Saturday, December 29, 2012

# 30 Numbers And Words

I've a dear writer friend who makes vows every now and then in regards to the number of words she will write per day/week/month/year. She tries, but she doesn't make it most times. During those times, she changes the numbers she's going to shoot for. And then has trouble reaching that amount.

I know some folks just finished the world-wide November writing challenge. I tried it once and gave up. Mostly because I was writing drivel. At the time, I could sit and write oodles and make the 40,000 (I think that's the number of words for the month) with ease. I decided the idea was a good one, just not for me. I had to get back to the novel I was writing at the time (which I did finish with over 500,000 words!)

Now about this last year, what with the illness draining all creativity from me on too many days, I couldn't make 40,000 in a month if I'd tried. Just wasn't possible, physically, spiritually, etc. etc. etc etc.

I haven't been posting here for a few days because the new story, 'The Other Side,' hasn't been letting me sleep much. I am up a couple times a night writing, thinking, and researching. Driving me crazy, is what it's doing.

The last two days I've written over two thousand words. Now, two thousand doesn't seem like much in the scope of things -- but -- in the midst of it all, I researched Naval officers rankings, hurricane paths, and names. 

The challenge to sit and write with this page staring back at me, sticking its tongue out at me, laughing at me, has been difficult. As I said when I first started writing this adult book, I have no idea exactly where it's leading. It's one of those stepping out in faith things. I find that frightening.

One thing I'd like to remember about this process of the last few days, though some folk would kill to write over two thousand words in two days, it's not as much as I used to write. However, given the fact that I don't know where 'Other' is going, I'm pretty happy about the results so far. Honestly, I'm still not sure if it's going to be a novel or a novella. The Muse knows but is laughing behind my back. I can feel her.

So what I'm trying to say in way too many words -- I won't worry about the number of words added to the story today. I'll plug along and let the story come to me and write whatever words the Muse gives me. (She doesn't count research, silly Muse!)

Life is wordy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

# 29 Don't Worry: Be Happy

Listening to the Nutcracker on PBS yesterday. It was one of those educational programs that talked about what was happening during the creation of the piece by Tchaikovsky. Seems the first performance, it was panned by critics. Oh my goodness! I can't even imagine Tchaikovsky being critiqued. Can you??? The critiques were not good. In fact, Tchaikovsky seemed to be used to having his works torn apart. Some of the words used in the critiques were: insipid, ponderous, confusing. Here's a link to an actual performance.

Now that I've got that out there, do you see where I'm heading with this? 

My editor stopped over the other day and we discussed 'Blue.' Nothing detailed. However, my editor bemoaned the fact that she has two books with her publisher that are languishing. She is frustrated. She was also critiqued at a recent SCBW conference and that, according to her, did not go well.

*deep breath*

Once again, I am learning to tell myself that I must be true to me. Don't worry about the book or what people say, but be happy with the creative process. If it's good, like the Nutcracker, it will burst forth and bear much fruit. I believe it is good.

Now onto another related moment -- James Patterson, author of the Alex Cross series among others, submitted his first book, The Thomas Berryman Number, to thirty-one publishers before it was accepted. He's sold over 260 MILLION copies of his books worldwide.

This link is for the downtrodden. It's a hoot. Please go to it to make your day, so to speak. 50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected.

Don't get discouraged. William Saroyan had his first short story rejected SEVEN THOUSAND TIMES before it was published and Louisa May Alcott was told to stick to teaching. And Madeline L'Engle, one of my favorite authors, had her classic, A Wrinkle In Time, rejected TWENTY-SIX times! 'Gone With The Wind' -- was rejected THIRTY-EIGHT times!

Honestly, dear friends and fellow writers.... let us make a pact today NOT TO BE DISCOURAGED. I will forge ahead. I will keep putting my manuscripts out there. I will be published. 

Say it after me: I will be published.

Life is awesome. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, God bless!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

All kinds of blessing during this holiday season. I might not know all the names of the holidays celebrated by you, my dear readers, but know I wish you only the best and brightest time, filled with peace and joy.

And a New Year filled with published works!

I got a pen. A real pen with ink and directions :) And Hobbit stuff.

Life is good.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

# 28 Creative Incense

When I was in New Zealand and around a truckload of creative people, my mind kept screaming at me to write, to create, to live. It was an awesome experience. 

A friend of mine often goes to the Museum of Art, plunks herself down in one of the exhibit rooms, and sucks in all the creativity that went into the paintings in the room.

When I go to a service and there is incense, I breathe it in DEEPLY and put some in my pockets and rejoice in the blessings that flow from it.

Well, I don't remember these things. I don't pay attention to what life is telling me. I want to shake myself (is that even possible?)

It dawned upon me tonight, as I was busy preparing to work on Ch. 3 of 'The Other Side,' that listening to music is the same thing. I'm listening to the creative juices of the author of the piece, the band, the singers, the technicians who make the musicians' music come across the net to me, and the radio station that puts it out. 

Creative juices, incense, music, life -- I vow I will remember. When I listen to others' work, when I see others' art, when I share my story or hear anothers' story, I'm sucking in their creative juices. The Muse loves creative juices. They are like blood to her. It flows through her and out into me.

Listening to Pandora, my Randy Newman channel, and finishing Chapter Three of 'Other.' I don't have a clue as to where this is going but the story is so strong in me that I know it must be written. I think I might work on (don't gasp) an outline for this one. A minimal outline, at least.

Once again, the Muse comes through. I now know where my character is. And that's a very good thing. Chapter Three's been hard to write. I've spent the night listening to music, writing, watching some tv, writing, playing solitaire, and writing. At least I'm tenacious. And that led to the chapter being finally finished. A good feeling. 

Tomorrow's going to be full of Christmas dinner-y stuffy. Kids coming over. Another really good feeling. I'm ready. The house is ready. The food is ready for the next step. 

Life is creativity squared.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Battling Bugs

I've been assailed by bugs for the last couple weeks. First it was a nose bug. I think it was the real flu. Achy and such and nose running and coughing. :(

Then I got a GI bug. Shees! I'm tired of this. The whole family got it. Not nice to share bugs.

Today - the end of the world is happening. Well, it sounds like it. The Mayans were off a day. The wind is phenomenal. I swear my front window is going to shatter. It's being buffeted at a horrid rate.

I'm in the midst of planning for Sunday dinner at my house. I wanted to have an awesome lamb or venison meal. Reality hit. I don't have the strength YET for this, but I will - next year - you wait and see!!!

This time, I made a meal plan. I've never done that before. It really is an awesome concept. Cheezy creamy broccoli soup. Ham. Mashed Potatoes. Apple glazed carrots. My daughter's bringing dessert. Oh. And Barefoot makes an awesome new wine. Bubbly. It's called Refresh. I love the crisp white. We'll have mimosas maybe. I know they're for breakfast, but what the heck.

Christmas morning will be brunch here. I've got a neat breakfast casserole that I'll be making. Along with cinnamon rolls. And more mimosas.

I've spent a little time writing, but not as much as I'd wanted to. I'm working on 'The Other Side.' I'm going to present chapters one and three (also a bit of chapter two) to the Skyline group in January. I'm happy with it. Chapter Two is controversial. I'll only present the 'safe' stuff and ask the group if they are ok with reading something outside their comfort zone.

I wasn't sure where this story was going, but tonight, I sat down and forced myself to write. Well, that always works. The thoughts come and surprise me. I do so love that. Great Christmas present.

Well, I'm off to bed. The winds seem to have slowed so I might be able to sleep.

Life is buggy. :-)

Monday, December 17, 2012

#27 Briars of Fear

I had a comment from another author, Joseph Saccany, about finishing my book. He was impressed, bless him, and bemoaned the fact that he was yet to complete his own book. I gave him what encouragement I could. BUT - he used this awesome phrase that blew me away. It described, for me, the mindset that has afflicted me during these past two years of trying to finish my novel.

"... wallowing in the briars of laziness, fear, doubt, and perfectionism..."

I don't think I've quite ever heard such an appropriate phrase describing the life of a writer. YET ---

I picture Brer Rabbit in the briar patch. He was happy. He'd tricked Brer Bear. He said he'd been born and raised in a briar patch.

So what looked like a horrible ending to the poor rabbit turned out to be a blessing.

Hmmm - so my briars might be a blessing. Perhaps they help me step back (gingerly *g*) and look at what's happening in my story; perhaps they make me move with more care as I write; perhaps they hide the outside world so I can spend time in 'my' world, creating.

Whatever - briars might not be a bad thing. Especially if I have a pair of clippers! LOL

Life is thorny.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

# 26 Passion (probably should be #1)

Quick note about Friday's events and then I'll go on.

I've found it difficult not to cry at every little thing. Yesterday's massacre in Connecticut affected me terribly. I was with my daughter this afternoon and discovered I was not the only one. We sat with my six-year old granddaughter between us and watched Christmas specials. Old cartoon ones. Frosty the Snowman and such. We both wept at all the heart-wrenching places. I still weep as I sit here typing. Truth be told, no child should die. To die this way -- I push down the thoughts of how they died and pray St. Nicholas was by their side, giving them comfort. May the One who made us all forgive us and bring us to understand -- we are all one, connected. Each tragedy that befalls one, befalls all. 

Thankfully, I've been writing other stuff in the lulls connected with 'Blue,' yet the passion that I began 'Blue' with dwindled, now and again. It's the passion, folks, that drives me. To lose it, is to lose what makes me a writer. I claw at it, trying to retrieve it, and when I do -- there is such joy!

Before the massacre, I found two tv programs that had some awesome, passion-filled, relevant stuff on them. The links are below. 

I found, at my little writers' group, that I wasn't the only one who was impressed by the CBS Sunday Morning News program. There was a wild tale about self-publishing. Really good. Now, I'm not saying that self-publishing always works, but this story was inspiring. Authors like Stepahnie Bond says she gets royalties of 70%. She made 1/2 million dollars in the last year. "the idea of being a novelist is really romantic, but it's kind of the same as being President of the United States - it's not gonna happen." he (Richard Paul Evans) said. BUT -- his book, 'The Christmas Box,' was self-published and then, after awesome sales, picked up by a publisher for $4 million!

There was also an interview with Bruno Mars (I love his Just The Way You Are). This man was signed AND DUMPED by a big record label. He was tempted to give it all up and go home, but he didn't. He kept his passion and went on to huge successes. "All those hard times, it feels like it goes to show that if you put in the work and you don't stop believing, then it can happen." her-wanted-to-do/

Rock Center, Thursday night on NBC, was inspirational, too. I had never heard of the author, Mary Pope Osborne, and was blown away by the response to her stories. Now, I've got my fingers crossed that 'Blue' will touch children in the same way. She decided not to go the route of tv shows, or movies, or product development. She gives away a lot of her profits to disadvantaged children. She is awesome. I want to meet her.

There was another interview on Rock Center that touched me deeply. It was with the creator of Chobani. Now, I love this yogurt. There's six of them in my frig at the moment. Sadly, I can't remember who suggested I try it, because I'd love to say thank you. When the day is ragged and rushed, I pick one up and know I'm eating ok for my body. BUT -- the great thing about the interview was the tenacity, courage, and PASSION of Hamdi Ulukaya, founder. His friends all thought he'd lost it; sure he was going to lose his shirt with the endeavor. And now - well, I'm sure everyone has heard of his lovely Greek yogurt. The thing that made me most impressed was that he gives, and always has, 10% of his profits to charity. He quoted a Persian poet (Rumi): 'With passion pray. With passion work. With passion make love. With passion eat and drink and dance and play. Why look like a dead fish in this ocean of God?' I love it. I'm posting it on my bathroom mirror.

I hope these stories give you a sense of the beauty of mankind and the gift of hope that we can give each other, not only during this season, but throughout our lives. Oh! And to pass it on.

Life is a blessing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


There is a fluidity to doing things. I have discovered this truth. Once you break the fluidity, once you change the  flow, say of a river, it changes everything. The river takes off on a different route, the landscape below it changes. Even the landscape above changes.

The fluidity of my life has been broken this past year and a half by a serious illness. Trying to find a doctor who can help has been a monumental task. On top of that, what with the recession (read depression), finances have been a challenge.

I will tell you this -- I have been more than blessed, too. 

Come 2013 -- I have resolutions to make and to keep. Some I've already started to plan for, some have already been scrapped due to differing circumstances. That doesn't matter. I'll work on the other pieces/parts to the puzzle that will be my life going forward.

I have some huge projects that I intend to concentrate on. My fluidity has been compromised for too long, though, I think you can attest to this, I have still forged onward. I can't forget that I have some tremendous accomplishments from this last year.

So here goes... you, my dear reader, are stuck with having to read this or quickly (run, she's planning) click on another blog.

1) Hug my granddaughter even more. Rejoice in who she is. Try to find someway to connect with the two granddaughters in Utah. Distances today shouldn't make this much of a difference. Invite children over for dinner more often. (Whoa! That means I'll have to cook more.) Love my friends, accept them (and myself) as we are, gift them with the laughter I've been given, and love myself fiercely.

2) Send giraffes out to the guy in NZ. This is a true opportunity and I must be an idiot not to have done it already. *shudders*

3) Find five agents and send out 'Blue.'  (Make changes as soon as my editor gets it back to me so that I'll be ready to send..)

4) Go to fitness center and find a personal trainer to help me get over the initial pain of trying to get my body back into shape. (this year and a half of resting, as prescribed by the docs, has taken every ounce of strength from me.)

5) Find more students, to supplement my income, but also to fire up the creative juices. I find nothing more stimulating than helping others.

6) Edit the biography for the man in NZ. 

7) Have fun and find joy in this life.

Life is joy-filled.

PS - check Progress bar for 'The Other Side.' Whoo hoo! Another chapter finished and another begun. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

# 25 Beautiful Dreamer

Subtitled:  Don't Get Discouraged.

Went to my Skyline writers group today. Eleven of us. That's a good number. We critiqued four manuscripts. Two were from brand new members to the group. They'd done their mandatory critique for a couple months before they could offer their own. Both had strong stories. Both had stories I'd want to continue reading. But they were new to writing. 

Now - let me tell you that this critique group is a really good one. Solid critiquing with positivity. But we've been together for a long time now. When I first joined the group, one of the members had just sold her first book and she no longer comes to the meetings. Author duties are difficult.

The group has grown in skill. Two current members have been published this last year. One of these is going to have her sequel party on March 16th. Another member is in negotiations with a publisher. As you have noted from my squeals, my book is with the editor and I have high hopes that it will be published within the next year or two.

As I said, we've been together for a long time and this kind of dogged determination and learning from each other has made each one of us a better author.

Along come these two, with their first attempts ever, and I could sense, even though the critiques were lovingly given, that the writers hopes were not as strong, once the critique was done. 

I counsel you - it takes time to become a good writer. I don't think their are many out there who are instant successes. It takes a lot of reading and writing and experimenting to finally be able to come up with a manuscript that is truly publishable. 

I know - been there. I thought my first book was the best ever. I still do, but I now know its weaknesses. I plan on going back to it, one day soon, and rewrite it, cause I love the story and the characters. 

Dreaming is incredibly good for me. I'm dreaming this book will be published. More importantly, I'm sure it will be published. But it's the culmination of a lot of work and a lot of help learning.

Life is a school. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Done! Fini! Sent! Whoo hoo!

Well, I couldn't stop. I couldn't sleep. I finally got up at 4am and started editing the last twelvish chapters. 

And I'm done and fairly satisfied with it. Not 100% satisfied, but I have this feeling most authors think they can do more, add more, terrify more. 

I sent it off to my editor. Now I wait with bated breath. She's edited each chapter as I've written them, but, of course, I made changes and additions and subtractions. Now, she'll get to read the whole thing at one fell swoop (she didn't have the last couple chapters so I'm excited to find out what she thinks of the ending.)

Being as this is Book One, it didn't end completely. But I think enough to satisfy a publisher. I hope enough to satisfy a publisher. 

While I'm waiting for the editing feed-back, I'm going to start looking for agents. Wish me luck! And -- if you have any suggestions or names, I'm not too proud to ask. We are all in this together.

Speaking of which, I am part of the SCBWI group at LinkedIn and one of the folk there said her editor had told her something pretty neat about editing. She said, if you are only changing words and not the story, you are done. Send it out.

Life is awesome. Friends are important.

PS - It's my mom's birthday. What a great day to end one chapter of my writing life and begin another. Mom, give yourself a hug from me and tell God thank you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Sorry. I don't know how consistent I'm going to be with posting for the next couple weeks. I've vowed to have 'Blue' edited and out the door by Christmas, at the latest.

CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) and the Stones are still just about the best music to edit by. The passion and raw power are great for pushing through fear and doubt. 

I had another little mess to figure out (a euphemism for research). The moon phases. Shees! Whod' have thunk it? I have the moon in one phase at a particular part of the story and it is imperative that it be in another phase the next time we see it. I'd thought it would be fourteen days between phases, but I was wrong. Thankfully, I was watching the weather and they mentioned the exact time frame and I knew I had been wrong with mine. So I had to find a moon phase calendar and find out what phases the moon would be in within fourteen days during a particular season. Cause the moon phases change between months even. Got it! Now I can go on.

Honestly - I might sound insane - but I love making sure I'm right. Dead right. 

Life is honest.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

# 24 Be True To Yourself

While in New Zealand, I was invited to a workshop of a local artist. I stood in amaze as I looked at the things he and his crew have created. The attention to detail astounded me. Mushrooms with little lines under them the way real mushrooms look. Horses with tails that look like real tales, not plasticine. Incredible works of art.

I went to an artisans market in the same area the next couple of days and watched sword makers, and dress makers, and all sorts of artists at work. Again, loving details embellished most works. The imagination of these people wiped me out.

I was invited to two artists' gallery openings. Again, the shear imagination of the people involved took my breath away. I went to bed the first night thinking of the dragon in 'Blue' and realizing I have to go out and buy some plasticine and make him for myself. So I really know him.

The urge to change my way of writing, to make it more graphic, more descriptive, rolled through me. I took out 'Blue' and started reading it again and thinking about adding this, that and the other thing. I stopped.

"Wait a minute," I said to myself. "this is not me. For me as a reader, I skip over long descriptive phrases. I want to see the action. I want to know what happens next. I don't want to see the dog pissing on the side of the road."

Some folks want it all. I don't. I know there must be others like me out there. I've sometimes gone back and re-read a book cause I had to finish it fast and then wanted to savor it, once I knew how it ended. (I'm not the kind who goes and reads the last page first. *shudders*)

So - Be True To Myself. Write it the way I'd want to read it. The way I like to read a story. I'm happy I've done that with 'Blue.' Granted, I've got some stuff I've got to add. Like there are two kinds of dragons in the story and I want to show that each type has its own way of flying and sound and smell. That excites me. 

At the moment, I'm typing up the new story, tentatively titled, "The Other Side." I really like it. I also am doing it in first person present tense, which I have NEVER ever tried before. But it's a dark and nasty little tale of loss and this makes it more real, more alive, more tense. I think.

Life is always thoughtful.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Time Change

I'm awfully glad that I don't have time changes in my made-up world. They are a true nuisance. 

Good grief - now I'm thinking about it, I probably should have some - the blasted world is large and there would have to be different time zones. Drat! Another thing to add to the tale.

Time changes. I know we haven't had one in December, but coming from New Zealand is just as interesting. Along with jet lag. It is early summer there. And it was cold. Colder than when I got back home. Go figure!

Last night I woke up at 4am, wide awake. I watched things I'd taped while I was in NZ. This morning, I woke at 3:30am. Just shoot me now! *g*

I was going to start doing the corrections I made in NZ, but decided to work on my synopsis. A synopsis is supposed to be a listing of what happens in the order in which they happen. Sounds simple? NOT!

As always, I trust They suggest writing two: one long and one short. 

Here's another.

Best bet is to spend a good deal of research on this. Writing a synopsis is not fun. And everyone seems to have different ideas as to what the format should be. When I'm ready, I'll go to agents' websites and see what each one wants. Then I'll go with that.

Right at the moment, my synopsis is single-spaced and five pages long. I want to pare that down, but I'll worry about that once I've got the whole thing written. It's pretty 'rough' at the moment. *g*

Well - I'm off to bed. It's 5am. Maybe I'll be able to sleep.

Life is time-consuming.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Had a relapse in health and had to leave New Zealand early. On top of that, caught really nasty cold. Trip back was incredibly hard but I met some new friends at LAX and spent a good part of the NINE hour layover laughing and sleeping.

I can't wait to make the changes that I did to 'Blue' while in NZ. And then send the entire book along to my editor. Hoping to get that done once I can breathe again!

And to continue with the new story.

Life is interesting.