Friday, May 24, 2013

Paso Robles wine country

Everyone has heard of California's Napa and Sonoma Valleys, but what about Paso Robles? My husband and I didn't realize that Paso Robles is also wine country in California until we drove through it on our way to see Hearst Castle. When we questioned our son, who lives in San Francisco, he praised that area and said he'd plan a wine-tasting tour for us. What a treat that was!

The three hours from San Francisco to Paso Robles goes through a part of California we didn't know existed. It's easy to forget that produce is a major source of income in California. Acres and acres of fertile land stretch out growing lettuce, cauliflower and more fruits and vegetables than I can name--and grapes. We learned that about 300 wineries are in business in the Paso Robles area. We visited eight wineries during our two-day visit and were impressed with the tastes, the choices and the people. Friendly is a key word there.

How does this affect my writing? I now know that this is a destination, and could be a very romantic one. The landscape itself brings to mind a host of possible story lines. So when you consider California as a setting for your story, remember that California has a middle, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It's called Paso Robles.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Finding your writing niche

One of the hardest parts of writing to publish is finding the place where you fit. I never thought of myself as a journalist, yet I've been writing feature stories for newspapers and magazines for decades. My specialty is personality profiles and special events. I have covered every topic from autism--my very first assignment--to zoology--animal shelters and animal rights groups. I have more than 1,000 articles published.

For four years I wrote a column recommending Web sites, but with people becoming sophisticated using the Internet, my column became passé. My column on fashion lasted three months. I wrote a column about events in Brunswick County, N.C. for eight years, but now it's absorbed in events throughout Brunswick County and Horry County, S.C. Do I write a book about feature writing?

My hobbies are swimming, walking, biking, needlepoint, digital scrapbooking and photography. All of these topics interest me, but I don't feel I have enough expertise in any of these fields to write about them except in general terms.

My dream is to get a novel published, and I've been writing novels longer than I've been writing feature articles. What should I do? Where is my niche?

I have a Chinese proverb from a fortune cookie that says, "Your dreams are never silly; depend on them to guide you."

One of my favorite quotes is by Napoleon Hill who said, "Edison failed 10,000 times before he made the electric light. Do not be discouraged if you fail a few times."

I keep writing feature stories, which I love to do, but I’ve written several novels and my dream is to get a novel published. I have 9,982 more tries to catch up to Edison.