Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No blogging week...

Sorry, I will not be posting this week due to hubby's surgery. Been spending full days in the hospital with him.

Have a blessed Easter, everyone!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Do You Have This Fear?

Fear of failure is one of the greatest fears in my life. When I was in elementary school, I didn’t like to raise my hand because I didn’t want the teachers to choose me to answer a question. I feared giving an incorrect response. I ducked my head and tried to become invisible. Sometimes it worked.

When I wrote my first book, I embarked on the journey without fear. Yes, I’d come a long way toward facing my fears by that time. I didn’t even fear rejection. Gasp! Then I received my first. It brought back feelings of insecurity and failure learned during my formative years. I recoiled into my dark cave to lick my wounds. But I didn’t stay there long. Everyone experiences rejections throughout their lives. I’d experienced it many times and survived. I would survive this time as well.

After holding my first book in my hand, I thought I had it made. I began a second novel, and when I reached the mid-point, I froze. What I had written—garbage. No one would like it. Why should I continue? I should just trash these pages and start something new. So I did—start something new, not trash what I’d written. A few months later, I returned to the “horrid” manuscript and finished it without looking back. Reading it over from start to finish, I thought “Did I write that? It’s good.” So, I submitted and received a second contract. This book required very few edits. Total shock on my part!

Now, I went back to the book I’d already started and worked through to the mid-point, and that dreaded insecurity reared its head again. But I pushed onward and finished the manuscript. Received a third contract, and had very few edits.

By this time, I had begun a fourth book. I loved the characters, thought the plot was good, the writing inferior. I’ve revised the beginning of this book so many times, I don’t even know which one is the one to use. I’m stuck at mid-point, hating the plot line, the sub plots, and I don’t even know who the villain is. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I finish this book? I'm ducking my head again, just like a young school girl.
What if I get rejected? What if I get a contract and the book doesn’t sell? Fear of failure. I wonder how many other writers out there are having a problem with finishing their novel. Are you? Could you also be suffering fear of failure? If so, I challenge you to face the truth, and then get back to the pages and just “finish the book!”

Happy writing, and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cabinet Ghost

Templeton knows how to play innocent. Hubby was watching basketball upstairs when he heard the cabinet doors banging. Though I was downstairs in my office, I could heart hubby yelling for Templeton to "stop it." Hubby would go into the kitchen and see...nothing. After he sat on the sofa, the noise would begin again. Each time, he'd look into the kitchen and all was quiet.

This continued for several minutes. Finally hubby caught the door swinging open and...inside the cabinet he saw...Templeton. He's learned to get inside and bang the doors and stop when he hears footsteps. That way he can't get caught.

After hubby squirted him with the water bottle (our punishment), Templeton ran downstairs, walked across my desk, jumped in the basket where I keep paperwork to shred and sat there watching television. When hubby came downstairs to tell me what Templeton had done, the innocent cat, didn't take his eyes off the screen.

Enjoy your day. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Feral View

Looking out my kitchen window afforded a beautiful view of sunshine. My writing friends gave me the beautiful bird suncatcher because I rarely get a variety of birds at my feeder any longer. Why? Because my feral cats think they are toys.

Here is my morning view. The beautiful cat is Skeeter. He is one of our ferals. He's got incredible gorgeous sea green eyes that look as if a makeup artist used a careful hand with black eyeliner.

I've never been able to touch him. He keeps his distance when I put the food out and if I open the door to the deck, he's long gone. But he watches from safe locations and he certainly eats his share of food. Isn't he gorgeous?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Normal...or Not???

Being a writer, I like to observe people and especially to listen to how people talk to each other to help my dialogue be believable. However...

Sunday, while having breakfast, two twenty-something guys were seated in the booth behind mine. Since they talked quite loudly, I couldn't help but overhear most of their conversation.

They began talking about the "night before." I'll call them "big guy" and "little guy".

Big guy said, "You're slurring your words."

Little guy: Laugh. "I'm still hung over. I don't remember much about how I got home, but I don't think I threw up."

Big guy: "You danced last night."

Little guy:  "I did?"

Big guy: "Yeah, you were really funny. You know that dancing baby on the internet. You looked just like that."

Little guy: More laughter. "I can't believe I danced. I know I had a good time. At least what I can remember."

Big guy: "My sister thought you were hilarious."

Little guy: "You ever seen her naked?"

Big guy: "My sister!!! No way!"

Little guy: "Can I?"

Big guy: "You'll have to ask her husband that. He's six foot four and built like a football player."

Food arrives.

Little guy: "We thought you'd forgotten us."

A short spell of quiet.

Big guy: "Where'd you get those flip-flops."

Little guy: "I love these flip-flops. I love flip-flops, period. They're so comfortable. I wear them in the shower and around the pool, too."

Big guy: "How long you had them?"

Little guy: "I've had them about  a year and a half. These are my favorite ones."

Big guy: "I'm always looking for good flip-flops. Love them."

Little guy: "You should go to T. J. Maxx. I found these for nine bucks."

Big guy: "They're great."


Okay, so if I were to put this into a book, I think my readers would toss it in the trash. No one I know believes that guys talk about shoes! Besides, what kind of hero would big guy and little guy make?

Hope their conversation made you smile. It sure made me smile.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Follow My Horoscope---No Way!!

So, I read my horoscope each morning on my internet home page. This morning it says:

Exercise could be on your mind -- spring is almost here, after all -- and your head is in the right space to get started on a new fitness routine. You should be able to make it stick long enough to count.

Um, not!! It seems every time I start an exercise regime, which consists of walking (usually on the treadmill) I wind up with something painful that debilitates me. A few years ago, I had a pain in my hip area, but I kept walking, pushing through the pain, and eventually wound up with bursitis that literally kept me in my chair for a week. I couldn't walk. Last year I tried walking on my treadmill and a pain shot through my foot which prevented me from doing any serious exercise walking for several months. Two months ago, I started walking on my treadmill again. Yep, pain in my foot. I tried to ignore it until I reached the point that I was limping so badly I could barely walk up our steps. Sigh. Finally, I went to the doctor and had an x-ray. Diagnosis...arthritis and bunion. So, what's a gal to do?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Just Write It

I read a lot of writing blogs. Experts are always giving advice on what to do and what not to do. I see all the rules that will make my books the next bestseller. I know that I need to grab the reader from the very first paragraph, from the very first sentence. I know that I need to incorporate the five senses. I know I shouldn't use the word "that." (Ha! Thought you had me, didn't you?) I know should write what I know. I know the sequence to follow: beginning - intro characters and establish goal; middle - plots, subplots, problems, conflict, tension; ending - black moment when all looks lost; climax - when the final clash happens, followed by the happily ever after (in the case of romance).

If you are a writer, you've read all these things, too. And, you're probably as confused as I am sometimes. HOW do you remember to do all these things...and, gasp, how do you accomplish them? You know what needs to be done...but how do you actually DO it?

Let me ease your overload and fears. First, just write the book. Don't get hung up on what you should do or what you shouldn't do. You are a storyteller. Tell your story. Just let the words flow from your head, your heart, your fingertips. Don't stop along the way. Don't go back and read that first chapter over and over again. Don't revise. Just write. After you reach the end, you will have done what you set out to do. You will have written your book.

The time for looking at the "rules" and all those vague things you know you should do is after that first draft. Use the writing tools to edit your words and make them come to life on the page. Look at each scene and incorporate the five senses where you can, use description to paint the setting, the emotions, and ramp up the tension. Remove unneccessary words like "that." Take out unnecessary "ly" adverbs, overdone adjectives. Vary the length of your sentences. Use your thesauras to find new words to spice up old overrused nouns and verbs.

But, trust me. If you don't throw out the rules when you are writing, you'll never get that book written.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Helping Paws

I continue to make progress with my prayer shawls...despite the helping paws.

Wilbur just can't resist.

Let me help you unwind the yarn.


Yuck! It doesn't taste good!

Templeton decides to get in on the act. He likes purple.

Hey, Mom, I've been watching and I think I can do this.
Now how did you hold this thing?

I think I can do better with just my paws.

Creating with yarn is just so much fun when you have cats. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Mindless Blog

Okay, so it's Friday. The sun is shining. What's not to love about that?

On the other hand, I have to do a lot of running from one end of Columbus to the other today, buy groceries for a family dinner on Sunday, and clean the house. Not so much to love about that.

But, since I don't have to go to work, I have time to rest between all that running around. What's not to love about that?

I guess the pros have it this Friday!

Can you tell I didn't have one thing on my mind to blog about today?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Momentary Escape

Looking out my window gives me many different views. A couple of days ago, I was sitting here enjoying the sunshine when I spotted something that immediately revved my radar to alert. Two men, wearing dark clothing, hoodies pulled up, and bright yellow vests with orange bands sauntered up the street. Not walked--sauntered. Their clothing screamed of the "community service" people brought from local lock-up to clean the streets of debris. But they didn't carry the tools to pick up discarded trash, and no trash bags. My gut told me to be cautious.

So, I ran to the front door, opened the screen and stuck my head outside to see where they would go. They continued to saunter up the street, heads perusing the homes. About that time, my hubby yelled, "The cat!"...which is the alert that Templeton is trying to escape. So, I pulled the screen door toward me, catching Templeton by the hips. He wiggled to get out the door and I kept pressure against him, while I grabbed his tail and yanked him back inside. Not exactly a nice thing to do, but if he got out the door, I would have to chase him barefooted and in nothing but my oversize white terry robe. Not a pretty sight.

Cat saved, the men had disappeared. So I shut and locked the front door. I just knew those men didn't belong in our neighborhood. I headed back to my office. Twenty minutes later, I looked out to see a yellow bus passing by with the words..."community training program"  on the side. Behind the bus was another one identical, followed by a light blue van with a flashing yellow light. Yep, bet they were searching for those two men who thought community service meant casing the neighborhood.

Amazing what one can see through their window. My gut instinct has been proved correct again.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dreams Can Be Exhausting

I woke at 6:00 this morning and decided it was just too early to roll out of bed. So I closed my eyes and willed myself back to sleep. Have you ever done that? Do you have weird dreams during that time?

Geesh. I had a collage of weird dreams. First, I was driving home from who knows where and I kept taking the wrong turns. I couldn't get home! Then the dream sedged into me sitting in a parking lot and trying to figure out how many miles an hour I had driven. 300??? Um, whatever!!!

Then, the dream changed again and I was in a hallway and I passed a man. I realized I'd taken a wrong turn and then I heard him coming after me! I ran and ran and hit a dead end with only one door. It was a woman's bathroom. I ran inside and locked myself in a stall, only to realize there was no toilet to stand on. It was like a blank empty cell. I heard the man slam into the room, and...miracle...he didn't find me! After a few minutes of racing heart, I snuck out again.

Now, I was in a room with a bunch of men and they were trying to hide the fact that they'd been embezzling money from the company. Evidently, I was supposed to be one of them. I managed to carry off the charade and a big stack of receipts. When they weren't looking, I ran with them. I entered the accounting office and had the women help me to hide the goods in the bathroom. But they had to find a way to sneak me out to my car so I could escape.

Good thing I woke up! I'm so tired right now, I just may have to go take a nap to get through the day...

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Fever!!!

It's an absolutely gorgeous day!  I haven't seen such blue skies with no sign of clouds in quite a while. The sun is shining and this afternoon the temperature is supposed to reach mid fifties. Yay!

Days like this make me long for spring and summer. I've been dreaming of sitting out on our deck and enjoying breakfast to the sound of birds singing. Drinking a cup of tea, eating toast, and reading the paper. Then, in the late morning, opening my laptop and composing an outdoor scene with all the sights, sounds, and smells surrounding me. Nothing brings a scene alive better than painting words like an artist with a brush on canvas.

Hurry up spring!

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Write What You Know

I've heard that said by so many people. Write what you know. What does that mean?

As a new writer, I had no idea what to do with that phrase. What did I know? Should I write about knitting, crocheting, ceramics, crafting? Or should I write about raising kids, or working too many hours? How could these things be intriguing to anyone else?

I wrote. I became published. I still wondered about those words.

One day not long ago, I began to understand what those words mean. I've been through a lot in my life. A lot good...a lot bad. I've been hurt and I've hurt others. I've been terrified and I've been happy. I've lost loved ones and seen babies born. I've told lies and reaped the consequences.

Those are things I know. So when my characters get into situations that I've faced at one time in my life, I can close my eyes and remember back to the time it happened to me. I need to pull out the details of that particular situation. It requires meditation and going back into time, experiencing the hurt or the happiness all over again. Where was I when it happened? What was I wearing? What about the other person, if there was someone else there at the time. Once I've captured this, then I can write what my character is experiencing...using what I know.

Use what you know, and write from the heart. Your characters will come to life on the page through your own experiences. It doesn't have to be exact. You just have to know what emotion your character is experiencing and tap back into your memory for a similar emotion you felt.

Good luck! Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cats and Prayer Shawls

I took up crocheting again after many years of abandoning yarn and needles. I've been making prayer shawls to give to friends in church who are facing surgery or hard times. The pattern works up very fast and in the few hours each day that I watch television, I manage to finish a shawl every three days.

The hardest part is keeping my cats out of the yarn. There's just something about moving yarn that fascinates them. All the pictures you see of cats tangled in yarn...they're true! Wilbur is the cat that I have to fight with most frequently. He'll sit on the floor, eyes big and round, while he watches the progress. Then, suddenly, he leaps to the sofa and with one huge paw, smacks the yarn and stops it from moving. He looks so cute and innocent that it's hard to scold him. But, when he grabs the yarn in his mouth, that's where I have to get stern. I'm working on how to write a nice accompanying tag to give with the shawls, and of course, I'll have to include how Wilbur has helped.

I'll try and take a picture of one of the completed shawls with Wilbur and post on the blog for next Saturday.

Have a nice day! Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is That the Sun or a Freight Train?

Today I take DH to see the specialist who will perform his surgery. Anxiously awaiting more information on his condition and how the surgery will help.

These past three months have been very stressful for both of us. Looking ahead we can see a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Now, as long as it isn't a freight train, then what's not to love about that?

Hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Writer's Cobwebs

Today, I'm not looking outside my office window. Instead, I'm looking inside my office at the stacks of papers and books that seem to multiply overnight. Why can't I keep an organized office?

I suppose my office is a reflection of my writing mind lately. Jumbled and in disarray.

One of the blogs I follow, The Plot Whisperer, hit the nail on the head with the post of 5 Reasons Writers Get Stuck. Read blog post by clicking here.

I'm waiting for warm, dry weather so I can get outside and clear the cobwebs from my brain. Much needed spring cleaning. *grin*

Hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Smile! You'll have to get used to it!

I received this in an email from my sister-in-law. Since I hadn't heard it before, I thought I'd share it with my readers. Hope it starts your day with a smile!

A mom was concerned about her kindergarten son walking to school. He didn't want his mother to walk with him. She wanted to give him the feeling that he had some independence but yet know that he was safe.

So she had an idea of how to handle it. She asked a neighbor if she would please follow him to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, so he probably wouldn't notice her.

The neighbor said that since she was up early with her toddler anyway, it would be a good way for them to get some exercise as well, so she agreed.

The next school day, the neighbor and her little girl set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with another neighbor girl he knew. She did this for the whole week.

As the two walked and chated, kicking stones and twigs, Timmy's little friend noticed the same lady was following them as she seemed to do every day all week. Finally she said to Timmy, "Have you noticed that lady following us to school all week? Do you know her?"

Timmy nonchantly replied, "Yeah, I know who she is."

The little girl asked, "Well, who is she?"

"That's just Shirley Goodnest," Timmy replied, "and her daughter, Marcy."

"Shirley Goodnest? Who the heck is she and why is she following us?"

"Well," Timmy explained, "every night my Mom makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers, 'cuz she worries about me so much. And in the Psalm, it says, 'Shirley Goodnest and March will follow me all the days of my life', so I guess I'll just have to get used to it!"

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Lose-Lose Situation

For the past few days I've been nauseous off and on. Woke this morning feeling yucky. I started taking prescription meds for my arthritis about a week ago, and I'm thinking this is what's causing the problem.

So, now it's a toss-up: deal with the nausea and stomach pain or deal with the body aches, especially the foot.

Whoever came up with the term golden years must have been quite young! The only gold I'm seeing is going straight into the hands of the medical profession. Ugh.

Hope you all have a great day. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Split-Personality or Just Taking the Middle Road?

Have you ever taken one of the "right brain" vs "left brain" quizzes to determine which side of your brain is the most dominant?

The right brain is the creative side of your thinking. It's where emotions, gut instincts, intuition, and visioning takes place.

The left brain is the more technical side of your thinking. It's where you analyze, research, and process ideas.

I've taken multiple tests of this kind and I always fall squarely in the middle. There is no "middle" brain folks. So what does this mean? All it means is that I use both sides of my brain to an equal amount. At times, I'm very analytical and methodical in making decisions, while at other times, I make decisions based upon my emotions or gut instinct. Sometimes both sides of my brain wrestle. I know what should be my choice based upon knowledge, however, my heart tugs me toward a second choice because it "feels" right.

I suppose that's why I have problems when I write. At times I'm letting my right brain control the word flow and feeling wonderful with what is happening...but then, my left brain editor kicks in and tells me this is all hogwash. It will never fly. The plot isn't strong enough, the characters need more development.

However, I need the right brain word dump to get the draft done, but the left brain takes over during the edits. Controlling which brain is dominant becomes the tough part. It's not a cognitive choice for me. I may "know" which side of my brain needs to drive, but real life and distractions come into play.

So, how about you? Are you right or left brain dominant? How does that play into your writing?

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Heartwarming Mission

Those who've been following my blog for a while know that I care for thirteen feral cats. When a neighbor moved away leaving some semi-wild cats that he'd been feeding, my hubby bought food and took it over to the patio and fed them through the winter. When spring came, the house sold and workers began remodeling. The cats migrated to our yard to take refuge...and to have kittens! Aghast at the sheer number of cats in our yard...seventeen...I searched for help. We had all the cats and kittens spayed/neutered, got their rabies shots, and released them back into the yard. The trap and release program meant that we would agree to offer shelter and food to them for the remainder of their lives.

So we built a shelter for them under our deck, and we purchase about six twenty pound bags of food to feed them. Over the years, we have lost four of the cats. The remaining ones are still wild and afraid of humans, except for us. Most of them shy away at noises and movement, though they don't actually run too far. Some of them are friendly with us. They will allow us to pet them and look forward to our outdoor visits. However, we could never pick them up or try to put them into a cage.

I begin each morning with feeding and watering the animals. It's the closest I'll get to living on a farm, I guess. And, I feel very blessed with taking care of these precious animals. Someone has to care. There are so many animals abandoned by families who move away and leave the defenseless pets behind. The number of feral cats is beyond comprehension--so much so that there is no place to take them. Thus, they continue to perpetuate. Feral animals have a short life expectancy, but I believe the ones we care for will fare better than most. They are fat and fluffy and as healthy as can be expected. My heart goes out to them over the winter, especially winters like the one we just experienced in Ohio. There is still snow on the ground. I shoveled paths around the house and around the areas where they walk to help.

Today the sun is shining and the cats are laying on the dry areas of concrete and stairs soaking up the warmth. I tell our three indoor cats how lucky they are, but I don't think they quite "get it."

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Finding Positive in the Negative

Today I am having a tooth pulled. There's nothing to love about that. I've been struggling with finding one thing to love about today.

The sky is cloud covered, but I see a hint of sunshine.

There is still snow on the ground, but I can see patches of grass.

I have to go grocery shopping, but I have the money to provide food.

My husband has to face another surgical procedure, but he doesn't have cancer.

Hmmm. Looking back, what's not to love about today?

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Sunshine Almost Always Makes Me High"

I love the song "Sunshine on My Shoulders" as sung by John Denver. It depicts the feelings I have when I'm standing in the kiss of the sun.

This morning, sun is reflecting in the window of the house across the street, a big beautiful ball of gold, which promises a sunny day. Even if it is winter, and cold, the sun has a way of lifting my spirits.

In an hour we'll be leaving to take my DH to VA outpatient surgery. Today, we should learn what has been causing his nearly three month health problem and determine the path for going forward. I need the sunshine, so I thank God for that blessing today.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I Bumped My Toe...Against a Pile of Snow...

Yesterday I went to the doctor for my six month check-up and to have him look at my foot. I've been having pain in my right foot for several months. Most of the pain has centered in the top of the foot above the arch. But recently it's become very painful whenever I bump my toes against anything, which I did two days ago. Yep, I bumped my toes, wearing nice soft snuggly slippers against a small pile of snow. Yeah, I know...that something to smile about! But it really hurt! I've been in pain ever since.

So, the doctor pressed around my toes where they meet my foot and OUCH!!!! He sent me to the hospital to have x-rays.  Tomorrow I should know the results.

But, on a good note, he told me my blood pressure and my blood tests were fantastic!

See, I knew when I quit working the day job that I'd get healthier. Now, that's something to smile about.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I've Always Wanted to Be a Pirate

This week I'm sailing on "The Muse's Adventure," a mythical pirate ship created by me mateys in me writin' group. We be lootin' and treasurin' in Conflict Cay at the moment, after leavin' the Isle of Hunks where we picked up our heros. Me pirate band mateys will disembark on Saturday at midnight, but all will have completed a lot of editin' and writin' along the way.


Thanks for stopping by today!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Write it in Longhand? Gasp!

It's time to write the next chapter. You've ended your story with a great hook that will entice your reader to turn the page and see what happens next. Great! But, if you want to keep those pages turning, you have to start your new chapter with a hook as well.

One thing that has helped me is to first sit down with pen and paper and freehand what I expect to happen in the chapter. Remember each chapter should have goal, motivation, and conflict. Yesterday I had a vague idea of how I wanted to move forward with my story, but I couldn't quite get the "hook" to begin with. So, I grabbed a tablet and pen and began to write. I filled a page and a half, stopping when I had reached a point of emotional turmoil for both the hero and heroine. Then I looked at what I'd charted as the beginning. Now I easily knew how to write that hook to entice my reader to continue reading.

Actually writing that chapter became very easy. No, I'm not a true plotter. I do know my characters, I know what is keeping them apart, I know how the story is going to end (like any good fairy tale), but I don't know how they are going to get there. There will be obstacles along the way, lots of conflict, tension, and pitfalls. But when I sit and develop each chapter on paper, then I can visualize the characters as I write their actions and words. In no time at all, I have a new chapter with a great hook for the first sentence and for the last.

Hope this helps some of you who have problems sitting down and staring at a blank page.

Thanks for stopping by!