Friday, May 16, 2014

Lost by the Lake


I would love to tell you about my morning sitting on the deck by the lake, watching turtles and ducks happily splash around and birds chirping a happy song. In reality, I am sitting on the balcony of my little apartment overlooking a parking lot with the thunderous sound of nearby city traffic.  At least it is shaded by the fragrance of blooming magnolia trees and I have the glorious time to spend writing.

I have been very remiss in writing my current Work In Progress. Today however, the characters are very much alive in my imagination and I feel I must put the scenes to paper. One would think being unemployed for a month would give me plenty of time to write. Looking for a job however, has been my full time occupation. I declare an afternoon "vacation" day today to commune with my characters, and write the current scenes to free my imagination for fresh new intrigue. 

A new character in my WIP has emerged in my imagination and I feel the need to flesh him out this afternoon before I spend half my evening reading.  I love this worksheet by Rob Blair : Attaching the Flesh: A Character Questionnaire
What's on my currently reading bookshelf? 
There is a wonderful artistic workbook entitled A Declaration of You  (How to Find It, Own It and Shout It from the Rooftops!) by Jessica Swift and Michelle Word. It is chock full of wonderful advice, intentions, and declarations. 
City of Jasmine by: Deanna Reybourn. I adored her Lady Julia Grey series and Whisper of Jasmine. I checked City of Jasmine out at my local library and had to wait almost a month for it to become available. Her characters are intriguing and the plots are exciting. The dreaded slow middle does not happen in her writing and is sure to keep a reader captivated. Her website is gorgeous as well!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Parachute is a Flower



Seasons always bring the promise of new beginnings. Spring is in the air here, bringing with it lots of pollen, thundershowers, and an amazing coolness in the air. We have had glimpses of the sun, but not much warmth. I cleaned my closet today and put away my winter clothes only to realize later the temperature outside is a mere 45 degrees.

This Spring also brings a season of job search for me. I am excited to take my accumulated skills out into my adopted hometown and meet an employer in search of my skill set.  To facilitate this search, I scoured our local library for books to start me on the best path.

"What Color is Your Parachute" by Richard N. Bolles came highly recommended. I was expecting a multiple choice personality test as was surprised to find this updated book offered much more detailed information regarding job search.

Two of the exercises that have caught my interest have been the "Describe Yourself Discussion" and the "7 Ways of Describing Yourself" flower petals. I was recently asked by a job search mentor to send a description of myself and after reading this exercise, I realize the one I wrote was highly generic and very bland. A re-write is definitely in order.

The flower exercise is one that puts the whole of job searching into perspective. There are 7 petals and each represent an area relating to a career in general. Listing my favorite knowledge areas or fields of interest took some thought to narrow it down to 8.  My preferred kinds of people to work with, salary range, what I can and love to do, preferred places, and working conditions are just part of the flower. Petal 7 was the thought provoking "My Goal,Purpose, or Mission in Life" statement.

I am fortunate that a church in my community provides a service that is beneficial to job seekers and employers. Job seekers are partnered with a mentor throughout the process. Having an expanded support group should certainly be helpful. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

But I don't read that genre!


I will admit it, I am a historical fiction and pre -1950's  cozy mystery addict. Books on the Tudors? My bookshelves are groaning. The same goes for several mystery series. So, naturally, between reading about all of these long ago kings and queens and the occasional country manor murder, there is little time for other types of works. I guess truthfully, I just don't make time for them. Henry did hare 6 wives and there are so many books to read about them!

A few years ago, a wonderful show came on HBO entitled The Game of Thrones. I was quiet happy  to find a copy of the book among my son's science fiction collection. I was even more surprised to find that I loved that book and even more than the television show. I honestly thought I had discovered some hidden treasure of a book and had to laugh at myself for being so behind the current times!

I decided this year, I would once again tackle a genre type project and read something from as many genres as possible, but with a bit of a twist. I want to read new authors, struggling writers, self published writers, and all of those in between. I want to read the writers who truly believe in what they have written and are happily marketing it their own way.

Do you have a book to promote? Let me know and I will buy it, read it, tweet about and most likely blog about it!

Here are some of the sites I will be referring to this year. Be sure to send me your link.






Sunday, February 9, 2014

Do you read the book first?


TCM is currently showing 31 Days of Oscar nominated and winning movies and it is one of my favorite times of the year. I pay an astronomical cable bill each month and I really only watch one that one channel. There are many reasons I enjoy movies made before the 1960's and the characters are what draw me to them.

I will admit I have not read the book based on tonight's movie. The differences I have read about in the movie and in the novel give me pause for reading it now. Of course, it is inevitable but I do hope it does not change my regard for the movie version. So many movies are made from books that do not stay true to the author's vision that I often hesitate in seeing the movie before I have read the book.

"The Heiress" strikes me a terribly sad movie, but oh, that Olivia De Havilland! The movie is based on Henry James 1880 serial "Washington Square"and is located here to read free from Project Gutenberg.  There is a more modern movie by the same name released in 1997, which of course, I have not seen. I do wish I could have seen the 1947 play with Wendie Hiller. It was also revived on Broadway recently and featured Dan Stevens, formerly of Downton Abbey.

Most people associate Olivia De Havilland with the role of Melanie Wilkes in "Gone With the Wind", but her abilities were so much more than that character. If you have any doubts, just watch "The Snake Pit". She does manage to work magic as the character of Catherine Sloper as the heiress of the title. I believe this movie could translate into modern day. The character of Catherine is socially awkward, shy, honest and her plainness is only highlighted by her insecurity in herself.

Her father reminds me so much of modern parents who just want to protect their children from the misunderstanding of others.  In some ways however, her father has the air of a misogynist. Catherine only desires what almost every human being craves and that is love. They way she is shown love by the two men that matter most her shapes her attitude on the subject. Her father's love comes with comparisons to her long gone mother. Once her father decides to disown her and leave her to her penniless beau, she still decides to elope with the man. She does agree to a six month trip to Europe with her father.

We are given an insight into the character of the young man. He admits he squandered his money. He frequently visits the house to visit Aunt Lavania while Catherine and her father are gone. We are teased with the idea that he IS only out to marry Catherine for her home and her money. He does dubiously mention that he is really not the type to work for money. All I can say is, um hum, I know some of those guys now in real life. Catherine is determined to marry the man she loves and is willing to sacrifice her comfortable home and her inheritance. She tells the young man that they will never ask her father for anything and they shall live upon their own wits. The young man leaves her waiting and breaks her heart. He does return years later and tries to renew his acquaintance. She tells him to go and get his things and she will pack. He returns ringing and knocking upon the door. Catherine calmly finishes her needlework and retires upstairs, leaving him outside calling her name.

I am off to read "Washington Square" now, but I would like your thoughts on reading the book first. There is an time traveling romance releasing this week and my kindle is calling.

My link of the week is a very entertaining site named Conflict and Scotch. His take on divorce and dating had me laughing out loud! The reminiscence  piece "Worlds Oldest Boy Band" was just awesome.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

I am a Habitual Offender! Overcoming Procrastination!

Today I attended a workshop entitled "How to be a Writer and have a real life". One topic was procrastination, which according to freedictionary.com means:  "To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness."

The word HABITUAL sounds so harsh but I realized it did describe my recent writing routine or rather the lack of a routine. I had several shallow reasons that I used to validate the lack of productivity. 

After this realization, I have determined that the word for this year will be FOCUS! How do I plan on getting out of this procrastination rut I seem to be stuck in and FOCUS on the writing projects I currently have in progress? 

1. Setup blocks of time in my day for writing. Once I added up the time I spend reading Facebook posts, watching you tube videos and television, I realized there are actually several hours in my day that could be better utilized. I say hours because I have only a small apartment and dog to care for after work. 

2. Use a calender system! I have three sets of small stickers I bought in the school supply section and a notebook size calender. One represents writing done on my work in progress, one is for my blog posts and the third represents work done on my Writers Club projects.  My goal is to have at least 5 stickers a week for my WIP, 3 for my blog and 1 for Club projects. 

3. Save editing for once a week. Let the words pour out onto my screen and resist the urge to "perfect" each paragraph. 

For further and more in depth information about the Procrastination of a Writer,  I recommend the article "Procrastination" on the University of South Carolina at Chapel Hill's website. This article challenged me to think of some reasons I may have for avoiding certain tasks.

This article mentioned Five myths of procrastination and I readily recognized some of the signs in  myself. Believing I cannot work in a messy environment and my writing  has to be perfect were just two of the examples that resonated with me. I tend to spend large amounts of time rewriting the same passages and making little progress. One of the reasons I enjoy NaNoWriMo is because I am free to let the words flow and there is no time to pour over every paragraph several times. 

Now that I have finished this blog post, I will load the dishwasher and then enjoy a few hours watching "Gone with the Wind". 





Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo is here!

November is here and this year I will be attempting 50,000 in new surroundings. I moved to a large metropolitan area this summer and I am still getting my bearings. The NaNoWriMo write in I attended this week was spectacular. Our host invented his own NaNoWriMo party game. This was definitely the largest writing event I have attended.

Now, if you need an exciting way to keep up with your word count, I highly recommend this site: Awesome Word Counters

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Get a full size PDF of this poster and check out Brian Clark on Copyblogger

I have finally returned to my blog after being away for more than a year! I really lost my passion for writing during that difficult year. I have since moved, taken on a new job and connected with a great group of writers in my new area.

Invigorating my renewed passion was a mini workshop featuring the author of a new favorite series of mine, Suzanne Johnson.  She shared some of her writing techniques with the group as she presented “Plotting for Pansters”.  Her series, The Sentinels of New Orleans, is categorized as urban fiction and the first chapter of Royal Street really caught my attention.  This paranormal romance set in New Orleans and is far out of my normal reading zone. I have always preferred a good cozy mystery.  I do however, like to read the works of authors that teach workshops and I got hooked on this one.  It did remind me in a small way of the few books in the Sookie Stackhouse series I have read. 

I am glad I attended this workshop because though I have always been a plotter, I did take away several fresh ideas on weaving my story together.  She showed examples of how she achieves weaving her plot, sub-plot and the characters into a solid book. I was mesmerized by the colors and technique she uses in her outline to represent each area. 

 I am filled with ideas for stories and novels, but the middle and sometimes the endings escape me.  One of the books she recommended at this mini workshop was Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell.  I have spent the last two afternoons studiously devouring this book and taking notes. I have a solid idea, but I am very undecided about the ending.

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon, I hear people lamenting on their lack of plot and I will recommend this book to them to help jump start their stories.  He lists several techniques for finding inspiration and some examples that were actually used in popular published works. I am also using a workbook that I will discuss in the next blog post.


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