Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Who's There

I know I'm not alone in this. I've heard others tell strange tales, too.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I hear my name called. Or I hear a name called. Something wakes me and voila, I know it's the Muse. She's been after me about 'Other' as of late. I have heard her chatting about my protagonist and how I have to decide some things.

Did you ever create a character and really love him/her? You know the feeling. As soon as the name flits into your mind, or you begin the first sentence about that character - you know you love him/her. Or you know they're going to be important.

Tolkien said his character, Faramir, just stepped into sight one day and the author knew he had to include this stranger into his work.

My character, Toff, is like that. I liked him from day one. I had some critiques wondering why he was lovable, why one of the window protagonists liked him so much without apparent cause.

I like him. That's about it. He's vulnerable and kind and slightly befuddled by the world around him. He's kind of an innocent.

I like him. That's about all I can say. I'm hoping to convey the dynamics of this character so my readers will like him, too. That's the important thing. If they don't like him, well - might as well toss the book. But I'll figure out how to make my readers like/love Toff. He's worth the trouble.

Life is worthwhile.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Short Break

Our class is taking a short break. We are not meeting during September. Most of us will be attending our SCBWI regional conference. As I've said before, it's a good one.

I have just come off too long of a break and I'm not going to stop now. I'm in the midst of ruminating on 'Other.' The Muse has been shouting lately to get back to it. Which I am grateful to do.

There is a woman in one of my writing groups whom I am bonding with. She met my writing buddy at a free conference the other day and they seemed to hit it off. I asked my writing buddy if this other woman might join us for our weekly fun-fests. She agreed. I'm sending off an email tonight. I do hope she joins us.

D and I have decided to get downright serious about her book and 'Blue.' I am so close to sending 'Blue' off. She has already sent her's off and she now has to write the rest of the book. It's down in her mind and in copious notes, but it's got to be put together.

As for 'Blue,' I'm hoping the critique in September goes well, but I can't bank on it and I definitely have to finish the chapters. 

This writing business is insane and I sometimes wonder if it is all worth it. But what can I do when the ideas keep rumbling through my head like distant thunder. Distant! If only. I can't even count to three-one-thousand. The ideas are crashing over me. And that is a good thing. 

It's when the storm isn't even on the radar. When I can't see if there is anything on the horizon. That's when it's scary. I love storms. I see now that I need them in my life AND in my writing life.

There's supposed to be some good ones tonight. I'll open the windows and listen.

Life is stormy.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


It seems we can't live without them in this day and age. My printer died. I was blessed in getting another one pretty fast, but this one needs FIVE ink cartridges and I haven't made my way to Office Max to get them. Perhaps tomorrow.

My wireless went down today. This is a not uncommon event; however, I much prefer not having to play with knobs and such. Thankfully, my son told me this is common and so I learned how to fix it. Took a few minutes.

I wish my computer was more like a washing machine. You put the clothes in. You turn it on (the settings are already done) and your clothes get washed.

I know more about computers now than I ever want to know and yet I am still an 'idiot' where they are concerned. Again, thankfully, I have a geek who comes over if things get really bad.

Now onto 'Other.' I think I'm going to be killing off a character. I really hadn't planned on such a thing but there was a huge storm (created to keep the bad guys away). With typical ill-luck, one character gets swept away. I thought I'd save him. Today, as I prepared to write that chapter, I realized he was dead. I can, of course, being the author - go in and save him. However, I do not like to challenge the Muse. I think the poor man is dead for good. This, though, creates even more of a predicament for my protagonist. He's alone on this world of aliens. I like where this can lead.

As for 'Blue' - I am still chugging away. There are four distinct areas in one of the last chapters that need quite a bit of work. I can do it. I just have to put the pedal to the metal and do it.

Life is glitches.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friends And Hope

Having support is imperative for a writer. IMHO. Most of the writers I've spoken with do not have familial support. They have the: 'We know you can write, dearie. We just don't like the kind of books you're writing.' Or the ever popular, 'I will read it. Just leave it on the table.' Three months later, it's gathering dust.

To have other writers as my support system is great. It's a struggle to find them, the ones who hope for your success while striving for their own.

My friends know I've been struggling with writing, as of late. They call, now and again, to make sure I'm ok. They see that I haven't blogged for awhile and send emails asking what they can do to make it better. They offer coffee and hugs.

Most importantly - they offer hope. They say they get hope from me. I find it hard to understand that. Some of this blogs readers say this blog is the first thing they read in the morning. That the tale of my struggles helps them, gives them hope, fires their enthusiasm for their own writing.

That's a blessing - for me.

As for hope - today I'm going to share some quotes on hope with you. I know you can Google and look them up yourself, but who has the time. Now that you're here, sit back and take a moment, perhaps with a cup of tea in hand, and soak in a wee bit of hope. I know I'me doing it, too.

Life is hope.

Lord, save us all from a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms. Mark Twain

Hope is the dream of a waking man. Aristotle

Don't give up. Don't lose hope. Don't sell out. Christopher Reeve

Things start out as hopes and end up as habits. Lillian Hellman

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'. Erma Bombeck

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. Dale Carnegie.

And finally –

I hop everyone that is reading this is having a REALLY good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes, you have an opportunity to change that. Gillian Anderson


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Easy Edit

An oxymoron. Who would have thought? During the writing process, the Muse can speak profusely. It is a time to be cherished. But during editing.... who speaks then? The devil? The scoundrel? The prince of darkness? I'm beginning to think this might be possible.

I started working on 'Blue' again. You know. the only thing left is to either chuck it or edit it. The beast is finished as far as the Muse is concerned. She's off flirting with other writers. Or perhaps she's flirting with other stories. I don't have time for such dilly dallying. I've got a book to edit.

Cleaning out the euphemism known as 'my office,' I discovered about four critiques from writing groups for the last couple of chapters of 'Blue.' I am pleased - and disconcerted. The critiques are good - but that means there are changes to be made. Additions to be added. Subtractions to be contracted??? And some hair-pulling. 

If I change one sentence - oh dear God - there are five more attached to it somewhere in the book. Continuity be damned! Well, not quite. I sit and sweat (No, I'm a lady. I was taught by me ol' Irish granny that women perspire) over any change, for I know it is like some monstrous squid from Jules Verne's 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.' It's tentacles get into the portholes and the bilges and up through the anchor's opening. 

I will persevere, dear friends, if for no other reason than D is breathing down my back and expecting me to join her as a published author. :)

Happy Sorrow!

Life is complex.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Last Days of Summer

I stopped in to visit 'The Other Side' today. I've got class on Thursday. I didn't want this to be the third class in a row where I had nothing to present. 

'Other' was fun to read. I am on Chapter Twelve, Chad's POV. I've got a storm that hit the other two characters (my protagonist and my window protagonist.) I've got the same storm hitting Chad and his compatriot. The only problem is: one is an almost full-blown tornado while the other is a sandstorm. Same area. Stop laughing! Seriously, I obviously have to fix this. It is on a different world, 'Other' is a sci-fi tale, but having two different storms hit the same area at the same time doesn't feel right. Needless to say, I didn't do anything. I turned off the computer and starting playing 'My Little Pony' on my tablet.

I have gotten hooked on this wee game. My little one started it. It takes a LOT of bits to buy anything or to clear out the nastiness that is the antagonist's plot to destroy Equestria. What can I say? I started in order to help the little one buy Rainbow Dash. That was weeks ago. We are trying to get all the ponies and all the shops and such. Also, creepy vines and rock formations mar the land. We've got to get rid of those. Nothing is cheap in Ponyville, let me tell you that! Besides which, the land fights against you. You clear out a huge rock formation at 16,000 bits and another one crops up on the other side of the screen. I could just scream. But the little one loves it and we are having a ball sharing the building of Ponyville. 

As you can probably tell, I'm addicted. Thankfully, I've about had it with the game. We've expanded and bought and cleared and built 'til I'm satisfied. The little one will probably continue, but I have learned almost all the ponies' names and the places and what they do and we have grown closer because of it. I love it.

I will get back to 'Other' - it's too good a tale to leave hanging. Pun intended. I cleared out another part of my office and put all my stories together - well - separated in folders. But it's all in the same place and I feel good about that. I've got my folder next to the desk. I hope to work on 'Blue' tomorrow. The synopsis especially. I want to present that to my writing buddy when she stops over next week.

'Til then, I'm visiting the pool as often as possible, now that the water temperature is closer to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It feels so good to luxuriate in the water. We have noodles that the little one and I ride as horses and have wondrous races against each other. She usually wins because I'm laughing too hard.

Life is awesome.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I do love technology. I skyped my sister-friends in Ireland today. One is a writer; the other is a gem. They affirmed my writing and exhorted me to continue. I needed this. I can be very needy at times. 

I met with my writing buddy last night. We finished going over her synopsis, character bios, and the first five chapters of her MS last Monday. On Tuesday, she sent it off to an 'interested' agent. We have all our fingers and toes crossed. So last night, we looked at my synopsis. I taught her too well. Darn it all. She was vicious (with love). She showed me that I put the antagonist's position in a prominent place and the protagonist as second thought. Of course, she was right. I could see it, once she brought it to my attention. She took places that were week and moved or deleted them and then put the focus on the plot. It was excellent work on her part.

For me, I had a very difficult time writing the synopsis. I know the thing is, next to the cover/query letter, the most important piece. I know it has to have the true life and feelings of my protagonist, if nothing else. However, doing this while getting across all the action and suspense and whatever, proved too much for me. As my buddy read it out loud, I could hear the disjointedness. I cringed. I 'saw' what was wrong with every paragraph, with a little gentle prodding from D. I knew I had to change it. It was stilted. It lacked depth. It confused. 

I shake my head, dear friends. I know better, but I was trying to get everything in. Not necessary if I'm going to lose the 'heart' of my book. So, I started back at the drawing board. I moved, cut, deleted, changed, added, subtracted... well, you get the gist. It's better now, but it still has a long way to go. I will persevere. Darn it all. *g*

As for life -- my little one goes back to school on Wednesday. It will be (is already) difficult to lose her companionship, her enthusiasm for life, and her creative bent. I'll probably only see her on week-ends (that's what she told me - little scalawag).  

My writing buddy and I have decided to explore 'The Artists' Way' in the next few months. Based on that, we're looking at doing some 'other' creative things. I received my local library's brochure and it has some awesome stuff in it, a truckload of offerings. I'm excited.

Life is change. 

Friday, August 16, 2013


I got discouraged. I judged my own work against someone else's. Much as I love and respect this other author, her way with words defeated me. I put my energies into helping her and put my own needs and wants on hold. I did it willingly. I did it without thought of remuneration. I'm glad I did, to a degree. 

Now - to get myself back.

There are no two snowflakes that are exactly the same. I've known this fact all my life. I've taught it to my own children and now to my little one. I'm sure it's true, but it boggles the mind. My mind, at least. In all the snowfalls in all the years of this earth and in all the places - could it be possible that there really are no two alike? 

I decided to view my writing as a snowflake. Unique. Perfect. A part of God's creation. I will know that nobody else's writing is exactly like mine. That creation is big enough for forty gazillion different authors and there will still be room for mine.

These past three weeks, I've been trying to decide just what is wrong with me. Why can't I write? Or, rather, why have I shunned writing? I've used lots of excuses. Summer's almost over :(   My little one is going back to school. :(    My finances are in disaster-land again. 

But - the summer was fun. I found a way to go into the swimming pool without major health issues. My son and his family visited. My daughter is awesome. My other son works too hard. I'm too tired. The sun gets in my eyes.......

Back to it. Back to what I loved to do and know I still love. Back to a spirit of gratitude as well as a spirit of joy.

Thanks to you who were concerned. I needed a bit of 'lifting up.' Never sure why these bouts affect us. Sun flares, I suppose. :)

Life is a snowflake.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Character Transformation

I'm looking forward to the intensive at the North Ohio SCBWI conference in September. Presenter will be Rebecca Barnhouse. She'll be teaching us things about characterization.

I just finished an article by Gerke from Writer's Digest. It's called Craft Your Characters Transformation. It was a great article. I'm using these articles as a kind of test for my own writing, with specifically 'Blue' in mind. 

I started out with a fuzzy knowledge of who my character was, but the overwhelming impression the Muse sent me was her struggle. Her inner struggle. I am still such a neophyte that I never considered my character's transformation. I was, and still am, more concerned with the story. 1) I need to know the beginning and ending. 2) I need to feel tension. 3) I need to have a character I feel kinship with. 

I was grateful to find, after reading this article, that my Muse was correct with my main character and with one of the villains. My villain is caught between boyhood and manhood, good and evil, compassion and greed. I like him a lot. I still haven't decided, when the last book of the trilogy is written, if he'll chose good or evil.

For my hero/heroine, I knew straight away that she was an orphan and ill-used. I knew she wanted to grow strong and break the fear that imprisoned her. However, I knew her transformation wasn't going to be 'usual.' She sees boys being rewarded for everything and free to do what they want, while she strives for non-existent affirmation and is constricted by her aunt's iron rule.

In his article, Gerke describes five phases in the character's inner journey. My favorite is 'the knot.' The knot is basically what makes the character likable or not: her flaws. I'm not particularly fond of perfect people. I like to see people like me, struggling against my own inner demons. What is 'messing up' Kathleen is her not knowing what she is. She longs to be a boy - for freedom's sake - but is that the real reason - or the real answer? 

Of course, as in every story, there is the need for the inciting incident and I've got a good one. Thank goodness. Next is the escalation. Got that, too! The Moment of Truth - I've got that, but I'm wondering if the scene is strong enough. I'll be editing that chapter shortly. Good things to look for. Finally, the final state.

I'm encouraged, when I read articles that I can use to judge my own writing by. However, and this is a big one, I temper my enthusiasm with caution. I've read articles that I don't agree with. And that's ok. It's like gleaning wheat:  save the important and discard the useless.

Life is full.