It’s back to the doctor’s today. My stomach is still bloated and painful. The meds my one doctor prescribed, another said not to take as it would interfere with a new one he gave me (for an unrelated condition) so I’m back to hurting. My other dr. couldn’t figure why he’d take me off but said I could take another med which I’m headed to his office to get the script for. Then I have to stop by the eye doctor’s as the glasses I went in for a week ago they forgot to take my card for so my former insurance said I wasn’t covered anymore. Ergh. So have to re-pick out some new frames. Sigh.
As for my house, still figuring things out. The adjuster said we weren’t covered then switched gears when I explained about the groundhogs so some of it might be covered. Wouldn’t you know it, he wants to come out when I’m due in doctor’s office. I’ll have to re-schedule for an evening as I have another dr. visit Wed. And tomorrow, have to pick up my daughter’s boyfriend to take him to work with my kids.
Currently, I’m facing major repairs on my house. My main waterline has buckled and water is flooding my crawlspace. I’m in the process of getting estimates but it looks like everyone else in this area is as well as I’ve been repeatedly told places are swamped with business. Even the ones that’ve been out haven’t gotten around to estimates so I’m having to wait to pass along figures to the insurance adjuster. If they even help us out. If they don’t, we might have to look into other ways to finance or consider moving elsewhere.
This place has been a money pit for years. It started with a tornado a couple months after we first moved in and there’s been several storm year’s damages since as well as deterioration from the property itself. All I can do is wait and keep faith that God knows what he’s doing whether it’s to stay here until finances improve and we can get something better or to get repairs done and make the best of it. Or pack up altogether.
As far as rentals go, I’ve looked into some but they’ve already been taken. Guess everyone’s looking for a place right now. I know new homes are on the rise in these parts. Some older ones are selling but mostly, buyers want new. Not that I can blame them. However, things break down in new houses too. Costs seem to be skyrocketing all around. Anyway, that’s what I’m dealing with right now. Not to mention, I still have to go back to doctors to see if they can figure things out medical-wise for me as well.
Now, halfway home, it comes to us. The perfect comeback! Witty, wise, pithy. If only we could go back in time! We’d be like the legendary members of the Algonquin round table. (“He and I had an office so tiny, that an inch smaller and it would have been adultery.” – Dorothy Parker.)
There’s an entire Seinfeld episode based on this premise. George is at a Yankees’ board meeting where a platter of shrimp is served. He over-enthusiastically consumes the crustaceans, prompting another board member, Reilly, to remark, “Hey, George. The ocean called. They’re running out of shrimp.” The other members laugh. George can think of nothing to say in return.
Only later does he come up with what he thinks is the perfect comeback. “Oh, yeah? Well, the Jerk Store called, and they’re running out of you!” George’s friends are not impressed and offer alternatives. “No!” George insists. “It’s Jerk Store!” I sometimes have characters do what I didn’t necessarily do in those situations as well. The words and the actions can make the character stand out.
2. https://stevelaube.com/a-growing-readership/ “It recently came to my attention that the email list for our agency’s blog has grown by 40% over the last two years. It’s now the size of a small town or a rather large church!
That is only the email list. It doesn’t count those of you who use the Facebook feed, the Twitter feed, an RSS feed, or come to the site directly on a regular basis. That is a pretty big crowd, and it is humbling to say the least.
It does raise a few questions.
Why do you read this blog?
Is it for the ever-delightful Tamela? For the always-fetching Bob? For the fascinating podcaster Thomas? For the curmudgeon comments of grumpy Steve? Or do you only come to watch videos on Fun Friday?
Actually, it is a serious question. We are regularly asking ourselves, “What do we address next?” “What do our readers want to read?” “What do our readers need to read?”
4. https://marciamearawrites.com/2020/08/28/the-nutshell-catch-and-the-point-of-no-return/ “Staci Troilo’s back on Story Empire today explaining the next part of The Nutshell Theory. This is great stuff, and something we can all learn from, so I hope you’ll stop by and check it out. As usual, please consider sharing on your favorite social media sites so others can learn as well. Thanks, and thanks to Staci for giving me a whole new batch of things to consider before I start my next book. Great job!”
Research & Fun Tidbits:
1. https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/2020/08/25/a-fantasy-word-list/ “One thing I do, and have done, with every edit (at least of a fantasy or science fiction novel or story) since starting at TSR in 1995 is create a word list/style guide. I’ll share my basic template here and encourage everyone to create and maintain this resource. I guarantee it will be a valuable tool not just for you while you finish your story or book—or series, even more so!—but it’s something you not only can but should give to editors and others who will be working with your text.
You might be surprised how often, as an editor, I get manuscripts in which the spelling of even the primary characters’ names change subtly throughout the text. Rules for initial caps and other things can easily end up being more or less randomly applied, too. But a sense of plausibility is often signaled in the subtlest of ways, including the judicious application or careful revision of an exiting rule of grammar and usage that works on a subconscious level so your world just “feels real.” Believe me, you’ll really come to appreciate it when it prevents an editor like me from “fixing” a perceived “mistake” that was an intentional component of your worldbuilding. The word list will warn your editor ahead of time that this was intentional, and not a typo.” This sounds like an awesome thing to do! I’m going to try this while I edit and going forward, each story I write.
I wanted to pick up some kind of fuel additive to use on my generators. I have one that runs beautifully, and one that acts like it’s on life support. When I ran them a couple of weeks ago, one would only run if I left the choke on. Home Depot was our first stop.
My brother said to get one of two specific products, but they didn’t have either one. I found something that sounded like it would do the job and bought it.
My Dad and my Grandfather each had small generators. Even after 20 years they started right up with a couple of pulls. I whined to my brother about that, and he said it’s all because gasoline has ethanol in it today. I can see how that might be the” Not sure what a jackfruit is, lol.
3. https://pitchwars.org/day-1-part-1-of-the-pitch-wars-mentor-workshops-with-keena-roberts/ “Welcome to the Pitch Wars Workshops with some of our amazing past and 2020 mentors. From a lottery drawing, we selected writers to receive a query and first page critique from one of our mentors. We’ll be posting some of the critiques leading up to the Pitch Wars submission window. Our hope is that these samples will help you in shining up your query and first page.
We appreciate our mentors for generously dedicating their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. Our comments are set to moderate, and we will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones before approving them.
First up we have …
Pitch Wars Mentor Keena Roberts …
Keena Roberts is a 2020 Pitch Wars mentor for the Adult category. She is the author of Wild Life (Grand Central, 2019), about her childhood growing up in her primatologist parents’ research camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. She lives outside New York in the mountains with her wife, daughter, and several pets and enjoys reading by campfires, wherever she can find them.”
Mementos scattered across the map of the world pictures of times past
all recall happier days now singed in ash
journals the spyglass no clues
How long had it been? Those stolen moments? Those discovered treasures. She pressed her fingertips to each. Oh, how she missed him. Days scattered into weeks and months. And finally, years.
She picked up the spyglass. When had he used it last? Had he found what he’d been looking for? Or did the engravings deny him translation. Many times, over their relationship, she’d seen him baffled and intrigued by what history had to offer.
Egypt had been their last work-vacation. Her, in the hotel conference her boss had arranged for his employees. Him, the remains of a new-found mummy. When she’d last held his hand, he’d croaked out something about plagues. Had she heard him correctly?
The map slowly curled its edges while she went to prepare something for lunch. She turned on the faucet to get water to boil, and the liquid splattered in the metal sink, blood-red. Thick as molasses.
Outside, locusts flung themselves repeatedly at the windows.
She backed away from it all. Closed her eyes. No, she was imagining. When she looked again, a meteor of fire flashed across the skies.
Writerly Things 8/24/2020: Settling in to a New Routine
Things are finally starting to settle into a new routine for me with driving the kids to their work, errands, cleaning, and writing. Thankfully, the kids work at the same place and the same hours but not always the same days off with the exception of Fridays. We were hoping when my son put his application in that it would work out that way. He’d applied for another job way back but they didn’t get back to him until after he got hired for this one. Their background checks take way too long!
I’ll be trying to return to posting recipes every Sun. on http://www.adashofseasons.com. I’d fallen behind on enough recipes to do the customary three I did. I had a post up just this past week and plan another for this weekend. Because I’ve changed posting times to the late evenings (after 9p.m.), you won’t see them till then. I’m hoping to draw more people in with more regular postings again.
I’m also scheduling the Inspirational Mondays or Random, Mythical Horses or Beasts or Humor and fun on Tuesdays, Writing or Dollar Hacks/decorating on Wednesdays, Pet Stories/Sci-Fi/Fantasy on Thursdays, and Fridays are off for me. Now these days of the week rotate but I do try and do two to three postings a week. Oh, and Saturdays, if I have them, I do book reviews that I’ve posted on either here or Loleta Abi.
I’m going to be spending my days split between the Kindle, digital books from Netgalley, and arcs. I’ll be reading the Kindle on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. The digital books from Netgalley will be read on Sundays and Fridays. The arcs, if I have them, on Mondays and Wednesdays. I think this schedule will help me the most. Of course, I always read my physical copies while waiting for the kids, at appointments, etc. Or at night, before bed.
I’ve been neglecting my reading since early this year because of the chaos and then more recently, all the time we spent job searching, running errands, etc. I still don’t have everything rearranged but I’m getting there. Like I said, sometimes they have different rotating days off from each other and I’m still running one to work. The other is usually helping me clean or taking care of outside chores on one of their days off. The other is free for them.
I’ve been very slow on getting these out as of late. I intend to buckle down and get more out there. I hope my editor will be patient with me regarding Two Drops of Ink. In addition, I’d like to appear on some other sites in the future to keep my writing chops working. It helps to finish something more often than your novel, per se. When you finish a post, it makes you feel like you’re making progress. You might not have the book out there but you have something to show others.
At the moment, I’m working on two posts. I’m halfway through both of them so hopefully, it won’t be long. When I started writing posts early this year for Two Drops, I had no idea (just as all of you didn’t) what was going to be happening around the country in the months to come. We’re still not back to normal, whatever that is. I’m not sure we ever will be. There’s just so much risk and this spreads so rapidly.
I’ve had to juggle my nights. Edits won out for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I’ve had a hard time working on these with such uncertainty out there. Recently however, I’ve come to realize the possibility that we’ll return to normal will be far off down the road so there’s no point in not doing something I enjoy. It was hard to concentrate on it with everything going on.
I’ll make no more excuses, just get back to work on them.
Short Stories and Poems.
These, I’ve actually had more luck with since they’re shorter and the turn-over is quick. I came real close to getting one published a few months back and got word that I’d made it to Round Two but in the end, they had to pass. They encouraged me to resubmit. It was the nicest rejection I’ve received so far. I mean, cause hey, Round Two. They’re also some of the nicest people in the horror community so that was also a plus for me.
I have been participating in Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Poetry challenge as some of you know when I have the time. I’ve tried to write three poems and a story to go with them of late. I’m starting to see a real improvement in my work because of them. They give me just enough confidence to keep at my regular writing.
I’ve returned to working on character builder on OneStopforWriters.com. I had slowed on that as well. I’m returning to my agent research where I read what the agents I’m interested in are saying and where they are toward their wants and query piles. Genealogy, I’ve picked back up and am working on new leads. I’ve also started watching podcasts again. I have a lot of these to catch up on. I haven’t been able to get over to discord in some time. I hope to pick back up there eventually. I’m sorting through my craft books again and started up where I left off with them.
A generous and wonderful writer in her own light gifted me a year of Masterclass. I finished going through Neil Gaiman’s classes last Sunday. They were SO fabulous! I learned so much from him. He used examples from his own work such as The Sandman, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book to mention a few. The man has such a lovely voice and is an absolute pleasure to listen to.
Up next, I’m not sure if I’ll listen to R.L. Stine or James Patterson or one of the many other talented writers they have on there. They also have many other professionals on there including Ron Howard, famous chefs, interior designers, you name it. It’s kind of on the expensive side but I’ve heard from people you probably wouldn’t normally run into in your own life unless you perhaps moved into their community.
Hope you have a great week, take care, and God bless!
Mistakes run the course of our lives. So does forgiveness, if we let it. God doesn’t just forgive you one time and if you backslide, that’s it. He does so infinitely. We can be disappointed in ourselves when we realize the error of our ways but there is always grace that will lead us back to him.
We find this in our fellow man. He is quick to anger. Quick to burn out when it’s all said and done. The problem in judging others is that Jesus gave us the commandment to love one another as we would our neighbors. If we constantly accuse others of wrong-course and don’t look to our own back door, trouble enters.
The thing is: we have a limited supply of time on earth. Forgiveness can help us hold on to our health. Believe me, I know how easy it is to hate and curse someone. I’m not saying I’ve never done it. Or that I won’t again. But I look to God and pray that all that is released from me. There was a darkness that surrounded me with my marriage. Even going through the divorce and custody battle, it was there.
It wasn’t until the kids and I went to counseling that I started to let all that drift away. Believe me, there was a lot to move on from. At times, some of that still boils up when one of his relatives or him tries to contact me. (I was awarded sole custody so the kids have not seen him since those dark days.) They are not even remotely interested in contacting him. To them, I was their mother as well as their father.
Not saying I was perfect or didn’t ever do anything wrong in my life. I floundered many times. Especially with my bipolar. That darkness I spoke of, swallowed me whole and I had a breakdown a few years after the divorce and the loss of the job that injured me. I was so convinced that I was right that I couldn’t see that I was hurting those around me that loved me. The paranoia of those days haunts me. I was ambushed daily with the idea that those around me were conspiring against me. I know this all stemmed from what I went through in those dark years.
I couldn’t see that though. My mind wouldn’t let me. It took many treatments before I stabilized. Do I have regrets from that time? Oh my God, yes. However, the strengths that came along with healing showed me that I had more going for me than I realized. For my children, I would endure all that pain and hell again. They are my true joys. They encourage me and help me as I struggle with bipolar. No, it doesn’t go away. But I’ve accepted it as part of who I am.
Did I atone for the hurt I caused? I hope, in the end. I hope others do as well. I don’t wish anyone that pain and misery holed up inside them. It might not be easy. Maybe the person has moved or died. They don’t necessarily have to be there for you to release that burden from your life. And it is a burden. Do it for yourself and your loved ones. They deserve all of you. Not whatever has you hanging onto the past. Have a great week, take care, and God bless!
Writerly Things 8/10/2020: Do People Take Fantasy Writers Serious?
There’s a saying that people don’t take fantasy writers seriously. Somehow, they think that all the creativity that goes into the writing makes it easy to write fantasy. After all, it’s all made up, right? So, it shouldn’t take a whole lot of talent to write? Just a whole lot of imagination.
Authors Shouldn’t Downgrade Other Author’s Work.
Just because you write literary, for example, doesn’t mean you trash your fellow author’s work. Every writer is called to a different pursuit. Some write genre and there’s nothing wrong with that. Frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I enjoy all types of books. There are others who do the same. It’s a part of our reading life.
Readers flock to all sorts of books. Why deny them the right to read what they want and enjoy? Just because fantasy is often set in other worlds and times doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its merits. Just think of the vast audience of fans GOT had/still has. Movies, books, each enjoys its own rewards. Fantasy has brought us some of the biggest fandoms: J.R. R. Tolkien, anyone? C.S. Lewis? Mary Stewart? Susan Cooper? Marion Zimmer Bradley? And so many, many more.
Just Because There are Funny Creatures.
That doesn’t mean the work isn’t intelligent. Didn’t Tolkien craft languages with his works? C.S. Lewis brought out sharp contrasts between good and evil. Mary Stewart wowed us with tales of Merlin, Arthur, and the Roundtable. Susan Cooper further the Arthur legend. Marion Zimmer Bradley was famed for the complex worlds she built.
Imaginary creatures come with their own Wikipedia page. Some are based on legends. Some history. Others are built after much thought and research. They are both a gift and a curse to their authors. After all, fandoms have a hard time moving on even years down the road. Look at Star Wars. Alien. The Terminator. Predator. Even Jaws.
When it comes to historical, present, or future, often we have to lay the groundwork for what may or may not be invented by that date. There’s an uncertainty and yet with that comes a great satisfaction for what we create. Maybe there was never spaceships in the time of the French Revolution but isn’t it exciting to see how the author pulls off this stretch?
What about Back to the Future? Its inventions have long been a perk of interest for moviegoers when certain dates arrive. We like anticipating new things. Just like we like to view fantasy elements in our reading or shows. I think it’s the little kid of us out there in the fields, playing with their friends, imagining that footprint, the echo of pterodactyls to drive them back to safety.
No, certainly fantasy writers like other writers should be taken seriously and not dismissed. Some of the stories written have gone on to define the ages. Dune. His Dark Materials. Harry Potter. The Bridge to Terabithia. Sandman. The Eyes of a Dragon. The Dark Tower. We could go on and on. Not bad for a genre that some authors don’t take seriously.
How many have you been away from your writing life for a while? The Covid-19 shut down shop for more than just regular jobs across the world. It took it’s toll on writing as well. So how do we get back to where we were?
Draw Up a New Schedule.
Are you a schedule person? I am. I love to have lists of things to do on my list. I make one for my writing as well as chores for the home and outside. Your regular job might require a list to help you sort out where to begin there as well. You might have fallen out of routine and a quick adjustment will square you away.
Schedules help us to see things. We can glance at them and organize things for the better. What’s more, coming up with a plan gives us a vision on where to go. That instantly improves my mood. I feel empowered. Ready to go at things that way. I wish I could say I worked this way since youth but no, took me a while to even try the lists. Now, I won’t go back to the disorganized way of living I did years ago.
Try a Timer or a Certain Number of Words.
Set the timer for five minutes. Keep the word count realistic. You’re not going to be able to do five thousand when you can barely string two sentences together at first. Let yourself build up each time you write. That way you don’t burn yourself out or aggravate yourself to the point-of-no-return. Each session should start with a warmup and proceed to the real investment of your time. Doing things this way will give you a path to climb.
While you’re climbing, don’t forget to celebrate your small successes. Each little toe-up matters. No one goes to the top overnight. You work your way there day-by-day. When you do reach the top level, you’ll be glad you put in the time because it doesn’t end there. You always need to keep reaching higher, proving to yourself you can do this.
Form Good Work Habits.
If you want something, you put in the time. However, unless you only want to write one book in your life, you’re going to have to keep at it. Over and over, you’ll need to challenge yourself. Don’t keep on the same path with each story but expand to something new, something brighter. If you push yourself to keep on going ahead, your career will be amazing and satisfying.
It’s those that get stuck in the rut of writing the same thing over and over that fall by the wayside. Now, I’m not saying write a science fiction one book and a romance the next. You can vary your genre but try to stick to one for at least three to five books before spinning to the next. This will build your knowledge of that particular genre and give you a boost when you go to another.
Beyond that, have fun. Experiment. There’s a whole lot of world out there to explore and even more in your imagination. Always be trying to do better than you have previously, that’ll give you good stock to work with. Work with others when given the opportunity. Co-authoring can be fun. Keep your integrity. Don’t compromise who you are. Now, that’s not saying, you don’t listen to the advice of your editors. By all means, learn from them. There will be times you agree and times you disagree. It’s all part of the growing. Good luck.
Writerly Things 7/20/2020: When Things Unravel, You Make New Plans
Oftentimes, in the midst of life when major changes occur, we stumble and try to find an even keel. We’re not quite sure if we should go on with things the way they were before. Change radically. Or fall somewhere in between. This pandemic has been like that I’m sure for everyone.
If You Wrote Before This.
Should you continue? Do you change the subject matter? Become a bit more serious? Or do you try to lend a bit more humor to your work. To lighten the mood for others. Perhaps still, you write about the world before all this. Trying to ignore all the changes that will come to pass.
Who would’ve ever thought we’d need to wear masks in public to combat the spread of a virus? That we’d need to religiously sanitize everything to abort any possible chance of it getting to us. And still, some people have done all these things and fell victim anyway.
Like a lot of others, I quit writing during these past months. I even quit reading for the most part which is bad for a writer. Those new ideas that we chase flee when we give them no sunlight. They need to grow. Otherwise, they just shut down and die. How many ideas for stories I wonder have been lost by all of this? How many are still falling to the side?
Sometimes, it takes a while to reach down inside of us and pull out the strength to start again. Both in life and in writing. We’re not always going to get it right. There are obstacles ahead, for sure. The time to begin again resides in each of us. Perhaps you’re not ready. That’s okay. Your day will come.
If you are ready, you may need to look at things differently. Rearrange your former schedule. Especially if you’re working from home or the kids are out of school. The way things are going, maybe they won’t go back in fall either. With flu season upon us, they’ll likely close and reopen often to check on Covid-19. After all, how will they be able to tell the difference?
Back to rearranging. I’ve slowed things down a bit with my schedule so out of tune. I’m switching nights to do edits one night and writing the next. This will keep both in motion and help me not feel so rushed. I’ve tried to take the pressure off when able because who needs that? They’ll be time enough for that during deadlines.
When you do start again, take it slow. Don’t run a marathon. Just concentrate on getting one paragraph down the first night. Do that for a couple nights then increase the output to two paragraphs. Build on things like that till your back to where you want to be.
Schedule in reading time just as well as writing. Reading is an important tool to learn your craft better. It helps you to visualize how your story frame should be. Don’t copy, of course. Just think like someone setting up a scene for a TV show. Bring in the scenery. The props. Finally, the actors. Set them Watch them perform the story for you. This is part of getting into the flow. Letting your story come to life.
Do that often enough and you’ll be on your way. Have a great week, take care, and God bless!