About Liesa Malik

Liesa is a freelance writer working out of Littleton, CO. Her first novel, a cozy mystery, was published July 2013. Look for "Faith on the Rocks" in a library near you.

Posting Around The Internet

I love writing. Well, duh, right?  I write novels after all.  But I also write blog posts–lots of them.  If I write a “think piece” as most of the work on this site represents, it takes me about an hour to get done.  There is almost no editing, or you would be treated to a much shorter version of my work each week.  Unfortunately, there isn’t time for the polishing, so you’re stuck with 700-900 words instead of a more palatable 500.  Thanks for your patience as my mind wanders through topics.

Heart Hands - Few digits-infinite message

Few digits-infinite message

When I write for other publications or blogs, the same article takes about two to three hours, as I often do research and interviews to get the job done.  Then there is the thank you note to interviewees after the post is up.  This is a subtle way to try to drive more traffic to my client’s site.

Yesterday, a post I wrote about critique groups went up on my writing friend, Catherine Dilts’ site.  She told me she had more hits than I can imagine. Whoopee!!! Hoping some of those friends will come over to my site on occasion and I can garner more readers over time.

NEW PHENOM–BLOG HOPPING

Catherine has also invited me to be part of a “Blog Hop,” where a group of authors visit each others’ websites and answer some basic writing questions.  This is a pretty new event that helps individuals who write promote themselves and their stories to new groups of people.  It is marketing inexpensively (very important to writers everywhere), with just a few hours of effort.

If you’re writing an author’s blog and want to join the fun, please let me know.  I’ll see if I can get you connected.

I’m excited to tell you that two author friends of mine will join Catherine and me on this adventure.  Donnell Ann Bell writes best selling suspense and crime novels and Pamela Nowak writes award-winning historical romance.  I hope you’ll make a point of joining them as they post on August 18th.  I’ll be sure to post their links once again, when I post on August 11th (Yes, this is a Monday, and not my usual Wednesday, so please watch out for this).

BLOG INTERVIEWS

Another blog I write for is the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ blog. Once a month I try to interview personalities in publishing.  That is a whole new adventure in that I need to come up with people willing to talk to me about subjects around publishing and books as opposed to writing.  Next month I will be interviewing the great Douglas Preston (25 books written so far, and co-writes with Lincoln Child).  He has particular expertise and interest in the current controversy surrounding Amazon and mega-publisher Hachette. I am so excited for this! If you have a particular question you’d like me to ask Mr. Preston about what’s happening with the two book giants, please let me know.

BLOGGING FOR A CLIENT

This blogging is so cool.  I’m constantly writing and honing skills, obviously, but blogging for clients expands my own circle of friends and opens me up to learning so much more about the world than I ever thought possible.  One client, DeckTec, builds decks and patios for homeowners in the metropolitan Denver area. For over 25 years they’ve built this business and a great reputation.  So when the opportunity came to write a blog on “the art of outdoor living,” you can imagine how excited I was.  For over a year now, I’ve been writing about decks, gardening, wildlife, pet care, and all things backyard for the company.  How cool is that?

Thing is, all this blog posting has lots of advantages and only one drawback.  The advantages:

  • Meeting lots of people
  • Expanding your own subject expertise
  • Generating ideas for stories and characters
  • Building a readership and author platform “without hardly trying”
  • Learning to write better and faster
  • Learning the basics of social media

And the one drawback?  I work so much on these blog posts, I’m finding a challenge in making time to write my novels (Does this sound like “the dog ate my homework” to you too?)

Happy writing week, friends.

Here’s An Idea . . .

Last night my good guy surprised me with a wonderful dinner out.  If you like french food and live in the Denver area, I’d recommend trying La Merise in Cherry Creek.  Prices are way too high, and the meal takes forever and a day to put in front of you, but the food is well worth it.

Anyway, on the drive home, and after a glass or two of wine, we got to talking about books. My guy said he’s probably read six books this month alone.  Six books! How great is that? He works a full-time job, writes on Facebook, stays up with politics and sports, ballroom dances, yet still makes time to read voraciously. Wow.

photo of books about ideas and more

Getting and organizing ideas.

I had to admit I haven’t completed any. Yes, I’m in the middle of Harold Robbins’ The Predators, but I’m also reading High Probability Selling by Jacques Werth and Nicholas E. Ruben as part of my consulting work, still dipping into Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and have just started to dive into a fun read called Where Do You Get Your Ideas? by Fred White.  Guess I like my reading the way others like eating tapas–a small bite at a time.  You could call this reading style either Attention Deficit Disorder run wild, or you could be kind, and say I have eclectic reading tastes.  I prefer the latter, thank you.

But I want to share with you the concept of capturing ideas for writing from Where Do You Get Your Ideas?  I’ve seen whole books on the subject of organizing story ideas before, and I have to admit that Mr. White’s proposed binder with wandering spiral is intriguing.  He even goes so far as to recommend different colored paper to capture notes in different ways.  This kind of system has always appealed to me in the past.  The challenges come for me in the process of maintaining an idea file or notebook.  Here’s why:

  • Jotting ideas down, to me, needs to be a regular habit.  If I were to wait until I was inspired, I wouldn’t have any published work yet. And just carrying around a pocket notebook isn’t a guarantee of anything more than having a scratch pad for the grocery list you need for tonight’s dinner.  But, I have to admit, I keep that notebook handy–just in case.
  • The binder Mr. White recommends should hold about 400 pages. Whew! I could fill that up, but given my clumsiness, I could see me accidentally dropping the book and all those pages flying around the room.  Then the dog would get excited and start chasing them, while the cat would screech and run off to a hiding spot.  And with my luck, just at that moment, there would be a fire alarm with “abandon the house!” orders . . .  okay. Imaginative moment. Sorry.
  • I have kept idea files, drawers, boxes, etc. before. Can’t seem to find them when I need them.  And to be honest, on that rare occasion when I come across them on a lazy afternoon of “there’s nothing to do, so let me look through all my junk,” most of the ideas are pretty lame.  I don’t pitch them, because you never know.  To me, I suspect that ideas have a shelf life of maybe a few months.

I’ve seen the concept of capturing ideas often. I have several spirals with scraps and starts. But one more notebook seems to me to be that last straw.  So here’s what I plan to do:

  1. Keep that wandering pocket notebook.  I bought a purse with a big pocket just for that purpose.
  2. Buy a one subject spiral with about 100 sheets of paper.  This is where I’ll jot notes from reading, story starts, character sketches, and all bits of creative writing.
  3. Once a notebook is filled, I’ll set aside an afternoon (or day or week) and type up the best exercises, lists, story ideas etc.  These documents will be filed . . . on my computer.  Then I can either pitch or store (yes, I can feel my mother cringing–NO STORING JUNK!) the old spiral and treat myself to a new one.
  4. I like to sketch ideas too, so I’ll need to become skilled at scanning documents, but this isn’t a rocket science skill so that shouldn’t be a problem.

How about you? How do you capture your great ideas? How do you get rid of old spiral friends? I’d love to hear from you.

Have a creative week, my friend.

New Ways With Old Books

I’m excited to say that in a couple of weeks, I’m going to the Lakewood Art Council’s gallery in Lakewood, Colorado for a book signing event.  These promotional affairs are still new to me, so I don’t feel cynical if I end up with only two or three people at my presentation.  But I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous about this particular event because I’ve committed to doing an “art project.” Yikes!

Now, many of my friends know that I have been sketching and doing watercolor painting since Eisenhower was president, but to be honest, I’m not that great at it.  I don’t remember if it’s cadmium yellow that stains a paper or winsor yellow.  I’ve never achieved “vibrancy” the way professionals do.  I mostly work hard at painting and have a ton of fun with it.  There is no way I’m qualified to “teach” a bunch of artists anything about painting.

In desperate hopes I turned to the Internet for ideas.  I typed in “books in art” because, after all, I’ll be doing a quick reading from my own book.  The images I found were beautiful, but ancient looking. Hmm. Ancient.  What could I do with that?

"1455 portrait 100" by Darjac (personal collection) - Scanned by Darjac. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1455_portrait_100.png#mediaviewer/File:1455_portrait_100.png

Johannes Gutenberg on a Hungarian stamp in 1962. Portrait by Darjac, thanks to Wikicommons.

Finally it dawned on me that the whole concept of “book” is ancient.  Johannes Gutenberg is considered one of the greatest inventors of all time because about 600 years ago he invented the printing press, and made reading available to all as a result.  Until his books, people had to rely on oral history and tales passed from mouth to mouth and generation to generation for news and learning. Book printing was the “latest technology” and threatened to destroy campfire tales and other forms of storytelling.

Yet, here we are today with both books and storytelling still going strong.  But a new threat to reading in a “traditional” sense is here.  Books held strong through the advent of the radio, the television, and even the movies.  But can books survive the invention of the computer and the e-book?  Do they need to?

Let’s face it.  Books are fun to read once, and if they’re exceptional a second or even third time.  I remember my dad reading “The Night Before Christmas” every year as I grew up.  But today, for the most part, we read to be entertained for a few hours, educated (at least through the final exam of a semester in college) and inspired to be a better person. When a book is complete it usually sits on our shelves collecting dust and acting as a gentle reminder of good times and thoughts past.

It occurred to me that doing something with books that we no longer use might make a good craft project, even if it isn’t art.  In my internet search, I stumbled across such things as “book carving,” “bookmarks,” and “turning books into purses.”

In a way, this seems like a sacrilege.  One time, when I was in grade school a kid came in with his subject report illustrated by pictures he’d cut from his parents’ encyclopedias.  Oh the uproar!  That boy had “ruined” great books!  It didn’t matter that his folks could afford to buy new encyclopedias.  It didn’t matter that every project Rene brought in was constructed with the finest, most expensive materials around.  He had the audacity to treat an encyclopedia, an encyclopedia for goodness sakes, with irreverence! That scandal flashed through Vaughan Elementary with the speed of a summer lightning storm.  And for every child who was not the hapless Rene, we trembled with the thought of destroying something as precious as a book.

Fast forward to my kids’ growing up (which is still ancient history).  With my pack-rat tendencies, I always had plenty of magazines on hand to cut up for report illustrations.  But even when a National Geographic magazine was years old, I had a hard time letting the safety shears and Elmer’s glue go. Some magazines were as precious as books.

Finally, when the kids had gone and I had enough spending money to be able to buy books regularly, I began to dispose of them.  It remains hard to do, even today.  My big break-through came when I was trying to decorate an office for a company my good guy and I started in 1999.

For the first time I bought a book with the sole intention of cutting it up.  I used beautiful illustrations from the book to cut and glue onto computer discs.  My goal was to combine the idea of gleaming technology and the beauty that is Colorado together.  I ended up with about 10 of these discs mounted and framed.  The project came out well, and for years we received compliments on pictures that would otherwise have been lost in a book on a shelf somewhere.  Who knew I could do this?

So the question is, can we as artists, have a love of book and still create art with it?  Is it bad to cut up books and repurpose them, or should we let go and move on to the compact nature of an e-reader, never to thumb through, smell the ink, or enjoy a quiet afternoon rolling around on the couch to find the most comfy position to read the next page?

If you’re in my area on Saturday, July 26th from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, I hope you’ll join me for Literary Arts: Meet The Author at the Lakewood Arts Council Art Gallery, 85 S. Union Blvd (Union & 6th Ave. behind the Wendy’s burgers), Lakewood, CO.  We’ll be talking mysteries and doing crafts with used books.