Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Plan Your Own DIY Writing Retreat by Nan Sanders Pokerwinski

I am a Writer!
Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. 
I invited my good friend and writing partner Nan Sanders Pokerwinski this week to share her plan for her own DIY (Do It Yourself), writing retreat. Don't we all wish we could escape and focus on our writing? Nan explains how she did it.  
Nan lives in West Michigan where she reads, writes, wanders the woods and makes collages. She's a former Detroit Free Press science writer and contributing editor at Health and Alternative Medicine magazines, with freelance articles also published in print and online media. Her journalistic work, under the byline Nancy Ross-Flanigan, has garnered awards and a Pulitzer nomination. 

Thanks, Nan, for sharing your DIY retreat with us! 
My DIY Writing Retreat by Nan Sanders Pokerwinski
Every time I open one of the writers' magazines I regularly read, I see ads or articles about writing retreats and residencies. Ten days in a rustic cabin in Denali National Park. Up to twelve weeks in "the secluded hills overlooking the Temecula Valley in southern California." Two months on a 450-acre estate in New Hampshire, with private room, studio space and meals provided. Two to four weeks at Steepletop, the former estate of Edna St. Vincent Millay in Austerlitz, New York.

Ready to write.

​I imagine myself in one of these settings, free of all responsibilities, with nothing to do but write, take walks, think and write some more. What a blissful and productive existence! Then I think: Wait a minute. I live in the woods, in a relatively secluded setting. Why can't I have my own writing retreat right here? 

Responsibilities at home

​Well, for one thing, "right here" is home, and home is where bills appear in the mailbox, demanding to be paid; where laundry piles up; where groceries must be bought and meals cooked; where the telephone rings and the UPS guy knocks on the door; where household projects, hobbies and other interesting activities beckon; where I have a mate who gives me plenty of time and space to pursue my interests, but still deserves my attention.

​Still . . . what if I could take a break from at least some of those things for a whole week? How much time could I free up for writing? I decide to give it a try.
Schedule your dates
​I take a look at my calendar, find a rare week in November with no appointments or meetings, print "WRITING RETREAT" across five days and make a plan. I'll do-ahead as much as I can—laundry, grocery shopping, bill-paying—and I'll figure out quick-to-prepare meals. I can even write and lay out that week's blog installment in advance and schedule to  post automatically on the appropriate day.

Write out your goals

​I set a few goals (or at least intentions): revise and send off a chapbook-length piece I want to submit to a writing contest, finish a read-through and light revision of my memoir manuscript before starting a new round of queries, make headway (any at all) on my novel-in-progress, which has been moving slowly. Notice I don't impose any word-count goals on myself. I realize that works for some writers, and I certainly know how to crank out the pages when I need to, but I want to work more deliberately and thoughtfully during my retreat.

Yoga and exercise included in the plan

​Then some decisions to make. Besides writing, what will I do—and not do—during retreat week? Keeping up my yoga practice and exercise routines seems essential—I don't want to turn into a slug—and not only my daily regimens, but also Monday morning group practice with the Woodland Yoga Women and Friday afternoon's hike with the Wander Women, which will give me doses of social activity as well. (None of this is such a departure from what writers do at "real" retreats, some of which have hiking and yoga built in.)

​TV-watching won't be an issue—we don't have it—but I'll allow for one or two Netflix movie breaks. As for email and social media, I'll try to answer only essential emails and ignore Facebook and Twitter as much as possible. Ditto online news stories, which have been snagging my attention lately.
​So far, so good. The next decision takes some thought, though. Some years ago, I read Clarity Quest, a book about preparing for and taking a week-long mini-sabbatical. It stressed the importance of letting all the important people in your life know that you're taking time out to focus on something that matters to you. I get the rationale: announcing your plans not only serves notice, it also strengthens your resolve by making you accountable.
Don't broadcast you are planning a retreat.

​I get it in theory, but in practice I find that advertising my intentions doesn't always work the way it's supposed to. Sometimes it seems that broadcasting my unavailability makes people all the more determined to interrupt me ("I know you're busy,but ... ") and me all the more irritable when they do. So I don't talk much about my DIY retreat beforehand. I mention it in passing to my hubby Ray and a couple of friends but don't elaborate.

​The designated week arrives. How does the retreat work out? 
VerdictLike a good book, this week had a satisfying ending.
In some ways, retreat week was not so different from any other week in the writing life. Many writers put in this much time—and a lot more—week in and week out. I certainly did when I wrote for a living. Yet something did feel special and retreat-y about this week. I gave myself a time-out, granted myself permission to ignore things that normally distract me from writing, and committed to squeezing writing into as many spaces in my days as possible. 

​At the end of the week, I felt satisfied that I'd met my goals, modest as they were. Even more than fulfilling objectives, I'd discovered I can have a productive retreat without leaving home and husband. Now I know I can choose another week and repeat the process without turning my life and usual routines upside down.

​Can you? Maybe it's not writing you want to focus on, but some other passion or project that gets pushed aside by daily demands. How can you carve out a little more time to pursue it? If you create your own DIY retreat, let me know how it goes.
# # #
Thank you, Nan! If you would like the full account of her retreat, click here to go to Nan's blog, HeartWood.  Spend some time there exploring her witty and warm stories about cultivating creativity, connection and contentment wherever you are.

Writer Nancy Sanders Pokerwinski

Nan is working on a novel and a series of autobiographical collages. She is currently seeking publication of her memoir, Mango Rash: Survival Lessons in the Land of Frangipani and Fanta, excerpts of which were finalists for two literary awards

Here's the blurb for her excellent memoir, MANGO RASH:
With a mix of in-the-moment teenage sass and decades-later perspective, MANGO RASH chronicles an American girl's stumbles through two alien landscapes at once: adolescence and the remote U.S. territory of American Samoa, which was experiencing its own growing pains in the 1960s, while undergoing "modernization," American-style.

You can catch Nan online at these links:
TWITTER: @nansanpo

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Favorite Books on Writing by J.Q. Rose, Intentions for 2017

Make it happen!
Welcome to the J.Q. Rose Blog!

This is the year you are going to make things happen in your life! I know you've thought about and perhaps already written down your resolutions, goals, or intentions for the year.

If you're a writer, new or experienced, or even thinking about writing, I hope the list of books on writing will spur you on and keep you going to achieve your 2017 writing goals.

I presented a month long workshop on creative writing for our county schools' continuing education program. Working with these terrific, creative groups of adults inspires me. Their enthusiasm for writing is contagious. Their questions and ideas energize for my own writing projects. And my constant research to present the different elements of writing was an adventure in discovery.
I tried to introduce and expand on as many topics as I could in that short time–character development, dialogue, plot, theme, setting, conflict, POV, show, don’t tell, and more. On top of all this, we devoted time to writing and sharing.
For the class I relied on Stephen King’s book On Writing and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones as resources. I'm including the list of books I gave to the participants. They would be great additions to a writer's library. Do you have outstanding books you would suggest for new and veteran writers?
Books on Writing

Compiled by J.Q. Rose
Author: Anne Lamott
Chicago Manual of Style
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Author: The Editors of Writer’s Digest
How to be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play
Author: Barbara Baig
The Elements of Style
Author: William Strunk and E.B.White.
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
On Writing Well
Author: William Zinsser
Author: Francine Prose
Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from The New York Times
Editor: John Darnton
Author: Natalie Goldberg

The Art of Memoir

Author: Mary Karr

The Emotion Thesaurus

Authors: Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The Story Template

Author: Amy Deardon

Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story

Author: K.M. Weiland

The Insecure Writers Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond (FREE)

Compiled by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: Tips on the Writing Process, Publishing and Marketing

Compiled by J.Q. Rose with15 author contributors 

AND there's MORE! Blogger and author Joan Y. Edwards lists books on the craft of writing. Get the list here. Thank you, Joan!

Happy New Year 2017

Last week on my friend Nan Sanders Pokerwinski's blog, she asked her friends to respond to this question--What is one way you hope to enhance (or exercise) your creativity OR increase your connection (with other people, with the natural world, with causes you champion) OR foster contentment (your own or someone else's) in 2017? 

HeartWood--Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
--Nan Sanders Pokerwinski
I'm thrilled I could be a part of the exercise. Nan has a diverse group of friends who answered with wit and wisdom. Take a peek at their responses and be inspired to make your intentions happen in 2017! Click here to go to the post on her HeartWood blog.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG Blog Hop: No Cliches Allowed, Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Book Tour Continues

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. Today is the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group(IWSG) blog hop! 

Internet Writers Support Group Blog Hop
First Wednesday of every month.
What is IWSG? Founder of the  Insecure Writer’s Support Group and author Alex J Cavanaugh explains the group's purpose is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!" You're invited to become a member of this supportive group.

The group blogs the first Wednesday of every month The list of bloggers is always available so you can hop around to the author blogs filled with humor, advice, and thought-provoking topics on writing and publishing. You can find the list of participants at Alex's IWSG page.
IWSG Question for the Month
January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard? No Cliches Allowed!
For some reason clichés are not approved by editors when checking my stories. I don’t know why because it makes writing as easy as pie. These familiar expressions are as good as gold when it comes to taking a short cut in your storytelling.

Instead of writing a paragraph about how bad the storm is, I can just say the rain is coming down in buckets. The reader knows exactly how bad that is. However, after sending this in to the editor, the phrase will appear red-lined in the manuscript and a comment will show up in the margin gently reminding me the sentence is a cliché. But seriously, if you have to describe how hot the weather is in a story, why can’t you say it was hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? That really does explain the heat factor!

When push comes to shove, a cliché is the way to go for me. For instance, when the coroner arrives at the death scene, why can’t he say the victim kicked the bucket? That’s so much more colorful than saying he’s dead.

Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
A handsome detective, a shadow man,
and a murder victim
 kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life.
Romantic Suspense
It makes me madder than a wet hen when I realize I have used clichés in my writing. For Pete’s sake, I KNOW the editors won’t let me use them, so I try to be conscious about it when I write and re-visit the chapters.

When I was writing my mystery, Deadly Undertaking, I combed through every word, every paragraph, and every page trying to ferret out the clichés. Still and all, once in a while a cliché is missed and once they’re out there, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. To tell you the truth, I don’t always recognize them. So I submit the manuscript for editing on a wing and a prayer that I have caught every cliché and I won’t have the editor tearing her hair out when she reads it.

There’s no time like the present to change and recognize clichés in my writing. How about you? I plan to be as sharp as a tack when putting words down on paper so I can make it easier for me and my editor to get through the manuscript.

I’m not trying to pull the wool over your eyes. I am vowing to do better on using clichés. Just notice how much I’ve improved already!
# # # #
Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Book Tour Continues
Come join in and win prizes!

Thursday, January 5, I'm a guest at Sandra Cox's blog. Come over and eavesdrop on a conversation between the book's main character Pastor Christine and her Nosey Neighbor. Find us here at Sandra's blog.

December Stops:
  9Diane Burton

12Foxes and One Hound 

13Marsha West

19Juneta Key 
20Books We Love Insider 
23Janet Lane Walters 
24             Janet Lane Walters

Thank you for stopping in. 

Wishing you a Happy New Year 2017!!

Please take a moment to Follow this blog by email. Just leave your email in the box at the top of the right sidebar. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Happy New Year 2017, Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Blog Tour Continues

Wishing you a blessed New Year 2017!!

Popping in to wish you a healthy 


Happy New Year 2017!

Remember when the calendar was going to turn to the  first day of the 21st century? I do. The media had us scared to death the world was going to fall apart because the computers would not make the change as needed. Banks and businesses would lose everything and all computers in the world would shut down. Ratings and views were garnered with such a dire prediction.

Funny now because we woke up on January 1, 2000, and nothing had changed. Just another day after New Year's Eve. How about you? Was your experience the same as mine?

Dangerous Sanctuary Tour Continues!

The good news is the Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Book Tour continues and you'll have another chance to win a PDF copy of the book at sites along the way. Here's a recap of the tour. If you missed a stop, it's not too late to catch up. Thanks so much for your support!

Tour Stops

9Diane Burton

12Foxes and One Hound 

13Marsha West

19Juneta Key 
20Books We Love Insider 
23Janet Lane Walters 
24            Janet Lane Walters

Join me on January 5 at Sandra Cox blog for a fun conversation between Pastor Christine and her nosey neighbor!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Love Came Down at Christmas, Merry Christmas

Love came down at Christmas
Image taken at Walt Disney World by J.Q. Rose
Our Greatest Need

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness and acceptance, so God sent us a Savior.
--Author Unknown

Wishing you all the hope, peace, love, and joy of this Christmas season!

Merry Christmas! 
from J. (Janet) Q. Rose
Youtube Video:
Love Came Down at Christmas by Matt Oltman and CORO Vocal Artists

Monday, December 19, 2016

Forgiveness Brings Peace, Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Book Tour Continues, Excerpt

 The Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Book Tour continues. Click here visit me today (Monday) at Juneta Key's blog, the Writer's Gambit. She asks great questions. 

Click here for the Tuesday Books We Love Insider blog when I take you on a tour of a chocolate factory in St. Augustine, FL. Yummy!! Free cyber samples of chocolate shells. 

Forgiveness by J.Q. Rose

Tis the season of hope, love, peace and joy, but not for everyone. People have relationships that have gone wrong. They're hurting and can't enjoy the festivities no matter how much they pretend they are. If ever there was a time to forgive, the Christmas season is it! People are more open to sharing feelings. If you are ready to forgive someone or ready to accept forgiveness, do it now.

I was inspired to write Dangerous Sanctuary when a friend told me she couldn’t forgive her ex-husband. They had gone through a mean, stressful divorce after he left her for another woman. She was a Christian woman trying to live a Christian life, but she just couldn’t seem to get over his betrayal. Deep inside she had to admit she could not forgive his actions.

Intellectually we know by not forgiving others, we’re really hurting ourselves. We carry a grudge within our hardened hearts. Instead of the horrible burden going away, we seem to feed it and make it grow into hatred that seethes throughout our pores and colors our world black with resentment.

Withholding forgiveness to someone who hurts us only gives us a false sense of power and control over that person. No one likes to have a hammer held over her head with comments like, “Remember when you did so and so?” Bitterness grows and further damages the relationship.

Being the first to try and reach out and forgive someone takes strength and courage. On the other hand it takes an equally loving person to accept the offer of forgiveness. When the attempt is made, the heart soars and shoulders no longer sag under the burden of hatred and anguish.

Forgiveness isn’t easy. It may take a long time to get a different perspective on the hurt, but in the end we can try and do the best we can to resolve a relationship and relieve heartache for both parties.

My main character, Pastor Christine Hobbs, teaches about God’s forgiveness in all things. Even if we don’t feel we are worthy of forgiveness, God’s love and grace is available. All we need to do is ask.
 # # # #
Dangerous Sanctuary by J.Q. Rose
Even a minister has trouble with offering forgiveness.
Pastor Christine tries to practice forgiveness in her own life, but just when she thinks she has come to terms with her husband’s cheating, lying, and eventual abandonment, she discovers she has not. No one said it is easy to forgive. In order to move on with our lives and gain peace within, Forgiveness is the key.

EXCERPT: from Dangerous Sanctuary when Christine receives a phone call from her ex which starts her stomach churning and her blood boiling.

“So how are you getting along there with your new church position?” His voice moderated. “You may not believe it, but I do think of you and wonder how you are.”
Her eyes teared up. He had no idea how much she missed him and hated him at the same time.
“I’m fine. How’re you?”
“Well, as soon as I get this apartment cleaned up, I’ll be happy. What a job. I never knew moving would be so difficult.”
“You’re moving? Where are you going?” She bit her lip. She hated to sound as if she were the least bit interested in his life.
“Nadia and I found a house.” He delivered it like a hot poker through her heart.
He met Nadia while he was away on a lengthy sales trip. She shook her head to erase the dark thoughts in her mind.
“We decided it was such a good deal, we couldn’t pass it up. I’ll send you my new address. It’s a ranch in a subdivision near that greasy spoon cafe we liked to go to. Do you remember that place? Jake’s.” His remarks were so off-handed.
“Oh, yeah.” Christine remembered Jake’s like it was yesterday.
Jake’s was the place where she told Brad she was pregnant with their baby. She remembered the joy in his face and excitement they felt about beginning their family.
She squeezed her eyes closed, trying to blot out the memory of the night she lost her baby girl in the emergency room. She was all by herself because Brad was away on a business trip. He never understood her feeling of loss, so he tried to act like it never happened. The baby wasn’t real to him as she was to her.
She realized she wasn’t listening to a word he’d spoken, so when Brad stopped talking she said, “Okay. Thanks. Gotta go. Just mail them to the church. Good-bye.” The lump in her throat prevented her from continuing the phone conversation.
Still clutching the phone in her hand, the memories of that Saturday morning conversation over two years ago surfaced in her mind. She and Brad were sitting at the kitchen table. Christine looked forward to spending time with her husband. Having a weekend together was unusual.
“So what are your plans for this weekend? Do you want to take a drive or go to a movie?” she asked as she picked up the cereal box.
Setting his coffee mug on the kitchen table, he looked directly into her eyes.
“I won’t be here this weekend.”
She stopped pouring the sugary flakes of cereal into the bowl. “Oh, really?” She turned to face her beloved husband. “I thought we could do something fun this weekend. We have so little time together anymore.”
“I’m moving out today.” He sat motionless in the chair.
“What? What did you say?” She leaned in closer toward Brad, the cereal box clenched in her hand.
“I’m leaving. I’m moving in with a friend. I want out of this marriage.” He grabbed the cup of coffee and pulled it toward him.
She clutched her stomach to stop the churning inside. Was she dreaming? This couldn’t be real. She tried to read his face, but he kept his eyes on his coffee mug.
She slammed the box of cereal down on the table and curled her hands into tight fists. With each sentence she spoke, her fists hit the table. “Wait a minute. Bradley, wait a minute. What’s happening? What are you saying?”
He glanced up furtively. Finally locking onto her eyes, he said, “I’m in love with another woman. It’s over for us.” 

Dangerous Sanctuary is available at amazon in ebook or paperback editions.

# # # #

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Word Meaning Pitfalls, Giveaway, Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Book Tour

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. 

Deep into Christmas shopping? Preparing for a party? Forget all that for awhile and escape the madness. I have a very deep, thought-provoking blog post today. (Yeah, not likely. It's Christmas time!)
The traditional flower at Christmas time--Poinsettia
As you may know, my husband Gardener Ted and I owned and operated a floral shop, greenhouses, and garden center for nearly 20 years. Christmas season for us began in August when all the holiday items arrived at our doorstep from the distributors. Not only did we  unpack and find room for all these delightful ornaments, figurines, holiday vases, candles, artificial trees, wreaths and garlands, but we also had to begin creating artificial Christmas arrangements to be ready for the Christmas Open House which was usually the first weekend after the Opening Day of Deer Hunting, November 15, in Michigan. While the men (and yes, ladies too) went off to hunt, the "deer widows" went shopping. We had to be ready to capture those sales. We were busy elves during the season for sure.
Our new Christmas tree--out of the box
One of the most time-consuming jobs was to unpack the artificial trees and wreaths and "fluff" them. I was reminded of this when my dear hubby bought a new tree this year during the Black Friday sales event. I mean this was as tall as our 7.5 foot ceiling in our place in Florida. And wide, yes very wide, with tons of gorgeous colored lights and white lights with 8 different lighting display options.
Our tree completed. Don't look at the back. I need to get MORE ornaments for this bigger tree.
I tackled the job of turning the mashed branches of this dead looking piece of wire and green needles into a lovely, almost "real" looking Christmas tree. So I spent a lot of time "fluffing" the branches into what turned out to be a gorgeous tree. I mentioned on Facebook I had fluffed the tree.  When one of my friends on FB shared the post, his daughter told him that fluffer was a word connected with making pornographic movies. Say what? My jaw dropped to the floor.

Word meanings are always changing. I remember when we sang the Christmas song with the words, "don we now our gay apparel,"  my young grandson whispered to me, "Did they say gay?" In his lifetime the word gay was never used for the older definition of happy.

When I went to college, we used the word pimp to mean somebody did you wrong. My mother practically had a heart attack when I used it. The meaning for pimp in her mind was the man who arranges clients for prostitutes. Have you heard the term "to pimp my ride?" That means to customize an automobile.

Word meanings change from one generation to the next. Historical fiction writers are very aware how their choice of words places the story in the correct era. I love words and language. If you are a writer and/or a reader, I bet you do too. Wordsmithing is fun and interesting. (did I just make that word up?)

Want to look up a word? Google it. Now who ever heard of that prior to 1998 when the Google company was founded? And who knew Google would become a verb?

Have you been caught unknowingly using an inappropriate word? What are some more words that have been turned into verbs? 
# # # #
Dangerous Sanctuary by J.Q. Rose
Pastor Christine Hobbs never imagined she would be caring for a flock
 that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

Because it IS Christmas time and a time for giving, I'd like to give you the gift of a FREE e-book. No drawing. No treasure hunt. No Rafflecopter entry. If you would like to receive a PDF copy or Kindle formatted copy of Dangerous Sanctuary, please let me know by requesting a book in the comment below or sending me an email at jqrose02 at gmail dot com. . Deadline for requests is Saturday, December 17, 10 pm EST.. I would receive such joy by giving you this sweet romance/mystery, a perfect read for a quiet time during your hectic Christmas preparations. 

If you have read Dangerous Sanctuary or the original title Coda to Murder, please leave a review for the book at Reviews are very important so readers can find books on amazon. Thank you.

Big THANK YOU to the generous bloggers who are hosting me 
during the Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Book Tour. 

Please join me on the Virtual Book Tour to win more prizes and read excerpts from the book.


9 Diane Burton

12 Foxes and One Hound 

13 Marsha West

19 Juneta Key 
20 Books We Love Insider Blog
27 and 28 Janet Lane Walters