Sunday, December 31, 2006

No New Year's Resolutions for This Writer!

I don't make New Year's Resolutions any more. I think they set people up for failure. I used to work with a woman who would make this huge list of resolutions every January, so ambitious that she'd be feeling like a failure on the 15th of the month! Around that time, I decided not to even make resolutions any more. Instead, from Thanksgiving to New Years I try to have a light work load so I can spend time reflecting on the past year and rejuvinating my creativity. I try to have a lot of time to sit around a do nothing but think, so I can discover my focus for the coming year. I usually read a book about creativity or writing during this period, as well. This year I read A Writer's San Francisco, the second book in a series of "guided journeys for the creative soul" by Eric Maisel. Last year I read A Writer's Paris, the first in the series.

Both books are wonderful, inspirational texts that will help any writer find creative energy and meaning through their work. The first book made me want to get out and travel the world, using the opportunity to hone my senses and gather new experiences for my writing. It was wonderful, as far as that goes, but I don't generally have the money to fly off to Paris for a month, or even a week, to feed my creative soul. You can tell Maisel lives in San Francisco, while he himself has been only a tourist in Paris, because the second book brings writing home. It makes you appreciate your own home town, even if it's not as artist-friendly as San Francisco, and it offers an illuminating look inside a successful writer's daily life with out the rules and regulations so often laid out in "a writer's life" type of book. I highly recommend this book for all aspiring, struggling, and successful writers.

So, back to New Year's Resolutions (you thought I forgot, didn't you?). This year I've decided that my focus for 2007 will be to improve my writing. So far, I'm planning to take a couple of workshops throughout the year, work on some exercises in books I bought years ago that I read but never "did", go on a writing retreat in May, and attend the Women Writing the West conference in October.

The point is not to check these specific things off my list, but rather to focus throughout the year on one goal: to improve my writing. This to do list is merely a way to nail down what that means, but there are other ways to improve my writing as well. The most important being to write every day. (Every weekday, anyway.) This year I started going to a cafe every morning for 2 hours to write. It has been an amazing experinece. I didn't keep it up this month because of the holidays and the blizzards, but starting on Tuesday I'll be right back at my regular table with my latte and my notebook or laptop every morning.

Yes, I'd like to lose 20 pounds, join the gym, clean out my closets, make jam, paint my kitchen, learn Lithuanian, eat more veggies, stop eating so much ice cream, sew my own clothes, and more... but who am I kidding if I "resolve" to do all of these things in 2007? No-one but myself, probably. So, along with Curly from City Slickers, I'm going to focus on my ONE THING in 2007: to improve my writing.

Wish me luck!

Donna Druchunas
Women Writing the West website manager

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year

Happy New Year wishes to all. In the midwest, we had a "green" Christmas and it should be 40 degrees on New Years Day. It hardly seems like winter. It makes me anxious to dig up dirt and plant flowers. I wish it made me anxious to clean closets and do laundry.

I'm taking a break from my book signing tour. I did eleven book signings between November 7th and Christmas. In January, I'll focus on writing the next book (another time travel romance--this one set in 1877 Kansas). In the February 2007 issue of Romantic Times BOOKreviews, they reviewed my current release, HERE WITH ME and said, "This book makes you remember why you first fell in love with romance. It rates with the very best."

Now, that was a nice way to start out the new year.

Hope 2007 is your best year yet.

Beverly Long

Monday, December 18, 2006

Riehl to Speak on Writers in the Sky Podcast

Thanks to a reader who enjoyed my book, "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary," a down-home family love story beyond death, I learned about Yvonne Perry's Writers in the Sky podcast and was invited to be her guest.

We've taped the interview in two parts and it will appear on January 12th, 2007. Yvonne is a dynamic interviewer. In the first part, we spoke about the inspiration for "Sightlines," the writing process, and I read a poem from each of the five sections of the three people and two places that I love.

In the second part, I spoke frankly about publishing my book through the author-services company, iUniverse, which I consider a hybrid option for getting your work before the public--in-between traditional publishing channels and traditional self-publishing.

To learn how to connect to the Writers in the Sky podcast and hear an audio clip as I talk about my father as an inspiration for my writing and read the poem "Scribbler," dedicated to him, you can go to or my website

Hope your in the room while I'm reading and discussing my poetry of love, loss, and discovery.

Best wishes and greetings from Janet Grace Riehl

Saturday, December 09, 2006

St. Louis Ice Storm Doesn't Stop Signing

Last weekend, I traveled to St. Louis to attend a meeting of Saturday Writers, an active Missouri Writers' Guild chapter. The program had been scheduled for months, but an unexpected and especially virulent ice storm nearly caused me to cancel the trip. The roads were clear, though, by the time Bob and I drove the four hours on Friday. The farther north we traveled from our log home in the Ozarks the more beautiful the forest became. What a winter wonderland! For miles and miles, ice on the trees reflected in the sun like foil. That was the good news.
The bad, of course, was that so much of the area, including the city, was without power and many cars had been abandoned in deep drifts of plowed snow beside the Interstate. But power was on in the St. Peters Community Center on Saturday morning when the winners of the annual Young Writers contest arrived with their teachers, parents, and grandparents to accept their awards.
I made a few remarks to encourage the kids to continue writing, handed out their awards, and showed them some of my own writing, especially HARVEY GIRL. Later, I spoke to the writers group about doing research to write a historical novel. HARVEY GIRL has both Southwest and Missouri connections, partly because St. Louis claims Fred Harvey as a once prominent businessman. Many in the group had eaten at the Station Grille in St. Louis Union Station, which is now a shopping mall. The Station Grille was a busy Harvey House. It's open today and continues to display evidence of its former "Meals by Fred Harvey" history.
I signed copies of HARVEY GIRL before thanking Saturday Writers for hosting the event. After I got home, I found that my sonnet "Jabborwocky II, the Sequel" had taken Second Place in its category in the annual Green River Writers (Kentucky) contest and that two of the Saturday Writers I'd met had placed in the contest with a limerick and humorous fiction. Congrats to Donna Volkenannt and Doyle Suit, one of the judges of the young writers contest. Also, thanks to Margo Dill-Basinki, who organized the program, and to the other Saturday Writers who helped in many ways. By the way, my other sonnet, "A Tale of Two..." took second last year in the same contest. Both will be published in the Missouri Association of Teachers of English (MATE) Literary Magazine in 2007. I guess it's time to write more sonnets.