Friday, February 28, 2014

Persistent Tenacity

Is that an oxymoron? I love figures of speech.

I have not, nor will I ever, give up on 'Nothing But Blue Skies'. There was a period there, this deep and dark winter, when giving up seemed the right thing to do. No - not the right thing but the only thing. I'd given up on Kathleen and Kaspar and the hope of ever finishing editing this book.

However, something in the middle of the night said to me, "Sharron. 'Blue is good'. Kathleen's story needs to be told. Pick it up again and forge ahead. Never, never, never give up." (I can't believe I'm quoting Winston Churchill.)

'When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then --- for this is just the place and time that the tide will turn.' Harriet Beecher Stow.

I started reading 'Blue' out loud a couple nights ago. Then I spoke with my buddy D who said she'd love to listen to it. Tonight we started. I read aloud the first seven chapters. We both loved it. She gave me a couple hints of some places to condense, but aside from that, the chapters and the story are strong. Next time we get together, we're going to read out loud again. Until we finish the book. I know there are going to be a couple chapters that have some weak parts in them, but they are not insurmountable parts. 

Phew! I wipe my brow in exhausted satisfaction. I will complete the editing of 'Blue' and then I will send her out by summertime. I think June would be a nice month for looking for an agent. *g*

As for 'Sorrysorrysorry' - I'm going to send a follow-up email to the publisher I sent it to three weeks ago. With a gentle reminder. 

I can't sit on my duff anymore and hope without doing anything. Well, you know I've been doing things, but I have to prioritize and the completed children's picture book is #1. 'Blue' is #2. and 'The Other Side' is #3. I think that's enough for this month. *g*

I am excited to be up and about my work. It's extremely difficult, being an author, being a creative person in a snow-covered mess of a land. The frigid cold (they've dubbed it 'the polar vortex') is upon us and the temps will be below 0 degrees F. Pippin and I will snuggle together and enjoy the night.


Life is tenacity persisting.

PS - I've got a buddy whose whole family is suffering from a bout of norovirus, including twin three-month olds. Please lift them up. Thanks.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tips In The Midst Of Snow

Working with a writer friend, I happened to discover I have some tips tucked inside my brain. I thought I'd share them with you. Some you've already seen, but these ones appear more succinct.

1)  Tools. My thesaurus. Most times, I find the word I need when I use my thesaurus. Of late, I've noticed, the word might not be there. But no concern needed. If I go to the dictionary, something in the definition will have the right word. So there. Two wondrous tools to find the perfect word. And we all know writing is about the perfect word. I use the on-line programs instead of books by my side. If you go to the site listed below, you can click on the top and surf between dictionary and thesaurus. You don't have to type the word over and over. Anything to save time in this insane world. Too busy.

2)  Adverbs. You know I really truly try to stay away completely from the use of adverbs. I just had to do that. It is such fun to use adverbs. I have said before, it is easy to fall into the adverb trap. Adverbs are great for once in a thousand years. However, adjectives are so much better. They are stronger and more meaningful.  

I came up with a motto:  Using an adverb is a lost opportunity for an exquisite sentence. It is like eating chocolate when you could have had a chocolate brownie sundae with chocolate syrup and whipped cream and a cherry on top. Chocolates always good but why not have the entire enchilada. 

3) Strong verbs. These are the meat of writing. I discovered that I can sometimes find a strong verb in my sentence if I look at the adjective that is in it. I can change the adjective into a verb and voila - there is a strong verb that makes the sentence just shimmer. How about: I climbed the rambling stairs. Change it to:  I rambled up the stairs. More fun. Different. If I get stuck and need a strong verb, I look to the sentence and see if I've hidden one in my adjectives.

Got to get the little one. Have a blessed day.

Life is good.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


We got slammed with another almost 1/2 foot of snow last night. The wind howled with horrid intensity. I swear I heard avalanches of snow falling off the condo's roof. This morning, the temps climbed. As a result, I have a large puddle right in front of my door. The dog, blasted sweetie, refused to go out. I thought I'd have to carry her, but she summed up the courage and forded the beast and did her business.

The little one had off school again today, but her mom was home, so I spent the morning doing paperwork and 'gentle' clothes washing. This afternoon I waded to the laundry room, about five units away, and did some real wash. Towels. They get very heavy. I only did one load, but it took four trips. Ah the joys of life.

I have decided, after losing so much of the 'Ring of Doom' story when I started to write, that I best get myself some kind of recording device. I used to be able to write 28 characters in 14 locations with 10 plots going - all at the same time - and remember what and where and who was happening. Those days seem to be gone. 

Watching the Olympics and the Olympian struggles that the athletes go through, first to get to Sochi, and then to compete, gives me such fodder for thought. I have thousands of ideas of what I'd like to hone in on with my writing. And also for what I'd love to share here on my blog.

However, by this time of evening, when I sit in front of my twin screens, I shake my head. All the wondrous insights are gone. Perhaps they weren't as wondrous as I had thought. *g* Usually at least a dozen ideas attack me and I rejoice and tell myself, 'I must remember this'. Then, it's gone.

I will go out tomorrow, in the midst of the rain that will now melt four to six feet of snow in a very short time, and navigate the potholes and the rivulets of water, and get myself to a Radio Shack, before it closes for good, and buy myself a recording machine. I'll let you know what happens.

BTW - had a glorious time at Skyline Writers. Committed writers showed up and we had a lively discussion about the future, a good one, and then did a lot of good critiquing.

Life is discussion.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mind Games

Or the stories that just won't sleep.

Due to doctor's orders, I am trying to go to bed earlier and sleeping at least seven hours. Yeah. Right. I am trying. So Friday night I went to bed at about 1 am. I have a midnight marketing job that I spend an hour on and then I jump into bed. Computer's in the same room as my bed - that makes it easy to jump into bed. Be that as it may - I went to bed about 1 am and tried to sleep. My mind refused. The Muse was wide awake and had another story she wants me to write. Honestly, I've got two in the hopper and one out to publishers and  another one that's just in the beginning phase and she wants me to write another!!!! Sorry about the multiple !'s - my Muse made me do it. *g*

Sleep would not come. I tossed and turned and listened to the Muse's story. It was a fun one. A children's chapter book. Lighthearted and intriguing. The Muse told me the whole story - beginning, middle and end. There were parts missing but the crux of the tale was there and I liked it. I put to memory the title and the story and, blessed be the powers that be, I fell asleep.

I met today with friends to try to crank up my writing machine. Of course, I brought 'Nothing But Blue Skies' and 'The Other Side' with me. I made a mistake and told my fellow partners in crime about the 'new' story and one wise friend said, 'If you want to write it, write that one instead of working on the others.' She didn't have to twist my arm.

However, as the Muse is likely to do, she changed the story. I began to write with the fun title and the subtitle and then.... the story, from the first sentence, turned dark. I wrote four pages and none of the words were anything like the story the Muse tricked me with the night before. Blasted Muse. I like the story. I like the premise - two children who find their father is having an affair and want to 'save' their mother - only to discover their father is a spy. Ah the joys of life. The tricksy of the Muse. I haven't a clue as to where this story is going. I don't like to begin a story without knowing the ending. *heavy sigh* But the story is dark enough and thrilling enough that it has captivated me. I'll work on it a bit and let you know what happens.

Of course, 'The Other Side' is still number one priority or my editor will strangle me. She wants another chapter yesterday. *g*

My one word of advise - if your Muse starts speaking, make sure she's telling you everything and not tricking you. She's a sly one.

Life is tricksy. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Conferences And Whatnot

Two of the writing groups I belong to suggested we look into conference. We decided if we rode together that would help save some costs. Never thought it would be this difficult to find writers' conferences nearby. Of course, if I lived in New York or California, it looks like I could go every week-end. I've spent hours doing google searches and have come up with very unsatisfactory events. Back to the drawing board.

My friends in Ireland are getting blasted with nasty storms, high winds, and wild waves. Per our news stories, we in the USA are the only ones suffering through this winter. My goodness, I really can't stand the sight of snow. I was watching the Olympics and they showed the mist-shrouded mountains and I ran, screaming, from the room. If I see another snowflake, I will do it damage.

Bitter cold has assailed my hometown, too. It was -15F two nights ago (that's -26C). Tonight it's going to be a balmy 18F. But I saw Donegal, Ireland had 37 degrees F. I bet they are shivering in their boots. More blankets my dear sister-friends. And pull the dog in with you. I can't believe how warm Pippin is. Except when he's licking my face!

The cold and forced insidedness are filling the air with germs. The flu seems to be gone, but the colds are never-ending. We will survive. 

I wonder if the Japanese earthquake, which actually shifted the earth on its axis, has anything whatsoever to do with this horrid winter? I know folks believe in global warming as its cause, but I'm beginning to think the earthquake had something to do with this.

If anyone knows of a decent conference in the Midwestern part of the USA, let me know. I'd be most appreciative. Hopefully, I'm meeting with friends on Saturday to write, just write, and maybe have a cup of nice hot coffee or cocoa.

Life is cold.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I was in the library the other day with not much time. So I went to the magazine section and found Poets and Writers mag. There were two articles that interested me. 

The first title - 'Life Seems Inconceivably Rich' - was written by Richard Smolev (see link below). Richard was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. I don't suppose there are many diseases that are ok. This one horrifies me. I surprised myself to see I kept reading even due to that fact. Not that someone had the disease, but that the disease is monstrous and I hide from monstrosity. (the old ostrich head in the ground) 

The article was glorious. It put me to shame. You know, if you've been following this blog, that I find it extra hard to write when I am sick. I whine a bit about it, though I try not to. Here is this man, stricken by this horrendous disease, and typing with just one finger, and does it daily. And well. He's published more than once. He has a wondrous spirit about him. I weep. And I rejoice. And I will not complain again. And I will keep writing even during the times my own wee disease attacks me. For Richard, thank you for sharing your struggle and your triumph.

The second article was about silence. Well, modulation. The author, Benjamin Percy, taught me about ebb and flow in a story. I had a review of 'Nothing But Blue Skies' where the critiquer told me she couldn't catch her breath while reading the fist ten pages.That there was so much happening. I thought that was a good thing. That was how I was trying to write the book. More like, I suppose, the Perils of Pauline type book. After reading Benjamin's article, I thought about pauses, breaks, sipping wine by the fire, and I think he has a point. I love cliffhangers, but not every chapter. I love action scenes but see my readers might need a moment to recover from the last scene. Benjamin told of how quiet scenes create a sense of security before you pounce on your reader again. I really liked the article.

The last article, which I had forgotten about, has a wee bit of interest for me. My science fiction book has some sex in it. Not X-rated, but sex nonetheless. This last article, written by Beth Ann Fennelly, delighted me. And helped me to see that I should continue writing this book. The sex is fun. 

So - now onto 'The Other Side'. I presented Ch. 10 on Saturday and the group loved it. At least, I think they did. Two of the members of this critique group said they would never have known I'd written it - it differs so much from 'Blue' - I took that as a compliment. *g* I do like my characters and the premise of the book. It's a one-shot. I'm not used to writing one-shots, but this is fun. I'm kind of glad not to have a book tell me there are two more after I've finished the current one. Cheeky books!

Life is fun.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Earlier, I wrote about descriptions and when and where to stop so that the story is not too vague or too heavy. 

I was concerned about 'The Other Side' because a lot of detail needed to be added due to the fact that technical issues might raise questions for my readers. Anxious, I looked at it this morning, Ch. 12, and was surprised, pleasantly. What I thought would be dull, boring, and way-to-much detail turned out to be perfect. I found a lot of typos, which is unusual for me, but other than that, the chapter flowed. What a God-send.

I finished that chapter on Jan. 16th. Today I edited it and continued onto Ch. 13. I'm halfway done. My editor wants me to send what I've finished to her. She likes this story. She'll kill me when she hears I've started on another book. I like variety. I'm eclectic. 

Besides, 'Blue' is frustrating me. I don't even want to look at it anymore. I don't have a clue as to how to make me understand Kathleen better so that my readers will love her. I've got all the worksheets on character development and such and I've completed her synopsis, but still, there's something lacking. I'm beginning to think it's a lacking on my part. I might be expecting too much from her, in the early stages or her development. 

Book Two is going to be a fuller coming-of-age for her. Perhaps, once I get into that book, I'll feel better about her. But still, I wonder.

Life is perplexing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Burning My Soul

A friend and fellow writer (see blog link below) quoted Maya Angelou about agony and stories inside us.

I suppose that's what forced my hand, so to speak, and made me not have any peace until I sent out the giraffe story again. I know this story bears telling. I know it is sweet. I came to the conclusion that if I didn't pursue publishing this tale, that I couldn't continue with my other writings. That I was abandoning my tale to a dusty grave. It is worth more than a dusty grave. 

I haven't written anything on 'Blue' or 'The Other Side' since and that has created a conundrum for me. I sent out giraffes and voila - I should be writing. 

Funny thing is - the Muse is fickle. She has decided to start a new story. Perhaps I do need a break. I spoke of it in the last posting. Since I can't afford passage on my favorite cruise ship, and am further strapped so that I cannot move to Hawaii, I suppose I am doomed to write. 

Not doomed. Never doomed. Thrilled. Exhilarated. Needy. Addicted.

So I've started a murder mystery entitled, 'Dressed To Die'. I'll not go into the particulars at the moment. Suffice it to say, I've never written a murder mystery and I thought I would die before I wrote one, but the Muse is laughing and so, I bow to her.

If only the snow would stop. I can envision myself on a white, palm-tree laden beach, wind ruffling my hair, waves tickling my toes as I gaze into the blue sky and think of murder. Hmmm.

Life is a conundrum. 

PS - I am not stopping 'The Other Side' - I am giving my characters time to recoup. As for 'Blue' - I want it done. I want the editing done and the book ready to go. I want to see a cover. I want to sign autographs.


You know from past posts that I've been working to save a writers' group that I belong to. We lost a valuable member last fall and I think this discouraged some folk. We had some take a hiatus while the rest quietly wondered if the group was still viable. I tried to arrange a Christmas party to give us all a break from the working sessions, but my own illness and really rotten weather got in the way. We never did get our party. 

Four members said they could meet in January, but I wasn't sure if they did. Nobody sent around an email regarding the February meeting (which is this Saturday). I was beginning to think the group had disbanded when I got a quick text asking if I knew what was going on. Someone then wrote a quick email wondering the same thing. 

This gave me the impetus to get back on the bandwagon. I figured out who was supposed to present and sent out a group email. One of the members wrote back that they had, indeed, met in January and had a great sharing. Looks like we're on again.

I don't present this month, but I'm looking forward to working with this group again. I find groups go in stages - sometimes really hot and sometimes really cold. You just have to drink an iced drink during the hot times and wear gloves during the cold times.

This brings me to the issue of bad apples. Duh - you say. A group can be knit together or torn apart by one person. Not usually that person's fault. But if there is ill-feeling, or despondency over writing, or critiques, or whatever, that person can infiltrate the moral of others and thus cause the downfall, or the rise, of the group.

I strive to be upbeat. To fight the good fight. There are not many good critique groups around. I wanted this one to stay afloat. I'm hoping when we get together we'll talk a bit about being on steady ground and what can make us steadier, as a group, and exhort each other to wondrous deeds.

Life is loud exhortation. 

PS - Be a good apple and spread sunshine and tasty fruit.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


There are so many words I could use for this: the dictionary says it means something hard or difficult to explain.

I think that's what writing is. Or, more to the point, what publishing is.

The Writers' Ink group met today and our intrepid leader brought out an article quoting different authors about - writing. The five stated opinions that differed from what I've heard other authors say. Mainly, you don't have to write everyday, or for a specific number of hours, or a specific number of words. Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses. Or take a canoe ride. Or visit with friends. Sometimes, you have to take a break.

Every time I've HAD TO stop writing, due to illness or the Muse flying to Timbuktu, I've felt guilty. Most times, I've still thought about my books and where I'm at and what's going to happen next, but the guilt doesn't care. It still gnaws at me.

I took heart from these authors. I suppose I've been drifting for awhile. And worrying myself sick (as if I wasn't physically sick) about why I wasn't writing. It was tearing me up inside. I worried that I wouldn't be able to write again if I didn't do it daily.

Mind you - this isn't saying that it's easy to pick up after you've let go for awhile. Starting to write again, after a hiatus no matter the cause, is one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life. It's horrid. It's torture. But it can be overcome. 

I keep going to meetings and seminars and workshops and classes. I find this helps me feel that I'm still 'working' my craft. I don't feel quite to guilty. Though feeling guilty never gets me started writing again. *g*

I refuse to give up. I refuse to let a wayward Muse or an illness, keep me down forever. I hope.

Life is hope. 

PS - I rely on my friends, too, and they hate it. *g*

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Yup. I'm finally writing about descriptions. I've written about this before but the little sucker keeps rearing its ugly head. By that, I mean the controversy continues. How much description do I write? How much do I leave to my readers imagination? Am I lazy if I don't write long descriptive passages? Am I boring my reader with long descriptive passages?

I'll not go into who is on what side. Suffice it to say - I got kicked in the butt by a critiquer awhile back and she really caused me to consider. She said that as she read the offered chapter that she started to think about other books that were similar but with more description because I had NOT given it to her. She didn't try to imagine the scene or what the character looked like, she thought about similar books - like Harry Potter. I sat with my mouth open in consternation. 

If this is not the answer to the description problem, I don't know what is. If my readers are thinking about other books while they're reading mine - what are the chances that they'll put my book down and read the other books instead! Mind-boggling, don't you think?

This issue came up today because I was reading an adventure book. At one point, a couple was on the beach starting to become better acquainted (small cough) and the next thing I know, they're on a boat. There was nothing mentioned about a boat prior to this scene. There was no mention of how they found the boat, or why they decided to go boating in the midst of (small cough). I was disconcerted. 

Second part to this issue - my friend D has this splendid mid-point chapter that she wrote without much description. As she read the draft, I wanted to know more. There was a glorious opportunity for showing what the place looked like to a character and his reaction to it. There was a wondrous opportunity to grow the characters relationship with another due to where they were. It seemed a missed chance to open up secrets. She agreed. The more she's writing this chapter, the more excited she's become. She saw the need for description. Not paragraph after paragraph, but enough to titillate her readers. 

This is the fun part of writing. Discovering what needs to be said, either by description or by dialogue. It's a fine line. I think trusting the gut is the way to go, trusting other writer friends with their input, but in the end, trusting yourself. In the editing portion, read out loud and see if questions jump out at you. Why did the character go with this seeming madman? Why did he climb the stairs in the old, apparently abandoned lighthouse? So much fun.

I hope this helps you. It does me. I'm in the midst of an expository paragraph in 'The Other Side' and it's driving me mad. I thought I needed to tell all, but I realize now, nope, don't have to. It doesn't progress the story and my readers really won't care. It's that kind of a scene. Better to dwell on the horror of the moment. Ah such fun.

Life is fun.