Thoughts for Success

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By Betty Kuffel

Believe in yourself when that voice in your head tells you your writing stinks, or you’ve spelled “the” wrong, or you just don’t have it in you to finish the novel that has been living in your brain for years. Don’t listen. Believe in yourself.

Find a positive motto that fits you. Put it over your computer in full view, read it when you have second thoughts about your skills or ability to complete a writing project. Let it stimulate positive thoughts. Mine is from Dr. Seuss:

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.

Einstein counting My writing area is a positive corner with a desk facing East. I accomplish the most in early morning, love sunrise, and am usually there to greet the lightening sky. The singing early birds brighten my days, too. Over my desk I have a couple important photos, one is of my granddaughter who makes me smile. I also have a photo of Albert Einstein counting on his fingers to remind me my lacking math skills shouldn’t stop me from accomplishing my goals. I also have a quote from him: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk a sign?”

When my desk looks like his, piled high with books and cluttered with papers, I don’t worry, I press on and put cleaning off until tomorrow … or later.

There are so many things to do instead of writing we have to avoid the distractions, ignore them. At the end of your writing day, take an hour to clean and straighten things out, but get ready for your next day of writing and get a good night’s sleep.

Feather women

Each morning I arise in early morning darkness. I dress, put on a little lipstick as if I’m heading to work and sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee. I look up and admire a woman flying over my desk with feathers in her hands and read my Dr. Seuss motto. It works for me. 

I don’t believe in writers’ block. When a story stalls, go on to another writing project as the stalled one churns in your thoughts. Or take a break and write a blog for deposit in the Montana Women Writers’ blog bank.

Remember: Life.Piano 

Happy writing.

 

 

 

 

React Like a Zebra

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By Betty Kuffel

When you lie in bed worrying about things out of your control and unable to sleep, consider the concepts of stress reduction in the book Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky. The acclaimed Stanford University professor of biology and neurology is a wizard at explaining how stress can make you sick and what you can do to understand and calm the physiological symptoms.

If you begin writing a list of topics that stress you, Dr. Sapolsky says to stop and think like a zebra. zebra headThey survive frequent acute physical distresses and react quickly to save their lives. We, too, have the ability to adapt suddenly in emergencies, but are challenged by sustained chronic concerns about food, lodging, and money, etc. In humans, the real problem occurs with social and psychological disruptions. That is where we are right now, enclosed for safety from an encroaching disease that can be fatal and dealing with many unknowns.

In the midst of disruption of our plans, lives, jobs and writing, we need to focus on what is important, living wisely and calming our stresses. What does that mean? 

We have all experienced life stresses that resolved, and balance returned. A place of balance is what we seek during this period of disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Human stressors can be anticipatory, worrying about things out of our control. When zebras are stressed, it is abrupt, they see trouble and react. They don’t stand around worrying about what might happen in the future like humans. 

When the stress response spikes, heart rate surges and blood pressures rise. If stress hormones persist too long, they can make you sick. Insomnia, upset stomach, elevated blood sugar, depression, headaches and inability to focus on meaningful tasks.  A chronic stress response reduces immunity, something you do not want to happen at this time in your life with the pandemic.

What are we to do? Take control and take advantage of this time to accomplish some tasks you didn’t have time for in the past and in the process, improve your health with daily exercise and keep a journal with concepts you may use in future writing.

We can take advantage of our hours at home by using habits of ultra-successful people Like Billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Here are some:

  • Focus on minutes not hours. There are 1,440 minutes in a day, use them wisely.
  • Dedicate mornings for 1-2 hours without interruption to the most important task to help you reach your goals.
  • The future is unknown. Do what you can today to accomplish your goals.
  • Check your emails once or twice a day. Don’t waste time.
  • Always carry a notebook. Record notes to free your mind.
  • Avoid meetings at all cost. They are a waste of time. If you meet, stick to the agenda, make it short. Say no to almost everything. Delegate. 
  • Stay organized. Touch things only once.

 

Reduce stress in the face of many unknowns. Don’t dwell on things out of your control. React like a zebra. zebra 

September Book News

sept 2019

What does September mean to you?

 

 

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ Back to school? Corduroy pants? New plaid shirts? That’s September in Montana, along with leaf-lined drives through Glacier National Park, apples ripening, and the moon dropping a little further south in the sky as it shines on star-lit nights.

All mysteries.pngAnd the Montana Book Festival in Missoula, Sept 12-15, in a variety of locations downtown. Friday, Sept 13, at 3:00, I’ll be discussing Recipe Writing as Storytelling: Braiding Instruction and Narrative While Serving Your Audience, with moderator Sara Bir, a cookbook author, chef, and teacher, Greg Patent, a delightfully entertaining cookbook author and columnist from Missoula, and Seabring Davis of Bozeman, a magazine editor and author who writes about the Montana food scene. I’ll bring the perspective of a novelist who writes about food. Sounds delish, doesn’t it?

And there will be cookies. I promise! 

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29th Annual Flathead River Writers Conference  September 14th and 15th at FVCC

Take time out from your writing to join a lively group of writers gathering each year to learn from experts, talk about craft, publication options and how to present yourself. This year’s theme is ADVENTURES IN WRITING.

See website www.authorsoftheflathead.org for conference details where you can register and pay dues. For dues paid members of Authors of the Flathead, we offer the opportunity to show your books on a slideshow loop that runs during the conference even if you are unable to attend. We hope you can join us. Capacity is 100. There are a few seats remaining.

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Betty Kuffel

 

Announcing the publication of Fatal Feast  on August 30th, a biological thriller set in Montana. I began researching the topic 30 years ago with the outbreak of mad cow disease in Great Britain. Prion disease is an infectious protein currently epidemic in wildlife in Montana, in twenty-five U.S. states and in Canada. This book will be of particular interest to beef eaters and hunters.

Brilliant young researcher Dr. Callie Archer vows to find a cure for an aggressive prion variant of mad cow disease that killed her father. Like unstoppable super-bugs, the deadly proteins infect livestock and wild game threatening world food supplies. Unknowing humans who eat infected meat become paranoid, violent and die horrible deaths.

Federal authorities isolate Dr. Archer’s primate research project at an NIH high-risk laboratory in the mountains of Montana for protection from radical animal rights activists. While she risks her life to stop the catastrophic disease that could prove fatal to millions, a sexist director, sabotaging cohort, and a handsome rancher obstruct her progress.

Dr. Archer closes in on a cure, but murderous activists penetrate her lab, steal infected animals, and nearly kill her. As the disease spreads in ranching and hunting country, authorities suppress public information to save the country from economic disaster.

Callie’s promising treatment may be the only hope to prevent a world-wide pandemic. With forces against her mounting, can she save mankind and herself?

Fatal Feast is available as an e-book and paperback. I would love to have you write an honest review on Amazon.

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The newest novel by Karen Wills, All Too Human, will be released September 18th and will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and local book stores.

all too human book cover 2karens sept book news blurb

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I’m happy to announce that book two, Stalking Midas, of my romantic suspense thriller series is now available on Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback.

After book one, Instrument of the Devil, courageous heroine Tawny Lindholm is back and she’s in big trouble. Her demanding (but sexy) new boss, attorney Tillman Rosenbaum, sends her to investigate his estranged father, Moe, a victim of elder fraud. When Tawny gets in the way of a charming con woman stalking her prey, watch out. stalking midas by debbie burkeBecause this predator has killed before and each time is easier.

 

If you’d like to check out Stalking Midas, here are the links: Kindle    Paperback

 

Hope you have as much fun reading them as I do writing them!

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LOGLINES

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By Betty Kuffel

Welcome to the Montana Women Writers Blog. Winter doldrums are behind us. Spring is in the air. Soon fruit trees and flowers will be in bloom.  spring fruit treesI recently finished a thriller and was struggling with writing a logline so decided to share my research with you.

A logline is a concise single-sentence summary of your story.

Novels begin with an idea that stimulates an author to write the story. The concept is the logline. Your initial description may be too long, but as the story flows, the logline matures. By the time you write, The End, it will solidify but require wordsmithing to convey the exact message.

Loglines are used when marketing your work, whether a book or a screenplay. It must be snappy and precise to capture attention. If you are writing comedy, try to get a laugh from the reader. For your thriller, your logline should build suspense. Use terms that convey tension.

Developing a logline sounds easy, but most of us find it more difficult than writing a synopsis. Relating the full story in 25 words is challenging. There are many ways to approach writing a logline.

Barbara Schiffman presented at the Flathead River Writers Conference a few years ago and gave a helpful talk on developing loglines. Her notes included a formula as follows:

“IT’S A (genre) STORY ABOUT A (main character – include what he/she does or something significant about him/her, like “a struggling attorney” or “a widowed single mom”) WHO (describe what happens or what they do: “battles a ruthless corporate law firm” or “fights to save her dying son’s life” AND LEARNS (what they and the audience learn in the end, like “that David can beat Goliath in court” or “she knew more than the doctors after all”).

Key concepts from the Rain Dance website include:
Increase stakes to add urgency. Ticking time-bomb concept.
Use a setup scene.
Show action.
“Don’t tell the story. Sell the story.”

Don’t use a character name in either a logline or tagline. For the logline, describe the protagonist as: an ex-con, a sheriff, a rodeo queen. Add a description such as: an ex-con turned preacher, a crooked sheriff, an alcoholic rodeo queen.

Example – Jaws: When a swimmer is killed by a great white, a bureaucratic sheriff must take responsibility, protect the people, and kill the shark. (21 words)

What is the difference between a logline and a tagline?

A logline must contain: the protagonist, the goal, and the antagonistic force.
A good logline is helpful in writing a query letter and is essential when pitching. In a blog by story analyst Karel Segers, he presents key elements to successful logline construction.
When a major event happens
The main character must overcome the event (or flaw)
And pursue the goal.

A tagline is a few key descriptive words designed to grab attention.

Example – Alien: In space no one can hear you scream. (8 words)
 The logline is often a component of the description on your back cover. Hone your logline and memorize it so when someone asks about your latest work, you’ll have it ready.

Have a good summer and keep writing. 

Betty

Sources:
https://www.raindance.org/10-tips-for-writing-loglines
https://thestorydepartment.com,

WRITING WITH FEELING

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Author: Betty Kuffel

Through the Lens of a Writer

Writers have a special way of looking at things. Envisioned scenes are painted with feelings, smells, sounds and touch. Delving into a character’s thoughts with interior dialogue adds depth, revealing desires and motivation.

Smells are a strong part of memory storage. A recalled odor conjures up acute memories of time and place. If the wind blows from the wrong direction across a Montana landscape, the smell of a nearby feedlot might drift to a beautiful outdoor wedding and overwhelm the sweet smell of flowers carried by the bride. When her marriage turns bad, she may recall the smell of manure on that fateful day. Or the sweet smell of pipe tobacco may instantly bring to mind the image of your loving grandfather.

Using comparisons and stark contrasts enhance description:

+My pet rat’s sandpaper tail wrapped beneath my chin as her silky body snuggled against my neck like a miniature kitty.

+Moonrise inched over the Rocky Mountains slashing the black slate of Flathead Lake.

Coloring your writing:

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Cinnamon hair

fiery sunrise.med (2)

A fiery sunrise

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Pomegranate jewels

Unique colors descriptions produce immediate images in the reader’s mind.

Using background music when you write adds to setting and feeling:

Many writers use music to set mood when writing scenes. Free internet sites allow you to choose specific songs, genres and themes to write by (Pandora, Spotify). Novels set in a certain era bring popular songs to mind and can be used to solidify and enhance a setting. Playing the songs can get you in the mood to write about the period in your novel.

“Without music and dance, life is a journey through a desert.” ― Pat Conroy

Additional quotes from Beach Music written by Pat Conroy, one of my favorite authors:

Touch and feelings:

“The water was pure and cold and came out of the Apennines tasting like snow melted in the hands of a pretty girl.” ― Pat Conroy

“My own tears seemed landlocked and frozen in a glacier I could not reach or touch within me.” ― Pat Conroy

 

Write scenes as if painting a picture. Happy reading and writing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Betty

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