Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mixing Work with Play

Sandra here with great news.

I just contracted another children's picture book with Tau Publishing so will shamelessly plug it. smile. It is entitled GOD'S SPIRIT CALLS ME and is geared for middle grades and features the virtues God calls us to act upon.

But when thinking how I could tie that into some useful information for all of you Seekers looking to be published, I thought of the process of writing and developing this book. I co-authored with a friend and we wrote most of it while camping on vacation at Fallen Leaf Lake Campground in the Lake Tahoe area of Northern California. Great place to be inspired. Right?

When reading Debby Guisti's post on Favorite Gadgets, Mary Connealy's comment on the use of her camera inspired me to show how useful that particular gadget is in the process of writing.

The obvious use of camera art on vacation is to use the photos in the book like Carole and I did with our picture book. We hiked around the campgrounds and scenic places looking for shots that showed the concepts we wanted to convey.

We used this scene to show how to help others.

The old "show don't tell" theory. We made sure to get parental permission before photographing and also had them sign over the rights to publish the photos. (very important)

We used this photo to show how to share strength with others.

But what if you're writing novels that don't have photos? Well, as Mary pointed out, photos help you get the feel of the setting. In my wip, Flashflood, I have lots of photos about of the beautiful red rock country of Sedona where the story takes place.

PRICE OF VICTORY which is the book Avalon is publishing next spring, takes place in Arizona, California and Idaho. So while on vacation in those states, I took photos and was able to use them to get the feel of my setting in those locations.

The hero and heroine of PRICE OF VICTORY are bicyclists. I took many photos of bicyclists at the staging grounds of the races. This was really fun. Its a great way to introduce yourself to the other cyclists and then say, "Do you mind if I photograph you? By the way, I'm an author and I'm writing about female cyclists. Would you be willing to be interviewed? You'd be surprised at how much people love to talk about themselves.

Other ways to mix work with play is to actually go on trips that will end up in your next wip. For example, my husband and I won two airline tickets to a city of our choice. Well we always wanted to see New Orleans and we took a cruise on one of the historical steamboats that cruise up the Mississippi. Thankfully we did that before Hurricane Katrina.

We saw so many interesting things, had a blast on the cruise and you guessed it? One of my wip's is set on a paddleboat cruise. While on the cruise, I interveiwed all of the staff on board, took the tours of the ship and photographed everything. Even got to interview the captain and find out how they are rescued from flooding waters. Again, people do love to talk about themselves.

How about that for mixing play with work?

My aunt and Uncle have a cabin on a remote island in Puget Sound. They have invited us to sail out to the island and spend a week in the semi-primitive conditions with them. We hiked around the island, went crabbing, picked oysters up off the shore, saw lots of wildlife. And yes, that became the setting for my award winning wip CHANGE OF HEART.

And what about attending a conference and turning that location into a play date? I had the privilege of attending the Maui Writers Conference in Hawaii. What a thrill. Hubby flew over the last day of the conference and we stayed three more weeks and toured the islands. We were even invited to visit friends I had met at the conference. So we saw the islands not only from the tourist point of view, but from local pov also.

And how many of you combined RWA in Orlando with a trip to Disney World? (Waving at Myra).

If you write off your expenses for income tax, this makes a vacation more economical. The part you use for writing is tax deductible. Be sure and keep a log and receipts.

So why not mix work and play? August is after all the most popular month for vacation. Might as well use some of that vacation inspiration.

All of you who post a great way you have mixed work with play are eligible for a copy of my new release GOD'S SPIRIT CALLS ME. I'll even throw in a copy of GOD'S SPIRIT WITHIN ME. AND a copy of one of the signed Seeker books I picked up at the Autographing Party in Orlando.

And not to forget one of the best parts of work and play. THE FOOD. Yum

Since I'm camping, how about some fresh trout, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, homemade potato salad, (see my recipe here in the comments section) , a pot of chili over the campfire, and so'mores for dessert (roast a marshmellow and place it and a piece of Hershey chocolate bar between two pieces of graham cracker).

Have a wonderful vacation and thanks for dropping by.
Sandra who uses her maiden name for her children's books.


  1. Here's the coffee!


    All my stories are set in places where I have lived or spent time.
    I'm no great shakes with a camera, though. Half the time I forget to take it.


  2. I like the idea of mixing work with play! :) I sort of did this for my Extended Essay for my International Baccalaureate Diploma for high school. I chose a topic I loved and then I got to actually go to the place I wrote about and do research there. Love it! :D

    Congrats on your contract!!!

    I'll share some of my sister's leftover birthday cake (another Texas chocolate cake made by my sweet grandma)! :)


  3. I always mix work and play, Sandra-baby, that's totally great advice.

    And Helen, my tiny Sony (Christmas gift from Finance-boy) is a slip in your pocket, total camera-for-dummies. And I upload the images to the laptop (a one-button click that's spoon fed to me) and then load them onto blogs. Seriously, I'm as techno-inept as they get, and the ease of the new ones is just wonderful.

    Sandra, I love coupling time away with research. And you do it better than anyone I know which makes your book settings pop off the page. And this maneuver works even if (like me) you like to set several books in a prescribed area because then you're getting even more bang for your buck.

    Love this Sandra, I'm eating a s'more and reveling in melty-chocolate goodness. Oh, yum. My kind of breakfast, girlfriend!

    And Helen, thanks for the coffee. I think you outdid yourself today, it's just a perfect blend of strong enough and flavored enough to soothe a girly-girl like me.

  4. I'm trying to use that "write-off" idea on my wife. "Honey, let's schedule a trip to see your parents at such-and-such time. There's a writer's conference I want to attend."

    No go so far.

    Congratulations on your new book contract.

  5. Congratulations on another sale, Sandra.

  6. Helen, I knew I could count on you for the coffee. Yum. Wakes me right up.

    I love to watch the sun rise through the pine trees over the lake sitting with my feet up and a hot cup of coffee in my hands.

    And I chuckle about forgetting the camera. These days I can remember to take it but forget to take the pictures. LOL

  7. Good morning, Sandra! Congrats on your sale! Your picture books are beautiful!

    What a great post. You travel so much I'll bet you have TONS of albums for all the research anyone could ever need or want.

    I'll be right over to thumb through your treasures, LOL!

    I love using a camera to snap pictures for research. With the technology of digital cameras and Snapfish conveyance, I can record all my hikes and drives for research on a tiny SD card, upload to Walgreens and an hour later, have my CD of research to tuck away with my WIP.

    Absolutely love it!

    Now, if there was a way to record the scents and smells along with them, I'd be in heaven, LOL!

    Pass that grilled fish, girlfriend. I haven't had great camp food in years!

  8. Amber, Amber, Amber,

    You are DEFINITELY a writer. Already in high school getting the work play thing going with a writing project. I'm so impressed.

    I expect we will be seeing your name in print one of these days soon. smile

    Where did you go? International diploma sounds like a foreign country. I was scheduled to go to Chile in college and then they had a dumb ole revolution and the program was canceled. sigh

    Thanks for the cake. yummmmm Always goes good with coffee.

  9. Morning Ruthy, Yes, I can picture you eating ANOTHER somore. I brought plenty because I know you, girlfriend. Between you and Tina. hmmmm

    And talk about settings popping off the page. Your North Country series just plops me in the North Country. I always feel like part of the community because you write it so well. WAITING OUT THE STORM
    A veterinarian. Oh my. Great location and animals. And romance. I was in heaven reading that one.

  10. Sandra,

    Congratulations on the sale!

    This summer I combined vacation with research while visiting friends in North Dakota. In one of my current wips the heroine is an outfitter/hunting guide. So, I interviewed my friend since he's an outfitter/hunting guide in Montana and also had him teach me how to shoot a .22. He's also a saddle bronc rider and has a ranch, so I took tons of pictures at the rodeos we went to and of their family ranch for a future project. Had fun and learned lots.

    My camera goes everywhere with me because you never know when you're going to see the perfect house, scenery, or man for the next wip or inspiration for a story.


  11. Hey Walt, The "write off" idea worked great on my hubby. But wait. You're the hubby. The financial aspect appeals to you males. smiling

    Hmmm. With wifey. Try the romantic aspect. Like let's go to this place and see......... Let's go and stay at the ..... Haven't you always wanted to see........

    You know. Think of what appeals to her and go from that angle. Then once the plans are all made for the fun part, schedule her for a spa day or something and say "while you're there, I'll go to the writing conference."

  12. Thanks Tina, I was so surprised. And thrilled.

    Children really loved GOD'S SPIRIT WITHIN ME. I know they'll love GOD'S SPIRIT CALLS ME also.

    I think its the photos of other children that appeals to them. The photos are colorful. And active. Thanks to my friend Carole Frankel. She's the photosmart part of the team.

    I think the publisher does a nice job with the layout also.

  13. Hi Audra,

    Caught the trout this morning. Yum. Had to compete with the resident family of osprey though. But they did let me have some.

    Aren't digital cameras wonderful? You can take tons of pictures and they don't take up space. A CD or flash drive does it for you.

    Remember the old days with paper photos? Mine are fading now but I'm so glad I don't have all that sorting to do anymore. LOL

  14. Speaking of mixing work and play, Ruthy's undercover identity has been blown and she's the subject of a fancy newspaper article in her hometown.

    Check out Rochester NY Democrat and Chronicle online.

    Sorry Ruth. you'll have to move now or put up fencing to keep the screaming masses away.

  15. Hi Kirsten,

    Wow, You totally did the work/play thing. A ranch in North Dakota? What a great setting.

    And rodeos. I know Audra would love that.

    Cowboys. sigh. One of my flights this summer had cowboys on their way to the rodeo in Reno, Nevada. sigh. Great hero material.

    I'm so picturring your fun summer and can hardly wait to read your wip with this setting. I'm always a sucker for westerns.

    And are you the next Annie Oakley with the .22?

  16. Hi Debra, I saw that. Is that funny or what?

    Someone turned Ruthy in because her rooster crows in the morning and wakes the idiot up.

    A rooster.

    On a farm.

    Now that has to be in someone's next wip.

    And Ruthy is so serious in the interview discussing Blackie the rooster. ROFLOL

  17. Sandra, enjoy your camping experience! The food always tastes much better but the dishes are just so much more work!

    I'm so looking forward to your release and hope to see the Puget Sound story too!

  18. Sandra, not just the rooster article, but today a special just on the AUTHOR!

    I guess that's what happens when you're famous, huh.

  19. Hi, Sandra,

    Cowboys, right on! Even if I don't use any of the pics they sure were fun to take. ;o)

    Actually, he set up the targets (only 50 yards out, so nothing too impressive) gave me the basics and I hit the first target dead on, first shot. And hit all the others with one shot. His words, "And that's the way to do it! Lesson over." He attributed it to my Wyoming blood. And I found out I really like shooting. :o)

  20. Debra, Debra, Debra,

    Have you not heard of paper plates????

    And that is the purpose of grilling. No pans.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Ruthy article. Ruthy the AUTHOR.

    Do you have the link to share?

  21. Wow Kirsten. You ARE the next Annie Oakley.

    And Wyoming blood. A true western girl.

    I like to shoot also. Not animals. I'm a woos when it comes to that. But target shooting is a kick. My dad taught me. And hubby gets upset when I outshoot him. LOL

  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  23. Sandra, you mean I don't have to bring my silver and china?

    ha ha - it's those nasty pots and pans that are the problem when you have to boil water for all your needs.

    I say this but I'd LOVE to be camping--I miss it!

  24. Well Debra, If you bring the silver and china then you need to also bring the maid. Now that would work in a romance. Fantasy? LOL

    But those aluminum hot bags are great for cooking veggies, beans, etc on the grill. Things that normally would go in a pan. Then you can toss them or if there's leftovers, just roll the opening and store in the bag.

  25. Hi Sandra,

    Congrats on your sale!

    I won Sandra's GODS SPIRIT WITHIN ME right here on Seekerville and it's a beautifully put together book-words, pictures, message. Great for kids.

    I need to invest in a pocket sized digital camera.

    My husband's always on board for side trips or vacationing around somewhere I need to research for the write offs!

  26. Hi Rose,

    Thanks for the congrats and the plug. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book GOD'S SPIRIT WITHIN ME.

    Yes, those pocket sized digitals are wonderful. Like Ruthy said-so easy to use. Very friendly for non techy people.

    What a great hubby. Any excuse for a fun trip. Right?

  27. Fun post, Sandra! Yes, we had a blast doing the Disney stuff after RWA. Wore ourselves out by early afternoon, took a nap, and went back for more after the typical afternoon rain showers passed.

    One of our favorite vacation spots has found its way into my writing. We have been annual visitors to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for maybe 20-25 years. There's so much history there, fascinating to me even though I don't write historicals. I've got TONS of photos from our trips.

  28. Hi Myra, What a great trip you had at Disney World. I know we had fun at the conference. smiling

    Wow, the hot springs sound great. I bet you could set a contemporary there with all that research. Maybe it could tie into the historical element, like a woman going back to search out her roots or find out what happened to her grandmother, etc. And then the hero could have all the keys to the puzzle.

  29. Well folks, I'm off to play pickleball with hubby. Will be back in about 90 minutes.

    Depends upon how fast I can beat him. LOL

    Want to know what pickleball is? Click onpickleball

  30. Oh, thank you so much, Sandra!!! :D Do you know how happy you made me by telling me that? I sincerely hope I can be published someday. :)

    Anyway, I'm actually going to be a junior in college this year (and I did get that diploma to go along with my high school diploma!). ;) I actually did my paper on Virginia City, Nevada. And so we made it a point to go there over the summer when I was still writing it and stay longer than we ever had before (usually it was just a day trip while we stayed in Reno). Now the past two summers we've returned to stay there/near there because we love it so much! :D

    As far as the IB diploma, there are quite a few high schools around the U.S. that participate in the program (I think!). I DID have my essay get sent to Argentina to be graded! How cool is that? ;)

    Thank you again for your kind words!


  31. Congratulations on the new sale, Sandra. I'm looking forward to what you do next with Children's books. I loved God's Spirit Within Me.
    Our Sunday School used it for a special summer program.

  32. Sandra, thanks for sharing the wonderful photos!

    And congrats on the new contract!! :) I loved your first children's book and look forward to this one!

  33. Ah, the jig's up now.


    I am the owner of Blackie Blodgett, our family rooster.

    If you want to see the whole amazing debacle, feel free to Google Blackie Blodgett.

    A radio personality, Tony Infantino, has written a song about Blackie, and they play it all the time.

    I won't say anymore, but let me just say that a writer who writes early morning LOVES the crow of this rooster. I specialize in small town/hearth and home stories...

    What's more hearth and home than a crowin' rooster on a summer's morn?


    You can bet your bottom dollar there will be a rooster conflict in an upcoming Ruthy-story.

    Oh my stars.

  34. I look at that picture of Mickey and itch to go buy the world's biggest mouse trap.


  35. I won I won.

    Doesn't happen often so I have to jump up and down and celebrate.

    My favorite thing is to really whomp a great hit to him and then gloat and say "Now who taught me that move?" Of course he can't say a thing since he was the one who taught me. LOL

    Blackie Blodgett. Oh My stars is right. What a scream and I do know it will be in a Ruthy book. Can hardly wait.

    And MARY- a mouse trap. Don't you dare. Ruthy will put her mouse ears on and get you.

    Although I can't be too mean because Mary did geive the book to her Sunday school and the whole class got a copy. How sweet is that???

    Love ya, Miss Mary.

  36. Amber, Virginia City, Nevada. I

    ts just down the hill from us. I love that place.

    For the rest of you, its a ghost town, turned historical monument. They even have old cans of baking powder from that era sitting on the shelves. So cool.

    Mary you would love it.

    And your essay graded in Argentina? Wow look at all you have already experienced. Good fodder for writing.


    And congrats on getting the IB diploma.

  37. Thanks Missy for loving GOD'S SPIRIT WITHIN ME. If you loved that one, you will love GOD'S SPIRIT CALLS ME also as it is similar in format.

    Might be a surprise for all of you in Indy. :)

  38. WAHOOO!!

    These are real PICTURE books aren't they?

    Love your concepts - especially since these are for middle graders. Such a great age...

    I've been wondering about that for my wip as well but I love the "art" idea. Hopefully one of the publishers will think it's mah-velous and take it from there but who knows?

    Definitely mix work and play. This is how May is going to track the bad guy all over creation. Amazingly, she'll go the SAME PLACES that we have! Imagine!!! ;D

    Yum - fresh trout. Thanks!! and congrats again!

    (FYI - the Marine warrior getaway was soooooo fabulous. We returned Sunday night. Ministered to 20 precious families - 2 husbands couldn't come because they are deployed. Had lotsa kids - my voice is almost gone! The families had couple time, individual time and family time. Just wonderful all around. Thanks for the support and prayers y'all. It's an HONOR to be in the presence of these brave heroes and families... OH - if you want check out the band who even helped us with the kids, go here: http://therickcopusband.org/ They were WONDERFUL.)

  39. Hi KC

    Wow your Marine warrior getaway sound fabulous. I can so relate to the lost voice and worn out feeling. That happens when you have served like you have. smile

    Thanks for the congrats.

    And great plan to have your bad guy traveling to all the places you went on vacation. smiling. Good job.

    Best wishes on the use of pictures for your book. Kids LOVE them. When I take my books to authors day at schools, they are public so I can't push my Christian books. So what I do is sit all the books I've written on the counter and show them. Then at the end of the session I draw a name and they can pick the book they want. K to 8th graders ALWAYS pick the GOD'S SPIRIT WITHIN ME. It is either God's Spirit touching their hearts or the pictures. Or both.

  40. Congrats on your contract, Sandra. That's wonderful news!

    I'm not sure if this qualifies because it's sort of like combining work with work, but so far, I've turned my 2 ACFW conference trips into research trips. I drove to each one, photographing and exploring along the way. An avid photographer, I took approx 700 digitals of Wyoming and Montana alone. Together they really give me a feel for the setting of my wips.

    But, I guess I did play because I keep my rockhounding eqpt in the back of my van and regularly stop to fill my pockets with rocks. More than once I've had to declare a bucket of rocks at the border crossing. :D

    My, you have travelled. Good for you!

    About the food... smells good... don't tempt me. LOL

    Anita Mae.

  41. Great pictures, Sandra! I can't wait to have some time for my tax deductible research trips! I'd think I'd like to go to England and Ireland. They'd make great settings for a story.

  42. Hi Anita, It was so fun meeting you at RWA Orlando. AND YOU DROVE??? My goodness you are one busy woman.

    And what a trip you must have had. How fun. I love to make up stories about each town I drive through. I bet you do that too. After all we are writers.

    I had to laugh at declaring rocks at the border. How funny is that?

    Did you ever see the classic movie with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez- The Long Long Trailer? It is a classic so I know I'm dating myself, but if any of you younger folk want a good laugh, that movie is a scream, esp the scene with her rocks.

    And Anita, I'm so proud of you. Even resisting cyber food. You're doing better than me. sigh. The marshmellows at the campfire the other nite did me in.

  43. Hi Cara Mia, Yes, yes, yes, you must go to England and Ireland for play. I mean for work. I mean for play.

    I'll go with you, but I want to go to Spain too. Wanna come?

  44. Ah Sandra, I'd like to say, yes, I drove to Orlando, but nope.

    I drove to 2 ACFW conferences... Minneapolis 2008 and Denver 2009. Took 2 days to reach each one, but both took double that to get home because I kept stopping.

    Gonna fly to Indy, though. The eastern hwys scare me.

    Yes, I love movies like The Long Long Trailer. Reminds me of Mr Blanding Builds His Dream House. So over-the-top they're realistic.

    Yes, I must resist cyber-food as well. Who knows where the donut will roll once I give in to temptation. Better to resist everything.



  45. Hi Anita, My bad. I just read conference. Glad you could drive to the ACFW conferences. The west is great to drive through.

    Ahhh an oldie movie buff. Aren't they fun? I love movies.

    Sorry I'll miss you at Indy, but you'll see most of the Seekers.

    And apparently they'll see less of you. Congrats girlfriend. So happy for you.

  46. Good Night all,

    Happy writing.

    Lets mix work with play.

    Winner will be announced in Weekend Edition

  47. Ugh, it ate my post so I hope this doesn't come through twice. Great post, Sandra! Thought-provoking.


  48. SANDRA!!! I am SO sorry I am late!! I am teaching a workshop at a conference and so slammed, my eyes are glazed, NOT to mention there was (until yesterday) NO wi-fi in the rooms or building unless you wanted to trek two buildings away.

    At any rate, SUPER CONGRATS on the contract with Tau, my friend -- I am SOOO thrilled for you (and for Tau!!).

    As far as mixing work with play, I have NO idea how to do that at a writer's conference with no time on one's hands. But, your blog encourages me, so maybe at ACFW ...


  49. Sandra, excellent post! I'm excited about the sale of your second children's book!!! Can't wait to share God's Spirit Calls Me with my grandchildren.


  50. Fallen Leaf Lake near Tahoe! My friend Margaret and I hiked ALL THE WAY around it in December 2008!!! Yes, we were crazy. We chalked it up to having rice pudding for breakfast.

  51. Valerie, That is a great hike. You will love the covers of my book because they are shot there.

    Waving to Cheryl, Janet and Julie