Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Next Online Writing Class

I alway feel funny about listing my writing classes. And yet I know they make a difference. And I offer writing classes online because I really do want to make a difference. This one is timed to match up with National Novel Writing Month--even though it isn't just for people who write novels.

I know what it's like to feel self-doubt and over the years I've learned that every writer does. I offer my classes to share what I've learned works—and what doesn't—in hopes of making the writing process a little easier and better for all of us. In that spirit, I again offer my BOOK IN A WEEK online writing class timed to give students a jump start for NaNoWriMo this year.

Online Writing Class: BOOK IN A WEEK

Prepare for NaNoWriMo—even if you're writing nonfiction. This 5 week class begins October 13, ends November 14 and includes an intensive writing week from Nov. 1 to Nov. 9 that would be a great start to NaNoWriMo. Who knows? You might even write the entire first draft in that one intensive writing week!

Come discover how to write better and faster than you ever have before AND how to have fun doing so. This first three weeks of this class will help you prepare to write your book and the final week will help you look at your intensive writing week to see how, what, when, and where you write best.

Cost: $60
Dates: Oct. 13, 2008 to Nov. 14, 2008
Format: All lessons and discussion are handled via email so you can take the class in your pajamas at 3 in the morning if you want!

Bio: April Kihlstrom is an award winning author of 31 published romance novels. She offers coaching to fellow writers as well as classes and workshops on writing and has spoken at many conferences including: the Romance Writers of America national conference (romance) and the East of Eden conference (non-romance).

Testimonials from students who have taken the class:

“I have taken several online classes, none of them writing related. Still, none of them have been as well planned, documented and executed as BIAW.”

“Wow...Let me begin by saying Thank you Thank you Thank you! What an amazing process and generous amount of information given in a relatively short amount of time!”

“This course was certainly value for the money. A price can't be placed on the invaluable information and experience you imparted during this course.”

“I'm a better writer. I'm a faster writer. I'm a more confident writer.”

Payment for the class may be made by check or by Paypal.

To sign up send an email to aprilkihlstrom@yahoo.com with Book in a Week in the header and in the body of the email please put: your name and whether you prefer to pay by check or Paypal.

As always, feel free to pass this information on to anyone who might be interested.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I was going to blog again about Sophy or perhaps about writing conflict in a novel. But this week it seems perhaps more pertinent to talk about crises and how we—and our characters—cope with them.

So long as we see ourselves hostage to what others do, we will feel trapped and scared. We also are not likely to take those steps that can help us create the lives we want to have.

I've posted before about finances and how to be financially stable. I've posted how to unclog a toilet if you can't get hold of a plumber and don't have or don't want to use a plunger. None of what I posted is guaranteed to always work or always protect you, but....these are steps we can take that have high odds of helping us achieve what we want to achieve—financially or domestically with the toilet.

In every area of our lives, we choose in every moment how we will handle challenges and crises. Will we wring our hands and worry? Perhaps even become news junkies? Or will we take a deep breath and look at what we CAN do? Every little step we take improves our odds and takes away some of the fear because it reminds us that we are not totally hostages to fate.

By the same token, if we are writing a novel, it's useful to ask ourselves how our characters handle challenges and crises. Do they try to control everything—including things over which they have no control? Do they take steps to resolve the issue? Do they turn it over to some higher power? Do they perhaps look for the opportunities that might be created by the crisis? Do you have two characters who have diametrically opposed strategies? That can create conflict—in life OR in a novel.

If you've read my blog for any length of time you can probably guess that I'm not panicking. I have taken the steps I can take to keep my financial house in order. And I choose to put my energy into getting on with my life rather than worrying about things over which I have no control anyway.

How do your characters (if you're a writer) handle crisis? How do you? How might your characters (if you're a writer) learn to handle things differently? Is there something that you, as a person, could do to improve the odds of your financial situation--or any other challenge you face?

Just as our characters can change and grow throughout the progress of a novel, so can we.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lessons Learned From My Dog

You're probably expecting something about taking time to play or nap or love unconditionally. And I could easily write a blog like that. But since this is about WRITING and life, I'd like to talk about a different aspect of what I'm learning from Sophy. (See her blog here: Sophy's Dog Eye View of the World)

One of the lessons I got this week from Sophy was to remember that there are regional differences in all sorts of aspects of life. What is a common issue one place may rarely occur in another—and vice versa. Factors such as habits of other dog owners, climate, etc. can affect things in ways one doesn't even know to watch out for if one is new to an area—OR TRYING TO WRITE ABOUT A PLACE ONE HAS NEVER LIVED.

I won't go into details because it's really gross, but let's just say I spent a morning I didn't want to at the vets because of a problem that never occurred with any other dog I've owned before because I've always had dogs in northern climates. Pests that die out over the winter (I presume) up north apparently don't here in this much warmer climate.

It was a reminder of how many things can be different that one never thinks about—unless one visits or moves to a very different part of the country than one has lived in before. Little things like what's blooming or what one wears at what time of year. Bigger things such as expectations for what's “proper” behavior in all sorts of situations. Or what's involved in home maintenance. (Up north we never had to water the foundations of our houses. Of course, I also never had a teenager apologize to ME when I accidentally bumped into the teenager!)

In life, this means realizing what we think of as the way everyone must think or feel could very well not be universal. It means realizing there's more than one way to see things and that by being open to that possibility our lives could become richer.

In writing, it explains the popularity of the “stranger in a strange land” theme. Differences make for great plot points, potential conflict, humorous incidents, even drama.

There is tremendous value and power in questioning our assumptions. After all, it is the assumptions we don't even know we have that are the ones that trip us up most often. And if we're writers, they are wonderful fodder for the stories we write!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricanes and 9/11 and Other Storms of Life

Here we 're waiting to see if Hurricane Ike will hit us dead on or turn aside. It seems the forecast changes practically every hour. And it brings back memories of the year my daughter was starting college. We lived on the east coast then and she was headed to the west coast. She was trying to pack, not knowing if her flight would even be able to leave in the morning as her dad and I frantically pumped water out of our repeatedly flooding carpeted family room thanks to the remnants of a hurricane that raged outside. Fortunately the hurricane blew through faster than expected and my daughter made her flight just fine.

A couple of years later, it was 9/11 that hit the morning my daughter and I were headed to the shore for a couple of days together before she flew back to college. We were in shock and worried about family in NYC and friends who might have been there. We walked the beach and talked about her options to get out to the west coast before classes started if the planes stayed grounded. We talked about life and what mattered and of the grief we felt over all those lost lives.

My daughter will come over for dinner tomorrow night and we may reminisce. If the storm continues to head our way I'll bring in all my potted plants and anything else that could be tossed around by high winds. I'm ready if we have a few days without power.

What I think of most as I think of these experiences is the different ways people I know—including me—handled these situations. I remember the good things that people did to help each other in difficult times. I celebrate those who found a way to focus on something besides themselves and their own fears.

Every crisis is a chance for each of us to rise above our fears. Each crisis is a chance for us to look at our lives and decide what matters most. May we always remember the lives lost on 9/11 and may we always celebrate the courage and concern for others that we also saw that day.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

My Fishbowl Theory of Life

Periodically I like to repeat my Fishbowl Theory of Life—because I think it's important. So many of us think so often we're the only ones who feel the way we do. But...

I have this theory that we are all standing on the outside of a fish bowl. We can see a couple of people to our left and a couple of people to our right, but we look inside and think we see all these people inside having fun, being the "real" writers or leaders or popular or self-assured people or....whatever our issue might be. And the reality is that EVERYONE is on the outside of the fish bowl and when we think we're looking inside we're really looking through it to the other side and seeing people who are looking back thinking we're the ones inside the fish bowl!

There are different levels of expertise in any group. And that's a good thing! We learn from each other. On any journey, some are farther along the path than others but....we all begin with just one step, no matter what it might be. As we go we find our way.

When I teach my writing classes, I smile every time I think of each of my students finding his or her voice. No matter what comes of what each person is writing, if he or she cares about it, it will change that person in big and little ways one doesn't expect. I tell writers: You will never regret time spent writing what you care about--whether or not it ever gets published.

Can you tell I believe in dreams--and in taking action to make those dreams real?

The next time you feel on the outside of anything in any way, remember, we're all on the outside of that huge fish bowl--we just don't realize the blasted thing is empty!