Typed Tales

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Take Your Mind Walking!

This might have been my great-grandparents first home in 1878.

One of the things I used to do when I got homesick--thousands of miles away in Africa with years between my home and me--was to take a walk through my home in my mind. I found myself remembering all kinds of things that might not have come to mind if I'd tried to write them down, say, as the setting of a story.
Your memories may be sharper than you expect. Close your eyes and picture a place where you spent a significant amount of time in your lifetime: your childhood home, your first home as a married person, a vacation spot, your elementary or high school. . .get the idea? So let’s take a walk.

  • Walk up on the porch and ring the doorbell. Does it ring? Chime? Buzz?

  • Can you hear someone coming to answer it? Do their footsteps resound on hardwood floors, or are they muffled on carpet?

  • Does the door squeal on its hinges or open silently? When it closes, is there a 'whoosh' or a hollow slam?

  • Inside, is the house cool and silent or warm and full of music, talk, and household sounds?

  • Have you come to a place of refuge or confusion? Whenever you enter a new place, something forms in your soul as you try to decide what kind of a place it is.

  • What do you smell? Food? Gas heat? Freshly-laundered/ironed clothes and linens?How many inside doors from the front room? Where do they lead? Are they open are closed?

  • As you walk through the house, does it have an open feel? Private? Mysterious? Foreboding? What makes you feel that way?

  • What's outside the windows on all sides? Are the windows meant to be open, and are they? Do they give light, or do the window coverings shut out light and life as well?

  • Is the furniture modern, stylish, antique, or just early-attic? How do the pieces make the room 'feel'? Are they arranged for comfort or for show? What does this say about the people who live there?

  • Does the house shout its time period? Victorian? Turn-of-the-century? Twenties and thirties? Post-war?

  • Remember, you're walking alone, but do you just happen to feel that maybe you're not? Why?

  • Open the closets. How do the doors sound? What smell wafts out? What's hidden away in the corners?

  • What's on the walls--art or family?

  • Can you hear water running anywhere?

  • Can you hear the heat (cooling) come on or going off? Where is the warm/cool air coming from?Do you want to stay--or go--or flee as fast as you can?

  • Is there any clue as to past events that happened here? Warnings about what could happen in the future?

Tweak your questions to suit where you are--a house, an office building, a store, a school. Unless a place is brand-new, it has a history, and that history includes people. Take a notebook--or a tape recorder--along on your mind-walk. What do you remember and why? And, when you leave and close the door behind you, I'll be surprised if you don't take with you at least one idea for a scene if not a whole story!
Something like 80 years separates the pictures below. The one on the left is a picture of my father, probably around the age of 9 or 10, in front of the house he grew up in. The one on the right is a picture I took on a visit back to his hometown. I had to do a bit of "sleuthing" to find the house, but I recognized it immediately from the original photograph. How I'd love to walk through it! It appears to have fallen on hard times and likely won't survive much longer. 

Side of the house
My father in front of the house

The house in 2005

Wish I could walk through here!

Friday, July 24, 2015

What's on your (writer's) bucket list?

Recycle and Repurpose
A ton of articles by bloggers with some credibility recommend recycling and repurposing blogs. It’s a great idea!
So this is recycled and repurposed from May 21, 2012--but, of course, it’s updated.
Bucket List
‘Bucket List’ has, it seems, become a new catch phrase everywhere. The invitation to my 50th high schoo reunion three years ago (when I wrote this) asked us for a ‘bucket list’ of things we still wanted to do--even at our age! (Avoid doctors? Hope our retirement funds don’t dry up? Survive? You get the idea.) I chose ‘survive’. Not unique but honest.

A Writer’s Bucket List: Fulfilled Since 2012
Penelope did well!
  • Re-wrote and published all six of the Penelope Pembroke Mysteries and racked up some great sales numbers!
  • Decided to stop looking for just the right publisher for Four Summer Days and go indie. It’s in the works  
  • Attended two great writing conferences
  • I did attend a ‘writing retreat’ -- my own homemade version in Denton for two weeks in June.

    My spot!
    My favorite coffee house on the Square

The Unfilled Buckets
  • The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs AR--upcoming in November
  • Visit Natchez MS--upcoming in December


  • Organize a marketing calendar and decide what's reasonable - in the works
  • Plan and stick to a writing schedule--evolving
  • Repurpose blogs to various writing sites online--some foot-dragging going on here!
  • Get involved with 2 online writing communities--studying, making choices

The Golden Bucket   
Write for the pure joy of writing without considering anything else--and that includes sales.

What’s on Your Bucket List?
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Stories at Your Fingertips

The quiet water below belies the mountain's secrets!

Right in your own backyard
Most authors would agree that story ideas are to be found anywhere and everywhere, but sometimes we’re lured into thinking those anywheres and everywheres should be far away places with the strange sounding names. Not.
Words Which Wander Back and Start You Wondering
Some fine day plunk yourself down--in a comfy chair, in the park, at a fast-food drive-in--and let your mind wander back over bits and pieces of stories picked up from conversations at family gatherings. Maybe you weren’t listening. Maybe you weren’t supposed to be listening. But rattle the cages of your memory, and something will come to mnd.

  • How about ‘X’ who was GTT (Gone To Texas) and never heard from again?

  • Or the great-grandfather who shot his step-father, ran off, was caught up with and told, Come on back.The man needed killing. 

  • What did the beautiful great-aunt, dead of diphtheria at 19, leave behind?
Only19 years. . .what might have been?

  • The grandmother who taught in a one-room school house in the Panhandle of Texas

  • The second cousin whose mother never saw him again after the age of 4 or 5--why?

  • The great-grandfather who went back to Alabama to fetch his bride and ended up bringing back her whole family

  • The great-uncle who, wounded, listened to two Union soldiers say, Don’t waste a bullet on the Reb--he’s dying anyway. (Rescued and nursed back to health, he lived to father 14 children!)

  • The grandfather who at age eight lay on the floor between his two grandmothers and listened to them discuss who would take him to raise now that his parents were dead

  • The grandmother whose first love contracted tuberculosis and left for the drier climate of the Southwest--and died there without ever returning to her
Her heart with with him. . .
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Granted, I’m older and had grandparents born before the 20th century and whose tongues didn’t have to be pried loose. But you’ve heard stories, too.

I've written several stories based on old family stories. My great-grandfather did in deed kill his stepfather and never faced prosecution! The exact reason will never be known, but I spun a novel Four Summer Days out of the three separate stories I heard. (Watch for release information coming soon!)

WEDNESDAY:  At Your Fingertips: Places to look for information as you spin the story from your own backyard.

Friday, July 17, 2015

If only I didn't have to. . .

Today it's short and (not so) sweet! 

I’d rather be lassoed and hog-tied!
Everyone has “stuff” he/she doesn’t like to do and has to do anyway. Writers love writing, but most of us don’t much like the rest of it: revising, editing, proofing, marketing. . .ad nauseum. Sometimes our list would fill a thimble--at other times, a bucket. 

So what’s on my list?

  •    For starters, writing a synopsis. Oh, yes, I know 100K words can be whittled down into 5 pages, but. . Then, my first editor returned my ms to me with the terse comment, “Get rid of the ‘thats’.” She was right, so why do they keep sneaking in so that I have to get rid of them?
  •      While we’re at it, I dislike formatting when I wear my IndieAuthor hat. It’s boring, time-consuming, and thoroughly frustrating.

  •      Next on the list is packing up materials for a book event, unpacking them, and then repacking several hours later. No matter how organized I think I am, I wind up with a jumble!

  •      And, I don’t much like hunting down pictures I can use freely on blogs and such. Sometimes the disclaimers about their availability are shadowy. I don’t want to violate copyright--not even unintentionally.

  •       Last (but definitely not least!) I abhor the necessity for social media. It’s a time-waster and, in many instances, makes my blood boil. Yes, yes, I should organize my time better and ignore the blood-boilers. Humphf!

What’s on your list?
Share what you dread doing as an author? Is it really necessary? Why or why not?

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