Friday, July 18, 2014


I've been under the radar for the past few weeks.  It hasn't been fun.  I've never been a sick person, but over the past almost 3 months, I can't say I've been healthy.  It seems everything decided to hit at once.

Simply wrapping my mind around words has been an effort in futility.  I'm trying harder to fix that.  With an August 18th revision deadline, I don't have a choice.

And I missed a lot of good stuff.  For the first time in years, I wasn't able to attend any of our 9-day annual River Festival.  I'd made plans to travel with friends to San Antonio, TX, to RWA's annual conference being held there this year, but I had to back out.  With my health not at 100%, I didn't want to risk it.

So here I am, trying not to feel sorry for myself. Most of the time it works.  Once in a while it doesn't.

It's hard to deal with disappointment.  While we might be able to manage to keep a smile on our faces, inside we battle how we really feel.  I feel...sad, let down, already missing my friends and the fun I always have.  Sometimes it's better to let ourselves feel the disappointment or anger or whatever negative emotion for a little while, but not for long.  We have to find a way to get past it, forget it, and move on.  There'll be something positive in our lives soon that will take the place of those negative feelings.  Until then, I intend to treat myself with gentleness and patience.

Oh, yeah.  There's one more thing.  I need to get to work!!

I'll pop back in here when time and energy allow.  Until then, keep smiling!
If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Friday, June 20, 2014

Another Week, Another Friday

FRIDAY FREE-FOR-ALL aka Friday Crazies
No, I don't have special plans for the weekend.  Weekends are a lot like weekdays around here.  Just because it's Saturday or Sunday or even Friday evening, one day is much the same as others.  I work, no matter what day it is.  Now that Game of Thrones has finished its fourth season, I don't even have a MUST-WATCH TV show.

The grass needs mowing.  Thanks to the rain we've had, the backyard is a jungle.  Last Saturday, I pulled and cut the bigger weeds, in hope that we might get to actually mow at some point.  Yesterday we replaced the primer cap on the mower - - - that's the little button that has to be pushed to prime a pull-cord type mower so it will start - - - and it still won't start.  But the Weed Eater is working again, now that it has new line, so we might manage to blaze a trail of some kind through the jungle.  I'm not holding my breath.  Temps are expected to be in the 90s, with humidity to match.  Ugh.

New neighbors--or maybe only one--to the south of us are making life, well, interesting.  A pitbull has been ensconced in the backyard there, complete with small dog house.  That would be well and good, but the poor dog is attached to a leash, giving him little freedom.  Not to mention that I learned yesterday that it's illegal in this fair city for a dog to be tied up for more than an hour, four times a day.  This dog has been tied up 24/7 for 2 1/2 days.  I had to find out from the neighbor to the south of my south neighbor that anyone was actually living in the house.  I don't make a habit of clocking the habits of neighbors or even knowing who they are.  I rarely saw anyone there, but when I did, it was often at the strangest times---3:30 a.m., mostly, when headlights from a car pulled into the driveway, which would shine in my bedroom window.  In spite of several Facebook friends thinking it might be a drug house, the new neighbor is an older Hispanic woman who doesn't drive and obviously never steps out of the house, either. le sigh

Let me make it clear.  I like dogs.  We have a dog, too, but Max the Pekingese isn't all that crazy about
going outside, especially when it's raining, snowing, hot or the grass is tall. When he does allow us to boot him out, we then have to carry him back in, especially at midnight.  Max is L A Z Y and S P O I L E D.  The dog next door is tied to his dog house ALL THE TIME.  Said dog also isn't crazy about being left alone ALL THE TIME, so barks, moans, whines, and every other sound imaginable ALL THE TIME.  The past two nights have meant being awakened far too often by the barks and whines of the dog.  And I've yet to see anyone in the backyard to check on him.  Do I call the authorities and report this?  Or maybe I should simply leave a copy of the City Law that states New Ordinance Makes it a Crime to Keep Your Dog on a Chain 24/7" in the door for someone to find.  I'm about to set the dog free, when no one is looking.  However, I'm not sure how friendly the dog is or isn't.

So it's summer and it's Friday.  I'm a few pages from finishing a new manuscript.  I need to get busy on plotting a new series for Harlequin American, set in a Texas ghost town.  But my #3 daughter and her hubby are stopping by this evening with a present for me.  They consider it a present.  I consider it one more mouth to feed.  A couple of weeks ago, said daughter picked up her cat Tosca, who's been living with me for the past several years, since daughter couldn't have a cat where she lived, and they're now living at least 2 hours away.  Yes, I'll miss Tosca, but she tends to keep to herself and she apparently is enjoying her new home and humans.  So daughter has decided to give me one of the kittens born in one of the race cars at the shop. (Her hubby is a race car driver.)  Just what I need, right?

There's a problem with new kitty.  He's a he and will have to be, um, fixed.  And daughter named all the kittens after candy bars.  (Yes, I'm serious.)  This particular kitty was named Kondike.  Yeah, like a Konkdike Bar, which is actually ice cream, not a candy bar.  I decided to name him Dave.  Yes, Dave.  My youngest daughter is having a fit.  PETS CANNOT BE GIVEN HUMAN NAMES.  Which isn't exactly true, since Toby, her cat, has a human name.  She wanted me to name the new kitten DaVinci, which is how the name Dave came to be.  Or Tyrion, seeing that I'm a GoT and Peter Dinklage fan.  Or anything but Dave.  #3 daughter says I can name kitten whatever I want.  Her hubby likes Dave Kondike, Used Car Salesman.  They're the ones who gave me a fish for my birthday and named him Charlie Manson.  Creative, aren't they?

Let's face it.  There's never a dull moment here.  Four daughters, each with her own distinctive personality, always make life interesting.  And if they should fail, humanity will always fill in.

Best wishes to anyone who has bothered to slog through this rambling mess.  Have a wonderful weekend!!  Pics of Dave Kondike, Used Car Salesman will be posted on Monday.  I hope. ;)
The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. ~ Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It Has To Get Better, Right?

I hate whiny people, but in the past couple of days, I've become one.

What is it about this month that has turned it inside out?  With twelve more days to go, I wonder what else can happen, what else can go wrong.

I ended May in the ER and began June in a hospital room.  Other than being released from the hospital after three days and having the ability to breathe again, I can't say that I've seen a big improvement in the way the month is going.  In fact, it's to the point that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop...and considering how many have been dropping already, I must be a centipede.

One of the problems with this month is that for all but the first six days, Mercury is Rx. That little thing that looks like it means "prescription," actually means "retrograde."  So what's retrograde mean?  It means that Mercury, the planet of communication, appears to be moving backwards in the cosmos and everything that involves communication in any shape or form is going to be, well, screwed, to put it bluntly.  It will be worse for some than for others, depending on your natal chart.  And I'm not going to get into that, so just trust me that it's going to be somewhere between a bit uncomfortable this month or totally insane.  I'm at the totally insane end of it.

If your computer hasn't been acting wonky, if your cell phone is performing as expected, if a flight you booked hasn't been canceled (communication can involve travel), count yourself lucky.  You may get through this 26 day Mercury Rx with little pain.  I, on the other hand, am to the point of being nearly homicidal.

My computer, which is an extension of me, has gone bat(you-know-what) crazy since Monday evening.  Programs are freezing, right and left, causing me to stop and wait, until they respond again.  If that doesn't happen, a CTR-ALT-delete will eventually get things back to normal...for 2 to 5 minutes, when it happens again.  Have I mentioned that anything done on computer at this point is taking 3 to 5 times longer that usual?  No?  Well, I'm telling you, that's what's happening.

Yes, I have googled a fix, followed instructions to the nth degree, and I still am ready to tear off the head of the first person who asks me what's wrong.  I've twice "restored" my computer to a date prior to the problem beginning.  I've uninstalled the one or two new programs I've installed in the past month.  I've even gone so far as to try muttering mumbo-jumbo, in the hope that something will work.  It only gets worse.

Two more weeks to go, and Mercury will be back on track, speeding along the beltway of the Universe.  I hope I'm still sane and not wrapped in one of those funny white jackets that tie in the back.  I hope there's actually something left of my universe, although after this bombardment of things-gone-wrong, I may not recognize it.

Curious about Mercury Rx and want to learn more?  (Forewarned is forearmed, ya know.)  Check out Gala Darling's Blog for a quick and easy tutorial.  If this Rx hasn't managed to put your life a little off-kilter, a little education on the subject could save you when the next one rolls October. ;)
Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy. ~ Nora Ephron

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Only Rules You Need


1.  If you do not GO after what you want, you'll never have it.

2.  If you do not ASK, the answer will always be NO.

3.  If you do not step FORWARD, you'll always be in the same place.

The above is all you ever need to know.  It affects every, single thing you do...or don't do.  This doesn't have to do with writing or being a writer.  It has everything to do with dreaming, being, and achieving what you want.  Nothing comes easy, and the best things come hard.  Follow those three rules in all areas of your life, and watch your dreams take hold.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Missing In Action Thing

There was a point in the past ten days when I wasn't sure I'd be here.  This time last month, I was hit with what I thought was an asthma attack, something I haven't dealt with but a couple of times, and the most recent being four or five years ago.

A trip to a local pharmacy clinic netted me some meds and a bill that sucked up my quarterly royalties.  Because I was locked out of by some kind of glitch, I have no health insurance.  Okay, I'm not whining.  It happened to a lot of people and will be taken care of as time goes by.  Until then, I'll do what I can and hope for the best.

The meds helped...for a while, then I felt worse, then a little better, then worse again.  Three weeks later, I went to a different local clinic because I was still having difficulty breathing that had become worse.  I was given a breathing treatment, meds, prescriptions and more, and spent more money.  A few hours later, I ruined my daughters' evening with a call to them at a concert, telling them I needed to go to the ER.  I.  Could.  Not.  Breathe.

With my oxygen level at a dangerous 82%, I was admitted to the hospital that Saturday night.  At that point in time, I didn't care what they did with me.  I was exhausted from trying to breathe and my hands wouldn't stop shaking.  Yes, a hospital visit is expensive, and without insurance, something I wouldn't do on whim or much of anything else, but I didn't feel I had a choice.  I signed my name and gave my care up to the wonderful people at the hospital.

Tuesday evening I came home, breathing easily and able to walk from one room to the other without tiring or gasping for air.  In fact, on Wednesday, youngest daughter and oldest granddaughter and I went on a treasure hunt, hiking along an historical bridge, looking for a medallion.  I'm not only back to normal, I'm better than I was.  I've stopped smoking.  Again.  (Third time is charmed, right?)

I had a lot of time to think in the hospital.  When there's even the smallest chance that you might not take another breath, you start to see your life in a new way.  Have I done the things I want to do?  Am I ready to pass on to whatever is or isn't out there?  My answer was NO.  I got a whole lotta livin' to do.

Thank you to all my family and super friends, who stopped by to visit, brought me a shake from Sonic, some books, a tiny rose bush, a handmade glitter-pic and kept me smiling.  I am blessed to have you all in my life.  And there's more life coming.  Count on it. :)

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows. ~ Pope Paul VI

Friday, May 30, 2014

No Fun for This Friday

Actually, I should title this blog post FRIDAY WHINE.

Why?  Because that asthma I mentioned earlier this week has still not gone away.  I'm worn out from no sleep, and my ribs hurt from coughing.  (Coughing with asthma is good, as long as it's productive.)  I've been dealing with this for three weeks now, and in some ways it's finally getting better.  I can sometimes walk from one end of the house to the other.  Not always.  Just now and then.

I'm trying not to push it, but tonight is the kick-off of our annual River Festival.  That means sitting on the riverbank, listening to the symphony play all kinds of great music, then wrapping it up with the 1812 Overture and the most fantastic fireworks display that seems to never want to end.  Believe me, the audience doesn't want it to end.

But if I can't walk half a block without gasping for air, I won't be going.  We usually have to park several blocks away from the heart of the festival and walk.  At this point, I doubt I could make it.  And I'll miss the concert and fireworks, something I look forward to each year.  I'm secretly trying to devise a plan to drive to the baseball stadium, find someplace to park, and hope I can see the fireworks from there.  I'm dreaming, I'm sure.  The streets will be closed, and I won't be able to get even close.

So maybe I'll just go outside in the backyard, while the rest of my family goes to hear and see.  I can sit in my swing and turn on the radio station that shares the music being played by the symphony.  At least I can enjoy that.  I might even get a glimpse of some sparklies in the sky.  It isn't that far from my house to downtown.  And it's better than nothing.

This gives me a chance to catch up on those edits I'd planned to have finished a week or two ago.  I still have the last four chapters to edit, and while it was going well, concentration is hampered by coughing.  But I haven't given up, and maybe by the end of the weekend, I'll have the book edited.  After that?  I'm not sure, but I'm targeting some time in July to publish it.  There's so much to learn!

Life is full of disappointments, and I'm not going to let this one get me down.

Here's hoping that those reading this whine have a wonderful weekend or whatever part of your week lies ahead.
If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Monday, May 26, 2014

Oh, Those Cowboy Heroes!


This blog post was swimming around in my subconscious yesterday morning as I woke up.  I don't know where the thoughts came from, they were just there, and they seemed perfect.

I grew up back in the 50s and 60s, when television was still black and white for anyone who wasn't filthy rich.  An only child in a middle income family, with two working parents--something of an oddity at the time--and an imagination that bubbled over would be a good description of me.  I grew up watching cowboy shows, because those were the shows, in addition to the Mickey Mouse Club and Captain Kangaroo, that were available the most.  

Howdy Doody, up there, with Buffalo Bob Smith, along with Clarabell the Clown, Mayor Phineas T. Bluster, Flub-a-Dub and more, kept kids in the Peanut Gallery entertained with puppetry and silliness.  (For those who don't know, Clarabell was played by Bob Keeshan aka Captain Kangaroo.)  To be honest, when thinking of all those Westerns I watched as a little girl, Howdy didn't even come to mind.  GASP!
I knew I'd forgotten many of the shows I watched, so it was Wikipedia to the rescue!  There were adult Westerns and kid Westerns.  Of course I was drawn to the kid ones at an early age.  I did a quick count of the early shows and came up with some thirty-five Westerns I watched on a regular basis from the early 1950s to the early 1960s.  Keep in mind that back in the olden days, we had THREE channels.

So here we go with a list: (Most watched in bold)
The Adventures of Jim Bowie     The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin     
The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok      Annie Oakley     Bat Masterson  
Broken Arrow     Bronco     Cheyenne     Circus Boy     Davy Crockett      Death Valley Days    
Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre     Fury     The Gabby Hayes Show      The Gene Autry Show    Gunsmoke     Have Gun Will Travel     Hopalong Cassidy     Laramie     Lawman     The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp   The Lone Ranger     Maverick     My Friend Flicka      Rawhide  
 The Rebel     The Rifleman    The Roy Rogers Show     The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show   
Sky King     Sugarfoot     Texas John Slaughter     The Virginian    Wagon Train     Wanted: Dead or Alive   Zorro

Annie Oakley was one of my favorites.  She could ride and shoot like any cowboy.  Rin Tin Tin was a beautiful German Shepherd dog that saved Rusty, the little boy who was a part of the cavalry, and anyone else who needed saving. (Think Lassie.)  Fury and My Friend Flicka were all about a boy and his horse.  Or two boys and their horses, as it was.  Hopalong Cassidy was just, well, Hoppy, and I rarely missed it.  I still remember that big ol' white hat he wore.  The Lone Ranger?  What female's heart didn't pound at the sight of that masked man.  And Tonto, played by Jay Silverheels, wasn't all that bad, either.  Which brings us to Maverick, and I still adore James Garner and always will.  Sky King flew a plane and had a neice named Penny.  I was envious.  Zorro, too, had a mask, and was a part of Disney.

Fess Parker played both Davy Crocket and, later, Daniel Boone.  Circus Boy starred a little boy named Mickey Braddock, who later became Micky Dolenz of The Monkees (1960s music group, for all you youngsters).  Stars were born.  Stars faded, and some went on to other things.  Tom Tryon (Texas John Slaughter), became a author, writing Harvest Home, The Other, and Lady.  The first of those was a terrific horror book, similar to Stephen King's writing.  Bronco actor Ty Hardin's real name is Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr..  I learned that when I was 10 and he was a teen heartthrob.

Those were the good old days.  The good guys won, the bad guys lost, and the cowboy always got his girl.

Yes, there are many later TV Westerns not on the list.  Bonanza, The Big Valley, The High Chaparell, Here Come the Brides (considered a Western, but set in post-Civil War Seattle), Lonesome Dove, and many more.

How many did you watch?  If you're too young for many of these, ask your parents if they watched.  And head on over to Wikipedia for a full list of TV Westerns.

It's fun to take a look back at the things we enjoyed, long ago.  There's a lot of difference between then and now, and we don't see nearly the Westerns on TV or in the movies as we once did.  But we do see a lot of Cowboy Heroes in romance books.  I wonder how many romance authors were raised on the Code of the West as I was?  Is it any wonder I have a soft spot for a soft-spoken, well-mannered cowboy?
The good old days are now. ~ Tom Clancy

Friday, May 23, 2014

Summer!! Or Good Enough, At Least

I'll be honest.  I have no idea what I'm blogging about today.  I'm simply happy that school is out and summer vacation has officially begun today.

Taking a quick look out the window, it would be difficult to call it summer.  The sky is overcast, leftover from early morning storms, and the temperature, which reached into the low 90s yesterday, is just under 70.  I have no doubt that will quickly change by tomorrow.  But we need the rain here, and there's no reason not to welcome a cool day.  After all, we already passed 100 earlier this month.

Mallory, the youngest of my four, and I spent much of yesterday attending graduation ceremonies.  (Two of my grands, her nieces.)  The first was youngest granddaughter Payton's Pre-K.  The class presented parents and friends with songs they'd learned over this school year.  I especially liked the "Five Little Monkees Jumping On the Bed" song.  It reminded me of my own girls' days in Brownie and Girl Scouts.

The little guy on the left in the light blue shirt was a showman and such a cutie.  When one of the songs was over, he turned to his mom (blonde, in white shirt) and said, "Take a picture of me, Mom."  He was obviously proud, as well he should be.  They all should.  After all, they came away from the year with nifty songs, knowing their alphabet and able to count, and especially how to get along in a classroom of their peers.  A step in the right direction!

All the kids seemed to understand how special the day was for them and their families.  Smiles abounded, giggles and squeals filled the room.  These kids were excited!

A little over an hour later, we were back at the school for Payton's older sister's graduation from 5th grade.  While the Pre-Kers had been in a party mood, the older group understood what this day meant for them.  Grade school would be a memory, when the doors to middle school open in the fall.  Many of them had spent the past six years together, growing and learning.  A video presentation at the end of the ceremony of random shots of the students in classrooms and on the playground was followed by a beautiful rendition of Katie Perry's Roar filling the auditorium.  These kids understood that they're were stepping out of one stage of life into the next.

The last group of four to receive their diplomas stood patiently in line.  That's Allie, waiting her turn to get her Certificate of Promotion.
 It's hard to believe that it wasn't all that long ago that Allie was finishing Pre-K and then Kindergarten.  She's growing up into a fine young woman, and I hope she weathers middle school well.  From my own memories, it's the worst of all the stepping stones of education.

The graduates listened to a memorable speech by the Operations Division Director of the City schools, and he presented each one of them with a special gift:  A small, flat black stone, like the one he had carried throughout his own school years and still kept as a reminder of how far he'd come and the wonderful gifts in his life--his family.

And of course these are the years of giggling girls and selfies.  How lucky we are that technology has given us instant photos to keep that will remain as memories in our hearts for years.  Let's hope these girls all remember the good times they had in grade school as they walk, sail, and fly through their lives.

Then it was over.  Another year, another two graduations.  Last year it was oldest granddaughter Scarlett (our ice-skater) from 5th grade, and youngest grandson Jaxon's graduation from Kindergarten.  Next year will be another two.  Gavin from 5th and Payton from Kindergarten.  It's like stepping stones.  Before we know it, we'll have three 8th grade graduations in a row, and then will come high school.

The years go quickly.  Too quickly, most of us would say.  Each year brings new memories for us to treasure.  How lucky is that?

Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going. ~ Tennessee Williams

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Time to Get Moving

For me, summer is two days away.  By 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, freedom reigns . I can't remember looking forward to summer as much as I am right now.  Except maybe once, and that was long ago when my high school graduation approached.  That last summer of being a non-adult was fast approaching.  That last summer to spend with friends, to be free and unencumbered, if only for a few months.

A month ago I blogged about how I'd written only four new pages.  In fact, my total for April was 10 pages.  Ten pages.  That's abysmal.  And, sadly, that's pretty much where I still am.

Now comes the B U T.  By later today, I'll be halfway through the first round of edits on a new book.  They're going well.  The story is there and it's moving along.  Building, even.  I wrote the first draft a year ago and had forgotten about all the things in the story.  I'm pleased with it.  And even though I'm not doing fresh writing, I'm moving forward, and that's the key.  And I'll be done before the end of the weekend.

With the upcoming opportunity to have more time, one would think I'd be waiting until the interruptions of "real" life have begun to fade.  Instead, I chose to dive in ahead of time.  By the time Monday rolls around, I'm hoping my head is back in the writing game, and I can move forward from those pitiful ten pages that were written in April.

Motivation to write is fickle.  After burying myself in a deadline during January and February, I spent March recuperating.  And April being lazy.  I have an idea in mind for a new series, I sort of know the characters and there's a vague idea of where the stories will be going.  And that's it.  The harder I tried to push it, the faster my mind would snap shut.  Agatha Christie was right.  "The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes."  Are you pressed for time in real life?  Is every possible have-to knocking at your door?  Story ideas will abound.  But if you're sitting there, strumming your fingers on the keyboard, waiting for inspiration, you'll get nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Zero.

When you can't get to the things you really, really want to do, you're going to want to do them that much more.  That has to be one of Murphy's Laws.  You've set your goals, you're ready to roll.  And then life steps up and throws you a curve ball.  You come down with the flu, one of your kids needs a costume for the school play, taxes are due, your partner loses or gains a job.  Major life events happen, along with minor ones, and your plan--your goals--are set aside.

But there's always those dishes to do...  "The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes."  Read that one more time.  The best time for planning a book IS while you're doing dishes.  You've been given the gift of a mindless chore, when you can let your imagination run wild.  Not only is dishwashing time a good one, but any time you have a few quiet moments.  Vacuuming or dusting?  Bedmaking?  Doing laundry?  A fifteen minute break at work or lunch on your own?  Brainstorming can happen at any time, any where.  It doesn't need to be a big chunk of time.  Any bit of time will do.

No time to write?  Of course there is!!  We give non-priority time too much weight. Snatch that 15 minute break at work, or the time spent waiting for school to let out.  Instead of thumbing through magazines at the doctor's office, take a small notebook, brainstorm and make notes.  Whatever comes to mind.

This just popped up on Twitter.

By wisely investing this moment, this hour, this day, this time you're in, you can continue to reap its benefits long after it has passed.
So there it is.  One sentence.  Twenty-five words.  It's time to get moving.  Let's do it!
Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. ~ William Penn

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Aftermath of a Productive Weekend

"The best laid plans of mice and men..." 

That's the beginning of a line in Robert Burn's poem, "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough," and often describes my weekend plans.

Not this past weekend.

In fact, the weekend was more productive than most and considerably more satisfying.  I had a list.  Not a long list, only four items.  For once, I didn't go mad and overdo, which leads to disappointment in myself.  No, this one was simple.

A load of laundry and several loads of dishes on Friday (we've been saving up *wink*), followed by the replacement of a light switch on Saturday morning.  Yes, I'm a handy little devil.  Or would be if I had done it right.  Unfortunately, I didn't, but neither did I cause a flash fire.  That's a win.  And, after a little more research, I discovered what I needed to do, so it now reappears on my list of chores-for-later-in-the-week.  No need to push it.  The light hasn't worked for some time.  A few more days won't matter.  Live and learn, right?  The last of the errant dishes---how do they manage to meander into other rooms?---were done, and I moved on to finish some small updates on my website.  Not a lot of work, but everything on the list crossed off.  Well, except for that light switch, but that's covered.

There was also the editing of the first three chapters of what will (I hope) be the first of a series of books that I wrote in the spring a year ago.  The tentative series name is The Divine Misfits.  Maybe.  We'll see how that goes.  So what if there are still  eleven chapters to go?  It's begun and, with luck, will be finished by Sunday.  That's the plan.

This feeling of accomplishment is rare, and I think I've discovered the secret.  Of course, most everyone but me knows that secret.  I'm a little slow on the uptake.  And what is it?  Don't overload yourself with trying to do too much!  Obviously my goal setting has weak spots.  But I'm working on that.  When it comes to writing, it isn't difficult.  When it comes to normal, everyday life, yeah, there are problems.

Yesterday (Sunday) was good, especially because it was our writers group meeting.  A week later than usual, thanks to Mother's Day, so even more welcome.  There's nothing like getting together with like-minded and wonderful friends.  I could do this all the time!  And with a handful of us vowing to meet for critiquing once a week, it's all good.  I'm pumped.  But I'm also trying not to get over-pumped.  That leads to downfall.  So it's take one small thing at a time and enjoy.

I'm learning new things.  I'm reading blogs, books, articles and whatever appears as a gift from the Universe to see life in a different way.  I like to call myself a realist, but over the years, I've become more pessimistic.  If something good happened (and it does), it was easier to say it was a fluke.  Now I'm trying to expect the good stuff.  Why not?  Shouldn't we choose the good over the bad?  I mean, if we have a choice---which we do---let's choose not only good, but great!  I like that.  I really do.  (Doing some weird Sally Field channeling here.)

Yes, there are a million things that need to be done to get the things in my life in line to the way I want it.  But they can't all be done in a day, a weekend, or even a week.  They take time.  And time is often our enemy.  Instead, let's make it our friend.  Don't overload yourself with trying to do too much!  Yes, it's definitely worth repeating.  And now that I know the secret...

In the end, what I got from all this was that I could have the best of both worlds:  Getting things done AND enjoying the weekend.  What could be better than that?  There's still laundry to be done, winter clothes to wash, dry, fold, pack away until the weather turns cold again.  Small closets and not enough drawer space means everything can't always be at hand.  That's okay.  We understand it.  It's become a tradition to start mentioning it as the weather begins to change, and finally saying, "Let's get it done today."  There's still the office that could use a bulldozer, but it, too, will be done in small doses and chunks.  Why not?  It isn't going anywhere on its own.  Lots of sort and toss and store...and finding new places to store.  Just how many file folders need to be on hand at all times?

In a few days, school will be out, and this summer may be unlike the past nine summers, filled with grandkids bickering and running crazy, trips to the library and trying to find enough food to please and fill up five growing youngsters.  I need the break.  I deserve the break.  (See that positive there?)  I want to enjoy this time.  It's MY TURN.  (Please pass that on to my offspring.)

Monday Madness will remain as it's called, only because it's MONDAY, but there'll be some small changes.  Change is good.  Change is healthy.  Change is fun!  One day at a time.  One step at a time.  And, hey, I might actually become that productive person I dream of being?

How was your weekend?  Did you have (TAKE!) the opportunity to make it a good one?  Or would you like to climb out of the rut?  Let's take the road together and see where it takes us, pitfalls and all, because there will always be those...unless we live on a faraway island where no one can find us.

Check back next week and see if this new positive course continues to work.  Yes, there will be a failure here and there, but focusing on the successes will take care of those, right?  And next week I'll share some links I've discovered that are helping me along my way.  Maybe you'll find something helpful, too.!
"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence."  ~  Confucius

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday is Finally Here!

It's been a tough week and a half.  Mid-week last week, I was hit with an asthma attack.  They're rare, but when they come along, it's like being being slammed head-on by a semi.  No warning, just WHAM!  I struggled through the weekend, felt better on Sunday, and decided to do a little weed-eating in the backyard.  Bad decision.  By Monday, I couldn't walk ten steps without thinking I would never be able to take another breath.  I went to the health care clinic Tuesday morning, spent almost $200 on an inhalation treatment and meds, and was breathing fairly well again by that night.  It's been better each day since then.

Oh, did I mention that when I got up on Mother's Day, I discovered the power supply on my computer had died?  I ordered a new one on Monday, it arrived late Wednesday afternoon, and I had it installed just after midnight.  Four days with no computer.  It's tough enough when the internet goes down for a day or two, but MY COMPUTER?

Now you know why there have been no blogs.

My plans for the weekend?  No weed-eating, that's for sure.  Gutting my office may be the best thing to do, since I've been thinking about it for months and getting nothing done.  Or my bedroom.  Or the kitchen.  There's always plenty of things waiting to be done, aren't there?  Friday comes along at the end of a work week, then flips over to Saturday, when all the other things in life need attending.  The one thing I can honestly say that there's never a time when there's nothing to do.  I've totally forgotten what being bored is.  I guess that's what makes life exciting.

Now that school is almost done for the year, I'm looking at what I want to accomplish, beginning next Friday, the FIRST DAY OF SUMMER VACATION!  (Whatever a "vacation" is.)

I'm working on edits for a book I plan to self-publish, hopefully this summer.  Set on the coast of Maine, the 3-book mini-series follows the Divine Misfits, three high school best friends who have gone different ways, but are coming together again after the death of the fourth misfit. I'll take you along on this crazy ride into the new publishing platform and share the ups and downs.  It promises to be interesting, if nothing else.

 I also have a three-book proposal for three half-brothers, who inherit a ghost town in Texas, to work on for Harlequin American.  It's going slowly.  Agonizingly slow.  I'm hoping that by doing the edits on the ebook above, I'll get my mind back into writing again.

And I have a couple of announcements.  My next Harlequin American, THE COWBOY MEETS HIS MATCH, the next to last book of the Desperation (Hearts of Desperation) mini-series will be available in August.  This story is close to my heart, as it centers around Erin Walker and her long-ago love, Jake Canfield.

One Big Secret…
Broke and in need of a job, barrel racer Erin Walker has returned home after years of traveling the rodeo circuit. But the only job available is working for the man who broke her heart and left her pregnant and alone. Not a day goes by that she doesn't wonder about the son she and Jake had, whether he's happy with his adoptive parents or what her life would have been like if the three of them had become a family.
Jake Canfield just wants to get close to Erin again and perhaps rekindle what they once had. But is that possible? It depends on the sudden appearance of the one person who could bring them closer together!

Stop by my website,, for more about THE COWBOY MEETS HIS MATCH (my 15th book!) and an excerpt.  I'm planning a few give-aways and contests, so stay tuned here and on my author page on Facebook.  If you haven't visited there, please stop by. The last of the series will be available in April 2015, and then we'll hopefully be off to Hallelujah, Texas, and those ghosts!

Last but not least, my five Silhouette Romance books are available as Silhouette Romance Classic ebooks.

RACHEL'S RESCUER, my very first published book and the first of my SilRoms, won the Maggie Award in 1999 and set me on the path to publication.  It was also a National Reader's Choice Award Finalist in 2001.  You can find them at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among others.

So there's my plan.  My Friday plan, at least, spilling over into summer.  Do you have a plan?  Have you been working on goals?  Because now is the best time to get started on those!  Feel free to share, because your enthusiasm will spill onto others, and how great is that?
The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. ~ Christopher McCandless

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We're Never Too Old

And here everyone thought the school term was about to come to an end until Fall.  For some, that may be true.  But for most of us, we keep learning.

Maybe we don't believe we continue to learn, but it happens.  We often simply don't realize that's what it is.

For me, learning is an ongoing thing, and I welcome it.  Recently the bulk of that learning has been about ebooks and especially about how to format a Word document for conversion to an ebook.  The learning curve isn't as steep as one might think.

The publishing world is changing faster than we can keep up.  This past week, HarperCollins (owned by NewsCorp) announced the upcoming aquisition of Harlequin.  It was like WHOA! for many of us.  Not even a whisper had leaked.  But it isn't just the shifting within traditional publishing that's happening, it's the world of publishing itself that's opening up for all of us.

Ebooks and self-published books have been around for what seems like forever, but it's been in the last decade that electronic has come into its own.  Thanks to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and other online bookstores, the quality and availability of ebooks has risen.

It's true that anybody can publish a book.  What's also true is that there are poor quality books out there.  I downloaded a book from Amazon a few months ago.  I like to read an occasional YA, since it was originally what started me on the road to writing.  This particular book was cute and engaging.  I enjoyed the story.  But there were problems.  Not the formatting, but the writing.  Poor grammar and spelling and punctuation too often pulled me out of the story.  I still enjoyed the story, but not as much as I would have if the writing had been better.  I hope the author takes the time to either have someone professionally edit her books or educates herself on what is needed to write a fabulous book.

Writing isn't simply putting words on paper.  It takes time to learn what's needed to be a good writer.  For some, certain things come more naturally than others.  For some, it takes studying and learning the basics.  But no matter where a writer is, learning should always be a part of writing.

As we write, we grow.  With each new manuscript, we find new ways to write and tell a story a little better.  It takes time.  Don't give up!  The majority of published authors did not sell their first books.  They also didn't give up.  They kept learning and trying.  Yes, rejections are hard and often heart breaking.  We artsy people tend to let the negatives get us down.  But if you're really trying to be a better writer, wallow in a couple of hours of self-pity, then build on your determination to do better by continuing to write and learn.

I'm excited to learn the new things epublishing encompasses.  I've learned a lot by reading books and articles on what it takes to build an ebook, beyond the story.  My toe has been dipping in the water for some time, but I haven't yet made the plunge.  While I'd love to share what I've learned with others, I don't yet feel I know enough to do that.  But I can point to places and people who can help.

If you're thinking of self/epublshing a book, do your homework and start learning.  We've been blessed with access to just about anything anyone would want to know about.  All it takes is looking and asking.  And never give up. We're never too old to learn new things.
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney

Monday, April 28, 2014

Don't Forget to Play


Silly me.  I was in the middle of writing a blog post last Friday, decided I needed a couple of photos, and was immediately side-tracked by a box full of photos that had nothing to do with what I needed.  Of course I had to drag out the scanner and post a few on Facebook.  What other reason had led me to dig through a box of pictures?  I seem to forget about that blog post.

Yes, I'm sometimes easily distracted, and once distracted, I can become buried in that distraction.  ADD?  I never thought so, but females present different symptoms than males.  Female ADD and ADHD sufferers tend to be a bit spacey in their distractions.  Me, spacey?  No, that's my #2 daughter and her youngest daughter.  And I'm not always easily distracted.  Not, at least, when I'm totally focused on something.  Reading a good book completely holds my attention.

Oh, yeah, back to that unfinished blog post...  I'll find the photos, finish it, and post it this week.

Sometimes I think this being distracted thing may have something to do with not playing enough.  Oh, I'll play a few games of spider solitaire during the day, or a matching game on the computer.  They basically use a different part of the brain that what I'm usually working on.  But play?  No, not so much.  Life has it's Has-To's and Must-Do's and Get-It-Done-ASAP's, leaving little time for play.

Why is it that as adults, we forget to play?  I don't mean watching a favorite TV show each week.  I mean playing.  Going to the park and swinging.  Sitting in the grass and making daisy chains in the summer or having snowball fights in the winter.

My #3 daughter brought me a box of bubbles left over from her wedding reception.  I put it away for the grandkids to play with this summer, when school is out.  Why did I do that?  Why didn't I think of taking out a bottle or two for myself?  Right now?  I LOVE to blow bubbles!

There's something in me that thinks I always need to be doing.  We surround ourselves with Have To's and forget there's always been a little child inside of each of us.  We get older, and people expect us to act like adults.  But what's the fun in that?

These are people having fun!
The Ditzy Chix NYC 2003

How many fun-loving Harlequin authors can a stretch Hummer limo hold?
While I haven't had the opportunity to go to a writers conference lately, I haven't forgotten how much fun it is to cut loose and have a good time with friends.  And the older we get, the more fun we have when we get together!

We're never too old to have fun.

It's time to make time for fun and play!  Anyone up for a game of hopscotch?

There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.  ~ Andrew Jackson

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Who Me? Write?

It's been that kind of week.  You know the kind.  Shiny objects grab attention and take you away for a few minutes, an hour, or half--if not most--of the day.

Writing, you say?  It's on my list of things to do.  The list in my head, not the one written down that's there to bug me to get things done.

But I have an excuse!  Enter March 1 of this year.  I'd been pounding out words since July, tearing my hair out over revisions and the need to get it done.  Even the holidays were taken up by writing.  It happens, and the world doesn't stop spinning.  But on February 28, the veil lifted and regular life began again.

You'd think that within nearly two months I would have caught up on all the things that clamored and hammered at me for 8+ months.  But no-o-o-o-o.  Too many shiny objects.  I did sit down and make myself start a new manuscript...over a week ago.  Four pages written.  Four.

I feel like a fake.  I come to my blog and encourage others to write...every day, if possible.  And yet I've ignored my own writing for more than a few days.  More than a few weeks.  We're into months, friends.  That isn't good.

So what do I need to do?  (You, too, if you've been ignoring your writing!)  I have two choices.  The first is to motivate myself.  There's a problem with that, because at this moment, I can't think of single bit of motivation that will get my focus where it needs to be and my fingers on the keyboard.

Let me say up front that I am not an organize person.  That isn't completely true.  I'm an organized-disorganized person.  Or is that disorganized-organized?  I've never quite figured that one out.  Yes, I keep a written list of the things that need to be done, but I often leave out things for myself.  Lately, though, I've been doing those things for myself, and none of them have involved writing.

That brings me to choice #2:  Just do it.  Give it two hours, four hours, whatever it takes.  I've already set a goal of five pages (pitiful, isn't it?) for this week's BIAW.  (Hint:  That's how I managed those previous four pages, which were two pages short of my 6-page goal.)  I know it's possible to write five pages in one day.  I've done it more times than not done it.  Well, except for that past almost-two months.  In fact, I hit a new high last year of 28 pages in one day, and several days of 24 pages.  Yes, I can do it.

Yes, I will do it!  Want to come along for the ride?  Passengers are long as they're writing.  No daydreaming, no shiny objects demanding our attention.  Just writing.

For the curious, check back tomorrow.  I'll comment on whether I reached my goal or not.  And those who are along for the ride are welcome to do the same.  After all, we're in this together.
People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily. ~ Zig Ziglar

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Dreary or Dreaming?

 From a collection of photos of origami boats by Victor Eredel.
Spring.  Rain.  And in my little corner of the world, that can also mean storms and possible tornadoes.  We're keeping an eye on the middle of the week for those.

Somehow we escaped the original forecast of a rainy Easter.  I spent the day inside anyway and found the top of my desk.  I now have a box of papers to sort and file.  The truth is, I need a system to make finding things easier.  With three of my four daughters and their offspring and hubby/SO off to share the day with their dad and his wife, the house was silent.  I don't mind the quiet.  In fact, I invite it.

In fact, the entire weekend proved semi-productive.  I started work on a new website design (for myself!), but shelved it.  The ideas weren't coming as easily as I'd hoped.  Much of both days tended toward learning and introspection.  No deadline is looming--except for the need to dive farther into a new book proposal--and family demands were at a low.  It was a Me Weekend, for the most part, and although I didn't do anything earth-shattering, I'd rank it at an 8 of 10.  There aren't a lot of those.

Having a day or two without demands and requests from others is a gift.  It doesn't happen often, so when it does, I start out not knowing how I should spend the time.  While I didn't get everything done that I should have, I also didn't scold myself for the things left undone.

I caught up on the TV show Cosmos and watched last night's episode of Game of Thrones.  The two are on at the same time, but where there's a will, there's a way, and I watch Cosmos later online, when time allows.  Yesterday allowed it.  Another gift to be thankful for.

I finished the weekend with a short list of "me" things to do this morning, the first being this blog.  The other two are personal things I've begun working on, such as making time for myself, making life more positive, learning how to become a more positive person, and simply enjoying a small part of each day.  A phone call from a friend completed the evening.

All in all, the weekend was enjoyable, and I look forward to the next one.  Plans for that one include the possibility of rearranging my office, which will eventually lead to painting my desk and purging the myriad of boxes of who knows what that fill much of the space in the room.  My mother's habit of hoarding got its hook in me at an early age, but that story is for another time.

The sun is peeking through the clouds, so maybe the chance of the rain sticking around is over, at least for a while.  The day is new and bright.  Let's make it a special one.
As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round. ~ Ben Hogan

Friday, April 18, 2014

Counting Our Blessings and Joys

It's been a busy week.  It's been a crazy week.  It began with waking to snow on Monday morning, after a weekend of beautiful, but windy, Spring weather.  Temps in the low 80s were a blessed relief from the colder temps.  I was finally thawing!

Because my youngest granddaughter would soon be arriving for me to take her to Pre-K, but I couldn't find the ice scraper (the snow had obviously started as freezing rain), I used my fingers and fingernails to clear the snow and ice from my windshield.  Not a smart move.  Ten minutes later, my fingertips were so cold that I couldn't feel anything except the burning.  A bit of frostbite?  Maybe, and it took until the next day before they felt close to normal.  Lesson learned?  Yes.

Tuesday was Tax Day, and my focus all day was on that.  My taxes were filed and the first of quarterlies were sent.  But before I knew it, the day was over, and I went to sleep exhausted.  Mental work is exhausting!  Add my tendency to be math-challenged, and...  You get the picture.

Wednesday was spent catching up on what didn't get done on Tuesday.  It also brought a bright spot I nearly missed, if it hadn't been for an email.  My critique group met, and three of us shared our writing, and our thoughts (and complaints and woes) on writing.  To help one of our group, who hasn't been writing as much as she should, we decided that meeting every two weeks wasn't enough, and we'd be meeting weekly, at least for a while.  To be honest, it's as much for us as it is for her.  We all often need a push to do the things we've been putting off.  I'm certainly guilty of that.  The bonus of this is seeing friends more often.  Aha!  A blessing!

Then along came Thursday, and another day was gone before I knew it, and now Friday is here.  I ask myself what I've accomplished this week.  On the surface, it doesn't seem like much--except for those taxes finally getting done.  But looking back, I've been reading more than usual.  More non-fiction than fiction.  I've been learning...about myself, who I am, and how to make life better.  By better, I mean more positive than negative.

It seems that too many days go by without memory of what happened.  Nose to the grindstone sometimes means not seeing or experiencing the small joys in life.  And once that happens, we lose ourselves, seeing only the negative things or simply being relieved that we made it through another day without disaster striking in one form or another.

We all struggle with something.  I've been allowing myself the pleasure of reading, done while waiting for grandkids to be released from school and less than an hour before my go-to-sleep ritual.  I'm learning how to deal with things I struggle with.  I'm learning that I'm important.  I'm learning to focus on the good things and expect those struggles to right themselves, if only by turning some of them to blessings.

There are many joys in life.  Sometimes we forget to notice them.  The opportunity to read is one of mine.  Like the little girl in the image above, I've been a reader all my life.  As an adult, it's been my go-to reward, many times. It's also a gentle reminder that time spent reading is a blessing for my soul.  It lifts me up, takes me to places I've never known, and expands my understanding.

If you haven't given yourself the gift of reading lately, pick up a book and start reading.  Even if it's only for a few minutes, it's a blessing.  Blessings are our Joy.

What blessings have appeared in your life lately?  What has brought you joy?
Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Monday, April 14, 2014

Still Hooked (Spoiler Alert)

"Holy Krypton, Superman!"

Oops, I've muddled my comic book superheroes, but you get the idea.

Three years ago, while channel surfing one night, I accidentally caught a glimpse of Game of Thrones one TV.  I was as hooked then as I am now.  In fact, nearly a year later, I blogged about it on my now defunct Scribbles blog.  That blog post, entitled, I'm Hooked--GoT Got Me, tells how I was immediately drawn into the award winning series.  I haven't missed an episode yet, and it would be difficult to tear me away from it each spring for the few weeks it runs.

As a rule, I'm not a fan of bloody battles and naked bodies, but GoT grabbed my interest (hint:  it was the dragon eggs) and has kept it for over three years.  From the very beginning, I've been waiting for Joffrey to get his just desserts.  Would that moment ever come?

If you saw last night's episode, you saw that "just desserts" is exactly what Joffrey got.  What a weaselly little king!  The character you love to hate.  I've been hoping that something atrocious would happen to Joffrey.  Something like being tied to the side of a mountain, where the birds would pick him apart, much like Prometheus.  Or maybe flamed by Daenerys's dragons.  Sadly, it wasn't quite so dramatic, but the demise of Joffrey was still delicious.  Kudos to Jack Gleeson's amazing acting talent on making it that way.

Naturally, Tyrion Lannister has been accused of the deed--by his sister Cersei, of course.  As far as amazing acting talent, Peter Dinklage rules, no matter what character he plays.  As I commented on Facebook, I'd watch him eat a potato chip, he's that good.  Such a wide spectrum of emotions his face shows in every second of film.  But there isn't an actor on the series who isn't completely believable.  Such an excellent cast!

I'm break down and buy the books.  The first three, to begin, and the others when I get through those three.  Reading time is limited, and I already have more than I'll be able to read in the next ten years.  But I have no doubt I'll enjoy the books and hopefully be able to keep all the characters straight.  Thank goodness for cheatsheets!

What's your secret, guilty pleasure?  Your favorite book or TV series?
"A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” ~ George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Who We Are

In case you haven't noticed, I like inspirational quotes.  I like them so much that when I finish a blog post, I search for a quote to add to the bottom.  I also have a folder where I've saved far too many like the one on the left that I've grabbed from Facebook and other places.

Why?  I'm not sure.  I find many of them inspiring.  Wow, what a concept!  On those days when nothing seems to be going right, one of those quotes can change at least a few moments of my day.

How much time do we spend on figuring out who we are?  We simply are, right?  We change and evolve as we grow, internalizing somewhere in our subconscious everything we think and experience.  Every thought, every action, every word we speak, hear and read make me ME and you YOU.

This morning, I was reading my Facebook timeline and came across another one of those links to silly tests.  With those, I have a little more constraint than I do with inspirational quotes, but this one, What Religion Should You Actually Be?, drew me in out of curiosity, just as far too many do.  I knew that, more than likely, none of the optional answers to the questions would be my answer.  But, hey, it's Saturday, why not give it a try?

I took the test and, as I suspected, very few (one or two?) questions gave me the choice of the answer I needed.  As it turned out, the outcome of my test was Buddhism.  O-o-o-kay.  If you say so.  But my first thought was to think how sad it is that people's beliefs are pigeonholed into one or another.  I am who I am.

Admittedly, I was and still am considered weird.  The number of times people told me so is infinite.  Is weird good or bad?  And just what does that mean?

From on weird
adjective, weird·er, weird·est.

  1. involving or suggesting the supernatural; unearthly or uncanny: a weird sound; weird lights.  (No, that isn't me, although I do think about those things now and then and even try to learn more about them.  Knowledge is power, right?)
  2. fantastic; bizarre: a weird getup.  (I like fanastic.  Who wouldn't?  But is bizarre the right word?)
  3. Archaic. concerned with or controlling fate or destiny.  (I'm iffy on this one.)
Maybe it's simply that I'm not pigeonhole-y enough.  Those online tests tell me exactly that.  I don't fit anywhere.  And that's okay.  We're each individual with our own view of everything, including ourselves.

My philosophy?  Be who you are and love whatever that is, as long as you don't hurt others physically or emotionally.  Add to that to be the best you can be and continue to improve yourself in all ways throughout life.  Ol' Will Shakespeare's quote in today's image pretty much says it all.

Who are you?
I don't pretend to be captain weird. I just do what I do. ~ Johnny Depp

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting to The End - That First Draft


Wow!  What happened to Monday and Tuesday?  LIFE
One of the easiest things about writing is the ability to give up.  I've done it.  Everyone has done it.  But what does giving up get you?  Not a whole lot.

This time--THIS TIME--and every time after, giving up will not be accepted.  Why?  Because you can do it!  With a little help and some tips and tricks, you, too can finish that book!

What does it take to write that first draft?  Writing it!

Whether you're a panster or a plotter, the writing must happen.  We all obsess about our every word.  Why?  Because we want our writing to be perfect.  But nothing and no one are perfect.  Still, we strive to do our best.

One of the biggest things most successful writers will tell you is to Just Write.  Sounds simple, doesn't it?  It isn't, but we can make it easier.

Many successful writers will say that the key is to write a fast first draft.  I agree with that.  But what, exactly, does that mean?  It means No Editing.  That's right.  You don't write a few pages, then go back to pick it apart and polish it to what will probably be changed later.

If panic sets in at the mere mention of No Editing, take a deep breath.  There are ways to make that first draft with no editing easier.

  1. Have a fairly solid idea of where your story is going.  Does this mean you have to plot the entire story?  Not necessarily.  It depends on what works best for you.  Simply put, have an idea of your opening, an inciting incident that shows the conflict of the two characters (hero and heroine in a romance), the mid-point aka main turning point, the black moment (when all seems lost), and the resolution aka the happily ever after in a romance.  Cooking Up a Story
  2. Know your characters' GMCs.  If you don't know what GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict), you can do a search on the Internet.  There's an abundance of information out there to help you.  A quick explanation is Goal (what the character wants), Motivation (why the character wants the goal), and Conflict (what's keeping the character from reaching his/her goal).  Each main character should have his or her own GMC.  Check out my blog on Building Characters and blogs and articles by others.
  3. Do as much research as you can pre-writing.  Whether contemporary, historical, or even futuristic/dystopian/other, they all take some research.  You want to write a cowboy book, a doctor book, or even a setting you're unfamiliar with?  Research.  Again, the Internet is a wonderful tool for this and many other things.  Use it.  Talk to people who can help.  You'll find more than you need, but that's okay.  What you don't need you may need with another book.
  4. Plan and use your writing schedule.  Set aside time to write every day and also set a daily goal for pages or words to be written.  And stick to it!  Check out my 4-part blog series on Goal Setting for some ideas.
  5. Think about what you're going to write before your fingers touch the keyboard.  In whose POV will the scene be?  What is going to happen in a scene? If it helps, instead of writing one scene and stopping for the day, stop in the middle of a scene--especially an exciting or tense point--and start there the next day.  Once you're in the scene, writing it, let the moment and the characters carry you along.
  6. If you find yourself stuck...  Don't panic.  It's amazing what our subconscious does for us.  Try sleeping on the problem.  Brainstorm with a writer friend or group of writer friends.  We often get too close to our story and characters that we can't think "out of the box" or beyond our preconceived ideas.  If those things don't produce results, write whatever comes to mind. Don't worry that it isn't quite right, just get down the idea.  But don't edit now!  Remember, we're on the No Editing plan.  Write a note (sticky notes work well), along with the page # and chapter/scene if needed, and refer to it later, after the first draft is finished. Or highlight that section and go back when you've finished the first draft.
  7. Write it down!  Ideas come to us at the strangest times.  Have a notebook where you can write them down.  Put a notebook in your car, your purse, or wherever you can grab it.  While driving, DO NOT write notes.  This is where a small voice recorder can really come in handy!
Once you have that first draft written, it's time to put it away.  Let it sit for a while, if possible, and work on something new or whatever it takes to get you away from the story.  Once you've had some distance, go back and start editing.  That's the time to refer to those notes and make changes.

Now that your first draft is finished, feel proud of your accomplishment.  Many people want and hope to write a book, but a large percentage of those people never do.  You have!
Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.