Tag Archives: writing

Writing about writing blog tour

shark2 - CopyAs part of the Writing About Writing blog tour, I’d like to introduce Esther Miller and Deb Hockenberry.


Esther Miller blogs about her travels around the country and about moments that have changed her life in some way. See her blog On The Road Again.

Esther has worked professionally in special education and mental health and has had a variety of volunteer jobs. Gardening, cooking, and ham radio are among her many interests. She married and raised her family in California, then lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for nearly 14 years. She recently returned to California to be near family.


Deb Hockenberry blogs about anything “kid.” Her blogs include personal experiences as a child wanting to write, book reviews of children’s books, and author interviews. See her website Kidztales here.

Deb has always wanted to write for children since she was a child herself. She loved making up and telling stories to her siblings and the neighborhood kids. She belongs to The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Deb has also taken two courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature and is taking an ongoing course in writing for children from The CBI Clubhouse. Each year, she looks forward to attending The Muse Online Writer’s Conference, or as she calls it, MuseCon.

Deb currently resides in the beautiful mountains of Central Pennsylvania. At any time of the year, these mountains are a sight to behold. In the autumn, the hillsides are dotted with red, gold, yellow, and orange. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, music, movies, and gardening.


Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers

Writing about writing blog tour

shark2 - CopyThis post is part of a blog tour Elizabeth H. Cottrell invited me to participate in. Elizabeth’s blog tour invitation originated at Sor’a Garrett’s The Shine Connection blog.

You can see Elizabeth’s Writing About Writing blog at Heartspoken here.

This week, I’ll answer the blog tour questions. Next week, I’ll introduce you to two bloggers who will answer the same questions.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on learning a new, full-time job. I am also enrolled as a new student at Minot State University. Those two things have consumed me over the last few months.

In between the exhaustion of all that, I’m working on a non-fiction, Word Shark book as well as collections of poetry, historical fiction, and horror and experimental fiction. And, I blog.

How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

Every writer has an original voice. I just write in my voice and hope that it appeals to others. At times I try to write with humor, even with the horror. When blogging, I try to share my experience and my thoughts, some advice, what I’ve learned along the writing way.

Why do you write what you write?

I write poetry because I enjoy that muse. I write horror to kill my demons (and my ex-husbands) and because I love the genre, when done well. I write historical fiction because those stories should not be forgotten. Many of my historical short stories are based on genealogical research I’ve conducted on my family. And I write a blog because I enjoy that outlet – and to share my experiences and thoughts. On the blog, I occasionally share my poetry and short stories.

Describe your writing process.

I have no process. I write when I have the time and the energy. Lately, I don’t have much energy (new job!). I don’t have a schedule, nor do I try to force a writing schedule.

I write. I let it sit. I look at it again. I rewrite. I let it sit. I look at it again and rewrite. I let it sit (lots of sitting here!).

I have decided to insert a new aspect to my process – that of asking a handful of beta readers to read through my bigger projects before they are sent to my editor.

Speaking of editorsoriginal[1]

One of the most important steps I do take in my process is hiring a high-quality editor. I won’t publish without Shawn MacKenzie.

Stay tuned – next week I’ll introduce you to two blogger/writers who will answer the same questions.


Filed under Blogging

Do you write about your travels?

DSC00977I have traveled quite a bit, but have not always made a habit of writing about my experiences. Many of my travels have no documentation, just memories.

Though one trip to Maine I kept a diary and took pictures. I also kept the maps and guide books. I did the same while on a trip to Germany.

My mom traveled to Wales and England, and she kept a diary and took pictures (yes, I have the diary and the pics!). I hope to make that same trip one day.

Research with travel books

When I go to yard sales, I look for travel books and books about geography and different states and different countries. I may not be able to visit all these wonderful places, but I can sure read about them.

Small notebook

While traveling, keep a diary. Or if you have a laptop, knock out your day-to-day experiences when you get back to your hotel that evening. Write not just what you see, but how you felt.

Take photos

Photos can refresh your memories and help you better describe the people, places, architecture, scenery, colors.

Local people

Talk to the locals. Trade email addresses in case you want to contact them again.

Write about attitudes – every place you go, there are attitudes and ideas that are specific to that region, state, or country.

Ask about the history

When you chat with the locals, ask how long they have lived there, where they came from, why they are there now.

Visit cemeteries

I wish I had taken more photos at the cemetery on Chebeague Island, Maine. There were stones there that went back more than three hundred years.

Don’t do it all in a car or bus.

Can you rent a bike? Can you hike? You would be surprised how your visual perspective changes as you are pedaling or walking.

Have you considered the train?

Amtrak has a new program called Amtrak Residency for writers. I have applied, but they haven’t called me, yet. When were you last on a train? Did it inspire different thoughts and ideas?

For a different perspective on travel writing, with guests Esther Miller and Darlene Foster

Travel writing Q&A with Esther Miller DSC00990

My travel writing has been mostly a journal I kept for our family, but the long blog last year was a little more polished than that, knowing that friends and strangers would be reading it. The bottom line is that it was still a record of where we’d been and what we were experiencing. For us, “travel” equals “car travel.” Flying somewhere is simply about getting there as soon as possible. Travel is seeing what’s along the way and that involves a car or truck and usually an RV of some sort.

How do decide where to go?

The destination is usually pre-determined. Going to see grandparents has been replaced by going to see children and grandchildren. Which route to take depends on several factors:

  • When the kids were little, routes had to include places they would enjoy.
  • As they got older, they helped decide what we would see along the way.
  • Now that it’s just the two of us, the route is determined by where we haven’t been before, or the fastest route or what’s available given possible bad weather.

How do you research your intended destination?

I haven’t, since the destination is whoever it is that we want to see.

Do you start a notebook before the journey begins?

Not usually, but somehow the preparation for travel triggers the writing process in my mind. If I find myself coming up with a phrase or a feeling that I want to elaborate on later, I’ll jot it down.

How do you keep notes while traveling?

I have a small, fat notebook that fits in the center console of the truck. When I’m not driving, if something catches my attention, I’ll observe it as carefully as I can and try to describe it as I’d want to write it. Otherwise, I jot down the key words and work on it later. One example I remember: I jotted “snow outlines roads” and it became High on the ridges an otherwise hidden mountain road is outlined with the last of the early snow.

Do you take pictures?

I take some, but I’m not a good enough photographer for publishing. I didn’t post many with my blog because I couldn’t figure out how to do it for quite a while! (Posting them isn’t hard but cropping, getting the right size, all that jazz…that’s the hard part for me.)

DSC00933What sort of specific places or events do you look for at your destination(s)?

  • We have always enjoyed museums but by now we’ve been to so many that we are really hard to impress. Still, we discover some surprises every so often.
  • We’ve enjoyed factory tours…Crayola, Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Forest River RVs, can’t remember any others right now.
  • Our favorite places though are usually historical…old mills, old factories, ghost towns, old mining areas, tracking down old railroads, Indian inscriptions…

Do you talk to a lot of local people?

Yes…if we’re traveling to see family! The people we usually talk to are docents in museums or historical sites or other like-minded folks we meet along the way. Since I haven’t written about places for pay, I haven’t been out asking people what they like about their town or why they are at the festival.

What are some of the more interesting local customs you have experienced?

In British Columbia, we were on a logging road with the logger’s radio frequency posted. Our ham radio covered their frequency (we couldn’t transmit, only listen) and we heard the movements of all the trucks on all the roads in the area. We finally decoded their “lingo” and realized that one of them was coming down the same road we were and was gaining on us. We had no idea if he was hauling logs or a big hunk of equipment or what, so when he was a couple miles behind us, we found a place to pull over and let him by. Turns out it was a pickup no bigger than ours, but he was really coming down that road! A state park ranger in North Dakota was as interested in genealogy as I and it turns out we had researched some of the same areas. But his most memorable comment was that ND was basically a desert. We asked him about all that snow. His response was that the snow in ND doesn’t melt, “It just wears out.”

Esther MillerExperience Esther’s travel blog at At Home…On the Road and her current reflections – those moments that change our lives – at Moments in Time.




Travel writing Q&A with Darlene Foster london

How do you decide where to go?

I often decide to travel to places because I know someone there. For instance, I travelled to the United Arab Emirates because my good friend was working there at the time. When you know someone who lives in an interesting spot, they can show you unique places which are not often frequented by tourists. I find I get to see the real place and meet more of the locals that way. Once in England, I got a private tour of the crypt under the York Minster because a neighbour of my husband’s uncle worked there. I always chose places that are interesting and full of history.

How do you research your intended destination?

I read many books about the place and go on line to learn as much as I can before I go. I find that part of the fun.

Do you start a notebook before the journey begins? How do you keep notes while travelling?

I don’t normally start a notebook before the journey but I always bring one with me and start writing things down immediately, even at the airport. I have a special journal for each trip and love to reread them when I get home.

Do you take pictures?

I take tons of pictures. They are my best souvenir. I enjoy reviewing them when I get home and sharing them with friends and family. I often return to my travel photographs and relive those precious times. I use them as research material when I’m writing books, short stories and travel articles.

What sort of specific places or events do you look for at your destination(s)?

I look for places with a rich history, sites that tell me about the people and the place. Learning the history helps to understand the culture. I don’t typically plan my trip around special events but sometimes I luck out. While in a small town in Spain last year, we stumbled upon a religious festival which included a procession which we followed back to the church. It was an amazing and moving experience.

Do you talk to a lot of local people?

I talk to the local people as much as possible. I always ask their name and often ask what it means. It enhances the journey by getting to know the locals. They have great stories to tell and information to share.

What are some of the more interesting local customs have you experienced?

Tapas in Spain, high tea in England, outdoor music anywhere, a religious procession, wonderful markets, a baby’s christening in Madrid, to name a few.

Darlene FosterAbout Darlene – Brought up on a ranch in Southern Alberta, Darlene dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She is a writer, an employment counselor, an ESL teacher, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, cooking, reading, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Darlene lives on the west coast of Canada with her husband Paul and their black cat Pumpkin.

Darlene Foster is the author of the exciting Amanda travel adventure series for middle readers featuring 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to interesting places. Readers from seven to seventy enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain and England. Connect with Darlene on her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook.


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers

What do you expect from an editor?

DSC01710And what do you expect it to cost?

My last several potential clients strung me along for a while, asking questions, getting feedback and critique…

When I finally told them my fee, they all balked.

My fault

This is my fault. I should ask straight up –

Have you budgeted for an editor?

What do you expect to pay your editor?

What do you expect to get from your editor?

What do you expect the turn-around time to be?

Full stop, wheels screeching

I’m changing my game plan! I’m going to stop wasting my time (sorry, but it’s true) on writers who know nothing about editing, the costs involved, or what they might expect from a really chop-chop-I-am-taking-an-axe-to-your-novel kind of editor.

Subscribers – can you help me? DSC01711

I have a few questions for you –

Have you budgeted for an editor?

What do you expect to pay your editor?

What do you expect to get from your editor?

What do you expect the turn-around time to be?

No, you’re not having déjà vu – I typed those questions twice.

If you have been edited

What did you get for your hard-earned money?

Were you satisfied?

Was your previous editor not what he/she promised? (Please, don’t mention by name.)

What did he/she miss and when did you discover it?

If this feels icky

If you feel uncomfortable posting comments here on the blog, you can email me – karenrsanderson@midco.net.


Filed under Blogging, Editing & Proofreading, Publishing