It’s not my fault! Not completely…

   Okay, I know I’m waaaay late getting my blog up, but I have a good reason…sort of.  With the deadline of the contest yesterday, I’ve spent my last couple of days off trying to input all the judged entries.  Last night, I knew I had this blog due today, but I kept telling myself I’d finish the entries first and then blog.  Alas, the best laid plans…

Everytime I thought I’d finished, another few would show up in my mailbox.  I told myself that I should just ignore them, blog, and go to bed since I was to work today.  Not only work, but dress in a costume (a witch, true type-casting) and making chocolate chip pancakes for our weekly pot luck lunch.  But I kept thinking of those writers.  The ones who trusted their baby to our hands.

See, I still remember when I first entered contest.  Such a scary prospect.  I wondered if they would take care of my baby.  Or would it come back to me with coffee stains all over it.  Would they see the brilliance of the story?  Or would I get back all covered with red ink and a short note to keep my day job.  At first, it astounded me that when I did get back my entry, some very nice people not only had good things to say about my writing, but also helped me fix the sections were I needed help.  Eventually, I got that first “win”…an honorable mention at OWFI.

I guess that’s why I felt that I owed it to those people who helped to “pay it forward” so to speak.  I needed to go over those entries to make sure they were getting the strokes and lessons that I got.  To see that they go all the points they deserved.  And maybe, just maybe on of “my authors” will get a get a chance to have an editor read and buy them.  So I have to admit…I’m not that sorry I’m late.  Besides, I made it, didn’t I?

From Bad Comes Good

I’m writing this ahead of time because I will be in Cozumel–barring any unforseen occurrence. This trip has been postponed for over two years, so no hating or whining because I’m gone. And that’s part of why I titled it this way.

It’s raining here at Twisted Creek, and the DH has called periodically to make sure that our road hasn’t flooded yet. Our pasture turned into a lake, which is all right–up to a point. This weekend our neighbor’s pond overflowed and flooded our shop. Fortunately all the engines and major car parts are off the cement. And our offices flooded, but only minor. No carpet to ruin. The good to come out of this is that DH will finally hire someone to come out to dig a drainage ditch on the neighbor’s side to divert the water, AND get the drain cut in our driveway.

From the book signing, I learned how important finding the right audience to show case my work. This means that I will forgo other signings unless there is a strong romance presence. I fully understand that I might not sell a book there either, but what I write won’t be called trash either. I will be excited to attend regional conferences where book signings are offered. If books don’t sell, I will have a chance to learn more about my craft, plus network with others who enjoy what I write.

What good lessons have you learned recently? (You will have to give me a few days to send replies–I will be thinking of y’all while I’m sunning on the beach!)

They Both Start with D!

This weekend I headed out for the Chisholm Trail Book Festival in Durant, Oklahoma. There was a reception for the participating authors scheduled for Friday evening, then the day-long event on Sunday. Meg and I were planning to spend Saturday night kicked back and catching up, then we’d each head home on Sunday.

Because I’ve been really pooped from hospital duty with Mom and insomnia, DH decided to drive me down and pick me up on Sunday. We had a lovely drive down Highway 75 to the Indian Nations Turnpike, passing ranches, cattle, wildflowers and beautifully colored trees every mile — oh, and let’s not forget the tribal casinos, too. It seemed like there was one for every hundred head of cattle.

We were mere miles from Durant when Susan called. She was supposed to do the book festival with us, but couldn’t go. In the conversation, she said something about Duncan. “Oh, no,” I replied. “It’s in Durant.”

“Uh, I thought it was Duncan.”

“Nope. Durant.”

After the call, DH began checking the GPS for directions to the Hampton Inn in Durant. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. And I began calling Information for the event center with a sick feeling in my stomach.

Yes, kids, the great traveler, I who can find my way anywhere without a map, who have traveled cross country to new locations and back again without even opening the atlas, I went to the wrong dang town. How could I have made such a bonehead mistake? I dunno. And to make it even worse, DH had to work that night, so there was no way we could make it to Duncan from Durant (I’m not sure that’s even possible) and he could get home in time for work.

So we turned around and headed home. Bright and early the next morning, when he got off, we took off again. In the right direction this time. To the right town!

The signing was an experience. Spending time with Meg was a hoot. But now I’m home again, and I’m back on nursing duty. Mom’s at my sister’s now, so at least the surroundings are better. But she’s got to be given meds by IV twice a day. I’ve never done that before, and after my driving debacle, I just wonder if they REALLY want me giving IV meds when I can’t tell the difference between one town and another.

It’s All About the Words

The legendary Jim Morrison once said, “It’s all about the words, man. It’s all about the words.” He was right. An artist understands color can stir up emotions. A decorator knows texture is sensual. A writer appreciates the power and punch of a word. Sometimes when we strive to present a story, describe a scene, or create a character in a new, fresh, or interesting way, we lose sight of one simple fact – the craft is all about words. It’s all about how we use them, when we use them, where we use them, what words we use, and who they’re about that tell our story.

To avoid a cliché there is a temptation to over think and over reach. It’s helpful to remember that sometimes blue is blue, eyes are piercing, hearts beat, and lovers sigh. There are times when it’s better to keep it simple than drag out the thesaurus.

Words carry meaning. That sounds obvious, and elementary, yet a single poorly chosen word will yank a reader right out of a story, while a well-placed word will breathe life into a plot or flesh out a character. Just adding or changing a noun, a verb, or an adjective can create a whole new perspective or dramatically change a sentence. For example: “What a beautiful day for a parade.” vs. “What a beautiful day for a funeral.”  That’s a little extreme, but you get the point.

Some words are passive, some active, some tell, some show. George Carlin said, “There are no bad words. Just bad intent.” I would add there are no bad words, just poorly used ones. The ancients believed certain words could cast a spell. They knew what writers know – words are magic.

Still thankful…

As I struggled to find a topic for today’s blog, I was skimming through some old RWI President’s columns I had written, trying to find inspiration.  Part of the problem is that I hate the non-writing things a writer has to do to be a professional these days of the ‘Net.  On another writers’ loop, we’re having a discussion about the Internet and the writer.  One multi-published author stated that at their present publishing house, her latest manuscript was rejected…because the author didn’t have a strong enough Web presence.

I have to admit, that sent terror through me.  Back before EVERYONE was on the web, when having a website was cutting edge promoting, I had two eBooks published.  Because my publisher was an electronic publisher, I had to do most of the promotion.  As dedicated a publisher as Hard Shell Word Factory is, they simply didn’t have the distribution that my first publisher, Silhouette, did.

I did it all; created a website, joined tons of readers’ loops, sent review copies to every site I could.  Whether my efforts paid off or not, I can’t say.  But I do know that it cut into my writing time in a major way.  In fact, most of the non-writing parts of writing do the same.  At times, I wonder if it’s worth the hassle.  Then I re-read the following:

“…while watching the brisk autumn wind toss around the brightly colored fall leaves, I realized that Thanksgiving was on its way.  And that made me think of all the things I have to be thankful for as a writer.

     First, of course, is that I am a writer.  That I have this gift, this drive, or maybe you could even say this curse to put down on paper my characters and their lives.  Plus, I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can write what I want without fear.

     Other things I’m thankful for?  I’m grateful that I actually get paid for my writing, even if I’m not making a living at it.  I’m thankful for the faith of my friends and family in my writing.  And I’m deeply indebted for the support and understanding of fellow writers and the resources of my professional organizations such as RWA, RWI, and OWFI.  All the things that help get me through the anguish and joy of writing.

     So as the season comes closer, make your own list of what makes you thankful to be a writer.  Maybe it will help you through those periods when the words won’t come or your hero is acting like a jackass or your dialogue sucks pond water.”

That’s what it all comes down to, isn’t it?  Despite the aggravations, despite the actions you really hate to do, being a writer is worth it all.  So, yeah.  I’m still thankful that I’m a writer.  Warts and all!

Dreams

Lately I’ve been having strange/weird/awesome dreams. The ones I remember long after I awaken are my favorites, naturally. I’ve always been a vivid dreamer. I’ve studied for tests, written essays, and even solved plot problems for my books!

I’ve had premonition dreams, which freaks me out the most. The gathering after my grandmother’s funeral is still as clear today as it was when I was ten. Made the mistake of telling my mother this one, and she flipped out.  My grandmother died two years later. So I don’t share these dreams with anyone.

As writers, I’m positive that our dreams, whether we remember them or not, are part of our creative intellect bubbling forth. DH and I share our dreams, either during our morning coffee or afternoon ‘how was your day’ time, and I appreciate his accepting attitude. My twisted sisters are also great listeners.

Do you remember your dreams? Do you dream in color? Have you used any of your dreams in stories? port aransas 11.22.8 032

Finding Holiday Joy

fall-leavesCan you believe it’s October already? I can’t.

Usually I already have all my fall & Halloween decorations out. Not this year. I haven’t even drug them out of the closet yet. How sad is that? I plan on fixing that today in-between watching football and my regular Sunday chores.

I’m not ready for this cold weather. And I’m certainly not ready for the holidays, whichwhite-christmas-tree-decorations are just around the corner. I’ve never loved them, but did enjoy them. Anymore, I just dread them. I really wish I felt differently, but I can’t seem to get excited about the upcoming holidays at all. Although this year, I’ll be short two Christmas parties out of the 7 or so I have to go to in December. That I am excited about. But on the other hand, two Christmas parties will probably be at my house this year. One being on Christmas day where 30 people will be in my house. That, I’m not looking forward too. I honestly don’t know how Kathlynn does it!

 I love the meaning behind Christmas,  just not the hubbub that goes with it. I’m thinking I need to find the magic of the holidays. But I don’t have a clue where to start looking for it. Any ideas?

Do you enjoy the holidays or is just a pain like it is for me? And if you do look forward to it and enjoy it, why do you? I’d love to know your secret. 😉