Saturday, September 8, 2012

Five writerly tips from lovely Laura Eno



If Laura Eno lived next door to me, we'd have coffee all the time and talk about writing and be BFFs. Of course that would never happen unless Laura completely lost her mind and forgot about her abhorrence for the great outdoors and snowbanks.

So it's me in Ontario and Laura in Florida and never the twain shall meet. But I will always think fondly of this prolific and talented writer. Ever since I caught wind of her through Friday Flash I have admired her generous support of other writers, not to mention her own ability to write about anything: literary slice of life, horror, humour, romance – doesn't matter. She handles it all with imaginative and tenacious aplomb.

My respect for her is enormous.

I haven't had much reading time lately but I did manage to spend some happy hours with my nose buried in my Kindle during summer vacation. You couldn't ask for better summer reading material than Laura's The Carriena Oracles, Raven and Wraith. On one sunshiney July afternoon I whipped through Raven while I floated around in our cheapo Canadian Tire swimming pool guzzling Diet Cokes and accumulating melanoma. It was glorious.

Then, during an impromptu fishing trip to Brent, a remote part of Algonquin Park, I dove into and polished off the recently released Wraith in a couple of happy hours. It amuses me to think I read many of Laura's books on camping trips, knowing she can't stand the very idea of camping. It's like I'm dragging her along and she's having a great time, in spite of herself.

Both books were a ton of fun. Love romance? Love sci/fi? Love strong female leads, adventure, brave new worlds and human-like robots? They're all here in a happy mish-mash of genres that put character and story above all else. You can find them, along with a long list of Laura's other novels, on Amazon and Smashwords. At 99 cents each, they're a true bargain.

In the meantime, I forced Laura to answer a bunch of inane questions. The first question, though, was completely serious – I wanted five tips for writers. Laura is an experienced, savvy writer and self-publisher and if you want advice on anything writerly, she's the lady to ask. Without further adieu, Mizz Eno:


Hi, Cathy! Thank you so much for inviting me to put a handprint on your blog. I hope you don't mind if it's a bit sticky… 

That was with honey, for all you blokes with your minds in the gutter.

You asked me for five tips of interest to writers. *snort* There are so many tips out there the internet needs a plumber to unclog it but here goes.

Tip #1. Chew each tip slowly. If it tastes good, swallow it. If it doesn't, spit it out. Seriously. You can only write with what resonates for you. Leave the rest behind.

Tip #2. Don't be afraid. Fear will leave your manuscript half-finished, kicked under the bed.

Tip #3. Learn how to take constructive criticism. That does not mean change your story to suit someone else's idea of how it should go. There's a difference between tightening your story and writing someone else's version. Let them write their own.

Tip #4. Edit. Edit. Edit. But then let it go. See Tip #2.

Tip #5. Remember that not everyone will like what you've written. We all want to stand up on stage like Sally Fields (minus the hairy armpits) and yell, "You really like me!" but it's impossible. If you love your story and it's well edited, it's all good.

You asked why I write romance in particular, when I write in so many different genres. Actually, for me, it's all the same. The angle I write from is the human condition. In my head, it all ties together – love, hate, happiness, pain – they are the commonalities that bond us as a people.

I hope that made sense. If not, throw a bucket over your head and repeat the words until you agree with me.

You asked what I do all day. Mostly, I let the voices in my head erode the gray matter and bleed words onto paper. That, and play door monitor for two dogs. Up until three years ago I was a Tai Chi instructor, but a series of mental and physical mishaps have me staying at home now, muttering to myself.

And yes to your last question. There will be a third installment of the Carriena Oracles to add to Raven and Wraith. I didn't get to it immediately because I have a few Djinn as houseguests in my head. As soon as they move on, I will write it.

Thank you for having me here, Cathy, and I hope I didn't scare too many of your readers away!

P.S. Jezebel sends you a big, sloppy kiss.


(Right back atcha, Jez.)

66 comments:

  1. OMG! You dragged me into the forest with you! I'm virtually scratching mosquito bites and looking for ticks now.
    I'd LOVE to be your BFF - except for the camping thing. I think we'd have a ton of laughs together, sitting on the sofa with our bunny slippers (remember mine have teeth and are zombies), drinking hot cocoa because it's always snowing up there.
    Thank you for sharing your lovely blog with me today!

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    1. It's always a pleasure having you here, Laura. I'm loving the image of you and me and our bunny slippers, although I think my wee dog will freak out a little when she sees the teeth.

      It's actually cool here today, almost time to light a fire in the woodstove. In fact, Dave spent the day getting it ready for winter with fresh new firebricks and a good scrubby chimney cleaning. Bring on the snowbanks!

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    2. And by the way, you really are my inspiration. I don't know how many times I almost gave up writing my novel and then thought of your determination. It kept me going. Thank you.

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    3. Oh, and did Sally Field really have hairy armpits when she made that speech?

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    4. My bunny slippers clack their mouths open when I walk so your wee dog better watch out. :)
      I'm honored to be an inspiration to any writer!
      Yes, she did. If you google the photo you can see it. :D

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    5. So I googled the pix but, I dunno, I don't see any actual hair, just dark skin. Maybe I haven't seen the right photo yet. Will keep trying.

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  2. Replies
    1. Laura's like my local hardware store slogan: Great Advice, Great Price.

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  3. "Don't be afraid." There is no greater advice!

    And I'm right there with you on the dislike of snowbanks, but sadly, I don't get to avoid them.

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    1. Thanks, Erin. Moving to Florida took care of the snowbanks for me. ;)

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    2. And I agree, Erin, it is the best advice. (That's why Laura rules.)

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    3. Laura rules because she's got Jezebel and Mr. Fluffy - and bunny slippers with teeth.

      Oh yeah, and the whole writing thing as well.

      I like tip number 1 - so, yes, Mom. I'll chew my tips slowly. Hmmm...that somehow doesn't sound right. :-}

      Great interview Cathy & Laura.

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    4. Hi Kevin! Jezebel and Mr. Fluffy thank you for the recognition...and the bunny slippers clacked at you. Uh oh.
      *passes over the innundo with a snicker*

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    5. If I had more coffee, that would be spelled right.
      *innuendo* I can haz an "e" with that...

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    6. Kevin, isn't it wonderful to know even the biggest names in our Flash circle have spelling issues? ;)

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  4. I agree with you about the camping and snowbanks, Laura, but I can't avoid the latter in Chicago. Your writing advice is always the best, and I agree with Erin: Tip #2 is the best. I want Cathy's readers to know that I also read Raven and Wraith and loved them, along with your Immortal Desires, and I can't wait for the next installments!

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    1. Hey Ron! Yes, I saw your reviews! (Great work!) And I hope to crack open Immortal Desires as soon as I get the chance. Sounds juicy!

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    2. You're right, Ron. No escaping the snow there. At least you can skip the camping...unless you visit Cathy. She probably camps in the snow too...

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    3. As a matter of fact we did last January! Had an awesome time!

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    4. Camping in January? I can only admire you and your family, Cathy.

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  5. The human condition provides so many opportunities.
    Excellent tips, Laura!
    And if you and Cathy ever do meet, we want to hear about it.

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    1. There would be lots of pictures, Alex! But not in the woods. No way.

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    2. You'd have to come north, Laura - they'd stop me at the border. I'm a risk, I am. Muahahahaha....

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  6. Laura is so generous in her support of so many writers - whether they get to be published or not! I wish I had her stickability - I might get some of my half-finished MSs sorted out ;-p

    The idea of you, Cathy dearest, and Laura going on a camping trip is a plot-recipe if ever there was one - can you imagine it! Now - there's an idea.......

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    1. Oh, that would be a wild story, Sue! Now go dig out your half-finished MSs and get cracking. :)

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    2. Sorry - they'll have to wait for another day, Laura! It's late here and time for bed! (assuming I can stay asleep - funny how insomnia forces you to lie awake but the moment you give in and get up you're no better off!)

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    3. SUE! Laura's right! GET BUSY! Have you read Steven Pressfield's The War of Art? If you haven't, do it. I was paralyzed with fear too and it made a huge difference.

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  7. With the exception of the editing tip, I can apply these tips to my crafting. My biggest fear is of rejection; people hating my crafts and jewelry. So tip #5 really resonated with me!

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    1. True, JoJo. It applies to any artistic endevour because we are exposing ourselves in the process, leaving the door open to criticism.

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    2. I'm afraid of rejection, too. Massively afraid. But screw 'em if they can't take a joke! Even the most creative people in the history of this planet were rejected at one time or another. Like Van Gogh. Never sold a painting when he was alive. His talent, though, was undeniable.

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  8. What a wonderful guest post. Thank you Cathy, thank you Laura.
    I also love, love, love that some of these tips can also apply to the underappreciated and necessary elephant in the room - the reader. Can you tell that I think of myself in that role?
    And I am more than a bit iffy about camping myself. My father was a very enthusiastic amateur gemnologist. So we camped by slag heaps. A lot. I have to tell you there was not a lot to do there except admire the insect bites I had collected.

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    1. I will NEVER underappreciate any reader! I love the "necessary elephant in the room" comment coming from The Elephant's Child!
      Yeah, insect bites...not a good thing to collect. :)

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    2. OK, EC - you should totally try camping in a SCENIC place when it's NOT bug season. Trust me, it's magical.
      And I would never underappreciate a reader either. Gawd, without readers, there's absolutely no point in writing. You might as well talk to yourself. (Which, um, I do already....)

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  9. Great interview! Laura, so good to *see* you here--you ARE an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your tips with us all--and keep writing! Peace...

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    1. Hi, Linda! It feels like old home week with the Friday Flash crowd. :)

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    2. See Laura? Linda says the same thing. INSPIRATION. You're it.

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  10. Hmmm, which one of you is funnier.... Love the comment about needing a plumber, but if anyone has tips that should be listened to, it's you Laura. But you make it seem so damn easy!

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    1. Cathy's funnier. I can't write about colonoscopies.
      Just for you Mark - Tip #6. Make it look damn easy (a corollary to "never let them see you sweat")

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    2. Yeah, no kidding eh Mark? Laura, I'd love to know what kind of anti-perspirant you use.
      (Colonoscopies are a crappy subject.)

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  11. If it's all the same to you, I'd rather avoid being on stage and keep my hairy armpits. So I'm going to pretend that your #6 tip was the real #5. ;-)

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    1. Hey, whatever tweaks your fancy, Tim! That goes back to Tip #1. See? They're circular. :)

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    2. Hey Tim, didn't you know men shave these days?

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    3. If that is true, Cathy, then it is simply one more way in which I am happily out of fashion.

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    1. That hardware store is Home Hardware and the jingle is "Home Hardware, home of the handyman," which I will now and forever associate with Mizz Eno.

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  13. #2 probably cripples the most people. It inhibited me for several years right after college, and ultimately caused my first finished novel to go into permanent hiding. Had to write another, far better one, which is beginning the rounds at a few special agents now. I think experience in tossing yourself into what you fear is the best method for conquering it.

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    1. And I think that applies to everything in life, John. It's our fear that stops us from being greater than we are. So especially true with any artist though, exposing our innermost feelings upon canvas, page, or whatever medium we choose.

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    2. Crippling is the perfect word for what fear does.
      I'm always trying to get my kids to try new things so they won't fear them. It works with everything but healthy food. Sigh.

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  14. Great interview, Laura and Cathy! Your second tip is the big one for me. My novel is lurking out there so ready to be brought out, but the fear is paralyzing. So many great tips, Laura. I have so much respect for you the way you go at it. You're amazing!

    There is just one thing and this is for Cathy.......don't think you will get anywhere with Jez. She's mine, a bit fickle, but mine. Bwwaahahaha!

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    1. Get it to quit lurking, Cindy. :) Tell yourself it doesn't matter - or something equally nonsensical. :)
      Jez LOVES to be fought over, the little troublemaker! She's ecstatic right now. :D

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    2. No way, Cynthia, Jez LOVES me. She came to my wedding and everything! Plus, we have the same taste in punch so back off sistah!

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  15. The biggest one for me is "Don't be Afraid". Sometimes I mess about for hours just in case I can't write - which never happens. But I never learn. Number 1 is good too - there're so many rules out there but I had a book with a prologue and an epilogue! And how many times have I heard you can't have them? "Remember not everyone likes" that's so important. Oh - all your tips are great Laura! Excellent interview too.
    Wouldn't it be nice to have a party with all your friends from the internet one day?

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    1. Hi Susan! When I first stumbled into the online writing community my writing froze because of so many conflicting DOs and DON'Ts. After awhile, I decided I'd be frozen forever unless I started ignoring some of them...and forge on without being afraid (much). :)
      What a wonderful party that would be!

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    2. I would love to have an internet party. Would y'all come north if I did?

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  16. I love your header, Cathy. Fabulous.

    Neat that you taught tai chi, Laura. I used to take classes way back when I lived in No. Va. They kept telling me I was too tense. I took the classes to try to figure out how to relax. lol

    I'm in the middle of Immortal Desires now. Great read. Then I'll get back to finishing Raven.

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    1. It takes a long time to learn to relax in Tai Chi - a long time. LOL! But that's the whole trick of it.
      I'm glad you're enjoying Immortal Desires! :)

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  17. I'll come north, yeah. :) Though Florida may seem more inviting come December/January.

    Wonderful advice (thank you). :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, CarrieBoo! See? You can go camping with Cathy in my place. :)

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  18. Splendid answers and tips, Laura!

    Cathy, I've got friends in Florida who seem to not miss winter for some inexplicable reason. Really, it's the best season of the year.....

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    1. Thanks, William! I do miss winter and love looking at snow, but then I want it to melt the next day. I'm a one-day snow kinda gal. :)

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