Monday, December 8, 2014

Welcome to the Holiday Season

Wow. It has been a long time since I have actually posted.  I've thought of posting often but never took the time I said I would.

It is the time of year we all love and simultaneously dread, the holidays.

Love:

  • Christmas carols- now that Thanksgiving is over, not a minute before. Silent night is my favorite traditional carol.
  • The smell of the Christmas tree when I enter the house.
  • The lights on the houses.
  • Sweater weather!
  • Cocoa and hot toddies.
  • Lots of awesomely sinful snacks everywhere.
  • Time with my family and friends.
  • The Ref. If you have not seen this movie find it and watch it. It'll make your list next year. Dennis Leary, Kevin Spacey- awesome.
  • Cooking and hosting large meals for large and small gatherings. I always make a ton of food whether it is four people or forty coming over there will be left-overs. 

Dreading:


  • Shopping. I really do hate it and crowds make it so much worse.
  • The line at the post office. Yep, we still have to go to the post office because we add handmade stuff from the kids or cookies.
  • Planning far enough in advance so the presents arrive in time. My fault I moved to the other side of the country and I suck at planning. I am very last minute with everything.
  • Waiting until the kids finally fall asleep, you parents know why. My goodness they outlast me every year and then they are wide awake in the morning and have to drag me out of bed.
  • Remembering where all the presents are hidden. Since I don't shop all at once making sure that each child has the same amount of gifts and then re-hiding the extra to try and remember to use it for a birthday or a special reward soon before I forget about it. Just found a frozen DVD when I hid a present last month. There is not a single child left on the planet who doesn't have a copy of that video already.
Happily my love list far out weighs my dreading list.  This year we won't have any family staying with us, which is quite unusual, and the kids are actually looking forward to a morning with just us.  I will miss the house guests but will relish more time with my family.

I wish you all a very happy, calm, relaxing, holiday season filled with family, fun and a great book.

I'd love to hear what makes your Love and Dreading list for the holidays.  Please take a moment to share.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Throw in the Towel

#saturdayscenes

Dottie Fitz knew it had to be her son and her husband who always soiled her towels.  She did not have a single presentable hand towel left from her two sets.  She refused to have a dark brown hand towel upset her tranquil bathroom.  But now her once lovely towels, soft and luxurious in sand and teal colors were left with immovable streaks and smears of dark brown and black from her son and husband.

Dottie sifted through the pile of towels at the bargain store and could not find a match to go with her two carefully chosen sets.  She had been to Macy’s, TJ Maxx and now she was at Tuesday Mornings, her last hope of finding towels to match her sets.  She couldn't afford to buy whole new sets.  She had saved and asked for those towels as presents for her birthday and Christmas, which were close enough together that she usually got one gift for both occasions.
 
Her hand rubbed a rough surface and she looked down to find an ugly, starchy, barren white towel in her hand.  This would show every speck of dirt.  She was about to toss it in the discard pile she had created when it hit her.  This was the solution, this horrible, scratchy, white towel.  At $1.99 she could afford to buy two of them to prove her point and save the next hand towel she bought, when she could find one for her beloved sets.

Her husband Tom had laughed at her when she had returned home from the laundromat distraught and upset about the permanent stains on her favorite teal hand towel.  The edge had a wonderful rope twist with teal and sand mixed together and the towels were still so fluffy and luxurious but now only the very center, where the towel hung on the rung, was the original teal color.  The rest was varying shades of dark brown and black.  It tore at her to see it destroyed like that.  She had launched herself right into the family room and waved the towel at Tom.
“It’s a towel.  It’s meant to clean your hands.’
“No, it is not meant to CLEAN your hands it is meant to dry your already clean hands.  The soap and water are meant to clean your hands!”  Dottie had screeched, louder and crazier than she intended to.

He had never understood what her bathroom meant to her.  It was the one part of their trailer that was a fulfillment of her dreams.  She did not have a house with a nice yard.  She and Tom had a trailer with only the parking space next to it.  Dottie’s whole life she had thumbed through her mother’s Better Homes and Garden magazines and imagined what her house would look like.  It had never been a trailer.  She did not begrudge Tom that they lived in a trailer.  It was a choice they made together.  She wanted to be home with the kids and the part time work she did at the local library and her two weeknight shifts at the Rite Aide allowed her to be home with them after school but was barely enough money to do more than pay to keep the truck running.

Every extra bit of money that she could save went into making their bathroom the bathroom oasis of her dreams.  When Dottie was in there it was as if she lived in the house with the yard.  She could relax and escape in her bathroom.  But not with stained towels.

She hung the white towel on the rung in the bathroom and then hung the second one inside the door under the sink.  Her plan was in motion.  At the dinner table she would challenge the boys knowing Tom and Dan would eagerly jump at a challenge against her and Brianne without even asking what it was.  The challenge would be to see who could keep their white towel cleanest.  The boys’ towel would be the one out on the rung in the usual spot, she knew if that was the girls towel they would use it out of habit and convenience.  She had also made the girls towel a bit harder to get to so the boys would not accidentally use their towel; out of sight out of mind. 

If the boys lost they would no longer be allowed to use the towel that would hang on the rung they would have to use the one under the counter or the dish towels by the kitchen sink.  If the girls lost then they would suffer the same fate.  Dottie was sure the girls would not lose.  She had secretly marked the tags on the towels with a 'b' and a 'g' to be sure they did not get switched.

By the second day of the week-long challenge her husband had to concede that it was probably he and Dan who had ruined her hand towels.  Dan and Tom spent the rest of the week working on washing all the dirt off their hands before using the towel. 

Dottie loved that they were trying for her, especially when she knew that they did not understand why she was so worked up over a towel.  Tom thought the new white ones were just fine.

The next week there was a flyer in the mail from Bed, Bath and Beyond and on the cover was a towel set that looked just like her beloved teal ones.   It was a sign.  She grabbed the 20% off coupon and headed out the door.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place every November.  It is a challenge to yourself to write 50,000 words in the month.  It is also a great community that is there to support you with reaching your daily word count and ending the month as a winner of NaNoWriMo.  You can connect online or meet locals in your area for write-ins and support.

For me NaNo is kicking off this Friday at midnight with a write in.  I did not make the write in last year because it was on Thursday and I have a job that expects me to show up and be safe and productive on Friday.  This year after taking my kids trick or treating I will be heading to meet my local group and start my novel.

Last year was the first year I participated.  Last year I learned that there are many, MANY people who actually plan out their whole novel. They have outlines, written scenes, character descriptions, plot and an ending.  These people are called planners.  Everyone I met in my local group were planners.

I found this approach amazing.  Which is when I learned that I am a pantster.  As in fly by the seat of my pants.  Doing all that work before starting seems a bit like cheating. I sit down on November 1 and see where my muse takes me.  I generally start with a character and as the characters start growing and rounding out they take the story to its conclusion.

I was talking with an author from my writing group today and I think I am going to re-write the first novel I wrote.  I am amazed at how much my writing has improved since I started writing a couple of years ago.  I think I may even write it from the first person perspective instead of third.  Every time I edit the book I just fix some of the grammar but I think scrapping it and starting over will give me the novel I am hoping for.  It has received praise so far and I like the characters and the story but I know it can be so much better.

My writing group friend asked if that was okay, using a work that has already been written?  I am not going to edit the story.  I am not even going to look at it again.  I am going to use the characters and the plot.  That is sort of like being a planner for this time out.  I am still a pantster at heart.

Who out there is joining me in NaNoWriMo?  Are you a planner or a pantster?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Write Like...



I recently found a website that analyzes your writing and compares it to a famous author.  That sounded like fun.  So I gave it a whirl.

I decided to try the story I have on Wattpad.  It said:
I write like Gertrude Stein
Here is the link to the story: http://www.wattpad.com/user/KathrynThornton2

I was pretty impressed with that comparison.  Then I thought about how much my writing has changed and wondered if my writing style was consistent across my works.

Then I wanted to check my very first novel.  The results:
I write like William Shakespeare

Okay, so my first book is like Shakespeare and my latest is Stein so what about my sophomore work.
I write like David Foster Wallace

I belong to a wonderful writing group (CBW-LA) and we published an anthology (Story Sprouts) on voice this year and I had to write a story about a ship wreck.  This is not a normal topic for me so I was interested to see what writer this work would be similar to.  The answer was:
I write like Ursula K. Le Guin
Here is the link to the anthology: http://www.amazon.com/Story-Sprouts-CBW--Resource-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00NVR5RDY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414128353&sr=1-1&keywords=story+sprouts

If you want to check out your writing style you can follow the link below
I Write Like:  http://iwl.me/

What's next for me?  Well I don't know the last two author's works so it is time to do some research and read some of their books.  Maybe brush up on my Stein as well.  I was really hoping for Steinbeck so I will keep trying with some of my other work.

Please share your results.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why is it...


When I have to travel I get lofty ideas of all that I can accomplish.
I won't have children to take care of, no dogs to take care of, no long commute to work.  Of course I will use that time to exercise.  How great to have a gym and a pool.

If I am going to be away for more than a couple of days I think this is a great way to get a habit started.  I some how never start my new better for my health habits on these trips.

At night I will be by myself, no feeling guilty about writing instead of spending time with my husband.

Yet somehow the sneakers stay in the suitcase.  My writing sits fallow.  Why is that?


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tenacity


Why is it that parents continue to believe their children should be obedient, like the family dog?  Has their ever been a child who has truly been obedient? And if so would you really want them to be?

There are times I am one of these deluded parents and I really wish they would be.  This is generally after a long day when I have a headache, or when I know they are about to say something embarrassing in front of a business associate, our priest, or their teacher.

My children NEVER take any answer I give them as final that they don't want to hear.  What is really great for their future but right now can wear my patience so thin that the curse words or the desire to run away are just about to break through is their belief that it is not okay to take no for an answer. Somewhere along the line that was beaten out of me and I am ready to give up much more quickly than I should.

Another trait that both my children have is that they problem solve.  They do not whine or beg instead they throw out alternative options and answers to whatever they think are my arguments against what they want. Are you not letting me to play with my friend because you don't want to drive me there?  Well don't worry, I can ride my bike.  Maybe you are saying no because you think it's a bad time?  I spoke with them on Friday and they assured me that today would be a great day to get together.  I have all my homework done.  If I'm not playing with my friend I will ask to watch TV and you don't want me doing that.

I'm amazed at their tenacity and the solutions they come up with.  These skills that they seem to innately posses will be such an asset to them as adults.  I keep that in mind when I am straining to keep my patience under their barrage of answer changing options.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Personality Traits

I am reading "The American Heiress" by Daisy Goodwin.  Her main character, Cora is very well developed and even though I still have half the book to go, I know that her overriding personality trait is going to get her in trouble.  There is another character already scheming to use it against her and the situation where it will come to play is set.

I took a break from the book, letting the unraveling wait, and re-read my manuscript to see if my characters were so tangible and so well formed.  Unfortunately I couldn't do it.  My characters are so real in my head, I have lived with them so long that I cannot process only what is on the page and tell if that is enough to build them fully in someone else's head as well.

My husband doesn't read my work unless I really badger and beg.  Which is too bad as he is an excellent critic and very well read.

I need to outsource my Beta reading to others but it is hard to ask them to read your work in progress too many times. Plus if they read it as much as you have they get weary of it too.

The only way I can think to try and get a fresh perspective is to walk away from it and work on something else and then come back and try again to read it and see if the characters are fully formed. Sadly that hasn't worked for me to date because I have lived with these characters so intimately I don't forget anything about them.  My muscle memory of them is too strong.

Does anyone have any tricks or techniques they use to get a fresh, "outside" perspective on their work themselves?  Do you have to keep finding new Beta readers to achieve this goal?  If so how do you find a large, trustworthy supply of Beta readers?

I look forward to your comments and assistance.

Happy writing,
Kate

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Best Vacation with Dogs Ever! Quail Lodge and Golf Club - Carmel, CA

Carmel, California was never on my radar as a family vacation destination.  We only had a three day weekend but because we had the whole family, including our dogs, we drove up.  The drive took up a lot of the time and I would fly next time if we only have a three day weekend again.

We have never been to anyplace that was so welcoming of dogs.  The city of Carmel and the Quail Lodge and Golf Club were incredibly dog friendly.  The hotel was our first stop.  We checked in and were given a bag for each dog.  The bag contained a blanket, a collapsible dog bowl, a stuffed quail, and doggie bags with a flashlight on the holder.  We were also given a card for the hotel's dog liaison.  Amazing.  The dogs were welcome every where around the hotel and at all the outside eating areas.

The next day we went into Carmel.  I picked up a free map of the city and the map showed all the places where dogs were welcome. We started at the beautiful beach.  There was a huge sand dune that my kids and dogs loved running up and down.

After a fun morning at the beach I took the kids to the Monterey Aquarium. It is a great aquarium. I was surprised how much my kids enjoyed all the interactive parts of the exhibits.  I was there to see the actual sea creatures but my kids loved the computers, and other hands-on parts of the exhibits. I would give yourself at least two hours to explore the Aquarium.  I don't think you could see it all in less time.



While we were enjoying the Aquarium my husband was enjoying a round of golf at the Quail Lodge. The restaurant at the club even has a dog night every Wednesday.  On Wednesday evenings they have drink specials on Greyhound and other drinks with dog names and on appetizers; and of course dogs are welcome.

We returned to our spacious hotel room after a full day of activities.  One of which was spending almost an hour walking around an amazing candy store near the aquarium.  While my kids attacked their candy, which I had lugged around in my purse for hours, and watched TV my husband and I sat out on our private patio overlooking the golf course and relaxed with a glass of wine.

The hotel room had a large footprint with a vaulted ceiling, mini fridge, skylight, large bathroom and closet, with an inviting window seat.  We never felt cramped and thanks to two comfy chairs and a table we did not have to sit on the bed for everything- as is the case in may hotel rooms.

The hotel staff were always friendly and helpful.  The hotel had a lot of amenities and lovely grounds to walk around.  We took advantage of the pool and bocce ball.  Since I had forgotten my sneakers I didn't get to use the gym, which looked first class as I passed it on the way to the pool.

I would whole heartedly recommend a stay at the Quail Lodge, especially if you are looking to spend quality time with your loved ones, including those of the four legged variety.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Disposable Society

I love The Awkward Yeti.  I have been frustrated with the state of our consumption for a while and his PSA below inspired me to write about it.

http://theawkwardyeti.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/PSA.png



We, as a society, are pushing recycling.  We all separate our garbage and tell our kids to protect the Earth and recycle.  But a midst this push to be green we have actually gone the opposite route.  Here are a few examples.

ALL Swifer products.  These are disposable replacements for cloths, brooms and mops that would last years.

Bottled water.  We do need portable water but use a reusable container.  If you don't have one keep refilling the water bottle. Only allow yourself 1 a day.  I have people in my office who use 5 a day and that is just at work!  Unconscionable.

Consumer goods- especially electronics.  We used to have the same TV, phone, stereo for years. Now they are designed with short lives and not meant to last.  My father in law just had to buy a new DVD player because the one he bought two years ago didn't have a new software update available and it wouldn't play the DVD's we bought him. Planned obsolescence.

Those are the first three that popped into my head as my fingers flew over the keyboard.  I am sure you can add numerous items.  Please do in the comments. I would love to hear them and get a dialogue going about this issue.

Please take a moment to honestly think about the products you are using and if there is a way you can cut back on your disposable out put.  We'll deal with Carbon footprints another day.

Here are a few things I do...

Reusable water bottle.

Broom, Rake (not a leaf blower), Mop. Small floor vacuum. Old t-shirts and orphaned socks for rags to clean and polish.  We also use a lot of baking soda and vinegar to clean with and keep reusing the same spray bottle.

Lights off when I leave the room.

Turn off my computer, monitor, printer, and shredder when I leave the office every day!

We use a power strip at home so I can turn off all the unnecessary items that will keep sucking power if we don't (DVD, video games, TV).  Unplug all chargers when you are done using them.

Large laundry loads in cold water.

Native, drought resistant plants in our yard.  Ground cover that doesn't need to be mowed or a lot of water. We've been happy with our red fescue and mondo grass.  Both have held up to the dogs and kids.

I print my manuscript on the back of used paper from work.  We also use that as scratch paper for the kids homework.

Happy Recycling! You'll feel better. You're kids will look up to you. I will thank you and so will the planet.

Kate


Friday, September 12, 2014

Characters






My characters really become such a part of me that I dream about them and think about them during the day.

I was driving to work after spending a few days living with a character that just presented himself. I needed a break from him, he had become all consuming, so I turned on the radio and heard the Arctic Monkeys song 'Do I wanna know?'.  There is a line in the song about dreaming about you every night and that there is a line about a tune that makes me think of you.  Well my character has a song and I had dreamed about him every night and here he was again.  This song was about him.

This character has become so pervasive that is is invasive.  I don't have a story for him.  I tried to listen to him and find his story but I don't really like it and yet I cannot shake him.

I generally have a story idea and discover the characters through the story or a situation and then the characters grow from there.  Then as they flow with the story I dream or think about them in context and it is not just one character who invades my mind.

How do you create your characters?  Are they story driven or do characters appear first and they drive the story?

Happy writing!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A mother's day- okay specifically my day


5:30 AM Wake up- argue with your body and mind that you really have to get out of bed
5:45 AM  Drag pathetic unwilling body into bathroom
6:09 AM  Wake daughter
6:10 AM  Wake son, then daughter again and then son again
I'm going to skip all the reminding children to pack stuff in back packs, me finally brushing my daughters hair after her two mediocre attempts, feeding dogs and leaving out treats and locking house and reminding my son his lunch box was still in his room.  This would be an entry for every minute and I am just too tired.
7:09 AM  Pull out of driveway 9 minutes late.
7:15 AM  Park in school parking lot.  Walk daughter to before school care, sign in, kiss good bye. She is the first one there.  She comments to staff she if always the first one there.  Heart pangs and guilt slams my chest. I am knitting my brow again.  Ugh.
7:19 AM Start driving to my son's school
7:25 AM  Drop my son of at the street that runs along the back of his school next to the crossing guard.  Tell him I love him and to have a good day.
7:26 -8:09 This is my time.  I listen to the news, music, sing and try not to worry about all the traffic and the idiot who just pulled into the lane to turn across the solid white line that I have been backed up in waiting to get through this intersection for three changes of the light.
8:10 AM I'm in my office and the rest of the day will not go as planned.  I have more work than I can complete and my assistant is late again today.  A co-worker also scheduled a meeting yesterday for today and said it was at 8:30.  I attended said meeting and it just kept going.  I left said meeting for my other scheduled meetings.  The meeting I ditched ran until 2:30 PM.  How do you schedule an all day meeting and not give anyone advanced notice of the meeting or it's intended length?  Amazing lack of planning and respect for the person holding the meeting and her co-workers.
5:40 PM I am finally in the elevator.  I am late but since my girlfriend picked my son up and took him to baseball practice I will just make it in time to pick up my daughter.
6:20 PM  At my daughter's school with time to spare.  I greet her, admire what she has made and ask her to pack her stuff.  She keeps talking and showing me what she made.  I again admire it and say we really have to go.  Another parent has arrived and left.  We are the last ones there. I again say we have to go and she finally starts packing her stuff.
6:30 PM  We are in the car heading home.
6:45 PM  Dogs are fed, lunch box empty and leftovers heating since I have to run out the door in a moment. I am already late but need my son to arrive home and eat before we can go.
6:50 PM  Daughter and I are almost done eating.  Son arrives home.  Say hi to mom who dropped him off and rush him inside.  Get his plate warmed up.  Practice was good. He has back to school night next week.
6:58 PM  Set daughter up with typing tutorial for homework and check on son who has now finished most of his dinner.
7:00 PM  I rush out the door for the mandatory meeting for my son's booster club activity.
7:02 PM  I check in with my husband.
7:10 PM  I have to park a block away from the school and start walking to the gym.
7:15 PM  I have to volunteer for three events.  I sign up for them and text my friend who I am signing up for activities too to see what she wants.  She is at her youngest's school open house.
7:40 PM  The orientation meeting is winding down and then I am told to make sure our son's have signed in as this meeting was mandatory for them.  I never understood kids were supposed to come and I even emailed the event coordinator and she said my kids MAY come.  That is not must come.  Oops.
7:50 PM Walking back to the car
8:01 PM  Home. Check my daughter's homework.  Look at what my son is working on.
8:15 PM  Take my daughter upstairs.  Read for 10 minutes before my son is up- he needs help with his homework.
8:28 PM After kissing my daughter goodnight I am helping my son with his homework.  I realize I have not put in the laundry but now it won't be done until later than I feel I can stay awake.  I can survive one more day.
9:22 PM My son is finally completed with his homework and understands the concepts not just the answers to the math problems- and yes I helped him with math.
9:28 PM  I am finished typing this up and I am going to make their lunches for tomorrow and go to bed!

I really wish I had time to read or write today but I am just bushed.  I wonder why?

I hope you don't feel like all your days are like this- all of mine are but they don't all feel like it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Wattpad



I have been checking out Wattpad for about a year now. I love some of the stories I have found and have started dialogues with a few interesting writers.

If you haven't heard of Wattpad you should check it out for yourself.  It is a place for authors to post stories or parts of stories and get feedback from their audience.  All of the work on Wattpad is free to read and their phone app is easy to use so I always have a story handy.  It is so important to follow the authors you like and vote (click on the box with the star on the top right) for their stories.  It helps the author gain other readers.  If you leave comments they can help the author grow and the story improve.  Please, if you join, take the time to do these things!

I have been concerned about putting my work out there because I believe that my work on Wattpad is considered published.  My first book I still want to publish on my own and put if for sale and I feel the same way about my second novel so I hadn't posted anything yet.

Lately I have been reading articles about authors who got published because of stories on Wattpad and that was the impetus for me to finally post a story.  I have added the link to the first chapter below.

http://www.wattpad.com/62543122-second-chances-camping-trip-yeah

I will be posting a chapter or more every Saturday.  If you follow me on Wattpad you will automatically be notified when the updates are posted.

Please follow me on Wattpad-  http://www.wattpad.com/user/KathrynThornton2 - and vote for the story.  I would love to read your comments if you have any.

Happy Writing!
Kathryn

It's All In Your Attitude





I thought this was great when I saw it....



I posted it to a few friends and was surprised at the consistent response from them of, "If only it was that easy!"

I think it is.  It is all in your attitude.  You decide how much or little something that happens to you is going to impact your life.    I am sure we all know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer or is facing a life threatening illness and it is the attitude that they have while battling these infirmities that makes all the difference in the world.  So I say to you, consciously choose to yell "plot twist" and tackle the new challenge with vigor, wonder and excitement and see where it leads you.   Somethings that you would never believe would actually work out for the best do.

Have fun, enjoy life, and happy writing.
Kate 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A small bit of humor

I have been insanely busy with work and none of it going well.  Today was literally one bad issue after another.  My whole day was swallowed up and consumed by employee issues.

The only bright spot in my day came from an unlikely place.  My assistant handed me an envelope from the EDD.  These are never good.  They are always time consuming work.  Most notices from the EDD are requests for unemployment from former employees and they contain the former employees statement as to why they no longer work for us.  Most of the time they are flat out lies.  Today I read the employee statement and bust out laughing.

"We did not see eye to eye on company policy."

No we didn't.  He failed his drug test and thought that we should allow him to keep working even though we have a zero tolerance policy.   We, in fact, do not see eye to eye on company policy.

I really needed that laugh today.
But it was short lived because now I have to spend at least an hour of my time responding to this claim.  I will complete the paperwork and then I will get a call from the agency and in the end I will win.  But I wasted an hour of my very valuable time.  If he had just told the truth and said he failed his drug test then I would not have to respond because they would have said right away you don't qualify for benefits.

I hope you are all having better weeks then I have had and wish you all a wonderful weekend.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

I'm obsessed

My husband and I recently celebrated our anniversary and for some reason I kept thinking about the first apartment we lived in.  Then out of the blue my neighbor from the apartment called and asked to drop in on us.

It was wonderful to see her and hear that she is thinking of moving back into the area.  We didn't discuss the old times or the apartment but when I woke up the next morning it was still there,  nagging at the recesses of my brain.

I am supposed to be editing my other two novels and had squirreled away time for this purpose but as I sat at my laptop I couldn't focus.  The apartment and all the characters we knew and the fun we had kept nagging at me.  Fine.  I will just quickly start writing something and then it will be out of my brain and I can come back to it later if there is anything there.

Seven thousand words later I was being asked what I was making for dinner.  Where had the time gone?  I prepared dinner thinking about this burgeoning story all the while.

Kids were finally in bed and I was back at the lap top.  Twelve thousand words and I have to go to bed.

Next day I am at work with the story running around in my brain the whole day.  At lunch I finally throw some notes on paper and try to stuff it away until I get home.

Kids are in bed and I am back at it.  All editing forgotten.  My new mistress is taking up all my time.  She is fun and creative and I am writing!  Not editing.  She had become all consuming.  I forced myself to bed with sixteen thousand words.

While driving to work I am making audio notes about the story.  I get to work and riding in the elevator I realized that I'm obsessed with this story.  It is like the beginning of a new relationship when you were in high school and that person was in every thought and any decision made had to do with seeing that person.  That is me now with this story.  I will spend the rest of my lunch writing down all the swirling thoughts and location descriptions and what ever else begs for my attention.

I have been in love with every single one of my stories and when I go back to the others once this one is more established they will be my current obsession but right now my old apartment beckons.

Happy Writing and Creating!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Confidence in Humanity Restored



I know this is a bit off the topic of writing but over the last few weeks I have had more issues at work with employees than fingers to count them on.  I was truly starting to loose faith in the whole lot of generations behind mine. (I know I can hear how old that sounds!)

Yesterday an employee approached me and asked if we could put his niece who is only 8 and dying with a brain tumor on our work boat as her last wish.  She wanted to see where her uncle, who has been like a dad to her, worked.

I work for an oil company and when you think oil workers you think tough, tattooed, prison records.  In most cases this is true.  I will also say that I love the guys I work with.  This has been the best four years of my working career.  Definitely never dull!

So these tough, tattooed, oil workers who have been making a lot of childish and bad decisions lately with in fighting and pranks and who have had me questioning society's fate did something magical today.




They made signs and hung them and then stood out on the deck and waived and cheered for an 8 year old girl they have never met and made her day.  They also gave her a hard hat with a lot of cool stickers and her name which she rocked.

My bosses were amazing and didn't blink an eye at us paying to charter a nice boat, not our crew boat, for the family to go out to the platforms on.  We all had to throw this together with only a half a day's notice since time is of the essence.

I called two charter companies and when I told them what I wanted to do both people I spoke with were so sweet and were willing to change schedules and reduce fees- all on their own I never asked.  My faith in humanity is fully restored.

Sadly we lost this brave young lady on Thursday.  My thoughts and prayers are with her family.

This strong, happy young lady and her family are in my prayers.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rewrites, rewrites and more rewrites


I have been rewriting the first 5 pages of my New Adult project for review and trying to incorporate some feedback I got on them already.

Every time I rewrite them they are completely different.  It is almost a different story.  They certainly have had a different tone each time.  I edit the rewrite and then when I think it is perfect I look at the original and like the original better but want to incorporate some of the new version.  Then I incorporate and edit and review and decide to rewrite it completely from scratch.

I rewrite and then edit and review and go back to the original and like the tone from the original better but some of the concepts and phrases in the new version are quite good.

This little scene continues to play out again and again and I still don't have the pages to show and have too many versions and I am so burnt out I can't look at them anymore with any objectivity, but I have a deadline so I must press on.

I am amazed at how differently I can write the same thing and that I cannot pick just one I am happy enough with to pass on.  This is new for me and while I thought completely rewriting it was a good way to go at first now I am not sure because I am more confused than ever.

Has anyone ever done this to themselves?  If so how'd you fix it?  Especially when you couldn't walk away and give yourself the benefit of time.

Thanks my friends.

Have a wonderful weekend.
Go California Chrome!
Happy writing!

Monday, June 2, 2014

So much # saturdayscenes, cbwla-writers day anthology

I am not a children's book writer but I love the Children's book writers of Los Angeles (CBW-LA)
Nutschell Windsor, AKA the writing nut http://www.thewritingnut.com/,  is amazing. She and Alana Garrigues did an amazing job running the writing day anthology for our second 'Story Sprouts' publication; due out end of September.

The anthology, this years and the one already available on Amazon in print and ebook, contains all the exercises that the group ran through to create their pieces.  The exercises are great and the book is a great resource for writers.

We wrote for ten exercises and not all ten will get published so I am going to use one of them as a #saturdayscence, started by John Ward.

In this writing exercise we had to find an object that had been placed around the room and write from the point of view of the object.

Enjoy and Happy Writing!

#Saturdayscenes

Alamar’s Purpose
Alamar’s eyes adjusted to the bright florescent lights.  He was finally out of that horrible plastic bag but where was he now?  He missed Amy’s room.  She had packed him and his friends into a plastic bag weeks ago and today the bag had taken a journey somewhere.
There were a lot of pinging noises, garbled voices over a speaker, and adult voices.  He was hoping for kids.  Alamar wanted to be played with again, like Amy used to.
He was grasped by a large adult hand, Alamar was diminutive for a teddy bear, better suited to a small child.  His spirits rose as the hand turned him around Alamar saw rows of beds and children.  Why had he not heard them?  The adult held his friend Gavine in his other hand.  They were both held out for inspection by a little boy lying in his bed.  It was a strange bed.  The top raised up and it had bars on the sides.  The boy pointed to Gavine and the man placed him in the boy’s hand.
Alamar was placed next to a sleeping girl.  She was young.  That was good.  Alamar noticed a lot of wires and tubes attached to the girl that was unusual.

Alamar was squeezed tightly.  What was happening?  The girl grasped him in an iron fist as the nurse searched for a new place to put the needle.  This pain was not what Alamar wanted he wanted to be played with again.  Have tea parties.  Then he felt the wet tears as he was pressed to the girls cheek.  This was better than a tea party, he was helping her.  He could feel it.  He sent out all the love he could.   This was where he was meant to be.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Happiness is Writing





I wrote! I wrote!
My heart is happy,
my soul is light.
My eyes and hands are tired,
so I must say goodnight.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Editing questions

Hello my friends,

I am stuck.  I have been ignoring other tasks to focus on editing my two manuscripts and unfortunately I am not getting anywhere with the edits; except maybe burnt out.

I would love any advice you can give on how you edit and what works best for you.

I am at the point now where I am thinking of writing up a summary of each chapter and just writing the whole thing from scratch using the summary as a guideline.  I could then go back and pick and choose the best from each version and combine it into the new and improved manuscript.  Does that sound crazy?  It sounds like a lot of work but the writing is the fun part and I am missing the fun so I thought if I just wrote it again I would enjoy it and maybe the editing would go faster.

I am obviously grasping at straws here.  Please help!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Really?

 Natural Tree Stump Side Table




Natural Tree Stump Side Table


$199

Seriously! Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy? 

I have had a crazy week. My pay the mortgage job has seen some crazy things this week so I wanted to take a break from the nuts and thought I should shop for a new patio umbrella since the insanely high winds broke ours.  Instead of an umbrella I found a block of wood for $200!  I can get a cord of wood for that price and that is delivered.  I am sure this one costs a lot more to ship.  This is the equivalent of milk crates and cinder blocks for home decorating, yet it is not cheap which was the appeal of the other two.

People at work made some idiotic choices this week leaving me wondering about the validity of a comment I made to a supervisor.  He did not want to follow the law and report the issue.  He said if we do the person who did this can go to jail.  I had not thought of that but even with that in mind I responded, "These are adults, not 2 year olds, they understand that their actions come with consequences."

Do they really?  Are these the generations of kids who got trophies for every team they played on and had time outs or no restrictions at all?  Maybe they have absolutely no idea about repercussions for bad decisions because they were never allowed to make mistakes or forced to clean up their own mess afterwards.

My lovely daughter is 8 and she has friends whose parents are shocked when I make her clean up and rinse her plate after dinner or ask her to help with dinner prep.  They are even more shocked when they find out she makes her own breakfast and occasionally her own lunch.  But why is that shocking?   They think it is because I work so my poor daughter has to fend for herself.   I had a stay at home mom and I learned how to make my own lunch and breakfast and helped prep meals.  I never had to clean up afterwards because no one can live up to my mother's cleanliness standards.

Is asking your kids to clear their dinner plate from the table and rinse it in the sink crazy or is it preparing them for life?

Do these people I work with get the severity of the mistake they made?  If they don't now they will soon.  If they somehow get away with it this time will they learn or keep behaving the same way?

Are the people buying $200 tree stumps the ones with huge credit card debt who file bankruptcy and have no money in savings?  I'm betting yes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mother's Day

My daughter made me a lovely mother's day present at school today.  I opened the rolled up paper and started to read the answers she had filled in about why I am a wonderful mother.

Should I be upset that the first two answers were not actually about me?  I read to my daughter every night and the first answer she wrote was that I she loved when I read her a story I have never heard of.  Oops that was a staff in aftercare.

I hid my bruised ego and read the next item; which turned out to be a continuation of item number one and about the same staff.  Bruised ego tamped down again.  I hopefully read the next item, Yeah! it was actually about me.

There was a craft at aftercare today that my son could have participated in but it was art and jewelry and he's a big fifth grade boy.  I'm sure he appreciates everything everything I do for him; he expresses as much every time he says, "come on mom" or the whinny "mom".  I feel the love.

My daughter has to learn a poem every week and this week's poem ended with a line about helping my mom all year.  When I asked her if she meant that she laughed.  She then said she helps all the time but couldn't think of a time.

I am sure that I was the same or worse about appreciating my mom; so I want to say Happy mother's day and thank you for everything that you did to my mom.  For everyone out there that has taken the time to mentor and help a child, happy mother's day to you.

If my family is reading this, all I want for mother's day is three hours to work on my novel.  Thank you.

Happy writing!

Monday, May 5, 2014

#saturdayscenes








One of the many incredible writers I have met along my journey is +John Ward .  He is the moderator of the Google+ communities 'Writer's Discussion Group' which is 18,000+ strong.  I picked that group to join because it had a very active group of regulars, one of whom is John Ward.  I am amazed John has time to do anything else with how active he is as the groups co-moderator.
But somehow, in his plethora of spare time he came up with a brilliant idea.  He created a hashtag for writers called #saturdayscenes.  

Saturday May 3 was the inaugural roll out of #SaturdayScenes.  I was not able to post but there were some great pieces posted that I enjoyed discovering.

So if you are a writer who wants to post a scene from your work, published or not or a scene you are looking for comments on post it with #SaturdayScenes and participate.

If you are looking for a few quick reads type #Saturdayscenes to find some great scenes to peruse and enjoy.  It is always helpful to leave comments for the writer.  We love all the feedback we can get :) 

I look forward to seeing your work up there!

Happy Writing!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ahhhh

I am decompressing from the A to Z challenge today and taking the day off since it is my husband's birthday and I have to spend time with him.

Happy writing and relaxing!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zeroing in

Zeroing in on one issue at a time helps me through my editing.  I notice that I have a problem with tense so I read my whole manuscript looking for tense issues and then I read the whole thing to correct point of view issues, etc.  

I zeroed in on weakness, multi-tasking and found that my strength is I work best when I focus on one thing at a time.

Right now I am going to zero in on a glass of Zinfandel to celebrate finishing up the A to Z blog!

Congratulations to us all!  I hope to see you all throughout the year and doing this again next April.  This is my second one and it did get easier but it is still a lot of work and an accomplishment you should be proud of.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for yWriter

When I first started writing I sat with a notebook and paper.  Then after having to transcribe my scribbles and try and fit things into the already full note page I began writing directly in Word.

I had 30,000 words of my novel in there and it was working great.  I used heading, titles and subtitles for chapters and scenes and named them with descriptions of the action taking place so I could find what I was looking for.  It was working out quite well.  I had a separate document for my locations and one for my characters and one for my timeline.  I would have to open all these documents every time I was working and toggle between them as necessary.

I was talking with another writer about my timeline issues and then mentioned I wish I could remember what scenes I felt were complete and which were still in an early draft or second draft or final edit status. That is when she explained to me that there is software for writing and I could purchase Scrivner, which was not that great in her opinion and as the only writer I knew I was taking her opinion as gold, or yWriter, which was her preference.

yWriter is free to download and it was written by an actual published author Simon Haynes, Hal Spacejock series.  Here is his website: http://www.spacejock.com.au/  Simon is an author who happens to be a programmer so both sides of his mind work equally well. (I am a not so lucky or well balanced, I am very right brained.)

I downloaded the program and voila I now had a place to keep all my work for my novel(s).  I could easily click on the character tab and review their bios, click on the location tab and look at the descriptions and scenes in which that location is used.  But for me at the time the piece de resistance was that I could label the scene status as outline, draft, 1st and 2nd edit and done!  I could also put in the scenes point of view, upload photos, drag and drop scenes where I wanted them, insert scenes, and so much more I haven't even figured out yet.

I thought I was doing fine with Word until I realized how much better I could be with yWriter.  I went back and paid for the software- he does allow you to make a donation and I thought it was definitely worth what I would have paid for another software.

I go to cnet for any advice about computers or phones so here is their review for yWriter.

http://download.cnet.com/yWriter-5/3000-2079_4-77524.html

 I am very happy with the organization I have with the program.  I have six projects in it and can flip between them and no glitches so far.   I make sure that I download my entire project, very easy to do each night to the cloud or a thumb drive just to be safe.

If you are in need of a great way to keep your writing organized and to help you spend less time trying to keep together all the bits and pieces of your novel (character bios, inspirational photos, location details, notes for scenes, etc.) so you can spend more time actually writing then this software is your answer.  I hope you find it as helpful as I have.

Thank you Simon Haynes.

Happy writing!



Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for X-factor

The X-factor is that something that makes you special and different.  This (X) is the reason that an agent or publisher should sign you, why a consumer should buy your book.  Your uniqueness.

This X-factor is also something you need to discuss in your query letter.  But what is it?

To figure out what makes you special you have to be well read in your genre and find what makes your work and what makes you different from the rest and what makes you sale-able?

Make a list of your best qualities focusing on what makes your writing different and then one for what makes you different; both aspects are important because you are a packaged deal.  Make a list of all your best qualities that you think would appeal to an editor, agent or publisher and then use these attributes to your advantage when you market yourself and your work in your query letter.

If you have a hard time coming up with items ask your friends and your writing group what they think your best qualities are or for some adjectives they would use to describe you.  They may come up with items you would not.

Good luck and happy writing!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Writing Groups

When I started writing I was under the impression that it was a lonely business, you know a la Earnest Hemingway, Salinger, Harper Lee, Dickinson, I was happily surprised when I realized that you cannot become a writer without a great writing group or groups supporting you.  I have joined two writing associations and two writing groups and have learned so much from each of them.

One of the writing groups I belong to is a children's writing group- I don't write children's books but the woman who runs the group runs wonderfully informative and helpful training sessions.

I met another writer on G+ who recommended that I join the Romance Writers group because where he lives that is the group that has the best meetings and he has great praise for his local branch.

Don't limit yourself to writing groups that are only the genre you write, it is great to work with authors in your genre but if there is another group in your area that is not your genre don't rule them out just because of that.

Take the time to thank your writing partners and be an active participant in your local writing associations.

Happy writing!

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Voice

When I started writing I had visions of what my voice would be like; something like the examples below.

“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I'm going to tell it - but take care not to smile at any part of it.” 
― Emily BrontëWuthering Heights

 Everything about her was at once vigorous and exquisite, at once strong and fine. He had a confused sense that she must have cost a great deal to make, that a great many dull and ugly people must, in some mysterious way, have been sacrificed to produce her. He was aware that the qualities distinguishing her from the herd of her sex were chiefly external: as though a fine glaze of beauty and fastidiousness had been applied to vulgar clay. Yet the analogy left him unsatisfied, for a coarse texture will not take a high finish; and was it not possible that the material was fine, but that circumstance had fashioned it into a futile shape? - Edith Wharton, House of Mirth

Sadly, that is not my voice.  My voice is short sentences, plain, simple English with very little flowery prose.  Not what I wanted my voice to be so I tried to write emulating the great writers that I admired.  Forcing my voice to be what it was not made writing a chore and my work hard to read.

I learned to embrace my voice, which has been compared to that of Nicholas Sparks, and am much better off for it.    

I hope you have all found and embraced your voice.

Happy writing!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Underestimated

It turns out I am the queen of underestimating how long a task will take.  Even if I believe that I can get something accomplished in an hour or a day I will pad it a bit and then somehow I still don't meet the deadline.

If you've been following along you know I am behind on my manuscript because I promised it and forgot that we had a month of blogging.  Then I entered a pitch contest with my other manuscript and then I was tasked with reading like authors and have been trying to do that as well.  Grossly underestimating how long all these tasks would take.

I ran into my poor judgement of time today when I sat down and set out what I was going to accomplish for the day.  There were six items on my list that seemed completely doable.  Until a completely unexpected person showed up and I had to work on helping him.  Then one item, that I thought would be easy, sucked up a ton of time today and with no real results.  The day went on like that and sadly I did not remove any items from my list.  So tomorrow I will be a day behind and will have another six or more items to add to my list.

So as I type this my husband just threw in the curve ball. I have to stay home for him tomorrow morning to help our neighbors, since he promised he would but had the wrong week so now I have to be late to work.  This is why I end up working nights and weekends to meet deadlines.

I hope you too are not afflicted with my horrible misjudgment of time.

I do know that we are near the end, only 5 days left.  Good luck to us all.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for THINK

Think before you speak.  We have all heard that phrase but I want to share a clever twist on it with you.

T- True
H - Helpful or encouraging
I - Inspiring
N - Necessary
K - Kind

Believe me there are lots of times I have to bite my tongue to give myself time to put this THINK before I speak into action but it is worth it.  I especially find N tough but have found that holding back my opinions that do not matter have made a big difference in being helpful and not hurtful with my responses.  I may not like your choice or your shoes or whatever but unless my telling you is going to save your life, stop you from losing your job or money, hurting someone else, etc., then my telling that person is only going to hurt them so unless my feedback is Necessary I will keep it to myself.

I hope you find this breakdown of the word think into a meaningful acronym as helpful as I do.



Since there is a good chance that my visitors may not visit on the final day, which is fast approaching, I thought I would take this time to say "Thank you" to everyone who has visited and all my followers.   I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to comment and to follow my blog.  Thanks!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Set-backs

Sadly, I am behind my self imposed deadline of getting my manuscript completed and off to the person who offered to review it.

Being in a car accident and losing time to that has been a set-back, family commitments and even being in a pitch contest and in the A to Z blog, while positives I am happy about, have been set-backs to working on my manuscript.

One of my set backs was me.  I didn't realize it but I started editing two different drafts of my manuscript and did a couple of chapters more than once, while they seemed familiar I have read my own manuscript many times.  This problem is due to not having a dedicated work space and moving myself from room to room.  I had one copy of my manuscript in one room and another in the other room and thought they were the same copy.  Oops.

For all the set backs we encounter.  There is always the opportunity to overcome.  As I make inroads and pass mile markers I love the feeling of accomplishment.  I know what my final goal is but I set small ones along the way so as I fall behind I can still make accomplishments and the overall goal does not seem insurmountable.

Yes I am behind; but I only have a couple of chapters left to go and I have managed to keep up with my A to Z blogging, I entered and was accepted into a pitch contest and have been trying like mad to read like authors and I have a few books under my belt now since this started.  Overall I have accomplished a lot but I certainly can't wait to have fewer things on my plate.

Set backs happen but they can only derail you from your goal if you allow it.  Keep going.  The fun is in the journey.

Happy writing!

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rest

  I have so many pressing responsibilities but study after study has shown that if we do not get the proper amount of sleep our brain and body suffers.  Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, stress, simple mistakes, and trouble focusing, to name a few.

I know when I am on a role and my characters are making choices that have to be documented I will lose sleep to get the story written.  When I do this, I notice that I suffer throughout the week for the hours that I stayed up.  You really can't catch up on your sleep.

Rest is not just sleep but taking time for yourself when you need it.  Listen to your body and mind.  If you cannot write another word- don't.  Take a break, go for a walk, meditate, read, then come back when you are ready.

Sometimes you just need to take a rest from that particular story.  Work on your blog, work on another story and then come back to the current one when you are ready.  I find that pushing myself to keep working on one story when another one is calling me or when I have hit a road block with the one I am on is detrimental to putting out my best work.

As we continue to work tirelessly through the alphabet haven't you noticed how much you look forward to the rest day?  I know I do and that our my minds and bodies telling us how important a break is for our creativity and well being.

Happy writing!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Q is for Question

Looking  for the Like a Virgin Blog Hop please scroll down to the post below this one.  Thanks.


Q was going to be for query but since I changed P to pitch, which is a key part of your query I thought I would go with a less repetitive post.  So Q is for Question.

A lot of books that I like, including the one I am currently unable to put down, Tom Perrotta's The Leftovers started with a 'what if' question.  What if.. half the people on the planet just vanished, what if super heroes had to go into hiding?  Let your mind wander and embrace these wacky trains of thought you never know where they might lead you.

I was asked by a fellow author if I had questioned if my story would work better in the first person point of view, instead of the third person.  I thought she was nuts to suggest changing how it was written, especially when I was already 50k words into it, but taking her advice seriously and running the exercise proved to be an incredible help to my story.  Sometimes we are so close to what we are doing we don't question the basics and these things we take for granted may be exactly what we need to change to let your work soar.

Ask your beta readers and writers specific questions.  Don't just ask what do you think?  You know where your concerns are and unless you ask very specific questions you won't get the answers you need.  Is the pacing okay?  Are the main characters names too similar or hard to pronounce?
What do you think motivated my main character to leave her true love?  You get the point.

Happy Writing!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting to Know You Blog Hop- Like a Virgin Pitch Contest


Welcome to my list of firsts. 

It was an interesting list of items.  I hope you enjoy your stroll through my memory lane.



Q  How do I remember my first kiss?

A  My very first kiss was not the one you are envisioning, it was in third grade, behind a tree with lots of nosy classmates peering on, with a boy named Timmy.  Timmy was not gross, but he was not the person I wanted to kiss, that was Doug, who loved to eat Crayola crayons, especially the grey ones.  It was a quick chaste affair with Timmy quickly wiping his lips on his sleeve and me blushing profusely and running away.  (As an adult it seems I have who was gross confused doesn't it?)

My real first kiss, the one where I anticipated and hoped and fretted, was awkward and sweet followed by sweaty hand holding in the movie theatre and an astounding sense of relief that our braces hadn't stuck together.


Q What was my first favorite love song?

A My first favorite love song was 'Your Song' by Elton John, now Sir Elton John.   The imagery in the song and the desires we all have to be our best and express ourselves the best we can made it a favorite.  I had it on my Walkman for all the family trips in the station wagon.


What is the first thing I do when I begin writing for the day?
 
A  Sadly, I don't get to begin writing until the day is practically over.  I have a lovely bill paying full-time job, have to feed the family, assist with homework, clean the kitchen and then put the kids to bed.  I then grab my laptop and begin work.  Nothing fancy, no music, just a nice quiet spot and my laptop.


Q Who was the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?
  The Neverending Story
A This is the biggie for all of us and I really cannot point to one person.  I read the scene in Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh, where Harriet was trying to be an onion for the school play and identified so intensely with Harriet and could picture it so perfectly (I was actually upset the book had drawings of it because it was so clear in my mind.) that it is still ingrained in my mind today, many, many, years later. That is a testament to the connection I felt.  She was the first female lead character that I could relate to.  All writers have a special relationship with notebooks just as Harriet did, right?

As soon as I finished 'Harriet the Spy' my best friend Jenny returned home from visiting family in Germany and brought with her a hardback book in a very plain red woven cover.  The plain cover masked the amazing, incredible work within.  I had never before seen a book printed in colored ink.  I had never before seen such intricate designs for the first letter of the chapter, but wait there was text in another color!  The book was written in green and red ink and each chapter started with the letters of the alphabet in order with a beautifully drawn picture that gave you a clue to the wonders that the chapter held.  I have not seen this book, 'The Never Ending Story', by Michale Ende, since 1980 but I can recall it as vividly as if I was holding it now.  It was also a wonderful journey with imagination and a made up land, which was the first I had encountered. The sheer imagination and care that went into making the book was elevated far above anything I had ever seen.  Aside from the Griffin and Sabine books one I have not seen again.  [Footnote- I feel compelled to say do not judge the book by the horrid movie they made of it.  The book was, as almost always so much better.]


Q Did the final revision of my first book have the same first chapter it started with?

A No, the current revision of my first manuscript has a different chapter than I started with and with further editing that may change again.

Q For my first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

A Plot came first.
image
Q What's the first word I want to roll off the tip of someone's tongue when they think of my writing?

A Engaging.

Thanks for visiting.
Happy writing!



P is for Pitch

Welcome to the letter P.  I was originally going to talk about Platform today but I had some very welcome news that my pitch for my New Adult genre novel, working title Kate's Quest, was included in the Like a Virgin Pitch Contest.  Which is what the blog post just above this one is for, they are doing a blog hop for the contestants.

Since I have pitches on my mind and we all know how important they are I thought I would post the pitch I have been working on for the manuscript, Finding Life, we have been discussing throughout this A to Z blog journey.

I truly want any feedback you can give and it does not have to be positive if it is not warranted.  I have thick skin and value honest feedback.  
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For three years widow Lilly Steadman has focused solely on her two children.  Her husband may have died that day but it was Lilly who lost her life.
Rock star,Taylor Radcliffe will do anything to be famous again, even if that means being clean and sober.  Dating Lilly was a lark until she became his muse; who unfortunately came with unwanted, tiresome baggage.  Whenever she abandons him for her responsibilities he gets into trouble.  He convinces Lilly to move her family to London so he can continue his rise to fame.
Lilly connects with her children, discovers life and who Taylor really is in London.  Family man and Taylor’s best mate, Nick Schuster becomes her only friend and confidant.  Lilly tries to keep Neil out of their problems but with no one else to turn to he becomes enmeshed in Lilly’s struggles, if only for selfish reasons of his own.

Thank you for any help you can offer.  I look forward to your comments.

Happy writing!

O is for Opportunity

Everyone knows the saying about opportunity only knocking once, so why do so many people leave it on their doorstep?

I must have a knack for it but somehow I have picked four blogs from the A to Z list in a row to visit and found that they had signed up and were not participating. The last entry on one blog was from 2013.  This is an opportunity that is being squandered.  I visited as I am sure many others have and instead of gaining followers they are creating a really bad first impression.

I happened across a pitch contest one night and the deadline to enter was at 6 AM the next morning.  I was excited that I had found the contest, yes I would have liked more time but I hadn't missed it altogether.  I worked on a pitch for hours and submitted it.  I found out that I am one of the fifty pitches that will be reviewed by professionals authors and agents.  Yeah!  There is a blog hop which will introduce me to more authors and agents.  Even if I don't win I have already gained the opportunity to meet more writers and agents and if my pitch is good maybe even more opportunities will come out of the contest.  I am much better off than if I had said, "Too bad I didn't see this sooner; maybe next year."

Sadly this is the attitude I see so many people take.  I can't tell you how many times I have approached people with opportunities and they have said things like, "I'm not ready now, that sounds amazing but..., I'll look into this."  I had an offer of a free twenty minute session with the Book Doctors and extended it to my writing group and not one of them took me up on it.  Twenty minutes to discuss anything you want about publishing, your pitch, agents, platform, etc. with two industry professionals and they left that opportunity sitting on the doorstep!

Life is happening now.  Seize the opportunities.  The universe was nice enough to present you with a gift but you are taking it and throwing it, unopened into the garbage.

That's just my two cents, you can of course choose to ignore it; but then you will be no better off than you are now.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Novice Novelist

That is me, a novice novelist, a newbie.  Like any other new undertaking I started with loads of enthusiasm and research.  However with this undertaking, unlike any other, everyone I have come into contact with was helpful.  Not reluctantly helpful but happily helpful.

I have learned so much thanks to the assistance of others and I know I will be relying on the assistance of others as I try to decide my path forward with my maiden manuscript.  Agent or no, traditional publishing, indie or self?

I think this processes is going so slowly for me not only because I am new to it but because it is my first novel.  My first baby that I am putting out into the world and you can only be a first time author once.  For that reason I want to make the best decisions possible and am weighing all options for my introduction to the world as an author.

I would love to hear what other authors have learned along the way, any advice that they wish they had know before they published their book.

Thanks for the support.

Happy Writing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Manuscript

 If you started following my blog after theme reveal day in March you are unaware that my theme was tossed out the window by some wonderful news (which caused me great elation, which I quickly tempered with realism) that there is a person, a professional in the writing world, who is willing to review my manuscript and if he judged it worthy, he would pass it on to an agent, who would only look at me thanks to his say so; so after that extremely long sentence, if you are still with me... I felt it was time for a manuscript update.

I set, what I thought to be a completely realistic goal of, a month to get back to him, however I forgot that I was compelled to complete a blog a day so a month really is not realistic in April, any other month yes.  I could not drop my second A-Z because I really need to have a platform for when the agent sees my manuscript and wants to check me out.  Of course you know the more followers I have the better it will look to the agent so I am hoping and praying for an A to Z miracle and adding at least 100 new followers in this month, slow going so far I must confess but there is still time. (Hint, hint, nudge nudge, wink wink ;) Just click on the little follow link to the right please.)

I have also been reading other novels like crazy.  My pitch for my manuscript was compared to works by Nick Hornby so I have been reading two of his books and one by Tom Perrotta (a fellow New Englander) as he came up as similar to Nick Hornby. [You can visit my previous post about comparison authors http://katloveswriting.blogspot.com/2014/04/c-is-for-comparison.html for more information.]   I have to stop and say I am in love with the concept behind 'The Leftovers' by Perrotta and while I have only made it 80 pages in I would recommend picking up a copy.

So with all these tasks demanding to be completed simultaneously I am only half way through the re-read and edit of my manuscript.  I have tense issues, a lot of tense issues.  I am working them out but every time I start reading my work I think it is not that great. Other writers are much better wordsmiths, they show don't tell, I am at a third grade level while they have achieved, what, if I remember my Aristotle correctly, would be called a wholeness or the thinghood of their writing.  It is the true form that we are striving towards, the central core of the item that brings it to be recognized for what it is, literature.

Then I pick up one of the 10 books I bought or borrowed from the library as comparison books and realize I am not a third grader I am writing the way I expect my characters would speak.  I am writing a book that is comprised of my writing style, shorter sentences (wouldn't guess it from this post would you!), dialogue and the human experience, for my main character in this manuscript that contains some second guessing and self-doubt.  My work is comparable to the work I am seeing here in published books.  So I am pushing on and hope and pray that I will achieve my goal and finish this manuscript by week end (notice the wiggle room I left there, could be Friday could be Sunday).

Happy Writing!

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Libraries

Welcome to National Library Week!

When I was young I needed a library to complete any of my school work.  Without the resources of my local library I could not have found the information needed to complete any reports or research projects.

Now the internet replaces research trips to the library for most of the school work we are doing.  We do still need to go to the library for some book reports but we mostly go for fun.  Our library is very family friendly and has a wonderful selection of books.  We each leave with at least five books when we go, we also rent music and movies from the library as well.  Our library also has copies of all the major newspapers and magazines.  We can also rent e-books and audio books electronically.

Our local library also supplies wonderful study rooms, hosts craft projects, teen groups and informative lecture and music series.

We are not only patrons of the library but supporters through donations of gently used books, purchasing used books at their monthly sales and of course donations of our time and money.

For many people a library is the only place they have to get school work done, to find books, to have a safe warm place to spend their time.

Visit and support your local library.  Instill a love of the library in your children.  The library gives so much to so many.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Keeping in Touch


Keeping in touch with your audience, followers and other authors is:

  • essential
  • fun
  • wonderful
  • helpful
  • interesting
  • educational
I love the people I have come to know electronically and the people I have met in person through my writing.  I have learned so much and been aided in my quest by the wonderful people who take the time to visit and comment.  I hope that I have given back more than I have received.  

I recognize that we are all pressed for time and it is hard to keep up on all the social media and to respond to every post and comment but it is time well spent.  I have set aside time during lunch to catch up and visit with my wonderful social connections and my writing group. 

What works for you?  

Thanks for visiting and enjoy your weekend.  I am most likely doing something that involves baseball with my son.

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Journey




“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 

Before I left for college my mother gave me a poem, which I sadly I have not been able to find again, about life being a journey not the final destination.

I had spent the four years of high school working towards the goal of getting into college.  Now I was prepared to spend four years so I could be an adult.  I was so focused on the goal of college I missed out on the here and now and my astute mother was afraid I would do the same thing for the next four years.  Instead of a lecture she gave me a wonderful poem about the train ride and enjoying all the stops along the way.  This poem was on my desk for all of college and was a wonderful reminder of my mother's love and to enjoy the moment.

The journey of writing has been so much fun, and as Hemingway said, I have a destination in mind but I am really enjoying the trip.

I hope everyone takes a moment to reflect on this and make sure they are enjoying the trip and not too focused on an end result to miss the fun of getting there.

Thanks for spending a few moments here, I hope you enjoyed them.