Archive for December, 2009

Before the holidays began, I had lots of ideas for new blog posts. Now I wonder if I have ideophobia. That’s the fear of ideas, or in my case, the lack of ideas. I’m afraid they aren’t any good, so perhaps it’s just atelophobia, the fear of imperfection. Or maybe I have phronemophobia, the fear of thinking. Yes, I think I’m afraid of thinking.

Some fears I do not have are chrematophobia, the fear of touching money; dendrophobia, the fear of trees; and cathisophobia, the fear of sitting down.

I may or may not have arachibutyrophobia. That’s the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of my mouth. I think that could be a serious problem but it doesn’t stop me from eating peanut butter, so it isn’t a true phobia. Phobias are irrational fears of things that don’t really pose a threat.

Phobias are fascinating to read about, but not much fun for the people who suffer from them. They are anxiety disorders, and cause mental and physical distress. According to Medline Plus, people try to avoid things they are afraid of, and when they can’t, they may react with physical symptoms such as trembling and rapid heartbeats. There are so many phobias a person might have that I can’t list them all here.

Flawed characters can make a story more believable and interesting, and a phobia or two might help give them distinguishable personality traits. If you want to browse lists of phobias that might make your characters more human, take a look at: http://didyouknow.org/phobias.htm  or http://psychology.about.com/od/phobias/a/phobialist.htm 

There’s a helpful article at http://www.medicinenet.com/phobias/article.htm describing why people have phobias, as well as symptoms and some possible treatments.

What are you afraid of? What’s the most unusual fear you’ve known someone to have, or read about?


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In honor of the holidays, I created a short dance video on the Jibjab/Office Max elf site. It expires on January 15, 2010, so if you need a chuckle between now and then, take a look: http://elfyourself.jibjab.com/view/WMZB8GNM14QHUWq0hrHd

 You may want to create a free video of your own, or for $4.99 you can download the videos you make and keep them forever.  If you make one, please leave a link in the comments section so I can watch it.

Happy Holidays!



EDIT:  Elf Yourself videos are no longer available. The site has other ecards to choose from, and they’re lots of fun to make. Some are free, with themes that include dancing, sports, movies, and more. Check back next year for another chance to see the “Elf Yourself” video.

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Like many other people, I’m taking a break from blogging until after Christmas. My kids are home from college for 3 weeks, and our days will be hectic as we celebrate the holidays with family and friends. I’ll be checking in every day or so to respond to any comments, but I won’t have time to write new posts for at least a week.

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season, too.


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There’s an essay contest on the Editor Unleashed forum that you might be interested in entering. Entries of 750 words or less on the topic of “Why I Write” will be accepted until December 31, 2009. Members of the forum will be voting on them from January 4, 2010 through January 29, 2010. Winners will be announced on February 1, 2010. The 50 best will be included in an ebook anthology published by Smashwords, and editor Maria Schneider will select one essay as the Grand Prize Winner. The Grand Prize is $500.

There is no entry fee but you must register with the forum (for free) in order to enter or to vote. There are some excellent entries already posted, so the competition will be tough. I’m enjoying reading them, and debating on whether to enter the contest myself. The Editor Unleased forum is one of my favorites, so even if you aren’t interested in submitting an essay, you might enjoy visiting the site.

Here’s the link to the contest rules:


Good luck to all who enter!

Edit December 23, 2009:   

There has been a problem with the Editor Unleashed Forum software the last few days preventing anyone from reading or posting there. I’ve heard that someone is working on it, and will let you know when the forum is accessible again.

December 30, 2009: The forum is back. The Why I Write contest deadline has been extended; entries will be accepted until January 31, 2010.

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Holiday Schedules

The holiday season can be hectic and stressful as we juggle work schedules, shopping, family get-togethers, parties, and other things at this time of year. Finding time to write can be a challenge.

We know it’s important to write regularly, and most of us have works in progress that we’re eager to finish and send out into the world. However, keeping a realistic goal for our writing and other responsibilities in December will help us relax and enjoy the really important things in life. Taking a break or cutting back on our daily word count for a couple of weeks won’t really make a difference in our careers (unless you have a deadline looming).

Try not to stress over the amount of writing you do or don’t do in the next few weeks. Enjoy the true spirit of the holidays, and in January you’ll feel refreshed and ready to attack your project with new energy.


Do you spend less time writing during the holidays? Do you feel stressed out by the extra activities the season generally brings, or do you know the secret to relaxing and enjoying it all?

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In an earlier post I talked about commercial fiction and literary fiction.  When agents and editors talk about “upmarket” fiction, they are referring to books that appeal to both audiences. They are books that have excellent writing along with a story line that appeals to a mainstream market.  

While many genre books are well-written, and might be thought of as commercial, they aren’t generally considered upmarket. However, you’ll see agents asking for upmarket thrillers, upmarket women’s fiction, upmarket crime, as well as other classifications that might be considered genre books. One agent’s submission guidelines asked for fiction that straddles the line between literary and commercial. I think that’s a good explanation of what upmarket really means.

Miss Snark’s blog has a helpful post distinguishing between genre, literary, and commercial writing, along with some excellent advice:  “Just write something fabulous and it will all work out.”

What books can you think of that might be called upmarket fiction?

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I know I’m probably decreasing my own chance of winning by pointing out the contest for a Sony Reader Pocket Edition that Agent Rachelle Gardner has going on this week, but I’m feeling the Spirit of Christmas in a big way. I’d love to have a Sony Reader, but I’m sure many of you would, too.  

The contest involves posting some of your favorite literary passages or a brief statement regarding books that “moved” you on a site called Words Move Me, and a comment on Rachelle Gardner’s blog.

Here’s the link to her blog post with the instructions for entering the contest:        http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/12/words-move-me-sony-reader-giveaway.html

The deadline is  11:59 pm MST on Friday, December 11th.

Even if you’re not interested in entering the contest, you might want to take a look at the website called Words Move Me. There are lots of books mentioned that sound fascinating to read.


What are some of your favorite passages from books you’ve read? What books have made an impact on your life or touched your emotions?

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