Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Sherwood Schwartz was a genius. Who is Sherwood Schwartz? He was the Executive Producer of Gilligan's Island. He was the one who composed the theme song and wrote it so that anyone who was watching it for the first time could listen to the theme song and know the premise of their story. He believed in avoiding exposition.

Can we take a lesson from this. The dictionary says that EXPOSITION is a setting forth of meaning or intent.

As writers we all need to present the most information possible in a timely manner without scaring away the reader. You want them to identify with the characters and the story from page one. By naming the characters the skipper, the millionaire, his wife, the movie star, the professor... etc. He gave a very clear idea of who it was and what their immediate difference were. All from very different walk of life. How do you describe you hero and heroine? Are you able to give a clear, immediate image of them that will intrigue the reader and make them want more? If not, maybe you need to look at it again.

In the meantime, ponder these...

Why did Ginger bring so many clothes on a three hour tour?
If it was a deserted island and they couldn't get off of it, how come there were so many guests who could get on it and then disappear once again?
Just how did they get that radio to work off coconuts?

A bit of trivia...
Incidentally, in the opening scene you can see a flag at half mast. This was filmed in the wake of the assassination of JFK. Also, the original theme song was called "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle" not Island.

While we will never actually know what Gilligan's full name was, I did discover that the Skipper's name was actually Jonas Grumby, played by Alan Hale.

And finally... The theme song has been covered by Bowling for Soup (here) among many others. There were several other version before they picked the one most of us (of a certain age) remember and can sing by heart. One was an unaired Calypso version for the Pilot written by John Williams (here).

So, for now... just sing along with me. You know you remember the words.
You know... I had one of those days... Let me make it one of THOSE weeks. I've worked my butt off at my day job. Done the mom thing and shuttled kids back and forth and now I have a husband and daughter with the flu. I know things could be a lot worse, but frankly... I could just use some good news. I even went to goodnews.com... don't bother. There's nothing there, but a placeholder. I turned on the TV and the Davinci Code was one. Now, I have to be the only person in the world who has not read it or seen the movie. Unfortunately, I came into it halfway through and it didn't make much sense. The only thing I got from it was that there was a lot of passion for ideas that made them different. Lot of passion. Maybe that's what my books are missing? Or maybe it's my own lately. I feel a burn out coming on... time to find a way to reignite my own creative fires. Anyone got any ideas.

research fact

Just in case you ever wondered how hard it must have been to be a lightkeeper in the early years? Portland Head Light... probably Maine's most photographed lighthouse... was built in 1791 and originally lit with 16 whale oil lamps. How would you have liked to climb those stairs continually to refill the lamps? Not me. A fresnel lens wasn't installed until 1864. That's a lot of whale oil and steps.

photo courtesy of the Portland Head Light Photo Gallery

Quote of the week...

All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
- George Orwell
Me to Hubby: No matter what I do I can't seem to boost my blog following.
Hubby to Me: Sex sells. Write sex. That'll do it.


Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex!

Creating the Writer's Life, Part 4

We've talked about Intentions and Actions. We've looked at what we want and what is holding us back from what we want. We've even talked about setting long range goals. But today we are talking about... Creating the Results You Want.

My horoscope said "You are on a journey forward, but looking back is not a bad idea."

This was pretty prophetic for me. Not because I live my life ruled by words printed on a page, but because it cuts to one of my core beliefs. We all make choices in life, some good, some bad. But life is about choices and what you make from those choices. I've lost enough loved ones to know that looking back on life with regret is useless. It's done. Move forward. Learn from it. Did you reluctantly chose to change what you were writing because someone mentioned the market was looking for another genre? Only to find that by the time you got that book written the industry had changed again? Move on. But keep an eye to what worked and what didn't. I think the trick is to know what your faults are, but don't limit yourself by them. I've had my fair share of rejections, especially over the last year. But when I look back at them now I can see that the things that are mentioned in the rejections are consistent in all the others. These are things I can change in order to find my success.

So, lets talk about success...

Quote for the day: Success is a RELATIVE thing

And the only person it is relative to is you! If you find that you are happy writing the books that you do, then don't let anyone else tell you that you should be working on a different book. You know those goals that you wrote. Those are YOUR goals. Not someone else's. The only person who can truly say you are a success is yourself. Not your mother, brother, aunt or stranger on the street. There will always be someone who will look down on what you do. Accept it and move on. They are not you.

But if you want to make more money at the writing or place on the best seller lists and you find that you are coming short of your goals then it's time to look at those things that are holding you back.

How many of those things that are holding you back are obstacles that you create for yourself?

What small (or large) changes can you make to change those limiting behaviours?

Are you willing to make those changes to get what you want?

It's that honesty thing again that I was talking about earlier. Part of the reason that I didn't publish for so long was because I let so much of my life interfere in what I wanted. I never gave up on wanting to be published, but I didn't actively change those behaviours that were holding me back from it.

If you take anything away from this mini-workshop I hope that it's HOPE. Just like the characters that we write they can not continue on without hope. But hope requires intention, action and even change to make it all come together and become The Writer's Life You Want.

I hope you that you enjoyed this mini-workshop. I'd appreciate hearing any comments or suggestions that you have for me.

Now, go create!

Creating the Writer's Life, Part 3

We've talked about Intention... Now lets talk ACTION!
But before we do that, I want to talk about those questions that I asked yesterday. Remember those?

What is it that you want?
What is it that you need?
What are the things that are standing in the way of your wants?
What can you do to get what you need?

I wanted to know what your deepest desires where and what was standing in the way of the Writer's Life that you want.

Now I want to know what you are willing to do to work toward those dreams?

Honest now... are you truly willing to give up that extra sleep time in order to write? Do you give up those mocha lattes so that you can go to conference and learn more about your craft, possibly putting yourself in front of an editor or agent? And are you willing to do the hard work that needs to be done in order to finish a book. I'm not talking about merely getting to the end, but doing all the hard work that happens after you enter that last page into the computer.

I've said this before, I worked seven years of 3-11 in retail. Most of it had to do with not paying a sitter for my son. But the honest part of me will say that I also did it because it gave me more time to write. It wasn't easy. Anyone who has tried writing with small children under foot will tell you that it can be damned near impossible at times. But you do what you have to do.

Short story time: During the time that my son was small and I was working nights I found that the National conference was going to be in New Orleans and I desperately wanted to go. But we didn't have the extra money. I took a part time job stripping wall paper so that I could afford it. If you've ever stripped wallpaper then you know that was a sacrifice. Did I go to conference? Yes, and it was an incredible opportunity. I took a group appointment with an editor because it was the only thing available. This was not the most ideal situation, but it happened to work in my favor when the other two in my group editor meeting showed up unprepared. When she turned to me and asked me whether I had a finished book I could say honestly that I did. The book didn't sell to her, but it did sell eventually. The thing is... if you push yourself and take chances then you get the opportunities and the growth that comes from them.

So... where was I? Action?

Action requires motion or activity... an implementation of a plan.

I took a great workshop through www.rosescoloredglasses.com . They have some wonderful workshops that I highly recommend. But in this particular workshop they asked us to write up a bio of ourselves once we had gotten to the point in our career where we considered ourselves successful. Now, I'm not sure that was the exact assignment. I've taken the course twice and it could have changed. But I think it's an important place to start. So... go ahead... write that bio for yourself. Have fun with it. Want to earn enough to have that beach house in Maui? Striving to be continually on the top of the NYT best sellers list? Put your dreams into that bio?

Got it? Good.

Now comes the hard stuff. We are good to plan the activity behind the dreams. Goals, people... I'm talking goals. And it is not a dirty word. Want to treat yourself as a professional and be regarded as a professional? Well, that includes having a business plan to work from... goals for your company. An investment in the dream.

If your ultimate dream is to be a New York Times Bestseller then we need a road map to get there. What have you got to do to achieve that dream? What is the action required? Think big. Don't limit yourself. Dream the possible.

More questions:
Where do you want to be in:
1 year:
5 years:
10 years:

If your goals is that best seller status then where do you expect yourself to be in your career in 1 year? Finish a book? Have a book under contract? What action is required to meet that goal?

1. Finish a book? This requires that you set a goal of writing a certain amount of pages. Keep a list of work accomplished. I keep an Excel sheet that I think I got from the rosescoloredglasses.com workshop. It's helpful in that not only do I see what I've accomplished, but I see what I don't accomplish. Spend the time to break it down. Not a plotter? That doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't set goals for yourself.

2. Have a book under contract? Well, usually that requires that you take action on #1. But there are some that have managed it without writing the book first. For me, I've never sold a book that wasn't already finished. I don't like the pressure that it puts on me. Now that the book is done do you know where you want to submit? Research publishers and agents? Don't want an agent? Fine, but make sure that you make yourself as knowledgeable as possible when it comes to dealing with things like contracts, etc.

I'm going to leave the rest of this up to you. Remember that you can't have a goal without an action. Intention with action is only a dream that's dead in the water...

Question for the day: What action did you take today to work toward your goals?

Creating the Writer's Life, Part 2

Part 2...
Intention: Do you have it?

Morgan Mandell said something after the first posting that had me mulling it over for the rest of the day. She said that she needed to put more effort into her endeavors and described her writing as a hobby. Sorry for picking on you Morgan, you are very sweet...

But (as you already know) I don't agree.

I think that just because my writing isn't the job that pays the bills that doesn't mean that I should consider it nothing more than a hobby. Any time that you put effort continuously into something, intention into action... it is more than a mere hobby.

Which brings me to todays questions:

What is it that you want?
What is it that you need?
What are the things that are standing in the way of your wants?
What can you do to get what you need?

Doing something with intention means making a conscious effort toward a goal. Writing one sentence, one page, one chapter... these are acts of intention.

If you answered that you want to be a published author, then you need to understand what the intention behind this desire would be. Do you actively learn your craft? Do you have a goal that you want to realize? Have you written that first sentence, paragraph, page?

So, what is it that you need? Time, money... in my case it's usually a bit of peace and quiet in order for me to focus on my writing. There is also my need to start saying "no" whenever someone wants me to do something. All these things rob me of my ability to create my writer's life. Keep in mind that the word selfish gets a bad rap. We program ourselves to be everything to everyone... usually, everyone save ourselves.

So this brings us to the things that are standing in our way. Think of it this way... needs are usually something material, physical or emotional that stands in the way of what we want. If you want to be a writer, but you don't have the money for a computer, then you need to find a way to get those words out. I started out on a typewriter (yes, I'm that old) and then I went to a word processor and then to an ancient desktop that I bought from a friend for $100. This was before Windows and Word. I didn't get far with that. But what I've found 0ver the years is that if I believed in what I was doing then somehow those beliefs or intentions would provide what I needed. Paper was always plentiful... even when computers were not.

And that brings us to the last question... what can you do to get what you want?
If it's time you need then you have to decide if your intention is strong enough to warrant your getting up an extra hour early, or staying up late. I worked 3-11pm for 7 years. After a 2o minute ride home I'd go home and write for an hour or so. I survived several years on 4 to 5 hours of sleep and managed it just fine. (Just don't ask my family how it was.)

The rather round-about point of this discussion on intention is this... Intention is action and any action or effort that you put into your writing defines your work as a more than a mere hobby. Give yourself credit for your actions. You deserve it.

So, what are your intentions toward your writing for the day?

Creating the Writer's Life, Part 1

Success is not the default, and success does not come easily.

I picked up this little tidbit from Nathan Bransford blog entitled Picking Droplets from a Firehose. It's worth reading the entry because it's exactly what I've been trying to say with this mini-workshop-lecture series that I have going here. I'm starting of with these words because they are honest and direct. These are words that every budding writer should know.

Getting that first word down on the page is hard. It's hard getting to the end of the first sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, etc., etc., etc., (you get the idea).

Very early on in my writing career I realized that I was very good at writing the first three chapters of a book. I loved the excitement of getting those first words on the page and the escalating tension that came with the building relationship between the hero and heroine.

Unfortunately, after chapter three I tended to fall flat on my face.

It wasn't that my stories didn't have merit. It was more that somewhere along the way I began to realize that I had no idea where I was going with my story after those three chapters. Worse, the same could be said for my writing career. It took me several years to realize that it was going to take more than perseverance to get me to publication. I needed to learn the craft, learn the business and somehow find my way to the bestseller list.

I'm still waiting for the best seller list.

But I did learn something very important and that was that unless I treated myself as the professional writer I wanted to be, then why should I expect anyone else to take me seriously? Maybe you've heard the adage... Dress for the job you want. Not the job you have. The same could be said for how you present yourself as a writer. It's hard enough to be a writer when people are continually asking you when you're going to be published or how come it's taking so long? The road to publication is a long one. For me, it took 12 years before I sold and then it was almost to the 14 year mark before I saw my name on the front of a book. That's a long time to wait. But there were very few times through those years that I questioned whether I could do it. After all, why couldn't I? There were plenty of others out there who had just as much experience as I had and they were being published. But during those years, I did see an awful lot of aspiring writers give up and let their dream die.

I was determined not to be one of them. I needed a plan.

Questions for the day:
Do you know where you want to go with your writing?
Do you have a plan to get there?

Be honest. Be brutally honest. Be so honest that it hurts. That is what is going to make this work. But this honesty is only part of it. I have one more question for you to think about before Part 2.

What are you doing about making your plan succeed?

I hope you'll join me for Part 2.


I had intended to continue on with my mini-online workshop about Creating the Writing life You Want. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a family crisis here and it is going to be delayed. Look back over the next couple of days for the next installment. In the meantime, here's a quote to hold you over...


Quote of the week...

The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book.
- Mickey Spillane

Question for the week...

John Quinones has written a book, Heroes Among Us.

If you seen John Quinones, either on Good Morning America or What Would You Do?, then you know that he talkes a lot about the psychology of how people react. Recently, he did a piece for GMA where he posed as a Migrant Worker being verbally abused by a restaurant employee. He did this in an attempt to see whether or not people would step in and intervene, or back off and let it happen. The results showed that there were people out there willing to step in and make a difference. To see that others are protected.

I haven't read his new book. I just found out about it this morning. But one of the things that he talked about in his interview on GMA was that women are more likely to step in and protect others. He said teenagers have a similar thought process, but that men lose this instinct as they mature. Very interesting. Twice now my daughter has stepped in and defended someone that she thought needed help. Twice she has put herelf on the line to protect those smaller, weaker, or just not as confident as herself. My first reaction was adrenhaline. Once I determined that she had not really put herself in danger I was okay. My second reaction was that I was proud of her. She had shown real caring and even leadership skills by stepping in to right wrongs. But I did have a third reaction. One of concern. Would there be long range effects from her actions? Would she alienate herself in order to protect others? Unfortunately, this is a very real threat. One that didn't happen.

But the interesting thing about this was that my husband sort of skipped the first few reactions and went right to the last. He felt she should have stayed out of the situation and let them defend themselves. He was worried that she would have put herself at danger just for someone else.

Is his reaction wrong or mine right? I don't think there is a wrong or right in this case. I think that you need to be true to yourself and your own ideals. What makes a hero? I write them and yet, everyday my notions are challenged. What do you think makes a hero?

First thing first... Getting Ready for the New Year, part 1

The time when I start refocusing on the business side of my writing. Taxes. Getting Organized. Setting up a plan for the coming year. These are all just as important as setting goals for your writing. We consider ourselves professionals and as such we need to have a business plan (of sorts) in order to move forward. Just as our books get those "sagging middles" when we don't do enough plotting or planning, the same can be said for our writing careers.

1. Do you know which direction you want to go? This is important and probably one of the hardest ones to define. If you are like me then you have more than one project going at a time and that means a split focus. This is not to say it's bad, but you need to have a clear focus for each on which way you want to go. For instance:

Writing Work:
--I have a non-fiction book proposal to write. This is something that I've been actively collecting information for it.
--Rework the Romantic Suspense and submit. This, again, is something that has needed to be done, but with the holidays there was no way I could get it done.
--Rework the Paranormal Short, again, duh. Needs to be done.
--Finish a category short. (This is a fairly new goal.)

Business Goals:
--Write that non-fiction book proposal.
--Rework www.TeaganOliver.com and find a way to have changing content and bring back people. Perhaps, blending blog with site as I did with MaineRWA.com
--Write another workshop and proposal.
--Organize, Organize, Organize.Find a better way to store my tax information. I have a really good spreadsheet to log in information, but I'm not always good about entering it. I need to have a better way of organizing myself and my information.
--Important: Treat myself as a professional. Treat my writing work as professional. Make sure that I am doing everything that I can to take it as seriously as I expect others to do. This includes the little things such as: carry business cards, promote books that are still out there, but not new. Continue to look for opportunities to advance career.

So, have you defined your goals for the upcoming year? You have to define them in order to set them. Make a list of what you really want and then define them into actual goals. You can do it. Go on. Let me know some of those things that you really want to accomplish in the upcoming year. I want to know.

99 Things MEME

This came from Anne McAllister's blog. Like Anne, I tag any and all readers --
send me a link or link back here so that I can see what you been up to.
Things you've already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to - leave in plain font
1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world.
8. Climbed a mountain. (in a car)
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo. (Only in the car)
11. Bungee jumped. (Yeah, right)
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. (But I did see an incredible one in Texas across the flatlands.)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child. (I adopt most of the kids that work for me ~ at least it feels that way)
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. (But I did stand in front of the Radio City Music Hall. This one is for Grammy!)
18. Grown your own vegetables. This year it was lots and lots of Zucchini!
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you weren't ill.
24. Built a snow fort. (I grew up in Maine. We had LOTS of snow forts, castles, ships, etc.)
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a marathon.
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (Some not all)
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person.
41. Sung Karaoke. (My friends have threatened me with this at NJRWA. Maybe someday)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing. (wonder if lobstering would count?)
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.
55. Been in a movie. (I'm in one on uTube. Check out Maine Ghost Hunters)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood.
65. Gone sky diving. (No.No. NO!)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a cheque.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades. (although, I opted out on the Gator Tour. We did go to Gatorland)
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.(I have no desire to own a BRAND NEW car. I like used just fine.)
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone's life. (I hope that I never have to save someone)
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.

Sad news

2 local fishermen dead in sinking of 'The Patriot'

This headline is from the Gloucester Times.
These are the headlines that many dread. Those words that speak to something that shatters the soul. Mine is not currently a fishing family, other than those years that my father hauled his own traps while I was growing up. My husband did the same. But there is fishing in my blood. My cousins, Grandfather, Great-Grandfathers and Great-Great Grandfathers all eeked a sometimes meager, often hard life from the ocean. I can't say that it isn't in my blood somewhere. It was enough in my father's blood that he went into the Coast Guard. But that still doesn't capture that feeling of panic that many of us feel when when we know that there is a crew and a boat in trouble. Or worse, lost.

My heart goes out to the families. My own ancesters are Gloucester stock and many of the bigger boats from Harpswell have gone to Gloucester now to fish. I'm convinced that sometimes the profession chooses the person, long before they can even comprehend it. They do it for more reasons than just that it's what they know and they grew up with. They do it because it's a part of themselves.

Again, please know that there are those of us out there who are heartbroken at your loss. Though our pain is no where as heavy a burden, our thoughts go out to your families in a timeless gesture of heart and hope.

Somewhere out there are angels watching over these men and women. May they all be blessed.

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Writing from the Dark Side

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