Art & The Biggest Little City

Local band, Fine Motor.

When I was a little girl, I loved leafing through catalogs at Christmas time. I’d study the pages intently and carefully record my choices on my list to Santa. Although Santa was very good to me, I’d never get everything on my list, but for a brief time all the possibilities were mine.

I feel the same way when I review the Reno Artown calendar in early July. During Artown, the Biggest Little City hosts a month-long celebration of the arts.  In July casinos and churches even hospitals suddenly become art galleries and music halls. And while I know I’ll never get around to all the events when I first receive the calendar, the possibilities are endless.

And while all of the events are carefully organized according to date, artist, genre and cost, there’s always an element of the unexpected to Artown events. Last night at Sundance Books and Music while listening to the smooth rhythms of Fine Motor under the trees, I noticed an impromptu book signing in the audience. An older gentleman emerged from the bookstore and handed his recent purchase to another gentleman to sign. And while I’ll never know the author or the title of the book, I know the inscription was heartfelt from the way the author filled the entire page with his flowing script.

Check out Artown and make your own discoveries.

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Writer Interview-Mary Frame

Imperfect Series - High Resolution - Book 4b (1)Describe your day job.

I work for a super-secret government agency. Just kidding! I do work for the government, but it’s not very glamorous. Mostly paperwork—your basic desk job in cubicle land. It is very busy, but I’m grateful for it and I enjoy being able to talk to people and help them on a daily basis.

Tell me about your latest book.

I just released the fourth book in the Imperfect Series—Picture Imperfect. The series consists of interconnected stand-alones. They are all romantic comedies with quirky characters and beta heroes. Picture Imperfect is a twist on the fake relationship trope—instead of falling for her fake boyfriend, our heroine falls for his brother.

Who are your writing role models?

I have so many! My favorite writers who help other writers with craft and storytelling have to be Larry Brooks and James Scott Bell. Larry runs storyfix.com, and he has a ton of information about writing and crafting compelling fiction. Both Larry and James have written excellent books on the craft of fiction writing that I highly recommend. My favorite from James Scott Bell is Write Your Novel From the Middle. For Romance writers in particular, I really love Gwen Hayes book, Romancing the Beat. It’s perfect for learning to craft a compelling and satisfying romance!

How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your writing life?

I write on my breaks and lunch at work. I get two fifteen minute breaks and a thirty minute lunch break. So that’s an hour of writing time every day—even if I have to break it up into chunks. I also wake up early in the morning to write before work starts. I try to leave weekends and evenings for my family, but periodically I do cheat and spend a bit of time writing or marketing. I also bring my laptop with me to places where I have to wait around, like the DMV, doctor’s offices, etc. You can get things done in small amounts of time if you can focus.

What are your other passions outside of writing?

I love reading and cooking and spending time with my family. I also like traveling (and need to do it more!).

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

One of my favorite quotes is from Jim Rohn, and it states, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” I have it printed up at my desk and I think it’s true for anyone who has any kind of goals or ambitions. There will always be obstacles. We all make choices about what we do with our time, whether it’s watching TV or being on social media. There’s always extra space somewhere, you just have to find it and maybe give up something else. 😉

Of Mothers & Books

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln

Like many grateful children, I owe a lot to my mother especially my love of reading.  Although reading to a child often conjures up blissful images of calm contentment, the reality looks a little different.  At the end of a long day, all Mom wants to do is sit quietly and relax and Little One still full of wiggles wants a story. Chances are it is the same story she read to Little One, last night and the night before that and so on…  While there are many wonderful children’s stories out there, most of them wear a little thin by the 20th time.  I swear my mom must have read “One Hundred & One Dalmatians” to me about a million times—not the thin flimsy paperback based on the Disney movie, but the original novel by Dodie Smith.

While the Dalmatians will always have a special place in my heart, my love of books extends beyond that one–much to my mom’s relief.  Since she is such a voracious reader (and happens to be retired), it can be a challenge for me to find a book for my mom that she hasn’t already read. Just in time for Mother’s Day weekend, fellow author, P.D. Workman’s post Give Yourself a Book for Mother’s Day features a list of links for women’s fiction and cozy mysteries, including Mixed Blessings (which happens to be from yours truly).  Check it out to find the next read for that special mom in your life or for yourself.

Independent Bookstore Day

“But ideas lie everywhere, like apples fallen and melting in the grass for lack of wayfaring strangers with an eye and a tongue for beauty, whether absurd, horrific or genteel.” Ray Bradbury

Bradbury’s essay “The Joy of Writing” is an exuberant call to arms. With a respected nod to iconic story tellers like Dickens and Shakespeare, Bradbury urges writers to be inspired by what they love or hate rather than the latest commercial trend. Though I’ve been among the storyteller ranks for most of my life, after reading this essay I snapped to attention like a new recruit, grabbed my notebook and pen eager to capture my latest inspiration before it slipped away in the daily grind.

April 28th is the fourth annual Independent Bookstore Day and I can think of no better place to rub elbows with literary icons or discover new voices than Sundance Books.  Like many indie bookstores throughout the country, Sundance will offer exclusive merchandise created especially for Independent Bookstore Day by authors and publishers.

Details:

Independent Bookstore Day

Sundance Books

121 California Avenue, Reno, NV

April 28th-9:00 to 5:00PM.

Weathering the Storm

blessings_sm“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” Willa Cather

An indie writer colleague recently shared that her family was struggling with severe chronic health issues on several fronts just as her writing career was starting to come together.  I don’t know why when life hands you lemons it also kicks you in the shins too.  I do know that for whatever reasons some of my best writing opportunities have come along at the worst possible times in my personal life.

I remember thinking that I’d like to enjoy the project without having to face the crisis. Then I realized if I didn’t have my writing, I’d only have the crisis. At least whatever project I was working on gave me a brief reprieve from the storm.

Following the creative path is challenging even if your biggest worries are the routine chores of daily life.  While you might have to scale back on a project due to a major front looming in your personal life, never completely abandon your creative pursuits. Your soul needs them and the world longs for more pictures, songs and stories.

Four to Tango

IMG_0669Even once an author has typed “The End” on her story, there’s still plenty of work to be done between typing the final chapter and getting the book “on the shelf” for readers. While there are plenty of indie authors who handle the whole production from formatting to cover design themselves, I’m not one of them. There many who do such things better than me and I like being on speaking terms with my children.

On my romance blog, Mariposa’s Musings, we’re celebrating the publication of my latest MC Wedding Tango KINDLEMariposa Cruz title, Wedding Tango.  My editor, Marian Kelly, formatter, Stevie DeInk and cover designer, Harris Channing, each chat about their favorite romantic locale because Wedding Tango is all about a destination wedding gone wrong.  The same crew has worked on the entire Rhythm & Romance series and once again I’m thrilled with the final result.  Marian and Harris also worked with me on Ever After.

Stop by Mariposa’s Musings today and visit the rugged Na Pali Coast or the fairytale castles of Austria without having to grab a passport or pack a bag.

Getting More Mileage from Writing Conferences

Sam's Town

Even with not playing slots, my trip to Sam’s Town for the 20Books Conference resulted in a jackpot of opportunities.

Maybe one of your resolutions this year is to attend a writer’s conference. While conferences are a valuable source of information, often pearls wisdom gleaned from a conference are often left to languish on a laptop or notebook. Here’s a few tips on how to better leverage your new-found knowledge.

  • Create a to-do list based on conference materials. Which includes following up with any contacts that you met at the conference. One of my to-do’s from the 20 Books to 50K conference resulted in an interview with Cameron Coral who then invited me to be a guest on her blog.
  • Share what you’ve learned. Conference re-caps make great blog posts. Courtney Kenney recently posted an excellent re-cap of the 20 Books to 50K conference.
  • Schedule time to review your notes a few weeks to a month after the conference. Do any new action items come to mind?
  • Make a date for lunch or coffee with one of your writer peers to discuss the conference highlights. Additional discussion will reinforce what you’ve learned.  Besides there’s something magic about sharing knowledge over a good cup of coffee or a delicious meal.

Wishing all of you much success with your creative endeavors in 2018!