Monday, March 30, 2009

Interview with Melissa Miller, author of Love Heals All Pain



Today, we're chatting with Melissa Miller, author of Love Heals All Pain.

How long have you been writing and how many novels do you have published?

I've been writing for about 3 years. My first book Unconditional Love was contracted with Red Rose Publishing for one year. I later changed the name to Forever Love, and it will be coming soon at Wild Horse Press. I self published a short story call "Un-break My Heart" available at www.heartsonfirebooks.com. I recently received an honorable mention from Reader Jack for a short story that I sent into their Love Is In The Air contest. It's called "Somebody Else's Child."

My latest novel that I'm promoting here today is Love Heals All Pain. This book has received a 3.5 from Ghost Writer Reviews, a 4 out of 5 from Satin and Lace Reviews, and a 4 out of 5 from Rose Petal Review. Here's a little blurb about it:

A strong woman, Rachel Connors faces the possibility of breast cancer. Scared and alone, she keeps her fears to herself. Going home to Tennessee for the holidays for the first time in years, Rachel meets Kyle Landers.

Kyle has decided from the start to not like Rachel. Her absence has been hard on her parents - two loving people who took Kyle under their wing when he had no one. But is his anger misplaced? Is there more to Rachel Connors than he first thought?

Overcoming a rocky beginning, Kyle and Rachel fall in love. But will it last? Can love prevail against the trials they will face?

You can find Love Heals All Pain at www.heartsonfirebooks.com, amazon.com., fictionwise.com, etc.

What's the hardest thing about writing a novel and what do you love the most about it?

The hardest thing about writing for me is letting somebody else critique the book for me or edit it. I always hate to get it back. I'm always afraid that they are going to hate it.

When did you first have an interest in writing?

I guess the thing that made me start writing was staying home with my kids. I started writing to kind of give me something to do. I loved staying home with my kids. Don't get me wrong, but you can only watch so much Barney. I started writing to give me something to do, and I love to write.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors out there?

Never give up hope. Don't go into it thinking that you're going to make a ton of money. Do it because you love it.

Thanks for stopping by Melissa.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Guest Blogger Jack Kilborn - Marketing Tips

Hi everyone, I want to welcome Jack Kilborn today. He has promised to share some of his marketing strategies with you.

My name is Jack Kilborn. Currently, I'm on a blog tour, promoting my horror novel, Afraid. It's a scary one, so only check it out if you're brave enough.

I've done a lot of marketing and self-promotion under my other name, JA Konrath. Here are some cheap, or free, ways to get the word out, along with some things to avoid. As with all of my advice, this is based on my experience, so your mileage may vary.


Eight Low Cost Self-Promotion Strategies by Jack Kilborn and JA Konrath


1. Social Networks. You can use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and scores of other online gathering places, to make friends and fans. The key is to offer content in the form of information and entertainment. If you go there to sell, you'll be ignored. But if you go to share, you'll be embraced.

2. Blogging. This is still the best way to provide regularly updated content and reach a specific demographic. Make sure your blog has focus, and stick to that focus to build a readership. When you've built up your readership, I recommend going on a blog tour. I think it's a terrific way to spread the word.

3. Visit Bookstores. If they have your books, sign stock. If they don't, ask a manager if they could order a few. Talking to booksellers helps them to handsell you, meaning your books will continue to sell after the signed copies are long gone.

4. Sell Short Stories and Articles. The best way to get people to read your writing is if you get them to try your writing. Selling shorts to magazines and anthologies is a way to reach a broader audience and give them a taste; the literary equivalent of giving out free samples in supermarkets. Best of all, you get pain, not the other way around.

5. Giveaways. Contests for free swag are great. Having free short stories and novels on your website, for download, are even better.

6. Networking. The more people you meet, and trade email and links with, the better off you'll be. Like all businesses, publishing runs on nepotism. Befriending people, both in real life and on the net, just makes sense.

7. Library Visits. If you're big enough, they'll pay you. It doesn't hurt to ask. (If you're unsure of what you're worth, ask for the average they paid their last three speakers.) Getting in front of people is powerful juju--but make sure you're good at speaking in public.

8. Email Newsletters. Every time you do an appearance, collect email addys. You should also collect them on your website. Then, when your next book is coming out, you can email them all at once.


Six Things to Avoid in Self-Promotion by JA Konrath/Jack Kilborn


1. Mailings. Snail mail is expensive and ineffective, in my experience. And my experience is extensive. I once mailed letters to 7000 libraries. It did very little for my sales, but cost a fortune, and took a very long time.

2. Book Trailers. Unless you can do them really cheap, like I did, your money is better spent traveling to bookstores.

3. Bookmarks. Cheap ones get thrown away. Expensive ones aren't worth the cost, even if the person buys your book because of it, which they won't. Stick with business cards. I'd also apply this to anything else you can give away; key chains, pencils, candy, etc. If you want to give away something effective, give away chapbooks that feature the first chapter of your story. Hook them with your writing, not with a tsotchkes

4. Ads. In some niche markets, if the price is right, and ad can be helpful. But in my experience it is a waste of money 95% of the time.

5. Conferences. This is a tricky one, because I think most conferences are worth going to every so often. But if you go to the same con, year after year, you're spending a lot of time and money preaching to the converted. Better to try different conferences, rather than speak in front of the same 300 people over and over again.

6. A Publicist. If you have a non-fiction book, or a specific platform, a publicist can be helpful. If you write fiction, there isn't much a publicist can do for you that's worth your investment. You can find the radio interviews and reviews on your own, and save a bunch of money. For the record, I don't recommend paying anyone for anything in this biz, except your agent, who should only be paid when she sells your writing.

The key thing to keep in mind when doing any sort of promotion is: "Would this make me buy a book?" Don't do anything that wouldn't work on you.

Also don't blindly listen to experts, me included. It's your career. You need to find your own path. That means trying as many things as possible, to find out what works for you.

And remember to have fun, because we're certainly not doing this for the money...

Thanks Jack. Here are some sites to check out more about Jack and his work:
http://www.JAKonrath.com
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com
http://www.myspace.com/jakonrath

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Free Ebook

Lea Schizas, whose work was quoted yesterday, suggested that the best way to get the information she and other writers have to share about critiquing is to request a complete copy of Critiques Don't Bite.

Yesterday's post was a sample of the great ideas and tips you'll receive in this fabulous ebook.

Please contact Lea at museitupeditor@yahoo.ca and request your free copy. Feel free to say you learned about here on my blog.

I know you'll enjoy reading this informative ebook.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Don’t Be Afraid – Critiques Don’t Hurt By Lea Schizas

Hi friends. Lea Schizas creator of the MuseItUp Club has generously offered the following free information and has encouraged others to share - as long as copyrighted material is kept in tact. There's probably a way to post the entire ebook as a pdf document, but technically challenged as I am, I haven't figured out how to do that. So, instead, I will post individual chapters over the next few days for you to read and enjoy.

"The members of the MuseItUp Club are proud to offer you this FREE
ebook. Within, you’ll find helpful information on why and how critiques
are an important area in a writer’s life.

Copyright 2008 to the writers of this Ebook.

Contents

Don’t Be Afraid – Critiques Don’t Hurt, By Lea Schizas

The Importance of Being a Careful Critiquer, By Tessa Johnstone

Writing Features – Critiquing Groups Effectively Improve Writing Results, by Jan Verhoeff

Critique Group Essay, By J. D. Webb

The Value of the Critique or The Invaluable Critique, By Charles Mossop

Critique Groups, By Lisa Haselton

Critique Groups: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, By Nancy Famolari

Critiques Do Help, By Jennifer Payton

My Critique Group, By Susan Stephenson

Helpful Writing Tool, By Jessica Kennedy

My Writing Career?, By Christine I. Speakman

Don’t Stay Married To Your Words, By Donna M. McDine

Alpha Muser Artichoke: My Critique Group, By Michele M. Graf:

Guest appearances by: Amber – Bob – Gloria – Katie – Susan

The Benefits of Joining a Critique Group, By Gloria Oren


Introduction

“I’m a writer.”
“Wow, that’s so cool. Do you have an editor?”
“Um…no, they’re too expensive.”
“So you’re editing your own work?”
“Yeah, why?”

Wow, that last question really punches reality to a seasoned writer. New writers
read their work, edit to the best of their capability, and then when the rejections
roll in they have no idea why.

It’s because writers aren’t the best subjects to review their own work. They know
their stories inside out and miss obvious plot holes other readers will notice.

Within Writing from the Soul: Critiques Don’t Bite you’ll find valuable information
from members of The MuseItUp Club, an award-winning writing community.

Their insight as to why critique groups are important, how they can help you,
and why you should join one will inspire and motivate you.

And now, without further delay, we welcome you to

Writing From the Soul: Critiques Don’t Bite

Don’t Be Afraid – Critiques Don’t Hurt
By Lea Schizas

I’ll never forget my first experience in a critique group. Some would say ‘what a horrible experience’, whereas I claim it was the best thing that ever happened to my writing career.

I was a newbie writer, no, let me clarify this. I’ve always had the passion to write. Won a few competitions in high school and then I got married once I graduated. It wasn’t until 1999 when I picked up my first Writer’s Digest magazine that the Muse began to enter my system. By then I had five kids and old enough they didn’t need mommy 24/7. It was the year 2000 when I finally woke up from my self-induced coma of taking care of everyone else’s needs but my own.

As a newbie writer introduced once again to the craft I wanted to join a few writers groups and critique groups to get in the swing of things. My writers groups, two that I distinctly remember, contained writers who hogged information. They would brag they sent out a query, or a submission, but when asked ‘where’ they clammed up as though the mere words blinded them some how. It didn’t take me very long to realize these writers were very insecure about themselves because if they were confident they wouldn’t fear other writers having the information and possibly submitting to the same venue as them.

Anyway…

My first critique group did not have any order, or at least I realized much later in time when I did join others with guidelines. This first critique group allowed members to sub whenever. No guidance as to how many should have critiqued. Many times there were no critiques offered. Once again, it slowly donned on me that critiques were given to ‘cyber pals’ and not to newcomers. I left that group within a couple of months.

The next critique group contained a more orderly guideline – once you critiqued someone else’s piece then you were able to hand one in yourself. I did. My first critique – the one I am and will always be grateful for – was from a man. His words are still fresh in my head as though it was yesterday:

“Are you sure you want to be a writer? Why don’t you stick with hairdressing.”

That, my dear friends, was the wisdom that started my writing career. Why? Because those words pissed me off so much I just had to show him that I did, indeed, have talent but searching for some guidance. I stuck it out because that is my personality. I will not give up because someone else told me so and that is exactly what you should never do. Do not quit because someone else does not have the grace and finesse to critique the right way.

As writers, we are the masters and creators of our work. We know exactly where we’re
heading with a story. However, when you have several writers pointing at the same passage, then as the master you must come down from your podium and objectively look at your work through their interpretations and thoughts. Only you have the mighty pen to change what will suit your manuscript, but you are risking a rejection if you do not, at least openly and honestly, reread your work with a reader’s point of view. After all, the critiques are given based on what these writers are reading, so technically, they are your first readers.

A good critique group offers the good, the bad, and the very ugly. If you are afraid of criticism my advice to you is to get a tough skin. Critiques are like reviews – not all of them will be good. So get used to it. I personally love the groups that blend, dissect, toss, chop up, and spit out my manuscript because it’s through these types of groups I know my work will only improve. These critique groups are honest but not rude. There is no room for rudeness or bashing. Critiques can be offered in diplomatic ways without any hurt feelings. The hurt feelings come in when a writer cradles their baby (AKA manuscript) and refuses to change anything. Then why join a critique group?

Before joining any critique group you must remember these points:

• Do not have your guard up. No one is out to get you.
• Be honest with your work and actually look at the areas others are telling you more work needs to be done
• Do not offer a negative critique to someone just because they did to you. We are not in high school anymore.
• Do not skim and offer a weak critique to someone because you have no time to
‘really’ look at their work. Be honest and tell them you will be a tad late because you are up to your eyeballs in work. We’re humans with outside commitments so I am
sure your members will understand. But make sure to hand one in.
• When you join a critique group and you are given their guidelines, look them over
carefully, see if you can commit to their routine. The worse thing is to have everyone introduced to you, set a schedule, and then you disappear because you can’t handle it. When you are told you will be critiquing once a week, you should know right off if that is something you can handle.

Critique groups offer many benefits to a writer:

Making contacts
Networking with other writers
Improving your work – and this last point is very important because many writers miss the most important area: when you critique other manuscripts you are honing your own work in the process. How? By reading and spotting other writers’ mistakes you will subconsciously avoid making those similar mistakes.

Now put on your tough skin and join a critique group.

Lea Schizas is an award-winning author and editor. She is the founder of the MuseItUp Club, The Muse Online Writers Conference, co-founder of Apollo’s Lyre, and many yahoo groups. She is the mother of five and proud to say she still maintains some sanity.

Her newest book is a middle grade chapter book: Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us
available through Barnes and Noble and other major online stores. It is published by 4RV Publishing. For more information on Lea Schizas, link here: http://www.leaschizas.com

Monday, March 23, 2009

Is Your Life a Drama?

If you're a beginning writer, perhaps your first forays into writing might be about your own life. After all, who knows the story better than you do. Different from writing a memoir, a personal drama story contains a dramatic element.

Think about what has happened in your life. Have you overcome a serious illness? Have you survived a flood or hurricane? Have you been lost on a mountain? Have you survived a serious car crash? Are you a foster parent or have you adopted twelve children? Any of these things could turn into dollars for you at a number of magazines. Personal drama stories are always popular. People like reading about what happens to other people - especially if it's something which is a life-changing event. These stories readily sell to a variety of magazines including men's and women's magazines and news weeklies.

Of course, for your story to sell, there are certain elements which must be present. It should be both timely and dramatic. Does it have a clear beginning, middle and end? This should be a story about something which happened directly to you, otherwise it isn't a personal drama story.

Keep in mind that you can't just sit down and narrate what happened. This has to be a compelling story with verifiable facts, intriguing details, and written in your own voice. If other people are involved with your story, be sure to let them know and obtain their permission to share the information. Good luck and happy writing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Using Your Senses

As a writer, it's important to use all your senses when you're writing, whether it's dialog, a scene, or backstory. We have six senses: sight, smell, taste, sound, touch, and kinesthetic (the feeling inside of our muscles).

Unfortunately, we too often rely on only sight and forget about the other senses. In order to draw our readers into our story, they need to smell what our protagonist smells. Is he in the woods? Does he smell the damp earth, the aromatic cedar or the musky odor of an animal he follows?

How do you describe food in your story? Is your heroine dining out with someone she has under surveillance? What is she eating? Can your reader taste the garlic, mushrooms and olive oil smothering her angel hair pasta?

What sounds does a small child lost in the big city hear? Is she frightened by the honking of the cars, the wailing of a siren or angry words shouted by a mob listening to a soap box activist?

How does the silk feel as your hero undresses his lady? What about the rough fabric of the homespun cotton shirt he has discarded in his haste?

What does your antagonist feel as he battles his way out of a trap set by your hero. Are his muscles aching and burning with the strain of wielding a heavy sword?

Consider all the senses when you're writing and your story will come alive for your reader. Leave them out of the story, and it will be a dull, boring read. Happy writing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What Makes a Real Writer?

Do you consider yourself a "real" writer? Many writers feel they haven't accomplished anything until they've written a book, or landed on the best seller list. Unfortunately, this is reinforced by people who belittle writers who concentrate on articles, essays, short stories, journals, poetry, etc.

The fact is, if you are serious about writing, you are a real writer. Bottom line, real writers write. If you set aside a certain amount of time each day or each week to put yourself in a chair and concentrate on writing, you should call yourself a writer. If someone asks what you do, tell them you are a writer. Don't feel you are anything less, just because you haven't written a book.

When my daughter was younger, she told me I wasn't a "real" writer because I hadn't written a book. No matter how many published magazine articles and short stories I showed her, in her eyes, I wasn't a writer. Of course, she was a child at the time and no longer believes that. Unfortunately, there are adults who think that way and may push those negative thoughts at you, undermining your confidence and belief in yourself. Don't feel threatened by other people's expectations. Simply, keep away from those people. If you are serious about your craft, you are a real writer.

People say they play tennis even though they're not professionals. People say they play the piano, even though they only play for their own enjoyment. If you want your writing to be a business, then treat it as a business. If you write because you love it and don't care about making money, then enjoy it. But whichever route you choose, if you treat your writing seriously, be proud to call yourself a real writer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hooking Your Reader

Do you have trouble hooking your reader? Are you uncertain how to begin your story or article? Here are a few leads which should grab your reader's attention and help direct the focus of your piece.

1. Anecdote - One of the most popular leads, the anecdote provides an illustration of how you or someone you interviewed handled a problem, and it can serve as a way to draw your reader into your article.

2. Question - Ask a question which is pertinent to your subject matter. For example, an article on working out could begin: "Have you considered the benefits of water aerobics?"

3. Summary - The idea of this lead is to provide immediate facts to the reader and can answer the who, what, when, where and why of your article.

4. Attention Grabber - I used this lead for a story, "Learning Tolerance," which appeared in Listen. "Unfortunately, bigotry isn't innocent or harmless. It finds its way into our society, both blatantly and covertly." This statement was designed to grab my reader's interest and make her want to keep reading.

5. Quotation - Do you have an expert you've interviewed for your article? Starting with a quote from the interview will help to lead into your story. Be sure, though, that the quote you choose sets the direction of your article.

6. Description - A descriptive lead can be similar to your summary lead, however, in this you will focus more on setting the scene. This can be particularly useful if you're working on a travel piece.

If you're not sure what type of lead to use, look at magazine articles. See how other published writers begin their stories. Find the one which works best for your voice and for the piece you are writing.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Emotions in Fiction

Are you a fiction writer? Are you sometimes stumped as to how to make your writing sparkle? We oftentimes fall into patterns of overused description of characters' feelings.

Suppose your character is angry. What descriptors spring to mind when you think of anger? Jot them down. Did you think of a raised voice? Clenched fists? Accurate, yet these emotional descriptions are used too often and can be the sign of an amateur. Let's take a look at the following:

Jane clenched her fists when she spotted Claire coming toward her. Quiet descended on the cafeteria when Jane yelled, "What do you think you're doing in here?"

Then, let's add a little more to the scene.

Claire sauntered into the cafeteria flanked by her cronies. Jane's heart beat faster and she swallowed hard. Her hands curled into tight fists. This time she wouldn't let them put her down. This was her school, not Claire's. Her eyes narrowed as she glared at the interloper. Her voice was rough when she snarled, "What do you think you're doing in here?"

While the first scene lets the reader know Jane is angry at Claire, the second gives the reader more information and allows the reader to be part of the scene. This is what you, the writer, must do. Put yourself in Jane's situation. Imagine how you would feel. What is your heart doing? How do your hands feel? Are they sweaty, clammy or curling into fists.

If you use your own emotional memories, you can write about almost any character. If you're writing about something which you yourself haven't experienced, a death or a burglary for example, talk to someone who has. It's your job as a writer to give your readers more than just the facts. Give them the information they need to believe in your characters and in your story.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reseach - Can you do too much?

For many of us fiction writers, it's important to do research. If you're writing historical fiction, this is particularly true, but even contemporary fiction requires research.

Some of us, however, spend so much time researching, we never finish our novel or even short stories. We feel that we have to get every detail exactly right. While it's important to have your facts correct, it's also important to remember that the story is what's important. More than research and fact checking, you need a good believable story, with well developed characters and a strong plot. The research helps to make your story believable, but there is a time to stop researching and a time to start writing.

If you're wondering if a piece of research should be included in your story, ask yourself these questions: 1) Does the information move the story forward. 2) Can I introduce the information in another manner, e.g. characters who could convey what's important? While you may do hours of research, only include the 1% which actually has something to do with your story.

Try not to use your research as a way to put off the real work - actually writing your story. Research can be another way to procrastinate. Instead, find the necessary information, organize it, and get started writing. If you find you're missing something once you do start writing, bookmark that section, and go back to it later when you're editing and revising.

Finally, keep in mind that all your sources are not the same. Actually going to a courthouse and watching a trial is a lot more beneficial to your research than watching a show on T.V. or reading another author's version in a book. Go to a hospital, or interview your own doctor if you are interested in writing about someone in the medical profession. Talk to people who actually do the job of fireman, lawyer or police officer if these characters are in your book. Are you writing about young people? Observe them at parks, malls, and libraries.

Research is important; it will help you to write a believable story. However, don't use it as a crutch. Happy writing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Character Building

Do you sometimes fill your stories with great detail about your characters? Things such as their physical descriptions, where they were born, everything they like or don't like? While this may seem to be the best way for your reader to get to know those characters, you may be giving too much information and bogging your reader down with description.

Try, instead, to create a character notebook. Put all those details that end up in your stories into the notebook. Have a chapter for each of your characters. Here is where you will put all the information about what makes your character who he or she is. By having all this information in one place, Shelia won't have blue eyes in Chapter 1 and green eyes in Chapter 15. Mark won't speak with a lisp in Chapter 5 and have a strong oratory voice in Chapter 25.

Make sure you put in physical characteristics, but also include background information such as what are his or her likes and dislikes. Where did your character grow up? What kind of parents, playmates, siblings did he or she have? All of these things will determine who your character has become.

When it comes time to write your story, however, you don't need all of these characteristics dumped on the reader. Winnow out what makes your character different and memorable. Having a stutter would change how your character interacts with others and the confidence he might have. If your character has a large visible birthmark, she probably isn't going to compete in a beauty pageant. Was there some incident in your character's past, an abusive parent, or a parent or siblings death, which changes how she views the world. These small details are the ones to include.

Remember sometimes less is more.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making Twitter Work for you

Are you signed up to Twitter? If, like me, you are relatively new to this social networking tool, there may be things it can do for you of which you are unaware.

I just read the April 2009 ASJA Newsletter which is available to the public. This is a free newsletter packed with a lot of useful information. You can access the public files at http://www.asja.org/newspub/newspub.php (There is also a paid version which has significantly more information.)

There was one article of particular note written by Kathy Sena, "Take Your Writing to the Next Level with Social Media. In this article, Ms. Sena discusses ways you can increase your public image using social media tools, including Twitter. There is a sidebar which lists several people you should be following to learn more about Twitter and what it can do for you.

There was also a section which discussed an aspect of Twitter which can be quite useful to you in seeking out new writing opportunities. Twitter Search, available at http://search.twitter.com/ Just to see what would happen, I put in "writers needed." Eighteen tweets popped up in the search list all showing urls where you can check out writing opportunities. All of these tweets were posted in one day.

Granted if you try to read every tweet from every person you are following, you won't have time to write. However, if you are careful who you follow, and if you use tools such as Twitter Search, Twitter can help you in your writing career.

As I find out more about Twitter and what it can do to help you as a writer, I will share that information here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What can you write in 10 minutes?

Do you sometimes feel rushed for time? Have you wondered what you could possibly accomplish in ten minutes squeezed between dentist appointments and ballet lessons? Or are you waiting for the pie to come out of the oven before you can put dinner on the table?

Whatever the reason, if you have five, ten or fifteen minutes, don't waste them surfing the net or looking at an old magazine which is lying on the coffee table. Pick up your pad and start writing.

You can write a poem or a card greeting. You can write a short humor piece, such as what your child said which totally embarrassed you. These little pieces could earn you dollars as fillers in parenting magazines. You could jot down ideas for stories. You could create theme cards for a card file. Write down first sentences for novels, stories, or articles.

It's amazing what you can write in just a few minutes spare time. In fact, you can write your blog post in just those few spare minutes. In these days of rushing here, and rushing there, make every minute count. Use your time wisely and you won't be wondering at the end of the day, "Why didn't I get anything written today?"

Happy writing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Exercise those brain muscles

Twice a week, and sometimes on Saturday, my friend and I go to work out at the pool. I've been doing this for almost ten years now, and it's become a habit. When I don't go, I feel like something's missing. Certainly when the pool closes for a month or more due to maintenance, I'm sluggish and out of sorts.

As writers, it's important to exercise our brain muscles as well as our bodeis. We already know it's not healthy to sit in front of our computer for hours on end. We get up; we walk around; we stretch; we get the newspaper; we go for coffee. Sometimes we take a yoga break or go to the gym to work out. But what about our brain muscles?

Research shows that exercising our brains increases our memory and helps us in our aging process. What kinds of exercise can we do? There are always games to play such as crosswords, Sudoko, and any number of other online computer games which can be found a number of web sites. Do a word search or work a picture puzzle. But what about writing games?

Some of these writing games can be found in the book I reviewed a few weeks back, Creative Calisthenics by Terri Main. Another book I've used for brain exercises is The Write Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer. If you don't wish to invest in a workbook, there are web sites which offer daily writing boosters. One place to look is http://www.writersdigest.com/WritingPrompts/ Another thing you can do is free write. Take a word such as ocean, think of other words associated with ocean,such as beach, sand, crab, dolphin, ship. Then write a story using all the words you come up.

Remember exercising your brain muscles is just as important as exercising your body's muscles.