Friday, June 30, 2017

Monthly garden of links to great articles for writer

Here’s a list of all the links I’ve posted on my Facebook Author Page and Twitter this month! Hope you find something you can use…I did!

10 Things I Learned While Writing My First Novel

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What nobody knows about my characters...

It’s really very simple

It’s very simple. Just because I write “the end” to a novel (or perhaps even a short story), my characters don’t suddenly freeze in place and then fade away. No indeed. If I’m particularly attached to them, they live on…and on…and on…forever.

They keep coming back

I might be driving to town or traveling, lying in bed at night, enjoying some sunshine in a park, watching a video, browsing in a mall…and suddenly, a character or two pops into my head, and I see them traveling…enjoying some sunshine in a park…watching a video…browsing in a mall…lying in bed at night…and suddenly new scenes begin to take shape. Scenes, of course, which will never be written because the book is finished, published, and gone.

Never out of mind

But not my characters. Not Alan and Lenore, Annie and David, Nick and Jean, Kent and Celeste, Ruthann and Drew, Penelope and Sam, Gail and Sid…oh, no, they’re still around and always will be!
Why? Because they’re mine and I love them. Out of sight, yes. Out of mind, no.

In short…

The trouble with writing is
you can  never finish.
No matter how much you write,
there is always more to be written.
Another scene,
another conversation,
another crisis
lurking in the wings
of the writer’s mind.
The trouble with a story is
that it never ends.
So if you think you’ve written
the last chapter
of your Great American Novel,
solved the problems,
killed off the villains,
wedded the heroes, and
tied up the loose ends
of all the characters’ lives,
you are mistaken.
After the book has gone to print,
you will lie awake and think of more.
You will dream
of the unwritten scenes
and the unspoken words.
In your mind
The story will go on
It isn’t over
because you aren’t over,
and as long as you live,
your story will live, too.

Kate, the foundling
Susannah the betrayed
Ruthann and Drew

Penelope Pembroke and her mystery man Sam
Alan and Lenore
Nick and Jean

Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Go-To Apps

“App” is a brand-new word in my fully-formed-in-the-fifties vocabulary. I find, in questioning Google, that an “app” is “an application, especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device”.

Okay, I have three mobile devices:  Penelope the lappy, a Kindle Fire, and an iPhone. They all work--but “apps” seem to make them work better---I think.
So an “app” needs to actually do something. Right off the bat, I can think of two which work pretty hard for me:
·        Buffer
·        Canva
·        Fotolia
·        FB Author Page
·        Email
I have the unpaid version of Buffer, but I schedule three blogs a week and nine additional links for Twitter--a total of 12, which is more than allowed in the free version, but I can always add more once a few of them have posted.
The unpaid version of Canva also works well. If I want something besides a free background for my image, I don’t mind forking over a dollar.
Most of the images I acquire to use with Canva are from Fotlia. There’s an automatic refill feature which gives you credits as you need them, but I prefer to order on my own.
The FB Author Page is a good way to connect with other writers (and readers) on a more professional than personal basis. Certain posts can be “boosted” for a fee, and sometimes I take advantage of that.
A personalized email came with a website I used to have--dumped the website for another and kept the email for which I pay yearly. But we can’t live without email these days, can we?
There are more apps out there than fleas on a dog, and a person can become overextended in a hurry. I don’t “do” social media via my iPhone, but I do check email and have other “apps” which I find handy:
·        Local weather
·        Fox News
·        Messenger
·        A daily prayer app which comes with a handy-dandy reminder
·        Alarm for reminders throughout the day
As with all things, one has to find what works and stick with it. That’s not to say you can’t broaden your horizons. Maybe someday I’ll work on widening my range, but for now, I’m good to go.

Related Articles

Friday, June 23, 2017

And my favorite fictional character of all time is...

Hands down, it’s Jane Eyre 
from Charlotte Bronte’s novel by the same name.

Why? That’s easy!

She’s a survivor, and I’ve always looked at myself that way. So she’s not only a role model but a kindred spirit as well.

Read the book

I hope it’s still on the shelves of your local library despite the move to purge our school English classes and libraries of everything “classical” and the least bit “moral”.

If Jane Eyre were written today she would

·        be out for revenge against her aunt Mrs. Reed and the abusive head of the orphanage where she ends up.
·        take one look at Thornfield Hall and say, “This isn’t for me; I’m outta here.”
·        set her cap for Mr. Rochester because doesn’t every girl want a rich husband?
·        ignore his situation and become his mistress
·        steal some of Thornfield’s treasures to finance her escape
·        go to the city and perhaps become a “working girl” to feather her nest and find a more suitable rich husband

If you don’t want to read the book, watch the movie

No telling how many versions of Jane Eyre have been filmed. You can find a comprehensive list here, beginning with the first silent film in 1910, and going through the made-for-television productions.

My recommendations:

·        The 1943 feature film starring Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Agnes Morehead, Margaret O’Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, and a very young Elizabeth Taylor.
·        The 1970 made-for-television film starring George C. Scott and Susanna York.

Put Jane Eyre on your summer reading/viewing list!

You’ll wonder why you never discovered it before.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

(My) 5 deadly sins of a writing "career"

Where this idea came from, I’m not sure. There are, of course seven deadly sins, but I’m opting for five so far as writing/writing career.

Not knowing your end goal

For me, it wasn’t a “writing career” (emphasis career). Though I’d written as a hobby all my life, when I retired I decided to see if I could actually get published. So publication was my end goal. I succeeded beyond my wildest imagination in both traditional and indie publishing. I had no dreams of being sent on book launch tours with the wining and dining and public attention. A shy sort, I don’t much like local book events, although I do participate on a limited basis.

Not being satisfied with your accomplishments

There are thousands (millions?) of writers out there. Some of them are definitely better than I am--and I’m not talking about those whose names you hear all the time and which I won’t mention. But I’ve achieved my own version of “success”, and I’m content.

Writing what you think will sell and not what you feel  should be written

Face it--we all know what flies off the shelves in many quarters. But it’s not me. I’ve written one book where I felt I crossed the line  (in some respects) of what I should’ve written. It wasn’t “dirty” nor “obscene”, but I let an editor tell me not to rewrite what I knew should’ve been done. It was a good story with a moral theme, but I’m not really proud of it.
I’m working on a novel right now which deals with (as I always do) real people and real life, but I already know I can go back and make it more acceptable. Acceptable to whom? To me. I’m the one whose name is on it. And I never want my grandchildren to grow up and read something I’ve written and think, “Ooooo, Mimi!” You know, “to thine own self be true” and all that stuff.

Not trying to make the next book better than the last

There’s always room for improvement in any area of life. For a writer, whether it’s plot, character, dialogue, or just grammar and syntax, he/she can always do better. You’ve got to work at it, but challenge is the spice of life.

Not writing

Okay, so your last book didn’t sell up to your expectations. Maybe it got some nasty reviews. Maybe you keep getting rejection slips!!  Maybe you don’t feel you’ve attained the attention you wanted. A whining writer is non-productive. If you really want to be a best-seller and honestly believe it’s not going to happen, then quit and do something else. But don’t bite off the end of your nose to spite your face. Either write for the love of writing and earn your living doing something else, or don’t do it at all.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and may/may not be relevant to the reader--who is free to ignore everything!

Related Articles

Sunday, June 18, 2017

If these eyes could see...

Great topic--difficult choice! And I can’t make it, not trying to choose a single event from all of recorded history. So, I’m tweaking the topic make a list of TEN events I’d have liked to be a fly on the wall to see.

I remember as a child watching on black-and-white TV the historical drama series hosted/narrated by Walter Cronkite: You Are There. From 1953 to 1957, 147 episodes were produced. Unfortunately, there’s no comprehensive list of titles available, but some are posted on YouTube. (Apparently, the idea has been revived, so not all the linked episodes are hosted by Mr. Cronkite.)

So--here’s my list, and those events posted on YouTube are starred. * These are in no particular order as far as priority, by the way.

2.      The Siege of the Alamo *
4.      The D-Day Invasion at Normandy
5.      The Signing of the Declaration of Independence
6.      Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox
7.      Any of George M. Cohan’s musical productions on Broadway--preferably opening night!
8.      The beginning of a wagon train journey from St. Louis MO
9.      The discovery of life-saving penicillin
10.   The Resurrection of Jesus

What event would you most like to have witnessed?

Friday, June 16, 2017

The three people I'd most like to have dinner with...

Born into slavery, kidnapped as an infant with his mother by slave traders, ransomed and returned to the childless Carvers who raised him, he struggled to educate himself and succeeded. Booker T. Washington hired him to teach agriculture at the fledging Tuskeegee Institute (now Tuskeegee University). A brilliant, talented man, he also possessed a quiet humility and a sense of himself which stood him in good stead against those who disparaged him because of his race. His deep faith in God melded with his scientific mind to the benefit of all. This man has always been a particular hero of mine since I first read his story.

Daughter of a socialite mother and an alcoholic father, orphaned by the age of ten, the “ugly duckling” struggled to find her own identity. She married Franklin Delano Roosevelt and bore him 6 children (5 survived). When she discovered his infidelity, she offered him a divorce which never took place. Standing by him through the bout of polio which left him crippled, and his political career as governor of New York and four-time President of the United States, she became his eyes and ears in places his disabled body could not go. After his death she became a delegate to the United Nations and a human rights activist. She was not only a “survivor” but also someone who contributed to the world around her.

Born into a missionary family which later settled in the United States, she became a missionary herself and later married Jim Elliot, a missionary in Ecuador. When their daughter Valerie was less than a year old, Jim was speared along with four other missionaries attempting to make contact with the Auca Indians. When Valerie was about three, Elisabeth and the sister of Nate Saint, one of the martyred missionaries, went to live with the tribe responsible for the deaths of the men. She returned to the United States and became a prolific author and speaker. Widowed a second time, she married again and continued her ministry in America. She was the personification of a strong woman who also embraced her role as a wife and mother. The words she wrote and spoke touched more lives than all the marching, shouting feminist protestors ever did and ever will.

 Who are the three people with whom you'd most like to sit down to dinner?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What so proudly we hailed...once upon a time

June 14 has been Flag Day for over one hundred years, but it wasn’t until 1949 that then President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress making June 14 National Flag Day.

Alternately known as “Old Glory”, “The Stars and Stripes”, “Red, White, and Blue”, and “The Star Spangled Banner”, The American Flag has flown above government buildings, been carried into battle, draped coffins, adorned graves, been displayed in schools and churches, waved during patriotic celebrations, saluted, pledged to, worn as lapel pins and uniform patches, and, once tattered beyond respectability, properly disposed of by veterans’ and scout groups.

If I’d written that one hundred years ago, I could stop. Sadly, in more recent years the symbol of the United States of America has been set aflame, ripped, spat on, stomped on, defecated on, and removed/banned from public places for fear of “offending” someone.

One hears, “Well, if they (those who show contempt and disrespect for the flag as a symbol of America) don’t like this country, let them leave. They won’t be missed.” The last statement is probably true--how can one miss what one abhors (the action, not the actor). But is that really the answer? It’s like raking leaves in the fall--you never get them all, and the next year they’re back.

I fly my flag proudly. Because I have solar lighting trained on it, it’s spotlighted at night and can thus remain 24/7. So far, the powers that be in this subdivision haven’t written it out of acceptability, but if they ever do, I won’t take it down without a fight.

Ignorance and intolerance of patriotism, religion, and other cultural beliefs, like death and taxes, is inevitable. It’s incumbent on individuals who, after all, make up communities, towns, states, and ultimately this country, to take a stand for decency and respect. Those concepts are taught first at home and then in the institutions tasked with educating children to become productive adults--i.e. our schools.

Growing up, my generation pledged allegiance to the flag every morning before school. We stood, hands on hearts, when the band played the national anthem at athletic events. Our parents and teachers were quick to call us out for any disrespect--even unintentional.

This generation goes with the flow, whatever feels good at the moment, and no one says a word about it. Sometimes, if someone speaks out, they become the “bad guys”--thanks in part to the news media. I wonder if, like Pandora’s Box, once the lid is lifted and the ugliness allowed to escape, it can ever be put back again and contained.

We can only hope.

Related Articles

Sunday, June 11, 2017

You just have it to do...

This expression doesn’t seem to have an origin, so I’m assuming it was coined by the person I heard it from--or by someone she heard it from.

She was an older friend, an adult while I was still in high school. In summers I would spend a week in her home where her disabled husband doted on me and spoiled me beyond reason. She balanced things out with her strict requirements for chores. (I wasn’t a guest but rather part of the family for that week.)

I can’t remember the first time I heard the words, but over time she shared her difficult younger years as a child of the Great Depression when she “boarded out”--tended children, washed, ironed, cleaned houses, and did whatever she had to do to survive. Once her principal said to her, “If you don’t come to school more, you’re not going to graduate.” To which she replied, “Then I guess I won’t graduate because I have to eat.” Perhaps that was the first time I watched her eyes look into those past years and say, “I just had it to do.”

As I grew up and later as an adult myself, I often heard those words directed at me when I’d complain (whine) about something I didn’t want to do but couldn’t find any way to get around the inevitable. She never dished out sympathy of any sort. Rather, “You just have it to do,” assaulted my ears--not so much advice as a statement of fact.

I hear them now. Having always considered myself a “survivor” of (more than) my share of life’s traumas, perhaps the memory of her experiences tended to make me understand life isn’t perfect--nor is it always fair. She dealt with desertion, divorce, the determination to pay off debts she didn’t own (always working two jobs toward that end), the care of the second husband until his death, betrayal by some she considered friends and financial worries more on than off. But she survived.

And so, it seems, have I, though I still find it necessary to tell myself regularly, You just have it to do.

What’s inspired you to keep on keeping on?

Friday, June 9, 2017

My top 5 writing distractions and how I boot them!

What distracts me from writing?

1.      The internet
2.      The call of household chores
3.      (Necessary) errands
4.      Rewriting as I go
5.      Not having a clear idea of where the WIP is going

The internet solutions

1.      Schedule social media and don’t deviate.
2.      Use Buffer to schedule tweets
3.      Write all three blogs, post, and schedule at the same time
4.      Stay OFF Facebook (except for author page). I’ve already made my exit and freed up tons of time--and I don’t miss the drama!

The household chore solutions

1.      Have a routine and tweak it as necessary
2.      Schedule big chores (general housecleaning) for one day a week--be flexible
3.      Pick up as you go--leave your desk clean and ready for the next day
4.      Remember your home is your castle--not your prison!

The “necessary” errands solutions

1.      Schedule as much in one day (preferably half a day) as possible. Make the miles count.
2.      “Necessary” is the key word. What will wait?
3.      Include a writing lunch a couple of days a week. Have laptop, will travel.

The rewriting as I go solutions

1.      Don’t do it! Remember--first drafts stink! You can stand the stench until you get it all down and then clean it up!
2.      If you’re a pantser rather than a plotter, take a break when you get bogged down. Sit and “commune” with your characters, and then go back to work.

The not having a clear idea of where the WIP is going solutions

1.      Making a few notes doesn’t ruin your reputation as a “pantser”.
2.      Don’t get bogged down in plotting to the point of being inflexible. Be willing to change horses midstream.
3.      Remember--you’re supposed to be enjoying this!

The best advice:  Take a break! 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Making New Year's Resolutions in June!

Summers bring the (joyful) task of helping out with the Small Person (soon to be 10) and the Wee Bear Cub (just turned 7). I’ve never wanted them in daycare during the summers, so I’ve always planned for them to be with me several days a week while they’re out of school. This summer will be no exception. I scheduled two days a week--Mondays and Tuesdays--but this coming week, the first week, I’ll have them Wednesday-Friday because their babysitter has prior commitments. The following week is Vacation Bible School, and in order for them to attend as they do every summer, this summer I’ll need to pick them up at noon all 5 days. So--that’s what I’m going to do.
What am I NOT going to do? Here’s the hopeful list:
1.      Neglect writing. The paper edits of The Legacy of Diamond Springs are in progress. After corrections and some major rewriting, which I didn’t anticipate, I’ll have to do it all over again! But the goal is for the novel to be publication-ready at the end of the summer.
2.      Fail to journal daily. There are three parts to each daily entry: free writing/writing prompt/the day’s reality (insights, etc.)
3.      Give up walking a mile + a day at the fitness center. This will be difficult on the days I have the girls, but hopefully I’ll have enough energy to race up the road after they’re picked up for the day and do my mile!
4.      Plan fall traveling. This is an easy task because I enjoy it. Half the fun is getting there!
5.      Fail to keep tweaking closets, panty, files, etc. as needed.  I’ve reached the age where clearing up and clearing out is not just a goal but a necessity. A few years ago I did a major overhaul of my house--but it takes regular maintenance to keep the pack rat in me from taking over!
We’ll revisit this subject again on the day school starts--and, hopefully, call it a complete success!

What are you NOT going to do this month/summer?

If you’re looking for something to DO, may I suggest

 And while you’re there looking around, be sure to click on “I’ll tell you a story”
for a free read

“At the End of the Story, No Regrets”

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Is a writing challenge worth the effort?

The end of StoryADay for May 2017

Our last assignment as StoryADay participants is to write a blog post or journal entry detailing what we’ve learned about ourselves as writers during the challenge this month--and to use the positives in other writing projects. So--what have I learned?

Benefits of participating in a writing challenge

(1)For starters, while not all the prompts appealed to me, I found it possible to cobble together at least 500 words which can be tweaked later and turned into a story to my taste.
(2)A second benefit came from sticking to the commitment I’d made to write daily. Did I do it? Yes and no. One of the caveats was that we could take weekends off if necessary, so I decided to do that because I take care of my obligatory three blogs on Saturdays and Sundays. However, I ended up taking only one weekend “off”--that’s two stories I can go back and pick up at a later date if I want to. Ending up with twenty-nine stories--or at least, the bare bones of stories--is no small accomplishment.
(3)Finally, despite the fact I was deep in edits for The Legacy of Diamond Springs, scheduling time for both worked out most days. While I’m not finished with said edits, they’re coming along. Now that StoryADay for May 2017 is complete, I’ll give my full attention to the novel in progress now and have that completed within the next five days--barring a literary catastrophe!
I first heard of StoryADay in September 2016 and gave it a try but dropped out after ten stories. But ten stories are ten stories, so it wasn’t a waste of time and whetted my appetite to try again, this time obviously with more success.

NaNoWriMo is coming up in November!

Another great challenge is NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month when begins at the stroke of midnight on November 1 and ends at the same time thirty days later. The goal is to write 50K words during the month of November. Having participated several years and “won” all but one time, I’d also recommend giving this challenge a try also.

BICHOK--Backside in chair, hands on keyboard

We’ve all heard before that writing daily is good discipline, and indeed it is. Real life, of course, interferes from time to time, and it’s important not to let guilt creep in and rob one of a feeling of accomplishment. The more I write, the less I’m inclined to dance with the guilt of skipping a day, even a week. The important thing is to write as often and as much as possible. Otherwise, nothing gets done.

Visit my website 
for this month’s free read, which just happens to be a story from the StoryADay Challenge in May.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Your Summer Writing Retreat CAN Happen!

On the road again…

As you read this blog, I've just completed a day trip to Mena AR some 83 miles up a back road. It wasn't not a writing retreat per se, but I checked out a couple of B&Bs for just that purpose sometime in the near future.
Meanwhile, I’d recommend these two articles to help plan your own writing retreat. I don’t write, you say? Well, take along a notebook and do some journaling. Write some real letters. Oh, all right, take your laptop and shoot off some emails. And for those of you who do write…

Plan your own writing retreat today!

·        From the February 2017 issue of The Writer Magazine:
“Introducing the DIY Writing Retreat”
for groups or independent retreats, including a packing list!
My recommendation: Woodsprings Suites (formerly ValuePlace) in a location offering the opportunity for burn-out breaks. For the price of two nights at a regular hotel, you get a small, clean, quiet room with desk, bath, and kitchenette for a week. No frills--but you’re not there to be pampered but rather to write write write!
·        From the June 201 issue of The Writer Magazine:
“Take a Writing Vacation”
Includes tips for writing at the seaside, in the wilderness, in the city, and from home
Plus prompts and reading lists
My recommendation: If a big vacation isn’t in the budget, think about a cabin at a state park, a couple of nights at a B&B, or a daily visit, say for a week, to the nearest fast-food establishment where you’re sure to find a quiet corner after the lunch rush.

Be creative!

The possibilities for your own writing retreat, “mini-“ or “extended” are limited only by your imagination. Get on the computer and find out what’s available--be in a coffee shop, a state park, a city park, a B&B in the next town, or an extended-stay hotel like Woodspring Suites. (I’ve never been disappointed, but do look for recent reviews!) 

Wherever you go and for whatever purpose, don’t forget: