Surfing the TV

 I rule the TV remote in our house (now that we are empty nesters!) Except if Don gets up before I do, but then he goes to bed when the sun sets, and once more I claim the TV. When I need mindless noise, I choose either the murder shows–ID, TruTV, Snapped–that features foresenic science or great detective work, or paranormal ghosties, aliens, mysteries.

In book stores, I’m drawn to the same. I have several books by Sylvia Browne, and haven’t read but 3. And true crime books, a bunch of those still stacked in the to-be-read basket. (The pile kept falling over so I tossed them in a basket!)

I truly keep thinking that my next WIP will have some of these elements, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. It’s a day to honor those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

For you.

I grew up just down the road from Oklahoma’s National Cemetery in Fort Gibson. If you’ve never been to a national cemetery when every tombstone has a small American flag in front of it, with larger flags lining the road, then if at all possible, you need to go. Seeing all those flags waving in the stiff breeze in front of the white markers absolutely took my breath away and sent chills down my arms. I’ve done this practically all my life, yet the image still has the same affect on me year after year.

My mother is buried at National. She taught me to honor our dead, to decorate their graves as a sign of respect for what they’d done.  I was pleased to see traffic jams as well as entire families gathered around a grave. It proves to me that we haven’t forgotten.

And I pray we never do.

To all the brave men and women who have served, both living and dead, I salute you!

“Editor” Isn’t Always A Dirty Word

I’ve worked with a boatload of editors over the last 20+ years. Some were easy, some were wonderful, some were persnickety, and one was Satan in human form. A good editor is priceless — and by good, I don’t mean easy. I’ve had some tough editors who taught me so much, who made me work harder and really stretch to give the best I had in me.

Now I have a new editor. His name is Cam, and he’s 3 years old and already thinks he knows how to tell my stories better than me. He’s as impatient as the Satan editor, and as ruthless, too, but I love him to death so it’s okay.

At least once each week, Bob and I pick up Cam when his dad goes to work and take him to Merritt’s Bakery, where he eats chocolate-glazed long johns with chocolate milk and repeatedly commands, “Tell me a story, Grandma.” Of course, I do,until his mom comes to get him.

Each story starts with “Once upon a time,” and each one stars Cam. Sometimes he’s a superhero; sometimes he’s a police officer. Lately, the child editor has insisted the protagonist must be Cowboy Police Chief Cameron. He must have a pistol, a gun belt, handcuffs; a horse, a cowboy hat, a big cowboy belt buckle, and his guinea pigs, Winnie and Megan, are optional, depending on his mood.

Last Friday’s story:

Me: Once upon a time, there was a farmer named Farmer Brown–

Him: No, no, once upon a time, there was a Cowboy Police Chief Cameron.

Me: I’m getting to that. And Farmer Brown lived on a farm, where he had horses and cows and pigs and chickens–

Him: And a Cowboy Police Chief Cameron!

Me: Who’s telling this story? You or me?

Him: You. But you’re not getting it right.

Sigh . . . everyone’s an editor.

Go Back To Basics

Tonight at my hospital, we had a Code Black. That meant we moved our kids & their families out into the halls, away from the windows in their rooms. While out there, one of my little bitties started choking. Of course, there’s no wall suction in the hall & the halls are crowded with beds and cribs so I can’t even move him to an interior room with wall suction. So I went back to basics; I inserted one of the long suction catheters & sucked that mucus out with my mouth.

Once upon a time, that’s how I used to get sputum for lab testing. But in those days, there was a device where you could use mouth suction without risking mucus in the mouth. Over the years, we got used to our fancy machines and a lot of the newer nurses were a little grossed out by what I did. Sometimes, writers are the same way…caught up with the “fancy” parts of writing.

Ever have a section you just can’t get to work out? A character who doesn’t do what he/she is supposed to do? Dialogue that limps along? Bet you went looking for help. Either on the Internet or notes taken at a former workshop or maybe even picking the brains of more experienced writers. And these are all good remedies, but what about that particular piece of writing where you just can’t get outside help to answer your need? Go back to the basics.

There are a lot of fancy theories out there. Five different plotting methods. All kinds of “fill-in” charts and forms. Tons of “how to” books. Again, go back to basics. You’re basically a storyteller. That means the basic thing you do is tell a story. If you have a section that’s stopping you, forget everything but the story. Tell it & be dammed to the “official” way. An editor may not approve. An agent might cry. And your CPs might stare at you and say, “What were you thinking?”

As long as the section moves the story along, no matter what crap the actual words are, you can always fix it later. And once you have the basic story down on paper, well, those things you learned from books, notes, and trusted fellow authors can help you fancy it up. So don’t think of the basics as too simple for a gifted writer. Be the storyteller first, then the gifted writer.

Starter or Finisher?

 Are you a starter? I am–I have over ten stories in progress.  So, why can’t I finish them? The dreaded internal editor–the huz. I would so love to blame her! Do I not see the conclusions? Sure I do. I think I suffer from ADD!

 Yep, that’s it. I keep adding because of flying brain thoughts. Sparks of ideas waft through like dandelion fluff.  I hear a song, POW, a story idea comes through. I see something in a magazine and my own spin tornadoes through.

What’s a writer to do?

Tornado Alley

As writers, we get to create our own worlds, make disasters happen to our characters, then make it all go away and the world is wonderful with a happily ever after for everyone – except the villain. I sure wish we could do that for the people affected by the deadly tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri last night.

The storm cut a 6 mile long and 1/2 mile wide swath through the south side of town (if I have my facts straight), taking out one of the town’s two hospitals, a Home Depot and thousands of homes and other businesses.

Even with a 20 minute warning, dozens are dead. And the search has just begun. Sometimes there simply isn’t any place to go or hide, like the F5 tornado that hit Oklahoma City a few years ago. How can you hide from something that literally sweeps your home off its foundation? You can’t.

Yes, I do wish I could change the outcome of last night’s storm. At the very least, change the path of the storm so that it didn’t hit the high school during their graduation ceremony, or church’s during evening worship, or the highly populated area that it did hit.

Joplin. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Slave for the Day

 

Okay, she’s not my slave.  She’s my truly AWESOME daughter-in-law.  And she spent three hours at my house yesterday helping me with my de-hoarding.  Remember?  It was my New Year’s goal to de-hoard my house?  We only worked on three pieces of furniture; the hutch, the buffet, and my coffee bar.  And here is what we got rid of:

Where did all that stuff come from??!! But I’m so proud of us.  Look at my uncluttered space.

And can you imagine how much junk I had in my hutch if this is the de-hoarded version?

It’s not much, but it’s a start.  Now, she’s given me a week to get the dining room table and my cookbook collection sorted through.

Soooo, which one of you is coming over to help me de-hoard my writing?  To get rid of the excuses and doubts and plain old laziness?  *Sigh*  I’m afraid that’s totally up to me.  Better get to it.