, but still… for a quick-start writing activity, it was one of the best I’ve experienced.

Here’s the piece of “fluffy” writing I came up with (with just a few edits to translate my shorthand into something readable):

Mountains of white snow, maybe a foot and a half, on a picnic table… the blue puffy clouds overhead threatening to smile away that snow…. Inside, a brown-faced cat peers out the window, maybe imagining cold. A leopard hugs itself in the zoo downtown, its blue eyes unyielding. On the farm a black rooster stares you down while the snow starts to fall, gently, again. The white cat inside, perched on its paisly tablecloth ignores plea for it to get down from the table, trying to keep it away from those brownies, their green speckled candy or something green you don’t want to think about. Feeling ignored, the white cat jumps into your arms, while a third cat, fat, proud of it with its “I’m not fat I’m husky name” tag watches while a brown all-over cat watches from the couch. Outdoors, the pale pink strands of a seed-filled flower pod soak up the light from the pale blue sky and its spackle of white clouds. The neighbor’s black dog, a spot of white beard on its chin, looks longingly at you. And you? You’re dreaming of a flight over the clouds, the sun setting or maybe rising in pale orange along the horizon. The song sparrow sings for you on the stoop of its birdhouse, and when that pale pink, seedy pod has grabbed your attention again you see it has transformed into a strong, thin bloom with loud, bright colors.

Type fast! Twenty seconds isn’t long for capturing all that will swarm through your head like the buzzing of a million bee-like ideas.

Ready? Type any word into the pink bar and see what happens. FYI… I opened my computer’s “Notepad” option so I could type along while the images came onto the screen.

Here’s the link.
http://pechaflickr.net/

Let us all know how it works for you!