Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best & Worst of 2010

The year 2010 has had extreme highs and lows for me. There was almost no in between. The beginning of the year was extraordinarily exciting, and the last part of the year was shockingly tragic. Here are my best and worst moments:

Best of 2010

1. Getting published in IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT, More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure.

2. Going on the book tour for the above book of memoirs in none other than NYC!

3. Participating in and chairing Sleuths' Ink's first-ever JANO project where writers attempted to write a 50,000-word novel in a month.

4. Being named poet of the month for my poem, "A Country Drive."

5. Having my first-ever book signing at Borders where nearly 50 family members and friends gathered.

6. Pitching my novel to one nice and one hard-to-read agent/editor at a local conference.

7. Attending my first out-of-state writers' conference all by my lonesome. And pitching my novel to two very nice agents and meeting several writers who are now friends.

8. Seeing my daughter perform at Disneyland in a Bollywood show.

9. Learning that our fifth grandson, Eliot, was born. (Yes, I officially have more grandchildren than my mother. My stepdaughters are very fertile.)

10. Getting published in the Echoes of the Ozarks anthology.

Worst of 2010

1. The tragic and brutal death of my niece, Shana. Everything else pales in comparison, so it's futile to list those events.

What were your best and worst moments of 2010? Please share.

New Year's Resolutions

It's almost time. Have you thought about your New Year's resolution? Do you make them? Keep them? Mine are somewhat different this year. They are:

Stop being late! This also means leave earlier, start getting ready earlier, get off the computer sooner and avoid any other distractions that keep me from arriving on time. I'm really sick of putting on makeup and jewelry at stop lights--and sliding into home base when I arrive at a meeting.

Be a more disciplined writer. This means sending out queries on a regular basis. It's ridiculous that I finished my novel over a year ago and have only queried three agents. Being more disciplined also means writing on a regular basis, stop life from ALWAYS getting in the way, concentrate on my writing goals for the year, and WRITE.

How about you? What are your New Year's resolutions?

Friday, December 24, 2010

PopTech : Popcasts : Larry Smith's Six Word Project

PopTech : Popcasts : Larry Smith's Six Word Project My six words just keep on giving! Larry Smith, Editor of SMITH Magazine, sent this link. He presented the six-word memoir project to 800 very smart, innovative people at Pop Tech's annual conference in Maine. I didn't have any idea I'd be mentioned. Check it out!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Candy

Normally, I don't make a lot of candy throughout the year because I'm not supposed to eat sugar and because I try to watch my weight. However, these rules fly out the window over Christmas. I love to make candy around the holidays. Below is my favorite (and easiest) recipe. Care to share one of your Christmas candy recipes?

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

1/2 pkg. Chocolate almond bark
12 oz. pkg. Chocolate chips
10-12 oz. Peanuts without skins (or cashews)

Melt almond bark in a microwave safe dish for 1-2 minutes. Add chocolate chips and melt another minute until smooth. Remove from microwave (bowl may be hot) and stir in nuts. Drop on waxed paper until set.

These are fantastic! Everyone loves them and they make great gifts if you put them in pretty holiday tins. Note: You could vary this recipe by using chocolate caramel chips and possibly pecans. I believe those just might taste like turtles. I'll have to try that. Yield: 35-40 clusters

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Decorating Tips

I'm no Martha Stewart but I do enjoy decorating for the holidays (maybe a little too much), so I thought I'd share a few of my tips:

Cranberries and Tea Lights Fill a pretty glass bowl with a bag of cranberries. Add water and place little tea lights on top. The cranberries and candles will float. This makes a unique, pretty centerpiece or nice countertop decoration.

Decorative Ribbons I go to the Dollar Store and buy rolls and rolls of pretty ribbon with wire edges (so it's bendable). I get red, green, gold, silver, and pretty designs. Then, I tie bows on candlesticks, topiaries, mirrors and most of the Christmas packages (it's much prettier than a stick-on bow). I also decorate the Christmas trees with pieces of long winding ribbons.

Large Flocked and Glittery Poinsettias A great way to fill in holes on Christmas trees is to take long-stemmed flowers (white, red, gold or whatever you prefer) and simply stick them into the tree (the long stem will be hidden and no wire is needed). It's beautiful to use several of them and much faster than hanging ornaments. (I use ornaments, too.)

Winter Potpourri I fill large glass hurricane candle holders with potpourri. Sometimes I'll separate a bag and use a portion of it as a base around the candle. Right now, our winter potpourri mix is so strong that it has some unattractive plastic wrap on top because we were getting headaches!

Care to share any of your decorating tips? Do you enjoy decorating for the holidays or remember traditions from when you were a kid?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Traditions

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, please share your favorite traditions. I'll go first.

We cook like fiends and make all the traditional trimmings--turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, green bean casserole (you must have several casseroles in the Midwest--it's the law). We also have Monica rolls (named after my young niece who inhales these tasty yeast rolls), mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberries. Dessert includes pumpkin pie and pecan pie. I'm gaining weight just looking at this menu.

We always give thanks for our brave military, their families, and for our own friends, family and bounty of food. We wish for everyone's health, happiness and safety. This year will be particularly hard due to the tragic loss of my niece but we must go on for her little sister and other family members. I know I keep talking about this but it's foremost in my mind.

As far as shopping, I avoid Black Friday like the plague. Two different years, I made the mistake of shopping the day after Thanksgiving, and it got me out of a festive mood quicker than anything. First of all, I am not going to get up at 5 a.m. to hit a store and save $25. Secondly, I'm not going to get in a snarl of traffic, wait in long lines, and fight over the last most popular gift in the store. Instead, I usually decorate that Friday and shop via the Internet or magazines.

How about you? What are your Thanksgiving traditions and what's on your menu? Please share.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Word Choices

Do we have a preoccupation with death? Since the tragic murder of my niece, Shana, I'm hypersensitive to words like "kill," "murder," "dead," or "death." And I've noticed many cliches and speech patterns where we use these words daily such as:

That project is dead in the water.
Don't kill the messenger.
He's dead wrong.
That's overkill.
The kiss of death.
Don't be a killjoy.
The saying: You can kill two birds with one stone.
The song, "Killing Me Softly" (with his words...)
You're killing me. (As in making me laugh too hard.)

There's ongoing discussion about movies and video games romanticizing death. Maybe we should take a look at the written word and our speech patterns. What do you think? Can you think of other examples?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Signing Tomorrow

Tomorrow, I'll be at Hickory Hills Country Club's holiday open house signing IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT, More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure. Fellow children's writer Brenda Brinkley will join me.

I plan to donate the proceeds to the memorial fund for my niece, Shana. Here's hoping some holiday shoppers will be intrigued by the six-word memoir book which contains sixes by many celebrities, famous authors and obscure authors like me.

Monday, October 25, 2010


We're in the last quarter of 2010. What are you working on both personally and professionally? I've decided to post my list so I'll be forced to check it off before Christmas or face public humiliation!

Professional Projects

1. Compile list of agents to query
2. Query said agents (for my women's fiction)
3. Start back on my JANO project (novel #2)
4. Continue to submit monthly poems to the David Harrison site
5. Update my blog weekly
6. Draft my non-fiction book proposal
7. Write one or two more picture books
8. Write the JANO press release and JANO page for our site
9. Attend monthly writers' meetings
10. Add more recipes to my cookbook
11. Ponder novel #3 (plot ideas and character bios) for JANO 2011

Personal projects

1. Place books on my new bookshelves
2. Decorate for Halloween (oops. It's almost here. Might as well skip.)
3. Decorate for Christmas
4. Buy five gifts for November birthdays
5. Buy Christmas gifts for twenty people! Ack.
6. Get new curtains/shades for my office
7. Bake more for hubby

That's enough for now. How about you? What's on your checklist?


By Beth Carter

How can she be gone?
She was just here this summer.
Unfair, brutal death.

Still in disbelief.
Our family is in grief.
A sweet, gentle soul.

I hold on tighter
to my family and friends.
She was killed. Still shocked.

Note: This is a combination of three haikus I've written about my niece's recent death. I've written a much more personal poem but will wait until the killer is caught before posting it. Thank you to everyone for your amazing support. RIP, dear sweet Shana.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Ten years goes by quickly when you're an adult. I was thinking about what I was doing ten years ago, and what I'd like to be doing ten years from now.

Ten years ago, I was a single mom and vice president of a bank. I was stressed all the time, working on a gazillion projects at once like television scripts, billboards, print ads, web copy, trade shows, and groan, so much more. I chaired 8 a.m. marketing meetings every Monday (the worst possible day of the week for an 8 o'clock meeting). I did corporate writing exclusively and certainly didn't have time for my current writing pleasures. My daughter was graduating high school and heading off to college. We were in dance mode all the time--lessons, shows, performances, you name it. And I was dating my now-husband.

Fast forward ten years to 2020. Hmmm. Wonder what I'll be up to? I hope that I'll have at least two novels published, three or four children's picture books published, a non-fiction book published, and I'll still be writing those fun six-word memoirs. Maybe I'll stop worrying about what I eat, stop exercising and get fat! Probably not. But it's quite possible that I'll die my hair red or cut it short. I need to do something crazy. I do hope to slow down, take time to smell the daisies, travel more with hubby, enjoy grandbabies, and do whatever it is that seniors do. Maybe I'll even get a rocking chair.

How about you? What were you doing ten years ago? What do you hope to be doing in a decade?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School: Five Things

School is back in session which brings back fond memories for me.
School has changed a lot since I was a student. I thought it would be fun to list five things that I remember about elementary school--five things that probably no longer occur in school.

#1: Milk breaks. I remember forming a line in the hall beside a big machine that held milk. We were given paper cups and one by one, the young students pulled the cold silver handle until foamy milk was dispensed. I always hated the last few sips and can almost remember the smell.

#2 Gym uniforms. Remember when all the girls had to wear matching, one-piece gym uniforms? Ours were navy shorts with an attached navy and white striped top. The jumpers had zippers down the front. I don't remember where we changed our clothes, but I can see Mrs. Gray timing us as we held onto monkey bars or leading the class in jumping jacks.

#3 Paddled by the Principal. This never happened to me (I was usually a teacher's pet and was very shy--imagine that!) but I remember when boys would get into trouble and had to go to the Principal's office for a paddling. Imagine the lawsuits if that happened today.

#4 Wearing Dresses. The first six years I went to school, girls were not allowed to wear pants or shorts. I still remember wearing a light blue sweater, blue and purple plaid skirt and matching light blue windowpane hose. I was a little diva even in the sixth grade.

#5 Playing four-square. That was my favorite game during recess. It's played with a large rubber ball (the size of a basketball) and four squares drawn on the sidewalk with chalk. We had to pass the ball back and forth, keeping it going, until it went outside the lines. I can't remember how we kept score, though.

How about you? Do you remember these same five things--or can you think of others? Please share your long-ago memories.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Favorite Mascots & Logos

Today, I'm writing about marketing and branding. As writers--like it or not--we have to market ourselves and our work. I'll start with logos and mascots.

I love the little green geicho that has the Australian (or is it British?) accent. He's the mascot for Geicho Insurance and is very memorable and likeable. My favorite mascot was the Taco Bell dog. Sadly, I think he passed away a year or two ago. Didn't you love those commercials and his accent? Didn't everyone? I bet Taco Bell's profits went through the roof after they started using that cute dog.

The duck for Aflack is cute but I find the voice slightly annoying, however, they've done a good job of branding. That Billy guy (may he rest in peace) did tons of infomercials. I couldn't mute the remote fast enough when he was on because his voice grated on me but I'm sure he sold lots of cheese slicers, otherwise, they wouldn't keep using him. Of course, there's the Sham Wow guy, yet another unforgettable character.

Switching gears from living mascots, which corporate logos do you like? How about the red bullseye for Target? Target has done an amazing job of branding by using the color red, certain music or even dancers. Within a few seconds, my husband and I can always tell when it's going to be a commercial for Target.

I like designer Tommy Hilfiger's use of red, white and blue stripes (probably because I'm patriotic) and really liked the logo that used two bare feet on shirts back in the seventies. Anyone remember what company that was? Was it Bare Feet?! The Nike curved swoosh is a simple but classy logo. Can you think of other simple, effective logos?

What about some tired ones? I'm rather tired of the polo playing horse rider for Polo. I think it's in need of a revamp as is the alligator.

Think about book covers. Chick lit and women's fiction often have pink covers, whereas paranormals use a lot of black, white and red. What other themes have you noticed?

What are your favorite logos or mascots? Have you thought about branding your blog, web site or book if you're given the option by a publisher?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Character Traits

Now that we've chosen a unique profession for our characters, let's choose some interesting traits and personality types. Choose two, three or four distinct traits (good or bad!) for each character and use them consistently in your novel or short story. Then, you'll ensure that your characters are all very different, likeable (or the love to hate type) thereby captivating the reader.

Here are several mannerisms that come to mind: boastful, shy, silly, conceited, confident, possessive, jealous, intelligent, belligerent, charming, nosy, tattle-tale, hateful, racist, flirty, sexy, loud, fun-loving, persuasive, generous, stingy, selfish, sweet, generous, sensitive, pretentious, talkative, quiet, sarcastic, funny, neat, sloppy, punctual, habitually late, brooding, hopeful, hopeless, positive, negative, pessimistic, optimistic, power hungry, timid, and the list goes on.

Which of these personality types have you used for characters? Which combinations would be the most fun? Freel free to add more.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wacky Characters

What are the wackiest, most unique characters you've ever written about? An exotic dancer? A lion tamer? We all enjoy reading about unusual characters so I've come up with a list of several unique professions.

Wouldn't it be fun to create one of these as a main character? Here goes: Sex therapist, undertaker, prostitute, circus worker, Amish or Mennonite, nun, wiccan, palm reader, inmate, stripper, pimp, billionnaire, homeless person, inventor, gypsy, cowboy, escort, celebrity, inventor, and a bank robber.

Which of these would you dare tackle? Have you already written about characters in these professions? Can you think of other unique professions? Please share.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Got An Itch?

You've heard me mention the poetry contest by children's author and poet David L. Harrison at Each month he chooses one word and poets must incorporate that word into a poem or haiku.

For July, he chose the word "itch." Below is my non-rhyming, free verse poem. Enjoy.

By Beth Carter

I’m sitting very still,
trying to ignore it.

Telling myself to
pretend it’s not there.

After all…
I can’t see it.
I can’t smell it.
I can’t taste it.
I can’t hear it.

But without a doubt
I can feel it.

That undeniable,

I encourage you to read David's blog for some hilarious itchy poems--and enter one of your own.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Celebrating Dad

Father's Day is upon us so let's come up with (you guessed it) some six-word memoirs to celebrate our dads! Here are a few I've written:

Loved to dance on daddy's shoes.
Taught me how to ride bike.
Dad put string on tooth, doorknob.
Dad gave me my first ballglove.
Painted my first bike sparkly green.
Pulled on sled by Dad. "Again!"
Dad beautifully painted my wrecked cars.
Dad didn't like my boyfriend's van.
"You're not wearing that, young lady!"
Honest, hard-working, fun, loyal, wonderful father.
Proud of my sweet, handsome Dad.

Please share some of your own.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Update On Ohio Conference

I just returned from Lori Foster's Annual Reader & Author Get-Together in Ohio. I'd say 350-400 people attended. I met writers from several states--Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Maine, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and even Vancouver, Canada!

The conference is unique in that both writers and readers attend, plus agents and editors who are looking for the next new voice. Unique gift baskets were raffled off, book signings were held, agents took pitches, editors held a Q&A, and there was even a pirate-themed party.

At the conference, I asked everyone what they wrote. Here are the most popular genres: Erotica. YA. Erotica. Historical Romance. Erotica. Contemporary Romance. Erotica. Women's Fiction. Erotica. Cozy Mysteries. Erotica. Notice a common thread, here? Wow. If you write or read erotica, you must go to this conference. Even if you're like me and do not write erotica you will meet great writers and welcoming authors. It was also interesting to hear what the readers actually enjoy reading. Lori Foster has a great idea here in pairing the two.

I was lucky enough to pitch to both Jennifer Schober with Spencerhill Associates and Laura Bradford with Bradford Literary since there were a couple of cancellations. And...drum roll, please...both asked to see the first 30 pages!!! Yippee. I hope they fall in love with my manuscript and fight to the bitter end over who gets to represent me. You writers know what I'm talking about.

So...immediately, if not sooner, I must reengineer my query (yet again) and synopsis (yet again) and get them sent off to Jennifer and Laura. Oh, and I'll have to revamp those 30 pages, I'm sure. This time I won't tweak for a year, though. I'm giving myself 48 hours.

Finally, here's a shout out to the Marriott Cincinnati North which had the most accommodating, courteous staff I've ever encountered--and the food was great.

Hope to see you in Ohio next year.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Go Away, White Space

Anyone know how to get rid of the crappy white space on my blog? I tried to find the answer by googling the info and see that many bloggers are having this issue. But I really didn't find a good solution.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I have a lot more info on the right side of my blog but you have to scroll waaaaayyyy down to find it. Technical difficulties. Aargh.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Five Minutes

Five minutes goes by slowly if you're waiting for your nails to dry. Five minutes feels like a long time if you're standing in line waiting for popcorn after the movie has begun. Five minutes drags on and on when you're at a distant relative's graduation. Five minues seems like an eternity if you're stuck at a stoplight and late for work. Five minutes feels like a lifetime if you're at the dentist's office getting a filling.

But, let me tell you, five minutes goes by at warp speed when you're giving a verbal pitch to an agent or editor. I mean it FLIES by. And you cetainly don't want to waste time talking about the weather, a plane flight, each other's kids, anyone's cute shoes, haircut or a mutual acquaintance. Listen to me. This is very important. Do NOT waste a precious 30 seconds on any of that stuff. You do not have 30 seconds to spare. Trust me on this.

Now, I'm no expert on verbal pitch sessions since I've only had two, but I can tell you that I blathered on too long during the first one. Here's another tip: When you're told you have a five-minute pitch session, you really don't. That's a lie. It's actually about three minutes. Why? Because the person who is interviewing you needs a couple of minutes to ask questions. So, cull down your 300 page-novel into one or two paragraphs. Easy peasy, right? I know. It's nearly impossible but that's how the game is played.

Have you had a pitch session? Do you have one scheduled? Please share.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hand-Wringing Time

This is it! Pitch day is fast approaching. I've been furiously editing my women's fiction manuscript and just drafted a query letter and synopsis--all in the hopes the editor will love my pitch (once I figure out what I'm going to say). Wouldn't it be nice if the editor leaned back in her chair, smiled and said, "I love the premise. Email me the full manuscript tonight." A girl can dream, can't she?

Of course, that never/rarely happens to a debut novelist so I'm trying to be realistic. For now, I'm concentrating on final edits (this is at least my fourth pass through 300 pages) and am adding more descriptions and more backstory. My novel is paced fairly quickly (which is what I like to read) and is character and dialogue driven (also what I enjoy reading). I do not like long narration and will put the book down if my eyes glaze over or if I start to yawn. Put me right in the middle of the action, I say. Now, it's my job to hook you, the reader, (and that scary agent/editor).

How about you? Have you written a synopsis, query letter or pitched to an agent or editor? If so, please share your tips and help calm my nerves.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


In honor of Mother's Day next weekend, let's honor moms all over the world with some creative, fun, poignant six-word MOMoirs. Here are ten I've written:

Supermoms do it without a cape.
Eighth Wonder of the World: Moms
Daughter becoming like me. Chuckle, smile.
World's best blackberry cobbler: My mom's.
Mom made my velvet Barbie dress.
Twin babies: Extreme motherhood by fire.
Love watching babies discover, learn, blossom.
My mom: Most unselfish person ever.
Moms need to pamper themselves, too.
Children. Now, I understand unconditional love.

Come up with some of your own here and then enter them in SMITH Magazine's MOMoir contest at

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there! Celebrate yourselves next Sunday.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Miss The Seventies

To go along with my poll, I'll let you know about my favorite decade. It's a tough decision because I love my life right now and wouldn't change a thing. But the decade I'm going to choose was before my daughter was born and before I met my wonderful husband.

With that said, the seventies were hard to beat. Hands down, that was the decade with the best music. No other decade has even come close. We also had the coolest muscle cars in the seventies--and who could forget the vans with the beds in the back. My boyfriend had one of those and it drove my father nuts. I was a good girl, though. Truly.

In the seventies, it was cool to tan, and boy, did I love having a dark tan. We didn't hear about aging our skin or the sun's causing skin cancer. We just lathered ourselves with slippery baby oil and had at it. For that reason, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves every time we were outside.

The hemlines were short, and more than once, my dad said, "Young lady, you are not leaving the house in that!" My uniform at the movie theater was equally short, as was my cheerleading skirt. Even the guys wore short shorts.

My favorite bands, Doobie Borthers and the Eagles, released amazing albums that decade and Elvis was still around. (I love Elvis, remember?) Many of us went to concerts, hung out at friends' homes, or were highly entertained by simply driving up and down Kearney Street.

Malls were safe and we never heard about pedophiles. We happily went trick or treating and sold Girl Scout cookies to complete strangers. We somehow made it through life without cell phones and computers. And we were thin because we were active. We ate home-cooked meals with our families and actually had face-to-face conversations.

Ah, those were the days. I loved--and miss--the seventies. What was your favorite decade and why?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Signings Are Fun

While I may not have had a maze of long lines (or people camping out the night before) like fans did for Sarah Palin and Dog the Bounty Hunter—both of whom were at our local Borders recently—I did have a strong, loyal showing for my first-ever book signing. Forty friends, colleagues and family members stopped by Borders on April 10 to receive an autographed copy of IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT, More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure. My sweet husband bought a special engraved pen for the occasion, which unfortunately (or fortunately) ran out of ink in one hour. Thirty books sold in two hours. I was touched and humbled by the support from so many. Kathy and Sharon, two Ozarks Romance Author friends, adorned my table with balloons and cookies. Shirley, president of Sleuths' Ink, took tons of pictures. Another writer friend, Jill, served as an I-reporter and put updates on Facebook. My parents gave me a beautiful bouquet of colorful daisies. Many attended--family members, writer friends, co-workers, as well as classmates from high school and even one from second grade! I felt so loved and humbled. I created a “Movies & Memoirs” gift basket and had a drawing for the basket (my marketing ploy to get a mailing list for future books!) The basket contained movie tickets, four popcorn containers, large candy bars, microwaveable popcorn, bookmarks, six-word memoir postcards, and naturally, the book. Opfer Communications graciously loaned a flat screen television for the event and even hauled it in and out of Borders. One of their directors downloaded the Smith feed/loop thingy (see why I needed technical assistance?) onto a disk. Several chairs were set up in front of the TV so onlookers could see excerpts from the book. Denise and Gary from Borders were extremely helpful and agreeable (even during the days prior to the signing when I was a bit anal). I know. Hard to believe. I gave away chocolate candy bars, six-word memoir buttons, post cards, and magnetic bookmarks featuring my memoir that appears on page one: “Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nothing published. Yet.” It’s interesting how everyone’s perception changes once you’re published. Seriously, it all changed in an instant.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Writers Wear Many Hats

Writers wear many hats. Literally. I belong to three writers' groups and every time I attend a meeting, I can count on the fact that several writers will be wearing a hat--all kinds of hats--berets, softball caps, knitted caps, cowboy hats, floppy sun hats, you name it. What is it about writers and hats? Don't get me wrong. I love hats. Always have, so I wear them, too. I'm just curious to know why so many writers adorn them. Is it because we're so creative we have to keep all our great ideas tucked firmly into our brain? Maybe it's because we like to show the world we're unique. Possibly it's due to the fact that we're just so darn artsy and adorable. Could it be that we're sending a message that we're non-establishment, so to speak? (Although, I'm a corporate person, too. Yawn.) Of course, writers also wear many hats in the other sense of the word--we write anytime we can--before, during and after work. We squeeze in writing between taking care of families, household chores, and tending the lawn. After wasting too much time on our social networking addictions, we still find time to write. As we're (hopefully) exercising, we're still thinking about that next story. Have you noticed that writers wear hats? What's your favorite type of hat?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Living Life

Here's the poem I wrote for a contest in March. The key word was "life." To Live Life You Must… Always notice rainbows Listen for laughter Inhale sweet scents Dance with no music Enjoy morning coffee, wine Take walks, explore nature Touch, kiss, hug Celebrate when it’s not a holiday Be spiritual but not preachy Appreciate good friends, family Have lazy days Be productive, too Soak up learning Be yourself Pass it on. (No hubby, it doesn't rhyme, and yes, it's still a poem.) What are some of your favorite ways to live life?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Inspiration. When and where do you get yours? Whether you write novels, poems, short stories, memoirs, children's books or any other genre, where do you get most of your ideas? Many of my stories and characters are completely fiction--created in my head, and for some reason, I most often find inspiration in the shower. Don't ask me why but I have for years. When I worked in corporate America, an idea would come to me in the shower, and I'd have to quickly get out, dry off, and scribble down ideas for my next television script, branding campaign or billboard--all on slightly damp paper. Many nights, I get ideas as I start to doze off. This habit drives my husband batty. He awakens when I get out of bed, and he says he can hear my pen scratching away. I'll get back in bed and he'll ask, "What did you write now? Why don't you just wait until tomorrow." Um. I can't. It'll be gone by tomorrow. Of course, many of us get ideas from the Internet, newspapers, and television--and from our childhood memories. That's why they say, "Write what you know." A fun way to come up with new ideas for a story is to overhear tidbits of conversations in coffee shops, restaurants, at the hair salon or car wash. This type of people watching (and listening) also works well for character sketches. How about you? When and where do you get your inspiration?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hooked On Haikus

As you know, I love writing short--as witnessed by my constant six-word memoir craze. Now, I've learned to write haikus and love them. Below are the first three haikus I've ever written (inspired by David Harrison's monthly poetry contest). The word he chose for March is either live or life (I can never remember which) so I incorporated both. Here goes: Live Life By Beth Carter Life’s difficulties… Far outweighed by life’s beauty. Live life. We have one. * * * * * Life’s Too Short By Beth Carter Live life to extreme. Shun obnoxious, rude people. Life. It’s way too short. * * * * * Embrace Life By Beth Carter Life throws surprises. Embrace. Laugh. Learn. Pay forward. Live. Give it your all. Which one do you like best? Care to write your own here? I'd love to read it. P.S. Haiku rule per Webster's Dictionary: A Japanese verse form, unrhymed with three lines using 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables, respectively. Easy peasy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Managing Time

As I look at my very cluttered desk, I am mad at myself. I have post-it notes everywhere, several files, handwritten notes for my novel, six-word memoir letters, conference info, reservations to Hot Springs, drafts of poems, and hard copies of apparently great emails that are waiting to be filed. Add to the crowded space a lamp, reference books, coffee mug, pictures, a phone, tissue, candles, and lotion. (And I just noticed I have a dart board on my desk. Huh?) I blame my messy desk on social networking. As we all know (since it's drilled into our heads by people in the know), writers must have a platform. That means, we need our own blog and/or a web site, must have a presence on Facebook and/or Twitter, must have email, must follow agents' blogs to glean important submission information, and even more if we don't need sleep. I don't know about you but I'm having great difficulty managing my time these days. Every morning I look forward to checking my email and the latest FB posts. If I have time, I check Twitter. My writing takes a back seat--as does exercise--which might explain why my real seat is getting bigger. How do you manage your time? Does social networking get in the way? Are you more disciplined than me? Do you actually work and/or write first before checking those alluring social networks? Please share your tips. I could use some advice and I imagine I'm not alone. P.S. What's on your desk?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Winning Poem: A Country Drive

Wow! I recently learned I placed first with my poem, A Country Drive, shown below. Thank you to everyone who voted. I'm very flattered and honored. As I've mentioned before, local children's author and poet David Harrison has a monthly poetry challenge. He chooses the word and poets take it from there. The word for February was "road." Below is my poem (tweaked slightly because I couldn't resist). Enjoy the drive! A Country Drive By Beth Carter I jumped into my old Chevy truck Grinnin’ 'cause long drives bring me luck. Drove around a very sharp bend, noticed a pothole I must mend. Spotted a large frog in the road Swerving, barely missed the toad. A soft breeze blew through my hair as I whistled without a care. Popped open a cold diet Coke I was happy—a lucky bloke. Driving along with my left knee Windows down, nearly stung by a bee. Sipping my soda, scanned the dial My favorite singer made me smile. Turned up the sound, hummed along Then loudly broke into a song. Spotted a mooing Jersey cow Standing beside a lazy sow. The cow stood in a shallow pond. Man, I could drive like this ‘til dawn. A fast-movin’ Jeep passed me Sadly, missing the scenery. Driver’s on the phone, in a hurry. Where’s the fire? Why the flurry? A small speckled deer in sight As two birds quickly took flight. Looking up, I stroked my chin Dark, ominous clouds rollin' in. Decided I must change my plans. Turned around, headed to Jan’s. Gonna pick up my best girl Go dancin,’ give her a twirl. A country drive is hard to beat By the way, friends call me Pete.

The Essence of Time

I've been participating in a monthly poetry challenge by local poet and children's author, David Harrison. He selects the word each month and poets from many states participate. His chosen word for January was "time" and my poem below placed second. Enjoy. THE ESSENCE OF TIME By Beth Carter Time is of the essence for doing things I adore. Time stretches into eternity for those tasks I abhor. Oh, Father Time, I’m pleading please give me a little more. But only if I’m enjoying myself, not if I’m performing ghastly chores.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Exciting Book Reviews

According to Smith's site, here are a few very cool reviews for the newly released IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT, six-word memoirs by authors famous and obscure. Vanity Fair: “Will thrill minimalists and inspire maximalists.” The New Yorker: “You could spend a lifetime brainstorming.” Entertainment Weekly: “The book includes pensive memoirs by the likes of Molly Ringwald (’Acting is not all I am’) and clever pieces by the likes of James Frey (’So would you believe me anyway?’).” USA Today’s Pop Candy: “SMITH Magazine has a great thing going with its six-word memoir series,” writes columnist Whitney Matheson. “I can identify with Gloria Steinem’s contribution, ‘Life is one big editorial meeting.’” The Kansas City Star: Hundreds of readers contribute Six-Word Memoirs in a piece that challenges readers to write their own six words in the comments area (”Blue dot in sea of red,” “Born naked, raised Catholic, love fashion,” and “Don’t forget to lick the bowl.”) Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser take a look back through the amazing Six-Word journey, from Hemingway to SMITH to speed dating to six-word prayers. It’s all true. Los Angeles Times: “Smith Magazine’s six-word memoirs have been lodged in the literary firmament since the 2008 release of “Not Quite What I Was Planning,” a pocket-sized collection that became a bestseller.” National Public Radio featured Smith editors, Larry and Rachel, on the air and raves about the six-word memoir project. Buy the book now at or wait for my book signing this spring (date TBD).

Monday, February 8, 2010

Six Words On Love

Since Valentine's Day is coming up, let's come up with some six-word memoirs about love and romance (heartbreak is fine, too). Here are my 14 memoirs for Feb. 14: Love feels like a cozy blanket. I'm married to my Prince Charming. Finding a perfect partner is possible. He still makes my palms sweat. Candlelight, roses, chocolates, dancing--perfect date. My heart flutters when he's around. A good kisser--hard to beat. I love those first date butterflies. Every day's a rainbow when loved. Valentine's Day sucks when you're single. I found my pot of gold. Lazy days are best with lover. Have the best hubby in world. Please add a few of your own. I'd love to read them. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Six Words on NPR

Editors from Smith Magazine were on National Public Radio (NPR) last week. Listen in as they talk about six-word memoirs, the new release of IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT, and hear callers from several states tell their own six-word memoirs.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Our New York Adventure

After a couple of unfortunate blips with luggage, my husband, parents, father-in-law, his girlfriend and I had a great time in NYC. We took in several sights--Ground Zero, 9-11 Memorial, Empire State Building, Statue of Libery, Rockefeller Center and Times Square. We walked along Broadway and tried until the last minute to get Jersey Boys tickets--and found some at almost $300 each. With six of us that was too much. We strode by the former Ed Sullivan/David Letterman Theatre and Radio City Music Hall where Lady Gaga was playing. We drove by Trump Tower and Carnegie Hall and ate a huge sandwich at the Carnegie Deli. (I swear it would easily serve four people.) We dined at the Rock Cafe where we watched ice skaters zoom by as we enjoyed a glass of wine. The three women shopped at Bloomingdale's where a makeup artist told me he was "very concerned about my eyebrows." He immediately grabbed a brush and started adding makeup until my eyebrows appeared thicker and more arched. When he was finished, he told me my new eyebrows made me look ten years younger. Of course, I couldn't get my wallet out fast enough. We drove by Central Park and visited the Museum of Natural History which is amazing every time I go. The dinosaur exhibits alone take your breath away. You could easily spend two days and never see it all. I took a gazillion pictures. On the last day, my parents and I went to the Today Show and stood in the cold sipping coffee while we watched Kathy Lee and Sharon Osborne, who was filling in for Hoda. We called several people and they could see us on air. I hit the NBC Store and bought a Conan shirt (not a huge fan but feel sorry for him and it may be a collector's item some day). Also bought some 2010 Olympic gear. Drum roll...The big event--the book release for IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT at the 92nd Street Y was exciting. I was lucky enough to find out right before we left (via an email from the editor of Smith) that one of my New York memoirs was selected as a winner! They chose six winners and I was asked to read mine on stage as well as one of my memoirs from the book. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures in the auditorium. There were about 200 people in attendance. It was great to meet the friendly editors of Smith, Larry and Rachel, and to hear about the background of the six-word memoir project. Also, the impressive speakers talked about the brilliance of brief writing, their magazine or newspaper columns, as well as their own best-selling novels. Larry gave me a Smith tee shirt which I'll wear proudly. My winning NY memoir: "Does the naked cowboy get cold?" They thought that was pretty funny. I've seen the guy several times in NY and he only wears a cowboy hat, boots, and whitey tighties while he plays his guitar. I do have the green light to have a book signing so I'll work on that soon. Thanks for all your support.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NYC Book Tour, Here I Come!

Well, I can't stand it any more. I keep reading about all the successful book tours in major cities touting the just-released IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT. wonderful husband is supporting me and we're heading to New York City next weekend for the final date of the book tour. The event will be held at the 92nd Street Y where the editors and authors from Smith will talk about the brilliance of brief writing. Don't you love that phrase? The author panel will feature A.J. Jacobs, Editor of Esquire and NY Times' bestselling author; Amy Sohn, author, columnist for New York Magazine, and successful screenwriter; and Ben Yagoda, English professor and author of nine novels. Prior to the book tour, a contest is being held about life in New York. Prizes will be awarded and six people will have their memoir turned into a song by Michael Hearst of One Ring Zero! Here are a few of the New York memoirs I submitted: Complex city of hobos and heroes. Intimidated by the trains. I'll walk. Are the hot dogs, pretzels sanitary? Want to blend in? Wear black. Tiny apartments. Huge prices. Worth it? Does the naked cowboy get cold? Midwestern girl takes New York. Gulp. We will never, ever forget 9-11. The contest ends on Jan. 18 so hurry. If you miss the deadline, feel free to post your favorite New York memoir here. And one more thing. Anyone want to help me pack? I hate packing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I received my book, IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT, in the mail yesterday and I'm over the moon! Beyond excited. Add every cliche you can think of. Why, you ask? Because Smith included not one but TWO of my memoirs and I discovered Smith received 250,000 submissions worldwide. There's of my memoirs is featured on the first page. PAGE ONE. I thought I was going to hyperventilate. :) Plus the fact that many amazing authors and celebrities are featured including the late Frank McCourt, Amy Tan, James Frey, Suze Orman, Neil Patrick Harris, two Pulitzer prize winners (Juno Diaz and Tony Kushner), Marlee Matlin, Diane von Furstenberg and even Kenny G, to name a few. What a great compilation of cool, diverse people. Order IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT right now! You'll be glad you did. It's like being at a cocktail party and hearing scintillating gossip. The book is only $8.10 at If you want to try your hand at six-word memoirs, go to Warning: You'll likely get hooked.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Launch Day!

Today is the day! A very exciting day, I might add. Smith's newest book, IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT, hits book stores today complete with a book tour in New York, Seattle, Austin, San Francisco and Milwaukee. This is Smith's fourth six-word memoir book (previous books have been New York Times' bestsellers). Let's hope this one is as well. It's a compilation of memoirs from famous and obscure authors and one of my memoirs is in it! Snoopy dance!!! Here's a video featuring a sampling of other authors' memoirs. So far, I know three of the celebrity authors are Yogi Berra, James Frey and Molly Ringwald. I'm expecting my copy in the mail next week, and for you friends and family members, you know what to expect for your birthday this year! I ordered enough for all of us. This book may be purchased on or in independent book stores. Try writing six-word memoirs. Warning: They're highly addictive.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Resolutions (you knew this was coming)

Well, do you make them? Don't we all? Are your New Year's resolutions the same year after year? Aren't they all? Do you keep your resolutions? Does anyone? My resolutions usually center around exercising more often or finding more time to do such and such. This year, I truly want to be even more focused and disciplined about my writing. (Of course, exercise is still important.) My first resolution is to finish editing my women's fiction novel and get it in the hands of agents. My second resolution is to finish writing the novel I started three years ago but thought was lost forever due to hardware problems. Thankfully, it has been salvaged and I'm over one-third finished. I plan to add to that novel during January (for JANO) and will get back to editing both novels in February. Another resolution is to get my two children's picture books into the hands of an agent and to write more of these fun, delightful stories. I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I'm also learning more about poetry. Finally, I love writing and reading short stories and hope to write and submit more of them this year. And, naturally, I'll continue writing my beloved six-word memoirs! How about you? What are your resolutions for 2010?


I belong to a mystery and suspense writers' group, Sleuths’ Ink, that is sponsoring a novel challenge this month. We all hope to write a 50,000-word Novel in 31 days. JANO is our take on NaNo, the popular National Novel Writing Month held every November. (We're just doing this on a much smaller scale.) We've decided to kick off the new year with a built-in resolution--and a kick in the pants to instill disciplined writing during 2010. Here are the rules: Write a 50,000-word novel during January (that's 31 days) This equals 1,613 words per day (unless you're me and starting three days late) No editing--just plow through You may add to a WIP but only new words will be counted Write using your favorite genre No actual novel writing UNTIL Jan. 1, 2010 Start your coffee machines Wish us luck and hear about members' progress at You can watch the JANO meter on my blog to see if I'm meeting my goal. (Sadly, it's blank right now.)

What a great way to kick off 2010. Happy writing, everyone. Now, I must start writing. (Right after I eat...)